Week In Review: January 28, 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.

ABORTION


Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) Tuesday introduced legislation that prohibits the use of telemedicine for the purpose of providing abortion inducing drugs. According to statistics released last year by the Ohio Department of Health, there were 20,425 abortions performed in Ohio in 2018, the last year statistics were available. Of those, 6,103 were non-surgical abortions with the use of mifepristone, and 582 involved misoprostol. Use of the abortion drugs is more common in the first trimester of the pregnancy.


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus brief supporting an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on Down syndrome diagnoses. "The federal government has an interest in the equal dignity of those who live with disabilities. Nothing in the Constitution requires Ohio to authorize abortion providers to participate in abortions the providers know are based on Down syndrome," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a news release announcing the brief, which was filed with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Preterm-Cleveland v. Himes.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture's (ODAg) Historic Family Farms Program registered 975 historic farms from 2010 to 2019, a 26 percent increase over the decade, the agency announced recently. During the program's first 16 years (1993-2009), 749 farms were registered, ODAg said. The ODAg Historic Family Farms Program was developed in 1993 to honor Ohio's founding farm families for their contributions to agriculture in Ohio. Farms under same-family ownership for 100 years or more qualify to be designated as a historic family farm.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


In response to a Major League Baseball (MLB) proposal to end 42 minor league teams' affiliations with their major league counterparts, baseball fan and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wrote a three-page letter to MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred asking him to reconsider. DeWine's letter further mentioned that Manfred had floated the idea of eliminating the minor leagues entirely, which the governor called "shocking" and "extremely disconcerting." One Ohio team, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, has been included on the list, while the state's five other minor league teams were not mentioned. However, three Cincinnati Reds affiliates, the Daytona Tortugas, Billings Mustangs and Greeneville Reds, were included.


A team for which DeWine's son Brian DeWine serves as president, the Asheville Tourists, was not included on the list.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


The Ohio Attorney General's Office opened the proposal process for 2020 Law Enforcement Conference workshops Thursday, set for Sept. 14-15 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. This year, the conference is accepting workshop proposals focused on investigations and officer wellness (including "Surviving Burnout," "Financial Health" and "Substance Abuse/Mental Health"). Other proposals also will be considered, the AG said. All 12 workshops will run on the first day of the conference, Monday, Sept. 14, and must be 1.5 hours in length. The attorney general is calling for a minimum of two presenters in each workshop. All proposals must be completed and submitted by Monday, March 16 and adhere to the guidelines and form at https://tinyurl.com/rz4gdp7.


AUDITOR OF STATE


Auditor of State Keith Faber recently released the 2019 audit of West Clermont Local School District (Clermont County), which uncovered that a district employee, Trent Davis, collected $17,745 of school district money but did not remit the funds to the district's treasurer.


BALLOT ISSUES


Ohio's minimum wage would increase to $13 by 2025 under a proposed constitutional amendment that was filed with the attorney general's office on Friday. The proposed amendment, which could go before voters in November, was filed by a coalition of labor groups with Attorney General Dave Yost, who must determine if a summary of the amendment is a fair and truthful statement about the proposed amendment. Yost has until Monday, Jan. 27 to rule on the submission.


The contentious and sometimes acrimonious battle over the petition campaign to put HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) energy subsidies before voters ended Wednesday when the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals accepted Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts' (OACB) motion to dismiss its appeal, which had sought more time to place the referendum against coal, nuclear and solar credits on the 2020 ballot.


This November, Ohio voters could have the opportunity to consider a constitutional amendment "modernizing and securing" the state's elections. Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections, a new campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio, on Wednesday filed a voting rights amendment with Attorney General Dave Yost's office. The proposal includes automatic voter registration, guaranteed early voting periods and same-day voter registration, among other provisions. According to the ACLU of Ohio, the campaign will officially launch in the coming weeks.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Ohio's childhood obesity rate for 10- to 17-year-olds decreased from 18.6 percent in 2017 to 17.1 percent in 2018, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). While the improvement in Ohio's obesity rate represents a rare reversal of its generally upward trend, it still remains above the national average. Obesity among children nationwide has almost tripled since 1980, when only 5.5 percent of children were obese, compared to the current national average childhood obesity rate of 15.3 percent in 2018 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Survey of Children's Health.


Gov. Mike DeWine's Office of Children's Initiatives recently announced that 18 organizations serving low-income families in 22 counties will receive funding to offer parent safety education on topics such as infant safe sleep practices, proper car seat installation, infant and early childhood development, and infant and early childhood nutrition. Upon completion of the brief education program, eligible families will receive safety-related support items. These may include cribs, pack-and-plays, car seats, booster seats, strollers, baby gates, baby monitors, bassinets, high chairs, toddler beds, sleep sacks, etc.


CIVIL RIGHTS


Lt. Gov. and former Secretary of State Jon Husted urged thousands gathered Monday for Columbus' Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast to embrace love and not hate. The capital city hosted the MLK breakfast along with similar gatherings in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and other Ohio cities. "On a day like today, I try to think about something I've forgotten," Husted said, quoting the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. "Love your enemies."


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


The Office of the Ohio Public Defender (OPD) and Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL) agreed with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Eklund (R-Chardon) and former Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Reginald Wilkinson Friday that legislation to greatly expand global positioning system (GPS) monitoring of convicted felons poses an unjustified and costly intervention appropriate for the worst-of the-worst but not for the average offender. Comments came at a meeting of the governor's Post-Release Control Working Group.


Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that funding is now available to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for the cost of extraditing dangerous wanted offenders back to Ohio to face criminal charges.


DeWine secured $500,000 in the FY20-21 biennium budget to fund Ohio's new Prisoner Extradition Reimbursement Program, which will reimburse Ohio law enforcement agencies that have limited funds to extradite suspects arrested out-of-state or in another jurisdiction on warrants for Tier I offenses.


Ohio's move toward a statewide arrest warrant tracking system moved forward Wednesday when final proposals for a central piece of Gov. Mike DeWine's "Strong Ohio" gun reforms were due. Administration officials told the Governor's Task Force on Arrest Warrants Tuesday that mandatory "real-time" entry of warrants and protection orders will launch with 10 pilot counties and provide comprehensive funding for eventual adoption by all local jurisdictions. With nearly half the task force's May 2019 recommendations well on their way to full implementation, DeWine's senior advisor on criminal justice policy, Andy Wilson, joined Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) Assistant Director Karen Huey and Executive Director Karhlton Moore of ODPS's Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) gave an update on a searchable eWarrant and eProtection Order system, which they said will transform local government reporting to Ohio's Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and subsequent entry in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


TourismOhio this week released its 2020 Ohio Travel Guide which highlights the state's major events and anniversaries including the 150th anniversary of Cedar Point in Sandusky; the 100th anniversary of professional football which was created in Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, in which Ohio played a major role; and the 20th anniversary of Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


EDUCATION


The General Assembly will act next week to address local school officials' concerns about a significant expansion of the EdChoice voucher program, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) told reporters after the chamber's session on Wednesday. Obhof predicted that the legislation will have enough support to pass with an emergency clause.


Gov. Mike DeWine recognized Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2020 as "Ohio School Choice Week," aligning the state with National School Choice Week, which will take place in that same time span. According to the National School Choice Week nonprofit, more than a dozen governors nationwide as well as hundreds of city and county leaders have issued similar proclamations.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria announced recently that 94 Ohio schools will receive the Purple Star Award, which recognizes schools that demonstrate a major commitment to serving students and families connected to the United States armed forces.


Several families and a collection of school choice advocacy groups urged lawmakers Tuesday to think first of the wellbeing of students when debating changes to the EdChoice scholarship program. Aaron Baer, head of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), and Averel Meden, head of the Ohio Christian Education Network (OCEN), said Statehouse furor on the issue has focused too much on school budget concerns, not what's in the best interest of parents and children. Those families have already started planning based on an EdChoice eligibility list published in the fall, they said.


Schools stand to save money and better serve struggling readers by building in-house capacity to recognize and teach students who are dyslexic, educators said at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, where members also adopted changes to two bills on the topic. The Senate Education Committee called a fifth hearing on SB102 and second hearing on SB200, both jointly sponsored by the committee chair and vice chair, Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), respectively. The former bill addresses dyslexia screening of young students and provision of information to parents of students identified as having dyslexia; the latter addresses training on dyslexia education in professional development and teacher preparation programs.


The legal saga over residents' attempts to transfer from one Stark County school district to another flared again recently with another lawsuit filed in the Ohio Supreme Court alleging local education officials are wrongly trying to push the issue to a later election cycle. Several families in the village of Hills and Dales want to use a new territory transfer petition process created in the recent state budget, HB166 (Oelslager), to leave Plain Local Schools and become part of Jackson Local Schools.


ELECTIONS


Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Thursday that Sean McAfee will serve as

the new chief information security officer for his office. The position was created by SB52 (Gavarone), which goes into effect Friday and contained provisions on election security.


ELECTIONS 2020


Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a joint statement Friday with West Virginia Secretary of State Matt Warner and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) new policy of expanded information sharing with states regarding cyber-attacks on elections infrastructure. According to the FBI, the bureau's new policy "recognizes the necessity of notifying responsible state and local officials of credible cyber threats to election infrastructure," and recognizes that mitigating cyber-attacks on elections infrastructure "often hinges on timely notification."


The Ohio and Butler County Republican parties along with the Senate campaign of Rep. George Lang (R-West Chester) Tuesday charged that Lang's opponent for the 4th Senate District, Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown), has been publishing endorsements that seem like they come from the official county and state party groups, even though both groups endorsed Lang. The parties said Keller is touting the endorsement of the "Butler County Republican PAC" and the "Ohio Republican PAC," which they said are not affiliated with either the state or local Republican Party organizations.


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announced Tuesday that it is working with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight PAC as part of its voter protection efforts. The "Fair Fight 2020" initiative is targeting 20 battleground states across the country as part of its effort.


Baldwin Wallace University Wednesday released the results of its first Great Lakes Poll, finding a majority of voters prefer an unnamed Democratic presidential candidate over President Donald Trump in four key Midwest states. The poll is the first of four that will be conducted in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won all four states in 2016 on his way to winning the Electoral College and the presidency.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) for re-election.

  • The Ohio Senate campaign of Niraj Antani announced the endorsements of Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

  • EMILY's List endorsed the following candidates for the Ohio General Assembly: Reem Subei (Ohio Senate District 2); Crystal Lett (Ohio Senate District 16); Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland); Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland); Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville); Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin); Rep. Allison Russo (D-Columbus); Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati); Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati); and Rep. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna).


ETHICS


The Ohio Ethics Commission recently issued a reminder that the deadline for filing financial disclosures for calendar year 2019 is Friday, May 15, 2020. The commission also released the 2019 financial disclosure statement form. Under Ohio law, many public officials and employees must file personal financial disclosure statements each year. Filers are required to annually submit a form covering the previous calendar year.


FEDERAL


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced $1,485,000 in grant awards for Ohio humanities projects. Nationally, NEH plans to award $30.9 million in support of 188 projects.


Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has joined a coalition of 21 GOP states' attorneys general in filing what is described as a first-ever "friend of Senate" letter with the nation's upper chamber to oppose House impeachment of President Donald Trump. The 14-page white paper argues a number of legal theories based on the Republicans' interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and framers' intent, accusing Democrats of a partisan ploy to remove the president without due process.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


The Sunset Review committee heard from seven organizations at its Tuesday meeting when Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) took over as chair of the committee from Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana). They included the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Banking Commission, Supervisory Investigative Panel of the State Dental Board, Tax Credit Authority, Ohio Public Library Information Network Board of Trustees, Ohioana Library Association Board of Trustees and the Ohioana Library Association Board of Trustees.


During Wednesday's session, senators voted 33-0 to send HB129 (McClain) to the governor. That bill would allow a person operating a motorcycle to wear hearing protection. The Senate also unanimously passed HCR8 (Schaffer), urging Congress to encourage the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to change crash indicator standards to consider only crashes in which the driver was at fault for the crash.


The Senate added a voting session on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. The chamber is still scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Jan. 29 as well.


In other action, the House Health Committee reported out HB188 (Crawley-Cross) which generally prohibits an individual's disability from being used to deny or limit parenting activities; the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee reported out SB229 (Schaffer) which designates a Diabetes Awareness Week; and the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee reported out SB134 (Gavarone) which revises the law governing passing a school bus.


Sent to governor for signature: SB7 (Lehner-Hackett) which deals with temporary state occupational licenses for members of the military and their spouses.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine will deliver his 2020 "State of the State" address before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 31, beginning at 12 p.m. It will take place in the chambers of the House of Representatives. This will be DeWine's second "State of the State" address -- the first coming last year on March 5, 2019 ahead of the introduction of his first budget later that month.


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Josie A. Morningstar of Walhonding (Knox County), Kristen L. Wheeler of Springfield (Clark County), Jamie S. Sanders of Fredericktown (Knox County), Carrie Beier of Fremont (Sandusky County), Katherine A. Greenawalt-Cherry of Troy (Miami County), Bonnie J. Hubbard-Nicosia of Bexley (Franklin County), Meredith C. Alexander of Columbus (Franklin County), Grace M. Kolliesuah of Pickerington (Fairfield County), Sarah LaTourette of Chesterland (Geauga County), and Maria Breno of Napoleon (Henry County) to the Early Intervention Services Advisory Council for terms beginning Jan. 17, 2020 and ending June 30, 2023.

  • Jennifer R. Ottley of Pickerington (Fairfield County), Jennifer L. Remeis of Bexley (Franklin County), Lori A. Mago of North Olmsted (Cuyahoga County), Erin E. Simmons of Tiffin (Seneca County), Kimberly Hauck of Columbus (Franklin County), Susannah M. Wayland of Columbus (Franklin County), Jody L. Beall of Blacklick (Franklin County), Tracey L. Chestnut of Centerburg (Licking County) and Christine E. Dobrovich of Delaware (Delaware County) reappointed to the Early Intervention Services Advisory Council for terms beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2023.

  • William E. Farnsel of Berkey (Lucas County) to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for a term beginning Jan. 17, 2020 and ending Jan. 31, 2025.

  • Frederick E. Mills of Dublin (Franklin County) to the State Employment Relations Board for a term beginning Feb. 1, 2020 and ending Oct. 6, 2020.


GUNS


Ohioans will experience even more deaths and injuries from firearms if the state enacts a "stand your ground" law, a group of public safety advocates warned the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Tuesday. SB237 (Johnson) would create a standard that would be impossible to apply consistently, weaken the rule of law and "encourage a shoot first and ask questions later mentality," said attorney Douglas Rogers, who noted he was a captain in the U.S. Military Police Corps and isn't an opponent of Second Amendment rights.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Otterbein University and Ohio-based coaching and consulting firm ALLOY said Wednesday they will partner in an effort to offer non-degree professional programs providing in-demand skills. The joint initiative was announced by Otterbein President John Comerford and ALLOY Principal Jeff Dickson, joined by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner.


While approximately 30 percent of college students nationally and statewide receive Pell grants -- awarded to low-income students -- Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) said Wednesday that seven Ohio institutions had rates below 20 percent, according to a report looking at data averages from 2015 to 2017. Kenyon and Oberlin colleges both had rates below 10 percent and were sixth- and seventh-lowest in the nation, while Miami University had the second-lowest rate nationally for public institutions. The other four institutions were Case Western Reserve University, Ohio State University, the College of Wooster and the University of Dayton.


A recent study out of Ohio State University (OSU) found that friendships developed among first-year college students can help bridge divides and cultivate broad worldviews. The study provides hope that future generations can overcome division and embrace differences, said Matthew Mayhew, study investigator and professor of higher education and student affairs at OSU.


INSURANCE


A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that not all health insurance plans are compliant with federal mental health parity laws which require mental health and substance use cessation services to be covered at the same amount as medical and surgical services, although the extent of noncompliance is unknown. States responded to a survey from GAO asking them to identify noncompliance among individual plans and fully-insured, employer-sponsored group plans, and 17 of 51 states identified 254 instances of noncompliance between 2017 and 2018. Three states did not respond to this survey question, and 31 states did not report instances of noncompliance.


The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) has a new website to help Ohioans locate a deceased family member's missing life insurance policy or annuity contract. The Life Insurance Policy Locator is a free service operated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and only requires basic information to get started. The Ohio Department of Insurance has been offering this service for over 10 years, but decided to transition to the national search application to provide Ohioans a more comprehensive search tool.


JUDICIAL


The Ohio Supreme Court has released proposed changes to the rules of practice and procedure filed with the General Assembly, including amendments to Criminal Rule 46 regarding bail. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor had called for bail reforms to be adopted by judicial rule in September, so that Ohioans are not unnecessarily held in jail due to an inability to afford bail. The proposed changes include a number of revisions on that theme, including addition of Rule 46 Division (B) on pretrial release which says that unless the court has ordered the defendant detained under Division (A), "the court shall release the defendant on the least restrictive conditions" to ensure appearance in court, public safety and that the defendant does not obstruct justice."


The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct recently reminded judges, magistrates and judicial candidates of their annual financial disclosure requirements. Most judicial officers must file their calendar year 2019 financial disclosure statements by Friday, May 15, 2020. However, 2020 judicial candidates appearing on the March 17 primary election ballot must file their financial disclosure statements by Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.


LOBBYISTS


Richard Bitonte was promoted to president of ZHF Consulting, a government affairs subsidiary of law firm Zaino Hall & Farrin, the company announced. He joined the group last year and most recently was vice president of government affairs.


MARIJUANA/HEMP


Ohio medical marijuana patients who have purchased items at Bloom Medicinals dispensaries are among more than 30,000 individuals across the U.S. affected by a data leak involving personally-identifiable information, according to Internet privacy researchers at vpnMentor. Bloom Medicinals has dispensaries located in Akron, Columbus, Maumee, Painesville and Seven Mile. The company uses the third-party vendor THSuite, a point-of-sale system used in the cannabis industry. Bloom Medicinals is the only Ohio dispensary that utilizes THSuite, Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) spokesperson Ali Simon told Hannah News.


MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM


Following up on her Tuesday, Jan. 14 release detailing the "mess" the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) currently faces stemming, in large measure, from an error-ridden information technology system that has snarled eligibility determinations and led to substantial payment errors, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran Friday released results from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) FY19 Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) audit and the department's corrective action plan. In her cover letter, CMS Deputy Director Anne Marie Costello notes her agency's approval of the plan and acknowledges "notable progress" the state agency has made over the last year to address many of the issues.


The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) announced Thursday that it will be releasing the first payment for its new Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) for Kids Program, which has been launched to measurably improve child health and wellness across the state. According to the agency, pediatric primary care providers who want to participate in the program must adhere to a set of comprehensive access and care standards, work toward clinical and quality goals designed specifically for children, and serve a minimum of 150 children enrolled in Ohio Medicaid.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Mineral Resources Management's Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program will invest more than $275,000 to remove a dangerous highwall -- a steep, exposed cliff left over from Ohio's pre-reclamation law mining era -- in Salem Township, Jefferson County.


Fourteen rural Ohio school districts and their corresponding counties and townships will share more than $1.5 million from the sale of timber from Ohio's state forests, according to the ODNR Division of Forestry. The division's Trees to Textbooks program donates a portion of revenue generated from state forest management to school districts where the activity took place.


Sunday, March 1 is the deadline to apply for an ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft grant to improve boating access for hand-powered watercraft at public facilities across the state. A total of $500,000 is available for this purpose. Applicants may request up to $75,000 for a single project during the grant period, which runs from May 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021.


OHIO HISTORY


If those who fought for the adoption of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote were around today, they may wonder why there aren't more women in elected office, a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) panel surmised on Wednesday.


PENSIONS


Following last week's vote of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) Board of Trustees to reduce health care subsidies for retirees, Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland) said she'll introduce legislation to limit staff pay and investment expenses at the pension fund. Grendell's office said her legislation also will launch a legislative study panel on salaries and investment fees at OPERS.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Foundation announced new officers and board members this week, including Derrick Clay as board chair and former Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) as vice chair. Former Reps. Larry Price and Michael Ashford were named board members.


POLITICS


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) hopes to settle on a new home in the coming months after recently selling its former headquarters on Fulton Street in Columbus. ODP Chairman David Pepper told Hannah News after the party's recent executive committee meeting that the sale of the 13,300 square-foot building, located at 340 E. Fulton St., has been completed. The sale was to Borror, an urban developer, for a reported $2.7 million. Pepper said ODP is finalizing its plans for a new space. He said the sale was also well timed "because it's sort of a hot part of town."


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announced Wednesday that it will hold its annual legacy dinner on Sunday, March 15, two days before the state's presidential primary. U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) is scheduled to speak as the featured guest at the dinner, which will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Friday graduated its 166th academy class of 42 cadets after 30 weeks of training. Courses completed by the cadets included ones in crash investigation, criminal and traffic law, detection of impaired drivers, firearms, physical fitness, self-defense and emergency vehicle operations.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The DeWine administration announced $8.3 million in federal grants Wednesday to protect women and support a range of criminal justice initiatives. The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) said $4.6 million authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will go to victim service providers, law enforcement and prosecutors, and courts and corrections agencies across Ohio. In addition, the ODPS division announced more than $3.7 million from the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program to support criminal justice programs including multi-jurisdictional drug task forces; school resource officers; drug, veteran and mental health courts; corrections projects; and justice technology initiatives.

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will continue to be chaired by Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks in 2020, while Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Director Matthew Damschroder stepped down as vice chair in favor of Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz.


STUDIES/POLLS


Though party remains the most prominent dividing line in America's political attitudes, a recent Pew Research Center study found that policy disagreements within the Democratic and Republican parties exist among a number of factors, including age, race and ethnicity, gender, educational attainment and religious affiliation. In particular, Republicans saw an age gap regarding opinions on foreign policy and immigration, while Democrats saw policy disagreements among racial and educational groups.


UTILITIES


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council sent four candidates' names to Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday for the commission seat currently held by Democrat Lawrence Friedeman. They include Republican Gerardo Torres of Loveland, Independent Stephen Serraino of Holland, Ronald Russo of Willoughby (who offered no political affiliation), and Friedeman. Torres was the top vote-getter following morning interviews, winning unanimous support in the absence of council member Mark Totman. He was followed by Friedeman's 10 votes, Serraino's nine votes and Russo's seven.


WORKFORCE


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday that the Industry Sector Partnership grant program, codified under HB2 (Cross-Lepore-Hagan), had formally launched and will accept applications through Friday, March 13. The program received $5 million in funding over the biennium through the operating budget, HB166 (Oelslager), and it aims to ensure Ohioans "can participate in the workforce pipeline while meeting the needs of job creators and the local economy," according to a release from Husted's office.


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





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