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.
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Brad Lentz, agriculture program director at Edison State Community College, received the Darke County Chamber of Commerce's Agriculture Achievement Award during the chamber's Agribusiness Day event, the college announced recently. The agriculture program at Edison State also received the Agricultural Advocacy Award.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is preparing a raft of experts for next month's "Two Days in May" Conference on Victim Assistance, where he will present remarks to open the symposium on Monday, May 9. Dubbed a "Celebration of Resiliency," the crime victim conference is scheduled for Monday-Tuesday, May 9-10 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, with topics ranging from financial crimes against the elderly to helping youth survivors of gun crimes to Marsy's Law litigation and legislation.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office opened the application process Tuesday for $2.66 million in 2022-23 Drug Use Prevention Grants. The annual Drug Use Prevention (DUP) Grant Program pays up to half the salaries of DARE-certified officers and school resource officers (SRO) who provide in-class instruction and direct counseling. Officers may teach from a range of approved curricula. Grants may be used for one-on-one counseling and school-sponsored events. The application deadline is Tuesday, May 3. The grant application can be found at https://tinyurl.com/347zdnm6 . Related questions can be directed to sam.gedert@OhioAGO.gov or 614-995-0328. More on the DUP Grant Program can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yfw8bvrf .
AUDITOR OF STATE
Noting limited public funding and a direction taking more higher education instruction online, Auditor Keith Faber Tuesday released an update from his office's higher education facilities performance audit and called for more up-to-date information on higher education facilities. Faber said the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) should ensure that the state's public colleges and universities are submitting up-to-date information annually about their facilities. That data is needed to determine future capital investments for maintaining aging buildings, constructing new ones, or shifting resources to accommodate increasingly online learning, the audit said. The audit reviewed data from Ohio's 14 public universities, 24 regional campuses, and 23 community or technical colleges and also recommended ODHE complete an updated strategic plan, given enrollment trends away from traditional on-campus classrooms to virtual learning environments.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 4,808 new COVID-19 cases for the April 8-14 period, up from 3,828 over April 1-7 and 3,103 in March 25-31. March was the first month in which ODH began reporting weekly numbers, and it had 18,861 total cases, down from 72,995 in February. ODH's weekly update Thursday also included 317 hospitalizations, 29 ICU admissions and 100 deaths. The Ohio Hospital Association reported 314 current patients with COVID-19 and 38 ICU patients on Thursday.
Since the pandemic began, ODH has reported 2.68 million cases, 114,443 hospitalizations, 13,426 ICU admissions and 38,266 deaths.
Attorney General Dave Yost defends Ohio's death penalty system against anecdotal claims of prosecutorial error and wrongful convictions in his new Capital Crimes report, noting nearly one fourth of the grisly murders assigned by juries to the worst of the worst have involved child victims. Yost has issued an exhaustive, 412-page report on the Ohio capital crime system from 1981 through 2021. Of 336 inmates originally sentenced to die, he says 134 remain on Death Row, with an average stay of more than two decades; 82 have been removed from Death Row and resentenced or judicially released; 56 have been executed; 35 have died of natural causes or suicide; 21 have had their sentences commuted; eight have been removed due to intellectual disabilities and two due to mental illness.
Before starting its first round of interviews with prospects for the state superintendent position, the State Board of Education (SBOE) decided Monday it will call a second round of interviews with finalists who can garner sufficient support from board members. The board rearranged and shortened its typical agenda for its April meeting to allow it to spend substantial time in closed-door executive session for interviews with seven previously announced candidates. Those candidates are former SBOE Vice President Steve Dackin; Perrysburg Schools Superintendent Thomas Hosler; Finn Laursen, former executive director of Christian Educators Association International; Carrollton Schools Superintendent David Quattrochi; Kimberly Richey, a former U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights official; Ronnie Tarchichi, superintendent of Pennsauken Schools in New Jersey; and Springboro Schools Superintendent Larry Hook.
State Board of Education (SBOE) Vice President Martha Manchester, who also serves as the chair of the board's Teaching, Leading, and Learning (TLL) Committee said Monday she is planning a special meeting later this month for further discussion -- and a potential vote -- on the Ohio Dyslexia Guidebook. Manchester said she is also considering adding discussion time for the "Student Interactions with Peace Officers" model curriculum. No official date has been set, though Manchester said the meeting will likely take place the morning of Thursday, April 28.
State Board of Education (SBOE) President Charlotte McGuire announced Tuesday new committee assignments in response to the resignation of former Vice President Steve Dackin, who is now a candidate to become state superintendent. Brandon Kern will chair the Legislative Committee. Kern, a gubernatorial appointee to the board, is senior director of state and national policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau. Tim Miller, elected member for District 7, becomes vice chair on the Emerging Issues and Operational Standards Committee. He owns an insurance agency and previously served on the Akron Public Schools Board of Education. McGuire also appointed members Brendan Shea, elected member for District 10, and Walt Davis, a gubernatorial appointee, as chair and vice chair of a workgroup on financial literacy standards. Shea is a financial adviser. In addition, McGuire appointed member Kirsten Hill, elected member for District 2, to serve on the Budget Committee, a move requested by Mike Toal, chair of the committee.
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff laid the groundwork this week with discussions on updating the state report card for career-technical schools, as well as the system for awarding various honors diplomas to students.
Interim State Superintendent Stephanie Siddens recently announced that 263 Ohio schools will be honored with the Purple Star Award this school year. The award, created in 2017, recognizes schools that support students and families connected to the U.S. armed forces and the Ohio National Guard. The 2022 Class of Purple Star Schools includes 94 Ohio schools that received the award for the first time and 169 schools that earned a renewal after three years as dedicated Purple Star Schools. With the new class of honorees, the state now has 431 active Purple Star schools.
Kristen Maurer, who teaches kindergarten at Midvale Elementary School in Northeastern Ohio, was honored with the Milken Educator Award Thursday at a surprise school assembly. Maurer was presented with the national recognition, which includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize, by Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher and Interim State Superintendent Stephanie Siddens. Out of over 60 recipients this school year, Maurer is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Ohio and the first from Indian Valley Local Schools, where she is a graduate herself.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Cranley Monday said he would use federal stimulus funds to require schools to offer at least six weeks of voluntary summer school for students as a way to help catch up those who fell behind during the pandemic. Cranley, along with running mate Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Stephen Dyer, a former state representative and former education policy expert at Innovation Ohio, said lawmakers should use unspent COVID-19 relief funds as well as money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to pay for a program this summer, with Dyer estimating it would cost about $740 million.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that 71,296 absentee ballots had been requested by mail or in-person and that 11,935 votes have been cast statewide with three weeks to go before the Tuesday, May 3 primary election. According to the secretary of state:
34,830 Democratic ballots have been requested, with 4,606 Democratic ballots cast early in-person and 5,672 returned in the mail and submitted for counting.
35,045 Republican ballots have been requested, with 5,181 Republican ballots cast early in-person and 6,058 returned in the mail and submitted for counting.
1,421 nonpartisan ballots have been requested, with 150 cast early in-person and 205 returned in the mail and submitted for counting.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose Wednesday released an update on poll worker recruitment for the May 3 primary election, with 31,433 Ohioans signed up to serve at a poll in the primary. The minimum number of poll workers needed statewide is 30,295, according to the secretary of state. Twenty-four counties have met the minimum number of poll workers needed.
U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan's campaign said Tuesday it raised $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2022. The campaign said it has $6.4 million on hand. It received contributions from 29,239 new donors during the quarter, and 97 percent of contributions made overall in the first three months were $100 or less.
Republican Scott Pullins filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to have his lawsuit voluntarily dismissed after General Assembly district races were pulled from the May 3 primary ballot by Secretary of State Frank LaRose due to ongoing litigation over redistricting. Pullins, who is seeking to challenge Rep. Darrel Kick (R-Loudonville) in the Republican primary for the 98th House District, had been disqualified by the Holmes County Board of Elections due to petition errors, and had sued in the Ohio Supreme Court asking for the Court to order his name on the ballot. He is taking out new petitions.
Former President Donald Trump announced he will hold a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 23.
Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) is seeking a seat on Ohio's 10th District Court of Appeals, forgoing her last term in the General Assembly. She would have faced term limits after the 135th General Assembly.
Boggs was elected to the Ohio House in 2016, previously serving as an assistant Ohio attorney general, where she represented state agencies and universities in civil actions filed in the Court of Claims.
Speaking with reporters following a news conference announcing his Ohio Task Force on Volunteer Fire Service, Gov. Mike DeWine told Hannah News he had nothing to announce on the capital budget as yet and hadn't considered, when questioned, the possibility of using the budget to pay for the second primary election. The governor was also asked whether he planned to meet with Trump during the former president's trip to Delaware County later this month. DeWine said he would have to check his schedule for possible conflicts. He was buoyant, however, about a possible endorsement in the gubernatorial race. "Sure, we love it. We love everyone's endorsement," he said. "We [would] love the former president's endorsement."
Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor said Thursday that he is dropping his campaign for the 15th Congressional District, attributing his decision to the redistricting process, criticizing both the Ohio Redistricting Commission's inability to draw constitutional maps as well as ACLU of Ohio and the League of Women Voters of Ohio, whose challenge of the maps shifted to asking for relief for the 2024 election cycle rather than this year.
The following endorsements were made over the week:
The congressional campaign of Emilia Sykes announced the endorsement of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.
The congressional campaign of Theresa Gavarone announced the endorsements of Erie County Commissioners Matt Old and Steve Shoffner; former Erie County Commissioner Nancy McKeen; Fulton County Commissioners Jon Rupp, Jeff Rupp, and Joe Short; Sandusky County Commissioners Scott Miller, Russ Zimmerman, and Charles Schwochow; former Sandusky County Commissioner Terry Thatcher; Williams County Commissioner Brian Davis; Wood County Commissioners Ted Bowlus and Craig LaHote; former Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter; Erie County Treasurer Caleb Stidham; Erie County Auditor Rick Jeffrey; Erie County Coroner Brian Baxter; Fulton County Auditor Brett Kolb; Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller; Fulton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Zuver; Fulton County Recorder Wendy Hardy; Fulton County Engineer Frank Onweller; Ottawa County Clerk of Courts John Klaehn; Ottawa County Recorder Nate Daniels; Sandusky County Treasurer Kim Foreman; Sandusky County Auditor Jerri Miller; Williams County Sheriff Thomas Kochert; Williams County Coroner Kevin Park; Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn; Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich; Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson; Wood County Clerk of Courts Doug Cubberley; Wood County Recorder Jim Matuszak; and Wood County Treasurer Jane Spoerl.
The Plain Dealer endorsed Matt Dolan in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, John Cranley in the Democratic primary for governor and Tim Ryan for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
The Ohio AFL-CIO endorsed Scott Schertzer for state treasurer; Jeff Crossman for attorney general; Taylor Sappington for state auditor; and Emilia Sykes for Congress.
The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci announced the endorsement of Stand for Health Freedom, Greater Toledo Right to Life, the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, Greater Cleveland Right to Life, Brooklyn Republican Club, and Parma Republican Club, Cuyahoga Valley Republicans, Dayton Right to Life, and Middleburg GOP.
We the People Convention endorsed Mike Gibbons for U.S. Senate and Craig Riedel for Congress.
The Ohio Restaurant Association endorsed Mike DeWine for governor and Jon Husted for lieutenant governor.
The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund endorsed Jennifer Kinsley, Christine Mayle, Gene Donofrio, Lisa Forbes, Michael John Ryan, Thomas A. Teodosio, Erica Vorhees, Amber Rae Crowe, Carly Edelstein, Kristin Boggs and David Leland for Ohio Courts of Appeals.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice candidate Sharon Kennedy announced on Twitter the endorsement of Ironworkers Local Union No. 44.
The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the National Border Patrol Council.
The congressional campaign of Republican Craig Riedel announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana).
The gubernatorial campaign of Nan Whaley announced the endorsements of Cleveland Councilwomen Stephanie Howse and Rebecca Maurer; Rep. Shayla Davis (D-Cleveland); Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack; Norwood Treasurer James Bonsall; Cuyahoga County Council members Meredith Turner, Scott Tuma and Yvonne Conwell; Cleveland; Cleveland Heights City Council President Melody Joy Hart; Finneytown School Board member Jamie Rea; Evendale Councilwoman Carolyn Smiley-Robertson; Dayton City Clerk of Courts Marty Gehres; Kettering City Council member Jyl Hall; Madison Township Trustee Katherine Chipps; Cleveland Heights Democratic Club; Hocking County Democratic Party Chair Bill Henderson; Union County Democratic Party Chair Tenah Ridge McMahan; and the Miami, Paulding, Preble, Shelby, and Lake County Democratic parties.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed Nina Turner for Congress.
U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) endorsed Mike Gibbons for U.S. Senate.
The gubernatorial campaign of Nan Whaley announced the endorsement of the Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus.
Working Families Party endorsed Nina Turner for the 11th Congressional District.
President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is issuing an emergency waiver to relax federal restrictions on the sale of 15 percent ethanol fuel, or E15, between June 1-Sept. 15 in an effort to lower sticker shock during vacation driving season. E15 is generally cheaper than regular gasoline and the federal government says it is safe to use in cars manufactured in 2001 or later.
President Joe Biden announced Monday that he is nominating Steve Dettelbach to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) -- "our top federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing our commonsense gun laws." Ohio's U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown applauded the nomination of Dettelbach, who was formerly the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio as well as the Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2018.
According to the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC), the state's four casinos raked in $93.3 million in March 2022, up from $91.6 million in March 2021. The video lottery terminals (VLTs) at Ohio's seven casinos pulled in $123 million in March 2022, down from $124.2 million in March 2021. Total traditional Ohio Lottery ticket sales were $384.7 million, down from $411.6 million in March 2021.
Ohio veterans and fraternal organizations can now have electronic instant bingo machines in operation, according to Attorney General Dave Yost's office. Yost spokesperson Luke Sullivan told Hannah News that the AG's office has approved 672 veterans and fraternal organizations to conduct e-bingo so far. There are fewer than 1,000 eligible applicants, he added. Yost's office has also denied e-bingo licenses for three organizations unless and until the "no chance games" observed by the Ohio Attorney General's Office are removed from service.
Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) is the new president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC). Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) resigned from his OLBC leadership position to focus more attention on his work as assistant minority leader of the House Democratic Caucus, OLBC said. The rest of the OLBC leadership team is as follows:
Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) is first vice president.
Rep. Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) is second vice president.
Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) is treasurer.
Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati) is secretary.
Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) is sergeant at arms.
Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) is parliamentarian.
The Ohio Statehouse will offer a free fossil tour on Capitol Square for Earth Day on Saturday, April 23 with specimens from the Orton Geological Museum compared with similar fossils in the Statehouse's limestone structure. The tour will start in the Governor Thomas Worthington Center on the Statehouse ground floor and will be conducted by Orton Museum Curator Dale Gnidovec and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) paleontologist Mark Peter. Registration is not required, but groups should contact Katie Montgomery at 614-728-3726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gul E. Kremer has been named the new dean of the University of Dayton (UD) School of Engineering, starting Monday, Aug. 1. Kremer is the Wilkinson Professor in Interdisciplinary Engineering in the Iowa State University Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering and senior director of presidential projects in the Office of the President. As dean, Kremer will oversee more than 1,900 undergraduate and 576 graduate students.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) has announced the recipients of funds through the Commercial Truck Driver Student Aid Program. A total of 30 schools will share $2.5 million aimed at helping Ohio students earn a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The program provides financial aid to in-state students who complete a CDL program and agree to reside and be employed in Ohio for a minimum of one year upon completion. The funds will be disbursed in the form of grants and loans to students who enroll in CDL training programs at approved institutions. The Student Aid program was originally enacted in the state's biennial budget bill, HB110 (Oelslager), with additional parameters of the program set forth in SB166 (Reineke).
Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) announced that President Rock Jones would retire after the 2022-2023 academic year, ending 15 years that brought "transformational change," according to school. This includes "renewal" of the residential campus and OWU's two most successful fundraising campaigns. He will be the second-longest serving OWU president, after founder Edward Thomson.
Ohio State University (OSU) has announced that Keith Myers will retire from his position as vice president of planning, architecture and real estate (PARE) on June 30. The university said Myers was a key player in guiding the design and "physical footprint" of the Columbus campus.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) announced it will sunset it's Cincinnati rabbinical program by the end of the 2026 academic year. The move is part of a restructuring that includes residential programs in Los Angeles and New York. Hebrew Union College is the nation's oldest Jewish seminary, founded in Cincinnati in 1875, and the residential rabbinical program has trained rabbis for 147 years.
Mount Union President Tom Botzman is set to retire June 30, the Canton Repository reported. Botzman, who became president in July 2020, announced his retirement in an email to faculty and staff on Thursday. The email stated that Mount Union's Board of Trustees will immediately begin working to identify an interim president to take on the post for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The University of Toledo (UT) said it will reduce its out-of-state surcharge to $100 per semester for the 2022-23 academic year in an effort to better attract high-performing students from outside of Ohio. The Ohio Department of Higher Education recently approved UT's request to reduce the out-of-state surcharge, and the Board of Trustees approved the change at its February meeting.
Federal funding supplements and a drop in participation have pushed the impending funding "cliff" for child care out past the upcoming biennium, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) told a legislative study committee Wednesday. At the outset of the FY22-23 budget deliberations, the department was warning of a need for several hundred million dollars in the FY24-25 biennium, based on the projected exhaustion of reserves in Ohio's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding. However, American Rescue Plan Act funding, including $500 million yet to be appropriated, and a reduction in the number of families participating in publicly funded child care have bought the state a few years, said ODJFS Assistant Director Michael McCreight at Wednesday's hearing of the Study Committee on Ohio's Publicly Funded Child Care and Step Up to Quality Program.
An Ohio Supreme Court commission is weighing the formal suspension of an Ohio mayor after the auditor of state found local laws did not specify whether civil wedding fees belonged to the city or the officiant. Questions hanging over Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen, 72, go much deeper, however, into matters unrelated to public corruption. Homrighausen, a Republican in his eighth term as mayor since being first elected in 1991, is facing a 15-count indictment for pocketing $9,295 from 231 civil ceremonies and violating state nepotism laws. Charges include one count of theft in office, one count unlawful interest in a public contract, two counts of dereliction of duty, four counts of improper compensation, six counts of fraudulent tax returns and one count of improper representation of another person in the official's public capacity.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Geological Survey has released new groundwater maps that offer a highly detailed assessment of Ohio's aquifers and how vulnerable they are to pollution. They will serve as tools for land-use planning and development. Modern advances in data gathering and mapping technology allowed the division to develop maps with greater detail that evaluate the groundwater resources across county lines and throughout the state.
Twenty-three Ohio communities will receive a total of $576,161 from ODNR to support local marine patrol units and improve recreational boating experiences. The 2022 Marine Patrol Assistance grants are meant to help local law enforcement agencies provide emergency response to boating-related incidents, conduct routine waterway patrols and purchase safety equipment for use on marine patrol vessels. The funding comes from the state's Waterways Safety Fund, which is comprised of the state motor fuel tax, watercraft registration and titling fees, as well as funds provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Ohio's five retirement systems told lawmakers Thursday they've decreased their investments in Russia but must observe their fiduciary duty in continuing to do so and are now facing market freezes in the country, which is battling international economic sanctions after launching an invasion of Ukraine. Systems reported to the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) the assets effectively cannot be traded because of market freezes on foreign investments. The systems reported the holdings make up a small fraction of a percent of their assets.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) recently announced that Kyle Petty has joined the association policy staff as legislative counsel. Prior to joining CCAO, Petty served as director of government relations for CHW Advisors. He also previously served as senior legislative liaison for former Gov. John Kasich; legislative director for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio Department of Youth Services; and as an administrative and legislative aide in the Ohio Senate. A licensed attorney, Petty is also a partner in the Petty-Devlin Law Group, LLC.
Reps. Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview) and Thomas West (D-Canton) were recently presented the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's (ACS CAN) Distinguished Advocacy Award during the organization's Cancer Action Day at the Capitol. ACS CAN recognized the legislators for their leadership on co-pay accumulator legislation.
Recently, the Ohio Library Council (OLC) recognized two key library supporters: Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine and Ohio Senate President Pro Tempore Jay Hottinger (R-Newark). Mrs. DeWine was recognized for her efforts to improve early childhood literacy and for expanding the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library across the state while Hottinger, who is retiring at the end of this General Assembly, was named the recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Award "for his unwavering support of Ohio's public libraries.
President Joe Biden tied his lowest approval rating in a Quinnipiac Poll in its latest survey, with 33 percent of those interviewed approving of the way he is handling his job, compared to 54 percent who disapprove and 13 percent not offering an opinion. Quinnipiac said the 33 percent approval mark ties the low he received in a January poll, when his approval rating was a negative 33 percent to 53 percent. Seventy-six percent of Democrats approve of Biden's job performance, while independent voters disapprove 56 percent to 26 percent and Republicans disapprove 94 percent to 3 percent. Among registered voters, 35 percent approve of Biden's job performance, while 55 percent disapprove. Those numbers also tie the low he received in the January Quinnipiac Poll.
The DeWine administration added Coshocton County to the roster of sheriffs' offices certified for state policing standards Tuesday along with another dozen law enforcement agencies newly compliant or recertified under best practices issued by the Ohio Community-Police Collaborative Advisory Board.
Coshocton County brings to 69 the number of sheriffs' offices having met state standards on use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring. That leaves nearly one-quarter of all Ohio counties uncertified by the Ohio Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). Those include Ashtabula, Columbiana, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Henry, Jefferson, Madison, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Shelby, Trumbull, Vinton and Wayne. The counties of Adams, Monroe, Morgan, Noble and Paulding, moreover, contain no jurisdictions of any kind having executed an OCJS agreement.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the launch of the Ohio Task Force on Volunteer Fire Service Thursday to address the threat facing fire departments in need of personnel and funding. DeWine gathered at the Central Ohio Fire Museum in Downtown Columbus with State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon and Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Director Sherry Maxfield, which houses the Division of State Fire Marshall. DeWine said fire jurisdictions around the state -- especially in the 86 counties with part- or all-volunteer departments -- will need more volunteer recruitment, funding, training, equipment and "long-term stability of the volunteer fire department structure" to continue to answer the call.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and other members of the 6-State Trooper Project recently collaborated in a distracted driving project which ran from Monday, April 4 and ended Monday, April 11. The high-visibility enforcement included the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, West Virginia State Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. During the 6-State Trooper Project, the patrol cited 419 drivers with distracted driving.
Continuing to criticize the process the Ohio Redistricting Commission has followed to send it four separate General Assembly redistricting plans, the Ohio Supreme Court Thursday struck down the latest plan by a vote of 4-3, saying it is little changed from a previously rejected plan. The Court set Friday, May 6, as the latest deadline for the commission to come up with an entirely new plan, with the plan due to the secretary of state by 9 a.m. on that date and to the Court by noon. Additionally, the Court's order allowed for the commission to request a time extension "for good cause shown. … In sum, the [fourth] plan has not materially changed from the invalidated [third] plan. The evidence supports the finding that the [fourth] plan violates Article XI, Section 6(A), just as we found with regard to the [third] plan in League III," the majority wrote.
Republicans that filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force implementation of a redistricting plan for General Assembly districts told the federal court in a brief that it does have the power to move Ohio's primary. The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Donald Brey, told the court that Ohio can't hold a general election for General Assembly seats without a primary election, and for that reason, their constitutional rights were violated when the primary for those seats was cancelled and not rescheduled. Brey said the Ohio Constitution still requires a primary.
The three-judge panel hearing the case last week posed three new questions to the parties:
"Is there a federal right to vote in a primary if state law requires a primary for state elections? Please provide the specific text in the Constitution or a constitutional doctrine that grounds this right."
"May Ohio simply not hold a primary and have a general election? If so, how would Ohio law provide for a general election for those seats?"
"Does the federal court have authority to move a primary election? Where does this authority come from?"
The three-judge federal panel Tuesday rejected a motion filed in a lawsuit that asked the court to order Ohio not to certify the results of the May 3 congressional primary election based on the argument that the new district lines are unfairly biased against Black voters. The judges said the case before them addresses state legislative redistricting and therefore a challenge to congressional districts is not proper for them to take up.
Saying that antisemitism "remains a persistent, pervasive and disturbing problem in American society, including in Ohio," Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Thursday further defining antisemitism based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) working definition. The order also requires state agencies, departments, boards, commissions and public colleges and universities to adopt the definition as well. IHRA defines "antisemitism" as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews," and says that "rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
While the 2022 Ohio Air Mobility Symposium -- organized by Ohio State University (OSU) students -- looked at future opportunities in advanced air mobility (AAM), speakers including Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, JobsOhio Managing Director for Aerospace Glenn Richardson and DeWine administration Senior Advisor Joe Zeis also paid homage to the state's formidable history of air and space achievements. In opening the symposium's Friday, April 8 session, program coordinator Zoe Karabinus said the event explored how Ohio can position itself as a hub for AAM research, testing and manufacturing; prepare policy and infrastructure for implementation of the new technology; and work to address communities' concerns.
These efforts will require robust partnerships among academia, government and industry stakeholders. Karabinus said challenges include airspace integration, supply chains, certification and local acceptance.
Forthcoming legislation from Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) would establish a "highway system" for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), prohibit their use in voyeurism- and trespass-related offenses and protect the rights of private property owners in regard to airspace. Holmes, who chairs the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC), previously offered a package of bills on navigable airspace and UAV operation. The three new bills, which are receiving stakeholder feedback before introduction, would complement that package.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) will soon collect hundreds of pieces of personal protective gear for donation to members of the Ukraine civilian territorial defense, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday. In March, DeWine requested an inventory from local and state law enforcement agencies on the amount of surplus or expired -- but still functional -- personal protective gear that could potentially be donated to Ukraine. More than two dozen agencies responded to the query, offering approximately 75 ballistic and riot helmets and 840 pieces of body armor, including vests and plates, according to a news release from the governor's office.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohioans filed 13,788 initial jobless claims from Sunday, April 3, through Saturday, April 9 -- 3,874 fewer than the previous week. Ohioans filed 50,520 continued traditional unemployment claims over the same period, which ODJFS said is 3,202 more than the previous week. The total number of traditional claims filed from April 3-9 was 64,308. The number of initial claims is down after two weeks of increases. Last week, ODJFS reported 17,662 jobless claims; 16,156 initial jobless claims were reported the week before that. ODJFS reported 47,318 continued jobless claims last week.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) administrative law judge chided parties in the pending audit of FirstEnergy's "political and charitable" payments and 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) Monday after the company made an ex parte request for more time to release records from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) related audit of FirstEnergy's "political and related expenses." PUCO had ordered the utility to disclose documents from FERC's completed audit in March and last Wednesday denied FirstEnergy's appeal of that ruling. Commissioners pointed out that FERC had not intervened in the Ohio docket to contest production of those records and agreed with OCC that the completed federal audit "is separate and apart from [FERC's] pending investigation of FirstEnergy Corp.'s lobbying and governmental affairs activities" and therefore open to document discovery.
The battle between state regulatory staff and the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) continues over the independent audit of American Electric Power's (AEP) Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) charge centers on (a) the difference between "suggestion" and "request," (b) outside auditors' role as quasi-staff, and (c) the financial prudence in billing ratepayers millions of dollars more in subsidies than what the same electricity would cost on the open market. The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), consumers' counsel and other intervenors' growing dispute with Federal Energy Advocate Lori Sternisha, engineer Rodney Windle and other PUCO staff follows OCC's release of a September 2020 email exchange between Sternisha's office, AEP, and Chief Economist Marie Fagan of London Economics International (LEI) that the consumers' counsel acquired in a public records request and provided to the House Public Utilities Committee last fall.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2022 Hannah News Service, Inc.]