Week In Review - June 13, 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.

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.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


The newly appointed Senate Addiction and Community Revitalization Committee includes the following members: Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), chair, and Sens. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City), Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and Michael Rulli (R-Salem). It will look at various reasons addiction continues to spread across Ohio, as well as how the Legislature should best respond to it. The group held its first meeting on Monday, June 6 at Shawnee State University, where they heard from local mental health and addiction boards who said they need access to timely Medicaid patient data and should have more say in provider certification. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) gave opening remarks at Monday's hearing, saying lawmakers struggle to know whether what they've authorized and funded is making a difference.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) says the 2022 Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program (VEAP) is now open to new and existing Ohio grape-growers. It allows wineries to invest in and plant high-quality, high-value grapes onsite instead of purchasing them from other states. Applications must be completed and received by OGIC no later than Thursday, June 30. Application copies may be obtained from Christy Eckstein at christy.eckstein@agri.ohio.gov.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


The Ohio Attorney General's Office announced that it is now accepting applications for its Teen Ambassador Board, which includes upper-level high school students from public, private, charter and online schools as well as home-schooled students. Its mission is to provide future leaders with an inside look at Ohio law and government. High school students who will be juniors or seniors during the 2022-23 academic year may apply for the Teen Ambassador Board. Applications are due Friday, July 1 and can be found at tinyurl.com/5xt9m46m.


FY22-23 BUDGET


Better than expected tax collections continued in May with $105.3 million collected in excess of forecasts, bringing the state's FY22 tax collections to $2.55 billion over estimates with just one month left in the fiscal year. Sales taxes accounted for most of May's over-estimate collections. Non-auto sales taxes brought in $973.7 million versus the $910 million expected, a 7 percent bump over forecasts; auto sales taxes were essentially on target, missing the expected $179.4 million expectation by just $59,000. For the fiscal year to-date, sales taxes have brought in $590 million or 5.2 percent more than expected.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Gov. Mike DeWine Monday provided an update on what is being done to help Ohio families affected by the infant formula shortage, including the acceptance of a waiver request that will give families enrolled in the Ohio Department of Health's (ODH) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) more formula options. The Ohio WIC Office received USDA approval for the eight additional Mead Johnson products that will be covered beginning Monday, June 13. Those products include the following:

  • Enfamil Infant Powder 29.4 oz

  • Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Powder 28.3 oz

  • Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Powder Box 31.4 oz

  • Enfamil Gentlease Powder 27.7 oz

  • Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Powder 27.4 oz

  • Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Powder Box 30.4 oz

  • Enfamil AR Powder Box 30.4 oz

  • Enfamil Prosobee Powder 20.9 oz

A woman who survived childhood sexual abuse and has spent years urging states to move beyond "stranger danger" to teach children the reality of abuse by acquaintances and family asked a Senate committee to remove Ohio from the list of states without "Erin's Law" on the books. Erin Merryn, an Illinois resident, testified Tuesday as an invited proponent on HB105 (Lipps-Kelly) before the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee, following up on testimony in past General Assemblies to urge action on the same proposal. The legislation requires schools to annually provide age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention instruction in grades K-6, and age-appropriate instruction in sexual violence prevention for grades 7-12.


CORONAVIRUS


The Columbus Metropolitan Club held a roundtable discussion of local health care leaders Wednesday, with a focus on the effects of the pandemic; local disparities in access and outcomes; and technology that will transform health care in the next 10 years. The panel included Timothy Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children's Hospital; Dr. Andrew Thomas, senior associate vice president for health sciences at Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center; Dr. Stephen Markovich, president and CEO of OhioHealth; and Lorraine Lutton, president and CEO of Mount Carmel Health System. It was hosted by Greg Moody, director of professional development at OSU's John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Regarding the pandemic, Lutton -- who started at Mount Carmel in April 2020 -- said it showed the level of commitment by local health care workers and how nothing can be taken for granted again, including access to gloves, gowns and other PPE supplies. Relationships built among the local leaders in response will be a benefit that lasts beyond COVID-19, she added.


Children younger than 5 years old could receive COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as Tuesday, June 21, Biden administration officials said during a briefing on Thursday. Dr. Ashish Jha, the COVID-19 response coordinator for the White House, emphasized that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are still reviewing the proposed vaccines, and are expected to issue authorization and recommendation decisions in the coming days.


ECONOMY


President Joe Biden called the U.S. job market the "strongest since just after World War II" following new job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Friday. Biden said May's 3.6 percent unemployment rate, unchanged from April, is at a near-historic low and a sign of good things to come. U.S. non-farm payroll employment rose by 390,000 in May as the national unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent for the third straight month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said. The total number of unemployed was essentially unchanged at 6.0 million, up 100,000 April, according to BLS. That is close to pre-COVID-19 figures of 3.5 percent and 5.7 million in February 2020.


EDUCATION


State Board of Education (SBOE) President Charlotte McGuire announced Friday, June 3 that recently appointed State Superintendent of Education Stephen Dackin has resigned from the post -- less than a month after being selected. Stephanie Siddens will once again serve as interim superintendent, pending formal appointment by SBOE at its June meeting. Dackin served as the board's point person for much of its search for a new state superintendent. He resigned as vice president of the SBOE in March to apply for the position himself ahead of the application deadline. After rounds of interviews, the board selected him in May. He cited "revolving door" concerns in a letter announcing he'd step down as state superintendent.


While the State Board of Education (SBOE) is scheduled to kick off the June 13-14 meeting by returning Stephanie Siddens to the role of interim superintendent, board member John Hagan plans to ask the board to hire the second-place contender in the recent leadership search, Springboro Schools Superintendent Larry Hook. Hagan told Hannah News that Hook has the qualifications and that he wants to avoid further delay in finding permanent leadership for ODE.


Two Dayton-area lawmakers, state Reps. Tom Young (R-Centerville) and Andrea White (R-Kettering), recently introduced a bill to require high school students to complete self-defense instruction as part of qualifications for a high school diploma. HB639, which the lawmakers dubbed the "Student Protection Act," requires each student who enters 9th grade on or after July 1, 2023 -- the class of 2027 and on -- to complete self-defense instruction to qualify for a diploma. The self-defense instruction must include a demonstration provided by a school resource officer or another certified self-defense instructor.


Twenty-three coaches are being celebrated for their sportsmanship, ethics and integrity, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has announced.


The Ohio Academy of Science announced it has awarded 124 juniors and seniors from 90 high schools a Believe in Ohio STEM Innovation and Entrepreneurship Scholarship. Each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship to attend any Ohio college, university, or post-secondary career center. Funded by the Department of Higher Education and operated as a program of the Ohio Academy of Science, Believe in Ohio is a Student STEM Innovation and Entrepreneurship Scholarship Program that is meant to prepare students for a changing labor market.


Republicans have dubbed language rolled into HB151 (Jones) the "Save Women's Sports Act," but Democrats and health professionals say the bill will deter girls from participating in sports out of fear of having to undergo a potentially invasive screening. Reps. Beth Liston (D-Dublin, a physician, and Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) continued to speak out against the bill Thursday, saying it will result in the "state mandated sexual assault of student athletes" and is a "violation of a child's bodily autonomy."


ELECTIONS 2022


Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose in the Ohio Supreme Court to be allowed on to the Tuesday, Aug. 2 deadline, arguing he has not been allowed to move into his new district as required under the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Constitution requires candidates for the General Assembly to be given 30 days after a redistricting plan is adopted to move into a district they intend to run for. Miller, who had filed to run for Ohio House District 6 by the Feb. 2 filing deadline under the second plan adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, found himself drawn into the same district as House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) under the third redistricting plan adopted by the commission and ordered to be used by the federal court. Miller's lawsuit challenges LaRose's directive issued in the wake of the federal order. Though LaRose said in the directive that candidates had until Tuesday, June 7, to move into their new district, Miller argues that the secretary of state is unlawfully requiring candidates to have filed a form stating their intent to move into the district that had been due by March 10 under a previous directive issued after the redistricting commission had adopted the third plan in February.


Russell Harris is running for the 10th House District, the Democrat's campaign announced Monday.


"Workers and families in Grove City, Southwest Columbus and Obetz need a strong fighter, and we need to make Southwest Franklin County an opportunity corridor to bring good paying jobs to our communities," Harris said. He said he has a plan -- the Thomas Alva Edison Partnership -- to bring high-tech industries and high-tech wages to attract worldwide investment in cooperation with major universities in Ohio.


Attorney Ismail Mohamed has announced his candidacy for the 3rd Ohio House District. Born in Somalia, Mohamed and his mother came to Columbus to seek a better life for him and his siblings, Mohamed's campaign said, noting he would be the first Somali-American elected to the General Assembly. Mohamed, a Democrat, graduated from Northland High School and Ohio State University, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college.


With county boards certifying the candidates who will appear on the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary ballot for General Assembly this week, at least two current members of the General Assembly will face off in a primary, while another announced Thursday that she is forgoing her re-election bid. Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City), the last Republican representing a Franklin County district in the General Assembly, informed the Franklin County Board of Elections Thursday that she is dropping out of the race, a day after the board had certified the candidates for the ballot. Among the changes from the original filings made by candidates on Feb. 2 under the second map, Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) will now face off in the Democratic primary for the new 16th House District.


Protect Ohio Values (POV) PAC illegally provided valuable resources to the official campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, according to a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).


In new filings made Wednesday, Secretary of State Frank LaRose argued that a group of Democrats who are suing him to get on the ballot for various General Assembly and state central committee races do not have a legal right to the relief they are asking for, nor does he have a clear legal obligation to provide it. The plaintiffs in DeMora et al v. LaRose et al are arguing that when a federal court ordered the state to use the third redistricting map passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission for a Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary, there should have been a change in the candidate filing deadlines because by law, the deadlines are calculated based on a certain number of days before the primary. They are asking the Court to compel boards of elections to certify their candidacies or, as an alternative remedy, set a new filing deadline.


The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) endorsed incumbent Sens. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), Steve Wilson (R-Maineville), Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware), Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Michael Rulli (R-Salem) for re-election to the Senate. The party also endorsed the following: Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro), 17th District; Michele Reynolds, 3rd District; Orlando Sonza Jr., 9th District; Tony Dia, 11th District; and former Rep. Al Landis, 31st District. House candidates who received endorsements included incumbent Reps. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), Thomas Hall (R-Middletown), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), Shawn Stevens (R-Sunbury), Mike Loychik (R-Cortland), Mark Fraizer (R-Newark), Brian Lampton (R-Fairborn), Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview), Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) and Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville).

  • The gubernatorial campaign of Nan Whaley announced the endorsement of the Ohio AFL-CIO and U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Warrensville Heights).

  • Ohio Young Republicans announced endorsements of Rob McColley and Nathan Manning for Senate; Ronald Beach, Brian Stewart, Joe Murray, Steve Demetriou, Josh Williams, Thomas Hall, Adam Mathews, Al Cutrona, Nick Santucci, Mike Loychik, Mark Fraizer, Susan Manchester, Monica Robb Blasdel, Jacob Larger, Riordan McClain, Jay Edwards, Ron Ferguson and Sarah Fowler Arthur for House; and Josh Culling, Katie DeLand, Patrick Reagan, Gloria Martin, Jonathan Zucker, Kayla Athison and Monica Robb Blasdel for Ohio Republican State Central Committee.

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America announced its endorsement of Greg Landsman, who is running for Congress.

  • Ohio Right to Life announced endorsements of Kirsten Hill, Shane Wilkin and Al Landis for Senate; and Jill Rudler, Omar Tarazi, Jolene Austin, Tom Patton, Bill Seitz, Jennifer Gross, Thomas Hall, Sara Carruthers, Sara McGervey, Scott Lipps, Adam Mathews, Shawn Stevens, Beth Lear, Mike Loychik, Melanie Miller, Mark Fraizer, Brian Lampton, Bill Dean, Roy Klopfenstein, Angela King, Tim Barhorst, Susan Manchester, Tracy Richardson, Brian Baldrige and Darrell Kick for House.

ENVIRONMENT


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) is now accepting grant applications for water quality project proposals. Proposals will be accepted through Wednesday, July 6, according to the agency. Ohio EPA anticipates approximately $500,000 in federal money will be available to local governments, park districts, soil and water conservation districts and other organizations. The grant funding is being made available through Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act.


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said Wednesday he's hopeful for results from bipartisan Senate negotiations on gun violence prevention measures. In a conference call for reporters, Portman said he believes the negotiations led by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) can address both school safety and keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. He declined to stake out specific stances, saying he wants to give negotiators room to get to a deal. Regarding energy production, and more broadly for the economy, Portman said he wants to see the country address supply as a means to counteract rising prices and inflation. He noted the recent advent of $5 gas.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Family, friends and colleagues of Larry Obhof witnessed the unveiling of the former Senate president's official portrait at the Statehouse on Wednesday. Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor of State Keith Faber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) all spoke during the event, recalling his kindness, intelligence, work ethic and legislative accomplishments, as well as his fondness for barbecue, heavy metal, adult cartoons and professional wrestling. Obhof found success despite turmoil in the other chamber, LaRose said, noting Obhof served with four House speakers during his time as president -- Cliff Rosenberger, Ryan Smith, Larry Householder and Cupp.


New state Rep. Bishara Addison (D-Shaker Heights) may not be planning to pursue a career in politics, but she said she hopes her time in the Ohio Statehouse will inform her advocacy work. Addison was appointed to fill the Ohio House District 9 vacancy last month after former Rep. Janine Boyd resigned to take a position as the new regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Addison, who said she doesn't plan to run to remain in the seat, is the director for job preparation at the Fund for Our Economic Future, a Cleveland-based economic development network.


The Senate Democrats Monday announced the selection of retired IBEW Local 673 member Dale Martin to replace outgoing Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland). He was formally elected to the seat during the Senate's Tuesday session. Williams announced her resignation Wednesday, June 1 during the Senate session. Martin, whose term will end on Saturday, Dec. 31, was selected from a field of five candidates who applied by the 5 p.m. deadline on Sunday, June 5. The other applicants included Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), former state Sen. Jeffrey Johnson, Retanio Rucker and Marcia McCoy.


After Tuesday's Senate session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters that while he generally agrees that state government should "deal with" the "issue" of transgender women and girls participating in women's and girls' sports, he's not happy with how the House amended the transgender athlete ban into HB151 (Jones) on the floor near the end of a marathon session. "I wish the House would just pass a bill. This happened a year ago when it got tacked on to an unrelated bill," Huffman said, referring to when the House added the language to college athlete name, image and likeness (NIL) bill SB187 (Antani).


Huffman was also asked about Rep. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) recent floor speech on election funding. Seitz had said the Senate refused to include funding for the secretary of state to send absentee ballot request forms to all voters in the state to help increase voter turnout for the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary. "We didn't have enough time, really, to consider it and say, is this worth it?" Huffman said. "It doesn't take a political genius to say it's an off-year election, not a presidential election, in August. Voter turnout is going to be way down, but I don't know necessarily that that would have gotten more people to vote. I think people who are going to go vote in this election are going to do it."


GOVERNOR


On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine was asked about the House's passage of the transgender athlete ban bill, and how it might drive companies away from doing business in the state. "I think Ohio is a welcoming state. We have to continue to emphasize that -- we have to emphasize that Ohio is a great place to live, a great place to raise a family, a great place to start a business and to grow a business," DeWine said. "And we're going to keep talking about those things, those are just very, very important and if we can get people in to look at Ohio, take a look at us, we're going to get our fair share of businesses coming into Ohio because we've got what we need to have and what businesses are looking for."


The governor and attorney general have lost their first Ohio Supreme Court battle over the administration's expired "Rule 80" alcohol restrictions in the early days of COVID-19 and await oral argument to defend the constitutionality of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission's (OLCC) emergency rulemaking powers. Gov. Mike DeWine directed OLCC on July 30, 2020 to implement a rule limiting alcohol service in bars to 10 p.m. and consumption to 11 p.m. A day later, commissioners adopted the emergency rule and DeWine issued a corresponding executive order that would not expire until Nov. 29, 2020.


Gov. Mike DeWine toured the American Nitrile factory in Grove City Tuesday, where he and company founder Jacob Block discussed how this facility is expected to employ over 350 full-time employees and make around two billion pairs of medical gloves each year. The event was also attended by Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City). The factory will have 12 production lines operating around the clock, generating $25 million in annual payroll. There will be 141 million gallons of water recycled each year, and it has capacity for 2.8 million pounds of bulk nitrile storage. Block also told Hannah News there is potential for more American Nitrile facilities in Ohio, saying it is a "great state to do business" in terms of regulatory support, water access and location relative to purchasers.


GREAT LAKES


The Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) has awarded $150,000 through the state's Lake Erie Protection Fund. "Thank you to all the Ohioans who purchased a Lake Erie license plate and contributed to the Lake Erie Protection Fund," OLEC Executive Director Joy Mulinex said in a news release. "The projects supported through these funds will benefit Western and Central Lake Erie basins, where nutrients and other non-point source pollutants are major contributors to harmful algal blooms."


GUNS


A Washington Post analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data found more Americans ages 1 to 19 died from firearms than in car accidents in 2020 and most of 2021. This was the first time firearms were the leading cause of death. The overall increase largely reflects a 39 percent rise in gun deaths among Black youths for 2020, while all other racial groups saw more car-related deaths than gun deaths according to the report. The rate for Black youths increased again by 13 percent through October 2021 with CDC death records for the remainder of the year not yet available. The Post said Black youths had also suffered the highest gun deaths rates among all racial and ethnic groups for years.


A new national Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday found nearly three quarters of respondents believe the minimum legal age to buy any gun should be raised to 21 years old nationally. More than half of respondents support stricter gun laws, an increase from last November, when more opposed it. "As mass murders by teenage killers tear at the heart of the country, Americans say by a three-to-one margin, you should be 21 to buy a gun," said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy. Respondents, by a margin of 74 percent to 24 percent, support raising the legal age to buy a firearm, with 91 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 59 percent of Republicans in support. Support for stricter gun laws in the latest poll is 57 percent to 38 percent, an increase from November 2021, when 45 percent supported stricter gun laws and 49 percent opposed. Among political groups, 91 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents support stricter gun laws, while 64 percent of Republicans oppose them.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


Dr. William B. Farrar, CEO of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James), will retire from his nearly five-decade long career, effective Thursday, June 30. Farrar was the first surgical oncology fellow at Ohio State and the last medical trainee of the hospital's namesake, surgical oncologist Dr. Arthur G. James, who died in 2001. During his 46-year tenure at the OSUCCC-James, Farrar performed more than 20,000 surgeries on patients with nearly every kind of malignancy except brain cancer. Later in his career, he began specializing in breast cancer care and conducting research and clinical trials.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Youngstown State University (YSU) recently hosted a meeting of partners in a new $10 million national tech initiative, which the university said is aimed at creating jobs and bolstering the manufacturing supply chain. The meeting included representatives from YSU, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, which manages America Makes in downtown Youngstown, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Logistics Agency. The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) is also a partner. The partnership intends to increase the number of small to midsize businesses using advanced technologies, bolster critical areas of the defense manufacturing supply chain and create jobs by removing barriers to adopting Industry 4.0 technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, YSU said.


The University of Toledo (UT) announced an interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. Karen Bjorkman announced in April her plans to resign from her current position effective July 29, 2022, returning to the faculty after serving in the role since 2019. To assist with the leadership transition, Risa Dickson will join UT on July 1 to work with Bjorkman in her final weeks and serve as interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs while a national search is conducted for UT's next provost.


Cleveland State University (CSU) has selected Stephanie Brooks as inaugural dean of the newly forming College of Health. Her appointment is effective Monday, Aug. 22. Brooks is currently a clinical professor and senior associate dean for health professions and faculty affairs in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Cleveland State's College of Health is forming through CSU 2.0, the university's "realignment" and growth plan for the next several years. The College of Health encompasses the following academic unit that were previously part of other university colleges or were standalone departments: Communication Sciences and Disorders, Exercise Science/Community Health, Health Sciences/Public Health, Music Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, School of Nursing and School of Social Work.


HUMAN SERVICES


Members of the Study Committee on Publicly Funded Child Care and Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) Program got a surprise visit from Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) Wednesday as they began the process of discussing their final recommendations. The study committee, created by the conference committee on HB110 (Oelslager), is charged with issuing a final report containing recommendations for the quality rating system and for increasing access to child care across the state by the end of the year. Co-chairs Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) said the group is entering its final stages with the goal of getting "something put together" in October.


JUDICIAL


The Supreme Court of Ohio Wednesday rejected an effort to invoke a 2011 amendment to the Ohio Constitution to block the state from enacting or enforcing any COVID-19 related measures. The Supreme Court dismissed complaints filed in October 2021 against the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The complaints sought a Court order to prevent any legislative action related to participating in a health care system. A group of 10 Ohio residents claimed that since March 2020, Ohioans have been subjected to constitutional violations through requirements to wear masks, have their temperatures taken, receive vaccinations, undergo contact tracing, and participate in the collection of health care information. In a per curiam opinion, the Court stated it has no jurisdiction "to order the General Assembly to enact a specific piece of legislation," nor can it "preemptively order the General Assembly not to enact legislation."


LOBBYISTS


State policies need to be overhauled to ensure all Ohioans can live with respect and dignity regardless of their race, gender, zip code or income level, according to progressive leaders from across Ohio. Representatives of Policy Matters Ohio (PMO), the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) and other organizations announced the "All in for Ohio" agenda during a press conference at the Statehouse on Tuesday, saying the proposal includes six policy pillars that focus on revenue, education, voting rights, economic dignity, community safety and public health. "We are here on the heels of a dispiriting legislative session because we refuse to be governed by extreme policies and politicians more focused on fundraising than our futures -- and by those who advance themselves by dividing all of us," PMO Executive Director Hannah Halbert said. While All in For Ohio is anchored by PMO and OOC, the coalition works closely with the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association and Freedom BLOC (Black Led Organizing Collaborative), among other groups.


NATURAL RESOURCES


In an effort to increase opportunities for paddling, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is presenting Paddling Enhancement grants to nine political subdivisions. The communities each get a portion of the awarded grants worth $526,163. Since the grant program's inception in 2020, a total of $2.1 million has been awarded to 34 projects. The grant is capped at $75,000 per project. Individual grant awards have ranged from $29,920 to $75,000.


The ODNR Division of Wildlife announced its annual free fishing weekend at any one of hundreds of public fishing locations on Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19. This will be the only weekend of the year in which Ohio residents 16 and older can fish public waters without purchasing a fishing license. During that weekend, residents can fish for free in any of Ohio's public waters, including those of Lake Erie and the Ohio River. All other fishing regulations, size limits, and bag limits apply.


Ohio wild turkey hunters harvested 11,872 birds during the spring season that concluded Sunday, May 29, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The total statewide harvest represents 30 days of hunting in two zones between April 23 and May 29, and includes the 1,103 wild turkeys taken during the youth season April 9-10.


PENSIONS


The Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) decided Thursday to gather more information and give the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F) time to hammer out long-term solvency plans rather than vote to take a position on increasing how much local governments pay toward first responder pensions. Council members took that course at the suggestion of Chair Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), a law enforcement veteran and son of a firefighter. He addressed the public safety personnel filling the audience for Thursday's hearing. "We are looking out for you guys. We do not want to cut your benefits ... We also have to keep in mind we can't saddle the taxpayer with our entire burden," Plummer said.


PEOPLE


Intel announced recently that its Ohio factories will be led by General Manager Jim Evers, a new resident of the state who has been leading Intel manufacturing operations for several years. The announcement included a question-and-answer article by Intel's Ohio Public Affairs Director Emily Smith, who previously worked for the Ohio Department of Education and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.


The Cincinnati law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL (KMK Law) announced Monday that former Cincinnati Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor John Cranley has returned to the firm as Of Counsel in the firm's Real Estate Group. The firm said Cranley will focus on tax increment financing, New Markets Tax Credits, solar energy projects, government relations, and public finance. In addition, he will co-chair the firm's government affairs practice. Cranley had previously practiced at KMK Law in the firm's Real Estate and Bond & Municipal Groups from 2009 to 2013 until he was elected mayor of Cincinnati.


Jason Kershner has been promoted to senior director of government affairs at Charter Communications.


In the position, Kershner will be responsible for Charter's government affairs efforts in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, reporting to Charter Communications Group Vice President of Government Affairs Gary Underwood, who is based in Columbus. Kershner joined Charter in 2018 as the director of government affairs based out of Cincinnati. Prior to that, he worked for the Cincinnati Regional Chamber and on Capitol Hill for the late U.S. Sen. and former Ohio Gov. George Voinovich (R-OH).


Lauren Prettyman is the new communications director for the Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA). "In her role, Lauren will oversee all aspects of association communications including social media management, event promotion, press release and news writing, graphic design, photography and videography, as well as managing members' experiences, including the member directory, event support, sponsorships and more," OABA said in a news release.


POLLS/STUDIES


A new national Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday saw President Joe Biden get his lowest marks, with 33 percent approving of his job performance and 55 percent disapproving, with 12 percent not offering an opinion. The 33 percent job approval rating ties lows he received in April and January Quinnipiac surveys. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents disapprove of Biden, while 79 percent of Democrats approve. Registered voters give Biden a 35 percent to 56 percent negative approval rating. Forty-seven percent of respondents approve of Biden's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 46 percent disapprove; 50 percent disapprove of his response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine; 59 percent disapprove of his response to gun violence; and 64 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) followed May's request for proposal (RFP) for 2022 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding with a second RFP Friday to help racially, ethnically and culturally specific communities respond to domestic and dating violence, stalking and sexual assault.


Sixteen local law enforcement agencies will receive $3.9 million to help address violence in their communities, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday. DeWine announced the third round of awards from his administration's Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program during a visit to Springfield, which was livestreamed on social media.


The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) is beefing up its ranks to administer $175 million in American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds awarded Ohio for crime reduction, law enforcement and the courts. The division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) will be issuing successive rounds of grant funding this summer following April's initial request for proposals (RFP) supporting violent crime reduction and law enforcement recruitment. OCJS Executive Director Nicole Dehner told Gov. Mike DeWine's Warrants Task Force Wednesday that her office has so far received 180 grant applications for ARPA money, more than doubling the original violent crime earmark of $50 million, leading her to looking to increase that amount. A second RFP will go out later this summer seeking "holistic" proposals for community intervention and violent crime prevention along with additional law enforcement awards.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


The Ohio Redistricting Commission should be ordered to explain why it failed to respond in any way to the late May ruling that mandated a fifth set of General Assembly maps be produced by June 3, plaintiffs in redistricting litigation said in a filing Tuesday. In Bria Bennett et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission et al., the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the Supreme Court's May 25 order, which directed the commission to produce a new map by Friday, June 3. The commission took no action to respond to that order, given that a three-judge panel in the federal courts had ordered use of the commission's third set of General Assembly maps for this cycle. "It is bad enough that the commission has ignored an express order of this Court, but petitioners respectfully submit that it is nothing less than shocking that the commission has done so without even deigning to provide an excuse to this Court for its failure to comply with the Court's deadline," states the motion. Later, it continues, "This litigation has seen the commission behave more and more lawlessly. Outright ignoring court orders is the stuff of authoritarianism -- and doing so subverts the legitimacy of this Court and its role in the constitutional structure. From missing its September 2021 constitutional deadlines, to arguing that Section 6 [of the Ohio Constitution] is entirely aspirational, to declaring impasse in the face of a Court order, to passing previously invalidated plans, to now refusing to acknowledge this Court's order at all, the commission has never given Article XI force. This Court should not do the same."


The ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP followed that action on Wednesday by filing its own motion with the Ohio Supreme Court, requesting that the Ohio Redistricting Commission explain its failure to comply with the Court's May 25 order requiring new legislative maps be drawn by last Friday, June 3. This motion was filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, and a number of individual Ohio voters. The Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission plaintiffs had filed their motion earlier Wednesday.


TAXATION


The Buckeye Institute secured a win Tuesday in its fight against municipal taxation of home-based employees working outside city limits under COVID-19 emergency 133-HB197 (Powell-Merrin). The institute rebounded from an earlier loss over extraterritorial taxation when a split Ohio Supreme Court accepted its appeal on behalf of a Blue Ash man who worked from home but paid Cincinnati 2020 taxes. The Court has yet to set a briefing schedule in the Schaad v. Alder.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS/BROADBAND


The Ohio Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership held its first meeting Thursday, with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announcing there will be a focused round of Individualized Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP) funding to support credentials related to expanding high-speed Internet access. Credentials in the latest IMAP round -- its third overall -- include Fiber Optics, Telecommunications Tower Technician, Fiber to Any Antenna (FTAA) and the 5G Readiness program. The application period opened Thursday and will run through Monday, June 27. It is open to institutions currently offering those credentials as well as institutions that plan to launch a relevant program within six months from July 1, 2022.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION


Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder announced Wednesday that nearly $398 million in unemployment benefits have been recovered to date, thanks to the ongoing collaboration of ODJFS with financial institutions and law enforcement. "Criminals hit Ohio and the rest of the nation hard with fraudulent claims, taking taxpayer dollars and slowing efforts to get money to those in need," Damschroder said. "The recovery of these funds is proof that Ohio continues to collect taxpayer dollars and pursue every avenue to give victims of identity theft justice."


WORKFORCE


JobsOhio's board meeting Friday included considerable discussion of the $1.5 billion Ford investment that is expected to create 1,800 jobs as well as other ongoing and future economic development efforts.

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


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