Week In Review - September 19, 2022



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This report reflects the latest happenings in government relations, in and around the Ohio statehouse. You’ll notice that it’s broad in nature and on an array of topics, from A-Z. This will be updated on a weekly basis.

Please feel free to share it with anyone else you believe may find it of interest, as well. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions, concerns or if we can be of any assistance.


ABORTION


The Ohio Supreme Court officially granted the plaintiffs' request to dismiss Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost on Monday. Reproductive rights organizations and abortion providers filed the lawsuit against "heartbeat" law 133-SB23 (Roegner) in late June, and the Ohio Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay in early July.


Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins on Wednesday blocked the state from enforcing "heartbeat" abortion law 133-SB23 (Roegner) for 14 days. Now that the temporary restraining order is in place, reproductive rights organizations and abortion providers have asked the court to next enter a preliminary injunction to block the law for the duration of the case, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio said. In his order, Jenkins wrote there is a "fundamental right to abortion" under the Ohio Constitution, and that SB23 discriminates against pregnant women under the state constitution's Equal Protection and Benefit Clause. He had noted earlier that the 10th District Court of Appeals recognized a right to abortion under the Ohio Constitution in 1993. He also pointed to the plain text of the Health Care Freedom Amendment (HCFA) approved by voters in 2011: "No federal, state or local law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance."


With "heartbeat" abortion law 133-SB23 (Roegner) temporarily blocked, Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio are now providing abortion services to patients up to 15 weeks and six days' gestation, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH) Chief Medical Officer Adarsh Krishen said Thursday. While abortions are currently allowed to be provided up to 20 weeks in Ohio, dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure ban 132-SB145 (M. Huffman) has complicated matters for providers, Krishen said during a virtual press briefing. "We had two cases that were enjoined, or blocked, at the federal level -- one was the six-week ban, and one was the D&E ban. The D&E is the most common procedure used for people who are over 16 weeks seeking an abortion. It's a common GYN procedure, it's very safe and minimally invasive. When the Dobbs decision came down, and the state immediately filed for our blocks to be removed, we lost the protections of both of those," Krishen said. Krishen said the temporary restraining order (TRO) from Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins only applies to 133-SB23, not 132-SB145.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


The OneOhio Recovery Foundation, the nonprofit formed by state and local leaders to oversee opioid settlement proceeds, launched OneOhioFoundation.com, a website where meeting documents, livestreams and other information about the nonprofit's operations can be found ahead of its Wednesday meeting. The organization will also share updates through social media on Twitter @1OhioFoundation and on Facebook @OneOhioFoundation.


The OneOhio Recovery Foundation brought on a chief financial officer (CFO) and board secretary and authorized spending for office equipment and insurance Wednesday as it builds out the infrastructure for an organization that will eventually oversee millions of dollars to be granted for addiction recovery efforts. Kathryn Whittington, chair of the foundation board and an Ashtabula County commissioner, introduced Jim Quinn as CFO and Jules Coleman as board secretary. The board also approved a slate of committee chairs: Region 12 representative Don Mason for the Investment Committee; gubernatorial board appointee Larry Kidd for the Finance and Audit Committee; Region 15 representative Julie Ehemann for the Personnel Committee; and gubernatorial appointee Tom Gregoire for the Grant Oversight Committee. The foundation also welcomed two new board members: Judge David Matia of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, representing Region 3, and Evan Kleymeyer of the Ohio Bankers League, appointee of Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights).


AGING


Thanks to recent medical breakthroughs, it may become much more common for people to live to 100 or even 120 years over the next decade, according to Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. As part of the City Club of Cleveland's series on health innovation, he appeared for a forum on his new book, The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow, scheduled to be published later this month. Roizen appeared with his co-authors, Peter Linneman, an economist and founding principal at Linneman Associates, and Albert Ratner, who has been heavily involved in committees and causes throughout Northeast Ohio and is the former CEO of Forest City Enterprises. Despite the recent announcement that the U.S. life expectancy declined for the second year in a row, to 76.1 years, due to lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors said to expect much longer and healthier lives heading into the near future, estimating that people under the age of 25 now could commonly live to 125.


The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) inducted 15 older Ohioans into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at the Statehouse Atrium in Columbus on Wednesday, Sept. 14. This year's inductees include Dr. Rashid A. Abdu, Canfield; John A. Anderson, Cincinnati; Martha H. Boice, Centerville; Ken Culver, Lancaster; Debbie Cannon Freece, Columbus; Patricia Furterer, Loveland; Greer Glazer, Solon; Robert E. Grim, Sabina; Jim Kerr, Lisbon; Dr. John S. Mattox, Flushing; Edward A. McKinney, Cleveland Heights; Ruby T. Miller, Cincinnati; Jerry Rampelt, Columbus; Betty J. Wiechert, Zanesville; and Vaughn Wiester, Columbus.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


With Columbus, Toledo, Akron and Lake County teams all threatening to go deep in the Minor League playoffs, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is set to address whether farm teams are protected from overtime and minimum wage standards in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Ohio Revised Code. The question comes as the Major League Baseball (MLB) Players Association presses forward on a late-August decision to unionize the minors after 100 years of play. Ohio has five Minor League Baseball (MiLB) clubs, including the second-place Columbus Clippers (78-56) and third-place Toledo Mud Hens (75-60) in the AAA International League West, the third-place Akron RubberDucks (37-27) in the AA Eastern League Southwest, and the division-topping Lake County Captains (41-22) and fourth-place Dayton Dragons (28-34) in the High-A Midwest League East. The Single-A and Rookie leagues have no Ohio teams.


BALLOT ISSUES


Is Issue 2 a simple constitutional amendment that would shut the door on local municipalities' allowing noncitizens to vote in elections, or is it full of hidden language that restricts the right to vote for 17-year-olds and ties the hands of future legislatures on expanding voting registration? Proponents of the proposed amendment, which was put on the ballot by the General Assembly as HJR4 (Seitz-Edwards), say it is the former, while an opponent argues it is the latter, and that the language was intentional. Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), a sponsor of the resolution and one of the authors of the official arguments in favor of Issue 2, told Hannah News that he saw the need for the amendment after New York and San Francisco began to allow noncitizens to vote on their local issues.


CENSUS


Census data released Tuesday analyzed income changes, poverty and health insurance in 2021. The new data highlighted the role of federal pandemic aid in reducing child poverty to one of the lowest rates on record. The child poverty rate fell 46 percent in 2021 from 9.7 percent in 2020 to a record low of 5.2 percent in 2021, as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). This is the lowest SPM child poverty rate on record, officials with the Census Bureau said, and it would not have been achieved without expanded federal assistance like Child Tax Credits. "In the absence of the Child Tax Credit, we would have had poverty only falling from 9.7 to 9.2 percent, so 4 percentage points of the 4.5 percentage point decline are due directly to the Child Tax Credit," Liana Fox, an assistant division chief with the Census Bureau, said.


CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX


The latest COVID-19 numbers showed 20,552 new cases, 626 hospitalizations, 48 ICU admissions and 99 deaths in the seven days ending Thursday. That compares to 21,731 new cases, 504 hospitalizations, 37 ICU admissions and 86 deaths in the previous period. Since the pandemic began, there have been 3.12 million cases, 125,856 hospitalizations, 14,179 ICU admissions and 39,675 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) shows there are 1,133 current patients with COVID-19 and 154 ICU patients, compared to 1,154 hospital patients and 156 ICU patients as of Sept. 8. ODH data showed that in the past week, there have been 6,825 initial vaccinations, 6,767 completed vaccinations, 7,692 first booster shots and 43,224 second booster shots. Ohio's vaccination rates are 63.81 percent or 7.46 million started and 59.13 percent or 6.91 million completed, along with 3.78 million people who received first boosters and 892,207, second booster shots.


ODH data on monkeypox showed there have been 237 total cases in the state, 19 hospitalizations and no deaths, with 7,568 associated vaccinations in 67 counties.


DISABILITIES


State lawmakers are preparing to launch review hearings on the Ohio nonprofit designated under federal law to advocate for people with disabilities. Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) worries the new committee created to examine its work could be an intrusion on the independence it must be able to exercise as a condition of federal funding the state receives for people with disabilities. Lawmakers have raised concerns the organization ignores the role of parents and guardians in making care decisions for people with disabilities, and so in the state budget bill, HB110 (Oelslager), they created the Joint Committee to Examine the Activities of the State's Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program.


Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), whom Speaker Robert Cupp (R-Lima) appointed to chair the committee, told Hannah News he is keeping an open mind, but also is leery about DRO's resistance to the committee's creation. He said he feels well-positioned to conduct the review, given his legislative experience and professional background.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The state is currently experiencing an "economic renaissance," Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik told attendees at the Opportunity Ohio forum Wednesday as part of her keynote address, with Intel's groundbreaking the latest example of that. Mihalik said this includes "great things" in both large cities and small towns across the state as well. The daylong event was hosted by Columbus-based consulting firm the Montrose Group. Among examples of "external validation," Mihalik noted Ohio rankings in Site Selection Magazine and CNBC's Top States for Business. The DeWine administration has slashed state spending by $1.2 billion and cut taxes by over $2.2 billion, she continued, while receiving the highest bond rating since 1979 and a recent AAA credit rating. Panel discussions at the event covered topics such as Intel, housing challenges, logistics and electric vehicles.


EDUCATION


The first batch of state report cards under the new 5-star system, and the first with any ratings attached since the pandemic disrupted education, were released Thursday by the State Board of Education. School districts and buildings did not receive an overall rating but were graded on several components. Lawmakers converted the Kasich-era A-F report card system to the 5-star system via HB82 (Cross-Jones) after years of debate in the General Assembly and the State Board of Education about the need for reforms. The rating system designates 3 stars as meeting state standards; 4 and 5 stars as, respectively, exceeding or significantly exceeding standards; and 2 and 1 stars as, respectively, needing support or significant support to meet standards. Schools were rated on five of the six report card components: Achievement; Progress; Early Literacy; Gap Closing; and Graduation Rate. The sixth component -- College, Career, Workforce and Military Readiness -- is not to be rated nor factored into overall ratings through the 2023-2024 report cards, per HB82.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) and the Capitol Square Foundation (CSF) announced Wednesday that the application period for its popular transportation grants for schools to take field trips to the Ohio Statehouse will open Monday, Sept. 19, at 9 a.m. and remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25. CSRAB and CSF said that 99 schools will be awarded transportation grants for the 2022-2023 academic year. There are 33 grants that will be awarded in each of three mileage categories: 1 to 50 miles ($200); 51 to 100 miles ($300); and 101+ miles ($400). Detailed information about the program is available at: https://bit.ly/2w9MDDm


Schools can now apply for grants to offset the cost of travel for a field trip to the Ohio Supreme Court this academic year. The tours are available at no cost. Schools can apply for a transportation grant now through Sunday, Sept. 25 for visits through June 2023. The tours are through the Supreme Court of Ohio's civic education program, at the Thomas J. Moyer Judicial Center in Columbus. Apply for the grants online at https://tinyurl.com/2p94efku. Grant amounts are as follows:


  • Less than 50 miles: $220

  • 51 to 100 miles: $330

  • 101 or more miles: $440.


Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), announced this week he will retire at the end of the academic year. According to the district, Gordon's tenure -- he was appointed in the summer of 2011 -- is the longest for a Cleveland superintendent since Paul Briggs, who served in the '60s and '70s.


ELECTIONS 2022


The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association 2022 Election Guide is now available online. The guide, which is produced every election cycle with contributions from Hannah News, serves as a comprehensive resource for all Ohio voters. This year's guide offers details and candidate information on the races for Ohio's constitutional executive offices; all 99 Ohio House contests; the 17 Ohio Senate seats up for election this year; Ohio's 15 congressional races; and Ohio Supreme Court and court of appeals races.


The guide features updated demographic and economic data for each legislative district, as well as district-level political indices to shed light on the relative Republican/Democrat voting strength of each district. The online guide is available at https://tinyurl.com/4zsmjahf


Secretary of State Frank LaRose notified the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Friday that he found that Rep. Shayla Davis (Garfield Heights) "did not disaffiliate from the Democratic Party in good faith" in order to qualify to run as an independent candidate for the seat she now holds, which after redistricting is the 18th House District. Davis, who was originally seen as a placeholder for former Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), got caught up in Williams' decision not to run for the House seat, which came after the deadline for Davis to pull petitions to run for the seat herself. She then sought to run for the seat as an independent, which required her to "separate" from the Democratic Party. The local board of elections tied on whether she should be put on the ballot as an independent, leaving it up to the secretary of state to break the tie.


In addition, LaRose Tuesday broke a tie vote out of Athens County to bar Democrat Tanya Conrath from appearing on the ballot for the 94th House District race. The Democratic county parties in the district selected Conrath, a businesswoman, to take the place of Rhyan Goodman on the ballot. However, the Athens County Board of Elections split 2-2 on her candidacy. LaRose sided with the Republicans on the elections board, arguing that because Goodman dropped out of the race before it was officially certified, there was no candidate to replace.


The Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA) reported that, as of Friday, Sept. 9, it received $852,657 since its last report. It recorded a total of $368,856 in expenditures, with $2,111,329 on hand. Term-limited Speaker of the House Bob Cupp's (R-Lima) Cupp for State Representative Committee gave the largest amount at $105,000. The next largest contribution to OHRA came from Friends of Jay Edwards, which gave $100,000.


The Ohio House Democratic Campaign Committee reported it has received $189,968 since its last report, with $125,272 in expenditures. It has $568,011 on hand. The largest contribution to the House Democrats came from the minority leader's Citizens to Elect Allison Russo, which gave $75,000. Individual contributions dropped off from there, although the House Democrats recorded by far the largest number of contributors of the four caucuses.


Over in the Senate, the Republican Senate Campaign Committee reported contributions totaling $284,936 since its last report, with expenditures of $138,107. It has a total of $4,425,383 on hand. Meanwhile, the Ohio Senate Democrats lag those totals substantially, reporting a total of $28,408 in contributions and $66,209 in expenditures. They have a total of $146,509 on hand. The largest contribution to the Senate Democrats came from Sykes for Office with $15,000. Friends of Kenny Yuko contributed $4,000.


In the most recent campaign finance filings, Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) raised the most and has the most on hand among House Republicans who have expressed an interest in succeeding House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) when he is forced out by term limits after this session. In filings covering August activity filed Friday, Stephens reported raising $128,293, spending $84,585, and has $311,810 on hand. He had also sent the Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA) $60,000 over the month.


Among others interested in becoming speaker, Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) reported $50,664 in contributions, $102,563 in expenditures, and had $152,563 on hand. Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) reported $35,555 in contributions, spent $15,522, and has $220,479 on hand. Rep. Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) reported $63,408 in contributions, $116,697 spent and $215,407 on hand.


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley joined with the president of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) Monday to criticize Gov. Mike DeWine's gun safety record as the new law on arming of school employees takes effect. Three months ago, DeWine signed HB99 (Hall), allowing local school boards to authorize school employees to carry guns on campus with 24 hours of training. The law was passed in the wake of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that interpreted prior law as requiring non-security employees to complete basic police officer training -- which runs hundreds of hours – before carrying on campus.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • Pro-Choice Ohio endorsed Justice Jennifer Brunner for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court; Judge Terri Jamison and Judge Marilyn Zayas for justice of the Ohio Supreme Court; Nan Whaley for governor; Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) for attorney general; Chelsea Clark for secretary of state; Taylor Sappington for auditor of state; Scott Schertzer for treasurer of state; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) for U.S. Senate; Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) for U.S. House; Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester), Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Anthony Eliopoulos, Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid), Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), Bill DeMora, Patrick Goetz and Bob Hagan for Ohio Senate; Rep. Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus), Rep. Latyna Humphrey (Columbus), Ismail Mohamed, Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester), Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), Rep. Allison Russo (D-Columbus), Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), Russell Harris, Anita Somani, Rep. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Sean Brennan, Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Troy Greenfield, Darnell Brewer, Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), Elliot Forhan, Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), Dani Isaacsohn, Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), Rachel Baker, Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati), Alissa Mayhaus, Rita Darrow, Matt Shaughnessy, Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson), Addison Caruso, Megan Overman, Amy Cox, Nancy Larson, Erika White, Michele Grim, Lawrence Mulligan, Sam Lawrence, Joy Bennett, Evan Rosborough, Lauren McNally, Louise Valentine, Brian Flick, Drew Burge, Charlotte Owens, Eric Price, James Duffee, Jan Materni, Taylor Eastham, Magdalene Markward, Claire Osborne, Sophia Rodriguez, Barbara Luke, Jim Obergefell, Tanya Conrath and Kathy Zappitello for Ohio House; and Chris Ronayne for Cuyahoga County executive.

ENERGY/UTILITIES


The Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and other consumer advocates warned of potential "loss of life" this winter without adequate state utility policies, prompting the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to reschedule last week's scheduled ruling and to solicit comments on its pending Winter Reconnect Order.


OCC, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) and Pro Seniors had filed a brief but pointed motion on the eve of Wednesday's expected ruling to request full public participation in the reconnect order. The following were among preliminary recommendations:


  • Enact a moratorium on disconnections for all or part of the upcoming heating season.

  • Delay disconnection when a consumer tries but is unable to make a timely appointment with a community action agency for the Winter Crisis Program.

  • Allow consumers to use the Winter Reconnect Order once per electric and gas utility instead of the current limitation of one time in total.

Stakeholders unhappy with Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council's (NOPEC) decision to end its electric aggregation program, at least for now, stopped short of threatened legal action over claims of inflated rates Tuesday, though they didn't rule it out. Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren joined Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, Sierra Club Ohio, Power A Clean Future Ohio and Black Environmental Leaders for a remote press conference. All say NOPEC has some explaining to do at its monthly board meeting after the government aggregator announced is shifting all but a handful of electric customers back onto their electric distribution utility's (EDU) standard service offer (SSO) due to high NOPEC prices.


FEDERAL


AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, announced more than $25 million in federal funding to support new and continuing AmeriCorps VISTA projects, including the following three in Ohio meant to help alleviate poverty and build economic opportunity through community-driven efforts:


  • $410,664 to Family & Community Services Inc., a social services nonprofit focused on children and families, in Ravenna.

  • $587,700 to Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus for a youth initiative project.

  • $195,900 to Rural Action Inc., a nonprofit in Appalachian Ohio focused on the environment and economic development. The funding will go toward the organization's "rural renewal" program.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Senate hopeful U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren) in a press conference Wednesday to rally support for bipartisan, bicameral legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop training on peace officer safety and de-escalation of community conflict.


Brown and Ryan announced the introduction of S4847 and HR8380, the "Law Enforcement Scenario-Based Training for Safety and De-Escalation Act of 2022," which they are sponsoring in their respective chambers and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) are co-sponsoring, respectively.


GAMING/GAMBLING


August 2022's gambling revenues were similar to those reported in August 2021, according to numbers from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC). Ohio's four casinos took in $84.3 million in August 2022, slightly more than the $82.5 million earned in August 2021.


The state's seven racinos pulled in $111.7 million in August 2022, slightly less than the $111.9 million they made in August 2021. Traditional Ohio Lottery ticket sales for August 2022 were $344.1 million, slightly more than the $339.1 million recorded in August 2021.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Tickets are now available for the 2022 Haunted Tours of the Ohio Statehouse. The Halloween-spirited tours will take place Friday, Oct. 14; Saturday, Oct. 15; Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22. Tickets must be pre-ordered. Tours will depart every half hour between 7 and 9 p.m. with start times at: 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m. The tours will feature small groups and a special route through the darkened halls of the building, where participants will encounter "figures from Ohio's past," the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board said. Tickets cost $13 for adults ages 18 and older and $7 for students ages 12 to 17, plus a $2.50 processing fee per order. Sales are limited to 35 tickets per tour. Tickets can be purchased in one of three ways:


  • Online at www.statehouseshop.com.

  • At the Statehouse Museum Shop on the ground floor of the Ohio Statehouse.

  • Over the phone by calling 614-728-9234.

All agenda items cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) Monday without any discussion or testimony, though members did receive a briefing on a new platform allowing the public to provide input on state rules and regulations. JCARR staff will look into those inquiries and may refer them to a specific agency or meet with legislators to suggest law changes as appropriate. The website is now live at https://cutredtape.ohio.gov/. During a press conference about the new site ahead of Monday's meeting, JCARR Vice Chair Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) was joined by Executive Director Larry Wolpert, Rules and Technology Administrator Brittney Kniesel and business community leaders in unveiling the website, which stemmed from SB9 (McColley-Roegner).


A pilot program to help employed public assistance recipients move away from government benefits is achieving promising results, Licking County Department of Job and Family Services Director John Fisher told the Public Assistance Benefits Accountability Task Force on Tuesday. The "Benefit Bridge" program was first implemented on June 1, 2021 in Licking, Allen, Fairfield, Hamilton, Meigs and Stark counties, Fisher said. It has since been expanded to include Franklin, Gallia, Hardin, Perry, Portage and Summit counties. The program is necessary because current public assistance eligibility requirements can discourage individuals from seeking raises and promotions, as the benefits they would lose are often more valuable than the wage gains earned from advancement, Fisher said.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Oberlin College and Conservatory announced it has initiated the payment of the $36.59 million judgment in the Gibson's Bakery case. On Aug. 30, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear Oberlin's appeal of the $25 million judgment awarded to Gibson's, which said it had been defamed and falsely accused of racism by the college after a worker caught a Black student shoplifting at the bakery. Oberlin's Board of Trustees announced it has "decided not to pursue the matter further."


The DeWine administration has opened applications for $5 million in safety grants to public universities and community colleges in Ohio. To be eligible for grant funding, colleges and universities must conduct a security and vulnerability assessment to identify potential areas for improvement. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to improved lighting in parking lots, security cameras at building entrances, and secure doors. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. Application information is available at https://tinyurl.com/mas8hp7z


U.S. News & World Report Monday released its 2022-2023 Best Colleges rankings. A total of 1,500 colleges and universities were ranked this year, measuring schools based on 17 metrics of academic quality, with the most weight placed on outcome measures, such as graduation and retention rates and average graduate indebtedness. Average class size, undergraduate academic reputation and how much colleges invest in instruction and student services are also among the data points used to develop the latest set of rankings. According to its rankings, the best college in Ohio is Case Western Reserve University, followed by Ohio State University and then Miami University-Oxford. The other schools in Ohio's top 10, in order, include:


  • University of Dayton

  • University of Cincinnati

  • Xavier University

  • Ohio University

  • Kent State University

  • Bowling Green State University

  • University of Toledo

INTEL


President Joe Biden, Ohio leaders and Intel officials praised the company's official groundbreaking of its semiconductor plant Friday as a great victory for Ohio and the U.S., while also expressing their commitment to preparing the workforce that will be needed in the coming years. The event came a month after Biden's Aug. 9 signing of the long-awaited CHIPS and Science Act, and several speakers discussed that legislation as well. "This is about our economic security, it's about our national security. It's about good-paying union jobs you can raise a family on. ... Jobs now, jobs for the future, jobs in every part of the country -- we're not going to leave a part behind, there's no need to not develop the whole country. Jobs that show the industrial Midwest is back," Biden said. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company will benefit from Ohio's long tradition of manufacturing and the capabilities of its universities. He discussed the idea of making a "Silicon Heartland" in Ohio as the center of leading-edge technology and the workforce needs that will entail, while also noting he started at Intel as a technician with an associate's degree. Gelsinger further said the development was a testament to public and private collaboration, calling it a proud moment regardless of political affiliation.


Intel announced the first phase of funding its Ohio Semiconductor Education and Research Program on the occasion of Friday's groundbreaking ceremony. The tech giant is providing $17.7 million over three years for eight proposals led by the University of Cincinnati, Central State University, Columbus State Community College, Kent State University, Lorain County Community College, Ohio University and two from Ohio State University. More than 80 higher education institutions will be involved in the projects. The investment is phase one of Intel's plans to directly invest $50 million in grants to Ohio higher education institutions over the next 10 years as part of efforts to build the necessary manufacturing workforce.


JUDICIAL


Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor used the bully pulpit of her 12th and final "State of the Judiciary" address Thursday to excoriate Republicans for purportedly ignoring the 2015 and 2018 redistricting amendments to the Ohio Constitution and persisting in congressional and state legislative "gerrymandering." She offered to help organize a petition drive for a new constitutional amendment to Article XI after she retires from the Supreme Court on Dec. 31. "The vast majority of Ohioans said no to political gerrymandering, yet we do not have a constitution that will end gerrymandering," O'Connor said in extended remarks on the subject. In a speech otherwise focused on her administration's priorities, including access to justice, criminal justice data, court technology, reform of cash bail, and more, she said Ohioans had overwhelmingly voted to "end partisan gerrymandering."


An alumnus of the Ohio Attorney General's Office of Solicitor General has been named a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow for 2022-23. John Rockenbach was formerly the solicitor general's Si Karas Fellow and clerk for Judge David Stras of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, who chairs the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Commission.


The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously overturned a key provision of the four-decade-old Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act Tuesday that banned incitement of government employee picketing at an official's dwelling or private place of business. Justice Sharon Kennedy faulted the lead opinion written by Justice Michael O'Donnell and joined by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and other Democrats, however, saying 115-SB133 violated the 1st Amendment by barring parties from inducing or encouraging picketing rather than restricting picketing itself. Among a long list of prohibitions, the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act of 1984 defines as an "unfair labor practice" to "induce or encourage any individual in connection with a labor relations dispute to picket the residence or any place of private employment of any public official or representative of the public employee."


Questions remain over defendants' Sixth Amendment and other due process rights in Ohio courtrooms after the General Assembly rejected the Supreme Court of Ohio's remote technology proposal with passage of SCR16 (Gavarone). The resolution made the rare move of voiding major sections of the Court's annual update to the Rules of Practice and Procedure, kicking enforcement of the U.S. Constitution's confrontation clause, in-person juries and other due process guarantees back to county, municipal and district judges under expanded virtual proceedings since COVID-19. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor had predicted a "transformation" of Ohio's justice system when her Task Force on Improving Court Operations Using Remote Technology, (iCOURT) issued its final report in 2021 after a year of judicial workarounds in response to COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing. The 103-page report called statewide adoption of expanding remote court functions "not only appropriate but necessary" in the 21st century.


U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson was wrong to dismiss the unsettled lawsuits brought against Ohio State University (OSU) for its response to the alleged sex abuse carried out by Dr. Richard Strauss, according to a 2-1 decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. "In his role as university physician and athletic team doctor at the OSU, Dr. Richard Strauss allegedly abused hundreds of young men under the guise of performing medical examinations. The abuse occurred between 1978 and 1998, but it did not become public until 2018. After the allegations became public, survivors of this abuse -- including the plaintiffs in these cases -- brought Title IX suits against OSU, alleging that OSU was deliberately indifferent to their heightened risk of abuse. The district court found that the plaintiffs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The district court erred. The plaintiffs adequately allege that they did not know and could not reasonably have known that Ohio State injured them until 2018. Thus, at the motion-to-dismiss stage, we cannot say that their claims accrued before then. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the majority, joined by Judge Eric Clay. In his September 2021 ruling, Watson wrote that while OSU "utterly failed these victims," the statute of limitations had expired. Moore wrote that it's "plausible" that the plaintiffs didn't know OSU had injured them before 2018, even if the sexual abuse by Strauss occurred between 1978 and 1998.


MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM


A panel of staffers from the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Thursday gave the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) updates on various innovations within the Medicaid program, including the implementation of the OhioRISE behavioral health and the single pharmacy benefit manager initiatives, comprehensive primary care for kids, infant mortality, diabetes quality improvement, and the next generation of managed care. Steven Alexander, the legislative liaison for ODM, said there are a number of barriers to innovation in Medicaid, including the impact they may have on a large number of individuals, getting stakeholders to buy into the changes, IT system reconfiguration, resources, and complying with federal statute. On the latter, he said that any time a state does something innovative within the Medicaid program, one can expect a high level of federal scrutiny.


MENTAL HEALTH


The rising prevalence of suicide and suicidal thoughts among young people is a problem that will take entire communities to solve, mental health experts said during Wednesday's Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum. While it may seem counterintuitive, suicide actually fell in 2020 but appears to be on the rise again, according to Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation and a panelist at the forum. He said suicides have actually been shown to decrease during national tragedies but then increase in the six to 18 months after those events. While increasing demand for mental health services among minors has been of particular concern in recent months, Coder emphasized suicide is not just a "kid's issue." He said suicides rates among Black individuals have risen 169 percent nationally over the last two decades, and noted that LGBTQ youth and adults, and veterans are all at higher risk for suicide. Coder also noted that 80 percent of suicides in Ohio are by men ages 35 to 65.


NATURAL RESOURCES


Ohio's deer archery season opens statewide Saturday, Sept. 24, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife announced. "Deer hunting is a tradition in Ohio," Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. "Throughout the season and beyond, hunting-related tourism, equipment sales, and license sales generate revenue in Ohio from hunters across the nation, with much of that revenue being directed back to the state's wildlife."


PENSIONS


Trustees for the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) decided Thursday to assign their Investment Committee to vet potential new vendors to act as the pension's investment consultant, and to discuss development of an investment belief statement. This meeting was the first as chair for Carol Correthers, succeeding Robert McFee, who was defeated in the recent board election. The meeting was also the first for three newly elected board members, Julie Sellers, Elizabeth Jones and Steve Foreman. Board members also discussed whether to do investment consultant work as an entire body or through the committee, with some noting that the recent fiduciary audit of the system had recommended making better use of the board's committee structure.


PEOPLE


Robb Coventry is the new superintendent of the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of Industrial Compliance (DIC), the agency announced Wednesday. He succeeds Geoff Eaton, who retired in August, DOC said. Coventry brings more than 30 years of experience as a professional architect and planner to the position. He will lead a division that oversees the enforcement of the Ohio Building Code, the state's minimum and prevailing wage laws, as well as minor labor laws. The division also regulates businesses that offer bedding, upholstered furniture and stuffed toy products.


The Ohio Aviation Association (OAA) has selected Tony Fiore to serve as executive director. Fiore brings more than 25 years of state government affairs and association management experience to the organization, including during his tenure as executive director of the Ohio Salon Association, OAA said. Fiore has also provided government affairs representation to the OAA for more than four years as an advocate on behalf of Ohio's commercial, cargo, and general aviation airports. Fiore replaces Stacey Heaton, who recently became southern regional manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in Jacksonville, FL.


The Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) has named long-time higher education finance expert Jeff Boudouris as its new strategic finance officer. Boudouris spent 33 years at Sinclair Community College, where he served as senior vice president and chief financial officer, OACC said. At Sinclair, Boudouris oversaw all areas of financial administration, facilities management, business/auxiliary services and institutional research and analysis. He also served as treasurer for both the Sinclair Community College Board of Trustees and the Sinclair Foundation Board of Trustees. Previously, he served as Sinclair's director of budget and analysis.


POLITICS


Sometime challenger Bryan Williams left the door open Friday to another run at Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Chairman Bob Paduchik should the latter fall short of expectations for addressing stalled Central Committee business and apparent inconsistencies in party rules after the November election. Central Committee supporters of Vice Chair Williams first tried to amend the agenda with an immediate vote for chair but withdrew the motion in favor of adjourning the organizational meeting with no action on business items and reconvening after Nov. 8 for a possible leadership vote before the regular January meeting. That also failed, despite Williams' support, and members went on to complete the short agenda by reauthorizing executive and finance committees and a campaign account for federal candidates.


The Ohio Democratic Party's Executive Committee Tuesday selected new officers and issued endorsements for candidates for the State Board of Education in a virtual meeting. Andre Washington, who also serves as president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, was re-elected as vice chair of the party. Washington was first selected for the position when Chair Elizabeth Walters took over the party. Walters praised Washington on Tuesday, calling him a good partner, and said Washington wears many hats across many groups. Former Ohio Education Association President Patricia Frost Brooks was re-elected as the party's treasurer, while Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney was elected as party secretary. Feeney succeeds long-time party secretary Bill DeMora, who is running for Ohio Senate.


POLLS/STUDIES


The race to replace U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is virtually tied, according to a new poll from USA Today Network Ohio and Suffolk University. Democratic candidate Tim Ryan holds a slight lead over Republican candidate J.D. Vance, at 46.6 percent to 45.6 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. The poll also shows Gov. Mike DeWine with a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Nan Whaley, at 53.8 percent to 39.2 percent. DeWine holds the lead despite signing 133-SB23 (Roegner), which bans abortion when fetal cardiac activity is detected. According to the poll, 68 percent of likely voters disapprove of the "heartbeat" law.


According to the poll, Justice Sharon Kennedy leads Justice Jennifer Brunner for chief justice 42.20 percent to 41.80 percent, with 15.8 percent undecided. Justice Pat Fischer is leading Democrat Terri Jamison 42.20 percent to 40.60 percent, with 16.80 percent undecided. Justice Pat DeWine leads Democrat Marilyn Zayas 43.40 percent to 41 percent, with 15.40 percent undecided.


Among other questions asked by the poll:


  • 84 percent said the candidates for governor and U.S. Senate should debate before the November election, while 10 percent said no. U.S. Senate candidates J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan have committed to debating each other before the election, but Gov. Mike DeWine has not accepted a debate invitation with opponent Nan Whaley.

  • Inflation and the economy was the issue most important to respondents (27.8 percent), followed by "threats to democracy" (19.8 percent) and abortion (13.4 percent). Drugs/opioids was the least chosen issue at 1.8 percent.

  • Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) said they have never heard of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), who is expected to go on trial next year on charges of corruption.

POVERTY


The pandemic has created "lasting challenges" for low-income Ohioans, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) Executive Director Philip Cole said Tuesday in releasing a report on the state of poverty that was also limited by pandemic effects on Census data collection. Thousands of people lost their jobs in Ohio during the pandemic. As a result, this year's report was subtitled, "The face of poverty may surprise you." However, Cole said, Intel's factories and the associated business growth around the state represent an opportunity for a "true rebound." Cole and Tina Kassebaum, partner and principal investigator of Strategic Research Group (SRG), focused on four causes of Ohio's poverty conditions -- the shifting job market, student loan debt, unaffordable or unavailable child care and unaffordable housing. The first two were a matter of education and the latter two were an issue of wages, Cole added.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


The Fair Districts Ohio coalition Thursday said they were still looking into a new redistricting reform effort as the Ohio Redistricting Commission took no action on a new congressional plan and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor indicated she would join efforts to pass a reform during her "State of the Judiciary" speech.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS/BROADBAND


As part of a "Next Generation Jobs Tour," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Monday announced a new project to add high-speed Internet at three community recreation centers in Dayton, helping both children and adults have service there and enabling on-site programs teaching digital skills. The project will also provide educational support for afterschool and summer camp programming. The state's Office of BroadbandOhio is contributing $250,000 for the effort, which supports the Greater Dayton Recreation Center, Lohrey Recreation Center and Northwest Recreation Center.



[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2022 Hannah News Service, Inc.]


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