Passage of Credit Card Reform Bill Provides Enhanced Protections for Tax Dollars
Columbus – State lawmakers have passed new protections for credit cards used by local governments, legislation Auditor of State Dave Yost called for following a special report on credit card abuse issued by his office last year.
House Bill 312, sponsored by State Reps. Kirk Schuring (Canton) and Dave Greenspan (Westlake), was introduced in July following the release of Credit Card Dangers: Local Governments At Risk Of Theft, which showed more than $1.2 million in public funds have been stolen or misspent at Ohio governments through credit card abuse since 2011.
The report found that some local governments may be putting taxpayer money at risk because they have not instituted basic policies to prevent dishonest employees from abusing government credit cards. Some local governments have significant credit limits that create the potential to saddle taxpayers with enormous debt, some with credit card limits in excess of $1 million.
“This legislation will protect tax dollars by requiring common-sense policies to govern how cards can be used and what types of purchases are permissible,” Auditor Yost said. “This is good-government legislation. Representatives Schuring and Greenspan showed great leadership in helping us pass legislation to fix this problem.”
The legislation is the product of extensive meetings with entities such as Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Ohio Townships Association, Ohio Municipal league, County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio Library Council and others, to tailor the law to the unique structures of each local government.
The legislation would:
- Require all government entities to enact a credit card policy detailing allowable uses, number of cards, who can use them, credit limits and reissue periods.
- Require for some governmental entities, that accounts and policies be reviewed regularly by an appointed compliance officer other than the treasurer of the government entity.
- Ban the use of debit cards, except for certain law-enforcement purposes.
- Authorize the Auditor of State to create rules for the disclosure and audit of credit-card rewards accrued by local governments.
Almost half of those responding to a survey conducted by the Auditor of State’s office said they do not have a list of allowable credit-card expenses to guide government employees who use the cards, increasing the chances of misspending.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.