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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One year after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization to end nationwide constitutional protections for abortion, organizations for and against the medical procedure reflected on the effects of the ruling and discussed the potential future of reproductive rights in Ohio. Abortion is currently legal up to 20 weeks in Ohio, as "heartbeat" abortion ban 133-SB23 (Roegner) remains enjoined. If the injunction on that law is lifted, abortion would be prohibited when fetal cardiac activity is detected, which often happens around the sixth week of pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates are currently collecting signatures to place a reproductive/abortion rights constitutional amendment on the November 2023 ballot. Meanwhile, legislative Republicans have created a statewide special election in August to consider an amendment that would increase the threshold to pass future amendments to 60 percent of the vote, instead of a simple majority.
In addition, President Joe Biden signed an executive order protecting and expanding access to contraception as he marked the first anniversary of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. "Contraception is an essential component of reproductive health care that has only become more important in the wake of Dobbs and the ensuing crisis in women's access to health care," the White House said.
A lawsuit claiming pharmacy chain Walgreens is responsible for the overdose death of a former high school football player can move forward, the 10th District Court of Appeals has decided. Walgreens dispensed 260 doses of opioid painkillers to Stephen Mahrer less than two months after he injured his shoulder in a game. Nine years later, the Dublin Jerome High School graduate died of a drug overdose. The parents of Mehrer claimed the initial doses ultimately led to their son's death. A Franklin County Common Pleas Court dismissed the lawsuit, but the 10th District ruled the case could go forward, finding the family has raised a legitimate argument that the athlete's overdose could be traced the pharmacy's failure to flag the large number of pills prescribed in a short period of time.
Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and DJ Swearingen (R-Huron) said Tuesday in a news conference that they're proposing legislation, HB230, to crack down on drug and human trafficking in response to the role of smuggled fentanyl in driving overdose deaths in Ohio and across the country. Abrams said the bill, labeled the Saving Ohio Communities Act, comes after she visited the U.S. Southern Border with Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones to learn about how illegal drugs enter the country.
AARP Ohio announced that seven Ohio organizations will receive 2023 Community Challenge grants -- part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.6 million awarded among 310 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement "quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; diversity, equity and inclusion; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and older," the group said.
ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The home stadium of the Columbus Crew will host the 2024 Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star Game, Gov. Mike DeWine, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Wednesday. "We have a crown jewel in Lower.com Field. I think it's one of the great soccer stadiums of its size anywhere in the world," Garber said during a press conference at the stadium's Huntington Field Club. "To Gov. DeWine and Mayor Ginther, I really want to say ... thanks for your persistence, thanks for your commitment, thanks for your support. I really do love you guys. We do have cups of coffee together and talk about how much fun it was over the last couple years," Garber said.
Attorney General (AG) Dave Yost opened the annual conference presented by his office's Elder Abuse Commission Wednesday with a message of gratitude to advocates and professionals who work to protect "our great-grandparents, our grandparents and our parents." The commission's conference gathers advocates and professionals around strategies to address the growing problem of elder abuse. The 2023 gathering focused on trauma's impact on older adults and the importance of trauma-informed approaches in helping victims.
Lordstown Motors Corporation (LMC) announced Tuesday it was undergoing a "strategic restructuring process" under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and filing litigation against Hon Hai Technology Group, known as Foxconn, alleging "fraud and willful and consistent failure to live up to its commercial and financial commitments." Foxconn in turn said Wednesday that LMC "continuously attempted to mislead the public and has been reluctant to perform the investment agreement between the two parties in accordance with its terms." The two companies entered a strategic partnership in November 2021, with Foxconn investing $170 million into LMC a year later.
County boards of elections began sending out absentee ballots for military and overseas voters for the Tuesday, Aug. 8 special election on Friday, June 23. Voters are being asked to weigh in on Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the passage threshold of future amendments to 60 percent. Friday was also the deadline for boards of elections to update and publish notices of the special election, and to provide the notices to federal write-in absentee voters upon request. Monday, July 10, is the deadline for voter registration for the special election. Early, in-person and absentee voting for all other voters begins on Tuesday, July 11.
The campaign to defeat State Issue 1 released its first TV advertisement on Tuesday. The 30-second ad will be broadcast on television and video devices across the state, according to the "One Person One Vote" campaign, also known as the "Vote No in August" campaign.
Gov. Mike DeWine Monday urged state lawmakers to "keep working" on the full biennial budget versus a continuing interim budget as the House Rules and Reference Committee approved a measure to extend funding for all FY23 line items by one week in case budget negotiations go beyond the Friday, June 30 deadline. The House Rules and Reference Committee Monday had accepted an amendment to SB43 (Brenner) -- which deals with modifying the homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran – to extends funding for all FY23 items from Saturday, July 1 through Friday, July 7. While set for a Tuesday vote, the bill was only informally passed.
However, as of late Thursday, there was still no conference committee report on HB33 (Edwards), the proposed FY24-25 budget, with the vote delayed until sometime Friday, June 30. House and Senate floor sessions were also set for Friday. In addition, Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) replaced Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) as a member of the conference committee.
In a report comparing school funding proposals among the executive, House and Senate versions of the pending biennial budget bill, HB33 (Edwards), school funding expert and economist Howard Fleeter said Senate changes to local funding capacity calculation "should be considered to be a step backwards in the construction of an equitable, adequate and reliable school funding formula." The report, written for the Ohio Education Policy Institute, which is supported by major education organizations in the state, notes that the Senate version does offer increased funding even beyond the higher levels proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine, including retention of the House's move to update salary data inputs to FY22.
Federal regulators who work with Ohio's designated advocate for people with disabilities have expressed concern about the recommendations in a state oversight report, some of which ended up as Senate budget amendments recently. But a key lawmaker behind the oversight report said testimony in an oversight hearing made clear Disability Rights Ohio is ignoring part of the population for whom it is supposed to advocate. In an interview with Hannah News, Kerstin Sjoberg, executive director of DRO, said the organization's advocacy for home- and community-based services is driven by what it hears from its clients and its board, most of whose members are people with disabilities, as well as the direction set out in federal law. Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), who advocated for creation of the state oversight committee and for these most recent amendments, said the report of that committee clearly demonstrates the problems with DRO. He also said the Senate does not believe its amendments put federal funding at risk, saying DRO raised that concern in the prior budget cycle with creation of the oversight committee.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced this week that there were 16,409 new business filings in May 2023, up 12 percent from May of last year. Although still below prior record-setting years, Ohio business filings remain ahead of the previous year's pace by more than 3 percent, reflecting 83,055 total businesses filed so far in 2023, the secretary of state said.
Recently released U.S. Census Bureau data measured Americans who moved across state lines in 2021, estimating 184,477 people moved to Ohio from other states and 189,534 moved out. The margin of error for this data was significant, at +/- 11,210 people who moved to Ohio and +/-10,924 people who left. The report also found 1.23 million Ohioans moved within the state in 2021, at a +/-27,914 margin. Ohio ranked 16th for people moving in, with the top five states being Florida, 674,740; Texas, 591,395; California, 433,402; North Carolina, 336,681; and Georgia, 302,512. Among neighboring states, Pennsylvania led at 261,831, followed by Indiana, 156,417; Michigan, 143,042; Kentucky, 107,693; and West Virginia, 43,801.
The Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus got an overview Monday of Ohio's standing in the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, while also hearing advocates' hopes for improvements in anti-hunger efforts and child lead poisoning prevention programs in final budget negotiations. Kim Eckhart of the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio said the arrival of the 2023 KIDS COUNT report in mid-June was well-timed to highlight the choices before legislators on policies that could benefit Ohio children. Ohio's data profile on child wellbeing has the state ranked 29th overall, with sub-rankings of 26th in economic wellbeing; 20th in education; 28th in health; and 33rd in family and community.
Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler has been named president of the Mayors Association of Ohio, a subsidiary of the Ohio Municipal League (OML) that focuses on the improvement of municipal government and administration from the unique perspective of mayors. In his new role, Stahler will lead the association and its executive committee to ensure it continues to meet the needs of Ohio's city and village mayors -- providing them resources, training and the opportunity for peer-to-peer collaboration, OML said.
The bicameral Democratic Caucus announced the reintroduction of the Ohio Fairness Act, SB132 (Antonio), Wednesday with bipartisan support from Chairman Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chairman George Lang (R-West Chester) of the Senate Small Business and Economic Opportunity Committee. The bill's 10th reintroduction since its original version as the Economic Justice Act in 2003, the Ohio Fairness Act would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" to protected classes of individuals in Revised Code (R.C.) Section 9.03, which currently covers "race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or ancestry." The legislation seeks to prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community in employment, housing and public accommodations.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
In advance of sentencing, prosecutors and defendants filed memos with the federal judge presiding over the 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) scandal trial urging a range of penalties. Former Speaker Larry Householder’s (R-Glenford) attorneys asked that he get not more than 12 to 18 months in prison, while prosecutors asked for 16 to 20 years. Attorneys for former Ohio GOP Chair Matt Borges asked for a one-year sentence, while prosecutors said he should get five to eight years. Borges was to be sentenced on Friday, June 30.
However on Thursday, Householder was hit with the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after he was convicted of federal racketeering charges earlier this year when he was accused of orchestrating the funneling of money from FirstEnergy through a dark money group in order to get the bill passed to help the utility. Householder had said he worried a long sentence would hurt his family, while his attorneys said that at age 64, the maximum amount could be a death sentence for him. Black called Householder a "bully" and said the former speaker had betrayed the trust of the voters. Householder was immediately taken into custody by U.S. marshals following the sentencing.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) said Friday that the $600 million onshoring grant agreement with Intel Corporation has been finalized. ODOD said the funds will help offset costs associated with the construction of the semiconductor manufacturing campus in Licking County. As part of the grant agreement, $300 million is available for the construction of each of the two chip factories set to be completed as part of the initial phase of Intel's $20 billion investment in Ohio. Funds will be available for two years after construction begins on each facility, which must be completed by Dec. 31, 2028.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Monday that Amazon Web Services (AWS) plans to invest an estimated $7.8 billion by the end of 2029 as part of expanded data center operations in Central Ohio, creating hundreds of new jobs. Final selections for the new data center campuses will be made at a later date, but "numerous" locations are under consideration. The project is the second-largest single private sector company investment in Ohio's history. The centers will have computer servers, data storage drives, networking equipment, and other forms of technology infrastructure used to power cloud computing.
Separate from the Amazon announcement, Gov. DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for nine projects expected to create 534 new jobs and retain 1,007 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $40 million in new payroll and spur more than $76.6 million in investments across Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced Tuesday the Minority Development Financing Advisory Board (MDFAB) had approved financial support for three businesses, helping minority- and women-owned businesses sustain and expand their operations. They include BBCO Design LLC (Fairfield County), Inspiring Hope Counseling LLC (Williams County) and Designs by Marie (Ottawa County).
School districts should have more flexibility in determining whether a student is ready to safely return to the classroom following an expulsion for a dangerous act, Reps. Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Monica Blasdel (R-Columbiana) told the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee during sponsor testimony on HB206 on Tuesday. "I want you to imagine the fear and sudden anxiety that overwhelmed young teenage girls and boys in my district on Dec. 6, 2022, when a 14-year-old young man pulled a gun out of his backpack. The teachers in that school don't have to imagine it, they witnessed it," Click said.
The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) announced the selection of 16 high school students Tuesday for the 2023-2024 Ohio Student Safety Advisory Council. They will be invited to the in-person Ohio School Safety Summit on Tuesday-Wednesday, July 25-26 at the Columbus Convention Center to network with peers and attend sessions on violence prevention. During the year, council members will advocate for students' overall well-being and will develop strategies to encourage peers to actively engage in maintaining a safe school environment.
For the upcoming school year, Ohio educators can access "Learning Blade," an online STEM and computer science career platform, to inspire students to pursue high-demand careers. Free access to the platform is provided through the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN), which is managed by Battelle. This public-private partnership with the state of Ohio is part of the company's commitment to preparing the next generation of innovators. Learning Blade is accessible to all Ohio educators at no cost and will remain available throughout the 2023-2024 school year. The platform offers lessons and teacher guides aligned with Ohio's academic standards, designed for students in grades 5-9. Using real-life situations and missions, Learning Blade introduces students to a wide range of STEM and computer science careers. Ohio educators can access Learning Blade by visiting https://osln.org/learning-blade.
The DeWine administration announced recently that it will award $114 million in grants to support 70 water infrastructure projects in 58 counties. These grants are part of the fourth round of the Ohio BUILDS (Broadband, Utilities, and Infrastructure for Local Development Success) water infrastructure program. Since its establishment, the program has provided more than $360 million to support 253 local water projects affecting every county in the state.
Both the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein determined evidence did not support assault charges against Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) over an altercation at the Statehouse. According to media reports and a video shared online, Wiggam collided with Chris Conomy outside the Statehouse. On that day, the House Public Health Services Committee was considering legislation that would prohibit gender transition services for children and ban transgender women and girls from playing women's and girls' school sports.
At Tuesday’s House session, members passed HB5 (Ray-Baker), to modernize adoption laws; HB49 (Barhorst-Ferguson), regarding hospital price transparency; HB158 (Roemer-M. Miller), regarding cosmetology and barber laws; HCR8 (Patton-Lampton), urging the federal government to pick Ohio for the U.S. Space Command headquarters; HB34 (Klopfenstein-King), allowing breastfeeding mothers to be excused from jury service; and HB167 (Miranda-Abrams), regarding police training.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed SB16 (Wilson), with the Senate supporting the House's amendments and the addition of an emergency clause to put the legislation into effect immediately upon the governor's signature. While originally dealing with waivers of liability for donated food, the bill in the House picked up amendments to 134-HB343 (White), the implementing statute for the Marsy's Law constitutional amendment on victims' rights. Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said among the changes to HB343 included in SB16 was language addressing when and how law enforcement provides information on victims' rights to victims. Under current law, officers are having to present victims with a very long form at the crime scene.
The Senate also passed another licensure compact bill, SB90 (Roegner), this one dealing with social workers. Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who has championed a slew of licensure compact measures in the past few years, said the National Association of Social Workers, its Ohio affiliate and the relevant licensing board in Ohio are all on board.
Also passing was SB91 (Schaffer), which will establish training requirements for public employees and officials on spotting and reporting fraud, as well as mandatory reporting requirements for certain public employees and officials who witness or suspect fraud. Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) said he developed the bill in cooperation with Auditor Keith Faber's office.
A rendering of the "Ohioans in Space" painting was unveiled at the Statehouse Wednesday, with plans for the final version to be unveiled on Jan. 24, 2024 and installed days afterward. It shows four astronauts -- John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik -- as well as Gene Kranz, who worked in flight control during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. The names of other Ohio astronauts will be included, likely through engraving on the frame, and the final work will be a nine-foot by 12-foot oil painting. Capitol Square Foundation (CSF) Chair Charles Moses noted it has been 66 years since the commissioning of the last major painting for the Statehouse, the same time period between the Wright Brothers' first flight and the Moon landing. He said this painting honors "Ohio's profound impact on space travel" and will be perfectly placed across from the Wright Brothers painting in the Rotunda's East Stairway.
In other legislative action, House Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported out HB71 (Santucci), to establish the Community Connectors Workforce Program; and HB137 (Mathews-Plummer), to study bringing a program like the Kentucky Bluegrass Challenge Academy to Ohio; and the House State and Local Government reported out HB93 (Johnson-McClain), regarding liens for unpaid water and sewer charges; HB74 (Hall-Lightbody), regarding state IT systems; and SB42 (Johnson-S. Huffman), to adopt the 1905 Wright Flyer II as the state airplane.
Western Lake Erie will experience a smaller-than-average harmful algal bloom (HAB) this summer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its research partners, which include Heidelberg University and Ohio State University. The bloom is expected to measure a "3" on the severity index of zero to 10, with a potential range of "2" to "4.5," NOAA scientist Richard Stumpf said during a webinar Thursday.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH) is celebrating the graduation of 12 Columbus teens from PPGOH's Peer Education Program. The Peer Education Program is a collaboration with the Ohio Center for Sex Education to provide young people between the ages of 14 and 19 with the "tools to become leaders, educators and advocates for healthy sexual choices, behaviors, attitudes and relationships in their schools and communities," PPGOH said.
Ohio State University (OSU) will face more than 100 former students and non-students' damage claims that it harbored the late OSU sports physician and sexual predator Dr. Richard Strauss after the U.S. Supreme Court Monday denied the university's appeal. The high court does not comment when it declines a case, leaving in place last year's original U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against Ohio State and subsequent order denying en banc review by the entire appeals court. In both findings, Judges Karen Moore and Eric Clay outvoted Senior Judge Ralph Guy 2-1.
The Senate passed another of its higher education proposals Wednesday along party lines after expanding the measure to establish and fund new academic centers by including more universities. Under SB117 (Cirino-McColley), lawmakers would establish the Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture and Society at Ohio State University and the Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leadership at the University of Toledo. A floor amendment would create similar centers at Cleveland State University, Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) said the bill is meant to promote "an ethic of civil and free inquiry" at institutions of higher education. The amendment was adopted 25-7 and the bill passed 25-6.
The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday struck down admissions programs that relied in part on race at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC) on the grounds that they violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Both cases (Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina) were brought by the group Students for Fair Admissions. In the UNC case, the plaintiffs alleged university policies discriminated against White and Asian applicants by giving preference to Black, Hispanic and Native American ones. The case against Harvard accused the university of discriminating against Asian American students by employing subjective standards to limit the number of those students accepted. The vote was 6-3 in the North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard case. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sat out the Harvard case reportedly because she had been a member of an advisory governing board. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion joined by the Court's conservative members and liberal members dissented.
The DeWine administration announced Thursday that 38 historic preservation projects will receive a total of $50.6 million in tax credits to rehabilitate 59 buildings, with around $523 million in public and private investment expected to be leveraged as a result. Sixteen communities will receive funds under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program (OHPTC) as part of the announcement, with Caldwell, Sidney and Willoughby being first-time award recipients. The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Development (DOD) in partnership with the Ohio History Connection (OHC) State Historic Preservation Office. It assists private developers in rehabilitation of historic buildings, many of which are currently vacant and generate little economic activity. The tax credits will not be issued until project construction is complete and all program requirements are verified.
The Ohio Supreme Court must decide whether Ohio's stand-your-ground law protects shooters that claim self-defense and were tried after 133-SB175's (Schaffer) effective date, or whether the altercation itself must have occurred after that date. Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case, State v. Hurt.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently announced $2.9 million in FY23 technology grants to 42 court jurisdictions in 36 counties. Awards fund technology for remote proceedings and new or updated hardware and software for case management systems, including e-filing, cyber-attack and other security protections, and text and email notifications to reduce non-appearances and related costs for rescheduled hearings and arrest warrants. Grants max-out at $150,000.
The House voted 89-0 Tuesday to adopt HCR8 (Patton-Lampton), urging the federal government to select Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) as the permanent site of U.S. Space Command headquarters. Floor discussion included sponsors Reps. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) and Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek) echoing committee testimony, with additional support from Reps. Rachel Baker (D-Cincinnati) and Adam Miller (D-Columbus). Baker said Ohio is "fully equipped" to be the headquarters site, and Miller added it is "odd" Ohio does not host a unified command given the high number of veteran residents.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz Wednesday announced the dedication of Ohio's newest state nature preserve, Little Darby Creek State Nature Preserve in Madison County. It is Ohio's 144th state nature preserve. The site is comprised of 430 acres of high-quality stream corridor that feeds into the Little Darby State and National Scenic River. It features a heavily wooded corridor along the river as well as prairie remnants and wetlands. The federally endangered clubshell mussel is among the aquatic species that live in Little Darby Creek.
A new facility in Southeastern Ohio will capture and process acid mine drainage, ODNR announced Thursday. ODNR joined the U.S. Department of the Interior, True Pigments, Rural Action and Ohio University for a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility, which is being partially funded by the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program and the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) held its "Annual State of Nonprofits" discussion Wednesday, with Human Service Chamber of Franklin County Executive Director Michael Corey giving preliminary findings from his organization's annual report on the local human service and arts sectors. The human service nonprofits in Franklin County provide over $2 billion in annual economic impact and employ more than 18,000 people, Corey said, but they face "colliding consequences" from the pandemic. "It's an economic driver, but the strains on the sector and the margins that the sector has to operate within are as thin as they've ever been," he said. Corey detailed responses chamber members provided, saying 92 percent face higher demand than one year ago, 70 percent are currently unable to meet those needs and 63 percent anticipate they will not be able to in 2024.
Both chambers of the General Assembly recently honored and held a moment of silence for former Rep. Catherine Barrett. Barrett, who served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1999 until 2006, died on June 6. Prior to her political career, she worked at the Internal Revenue Service and later became a financial analyst at General Electric. She also started her own accounting business. She was elected Forest Park mayor in 1993, serving until 1995. A funeral was held for her in Cincinnati on Saturday, June 17.
The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) announced that Jeffrey J. Oravitz, CEO of Seal for Life Industries and Arsenal Capital Partners, has been elected the new chair of the OMA Board of Directors, which is comprised of 28 manufacturing leaders from across the state. Before joining Seal for Life Industries in 2020, Oravitz held executive leadership positions at PPG Industries and MetoKote Corporation.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA), National Weather Service (NWS), and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) urged Ohioans to learn what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm, and to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer during National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, which ran Sunday, June 18 through Saturday, June 24. According to Ohio EMA, "Lightning is one of the leading causes of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms."
In a case that could have implications for an appeal of Ohio's congressional redistricting efforts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state courts can play a role in reviewing decisions made by state legislatures regarding federal elections. The Court ruled 6-3 in Moore v. Harper, a case involving the way North Carolina drew its congressional lines after the census in 2020. Groups and Democratic voters challenged the map in the North Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled that the map was an impermissible gerrymander. The North Carolina State Legislature ultimately appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, presenting the argument that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires "the Legislature" of each state to prescribe the rules governing federal elections, vests state legislatures with authority to set rules governing federal elections free from restrictions imposed under state law. The argument has been known as the "independent state legislature theory." In a national press call analyzing the decision organized by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Vikram Amar, the dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, said he did not think Ohio's appeal would resurrect any independent state legislature theory arguments that weren't addressed by the Court in the Moore ruling. He said he expects the Court next week to either refuse to take up the appeal or send it back to the Ohio Supreme Court for further review in light of the Moore ruling.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said Wednesday he is expecting the U.S. Supreme Court to deny Ohio's federal court challenge to the Ohio Supreme Court's congressional redistricting rulings, following this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Moore v. Harper. "What happens with the Ohio case? I think probably the smart money is the Supreme Court will not accept that certiorari petition -- in other words, won't accept that case," he said.
In a short meeting Monday, all of the rules before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) cleared the committee without any comment or testimony. Rules included requirements to obtain a licensure validation to teach financial literacy through the Ohio Department of Education and amendments to home- and community-based services dealing with non-medical transportation from the Ohio Department of Disabilities (ODOD).
Representatives of the County Auditors Association of Ohio (CAAO) including former Rep. Michael Stinziano told House members the property tax amendment inserted in the Senate's budget and echoed in HB187 (Hall-Bird) relies on a misperception of property valuations and could increase actual taxes most on Ohioans who can least afford them. The House Ways and Means Committee heard opposition testimony on HB187 from Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan, Ottawa County Auditor Jennifer Widmer, and Stinziano, now Franklin County auditor. They said the standalone bill and Senate version of HB33's attempt to average three years of sales data for the current triennial review of property valuations, rather than weighting the current year, misconstrues the relationship between property values and actual taxes and does nothing to correct property taxation policies adopted by the Legislature with unintended consequences in the years since efforts to control rising valuations nearly five decades ago.
The House Aviation and Aerospace Committee heard a presentation on the Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) Tuesday, wrapping a six-month effort that Chair Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) said was meant to make the members "subject matter experts" on aerospace topics. Mark Bartman, former Ohio adjutant general and a current vice president at Parallax Advanced Research Corp., gave the presentation about OFRN. Parallax serves as an "administrative arm" for OFRN and other groups, according to Bartman.
Ohio will receive $793.7 million in federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funds, according to a Biden administration announcement Monday that was touted by Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik as well. President Joe Biden said he wants to connect "everyone in America" to high-speed, affordable Internet by 2030, saying 24 million people currently do not have access and millions more have limited or unreliable service. High-speed Internet "isn't a luxury anymore, it's become an absolute necessity," he continued.
TREASURER OF STATE
Treasurer Robert Sprague recently released the final evaluation of his office's ResultsOHIO initiative, saying the Appalachia-based iSee pilot project has exceeded key performance metrics established at the project's outset. The initiative is a pay-for-success model where private funders pay upfront costs and are reimbursed if projects fulfill expectations. The project's conclusion marks the first-ever completion of a state-supported pay for success project in Ohio, Sprague's office said. The University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center performed the final evaluation, finding that nearly 4,000 Ohio students received comprehensive eye exams over the two-year effort, and more than 3,400 were prescribed and received eyeglasses.
Board directors for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's (BWC) signaled plans Thursday to improve its public forums for insured businesses, health care providers, injured workers and other stakeholders. They also voted to retain Cochran as chair, Palmer as vice chair, and all standing committee chairpersons. In addition, the board announced that BWC's incoming chief operating officer, Shawn Crosby, was formally confirmed by the Ohio Senate after her introduction in February. Crosby delivered Administrator/CEO John Logue's monthly report in his absence. Among other news, she said BWC's call center recently hit 800 straight business days with 90 percent or higher customer satisfaction. BWC also is changing its email domain from @bwc.state.oh.us to @bwc.ohio.gov, Crosby said.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2023 Hannah News Service, Inc.]