Week In Review - August 10, 2020



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


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


AGRICULTURE


The deadline for property owners to apply for the Gypsy Moth Suppression Program is Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg). The voluntary program is located in the general infested areas of Northern Ohio. After the treatment survey application is received, a site evaluation is conducted by ODAg field staff to determine if the area meets spray site criteria.


FY22-23 BUDGET


State agencies must show how they would deal with 10 percent less General Revenue Fund (GRF) funding, and also explain what funding they'd need to maintain the services they're offering this fiscal year, per budget guidance for the upcoming biennium. However, the baseline for that 10 percent cut scenario is still in development because of the pandemic's disruption to the current budget. Office of Budget and Management (OBM) spokesman Pete LuPiba said in an email that the office is working with agencies now on finalizing their FY21 allotments, which will be the baseline for the cut scenario. OBM Director Kim Murnieks told agencies earlier this year to submit plans for how they would cope with having 20 percent of their funding in certain line items put into an inaccessible reserve account. The state expects to have about $2.4 billion less revenue than expected in FY21 because of the pandemic's effect on the economy.


BUSINESS/CORPORATE


Lordstown Motors Corporation (LMC) announced Monday that it would merge with special purpose acquisition company DiamondPeak Holdings Corporation (DPHC) by the end of the year, providing further funds as the company prepares for initial production of the Lordstown Endurance electric pickup truck in the second half of 2021.


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and JobsOhio President and CIO J.P. Nauseef both addressed members of the Common Sense Initiative's (CSI) Small Business Advisory Council Thursday, providing an update on efforts to address the pandemic and prepare for subsequent economic changes.


CENSUS


Households with children continue to be hit harder by the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results from U.S. Census Bureau's experimental Household Pulse Survey conducted in early June. The survey had a total of 73,472 respondents. Nationally, 24.7 million adults in mortgaged or rented households reported a late or deferred housing payment in May. This includes one in eight adults in mortgaged households and one in six adults in rental households.


The U.S. Census Bureau has announced all counting efforts for the 2020 Census will end on Wednesday, Sept. 30, about a month earlier than previously planned. The move comes as statutory relief which would have extended the window for field collection and self-response has apparently stalled in the U.S. Senate. Advocates say they are concerned the change will lead to a less accurate count.


CORONAVIRUS


Following a positive COVID-19 test Thursday morning that was a precursor to greeting President Donald Trump, Gov. Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine and several members of his staff all tested negative for COVID-19 in a more sensitive test in Columbus Thursday afternoon. "We feel confident in the results from the Wexner Medical Center. This is the same PCR test that has been used over 1.6 million times in Ohio by labs and hospitals all over the state. The test administered this morning to the governor in Cleveland, as part of the protocol required to meet the president, was an antigen test," the governor's office said. He is expected to have a third test on Sunday.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced that laboratory testing has been completed on 13 products for use specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The products are part of in the agency's "List N," which includes products expected to kill the coronavirus, USEPA said.


In a bid to further expand testing capacity, Ohio is joining Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia in a multi-state purchasing agreement to expand the use of rapid, point-of-care tests for COVID-19. Gov. DeWine said those tests are "faster, simpler and less expensive" than the type of tests used routinely now.


Gov. DeWine also said Tuesday that Dr. Amy Acton told him Monday she is leaving state government to return to the Columbus Foundation, where she worked before he appointed her director of the Ohio Department of Health. "She has assured me, though, that she's just a phone call away," DeWine said.


A new bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) and Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) would allow local boards of health to reject state health orders during pandemics, epidemics, and events of bio-terrorism. Under SB348 (Schaffer-Roegner), local boards of health could reject orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or the Ohio director of health during certain periods of emergency, but the board must approve any rejection of the orders by at least two-thirds majority and must have "collaborative consultation" with ODH.


President Donald Trump Monday authorized continued federal support of National Guard operations due to the pandemic, though the Ohio Adjutant General's office told Hannah News Wednesday that the continued specific types of support will reflect Gov. DeWine's assessment on what is needed. The federal government had been paying 100 percent of the costs for guard operations, though the presidential memorandum ends that for all states except Florida and Texas effective Friday, Aug. 21. Instead, the federal government will pay 75 percent and each state will pick up the remaining 25 percent.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


Ohio's Human Trafficking Task Force, along with the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO), continued their webinar training series on human trafficking awareness and identification Tuesday. This week's webinar focused on labor trafficking. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline's statistics on Ohio, there were 65 cases of labor trafficking in the state for 2019. Almost of third of the cases also involved sex trafficking while other prominent industries included domestic work, agriculture and hospitality.


The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) announced Thursday that $225,000 is available for the second year of Ohio's Prisoner Reimbursement Program which reimburses local law enforcement for the cost of in-state and out-of-state extraditions. The Prisoner Extradition Reimbursement Program is open to any Ohio law enforcement agency that has limited funds to extradite suspects on warrants for Tier I offenses. The program was developed after a study by the Ohio Governor's Warrant Task Force revealed that some local law enforcement agencies were not entering all felony warrants into state and federal warrant databases due to lack of funding or personnel to extradite suspects arrested in another state.


EDUCATION


As a number of schools announce plans for an all-virtual start to the year, groups representing dozens of districts recommended some fall sports be delayed at least to October and that spectators be limited or banned, among other ideas they want the state and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) to consider. The Ohio 8 Coalition, representing superintendents and union leaders at major urban districts, and the Alliance of High Quality Education, representing more than 70 districts, issued a joint statement on fall athletics Friday.


The State Board of Education, foregoing its usual August recess, has called a special meeting Monday, Aug. 10 to act on regulations for child care providers. The law calls for alignment between regulations for providers under the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE) oversight and those under the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The board voted in June to align its rules to those of ODJFS following the DeWine administration's release of new standards for child care providers to follow amid the pandemic. Those standards included smaller class sizes and lower staff-to-child ratios. But now, Gov. Mike DeWine said he would restore the prior class size and staff ratio limits.


On the same day practices started for high school sports, the DeWine administration re-issued an order Saturday on sports competitions that appears to give the greenlight for cross county races to proceed later this month but maintains rules on COVID-19 testing that would make compliance for inter-school play in contact sports like football difficult. Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted addressed the development of sports competition guidelines Tuesday, saying Saturday's re-issuance of the health order on sports is not meant to be the final word on the fall high school season. "We are still working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to finalize that plan, and we're still considering many options, and we're trying to keep the options open, because we want student athletes to return to play," Husted said. A Warren County judge convened a hearing Monday on the request from youth basketball leagues and others to block enforcement of pandemic restrictions on sports competitions.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced the four candidates for the Ohio Teacher of the Year. They were selected from the regional 2021 State Board District Teachers of the Year candidates. The four candidates for Ohio Teacher of the Year include the following:

  • Joy McKarns, Northmont City School District, State Board District 3 Teacher of the Year.

  • Anthony Coy-Gonzalez, Ohio School for the Deaf, State Board District 6 Teacher of the Year.

  • Sandy Thomaschek, Canal Winchester Local School District, State Board District 9 Teacher of the Year.

  • Tom Jenkins, Greenon Local School District, State Board District 10 Teacher of the Year.

Most K-12 students will be required to wear a mask if and when they return to school buildings for the start of the academic year, Gov. DeWine said Tuesday. He also announced Ohio's participation in a multi-state effort to acquire testing supplies. Mask use by children is now recommended by the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the governor noted.


The Ohio Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the issue of whether school employees need police training in order to go armed at work, accepting the appeal of a Butler County school district that sought to allow employees to carry guns in the wake of a 2016 shooting there. The Madison Local Schools Board of Education passed a resolution authorizing employees to carry concealed weapons, but a group of parents sued to block it. The district prevailed at trial, but the Twelfth District Court of Appeals sided with the parents.


ELECTIONS


Friday was the filing deadline for semiannual reports for all candidates with an open campaign committee who did not file a post-primary report this year and were either last a candidate for a non-judicial statewide or county office or were last a candidate for any other non-judicial office whose campaign committee received more than $10,000 in contributions since the last report filed. The secretary of state's office said that the deadline does not cover candidates for the General Assembly this year. Candidates for judicial office are not required to file semiannual reports.


"Petition Blockers," or those hired to thwart the efforts of a signature collection effort, would be required to register with the secretary of state's office under an upcoming substitute version of a dark money reform bill in the House. Secretary of State Frank LaRose held a closed-door meeting with HB737 sponsors Reps. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) Monday to discuss details of the bill, which would require more disclosure of third-party spending aimed at influencing public policy in Ohio. LaRose and the two lawmakers spoke to reporters after the hour-long meeting to give an update on their plans. He said additions to the bill will be aimed at three categories: transparency, simplicity and accountability.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose's Diversity and Empowerment Council held its first meeting on Wednesday, coming away with an agreement for the secretary of state's office to begin reviewing its documents for racial inclusion. LaRose said that the council is just formalizing a conversation he has been having with minority groups since taking office. He said when he was elected, he understood his job is to represent all Ohioans, adding that Ohio's strength is its diversity.


ELECTIONS 2020


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio Friday filed two separate lawsuits in state and federal court, respectively, seeking to make mail-in voting easier for Ohioans leading up to the November election as the state continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases. ODP filed its lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas seeking to allow registered Ohio voters to request an absentee ballot electronically. Meanwhile, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Ohio, A. Phillip Randolph Institute, and two individuals, challenging Ohio's process of matching signatures on absentee ballot applications and absentee signatures.


The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), in cooperation with Hannah News, released its 2020 Ohio Election Guide on Friday. The non-partisan publication is produced every major election cycle and serves as a comprehensive resource for Ohio voters. The guide has details and insight on all 99 Ohio House races; the 16 Ohio Senate seats up for election this year; Ohio's 16 congressional races; and Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio appeals court races. While the digital version will remain available through the general election, printed copies of the 2020 Ohio Election Guide will be available around Aug. 10 for $30 each, which includes shipping and handling. To reserve a printed copy, email Lisa Cummings-Dye at lcummingsdye@ohiomfg.com. The online version of the guide can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y6xmeumz.


The Ohio Democratic Party held its 2020 virtual state convention on Saturday. During the morning session, convention delegates conducted official business, including ratifying the 18 Ohioans who will serve as presidential electors for Joe Biden. The evening session included appearances by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, actor and Youngstown native Ed O'Neill, singer/songwriter and Cleveland native Jim Brickman and other Ohio elected officials and candidates.


The Ohio Voting Rights Coalition released a list of six requests to Secretary of State Frank LaRose and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Monday, asking that all county boards of election follow them to facilitate safe in-person voting on Nov. 3. The letter -- signed by more than 200 physicians, medical researchers, public health experts and other health personnel -- is an effort to ensure "state of the art, evidence-based practices" are followed and to reassure potential poll workers they will be safe, coalition members said in a press conference.


A new poll released Monday by Your Voice Ohio shows presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump in the Buckeye State 46 percent to 42 percent. The poll was conducted by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron for the Your Voice Ohio's Election 2020 project and first reported by the Toledo Blade. It was conducted online between Wednesday, June 24, and Wednesday, July 15 among 1,037 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Groups Tuesday continued to join a call for Secretary of State Frank LaRose to act on his own to make voting easier for November -- something LaRose has said he cannot do without legislative authority. The groups sending a letter to LaRose on Tuesday include the ACLU of Ohio, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio Council of Churches, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Ohio Students Association and the Ohio Unity Coalition, among others. They are asking for LaRose to pay for postage to return absentee ballots, to set up an online portal to request absentee ballots, allow for multiple secure drop boxes for ballot returns and to commit to preventing polling place consolidations.


Two candidates -- a Republican and a Libertarian -- have filed to run as write-in candidates in the 72nd House District, according to the Newark Advocate. The seat is currently held by Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), who had been unopposed after the primary but is now facing federal corruption charges surrounding the passage of nuclear bailout bill HB6 (Callender-Wilkin).


U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan's (D-Niles) re-election campaign announced Tuesday the hire of Christopher Anderson as field director.


Saying he and members of his staff personally observed election-related activities during Tuesday's special election, Secretary of State Frank LaRose told reporters that he is confident the state will be able to conduct in-person voting in November while keeping poll workers and voters safe. Tuesday saw special elections in 13 counties on a variety of local issues. LaRose said he and members of his staff travelled to Fayette County to observe polling locations and the board of elections, including sanitation and distancing procedures in practice.


The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this week rejected an appeal by the Ohio Green Party (OGP) seeking to get its presidential candidates on the November ballot as well as having it recognized as a minor political party in the state, saying that the party's arguments were not convincing enough to change the court's finding that Ohio's ballot access laws only provide an "intermediate" burden to the plaintiffs during a pandemic.


According to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, a representative for rapper Kanye West filed paperwork to appear on the November presidential ballot in Ohio. West's campaign filed petitions, declarations of candidacy for both himself and his vice presidential candidate Michelle Tidball, and a list of presidential electors. West and his running mate are seeking to appear as independent candidates.


The Ohio Supreme Court has approved two amendments to the Code of Judicial Conduct that revise certain requirements for judicial campaigns.


Ohio voters who want to cast an absentee ballot in the Nov. 3 election should submit their absentee ballot requests no later than 15 days before the election, and earlier if possible, a representative of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) said Thursday. Justin Glass, the director of political election mail for the USPS spoke to the secretary of state's Ready for November Task Force at a Zoom meeting, outlining the process for mail-in voting and taking questions from the panel. The USPS has been facing questions about getting absentee ballots mailed and returned to boards of elections across the country during the presidential election this year, with voters in some states reportedly missing out on voting in the primaries because they did not receive their ballots on time.


In his first visit to Ohio since the emergence of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump Thursday flew into Cleveland, where he addressed a small crowd on the Burke Lakefront Airport tarmac before flying by helicopter to the Whirlpool washing machine plant in Clyde to tour the factory. Later he was scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the Shoreby Yacht Club in Bratenahl. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was scheduled to meet Trump on the tarmac Thursday afternoon before testing positive for COVID-19 as part of the standard protocol to greet Trump.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The 59th Ohio House District campaign of Democrat Chris Stanley announced the endorsements of the United Auto Workers, the Ohio Education Association, and former Ohio Rep. John Boccieri.

  • Former President Barack Obama endorsed Kate Schroder and Desiree Tims for Congress; and Phil Robinson, Monique Smith, Jessica Miranda, Emilia Sykes, Amy Cox, and Chris Stanley for the Ohio House of Representatives.

  • The Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC endorsed Theresa Gavarone, George Lang, Niraj Antani, Bill Blessing, Bob Hackett, Matt Huffman, Terry Johnson, Stephanie Kunze, Jerry Cirino, Tim Schaffer, Mark Romanchuk, Matt Dolan, Bill Reineke, and Frank Hoagland for Ohio Senate; and Scott Wiggam, Bob Cupp, Tim Ginter, Bill Roemer, Rodney Creech, Derek Merrin, Reggie Stoltzfus, Jennifer Gross, Scott Lipps, Adam Bird, Kris Jordan, Darrell Kick, Mark Fraizer, Brian Stewart, Kyle Koehler, Jena Powell, Craig Riedel, Susan Manchester, Riordan McClain and Ron Ferguson for Ohio House.

  • The re-election campaign of Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) announced the endorsements of Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough; Westlake Councilmembers Nick C. Nunnari, Kenneth R. Brady, Mark Getsay, Michael O'Donnell; and Westlake Law Director Michael P. Maloney.

  • The Human Rights Campaign endorsed Jennifer Brunner and John O'Donnell for Ohio Supreme Court; Crystal Lett and Betsy Rader for Ohio Senate; and Phillip Robinson, Nancy Day-Achauer, and Casey Weinstein for Ohio House.

  • The re-election campaign of Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) announced the endorsement of Westlake City Council President Michael Killeen.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced Friday that it had released 1,500 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program claims for payment, lifting temporary fraud alert holds on them. ODJFS said that approximately 270,000 claims have been held due to "patterns of suspicious behavior," with more than 95 percent flagged with multiple fraud indicators including deceased individuals, fraudulent IP addresses or bank routing numbers and invalid email addresses. Those 95 percent of the claims would represent an estimated $200 million per week if paid out.


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) called the president's signing of his sponsored $20 billion national parks aid bill "historic," while also commenting that the next influx of federal funding to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is stalled in negotiations, with bonus federal unemployment and local government measures being the biggest sticking points. Among needs for national parks addressed under Portman's bill include $114 million in deferred maintenance for parks in Ohio, he said, with a total national stimulus amounting to $9.5 billion over five years, plus an additional $900 million annually that will be sourced from royalties from onshore and offshore oil profits. As an infrastructure project, Portman said the bill will create up to 100,000 jobs.


Considering additional education costs and a reduced tax base amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for comprehensive education funding to be included in the next federal stimulus package. Brown also pushed back against wishes from the Trump administration to make funds available only to schools choosing to offer in-person instruction, saying that local officials should be given funds regardless and trusted to make their own decisions about whether to conduct in-person or remote learning.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Federal agents searched Ohio House offices Friday in connection with the investigation of former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).


Former House Speaker Larry Householder's (R-Glenford) initial appearance in federal court following indictment on a racketeering conspiracy charge was delayed Thursday because of his need to find new attorneys, while four associates charged in the case all entered pleas of not guilty. U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz of the Southern District of Ohio presided at the hearing, where Householder adviser Jeff Longstreth and lobbyists Matt Borges, Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark all made appearances via videoconference and entered their pleas via legal counsel. Generation Now, the 501(c)(4) organization alleged to be the main conduit used to receive and spend funds as part of the conspiracy, was not represented, so Litkovitz granted a continuance in the case against it.


Friday's virtual meeting of the Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus saw members seeking further details about the state's recent $50 million investment into broadband Internet expansion program BroadbandOhio with the goal of facilitating online schooling, while the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) commented that administration of state tests and accountability measures for online school remain to be determined.


While acknowledging that the Ohio speaker situation has added even more uncertainty to the already precarious situation of dealing with a deadly pandemic, Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) said she's looking forward to working with House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), particularly on education issues. "We have a new speaker who really, for all intents and purposes, learned he was going to be speaker in the last 24 hours, just as we did. So we don't know his agenda yet, and we need to get together with him," Boyd said during a webinar hosted by the Center for Community Solutions on legislative work amid the pandemic, joined by Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard). "Rep. Cupp has been around a long time. He actually served with my mom previously. Just three speakers ago, I served with him on the Speaker's Task Force on Education and Poverty. We did good work together."


Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) Tuesday introduced legislation she said would reform Ohio's campaign finance laws by closing secret money loopholes, increasing transparency, and strengthening existing bans on foreign money used in elections. The bill is a companion bill to HB739 (Sweeney-Russo), which was recently introduced.


Newly elected Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) made the first changes of his administration Tuesday when he replaced a number of members on the House Rules and Reference Committee. No longer on the committee are Reps. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), Jim Butler (R-Dayton), Anthony DeVitis (R-Uniontown), Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville). Newly appointed members include Cupp as chair and Reps. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) as vice chair, Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and Tim Ginter (R-Salem).


Further developments in the criminal case against former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and four associates in alleged racketeering are likely, panelists said in a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday, and while it may affect some already close House races it is unlikely to give Democrats control of the chamber. Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff, Democratic strategist Derrick Clay and Republican strategist Mark Weaver took part in the discussion, which was hosted by WOSU Public Media's Chief Content Officer Mike Thompson. Bischoff -- who first broke the news of Householder's arrest -- said she was not surprised by the allegations, though it was "staggering" that federal officials allege almost $61 million went from "Company A" to Householder-controlled entities including 501(c)(4) nonprofit Generation Now.


Panelists on a livestream event hosted by ZHF Consulting LLC on Wednesday debated the political ramifications of the $60 million alleged bribery scheme by former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and four other indicted coconspirators. The livestream hosted seasoned political figures including Betty Montgomery, a Republican who was the first female attorney general and state auditor. She also served in the Ohio Senate from 1988 to 1994. Chris Redfern, former Ohio Democratic Party chair and state representative, was also a panelist, as well as Ron Amstutz, a Republican who served as a state representative, speaker pro tempore, and state senator. He is also the former mayor of Orville. Dan Dodd, a Democrat who served as a state representative, also joined the conversation. Beau Eaton, president of First Harvest Consulting, moderated the event.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) recently promoted Lee Anne Back to the position of manager of the Statehouse Museum Shop, succeeding Becky Wildman, the founding manager of the Statehouse Museum Shop when it opened in 1996. Wildman retired after 24 years.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced the launch a new website for his Office of Children's Initiatives. The Governor's Children's Initiative is a priority for DeWine and the site is meant to give Ohio's parents, caretakers, teachers, and child care providers easy access to information about early childhood in Ohio's state agencies. View the website at https://childrensinitiatives.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ci/.


Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • McKenzie K. Gerzanics of Cuyahoga Falls (Summit County) to serve as the student member on the University of Akron Board of Trustees for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending July 1, 2022.

  • Dhishant M. Asarpota of Beavercreek (Greene County) to serve as the student member on the Wright State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending June 30, 2022.

  • Ronald E. Ernsberger of Napoleon (Henry County) to the Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending June 9, 2026.

  • Jeffrey A. Erb of Stryker (Williams County) and Scott A. Mull of Van Wert (Van Wert County) reappointed to the Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning June 10, 2020 and ending June 9, 2026.

  • Kyle W. Rudduck of Wilmington (Clinton County) and Brian L. Prickett of Wilmington (Clinton County) reappointed to the Southern State Community College Board of Trustees terms beginning July 31, 2020 and ending May 11, 2026.

  • Peter M. McLinden of Lebanon (Warren County) to the Ohio Real Estate Commission for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending June 30, 2024.

  • John Johnson of Westerville (Delaware County) to the Board of Building Standards for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Oct. 13, 2023.

  • Sharon K. Parsons of Bexley (Franklin County) to the Dentist Loan Repayment Advisory Board for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Jan. 28, 2022.

  • Michelle L. Burke of Rocky River (Cuyahoga County) to the Waterways Safety Council for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Jan. 30, 2025.

  • Yong Lin of Loveland (Hamilton County) reappointed to Minority Development Financing Advisory Board for a term beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Sept. 30, 2026.

  • Patricia Cash Isaacson of Worthington (Franklin County) and Ralph E. Griffith Jr. of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to Ohio Housing Finance Agency for terms beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Jan. 31, 2026.

  • Cathann A. Kress of Powell (Delaware County), Daniel L. Frobose of Pemberville (Wood County) and Kimberly McConville of Westerville (Franklin County) reappointed to Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for terms beginning July 31, 2020 and ending Jan. 25, 2023.


GUNS


Even though "do something" became the leading slogan among gun safety advocates in the days following the AR-15 rampage in Dayton on Aug. 4, 2019 that left nine dead and 27 injured, Ohio's gun laws remain unchanged one year after the mass shooting. "There is no excuse for the General Assembly's failure to pass any gun reform in the past 12 months. Nine people lost their lives in only 32 seconds in Dayton last year, but that tragedy was still not enough for lawmakers to pass legislation to curb gun violence," Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) said in a news release recognizing the tragedy's one-year anniversary.


Those in power across Ohio and the nation understand that enacting certain policies related to gun safety and the COVID19 pandemic would make a significant difference, but are choosing political expediency over saving lives, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Tuesday. "These are not natural disasters. These are disasters created by politicians across our country who refuse to act," Whaley wrote in an op-ed for USA Today, published on the one-year anniversary of the Dayton mass shooting.


During his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine said, "For Fran and for me, this is still a very emotional memory, as I know it is for so many, and the emotions are still raw. For as long as I live, I will never forget going to the Oregon District that morning ... and seeing that crime scene. … I'm an old former county prosecuting attorney, I've been to a lot of crime scenes, but I've never seen anything like this," the governor continued. "Sadly, Ohio's laws are exactly the way they were a year ago. Ohioans are saying to the state Legislature, 'do something.' I'm calling on the General Assembly to advance the STRONG Ohio bill. We must not let the deaths of these nine people be forgotten."


The office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a special report Tuesday identifying some vulnerabilities in the state's concealed-carry licensing system and outlining steps taken to plug those gaps.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers recently conducted a membership survey on the effect that COVID-19 is having on Ohio's mental health and addiction treatment providers and system including service access and capacity, workforce, and business operations. Results of "COVID-19 BH [Behavior Health] Provider Impact Survey" "demonstrate the resolve and resiliency of behavioral health providers while highlighting the value of state and federal corona relief funds. However, it should also send a clear warning about the challenges of maintaining a full continuum of care for Ohioans in need of mental health and addiction treatment," said Teresa Lampl, CEO of the Ohio Council. "Ohio's behavioral health providers were already under stress due to the unrelenting opioid epidemic and suicide crisis, having to also deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to the breaking point."


The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) announced Monday it is partnering with the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) in an effort to make pharmacies places where domestic violence survivors can seek support and get information about resources for domestic violence and mental health services as well as access to housing, food, medical care and medications. "Survivors are at increased risk during this pandemic, and pharmacists are trusted professionals who are well-positioned to provide information and assistance," said Mary O'Doherty, ODVN executive director.


In the battle against COVID-19, public health workers spread across states, cities and small towns are charged with being the front-line response to the pandemic. But at a time when these officials are needed most, they are under assault from political pressure and threats. As officials who usually work behind the scenes managing everything from immunizations to water quality inspections, public health administrators have found themselves center stage. Elected officials and members of the public who are frustrated with the lockdowns and safety restrictions have at times turned public health workers into politicized punching bags, battering them with countless angry calls and even physical threats. This is according to a report from Kaiser Health News (KHN) and the Associated Press (AP), which took a look at the numerous public health officials across the country who have either resigned or been pushed out of their roles as the pandemic has become increasingly politicized. Their review found at least 27 state and local health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 13 states.


Ohio University (OU) recently announced the Programmatic Partnership for Community-Based Prevention will be extended once more. OU's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs has partnered with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) for the past 11 years on the program. Voinovich School Professor Holly Raffle leads a team of six employees and five students, in the partnership with OhioMHAS, which provides intensive leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation services centered around substance use prevention and mental health promotion to community leaders from 60 of Ohio's 88 counties, OU said.


OhioMHAS, in partnership with the Ohio Fire Academy, is offering a free summit targeted toward first responders, law enforcement officers, fire service officers, emergency medical service personnel, and dispatch and corrections officers later this month. The First Responder Summit: Wellness, Self-Care and Resilience is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26 from 8 a.m. until 4:15 p.m.


Molina Healthcare announced Thursday it would provide Ohio Medicaid members three months of Amazon Prime, a subscription service that offers members free delivery of products purchased on Amazon.com, as well as entertainment including music, movies, television and e-books. The managed care company said the subscriptions will support social distancing measures in providing items through delivery that would otherwise be bought in stores.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Ohio University said Friday that students in "select" programs reliant on in-person activity can attend classes at the main Athens campus at the start of the fall semester, but all other classes will meet remotely for at least the first month. The limited number of graduate and undergraduate students in programs that require in-person experiences for accreditation purposes or for access to essential equipment on campus will have to follow requirements for social distancing and mask use. Students in those select programs will be notified by Friday, Aug. 7.


As college and university administrators grapple with bringing students back to campus for the fall semester, many have also resorted to cutting staff and faculty to deal with the financial consequences of the pandemic. Decisions on both these issues have earned the ire of faculty unions at many of Ohio's institutions. In July, the Midwest chapters of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) wrote an open letter saying universities' responses to COVID-19 are "imperiling public health and the future of higher education."


Antioch College President Tom Manley announced his plans to retire at the end of the academic year in 2021. Manley's tenure as president begin in 2016. He had previously served as president of Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR and in various teaching and administrative posts at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA prior to that.


Both Capital University and the Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) have reversed plans for in-person classes in the last several days. In June, CCAD announced a plan to return to campus for the fall semester with a combination of online hybrid courses for students, but last Friday the college changed plans due to the increasing COVID-19 outbreak. Capital University had similarly made plans for in-person instruction in the fall, but Interim President Dave Kaufman announced Wednesday the school would instead begin the semester with online classes.

LIBRARIES


Columbus Metropolitan Library said it's joining a global digital book club, the Big Library Read, which will allow library card holders to instantly download specific e-book titles or audiobooks with no waits or holds. It started Monday, Aug. 3 and will end Monday, Aug. 17. The first book in the program is The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason. More information about the Big Library Read is available at https://biglibraryread.com/.


LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


The Ohio Liquor Control Commission on Friday, July 31 unanimously adopted an emergency rule stopping restaurant/bar alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and prohibiting on-premises consumption after 11 p.m. in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Later Friday afternoon, Gov. Mike DeWine made the rule immediately effective by signing an executive order, which will expire in 120 days or upon the adoption of the rule through the normal Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) process, whichever is sooner. On Tuesday, a group of bars and restaurants had filed a lawsuit against DeWine, the commission and the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU), claiming the state's emergency rule closing bars early statewide is a violation of the Ohio Constitution.


However, emergency state liquor regulations that end alcohol sales in bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. and on-site drinking at 11 p.m. daily will stay in effect for now, after a Franklin County judge declined Wednesday to issue a restraining order requested by numerous establishments. Common Pleas Judge Kim Brown denied the request after hearing about 90 minutes of oral arguments in the litigation via videoconference, finding that the harm to the bars and restaurants has to be weighed against the risk to the public in light of the pandemic, and that the emergency rules approved Friday by the Liquor Control Commission were within the scope of authority granted to the commission by lawmakers, among other justifications. The suit was filed Tuesday by Columbus area bars including Pins Mechanical, Late Night Slice, 16 Bit Bar + Arcade, Oddfellows, Threes Above High, Fours on High, Pasttimes Pub & Grill, Quarry Co. Bar and Grill, Zeno's, Oldfields and Leo's on the Alley.


The Liquor Control Commission opened a series of hearings Monday on bars and restaurants accused of violating public health orders that limited their operations during the pandemic. The first two cases focused, respectively, on a bar accused of offering dine-in service when it was still prohibited, and a bar accused of not enforcing rules on social distancing for patrons and mask use by staff. Hearings are set throughout the week. The commission heard testimony and reviewed evidence but did not issue decisions during the hearings.


Tuesday's meeting of the Liquor Control Commission saw members considering a violation of an emergency rule issued due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that suspended sales of beer, wine and liquor for on-premises consumption at bars, but also permitted bars to sell two mixed drinks for off-premises consumption to customers along with a food order.

According to the case brought forth by Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) Assistant Agent in Charge Robert Boldin, OIU received complaints that The Wine Vault in Vermillion sold bottles of sangria that were mixed at the bar for take-home consumption in portions that were too large to be considered individual servings. The complaints resulted in an investigation that lasted through the month of April 2020.


The Ohio Department of Health's (ODH) COVID-19 public health orders have led to countless problems for Put-in-Bay Resort because of poor patron conduct and lack of law enforcement support, liquor permit holder Mark Mathys told the Ohio Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) on Wednesday. The establishment was cited by the OIU for "disorderly conduct" after agents witnessed, photographed and recorded video of a packed swimming pool and bar area on June 27. The hearing was one of several similar cases scheduled to be heard by the commission this week.


The liquor permit holder of a Seneca County bar, Sauber's Stumble Inn in Bascom, reached a plea agreement with the state after being cited for violations related to the ODH COVID-19-related public health orders, Assistant Attorney General Hallie Saferin told the Ohio Liquor Control Commission on Thursday.


Over the weekend, Ohio Investigate Unit agents cited five establishments, some under the commission's new emergency rules requiring an earlier end to sales and consumption of alcohol.


MARIJUANA/HEMP


The Ohio Board of Pharmacy's (OBP) section of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) has retained one individual who had previously submitted his resignation and has hired a new MMCP specialist, OBP Medical Marijuana Operations Director Sharon Maerten-Moore said this week.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Cuyahoga River is free-flowing in Brecksville for the first time in more than 190 years, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) announced Thursday. "The Brecksville Diversion Dam and historic Pinery Feeder Dam have been removed," CVNP said. "As a result, the river is open for recreational use. It had been closed above and below the dams during removal. Paddlers can now travel the river through CVNP and on into Cleveland."


PEOPLE


Clean Fuels Ohio recently announced the promotion of Tyler Fehrman to policy director. Fehrman has been with Clean Fuels Ohio since January 2020 as the special projects manager, working on policy, outreach and grant-related projects.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood (OCF) recently announced it will offer its first State Virtual Fatherhood Summit to be held Wednesday-Thursday, Sept. 2-3, as well as a follow up "Breakfast with Dad" event on Saturday, Sept. 5.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION


For the week ending Aug. 1, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 25,952 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This is the second straight week that the number of weekly jobless claims totaled fewer than 30,000. Ohioans filed 404,434 continued jobless claims last week, which was 371,868 fewer than the peak earlier this year, ODJFS said. The total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 20 weeks (1,583,739) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last four years.

UTILITIES


In a pair of reports detailing the company's environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives released earlier this year, Duke Energy said while it plans to add "large amounts" of renewable energy to its portfolio to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, continued use of natural gas and nuclear energy is necessary to allow for system reliability as more coal plants are retired.


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) held a virtual stakeholder discussion on electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, with PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo noting near the start that PUCO had found there are no laws on public utilities that interfere with public or private sector decisions on charging stations. Randazzo also said charging stations do not represent a "one-size-fits-all" situation, as they are often dependent on the specific local government. He also commented that it represents an opportunity for private sector innovation, and that they may see solutions for "range anxiety" -- fear of running out of power during a trip -- and the ability to change batteries rapidly.


WORKFORCE


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced creation of a state "Top Jobs List" Monday, combining the previous In-Demand Jobs list and the "Critical Jobs" list created due to the pandemic. The new list of prioritized job sectors "aims to prioritize current economic needs with the health and well-being of Ohioans" by using occupations from both past lists. It includes the following eight career clusters: children and community health; early childhood education; first responders; lead abatement; mental and behavioral health; nursing; physicians; and wellness research and technology.


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the results of the fourth TechCred round and the start of the fifth Tuesday as well, once again allowing Ohio businesses to seek state reimbursement of up to $2,000 for each current worker trained in an additional credential. Husted also said the list of eligible TechCred credentials now includes examples of education and training providers that offer each certificate or certification as a resource to employers. The examples listed under each credential are based on training provider submissions and are not an exhaustive list of providers offering each credential in Ohio or online. Employers can work with a training provider that is not listed.


[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2020 Hannah News Service, Inc.]

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