Week In Review - June 15, 2020



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


Please feel free to share it with anyone else you believe may find it of interest, as well. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions, concerns or if we can be of any assistance.

AGING


Representatives of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and other long-term care facilities Wednesday told lawmakers of the challenges they have been facing since the COVID-19 pandemic began, best practices they have been using, and areas where they could still use some help going forward. The House Aging and Long-Term Care Committee has been holding hearings on the effects of the coronavirus on the industry, and on Wednesday, lawmakers heard first-hand stories of those challenges, as well as some models that could be used going forward.


AGRICULTURE


Aerial treatments designed to disrupt gypsy moth mating on 64,049 acres across the state will soon begin, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced Monday. Portions of Columbus, Delaware, Dublin, Gahanna, Granville, Marion, Minerva Park, Newark, Upper Arlington and Westerville will be treated, ODAg said in a news release. Parts of Delaware, Franklin, Hardin, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Marion, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Union, Vinton and Washington counties will also receive treatments.


House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), Gov. Mike DeWine, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Tuesday announced a plan to help county fairs and agriculture youth programs, including providing funding.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that Kari Gunter-Seymour had been named the third Ohio poet laureate, with her term beginning Wednesday as well. She succeeds Dave Lucas, who helped advise the selection committee and was named to the position by former Gov. John Kasich in 2018.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Attorney General Dave Yost Friday invited Ohioans to share their ideas for law enforcement reforms in a new Facebook group started by his office. "Give us your ideas. Tell us your story. Help us think about how we should better serve you, your neighbors, your community," Yost said in a prepared statement. Yost created the Facebook group, "Be Heard by the AG," as an open forum where everyone can share their ideas, experiences and opinions related to law enforcement policy. It can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/745842399581803/.


In his latest action on harassing robocalls, Attorney General Dave Yost announced a multi-state lawsuit Tuesday charging Houston-based JSquared Telecom and Rising Eagle Capital Group with "billions" of illegal calls triggering $500-$1,500 in federal damages "per violation."


FY20-21 BUDGET


State tax collections were $271.3 million below projections in May, bringing the shortfall for the fiscal year so far to more than $1 billion with one month to go, according to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Sales taxes constituted the bulk of the drop, bringing in $167 million less than expected; within that total, non-auto sales taxes accounted for $133 million of the drop, a 16.4 percent underage. Auto sales taxes were down nearly $34 million or 25 percent. For FY20 so far, sales tax collections are $326.5 million or 3.3 percent below projections of $10.02 billion. Income taxes were $91.3 million or 15.1 percent below projections for May and are $767 million or 9.7 percent under for FY20 to-date.


The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Wednesday pegged the state's FY21 budget shortfall at $2.43 billion. Four taxes account for the bulk of the underage, with the auto and non-auto sales tax estimated to fall 13 percent below the estimates upon which the budget, HB166 (Oelslager), was based. The Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) is estimated to come in nearly 10 percent lower, while the personal income tax will be an estimated 7.2 percent lower.


CENSUS


Ohio's census self-response rate has reached 65.7 percent, up from 65.5 percent last week. The state's response rate is the eighth highest in the nation. Surrounding states like Indiana (65.4 percent), Michigan (67.2 percent), Pennsylvania (63.7 percent), and Kentucky (64.3 percent) all have similar response rates; however, West Virginia has one of the lowest response rates in the U.S. at 48.1 percent.


CIVIL RIGHTS


The League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWVO) this week issued a statement calling for more civility as well as justice after the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers in Minneapolis, MN and threats made against African-American and Jewish leaders in Ohio. LWVO said it grieves "the deaths of George Floyd and the countless other black lives that have been tragically taken at the hands of law enforcement officers. We also mourn those who have lost their lives or been harmed, mentally or physically."


The Ohio Democratic Party's Executive Committee met via video conference on Saturday, unanimously adopting a resolution that recognizes racism as a public health crisis similar to legislation pushed by Democrats on the local, state and national level.


CORONAVIRUS


Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Friday, June 5 a reopening date of Friday, June 19 for casinos, racinos, amusement parks and water parks. DeWine took time to address calls for him to completely open the economy without restrictions on businesses or public places. He said his phased, "layered" approach to reopening the economy is meant to mitigate risks as state officials were not sure what the result of opening the state back up would be. Officials wanted to be able to monitor results, he said.


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced recently that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute $314 million to Ohio skilled nursing facilities which continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.


A group of bars and restaurants has filed a lawsuit against Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine, arguing that provisions in the administration's public health orders are "unconstitutionally vague" and improperly expose business owners to criminal and administrative penalties.


Fifty-five pallets of donated hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE) have been shipped to area agencies on aging (AAAs) around the state to protect home and community-based providers and to help prevent the spread of COVID19 among older Ohioans, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday.


Columbus Public Health (CPH) announced Wednesday that free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing is now available at its 240 Parson Ave. location. Anyone with symptoms can now receive a test from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Health insurance is not required.


As of Thursday, June 11, COVID-19 data reported by the Ohio Department of Health showed 40,004 cases and 2,490 deaths during the pandemic. Cases have resulted in 6,753 hospitalizations and 1,732 intensive care unit admissions.


CORRECTIONS


A preliminary injunction requiring the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to identify and potentially transfer elderly and medically vulnerable inmates at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution (FCI Elkton) was vacated Tuesday due to a decision by a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel.


DEATH PENALTY


The governor announced three more Death Row reprieves Friday after having delayed the executions of four other Death Row inmates so far this year.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for 17 projects expected to create 1,943 new jobs and retain 2,247 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 $107 million in new payroll and spur more than $252 million in investments across Ohio.


ECONOMY


If the April employment declines caused by the COVID-19 disruptions continue throughout 2020 in a similar magnitude, total employment is predicted to decrease at an annual rate of -61.62 percent for the next six months in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) in its latest leading indicators report. "Given the gradual reopening of Ohio's economy, we anticipate a smaller decrease in employment in Ohio and all MSAs (metropolitan service areas)," ODJFS said.


EDUCATION


The Ohio STEM Committee of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced that 10 new schools will be designated as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) schools for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.


The Ohio Attorney General's Office says school records for Dayton shooter Connor Betts could reveal important "red flags" for his subsequent murder of nine people outside Ned Peppers Bar last summer before police brought him down. National and local media organizations including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and others agree Ohio law does not protect former students who are deceased adults, but the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek district where Betts graduated claims the General Assembly requires explicit consent for a release of school records in R.C. 3319.321 and make no exception for a student's death. Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, WHIO-TV, WCPO-TV and the Associated Press have joined national media conglomerates in suing Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools and Superintendent Douglas Cozad after they refused to release Betts' records "without the written consent of ... such student who is 18 years of age or older" under R.C. 3319.321(B).


The Finance Committee of the Broadcast Education Media Commission (BEMC) voted on a plan to meet the Office of Budget and Management's (OBM) mandate that state agencies hold a share of their appropriations in reserve as the state faces a substantial drop in tax collections amid a recession. OBM is not directly ordering cuts yet but has told agencies not to expect to be able to spend the 20 percent share of spending they must set aside in targeted line items. The full commission is to consider the proposal Wednesday.


The State Board of Education rearranged its schedule Tuesday for a morning vote on emergency child care rules to enable programs under its regulation to reopen if they can meet the requirements of the DeWine administration's pandemic health orders. Meanwhile, board President Laura Kohler said ODE's legal team determined the board lacked the authority to adopt a resolution passed last month instituting pay cuts for members.


Public testimony via videoconference at Tuesday's virtual State Board of Education meeting featured several speakers calling for schools to resume in-person classes in the fall and saying mask use and social distancing would be an impediment to learning. The board itself could not reach agreement later in the day on a resolution saying local authorities should have "full power and trust" to decide how to reopen schools.


ELECTIONS


As the Nov. 3 General Election approaches, members of Ohio's boards of elections have concerns about finding polling locations and recruiting poll workers, and schools could be a solution to both those issues. Secretary of State Frank LaRose held the second meeting of his "Ready for November" Task Force through video conferencing on Tuesday, giving members of the task force, which include elections officials from around Ohio, an update on the recently House-passed HB680 (Abrams), making election law changes. The task force also talked about the issues of finding polling locations and recruiting poll workers.


ELECTIONS 2020


Post-primary campaign filings show both Republican incumbents on the Ohio Supreme Court have a sizable cash-on-hand advantage compared to their Democratic challengers in the only statewide November elections. The pre-primary filings showed the Democrats ahead in fundraising for that period, but still behind in overall cash. According to data posted by the secretary of state's office Friday, Justice Judith French raised $48,058, spent $65,188.53 and retained $398,572.10 on hand. Her opponent Jennifer Brunner, a former secretary of state and current Ohio appeals court judge, raised $63,456, spent $3,618.53 and has $201,358.52. In the other Court race, Justice Sharon Kennedy holds a nearly five-to-one cash advantage, with $629,753.45 on hand compared to Cuyahoga County Judge John O'Donnell's $136,020.90. Kennedy raised $101,318.02 and spent $75,200.24 while O'Donnell raised $50,320 and spent $18,584.06.


The retention election of a DeWine appointee became an uphill climb Thursday when the Ohio Supreme Court ordered a public reprimand for drunk driving and using a judicial position to escape arrest. Judge Alfonso Gonzalez of the Lucas County Common Pleas Court breezed through the April primary with no Republican challengers after his conviction last August for OVI and refusing an alcohol test and now faces a November contest with Democrat Lori Olender, a deputy chief in the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office and past president of the Toledo Women's Bar Association.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


The Ohio Business Roundtable, Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC, Ohio Farm Bureau AGGPAC, Ohio Manufacturers' Association PAC and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Ohio PAC endorsed Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French for re-election to the Ohio Supreme Court.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for May indicated a rebound from April's historic unemployment data (see The Hannah Report, 5/8/20), with unemployment falling from 14.7 percent to 13.3 percent. However, BLS later said a "misclassification error" means the actual May rate may be around 3 percentage points higher.


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported Thursday an additional 35,430 initial jobless claims over the past week, bringing Ohio's total to 1,327,843 individuals who have filed for unemployment compensation (UC) over the last 12 weeks -- more than the combined total over the last three years. This is slightly more than the 34,575 initial claims reported a week ago.


ENERGY


Utility-scale solar farms heralded by House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) are moving forward east of Cincinnati after Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approval of the 80 megawatt (MW) Nestlewood project in April and groundbreaking at the nearby 200 MW Hillcrest facility in March -- the state's first utility-scale solar field that Householder calls "just the beginning." Speculation is that Hillcrest and Nestlewood are the 200 MW and 80 MW Ohio facilities Amazon touted last week as part of 615 MW of new solar in three countries and two U.S. states. The mega-retailer did not refer to the projects by name, though Karine Vachon of Innergex said Hillcrest "has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with an investment-grade rated U.S. corporation." Lendlease also confirmed the Nestlewood project but stopped short of naming the online marketplace.


Ohio State University's $1 billion-plus deal with Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP) to reach "carbon neutrality" by 2050 takes a major step forward this month when the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) commences public hearings on the university's proposed combined heat and power (CHP) plant at the Columbus main campus. OPSB announced a Tuesday, June 30 virtual hearing Thursday for the $278 million project, which would generate electricity via combustion turbines and use exhaust to heat water for campus climate control.


GAMING/GAMBLING


While the state's four casinos and seven racinos will be allowed to reopen on Friday, June 19, the gambling facilities will need to reconfigure the physical arrangement of slot machine and video lottery terminals (VLTs) to comply with the DeWine administration's new protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Legislation increasing penalties imposed on public officials for stealing taxpayer dollars passed the House unanimously on Tuesday after being amended to include the as-introduced language in "long arm" bill HB272 (Hillyer-Oelslager) and new language clarifying tolling provisions passed in coronavirus omnibus HB197 (Powell-Merrin). The bill, SB10 (Wilson), would make it a second-degree felony to steal between $150,000 and $749,999.99, and a first-degree felony to steal $750,000 or more. Under current law, the highest penalty a public official can receive for theft in office is a third-degree felony, which can be imposed when $7,500 or more is stolen. The most contentious bill on the floor Tuesday was HB496 (Stein-Hoops), which grants immunity to a registered apiary owner for damages caused by bee stings, as long as the owner does the following: complies with beekeeping industry best management practices as established by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg); keeps complete records of such compliance; complies with local zoning ordinances on beehives; and operates the apiary in compliance with state law governing apiaries. Also passing Tuesday were HB263 ((Koehler), regarding professional licenses for people with criminal records; HB616 (Miranda), a road naming omnibus; HB442 (Roemer-West), which modifies the requirements to obtain a certified public accountant certificate; HB450 (Stephens), which creates succession guidelines for fiscal officers of political subdivisions; HB340 (Cupp), which deals with drainage laws; HB104 (Stein), which enacts the Advanced Nuclear Technology Helping Energize Mankind (ANTHEM) Act by establishing the Ohio Nuclear Development Authority and the Ohio Nuclear Development Consortium.


The Senate Tuesday released its schedule for the rest of the year.


Tuesday's meeting of the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee lasted more than 10 hours, with the panel chaired by Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) receiving testimony from more than 100 proponents of SCR14, which would declare racism a "public health crisis" in Ohio and ask Gov. Mike DeWine to establish a working group to promote racial equity in the state.


The Senate voted Wednesday to require health authorities to get consent when performing contact tracing, though with more latitude than provided in a House measure passed recently. The upper chamber also passed an education bill granting broad flexibility to schools for the coming year in light of the pandemic, and a proposal to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow the use of bonds for unemployment compensation debt. And the chamber converted a state land sale omnibus on the floor into a vehicle for capital appropriations and distribution of federal funding for coronavirus expenses. The House last week took the Senate's vehicle for sending federal CARES Act money to local governments, SB310 (Dolan), and rolled in the reappropriations, pay freezes for non-union state employees and exemptions from the Commercial Activity Tax for loan money businesses got under the CARES Act, among other changes. The Senate in turn voted Wednesday to attach some of the House-passed amendments to HB481 (Fraizer). The chamber also voted Wednesday to reject House amendments to SB310. Also passing were HB61 (Lanese-Liston), an address confidentiality bill amended on the floor to include another address confidentiality bill, SB31 (Roegner), as well as to set new requirements on the public health practice of contact tracing; HB165 (Ginter), a student religious expression bill amended to include a variety of pandemic-related education law changes; SJR4 (Peterson), to authorize issuing bonds to cover unemployment debt as an alternative to borrowing from the federal government; HB11 (Manning-Howse), a maternal health bill amended to accommodate additional federal Medicaid funding transfers; HB160 (Ingram), an alcohol omnibus; HB65 (Carfagna), regarding reports of safety violations at child care facilities, which was amended to include swimming lesson measure SB309 (Gavarone); SCR6 (Burke), urging greater federal action against robocalls; SB272 (Roegner-Blessing), regarding physical therapy licensure; SB280 (Blessing), regarding credit services organizations; SB293 (Manning-Blessing), creating a process for the Court of Claims to review allegations of open meeting laws; and SB318 (Kunze-Williams), to extend the existence of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission through 2021.


The Ohio House Wednesday adopted legislation that would require the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to collect and display more data regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters of HB624 (Grendell) argued on the floor that the bill is about transparency and giving Ohioans all of the information they need to know the facts about the coronavirus outbreak in Ohio, while opponents said that much of the information is already available and that the bill could create confusion. Also passing were SB163 (Brinkman), regarding local government funds and local government utility charges; HB669 (Swearingen-LaRe), to codify some of the liquor sale flexibility put in place via emergency rules during the pandemic; HB673 (Roemer), regarding temporary nursing licenses during the pandemic and pharmacists’ ability to administer COVID tests; HB67 (Brinkman-Kelly), regarding loan repayments for veterinarians; HB436 (Baldridge), regarding dyslexia screenings for children; HB484 (Abrams-Carfagna), regarding athletic training; HB679 (Fraizer-Holmes), regarding telehealth; and SB163 (Kunze), an omnibus license plate and road naming bill.


Saying it could potentially violate the First Amendment and derail fair update bill HB665 (Jones-Wilkin), Republican members of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on Wednesday voted down an amendment that would have prohibited vendors at county and independent fairs to sell, display, possess or distribute Confederate memorabilia.


At Wednesday evening's meeting of the Sunset Review Committee, members heard testimony from the Ohio History Connection, the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners, the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging, and a number of other groups seeking continued operation in the state.


The Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee continued its review of state licensing boards Wednesday, hearing from three agencies in the Department of Commerce (DOC): Ann Petit, superintendent of the DOC Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing; Carol Ross, executive secretary of the DOC Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board; and Andrea Seidt, Ohio Securities Commissioner in DOC.


Legislation reappropriating $1.28 billion in capital funds and distributing $350 million in federal coronavirus aid is headed to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk after the House approved HB481 (Fraizer) as an emergency measure on Thursday. The bill, originally focused on authorizing the conveyance of state-owned property, was amended on the Senate floor Wednesday to include some of the language the House had attached to SB310 (Dolan). The House voted to concur with the Senate amendments by a vote of 85-0. The House also concurred with Senate amendments to HB11 (Manning-Howse), a maternal health bill; HB65 (Carfagna), regarding reports of safety violations at child care facilities; HB164 (Ginter), a student religious expression bill amended to give schools flexibility as they reopen in the fall. The chamber also spent hours working late into Friday morning to debate whether to prohibit or discourage Confederate memorabilia at county fairs, with Republicans eventually tabling both proposals from Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) before passing fair update bill HB665 (Jones-Wilkin) by a vote of 62-25. After session, House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said the First Amendment couldn't be overcome, and that the state government taking this action toward county fairs is different than the Ohio State Fair or NASCAR making the decision to prohibit the display of Confederate flags. The House also passed HB425 (Wiggam), regarding concealed carry; SB4 (Rulli-Kunze), providing capital funding for K-12 and public workers construction projects; HB13 (Carfagna-O’Brien), regarding residential broadband expansion; HB674 (Hillyer), an alcohol omnibus; HB429 (Abrams-LaRe), regarding the Safe at Home program; HB614 (Richardson-Fraizer), regarding unemployment compensation; HB270 (Merrin), regarding unclaimed funds; and HB33 (Lanese-Carruthers), regarding animal abuse reporting. The chamber re-referred HB539 (Ghanbari-Blair) to the House Criminal Justice Committee.


Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) is apologizing for a question he asked during a Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee meeting earlier in the week that groups are calling racist. The committee was hearing testimony on SCR14 (Williams-Craig), which would declare racism a public health crisis, when Huffman asked a witness about why African-Americans are more susceptible to dying from COVID-19. "Could it just be that African-Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups or wear a mask or do not socially distance themselves?" Huffman asked. Huffman was later fired from his job as an emergency physician, and some groups have called for him to resign from the General Assembly.


In other legislative action, House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out HB674 (Hillyer), regarding liquor laws; House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out road naming and license plate bills HB664 (Galonski), HB688 (Carruthers), HB689 (LaRe); Senate Finance Committee reported out SB313 (Johnson), regarding school funding; Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee reported out HB341 (Ginter), regarding addiction treatment drugs; Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee reported out HB339 (Merrin), regarding insurance code corrections; Senate Ways and Means Committee reported out SJR3 (Burke), proposing a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to pass income tax increases in the General Assembly; House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB255 (Hoops), regarding review of property tax exemptions; HB541 (Perales), regarding valuation of destroyed properties; and HB602 (Rogers-Lipps), regarding foreclosure notices.


GOVERNOR


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Darrell A. Fields of East Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) to the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission for the city of East Cleveland for a term beginning June 5, 2020 and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

  • James R. Wilson of Urbana (Champaign County) to the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission for Concord Township for a term beginning June 5, 2020 and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

  • John J. Lisy of Cleveland Heights (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the Chemical Dependency Professionals Board for a term beginning Dec. 24, 2019 and ending Dec. 23, 2022.

  • Susan J. Pohler of Columbus (Franklin County) to the State Veterinary Medical Licensing Board for a term beginning June 5, 2020 and ending Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Robert T. Maiorano II of Warren (Trumbull County) to the Eastern Gateway Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 5, 2020 and ending Oct. 16, 2024.

  • Kimberly A. Winkle of Crestline (Crawford County) to the North Central State College Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 5, 2020 and ending Jan. 16, 2023.

  • David E. Vanderberg of Lowell (Washington County) and Susan L. Vessels of Marietta (Washington County) reappointed to the Washington State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning June 5, 2020 and ending Feb. 17, 2026.

  • Timothy J. Cosgrove of Kirtland (Lake County) reappointed to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board for a term beginning April 23, 2020 and ending April 22, 2023.

  • Barant D. Pastorek of Granville (Licking County) reappointed to the Ohio Home Inspector Board for a term beginning April 6, 2020 and ending April 5, 2025.

  • Wendi Snyder of Marion (Marion County) to the Underground Technical Committee for a term beginning June 5, 2020, and ending Dec. 31, 2023.

  • James W. Jewell of Dublin (Franklin County) reappointed to the Underground Technical Committee for a term beginning Jan. 1, 2020 and ending Dec. 31, 2023.

  • Paul P. Mechling II of Pierpont (Ashtabula County) and Adam M. Conway of Granville (Licking County) reappointed to the Forestry Advisory Council for terms beginning Feb. 28, 2020 and ending Feb. 27, 2024.

  • Fady Faddoul of Mayfield Village (Cuyahoga County) and David A. Caldwell of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Radiation Advisory Council for terms beginning June 5, 2020 and ending Sept. 6, 2020 and Sept. 6, 2024, respectively.

  • Brian W. Hall of Hilliard (Franklin County), Christopher R. Schraff of Columbus (Franklin County) and Gary R. Salmon of Oxford (Butler County) reappointed to the Sewage Treatment System Technical Advisory Committee for terms beginning Jan. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 31, 2022.

  • Clyde E. Henry of Orient (Madison County), Frank S. Quinn IV of Circleville (Pickaway County) and Amy L. Kramb of Dublin (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board for terms beginning Jan. 15, 2020, and ending Jan. 14, 2023.

  • Stephanie E. Green of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Columbus State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 9, 2020, and ending Aug. 31, 2025.

  • Edward D. Eberhart of Barnesville (Belmont County) reappointed to the Belmont College Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 13, 2020, and ending May 12, 2023.

  • Sean D. Miller of Delaware (Delaware County), Jennifer Klein of Columbus (Franklin County), and Clifford L. Mason of Hebron (Licking County) reappointed to the State Emergency Response Commission for terms beginning June 8, 2020, and ending Jan. 13, 2022.

  • Timothy L. Miller of North Royalton (Cuyahoga County) to the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism for a term beginning June 9, 2020, and ending April 21, 2021.

  • Douglas C. Guinsler of Zanesville (Muskingum County) reappointed to the Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety for a term beginning June 9, 2020, and ending Jan. 1, 2026.

GUNS


The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (OPAA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio don't often find themselves on the same side of a criminal justice dispute but joined Tuesday in opposition to Stand Your Ground legislation. OPAA's Lou Tobin told House members HB381 (Keller-Hood) would proliferate false self-defense claims and "miscarriages of justice," while ACLU's Gary Daniels said it further rigs a criminal justice system already biased against blacks and other minorities.


Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who served as interim chief justice after the death of former Chief Justice Tom Moyer and now leads the Ohio Judicial Conference (OJC), proposed a stand-your-ground compromise on behalf of Ohio judges Wednesday to avoid a proliferation of lethal citizens' arrests. He urged the House to remove HB381's (Keller-Hood) controversial pre-trial civil and criminal immunity allowing fatal shooters to claim self-defense without evidence, and to instead abolish the current "duty to retreat" in existing law on self-defense.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


Lack of abortion access, reduced reproductive health care funding and racial disparities in health care all continue to plague Ohio, according to a new report from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation. The "State of Choice in Ohio" report laments the fact that half of Ohio's abortion clinics have closed since 2011, and the fact that funding for abstinence-only programs far exceeds that of comprehensive sex education programs.


Dr. Amy Acton resigned effective Thursday as director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) but will continue to have Gov. Mike DeWine's ear as his chief adviser on health issues. Lance Himes, general counsel at ODH and the department's leader at the end of the Kasich administration, will take over as interim director. Acton said she'd been considering the move for a while, saying it was unsustainable to try much longer to perform work that could be three separate jobs - leader of ODH, head of pandemic response and counselor to the governor.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, the outgoing president of Central State University (CSU), has been named the new president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in Washington D.C. She will begin her new role on Aug. 1, 2020.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Ohio cities nearly $30 million in Supplemental Public Housing Operating Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to a recent news release from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). The funds will support public housing agencies during the coronavirus pandemic.


JUDICIAL


Sixth District Appeals Court Judge Gene A. Zmuda, whose advocacy includes criminal justice and pretrial reform, has been chosen by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor to chair the new Ohio Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review. In addition, the chief justice appointed the 24 members of the task force, which has been charged with recommending improvements in criminal conviction procedures and the ways that reviews are conducted after a conviction.


The Ohio Supreme Court announced the suspension of notarization requirements for affected domestic relations, juvenile, general and probate matters Monday in the interest of public health. The order addresses forms normally required by the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure and Rules of Superintendence for which banks, clerk's offices and attorneys have reduced or eliminated notary services. "Due to the social distancing requirements, the Court has approved a temporary version of these forms that eliminate the need for notarization during this public health emergency," the Court said in a statement.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has launched four new trails to connect Ohio families with nature while encouraging reading. Storybook Trails present children's books in a series of child-height panels to blend the fun of outdoor exploration with reading. "Visiting a Storybook Trail is a great opportunity for families to enjoy learning in the outdoors together," said ODNR Director Mary Mertz in a prepared statement. "Kids of all ages will find fun and interactive ways to engage with these stories all while discovering more about conservation and the natural world."


PUBLIC SAFETY


The DeWine administration announced new grant eligibility Friday for STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds supporting "culturally specific communities" affected by race and ethnicity. The Ohio Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) issued a request for proposal (RFP) with an application deadline of Tuesday, June 9.


Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday announced he will be asking a Kasich-era advisory board to help develop new standards for law enforcement to respond to mass protests. The Ohio Collaborative Community Police Advisory Board was created by Gov. John Kasich in 2015 to address issues such as setting minimum standards for use of force and officer hiring at law enforcement agencies. On Tuesday, DeWine said he was directing the board to begin developing uniform minimum standards related to protests in response to criticism of law enforcement actions across the country in dealing with protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police officers.


The House Democratic Caucus Tuesday announced its preliminary police reform legislative plans. House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said the proposed bills would prohibit profiling, tear gas and the use of quotas by all law enforcement agencies, as well as call for the independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and the creation of databases to better track problematic behavior and employment history of law enforcement officers.


The Ohio National Guard (ONG) announced Wednesday that personnel who deployed on May 30 to assist law enforcement agencies in Columbus and Cleveland had returned home after completing their missions. "The Ohio National Guard responded at a moment's notice to assist with protecting lives and property," said Gov. Mike DeWine. "I'm proud of the role our guard members had in providing a safe environment for Ohioans to voice their concerns and lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights."


Republican House members Thursday unveiled their police reform proposal that aims to change the disciplinary process, review compensation and training, and create a statewide database of police officers who have been fired for excessive force, among other revisions. Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), a former Montgomery County sheriff, stressed at the beginning of the news conference that they are not leaving police officers behind and "not throwing you under the bus." He added that "any chatter of defunding police departments is nonsense."


Kevin Reardon has been appointed as Ohio's 39th state fire marshal, effective Monday, June 22, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday. Prior to being named state fire marshal, Reardon spent nearly six years as director of the Central Ohio Technical College Institute for Public Service & Safety. He has also served on the Ohio Board of Building Standards. Reardon began his career in the fire service in 1981 with the Columbus Division of Fire, rising through the ranks from firefighter to battalion chief until his retirement in 2013. He also spent 10 years as then-Sen. DeWine's military and veterans' affairs liaison, and four years as homeland security manager for Battelle.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) completed its business Monday in short order, with all items on the agenda cleared without question or public comment. The items included one from the Cosmetology and Barber Board related to handwashing for infection control and rules from the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) on providing Medicaid services in schools.


WORKFORCE


Ohio will receive an $8.5 million federal Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker grant to help reemploy individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help employers rebuild their workforces, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced Thursday. The agency said it will work collaboratively with the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation to assist Ohioans whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 as they prepare for the next step in their careers.


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

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