Week In Review - April 25, 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.

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ABORTION


Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway Friday granted a preliminary injunction blocking the provisions of anti-abortion law SB157 (Johnson-S. Huffman) on variances for ambulatory surgical facilities until Tuesday, June 21, the bill's effective date. Under the law, abortion clinics with a variance from a written transfer agreement are prohibited from consulting with a physician that is affiliated with a state university/college, state hospital or other public institution. However, SB157 doesn't require a regulated facility to demonstrate compliance with those provisions until June 21. Southwest Ohio abortion providers argued that ODH was moving to revoke their licenses and shut down their services ahead of the law's effective date. Hatheway's decision granted the relief requested by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Ohio and Fanon A. Rucker of the Cochran Firm-OH representing Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region and Women's Med Dayton.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that he and governors from 25 other states have joined together to form the new American Governors' Border Strike Force to target dangerous transnational criminal organizations that are flooding local communities with drugs. In addition to Ohio, other states in the collaborative are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. By partnering across state lines, the group will serve as a "force multiplier" to target cartels and criminal networks financially and operationally, DeWine's office said. The collaboration will improve public safety, protect victims from horrific crimes, reduce the amount of drugs in local communities and help alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border.


The attorney general (AG) issued a warning Wednesday on the spread of the synthetic opioid nitazene in Ohio. Up to 40 times more potent than fentanyl, nitazene's cases more than quadrupled year-over-year in Ohio to 143 cases in the first quarter of 2022, the AG's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) said. That is up from 27 cases in the same time period in 2021, the AG said. Hotspots include Montgomery and Scioto counties followed by Summit, Allen, Ashtabula, Butler and Richland counties in the second tier and Fayette, Greene, Lawrence and Lucas in the third tier. Cuyahoga, Franklin and several counties adjacent to them also are seeing significant nitazene activity, while Hamilton County is not.


The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) is reminding citizens of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for Saturday, April 30. "Take Back Day" is held twice each year to encourage Ohioans and residents of other states to dispose of unneeded medications "as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting," says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which sponsors the event. Take Back Day is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m., April 30. More on the semi-annual event and resources for disposing of unneeded medications can be found at www.dea.gov/takebackday.


AGRICULTURE


The "ultimate pop concert for kids" will be held on opening day of the Ohio State Fair, officials announced on Monday. Kidz Bop Live 2022 is the final 2022 ticketed event to be announced by the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, the Ohio Expositions Commission said. State officials also announced three free events that will be held in the WCOL Celeste Center, completing the Ohio State Fair Concert Series powered by AEP Ohio's Smart Grid. Free shows include the All-Ohio State Fair Band and Youth Choir, the Drifters and the Sale of Champions. The 12-day Ohio State Fair features a diverse selection of entertainment, including Christian, country, R&B, classic rock, funk, family and comedy.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


Ohio's arts and creative industries struggled much more than the state's overall economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA) and Bowling Green State University's (BGSU) Center for Regional Development (CRD). The "Creative Industries Economic Contribution Report" analyzed the following regions of the state: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. "The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected creative industries in Ohio. Specifically, decreases (as a percentage) in employment and economic output were four times as large compared to the overall Ohio economy," OCA said. "The decline in creative industry payroll was over seven times as large compared to the overall Ohio economy, suggesting programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) did not provide adequate support to employees in creative industries." Comparing 2020 to 2019, creative industry employment declined by more than 41,000 (12.6 percent), while total creative industry economic output fell by more than $8.6 billion (15.7 percent).


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


New research out of Ohio State University (OSU) has found children with complex medical conditions, particularly those who require behavioral health treatment, often have to go outside of their insurance plans' provider networks for care. Almost one in five children with complex, chronic medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes, who also need behavioral health care, are seen by specialists who are out of network, the study found. The need for out-of-network care means more out-of-pocket costs to families, and can compound the stress of caring for a child with lasting medical needs, said lead author Wendy Xu, an associate professor of health services management and policy at Ohio State.


CORONAVIRUS


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday reported 6,890 new COVID-19 cases for the week, up from 4,808 during April 8-14. Hospitalizations also rose from 317 to 428, while weekly ICU admissions dropped from 29 to 19 and deaths fell from 100 to 94. According to the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), there are currently 311 total hospital patients with COVID-19 and 47 ICU patients, compared to 314 hospital patients and 38 ICU patients on April 14.


EDUCATION


Kurt Russell, a history teacher at Oberlin High School, was named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year Tuesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Russell was named the 2022 Ohio Teacher of the Year in September 2021 and it was announced that he was in the running for the national honor earlier this year. Born and raised in Oberlin, Russell is in his 25th year in the classroom at Oberlin High School, where he teaches a number of history courses, including African American history; U.S. history; International Baccalaureate History of the Americas; and Race, Gender and Oppression. Russell said he was inspired to become an educator in middle school when he had his first Black male teacher.


Gov. Mike DeWine joined with 17 of his GOP contemporaries from states across the U.S. this week in objecting to proposed criteria for sizable charter school grants distributed by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The governors argue the proposed rules create "substantive barriers" to charter school openings and shift the focus away from creating "high quality" seats. They also said the proposals include major changes without adequate engagement with school leaders and parents. Ohio received a state entity grant in 2015, though early efforts to put it into action were hobbled by a scandal over state ratings of charter school sponsors. Meanwhile, ODE said it has received permission to spend that 2015 award beyond the original five-year grant period.


A Franklin County judge denied a request from Groveport Madison Schools to block the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) from enforcing a provision of the biennial budget that penalizes districts that regularly can't meet their obligation to transport private and charter school students. Meanwhile, Columbus City Schools recently filed a similar lawsuit in Franklin County, assigned to a different judge, to challenge the provision of HB110 (Oelslager). Under the budget language, ODE can determine if a district has had a "consistent or prolonged period of noncompliance" with the obligation to provide transportation to students who live in the district but attend other schools. In such cases, ODE is to deduct the daily share of the district's state transportation funding for each day of non-compliance.


ELECTIONS


The Probable Cause Panel of the Ohio Elections Commission Thursday found probable cause on a new complaint against Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone over his campaign finance reports. The latest complaints against Blystone were filed last week and take issue with his annual report filed by his campaign in January. The complaints allege, among other issues, that the campaign failed to file receipts and other documents supporting expenditures in the annual report, that the campaign knowingly concealed information required to be reported and that it did not properly report small-dollar contributions.


ELECTIONS 2022


Former President Donald Trump on Friday, April 15 officially endorsed J.D. Vance, saying the Hillbilly Elegy author is the "candidate most qualified and ready to win" in the November general election. "We cannot play games. It is all about winning," Trump said in a statement. "Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race." Trump said the decision to endorse in Ohio was difficult because he likes and respects "some of the other candidates in the race," noting they have said nice things about him. J.D. Vance didn't waste any time flaunting what is likely the most important endorsement of the U.S. Senate Republican primary, launching his second statewide TV ad on Monday, which focuses on his endorsement from Trump.


Republican Mike Gibbons continued to go big in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat opened by the retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), giving his campaign another $5 million in the first quarter of 2022 and spending more than $8 million to break out of a crowded Republican field. Friday, April 15, was the deadline for federal candidates to report campaign finance activity to the Federal Elections Commission. Gibbons, who has lent his committee nearly $17 million over the campaign, reported nearly $5.3 million in campaign receipts over the first quarter, including the $5 million loan. He spent nearly $8.4 million and has $3.3 million at the end of the quarter on hand.


The top fundraiser over the quarter was Democrat U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination. His report showed $4.1 million in contributions, and he spent $2.7 million. He has $6.5 million on hand.


Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) is the second highest spender in the U.S. Senate race in the first three months of 2022, reporting more than $6 million in disbursements. He reported $225,062 in contributions and has $4.6 million on hand. His committee also owes $2.5 million in loans. Former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken was the second biggest fundraiser during the period, reporting $808,892 in contributions, and has spent nearly $3 million. She has $1.5 million on hand at the end of the reporting period. Former Treasurer Josh Mandel reported $519,246 in contributions, $3.7 million in spending, and has nearly $2.8 million on hand.


Former President Donald Trump's Save America PAC Tuesday announced the speakers for his rally that will be held on Saturday, April 23, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. They include U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, U.S. Rep. Mike Carey (R-Columbus) and congressional candidates Max Miller and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert. The event begins at 4 p.m.


Former Mayors John Cranley and Nan Whaley took a few shots at one another Wednesday as they participated in a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum highlighting the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, but still focused much of their criticisms on incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, as they'd done in their first debate a few weeks ago. Whaley described Cranley as the latest in a line of moderate White men whom Democrats have run for governor with little success. She was responding to a question from moderator Colleen Marshall of NBC4 in Columbus about poll results showing both Democrats are relatively unknown, and the prospect of facing in November an incumbent who Ohio voters have seen on the ballot for decades.


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons announced a bus tour for the final two weeks of the campaign. Current announced stops include events in Clark, Stark, Tuscarawas, Fairfield, Muskingum, Licking, Franklin, Delaware, Perry, Washington and Hamilton counties.


The state of Ohio should consider decreasing its number of public school districts and public institutions of higher education, according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci. "We're a state that's not growing anymore, but we have the same amount of universities, the same amount of school districts. I know people don't like to hear that, but at some point in time you have to look at that. I'm not saying you cut, but we've got to find a way to cut that overhead," the former congressman said during a Newsmax "town hall" event on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) in Delaware.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose said this week that 125,118 absentee ballots have been requested for the May 3 primary and 44,994 votes have been cast statewide during the early voting period through Friday, April 15. At this point in the 2018 campaign, 171,954 absentee ballots had been requested and 63,253 had been cast. According to the secretary of state's office, 61,512 Democratic ballots have been requested for the May 3 primary; 61,792 Republican ballots have been requested; and 2,354 nonpartisan ballots. Among ballots cast early in person, 10,690 have been Democratic, 12,646 have been Republican, and 355 have been nonpartisan. Total ballots returned and submitted for counting include 21,336 Democratic ballots, 22,795 Republican ballots, and 863 nonpartisan ballots.


While Gov. Mike DeWine reported that he raised more than $1.6 million in the first part of this year for his re-election campaign, he was outspent over the period by his primary challenger, former Congressman Jim Renacci, who has put millions of his own money into his campaign. Thursday, April 21 was the deadline for candidates on the ballot this year to report all fundraising from the beginning of the year through Wednesday, April 13. DeWine reported $1.6 million in contributions, nearly $2.9 million in expenditures, and nearly $8 million on hand. Renacci reported only $53,142 in contributions but lent his campaign $3.9 million. He spent more than $6 million and has $2 million on hand.


In other statewide office races, Attorney General Dave Yost reported $124,409 in contributions, $52,822 in expenditures, and nearly $2.2 million on hand. His Democratic challenger Jeffrey Crossman reported $73,238 in contributions, $23,779 in expenditures, and $100,035 on hand. Auditor Keith Faber reported $229,315 in contributions, $27,625 in expenditures, and nearly $1.3 million on hand. Democrat Taylor Sappington reported $37,879 in contributions, $12,493 in expenditures, and $25,408 on hand. Secretary of State Frank LaRose reported $237,984 in contributions, $261,155 in expenditures, and nearly $1.8 million on hand. Treasurer Robert Sprague reported $65,701 in contributions, $45,839 in expenditures, and $771,936 on hand while his opponent Scott Schertzer, the mayor of Marion, reported $62,471 in contributions, $5,869 in expenditures, and $82,851 on hand.


Businesses and nonprofit organizations that embrace left-leaning ideologies should lose tax benefits and other types of public funding, according to Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance. "As conservatives, we've got to wake up and realize what time it is. We've got to fight back against the 'woke' corporations as much as we've got to fight back against Joe Biden and the Democrats," the Hillbilly Elegy author said during a Wednesday evening Newsmax "town hall" event on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) in Delaware. "If you are a multi-billion-dollar multi-national corporation and you're in bed with the Communist Chinese, you should not be censoring conservatives or affecting the public square," Vance continued. "It's not just that their customers are American taxpayers, it's that they get a ton of special privileges. They get liability protections. They get subsidies. We should be willing to cut that stuff off if these corporations are going to engage in politics." Vance also criticized anti-racism education programs in K-12 schools.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose this week updated the state's poll worker tracker, saying 32,958 Ohioans have signed up to serve as a poll worker in the May 3 primary election. LaRose said the minimum number of poll workers needed statewide is 30,295. As of Monday, 60 counties have met the minimum number of poll workers needed. He said that in order to ensure enough poll workers are available in case of an emergency, he has set a goal of 34,846 poll workers statewide, or 115 percent of the minimum. Twenty-three counties have already met that goal: Allen, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Gallia, Hocking, Holmes, Madison, Meigs, Mercer, Morgan, Muskingum County, Paulding, Perry, Pickaway, Portage, Ross, Scioto, Shelby, and Union counties.


The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio endorsed Jim Renacci for governor; John Adams for secretary of state; Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate; Jonah Schulz, Theresa Gavarone and Janet Folger Porter for the U.S. House of Representatives; Kirsten Hill for Ohio Senate; Josiah Lanning, Kim Georgeton, Kristopher James Anderson, Josh Williams, Jennifer Gross, Thomas Hall, Sarah McGervey, Thomas Goodwin, Kathy Grossmann, Beth Lear, Melanie Miller, Lilli Vitale and J.J. Sreenan for Ohio House; Sharon Kennedy for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice; Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer for Ohio Supreme Court justices; and Charlie Sulek, Cornelius O'Sullivan, Eugene Lucci and Sarah Thomas Kovoor for appeals court judges.

  • The gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Nan Whaley announced the endorsements of LiUNA Local 329 and Ironworkers Local 550.

  • The gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jim Renacci announced the endorsements of the Parents' Rights in Education (PRIE) PAC, Cincinnati Right to Life and Macedonia American Business Group.

  • The congressional campaign of Theresa Gavarone announced the endorsements of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel, Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough, Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, Wauseon Mayor Kathy Huner, Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider, Waterville Mayor Tim Pedro, former Toledo Mayor Donna Owens, Clay Center Mayor Melvin Sprauer, Fayette Mayor David Borer, Perrysburg City Council President Barry Van Hoozen, Perrysburg Township Trustees Bob Mack and Joe Schaller, Sylvania Councilwoman Patrick Richardson, Sandusky City Commissioner Steve Poggiali, Monclova Township Trustee Barb Lang, Sandusky Board of Education member Kate Vargo, Danbury Township Trustee Dianne Rozak, Benton Township Trustee Dave Millinger, Harris Township Trustee D.J. Greenhill and Gorham Township Trustee Jason Simon.

  • The Supreme Court justice campaign of Democrat Terri Jamison announced the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

  • Former President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Mike Carey (R-Hilliard) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) for re-election.

  • The Collective PAC endorsed Cheryl Stephens for lieutenant governor.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that Ohio added 18,300 jobs in March 2022 as the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent in February. ODFJS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in March was 237,000, down from 242,000 in February. The number of unemployed has decreased by 90,000 in the past 12 months from 327,000. The March unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.7 percent in March 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for March 2022 was 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent in February 2022, and down from 6.0 percent in March 2021.


FEDERAL


Outgoing U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) gave remarks at the City Club of Cleveland Thursday, quipping that he has just over eight and a half months left in office but he "isn't counting." Much of his address and responses to audience questions focused on continued military and humanitarian support for Ukraine. Asked about divisiveness among current political candidates, Portman said it reflects the general public as well and that everyone has a responsibility to look at both points of view. He also spoke on immigration and drug trafficking issues at the Southern border and how inflation affects everyday Ohioans' budgets. Regarding Ukraine, Portman said it had been 57 days since Russia invaded and described "atrocities" that have been revealed after Russian troops were pushed back from some occupied Ukrainian cities. Citing the mayor of Mariupol, he said at least 10,000 have died in the port city and that Ukrainian troops and civilians are under siege at a factory there. Many have been afraid to leave via humanitarian corridors due to Russian shelling them, Portman added.


GAMING/GAMBLING


The Ohio Casino Control Commission Wednesday voted to approve settlement agreements with Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati for separate issues, though both properties blamed the rules violations on miscommunications. Hard Rock Cincinnati was hit with the bigger fine -- $125,000 -- for numerous violations for failing to report daily casino tax revenue in a timely manner last fall. Commission staff said there were approximately 40 to 50 occasions where the data was not reported to the commission on time as required by Ohio law.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Lawmakers Wednesday announced the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral Taiwan Friendship Caucus amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. A press briefing on the new caucus was attended by a number of state lawmakers as well as Taiwan's ambassador to the United States Bi-Khim Hsiao; U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), who co-chairs the Congressional Taiwan Caucus; President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Steve Stivers; and Director General Johnson Chiang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Chicago; among many others. Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Michael O'Brien (R-Warren) will co-chair the caucus. Reps. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) and Tim Ginter (R-Salem), as well as Sens. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and George Lang (R-West Chester) and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) will also be involved in the group.


The Capital Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) huddled for more than an hour behind closed doors to vet undisclosed Statehouse security measures Thursday and announced a new Art Committee to approve a Rotunda painting honoring "Ohioans in Space." The north "stairway to nowhere" at the front of the Statehouse Rotunda has never had a painting at the top of its second-floor landing to match the Wright Brothers painting on the opposing stairwell. A newly appointed CSRAB Art Committee looks to change that with an artist in place before the end of the year, CSRAB Executive Director Laura Battocletti told the board at its quarterly meeting.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine's illness from COVID-19 held steady with "mild" symptoms through the weekend, but the first lady, Fran DeWine, was diagnosed positive for the coronavirus, the governor's office said Monday. DeWine's office announced Friday his doctor had diagnosed him with COVID, reporting mild symptoms then as well. Fran DeWine had not tested positive Friday but now is sick as well. Both DeWines received monoclonal antibody treatments after their diagnoses, the governor's office said.


Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday announced the appointment of Keith McGrath to the 10th District Court of Appeals. McGrath, of Columbus, will assume office on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 and will be taking the seat formerly held by Judge Susan Brown, who retired. McGrath is running for election in November 2022 to retain the seat. He began his career in law in 1993 as an assistant city prosecutor for the city of Columbus. Following that, McGrath was a contract attorney for over three years at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington D.C. Most recently, he has been working as a senior assistant prosecutor for the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, where he has been employed the last 20 years.


Bills signed by the governor during the week include the following:


HB95 (Manchester-Lightbody) To temporarily allow income tax credits for beginning farmers who participate in a financial management program and for businesses that sell or rent agricultural land, livestock, facilities, or equipment to beginning farmers; to modify the law governing certain tax increment financing arrangements; to alter the types of vehicles that may be purchased at a motor vehicle show; and to permit, for a limited time, the abatement of unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest for certain municipal property.


HB120 (Fraizer-Richardson) Regarding compassionate care visits in long-term care facilities during an epidemic, pandemic, or other state of emergency.


HB126 (Merrin) To require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners.


HB175 (Hillyer) To deregulate certain ephemeral water features; make other changes to various water pollution control laws; to authorize a property tax exemption for certain private wetlands; and to make an appropriation.


HB291 (Callender-Troy) To amend and designate multiple memorial highways and memorial bridges and to create multiple new specialty license plates.


HB397 (Stewart-Kick) To revise the law regarding agricultural leases and soil and water conservation districts; to modify the laws governing the Ohio Public Works Commission, district public works integrating committees, and natural resources assistance councils; to convey state-owned land in Fairfield County to the board of commissioners of Fairfield County; to create the Investing in Ohio Fund; to revise the law governing the issuance of unit operation orders under the Oil and Gas Law; to make changes to the law regarding battery-charged fences; and to make an appropriation.


HB440 (Swearingen-White) To expand the Agricultural Linked Deposit Program and the types of obligations in which the treasurer of state may invest interim funds, and to declare an emergency.


SB25 (Gavarone) To enhance penalties for certain drug trafficking offenses committed in the vicinity of a substance addiction services provider or a recovering addict, to designate April as "Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness Month," and to name the act's provisions the Relapse Reduction Act.


SB135 (Cirino) With regard to the operation of state institutions of higher education, free speech in public universities and colleges, the Second Chance Grant Program, high school career advising, apprenticeships, and energy project education relationships and to make an appropriation.


SB256 (Wilson) To amend the law related to travel insurance and other insurance provisions.


Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • Stephen M. White of Dublin (Franklin County) and Carrie L. Spangler of Uniontown (Stark County) reappointed to the State Speech and Hearing Professionals Board for terms beginning April 19, 2022 and ending March 22, 2025.

  • Patrick Caudy of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Advisory Board of Amusement Ride Safety for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Sept. 29, 2027.

  • Patricia H. Haines of Xenia (Greene County) reappointed and April Dawn Burnside of Galloway (Franklin County) appointed to the Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board for terms beginning April 19, 2022 and ending March 12, 2025.

  • Nathan Steiner of Marshallville (Wayne County) to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Jan. 15, 2025.

  • Robert L. Davis of Richmond Heights (Cuyahoga County) to the Waterways Safety Council for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Jan. 30, 2026.

  • Zuzana Bohrer of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Sewage Treatment System Technical Advisory Committee for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Dec. 31, 2024.

  • Clifford Lyle Mason of Hebron (Licking County) reappointed to the State Emergency Response Commission for a term beginning April 11, 2022 and ending Jan. 13, 2024 and Russell J. Decker of Lima (Allen County) appointed for a term beginning April 11, 2022, and ending Jan. 13, 2023.

  • Darin Robinaugh of Bellefontaine (Logan County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services for a term beginning April 18, 2022, and ending Nov. 12, 2024; and Ruda Leigh Jenkins of Fairfield Township (Butler County), Mark Nicholas Resanovich of Uniontown (Summit County) and Thomas Edwin Allenstein of Lewis Center (Delaware County) reappointed for terms beginning April 18, 2022 and ending Nov. 12, 2024.

  • Cynthia Engmann of Columbus (Franklin County) to the New African Immigrants Commission for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Oct. 7, 2024 and Tariq Mohamed of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Oct. 7, 2024.

  • Loreen M. Wengerd of Upper Arlington (Franklin County) and John R. Corlett of Lakewood (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging for terms beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Nov. 21, 2024 and Misty Dawn Crosby of Belpre (Washington County) for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Nov. 21, 2024.

  • Gregory Slone of Westerville (Delaware County) to the Power Siting Board for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Jan. 10, 2026.

  • Michael John Giarrizzo of Chagrin Falls (Cuyahoga County) and Christopher Speck of Johnstown (Licking County) reappointed to the Ohio Board of Motor Vehicle Repair for terms beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Jan. 1, 2025.

  • Stacey Lee Hoffman of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) reappointed to Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board for a term beginning April 19, 2022 and ending Jan. 14, 2025.

  • Richard Fred Hillis of Powell (Delaware County) and Neal F. Zimmers Jr. of Granville (Licking County) reappointed to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board for terms beginning April 23, 2022 and ending April 22, 2025.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein Wednesday announced that he has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the city of Columbus challenging a recent Ohio state law known as the "conscience clause," which protects individuals and health care payers who deny care or payment for any service they feel violates their conscience. The statute was included in the biennial budget bill. Klein noted that the Biden administration Tuesday indicated it may do away with a similar Trump-era rule that would have allowed medical providers to refuse services that conflict with their personal, religious or moral beliefs. The federal rule has been blocked by the courts and has yet to be fully implemented. News of the filing of the lawsuit elicited a number of responses, including from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost who commented, "It is amazing how little rights of conscience matter to those without one. This law was thoroughly vetted, is grounded in historical constitutional bedrock and passed by the elected representatives of the people of Ohio through the normal legislative process. This lawsuit is meritless, anti-democracy and authoritarian." Also opposing the move were Ohio Right to Life and the Center for Christian Virtue.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Ohio State University (OSU) said Friday it reached two more settlement agreements with survivors of sexual abuse by the late Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked for university sports programs. The university said it expects the settlement will cover 57 people, at an average of $35,000 per survivor. The total settlements for nearly $2 million follow the dismissal of lawsuits in federal court. OSU said no taxpayer, tuition or restricted donor money funded the settlements. Numerous former students and student athletes have said Strauss, who took his own life in 2005, abused them while he was working as a physician for the university from the 1970s to the 1990s. Survivors said the university failed to respond adequately when Strauss' conduct was reported. An investigation by the law firm Perkins Coie documented this pattern. The latest agreements bring the total of settlements to nearly $60 million, covering 289 people.


Jason Osborne has announced plans to depart from his role as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University. His last day in the position will be June 30. Osborne joined Miami University in August 2019 after serving as associate provost and dean of the graduate school at Clemson University for nearly four years.


In addition, Miami University announced Brad Bundy will take over the top leadership position for the Division of University Advancement. Bundy has 21 years of leading fundraising efforts at Miami, most recently as senior associate vice president for university advancement and chief development officer of the Miami University Foundation.


Bowling Green State University (BGSU) announced Ellen Schendel as the next dean of its College of Arts and Sciences, effective Monday, June 20, 2022. Schendel currently serves as associate vice president for academic affairs at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Michigan, where her responsibilities include coordination and approval of new program development, international education and providing support and guidance for university-wide curricular innovations.


Kent State University announced it has received a $100,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation in support of its "Spirit of Motherhood" Program which aims to reduce the Black infant mortality rate. Infant mortality rates in Northeast Ohio are three to five times higher for Black babies than White babies, the university noted. The Spirit of Motherhood Program draws on research showing that untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic stress among Black mothers play a critical role in the high mortality rates among Black children. The program screens and treats PTSD and chronic stress among Black expectant mothers with the goal of reducing symptoms that affect the health of mothers and babies.


Intel CEO Patrick P. Gelsinger will deliver the commencement address for Ohio State University's (OSU) Spring 2022 ceremony scheduled for Sunday, May 8. "Pat Gelsinger's groundbreaking work has, quite literally, changed the way we live. Over the past four decades, he has played a key role in ushering in technological advancements -- from microprocessors to WiFi -- that are the hallmarks of the modern digital age. And he isn't close to done yet," said OSU President Kristina M. Johnson said. Earlier this year, Intel shared plans to invest more than $20 billion in the construction of two new chip factories in Ohio, marking the largest single private sector investment in state history.


Shawnee State University in Portsmouth will pay $400,000 to Nick Meriwether, a philosophy professor who sued the school in 2018 after he was disciplined for refusing to use she/her pronouns to refer to a transgender woman. "After four years of litigation, Shawnee State University made an economic decision to settle the Meriwether case. Though we have decided to settle, we adamantly deny that anyone at Shawnee State deprived Dr. Meriwether of his free speech rights or his rights to freely exercise his religion. In this case, Shawnee State followed its policy and federal law that protects students or any individual from bigotry and discrimination. We continue to stand behind a student's right to a discrimination-free learning environment as well as the rights of faculty, visitors, students and employees to freely express their ideas and beliefs. Over the course of this lawsuit, it became clear that the case was being used to advance divisive social and political agendas at a cost to the university and its students. That cost is better spent on fulfilling Shawnee State's mission of service to our students, families and community," the school said in a statement on the case.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


A newly released report shines a light on the availability of affordable housing in Ohio and across the country. "The Gap Report," released jointly by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, shows a shortage of affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income households. The report notes many of these households are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing. According to the report, no state in the country has an adequate supply of rental housing affordable and available for extremely low-income households (ELI) -- meaning those at or below the federal poverty guideline or at 30 percent of the median family income in the area, whichever is higher. In Ohio, the report shows a deficit of 254,545 rental units that are affordable and available to the state's 443,717 ELI households.


Home sales fell nearly 5 percent in March compared to a year earlier, but the average sales price was up by double digits, according to Ohio Realtors. The association pointed out that the lower sales still exceeded comparable pre-pandemic figures. Sales of 11,832 homes marked a 4.8 percent decline from the 12,429 homes sold in March 2021, while the average price increased by 11.1 percent, from $222,421 to $247,123.


JUDICIAL


Ohio's intergovernmental battle between the state and municipalities over "video service" fees moved to the next level Wednesday with oral arguments in Maple Heights v. Netflix. The Ohio Supreme Court must now decide whether the plain language of the "Fair Competition in Cable Operations Act" of 2007, when Netflix and Hulu began streaming content, is flexible enough to require providers that don't own or operate communications infrastructure in public rights of way to pay statutory fees to local governments. Netflix is part of a growing national debate over the mass exodus of entertainment viewing from traditional cable channels to web-based vendors that stream lucrative programming over independent Internet service providers (ISP), many the same entities that historically have provided cable TV. The meaning of "television" is further complicated in that streamed programs, including those originating on broadcast and cable channels, also can be viewed on desktop or laptop computers.


The Ohio Supreme Court announced Monday the hiring of Adrianne M. Fletcher as director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Fletcher, who has a Ph.D. in social work from Loyola University Chicago, is now assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at Case Western Reserve University's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Sciences, where she is also an assistant professor. Her master's degree in social work is also from Case Western. Fletcher will join the Supreme Court on Sunday, May 1.


LOBBYISTS


Ohio's ethics panel for judges and attorneys has issued new guidance for lobbyists and other members of the bar who wish to contact government officers directly on behalf of their clients. The Board of Professional Conduct, which supports Ohio Supreme Court oversight of the legal field, addresses lobbyists and other lawyers' immediate interactions with public officials, their employees or their agents, rather than with government officials' legal advisors, in Advisory Opinion 2022-03. The board says lawyers are generally barred from direct communication with a government officer or employee who consults with or directs counsel to the office on a legal matter involving the private attorney; who may "obligate the government" on such matters; or whose actions or omissions may be imputed to the government office.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Wildlife Council approved an amended proposal for the upcoming 2022 fall wild turkey hunting season dates during its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 13. The council also approved an amended white-tailed deer archery season opener in a three-county disease surveillance area in North Central Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. This year's fall wild turkey hunting will run from Saturday, Oct. 8 until Sunday, Nov. 13 for a 37-day season. Last year's season was 52 days. The season limit is one wild turkey of either sex. These season dates were amended based on comments from fall turkey hunters. A 37-day season matches the length of Ohio's spring turkey hunting season when the south and northeast zones are combined. Fall turkey hunting is open in 70 of Ohio's 88 counties.


ODNR Division of Wildlife announced plans for the 38th annual Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference. The conference -- "New Critters on the Block" -- will be held at the Ohio Union on the Ohio State University campus on Wednesday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Representatives from a multitude of conservation and natural resource organizations will have displays and be available to answer questions. The conference will introduce guests to lesser-known species in Ohio. The event's keynote speaker is Roger F. Thoma, who will present "50 Years in a Ditch, I was a Teenage Astacologist." Thoma is the aquatic ecologist emeritus at the Midwest Biological Institute and a research associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Spending much of his career working with crayfish, he has discovered and described 16 new species and is currently working on descriptions of five others.


Ohio's youth wild turkey hunters checked 1,103 birds during the special hunting weekend on April 9-10, according to ODNR Division of Wildlife. The three-year average for turkeys taken during the two-day youth season is 1,545. In 2021, youth hunters harvested 1,473 turkeys. The two-day season was open to hunters 17 years old and younger; participants were required to be accompanied by a nonhunting adult. As of April 10, the Division of Wildlife has issued 5,707 youth wild turkey permits, which can be used for the remainder of the 2022 spring hunting season. The 2022 spring season limit is one bearded turkey for all hunters.


PENSIONS


Staff of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) presented Thursday to the system's Board of Trustees on its equity trading costs and the pension fund's performance compared to index investing. The system has faced questions about its investment performance and how much it spends to achieve that performance, notably in an outside review commissioned by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association. William Neville, executive director of the system, led off the monthly board meeting with a presentation on recent staff research that sought to compare STRS' investment performance since the turn of the century with what STRS could have earned by investing in indexes, which seek to broadly mirror performance of the overall market. Neville said the research by the investment staff sought to take into account STRS' cash flow. The system needs cash monthly to pay benefits.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Board of Nursing announced Tuesday the appointment of former state Rep. Marlene Anielski as executive director. Previously, she served for three years as the executive director for the Vision Professionals Board. Besides serving in the Ohio House, she was also a mayor in Northeast Ohio. Anielski holds a master's degree in business administration and her professional background is in project management, process improvement and operational leadership.


Former Rep. John Patterson was appointed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency's state executive director for Ohio, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) announced Tuesday. Brown, senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said, "This is an excellent choice by the Biden-Harris administration to appoint John Patterson to serve as the state executive director for the Farm Service Agency. John has committed his life to public service and with his years of experience and expertise on ag issues, will work to serve farmers, growers, and producers across Ohio."


POLITICS


Former President Donald Trump's endorsement of J.D. Vance has been criticized by some conservatives, with We the People Convention (WTPC) President Tom Zawistowski pointing to a Washington Post article saying Trump received so much negative feedback he stopped taking calls on Friday, April 15. "President Trump will be in Delaware, OH on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 7 p.m. We urge patriots to attend and let the president know how you feel about his endorsements," Zawistowski said in an email to supporters. "You can understand our profound disappointment that you, Mr. President, would try to stick Ohio with Mitch McConnell's choice for Senate instead of endorsing one of the two conservatives in the race," Zawistowski continued, referring to investment banker Mike Gibbons and former Treasurer of State Josh Mandel. "We the People reject your endorsement and will elect a MAGA conservative on May 3! We have zero interest in electing a 38-year-old to serve in the Senate for the next 50 years answering to the likes of Mitch McConnell and his Big Tech funders instead of us!" Zawistowski said he's no longer confident Trump could win Ohio's Republican presidential primary in 2024, noting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is "looking better all the time."


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


Saying "state officials, not federal courts, draw state electoral districts" and that the U.S. Supreme Court has given a clear answer that federal courts must impose new maps only as a last resort, a three-judge federal panel pushed its date of last resort back to Saturday, May 28. If the state does not come up with a new plan by then, the judges said, they will order the use of the third plan adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission for the upcoming election. In a per curiam opinion, U.S. District Chief Judge Algenon Marbley, U.S. Circuit Judge Amul Thapar and U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton agreed late Wednesday the case has standing and that they must act in a federal lawsuit brought by Republican activists if the state does not resolve its redistricting issue. Marbley, however, dissented on the remedy that the court should order which appears to negate the need for any further action by the commission and clears the way for a second primary on Aug. 2.


Earlier in the week, Secretary of State Frank LaRose blasted the most recent majority opinion of the Ohio Supreme Court striking down the fourth set of General Assembly maps drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, particularly taking aim at a suggestion that the state could hold a primary for General Assembly candidates later in August or in September. The majority's per curiam opinion of the Court had been issued Thursday, April 14. LaRose said that statement in the opinion, signed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justices Jennifer Brunner and Melody Stewart, "indicates a shocking and clear ignorance of Ohio law." He particularly singled out Brunner, a former Ohio secretary of state, without naming her, saying that despite Brunner's experiences in the chief elections official role, "the majority did not consider the fact that each state's election system is unique, or that Ohio's elections have their own statutory requirements, and because of these requirements it would require a violation of Ohio law for any primary to be held after Aug. 2. In fact, the filing deadline for nominating petitions for nonpartisan races in the General Election, as set in Ohio law, is Aug. 8, 2022. To be clear, any primary held after Aug. 2 would directly conflict with the statutorily required deadlines of the General Election," the secretary of state's office said.


Also responding to the Court's suggestion of a later primary than Aug. 2 was Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) President Brian Sleeth. He said Monday that the state cannot delay the General Assembly primary election to a date later than Tuesday, Aug. 2. "Ohio simply must hold its second primary election on Aug. 2 if we are to successfully navigate the rest of 2022. Aug. 2 is the key to both a successful second primary and a successful general election in Ohio," Sleeth said.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a letter to the General Assembly Tuesday, continuing to criticize the majority of the Ohio Supreme Court that struck down the latest General Assembly redistricting map and telling lawmakers that any date for state legislative primaries beyond Tuesday Aug. 2 overlaps statutory timelines in Ohio law. Specifically, LaRose said any date beyond Aug. 2 "overlaps the 90-day statutory timeline for the Nov. 8 general election. You can't begin to prepare for the general election when the outcome of the primary election has not yet been certified."


TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE


The Ohio Third Frontier Commission Tuesday approved $2.5 million in funding for tech startup companies in health care and defense industries, along with $3 million for continued support of the Diversity and Inclusion Technology Internship Program helping grow Ohio's workforce and inclusive tech economy.


The State Committee on Computer Science (SCCS) continued discussions on potential recommendations for the state's plan on computer science (CS) education Wednesday, taking informal show-of-hands votes near the end of the meeting. The topics included licensure and professional development, encouraging students to take CS classes and providing schools with more supports related to CS. Battelle Senior STEM Relationship Manager Kelly Gaier Evans told Hannah News the committee will move forward with prioritizing development of all those recommendations and incorporating feedback on them.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday that his administration will be sending $47.5 million in extra funding for local bridge projects for the next five years thanks to federal funds enacted as a part of the federal bipartisan infrastructure law. DeWine and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) said the extra funds will bring Ohio's annual investment in county and municipal bridges to $112.5 million per year. Funding from ODOT for bridges maintained by the state's 88 county engineers will increase from $34 million to $74 million annually, and municipal-owned bridge funding will increase from $11 million to $18.5 million each year. The additional $47.5 million is part of the $104 million in bridge funding that Ohio will receive in each of the next five years as part of the federal infrastructure bill. It requires Ohio to spend $15.6 million of the $104 million each year into bridges owned by municipalities, townships and counties, but DeWine said his administration will be more than tripling the amount going to local communities.


The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) adopted a resolution to spend up to nearly $3.5 million on road salt during the 2022-2023 winter season. OTIC will participate in a cooperative contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to purchase approximately 52,400 tons of road salt, according to the resolution. During the commission's monthly meeting Monday, OTIC Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed also said its toll collection company was recently sold to a foreign-owned company.


UKRAINE


The Ohio National Guard is providing armored personnel carriers to Ukraine for use in its war with Russia, Gov. Mike DeWine's office said Wednesday. The guard is giving an unspecified number of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers to Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion, in answer to a request from the U.S. Department of Defense. The move is part of "a drawdown of DOD inventories" to support Ukraine, DeWine's office said.


UTILITIES


Parties in the "political and charitable spending" audit of FirstEnergy have until noon Tuesday to complete their arguments in the unresolved dispute over the company's document release from the related federal audit of FirstEnergy's "political and related expenses." The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) and Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) say the utility's ex parte and subsequent formal requests to state regulators for the gradual release of records over several months is only more foot-dragging and should be ignored.


FirstEnergy accused OCC Tuesday of attempting to expand the company's records release on lobbying payments beyond the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) directive and said the 116 pages filed with OCC Friday cover most information relevant to its electric distribution utilities (EDU): Ohio Edison Co., Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., and Toledo Edison Co. PUCO's administrative law judge ordered FirstEnergy on March 11 to produce records from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) audit of the utility's "political and related expenses" by April 10 and denied its appeal on April 6. On Friday, the company asked the judge for another two months to review, redact and release records gradually in PUCO's related audit of FirstEnergy's "political and charitable" spending. The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) and consumers' counsel dismissed those as "stalling tactics," in OMA's words. OCC suggested FirstEnergy was trying to withhold documents pertinent to four PUCO audits targeting energy subsidy 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin).


Ohio's regulated natural gas companies are joining electric distribution utilities (EDU) in the call for a new round of state authorized energy efficiency (EE) programs governed by PUCO rather than moving EE to a market-based system led by competing retail natural gas service (CRNGS) providers. In a joint filing to PUCO's now-concluded Energy Efficiency Workshops, Columbia Gas, Dominion Energy and Vectren Energy reinforce the position of Duke Energy, Ohio's fourth regional natural gas company, in supporting the continuation of utility-led EE programs from 127-SB221. The utilities say nothing has changed since the General Assembly adopted energy efficiency as the 12th prong of state natural gas policy in the 14-year-old energy omnibus. "For more than a decade, natural gas companies have delivered successful, cost-effective and voluntary natural gas EE programs to consumers in their service territories," Columbia, Dominion and Vectren say of demand-side management (DSM) systems regulated by PUCO under R.C. 4929.02(A)(12).


Residential customers of Duke Energy Ohio will enjoy a $133 average bill credit with the knowledge several rusting manufactured gas plants (MGP) from the mid-20th century are being cleaned up around Cincinnati, thanks in large part to former President Donald Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The PUCO's unanimous decision Wednesday ended a nine-year legal fight at the Ohio Supreme Court and PUCO with a win for OCC, which opposes customer charges to remediate old MGPs no longer deemed "used and useful," the Legislature's gold standard for utility infrastructure costs.


PUCO approved a refund of utility charges in fast-growing Central Ohio Wednesday after commissioners found consumers had been billed for a natural gas pipeline falling well short of the Legislature's ratemaking standard for "used and useful" energy infrastructure. At the same time, commissioners agreed with Suburban Natural Gas to rehear the February decision granting less than half of the 4.9 miles in pipeline charges initially awarded by PUCO and later struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court.

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


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