Week In Review - August 31, 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.


AFFORDABLE CARE ACT


The state of Ohio will not be permitted to offer oral arguments in a case that will determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday. In an order regarding the consolidated cases, Texas et al. v. California et al. and California et al. v. Texas et al., the Court wrote, "The motions of the solicitor general for divided argument and of the U.S. House of Representatives for enlargement of time for oral argument and for divided argument are granted, and the time is allotted as follows: 30 minutes for California et al., 10 minutes for the U.S. House of Representatives, 20 minutes for the solicitor general and 20 minutes for Texas et al. The motion of Ohio and Montana for leave to participate in oral argument as amici curiae, for enlargement of time for oral argument, and for divided argument is denied."


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine late Friday released reopening guidelines for both performing arts theaters and sports arenas. While the order for performing arts theaters is still being prepared, he said he was releasing the guidelines so arts organizations can begin planning for performances. Many of the arts venue guidelines track those he laid out earlier this week for sports arenas.


Coaches and front office executives representing Cleveland's three major professional sports teams -- the Cavaliers, Browns and Indians -- on Thursday announced a new alliance to develop a "sustainable and direct strategy" to address social injustice in the city and all Northeast Ohio communities. The group will also focus on improving the relationship between law enforcement and its citizens, encouraging non-partisan voting activities and increasing the opportunities for quality education for everyone, according to a news release on the Cleveland Browns' website.

ATTORNEY GENERAL


Attorney General Dave Yost announced the appointment of more than 400 students from 68 Ohio counties Wednesday to his office's Teen Ambassador Board for the 2020-21 school year. Participants represent more over 180 schools in counties led by Franklin (63 students), Cuyahoga (36), Summit (29), Hamilton (18), Delaware (17), Montgomery and Stark (15 each), Lucas (12), and Lorain, Mahoning and Warren (11 each).


American Honda Motor Co., Inc., and Honda of America Mfg., Inc, have agreed to an $85 million settlement with 48 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, over allegations that the automaker concealed safety issues related to defective airbag systems in certain Honda and Acura vehicles, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Wednesday. The defective systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corp., a longtime Honda supplier, and were first installed in vehicles sold in the U.S. in the 2001 model year.


BUSINESS/CORPORATE


The Ohio Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that President and CEO Andrew Doehrel will retire effective April 1, 2021 after 27 years in that position. He has been with the Ohio Chamber since 1984, and previously served as executive vice president and general counsel as well.


CENSUS


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way Americans live their daily lives, so too have the operations of the U.S. Census Bureau changed, as highlighted in a recent summary of the agency's adjustments. The U.S. Census, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding will flow into states for the next 10 years. It also determines how many seats in Congress each state gets. This year's census is particularly important for Ohio, which has been projected to lose a seat, with its U.S. House delegation going from 16 to 15 members.


Development Services Agency Director Lydia Mihalik reported at the most recent meeting of the Census 2020 Complete Count Commission that Ohio's response rate in this year's census is trending higher than the national average and on track to beat the state's response rate in 2010. According to Mihalik, Ohio's response rate as of Aug. 20 was 68.2 percent, while the national average response rate was close to 64 percent, with Ohio ranking 13th in the nation for its response rate, higher than any neighboring state.


CORONAVIRUS


Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday outlined a process for schools to allow more spectators at sporting events in excess of Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders this week, saying any such plan would still need to meet safety guidelines allowing for social distancing between family groups. The DeWine administration previously issued its order on sports, limiting the number of individuals allowed to gather at outdoor sports venues in Ohio to the lesser of 1,500 or 15 percent of the facility's fixed seating capacity; and the lesser of 300 individuals or 15 percent of the fixed seating capacity for indoor venues. On Tuesday, DeWine said the goal of allowing a variance for schools is to have the athletes play and have the ability of

family members to attend and watch them. It does not allow for spectators other than family members.


The DeWine administration on Tuesday also released a new public health order limiting "entertainment" venues to "15 percent of fixed, seated capacity." Performing arts centers and sports venues were the first entertainment venues to be restricted to the lesser of 1,500 spectators or 15 percent fixed, seated capacity for outdoor facilities and the lesser of 300 people or 15 percent fixed, seated capacity for indoor facilities under the state's guidelines.


The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) announced over the weekend that it had cited 13 liquor establishments for allegedly violating health orders, including one bar in Cleveland that was cited twice and three bars in Akron. Another Youngstown bar was cited for activity on Friday as well as two more citations for past activity referred by the Youngstown Police Department (YPD).


The Liquor Control Commission announced the outcomes of cases it heard last week regarding bars and restaurants accused of violating pandemic health rules, finding some level of violation of rules in all cases. The commission issued a mix of fines and license suspensions ranging from four to 45 days for the violations.


Lisa Patt-McDaniel, CEO of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, discussed the ways in which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses' hiring efforts and resources for job seekers during a recent podcast conversation with Trevor Brown, dean of the Ohio State University (OSU) John Glenn College of Public Affairs. According to Patt-McDaniel, disease prevention measures have inhibited traditional face-to-face interaction both in workplaces and for job interviews, meaning that businesses are offering additional flexibility in terms of remote work, while job seekers must consider new skills specific to video job interviews.


Legislation distributing an additional $650 million in federal CARES Act funding to local governments was introduced by Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) on Thursday. The funding in SB357 will be made available to counties, municipalities and townships for necessary expenses associated with the current public health emergency and will be distributed on a per capita basis.


The resumption of higher and K-12 education was a primary topic of Thursday's COVID-19 update, with Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted joined by three university leaders and a school district superintendent. DeWine said an order will be issued to make sure parents get as much information as possible about positive COVID-19 cases from schools, without compromising private health information. Parents should contact schools if their child tests positive, he said, and existing mechanisms to report absences could be used.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (OPAA) says members' sensitivity to wrongful conviction long predates Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor's latest task force and is now calling for Rules of Professional Conduct changes that would spell out prosecutors' duty to disclose "material evidence" of possible innocence and to reopen cases "even if all possible appeals have concluded."


The latest and final discussion in a series of webinars on human trafficking was held Tuesday and focused on "Dynamics of Exploitation in Human Trafficking." The talks were held by the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS), Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO). Tuesday's discussion featured Bhumika Patel from PCSAO, Rebekkah O'Bryan from DYS and Hollie Daniels, a sex trafficking survivor who shared her personal experience and the advocacy work she's done.


ECONOMY


The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation's "Prosperity Pulse" survey for the second quarter of 2020 found business leaders remain uncertain about the economic path forward, following historically low confidence numbers in Q1.


EDUCATION


The State Board of Education of Ohio will meet virtually for a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. to discuss and amend an emergency school-age child care rule to allow Ohio Department of Education-licensed school-age child care programs to operate during remote learning hours and authorize a new, temporary, pandemic school-age child care license.


Education groups representing district and charter schools as well as businesses urged Gov. Mike DeWine and Superintendent Paolo DeMaria to join their effort to win extension of federal pandemic policies for serving school meals in more flexible ways by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the state's congressional delegation to extend waiver authority through the 2020-2021 school year. Groups seeking the extension include the Ohio 8 Coalition, led by superintendents and union presidents in the state's largest school districts; the Alliance for High Quality Education, representing dozens more districts; the Fordham Institute, which advocates for school choice policies and sponsors charter schools via an affiliated foundation; and Ohio Excels, a business coalition focused on education issues.


The Ohio Supreme Court is temporarily setting aside a lower court ruling that blocked Madison Local Schools' plan to arm some district employees, granting the district's request to stay the decision while justices consider the case. The Supreme Court's action Wednesday will allow Madison Local to go forward with its plan to arm staff despite the conclusion of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals that those employees should be required to complete police training before carrying a concealed weapon on school grounds.


Akron City Schools announced recently that David James will retire as superintendent after this academic year, following almost 29 years with the district and 12 as superintendent. He submitted his notice at a board of education retreat this month.


As the school year begins, Mental Health America (MHA) recently unveiled its 2020 Back to School Toolkit, meant to help students, parents, and school personnel navigate the uncharted territory of COVID-19. Given the climate, MHA said it's particularly important this year for parents, caregivers, and school personnel to know the signs that a young person is struggling with their mental health as well as for adults to take care of their own mental health needs. Download the toolkit at https://mhanational.org/back-school.


The Youngstown City Schools Board of Education and Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown signed a legal settlement earlier this summer to preserve the board's status as an elected body for the near future.


ELECTIONS


Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Thursday he's sending 162 allegations of campaign finance violations to the Ohio Elections Commission after further review of records related to former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and his co-defendants in the HB6 bribery scandal. LaRose had referred 19 allegations related to the HB6 scandal to the commission in July, saying at the time that more referrals were likely coming.


The group that was pushing for a referendum on nuclear subsidy bill HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) was fined more than $5,000 Thursday for not filing proper disclosures with the secretary of state. The Ohio Elections Commission heard the complaint against Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, agreeing to fine the group $25 per day until the group files its proper paperwork with the secretary of state's office. Elections Commission Executive Director Phillip Richter said that as of Thursday morning, that paperwork had not been filed.


ELECTIONS 2020


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced last week that Kanye West and his running mate Michelle Tidball failed to meet the requirements necessary to appear on Ohio's presidential ballot. West responded Wednesday with a lawsuit asking the Ohio Supreme Court to put him on the ballot. The Supreme Court set an expedited briefing schedule, with the state’s response due Friday.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that independent candidates Richard Duncan and Rodney Garrett Jr. did meet the requirements to make Ohio's presidential ballot although Duncan and Garrett requested that Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker appear on Ohio's ballot in their stead -- something LaRose notes is permitted under Ohio law.


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announced Tuesday that it had filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court so that county boards of election can have multiple secure drop boxes, rather than just one at the county board location as required by a recent directive from Secretary of State Frank LaRose. "Secretary Larose has been and continues to be supportive of legislation that permits additional options for voters to return their absentee ballots. As an executive office holder, he must follow the law as the Legislature writes it. His focus at this time remains on getting the Ohio Controlling Board to permit him to pay postage on absentee ballots, effectively making every blue mailbox an absentee drop box," said LaRose spokesperson Maggie Sheehan in response.


As the Democratic National Convention (DNC) came to a close, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he still has concerns over how voting will proceed come November, even though earlier in the week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had announced he will suspend his recent controversial changes to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) until after the election. Brown, however, said Ohio still needs to do more to make sure every registered voter has a chance to cast a ballot in the state. Asked what advice he would give Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Brown said LaRose should push for the reinstatement of Ohio's "Golden Week."


A new poll of Ohio commissioned and released by left-leaning ProgressOhio Monday and conducted by Democratic pollster TargetSmart shows a tight race between Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. It found Biden with 47 percent of the vote, while Trump had 46 percent, with 5 percent picking a different candidate, and 3 percent undecided.


The House Democratic Caucus Monday announced that Marci McCaulay, a psychologist who worked at Denison University, has filed to run in the 72nd House District. Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), who has been indicted on federal charges related to the passage of nuclear bailout HB6 (Callender-Wilkin), is currently unopposed on the ballot, though several write-in candidates have filed. McCaulay is the first Democratic write-in candidate.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose Wednesday said he has referred Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) to the Ohio Elections Commission for alleged violations of campaign finance law. In a release, LaRose's office said the referral followed a comprehensive review of Vitale's reports after he submitted a blank campaign finance report one day after the June 5 campaign finance deadline.


Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said Thursday that he doesn't believe lawmakers will approve a request from Secretary of State Frank LaRose to pay the return postage on absentee ballots, saying he doesn't see how it can be done without violating Ohio law.


While the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) is asking a state court to weigh in on whether counties can offer more than one drop box for absentee ballots, voting groups on Thursday turned to a federal court to challenge a directive by Secretary of State Frank LaRose to limit those drop boxes to just one. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Dechert LLP, JSA LLP, and the Chandra Law Firm LLP are asking the federal court to stop LaRose from enforcing his limit of one drop box, and to allow counties to install multiple secure drop boxes at different locations, or to allow voters to drop off their absentee ballots at any polling place in the county in which they reside.


A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds high voter engagement with the presidential campaign and a record share saying it "really matters" who wins in November, but the coronavirus outbreak continues to cast a shadow over the 2020 presidential election as many registered voters expect difficulties in casting their ballot. The poll found just half (50 percent) of U.S. registered voters say it will be very or somewhat easy to vote in the upcoming elections, while about the same share (49 percent) expects to have difficulties voting.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) announced the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

  • The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorsed Kate Schroder for Congress.

  • The Ohio Manufacturers' Association Political Action Committee (OMA PAC) endorsed George Lang, Bob Hackett, Matt Huffman, Terry Johnson, Stephanie Kunze, Mark Romanchuk, Matt Dolan, Bill Reineke, and Sean O'Brien for Ohio Senate; and Bob Cupp, Tim Ginter, Dave Greenspan, Mary Lightbody, Beth Liston, Laura Lanese, Allison Russo, Jessica Miranda, Brigid Kelly, Reggie Stoltzfus, Gayle Manning, Al Cutrona, Scott Lipps, Michael O'Brien, Rick Carfagna, Bill Dean, Kyle Koehler, Craig Riedel, Susan Manchester, and Riordan McClain for Ohio House.

  • The re-election campaign of Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) announced the endorsement of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local Union 33.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


Ohio's unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in July, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday, down from a revised rate of 11 percent in June. The state added 62,700 nonagricultural wage and salary employment jobs over the month, however, significantly less than the previous number announced for June. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in July was 503,000, down 133,000 from a revised 636,000 in June. The number of unemployed has increased by 262,000 in the past 12 months from 241,000. The July unemployment rate for Ohio was higher than the 4.2 percent recorded in July 2019.


For the week ending Aug. 22, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 18,988 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This is the first time the state has reported fewer than 20,000 weekly jobless claims since Ohio's COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were put in place.


ENERGY


Pressure is mounting at both ends of the HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) debacle as federal authorities pursue subpoenas against FirstEnergy Corp. and a coalition of fossil fuel and renewable energy interests launch an ad campaign approaching $1 million in potentially vulnerable legislative districts. The investigation is battering stocks prices for FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor Corp., successor to FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) and chief beneficiary of $1.5 billion in projected HB6 subsidies. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio said Monday that the investigation continues into $60 million in corporate payments to former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), four named associates, and possibly others.


Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) addressed Tuesday's bimonthly, virtual meeting of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) Governing Board, telling them that, "One of my first goals is to restore integrity to leadership in the House." He went on to call for majority and minority caucus leaders "who want to work above-board and work through policy differences." He was asked about HB246 (Vitale) which proposes to "reform and modernize" PUCO and OCC, legislation which the board opposes.


The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) moved forward Thursday with long-delayed public testimony on the Emerson Creek Wind Farm slated for Erie and Huron counties, where Firelands Wind LLC hopes to install 87 turbines in the area's first utility-scale wind facility. OPSB originally scheduled the public hearing for March 18 and an adjudicatory hearing for April 14, but Gov. Mike DeWine's March 9 state of emergency delayed regular proceedings until this month. The seven dozen turbines would generate 297.66 MW on 32,000 acres of leased farm land in Erie and Huron counties, compared to a 795.5 MW average among Ohio's four operating combined cycle gas plants located on a fraction of the acreage in Butler, Carroll, Lucas and Trumbull counties.


ENVIRONMENT


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) should enter into a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and the city of Dayton to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Gov. Mike DeWine wrote in a letter to DOD Secretary Mark Esper Thursday. The agreement would allow for more expedient and preventive measures to address contamination from PFAS -- also called "forever chemicals" -- and protect the Great Buried Valley Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 2.3 million people in Southwest Ohio, including more than 400,000 people in the Dayton metropolitan area, according to the governor's office.


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Wednesday announced that 29 different farmers and rural small businesses in Ohio will receive $682,563 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding for the purchase, installation, and construction of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.


GAMING/GAMBLING


The number of calls to the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline has increased during the last several months just as other mental health problems have escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Problem Gambling Services Administrator Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) said Monday that he has drafted 10 articles of impeachment against Gov. Mike DeWine claiming the governor has abused his power in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.


However, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) called Becker's resolution "an imprudent attempt to escalate important policy disagreements with the governor into a state constitutional crisis. Even serious policy disagreements do not rise to the level of impeachment under our constitution." The resolution has Reps. Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason) and Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) as co-sponsors. The effort also includes the creation of a website -- www.ImpeachDeWine.com -- to urge Ohioans to contact their state representatives and ask them to sign onto the resolution.


At Wednesday's virtual meeting of the Ohio Cancer Caucus, members heard that as many as 79 percent of cancer patients in active treatment have seen delays in health care, while 80 percent of patients reported a change or delay in preventive cancer care including screenings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bryan Hannon, director of government relations in Ohio for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, told Cancer Caucus Co-Chairs Sens. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) that a survey of patients was conducted to determine a "baseline" of cancer care during the pandemic, and 87 percent of patients reported some change in care.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) announced Tuesday that the fourth phase of repairs to the Ohio Statehouse parking garage will begin Friday, Sept. 4. The garage will continue remaining open during renovations, albeit at a reduced capacity.


The House and Senate are accelerating plans to return to Columbus for session in September. Both chambers will now be in session next week, ahead of the mid-month sessions on their previously published schedules. The Senate will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2, with an if-needed session on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The House will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with an if-needed session set for Wednesday.


Both the House and Senate have scheduled sessions for next week, and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said he expects the Senate will meet at least once later in September and in October. Among the issues lawmakers will tackle is a repeal of nuclear subsidies bill HB6 (Callender-Wilkin). Obhof said he favors a complete repeal of the subsidies in the bill, though he noted there were other policy issues in the bill as well, so it likely won't be a full repeal of HB6.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that he has signed HB230 (Crossman) into law. It becomes effective in 90 days. According to a Tweet from sponsor Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma), "Every May will now be #braincancer awareness month in Ohio."


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Loraine Ringhiser-Carlson of Heath (Licking County) appointed and Matthew Granito of Middlefield (Geauga County) reappointed to the Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board both for terms beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending March 12, 2023.

  • Christine Lapp of Powell (Delaware County) to the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools for a term beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending Nov. 20, 2024.

  • Paul E. LaRue of Washington Court House (Fayette County) to the State Board of Education for a term beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending Dec. 31, 2022.

  • Gregory A. Warner of Wheelersburg (Scioto County) to the Board of Building Standards for a term beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending Oct. 13, 2020.

  • Cara Dingus Brook of Logan (Hocking County) to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority for a term beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021.

  • Beth Waldren of Galena (Delaware County) appointed and both Thomas H. Johnson of Somerset (Perry County) and Tina L. Husted of Upper Arlington (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Arts Council, all for terms beginning Aug. 26, 2020 and ending July 1, 2025.

  • Victor Goodman of New Albany (Franklin County) to the State Board of Pharmacy for a term beginning Aug. 24, 2020 and ending June 30, 2024.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


The DeWine administration said Monday it will allow child care providers to care for school-age children and receive funding for care provided during the school day, in light of many school districts' choice to start the academic year with remote or hybrid instruction. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will also launch a new temporary license for care of school-age children. The Controlling Board Monday approved $9 million in support of the policy change.


A state panel scrutinizing drug costs took its final round of public input Wednesday and plans to approve a report next month. The Prescription Drug Transparency and Affordability Council heard from the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA), National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and Equitas Health. The council was created in the biennial budget, H166 (Oelslager). Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Director Matt Damschroder, chair of the council, said he plans to have staff compile a draft report for review and approval by the council at a meeting to be scheduled for September. He asked council members to send their suggestions for recommendations to include in the report.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Ohio State University (OSU), which began its fall semester this Tuesday, Aug. 25, issued 228 interim suspensions for students who hosted or attended large off-campus parties and gatherings. Those students with interim suspensions will not be able to return to campus until they go through the university's student conduct process, OSU spokesperson Ben Johnson told Hannah News. He additionally said any student organization that hosts a large gathering deemed unsafe could face losing its university recognition or funding.


The Hiram College Board of Trustees recently announced the appointment of David P. Haney as interim president, effective Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Haney will work with President Lori E. Varlotta until she leaves Hiram on Sept. 30 to become California Lutheran University's new president.


The University of Toledo (UT) recently gave updates on its efforts to stabilize the financial situation of the UT Medical Center (UTMC). The university said that hospital leadership has been reviewing current service lines and future growth opportunities. "We are proud to be Toledo's community-focused teaching hospital and are driven to provide exceptional patient-centered service to our region, while also providing training opportunities for UToledo's many health care programs ranging from family medicine, to occupational therapy, to pharmacy, to nursing," said UTMC CEO Rick Swaine.


Cleveland State University (CSU) recently announced Kenneth B. Kahn as the new dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business. He officially joined CSU on Aug. 10.


The University of Cincinnati (UC) announced Monday the school expects to start the new academic year with its eighth consecutive year of increasing enrollment.


Ohio State University (OSU) announced Tuesday that it had a COVID-19 testing dashboard of its own, showing student test results from Aug. 14 to Saturday and faculty and staff results from Aug. 1 to Saturday. Nearly 8,000 tests have been conducted among undergraduate students, graduate and professional students and OSU employees, according to the university. Eighty students and 12 faculty and staff have tested positive, representing 1.16 percent of tested students and 1.44 percent of tested staff. The dashboard will have weekly updates going forward, and can be viewed at https://safeandhealthy.osu.edu/dashboard.


Ohio State University (OSU) is expecting to bring in $295.2 million less in revenue in FY21 compared to FY20, representing a 7.6 percent decrease, according to a document prepared by the university for the OSU Board of Trustees. Most of the decreases are due to a projected $130 million decline in athletics revenue caused by the Big 10's postponement of the fall football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A decline of $105.5 million is expected in transfers from the OSU Health System. A nearly $55 million decline is expected for tuition/fees and a $50 million decline in interest income. The university also expects a $3 million decline in student life revenue and a $6 million decline in business advancements due to its reliance on event revenue.


The Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine is offering a free webinar series on racial disparity, social justice, and the opioid crisis this fall. The events are free to the public, but registration is required. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y6bj9k2d to register for an event and see all the upcoming webinars, which run through November.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


Ohio Realtors report that July home sales were 8.6 percent ahead of where they were a year earlier, but year-to-date sales for 2020 are 3.2 percent behind last year's figures. July sales of 17,006 compare to 15,658 seen in the same month last year. July's average price of $223,344 also reflects an 8.6 percent increase, compared to the average price of $205,634 a year earlier. For the first seven months of 2020, sales reached 85,562, compared to 88,352 for the same period of 2019. The average price for January through July was $205,248, a 5.9 percent increase from the $193,726 seen in 2019.


INSURANCE


Gov. Mike DeWine Monday morning announced the resignation of Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) Director Jillian Froment "to pursue other opportunities." Tynesia Dorsey has been named interim director.


Froment joined the department in 2011 and had served as director since 2017.


JUDICIAL


Former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) again had an arraignment delayed, according to media reports, as he has been unable to find replacement counsel following the withdrawal of two attorneys from the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm. The exact reason for the withdrawal was not disclosed but involved responsibilities to another client that would limit their ability to represent Householder as well. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black delayed Householder's arraignment by two weeks and ordered him to "expedite" efforts to secure new counsel.


Children's Defense Fund-Ohio and Groundwork Ohio announced a partnership meant to improve outcomes for Ohio infants, toddlers and their families who are involved in the state juvenile court and child welfare systems. The partnership will support the development of "Infant-Toddler Court Teams" in Cuyahoga, Montgomery, and Scioto counties under the leadership of Judges Kristin Sweeney, Helen Wallace and Alan Lemons respectively. The work will be funded by a one-year, $425,000 state expansion grant from ZERO TO THREE, a national nonprofit which also works on children and family issues. Cindy Oser, who recently retired as director of infant and early childhood mental health at ZERO TO THREE, will serve as the statewide coordinator for the grant.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) swore in 23 law enforcement officers recently. They received their basic training earlier this summer and graduated on July 24 from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Training Academy. They also completed an additional four weeks of specialized training related to ODNR operations. In addition to law enforcement procedures and agency policies, the cadets received training in areas of ATV use, communications, vessel operation, advanced firearms and self-defense. The new officers will continue their training by working closely with experienced officers in their assignment areas for the next several months, ODNR said.


PENSIONS


The School Employees Retirement System (SERS) called a special meeting last week to continue ongoing "sustainability" discussions as it considers ways to strengthen its financial footing. The trustees meeting covered topics identified by members as worth deeper discussions.


PEOPLE


Crisis communications expert and political consultant Mark Weaver discussed the four key factors in crafting a message in crisis communication with Hannah News, illustrating how he has applied those factors to the clients he has worked for over the years. This was the latest installment in Hannah News' series "Faces on Capitol Square."


POLITICS


Ohio's U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) defended President Donald Trump and attacked Democrats in a speech broadcast on the first night of the Republican National Convention (RNC), saying he has seen a side of Trump that many others have not. The congressman opened the three-minute speech by saying the Republican Party is the pro-American party, and that Trump is the pro-American candidate.


Ohio congressional and Akron political leaders characterized a recent tweet from President Donald Trump calling for a boycott of Akron-based tire company Goodyear as a "betrayal of workers," while drawing contrasts between the president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's proposed economic package. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) characterized the proposed boycott from Trump as an attack on an American company and its workers, saying, "He's willing to attack American jobs to save his own." He added that he expects Trump to continue to use his "2016 playbook," which Brown described as relying on phony populism, race-baiting, division and appeals to fear.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Ohio continues the move toward statewide compliance with community policing standards, with the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) announcing four departmental recertifications and personnel employed by cooperating agencies topping 87 percent of all law enforcement officers in the state. DPS's Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) announced Tuesday that police at Columbus State Community College (Franklin County), Andover (Ashtabula County), Madison Township (Lake County) and Marietta (Washington County) have been recertified for use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring.


SECRETARY OF STATE


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced he has been appointed Elections Committee co-chair in the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will serve as co-chair. The Elections Committee is focused on education and advocacy to bring best practices to professional election administrators, vendors, academics and advocates, both on the state and federal level.


STATE GOVERNMENT


A late addition to the agenda saw the Controlling Board approve distribution of $175 million in federal CARES Act funding to local governments using the Local Government Fund methodology. Also approved were requests for $18 million to support certain schools and districts and $9 million to help fund the child care program for school age children.


TECHNOLOGY


Despite the time spent with smartphones and social media, young people today are just as socially skilled as those from the previous generation, a new study suggests. Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) compared teacher and parent evaluations of children who started kindergarten in 1998 -- six years before Facebook launched -- with those who began school in 2010, when the first iPad debuted. Results showed both groups of kids were rated similarly on interpersonal skills such as the ability to form and maintain friendships and get along with people who are different. They were also rated similarly on self-control, such as the ability to regulate their temper. In other words, the kids are still all right, said Douglas Downey, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at OSU.


TREASURER OF STATE


Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague announced Thursday that the Ohio Market Access Program (OMAP) administered by his office had helped Belmont County refinance outstanding debt, saving an estimated $12,555 in interest costs.


UTILITIES


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved the HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) Clean Air Fund (CAF) charge Wednesday for all residential, industrial and commercial electric customers starting Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, yielding $150 million in annual subsidies to Ohio's two nuclear plants and $20 million to a select group of solar projects. The fund's monthly residential and non-residential rate is generally capped at 85 cents and $2,400, respectively, and scheduled to provide more than $1 billion ratepayer supports through 2027.


Despite the growing need for water infrastructure improvements across the country over the last four decades, the federal government's share of investment in drinking water and wastewater capital needs fell from 31 percent in 1977 to 4 percent in 2017, according to a new report from the Value of Water Campaign (VWC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

WORKERS' COMPENSATION


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors did not go forward with a final vote Friday on Gov. Mike DeWine's $1.5 billion refund request for public and private employers, saying the six weeks needed to prepare a second billion-dollar dividend in four months would not accommodate the governor's emergency request to suspend a second reading of the refund in light of the COVID-19 economy. A dividend of up to $1.5 billion would return 100 percent of all premiums paid in the 2019 policy year and follow an April refund of $1.6 billion and total dividends of $4.3 billion since 2019, the administration said. Approval of the refund next month would leave BWC total remaining assets of $11.1 billion minus liabilities as of July 31.


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

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