Week In Review - July 11, 2022



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

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ABORTION


The Ohio Supreme Court Friday denied a request for an emergency stay of Ohio's law banning abortion when fetal cardiac activity is detected after it was sought Wednesday by abortion providers, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Ohio and law firm WilmerHale. The Ohio Attorney General's office had responded to the request, saying it was "both substantively and procedurally flawed" and that the relators' argument that the Ohio Constitution conferred a right to an abortion through about the first 20 weeks of pregnancy was "meritless." Yost's response also noted the Ohio Supreme Court lacked original jurisdiction to entertain a request for a prohibitory injunction on the law and that relators had an adequate remedy in pursuing constitutional challenges through lower courts.


AGING


The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) announced recently that John Corlett and Semanthie Brooks will serve as chairperson and vice chairperson, respectively, of the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging. Corlett is a sitting member of the council from Cuyahoga County and Brooks, a sitting member from Summit County.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Expo Center & State Fair on Tuesday announced another free concert in the WCOL Celeste Center. Generation Radio -- a band composed of members from Rascal Flatts, Chicago and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, as well as musicians who played alongside Christina Aguilera, Reba McEntire and other big-name performers -- will play on Thursday, July 28.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Attorney General (AG) Dave Yost issued a statement over the July Fourth weekend on the Akron Police Department's deadly use of force against Jayland Walker, 25, who, sources say, was shot at least 60 times. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett released more than a dozen body-worn camera videos of the vehicle pursuit and foot chase on June 27, which ended when Walker turned to face officers in a parking lot and succumbed to multiple bullet wounds. Investigators say they later found he was unarmed at the scene; other photos show an automatic pistol and a loaded clip on his passenger seat. The AG's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is investigating the shooting.


The Ohio Attorney General's Office sued robocall empresario Aaron Michael Jones and others Thursday after the familiar target of federal investigators generated 800 million "vehicle service contract" (VSC) telemarketing calls to Ohioans over a three-year period. The AG is seeking a permanent end to the scheme and $1,000-$25,000 for each violation, plus state investigative costs, legal fees and "other equitable relief." The suit against Jones, Roy Melvin Cox, Stacey Eunjin Yim and 19 other individuals and entities operating domestically and internationally alleges numerous breaches of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (TCFAPA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) and Ohio Telephone Solicitation Sales Act (TSSA).


BALLOT ISSUES


The Ohio Ballot Board Tuesday unanimously certified a proposed constitutional amendment that would put an individual's right to refuse medical services into the Ohio Constitution. Backers of the amendment said they are aiming to get the issue before voters in May 2023. Board member Pavan Parikh had questioned one of the petitioners, Troy physician Steve Werling, about whether the amendment could prevent an anti-abortion law such as the heartbeat bill from being enforced. Werling said he didn't think it would because the amendment just prohibits a medical treatment from being forced on an individual -- in Parikh's example, it would prevent an abortion from being forced on a person.


In other action, the Ballot Board also designated the individuals who will write the arguments for and against two issues that will be on the November ballot that were passed by the Legislature earlier this year. Arguments for HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen), which requires public safety to be a factor in bail consideration, will be written by Reps. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and DJ Swearingen (R-Huron), as well as Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green). Arguments against the issue will be written by Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati). Arguments for HJR4 (Edwards-Seitz), which would bar local governments from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections, will be written by Reps. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), as well as Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati). Arguments against will be written by Sen. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) and Bishara Addison (D-Shaker Heights).


CORONAVIRUS


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday reported 18,838 new COVID-19 cases over the week, up from 17,225 for the seven days ending June 30 and 16,159 in the previous weekly period. Hospitalization numbers dropped from 483 to 411, and ICU admissions fell from 32 to 29. Since the pandemic began, ODH has reported 2.87 million COVID-19 cases, 119,650 hospitalizations and 13,783 ICU admissions. The current number of reported deaths is 38,920. ODH said that a national "reprocessing" of all 2022 death files is underway after a new coding system was implemented, and so weekly numbers will not be reported until the reprocessing is complete.


DEATH PENALTY


Gov. Mike DeWine Friday issued two reprieves of execution due to the ongoing problems involving the willingness of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), pursuant to DRC protocol, without endangering other Ohioans. Those receiving the reprieves are the following:


  • Antonio Franklin, who was scheduled to be executed on Jan. 12, 2023. The new date of execution has been moved to Feb. 11, 2026.

  • Stanley Fitzpatrick, who was scheduled to be executed on Feb. 15, 2023. The new date of execution has been moved to April 16, 2026.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/URBAN REVITALIZATION


The DeWine administration announced grant funds totaling almost $42.2 million Friday as part of the first phase of the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program. Communities will be able to use the money to "turn blighted properties into new opportunities that attract investment, business and jobs." Funds will go to 87 counties up to their $500,000 set-aside under this round, as the Ohio Department of Development said it did not receive an application for Preble County. Seventy-two counties requested the full amount. Remaining funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to counties that applied for funding in excess of $500,000. The total program funding is approximately $150 million, and is part of the Ohio BUILDS effort along with the Brownfield Remediation Program.


The third application round of the Brownfield Remediation Program opened Friday, according to the Ohio Department of Development (DOD), and more than $30 million is available. The round will remain open until Friday, Sept. 30 or when funds are depleted as it is first come, first served. The program focuses on industrial, commercial and institutional brownfield sites that are abandoned, idled or underutilized because of the known or potential release of hazardous substances or petroleum.


EDUCATION


The Vouchers Hurt Ohio coalition, which is challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's EdChoice scholarship program, announced another large district, Toledo Public Schools, has joined the litigation. More than 200 school districts are part of the coalition, and several school districts and a handful of parents and students are named as plaintiffs. The litigation alleges EdChoice violates the requirement that lawmakers provide for a "common" school system, and runs afoul of the prohibition on giving control of funding to religious sects. Several families whose children use EdChoice scholarships to attend private schools have intervened as defendants in the litigation. In addition, several amicus briefs were filed recently in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in support of school districts challenging the EdChoice program, including one signed by both the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), and another signed by the three associations representing local school boards, superintendents and treasurers. The array of filings from numerous groups respond to a bid by the state to have the case dismissed, as well as requests for judgement filed by families of children who use EdChoice, several of whom were granted the right to intervene as formal parties to the case.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has a survey open until Thursday, Aug. 4 on new industry credentials under consideration for inclusion on the list used for high school graduation requirements. The department says industry organizations' feedback helps to validate the need for credentials within a career field "to ensure students are earning credentials that are valued by businesses or tied to Ohio's Top Jobs List." The survey is posted at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RRBR2X8.


The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Thursday approved over $307 million in state funding for five school construction projects. Combined with about $151 million in local funding, the projects represent over $458 million in public construction work. The funding awards are contingent upon State Controlling Board approval.


A coalition of over 20 anti-hunger, education, and food and nutrition organizations is asking the DeWine administration to use leftover American Rescue Plan Act (ARAP) dollars or other funding sources to provide free meals to Ohio school children. The Hunger-Free Schools Ohio coalition includes groups like Children's Defense Fund Ohio, Groundwork Ohio, the Ohio Children's Hospital Association, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children's Hunger Alliance, the Ohio Education Association, United Way of Central Ohio, the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, and many more. On Wednesday, the coalition sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine highlighting the role that expanded federal school meal programs played in reducing hardship during the pandemic. Federal waivers that allowed schools to serve meals at no cost to all students are set to expire at the end of this school year, resulting in what the coalition called a "child hunger cliff."


Kettering-Fairmont CTE Principal Liz Jensen was elected president of the Ohio Association of Comprehensive and Compact Career-Technical Schools (Ohio CCS) for 2022-2023 at the association's recent 2022 annual meeting. Also installed were President-Elect Anthony Battaglia, Cleveland Metropolitan School District; Treasurer Tim Buschur, TriStar Career Compact; and Professional Development Chair Jeff Berk, Stebbins Career Tech. Pam Hamlin, Millstream Career Center, is the immediate past president.


ELECTIONS 2022


Early voting for the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary election began Wednesday, July 6 at each of the 88 county board of elections voting locations. General Assembly, Democrat/Republican state central committee, and local issues and measures are on the ballot.


Hannah News published an updated list of legislative candidates on the Aug. 2 ballot.


General Assembly candidates who submitted petitions to run for the state Legislature after the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the petitions to be accepted have been cleared for the ballot after review by local boards of elections. Meanwhile, a Republican candidate for the party's state central committee filed a new lawsuit seeking to appear on the ballot. The Franklin County Board of Elections has certified for the ballot William DeMora, a Columbus Democrat for the 25th Ohio Senate District in Franklin County; Anita Somani, a Dublin Democrat for the 11th House District; and Elizabeth Thien, a Columbus Democrat as a write-in candidate for the 25th Senate District. The Montgomery County Board of Elections certified Leronda Jackson, an Englewood Democrat, as a write-in candidate for the 39th House District. Hamilton County has approved Jenn Giroux as a Republican candidate for the 27th House District. In addition to the five legislative candidates, boards also approved Bridgette Tupes, a Bexley Democrat, and Gary Martin, a Pataskala Democrat, as candidates for the Democratic Party's state central committee.


Meanwhile, Erik Jones filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Friday seeking to be put on the ballot for the Male Republican nomination for the 13th Ohio Senate District for the Republican State Central Committee, saying he filed his declaration of candidacy and petition on April 27. In light of the Court decision, Jones said he timely filed his declaration of candidacy.


The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • The DeWine-Husted campaign announced the endorsement of the Operating Engineers Union of Ohio.

  • The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund announced its endorsement of David Ball and Earle Wise Jr. for the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

ENERGY/UTILITIES


Reps. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) and Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) joined American Electric Power (AEP) CEO Marc Reitter Friday to announce another half million dollars in company funding to expand the $1 million previously announced for four Columbus-area nonprofits in response to food losses during June power outages.


The Ohio Power Siting Board's (OPBS) massive rule overhaul marks a proliferation of solar power plants in numerous counties and seeks to increase energy developers' accountability to both the public and the state for all generation technologies. They include wind and gas-fired plants and are reinforced by expanded rules governing major transmission corridors and natural gas pipelines. Siting board disclosures to the governor's Common Sense Initiative (CSI) say the 218-page rule package likely will increase costs and reduce profits for energy developers and operators regulated by the state.


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) moved Thursday to block any effort by the DeWine administration to destroy documents regarding FirstEnergy, electric subsidy 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) and numerous individuals including former House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo, which Democrats have sought as part of a sweeping public records request to the governor's office. The motion for a preliminary injunction against document shredding or deletion follows ODP's January records request and May lawsuit complaining of extensive redactions from Gov. Mike DeWine's personal calendar provided to Democrats.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


An investigation has been launched after the 25 members of the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus were mailed envelopes full of feces Thursday, a Senate spokesman confirmed.


GREAT LAKES


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting that western Lake Erie will experience a smaller than average harmful algal bloom (HAB) this summer. Researchers said the HAB will be less severe than 2021 and more akin to what was seen in the lake in 2020. This year's bloom is expected to measure 3.5, with a potential range of 2-4 on the severity index -- whereas last year's bloom was measured at a 6. That 2021 projection had initially been for a severity of between 2 and 4.5. The index is based on the bloom's biomass -- meaning the amount of algae -- during the peak 30 days of the bloom. An index above 5 indicates more severe blooms. Blooms over 7 are particularly severe, with extensive scum formation and coverage affecting the lake. The largest Lake Erie blooms occurred in 2011, with a severity index of 10, and 2015, with a severity index of 10.5.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Wilberforce University, one of Ohio's two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), is partnering with Ohio State University (OSU) to create a turfgrass program for Wilberforce students. A turfgrass education is a kind of advanced education in golf course management. It can also involve education on agricultural topics like soil science and plant nutrition. The program will operate through Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.


University of Dayton (UD) President Eric F. Spina announced that Christopher Morrison, associate vice president and director of campaign operations, will take over as vice president of advancement, effective Monday, Aug. 1. Morrison will succeed Jennifer Howe, who accepted a position with Georgia Tech in Atlanta, effective Sunday, July 31.


JUDICIAL


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio is joined by Black Lives Matter (BLM) Cleveland and eight other organizations in calling for a major shift in the felony sentencing database being developed by the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission (OCSC), which Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor chairs. The coalition, which also includes Common Cause Ohio, Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens (EPIC), Freedom BLOC (Black Led Organizing Collective), Heartbeat Movement, Ohio Fair Courts Alliance, Ohio Families United for Political Action & Change (OFUPAC), Policy Matters Ohio, and River Valley Organizing, has issued a six-page letter and attachments to OCSC Executive Director Sara Andrews.


MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM


The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the new OhioRise (Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence) specialized managed care plan Friday, July 1. The program is designed to address longstanding gaps in care for children and youth with complex behavioral needs who receive care in multiple government and health systems. Gaps in these systems have resulted in families' being forced to navigate complex and siloed systems on their own, and in some extreme circumstances, families have had to relinquish custody of their child to access certain behavioral health care services. Among the new services, OhioRise enrollees will be able to access more resources for intensive and moderate care coordination; improved intensive home-based treatment (IHBT); behavioral health respite; primary flex funds; mobile response and stabilization services (MRSS); and in-state psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs), which will launch in 2023.


MENTAL HEALTH


The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) recently appointed Charlie Hughes chief executive officer (CEO) of Northwest Psychiatric Hospital (NOPH). Hughes replaces former CEO Brett Johnson, who left to pursue a different career opportunity. As CEO, Hughes will oversee more than 250 hospital employees and be responsible for the well-being, care and treatment of 116 patients at the Toledo hospital. In addition to overseeing day-to-day hospital operations, Hughes will also manage the relations with the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) boards in the 23-county Northwest Ohio catchment area served by the hospital.


NATURAL RESOURCES


Effective Friday, July 1, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Office of Coastal Management has relocated to the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in Huron. The new address is 2514 Cleveland Road East, Huron, 44839. The Office of Coastal Management manages two state-federal partnership programs focused on improving Ohio's Lake Erie coastal resources: Old Woman Creek NERR and the Ohio Coastal Management Program.


ODNR announced a new website, the Ohio Resource Connection, that is meant to build a network of forestry and wildlife professionals, habitat vendors, and landowners in the Buckeye State. The Ohio Resource Connection is a partnership between ODNR's Division of Wildlife and Division of Forestry, along with the Ohio Society of American Foresters and The Nature Conservancy. Learn more at https://www.ohioresourceconnection.com/


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) has awarded $91,042 in grants to two Ohio nonprofit organizations through its Racial Justice Initiative:


  • The Kent State University Foundation will receive $49,642 to convene leaders from Black communities and from law enforcement agencies to evaluate and revise existing police training through the Kent State Basic Police Officer Training Academy. The project will hold community forums and create continuing professional training for police officers. The feedback from these forums will then be used to evaluate and revise existing police training through the Kent State program and develop new continuing professional training for existing officers. The funding will support the first year of a multi-year project, which will serve Summit, Portage, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.

  • The Mental Health & Addiction Advocacy Coalition will receive $41,400 to research and identify areas of racial and ethnic inequity in Ohio's community behavioral health system. The project will collect and analyze available data and make recommendations to improve data collection and eliminate the disparities, inequities and negative effects that result in poor outcomes for minority populations. The report will suggest strategies to improve data collection to help eliminate disparities, examine possible solutions and make practical and actionable recommendations. Partnering organizations include Central State University, Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence and Ohio University. The project will serve all counties statewide.

OHIO HISTORY


Megan Wood is the new executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection (OHC), the organization announced on Wednesday. Wood, who will officially start Monday, Aug. 1, first joined the organization in 2006 and has served as the OHC director of cultural resources since 2019. She is the first woman to lead the private, nonprofit organization that was established in 1885. The organization functions as the state's partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio's history, archaeology, natural history and historic architecture across a network of 58 sites, 1.8 million collections items and hundreds of exhibits. She succeeds Burt Logan, who effective Aug. 1, will serve as executive consultant to the OHC Board of Trustees through Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.


PENSIONS


The Biden administration announced during an Ohio stop Wednesday a final rule implementing assistance to struggling multi-employer pension plans, created as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which included a version of legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to help the pensions. Previously, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) multiemployer pension insurance program was projected to become insolvent by 2026, potentially meaning two to three million workers in more than 200 multi-employer plans might not get their full benefits. The ARPA, a massive federal funding package passed in response to the COVID pandemic at the outset of the Biden administration, included provisions of Brown's Butch Lewis Act, named for a Cincinnati teamster.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Gov. Mike DeWine urged the General Assembly Wednesday to back arrest warrant reform by adopting legislation to require wanted, violent felons to be entered in the Ohio Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and National Crime Information System (NCIS) via the administration's new eWarrants portal. DeWine announced that the eWarrants system piloted by Meigs and Champaign counties is now open to all law enforcement jurisdictions in the state, courtesy of a $4.7 million budget for training and integration into local data systems. eWarrants is the culmination of his Warrants Task Force, which DeWine said had increased the entry of wanted individuals in LEADS from 18,000 to 220,000 in a few short years. He said prompt entry of warrants and protection orders in LEADS and NCIS will allow law enforcement to conduct real-time background checks on wanted suspects who may also have weapons "under disability," i.e. illegally.


Columbus officials and other local leaders Wednesday discussed the city's efforts to move toward alternative responses to mental health crises. The conversation comes as the state prepares to transition to the new 988 suicide and crisis lifeline this month. The city of Columbus launched its "Right Response Unit" pilot program in June 2021, implementing a triage pod in the city's 911 emergency call center to handle certain mental health cases that do not involve an imminent danger of violence and do not need a police response. "Mental health crisis episodes are emergencies, but not always public safety emergencies," Erika Clark Jones, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County, said during Wednesday's Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum. She reported that in 2021, the Columbus Police Department received an average of 64 mental health related calls a day.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


The Ohio Supreme Court could issue its decision on the constitutionality of the Ohio Redistricting Commission's congressional map any day now, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson told Hannah News on Thursday. "This stuff has been on file with the Court. It's completely briefed. All the evidence is filed. The matter is waiting -- it's in the hands of the justices," Levenson said during a phone interview. "The next thing we expect is a decision."


STUDIES/POLLS


A study conducted in Columbus found that neighborhoods with more dogs had lower rates of homicide, robbery and, to a lesser extent, aggravated assaults compared to areas with fewer dogs, at least when residents also had high levels of trust in each other. The results suggest that people walking their dogs puts more "eyes on the street," which can discourage crime, said Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University (OSU).


TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE


Senate President Pro Tem Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) joined the Attorney General Dave Yost Wednesday in urging Congress to pass new legislation with $52 billion to fully fund domestic semiconductor research authorized by the 2021 CHIPS for America Act. Yost is co-leading a bipartisan group of 14 state attorneys general in a July 1 letter to U.S. House and Senate leaders asking them to enact a final version of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, S1260, or the America COMPETES ACT, HR4521. Each has passed its respective chamber and would put actual dollars behind the policy proposals of CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors). The latter, HR7178, was enacted as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act but still requires funding.


TOBACCO/SMOKING


The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an administrative stay Tuesday on its order to pull all JUUL e-cigarette products from the market. The agency made the marketing denial order on June 23, citing "inconsistent and conflicting data" on safety. A day later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted JUUL's request to temporarily block the federal ban.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


DriveOhio is seeking written and in-person comments on its newly released draft deployment plan for building out Ohio's portion of the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program enacted as part of the BIL will establish a nationwide network of EV chargers that support access and reliability for all users. Specifically, the BIL provides $7.5 billion for that EV charging infrastructure that will encompass a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030 and is meant to ensure a convenient, reliable, affordable and equitable charging experience for all users.


The Ohio Department of Transportation Wednesday announced it is now taking applications for the Municipal Bridge Program, which provides federal funds to municipal corporations, metro parks and regional transit authorities (RTA) for roadway bridge replacement, bridge rehabilitation or bridge demolition projects. In April, Gov. Mike DeWine announced a $47.5 million increase in Ohio's yearly funding allocation for local bridge projects for the next five years, bringing Ohio's annual investment in county and municipal bridges to $112.5 million per year. The additional money comes from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law. ODOT said completed online applications are due by Friday, Aug. 15, and selected projects will be announced in November.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez for an event in Columbus with the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) to promote funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law. COTA is planning on using funds to build new bus lines, reduce travel times and create jobs. COTA President and CEO Joanna Pinkerton also spoke of using federal funds to buy electric buses later this year as the agency seeks to become diesel-free by 2025 and carbon free by 2040. Fernandez said COTA's plans to transition its fleet to zero emissions is what public transportation needs. She called public transportation "the greatest equalizer" and a catalyst for more development.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION


For the week ending July 2, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 12,481 initial traditional unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). "Approximately 4,332 of those have been flagged for more stringent identity verification to ensure they are not fraudulent," ODJFS said. The department reported 13,842 jobless claims for the week ending June 25; 10,895 jobless claims for the week ending June 18; and 11,295 jobless claims for the week ending June 11. The eight-week average for new weekly jobless claims is 10,371.


WORKFORCE


Ohio ranks 13th in "most innovative" workers and Cleveland-Elyria, Dayton, Cincinnati and Akron are among the top 15 cities for their population size, according to a recent report from finance website SmartestDollar.com. The report said Ohio has a 3.2 percent share of workers in the most innovative jobs, numbering 166,440 in total. They make an average wage of $78,083, compared to $53,170 for all workers.

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


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