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Week in Review June 17, 2024


Ohio statehouse government affairs week in review January 2023


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

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



ABORTION


Abortion medication mifepristone will remain available across the country following a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday. The anti-abortion organizations and individuals who sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lacked standing to bring the case, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the Court's 9-0 opinion. "To establish standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate that she has suffered or likely will suffer an injury in fact, that the injury likely was caused or will be caused by the defendant, and that the injury likely would be redressed by the requested judicial relief," Kavanaugh wrote. "Plaintiffs are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others. Because plaintiffs do not prescribe or use mifepristone, plaintiffs are unregulated parties who seek to challenge FDA's regulation of others. Plaintiffs advance several complicated causation theories to connect FDA's actions to the plaintiffs' alleged injuries in fact. None of these theories suffices to establish Article III standing."


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


The OneOhio Recovery Foundation held its final board meeting at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Wednesday as Director LeeAnne Cornyn of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) discussed its parallel efforts to fight opioid abuse. Cornyn explained OhioMHAS's priorities and investments across Ohio communities, including $88 million for opiate treatment and $97 million from the State Opioid Response fund for prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery for opioid use disorder, stimulant use disorder and/or co-occurring disorders. The board's next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10 at the State Library of Ohio, where all future meetings are expected to be held.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


The state of Ohio will host four World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) events this summer, the Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced Monday. "Monday Night Raw" aired live from the Huntington Center in Toledo on Monday, June 10. Ohioans and visitors will have several more opportunities to catch WWE action throughout the season, as Raw is set to return in mid-July to the Nutter Center in Dayton, and on Aug. 2, Friday Night SmackDown will air from the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The final chance fans will have to get in on the Ohio action is on Saturday, Aug. 3 when SummerSlam will be live from Cleveland Browns Stadium.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Attorney General Dave Yost opened the application process Wednesday for the 2024-25 AG Teen Ambassador Board (TAB). TAB allows high school juniors and seniors from public school districts and brick-and-mortar charters, online charters and private schools, along with home-schooled students, to engage with state government officials and discuss issues affecting their lives. The application deadline is Sunday, Sept. 15. More information and application materials can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bdzu98b2.


Ohio joins 42 other states and the District of Columbia in a $700 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson over the safety concerns of its baby powder and other products containing talc. The states began investigating in 2019 whether Johnson & Johnson marketing misrepresented talc's safety by failing to disclose the presence of asbestos in those products and the mineral's link to cancer. The company subsequently ended the century-long sale of talc products in the U.S. and later halted global distribution. While Wednesday's settlement focused on deceptive marketing, private lawsuits have claimed talc can cause mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and other serious health problems. Johnson & Johnson has agreed to permanently stop producing, marketing, promoting, selling or distributing all talc-based baby and body powders in the U.S., either directly or through any third party.


Attorney General Dave Yost says the state and its municipal subdivisions have the same or similar right to appeal court injunctions blocking enforcement of their laws, even if such a ruling "maintains the status quo" -- the unresolved debate in the Ohio Supreme Court's dismissal of Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost's abortion ruling. He says an immediate right to appeal prevails whether the injunction is permanent or preliminary, and that any hold on legislative enactments robs citizens of democratically elected representation and prevents other branches of government from enforcing and adjudicating the law. Yost mounts these amicus arguments on behalf of the state capital in John Doe v. Columbus, in which the Delaware County of Common Pleas temporarily halted the city's gun control laws and the 5th District rejected its appeal outright. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office announced Thursday that Trevor Ross, 40, of Ottawa County has been indicted for allegedly embezzling $60,000 from Danbury Township Fire Fighters Association while serving as its treasurer. The Ottawa County Grand Jury charged Ross on Wednesday with three counts of grand theft, each a fourth-degree felony.


CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS


Months after the House adopted a project wish list for the one-time capital funding pool established in the biennial budget, the Senate introduced SB288 (Dolan) on Monday that includes a plan for all $700 million set aside in HB33 (Edwards). Lawmakers last year used the budget to create the $700 million One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund (OTSCIF), a sort of mini-capital budget, but left the project particulars to further negotiations. In February, the House amended HB2 (Cutrona-Upchurch) to appropriate half the $700 million for its preferred projects as part of a broader $2 billion proposal, but the Senate balked at the time, saying it was not consulted on the spending package.


A House-passed capital spending measure from late winter appears likely to serve as the vehicle for both traditional capital appropriations and the one-time project funding pool lawmakers created in the operating budget, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said Tuesday. Dolan laid out the plan during the first hearing on his SB288, which includes $700 million worth of projects supported by the One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund (OTSCIF) created in HB33 (Edwards). Dolan said SB288 incorporates the OTSCIF projects approved by the House in February as part of HB2. Of the 655 unique projects included in SB288, 90 overlap between the House and Senate project lists. The share of funding for those overlapping projects from the two chambers varies, with some an even split and some not. "[In the budget] we gave back through tax cuts. We're now going to give back to community projects throughout the state that either improve economic opportunity and development or improve quality of life," he said. Next week, both chambers are expected to introduce capital budget bills, and the following week those proposals and SB288 projects will be combined into HB2 and sent to the floor, he said.


The Senate Finance Committee moved a bit of money around Wednesday among projects to be funded by SB288 (Dolan), the current vehicle for deliberations on the One Time Strategic Community Investment Fund (OTSCIF) that lawmakers established in the FY24-25 operating budget. The committee adopted two amendments, one developed by the House, the other by the Senate. All the changes are revenue neutral, according to Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), the committee chair.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Ohio ranks near the middle of the pack for the wellbeing of children but regressed on measures of preschool attendance and reading and math proficiency in the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The foundation's 2024 edition of the data book looks at academic achievement measures and links to health, poverty and other indicators of wellbeing. Ohio's overall ranking for child wellbeing in the report is 28, with sub-rankings of 24 for economic wellbeing, 18 for education, 29 for health and 33 for family and community. On overall rankings, Ohio leads neighbors Michigan (34), Kentucky (38) and West Virginia (44) but trails Pennsylvania (23) and Indiana (27).


CITIES


The city of Cleveland closed City Hall and its Erieview satellite offices to non-essential staff Monday after a "cyber incident" that is being investigated. A social media announcement by the city Monday morning said it had shut down affected systems "to secure and restore services" and that emergency services and utilities were not affected. An earlier statement Sunday night said city officials were investigating the incident and that "though we have not confirmed its nature and scope, we are taking this incident seriously."


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/URBAN REVITALIZATION


The JobsOhio Board of Directors met at the University of Cincinnati Thursday, with a specific focus on the Southwest Ohio region as well as statewide workforce development and "Find Your Ohio" efforts to draw new and returning residents. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted addressed the board virtually, saying he had been in Southwest and Southern Ohio recently with visits to the GE Aerospace headquarters in Cincinnati and the Intel project's offload site in Adams County that is used for transportation of heavy equipment. Husted discussed how large companies have come to Ohio, resulting in billions of dollars in investments and support smaller supply chain businesses.


ECONOMY


The Ohio Chamber of Commerce's nascent Economic Advisor Council (EAC) marked the end of the second quarter with a "cautiously optimistic" projection for the rest of 2024 but also a slightly worse chance of recession following the council's Q1 assessment. Both reports consider a "soft landing" in the coming months the most likely outcome of the Fed's economic tightening. EAC, launched early this year, conducted its second survey of the year and found over 70 percent of respondents expect an interest rate cut in the fourth quarter of 2024 and nearly 30 percent in Q3.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Friday that the nation added 272,000 jobs in May, with the unemployment rate little changed at 4 percent. Employment continued to trend up in industries such as health care; government; leisure and hospitality; and professional, scientific and technical services. The increase of 272,000 jobs was higher than the average monthly gain of 232,000 in the past 12 months. President Joe Biden issued a statement on the numbers, saying "The great American comeback continues, but we still have to make more progress. ... On my watch, 15.6 million more Americans have the dignity and respect that comes with a job. Unemployment has been at or below 4 percent for 30 months -- the longest stretch in 50 years. And a record high share of working-age women have jobs," he added. BLS said the number of unemployed people, at 6.6 million, was also little changed. Those numbers were up from May 2023, when the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent and there were 6.1 million unemployed persons.


EDUCATION


Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who serves as majority floor leader, and Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), chair of the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, have proposed legislation that would add new reporting requirements for private schools with EdChoice students as well as create a state report card and require schools to follow the same graduation requirements as public schools, and more. HB407 (Manning-Seitz), the sponsors said, will allow families to more easily compare school options after lawmakers passed a universal school voucher plan in the latest state budget, HB33 (Edwards).


The House Higher Education Committee Tuesday continued its review of public universities' implementation of new science of reading education standards, hearing from Wright State University and Cleveland State University (CSU). Both Jim Denniston, dean of the College of Health, Education, and Human Services at Wright State University, and Nigamanth Sridhar, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at CSU, said they're confident they'll be aligned to new state literacy policy ahead of the January 2025 deadline.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters Wednesday that a "couple of snafus" caused Ohio school districts to receive more money under the state school funding formula than was intended. Huffman estimated the overpayment to be as much as $30 million statewide, but he said he doesn't expect lawmakers to try to claw that amount back. The maximum overpayment was more than $90,000 to Columbus City Schools, he said, adding that it is not much money comparatively to what districts received, even if it is a lot of money overall. He said he would like to address the overpayment in legislation since he said the foundation formula is based on former foundation formulas. "What we would simply do is say, starting with the next biennium, that the foundation formula is based on not what we paid, but [what] we intended to pay," Huffman told reporters. "I'm not in favor of trying to go claw this money back and change the budget." The Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) is seeking a technical fix from lawmakers to account for overpayments to schools as a result of data omissions. An amendment is needed to avert clawbacks of funding for FY24, which is about to end. The dollar figure involved is relatively small compared to the scope of state K-12 funding, but payment accuracy is important for future budgets. According to DEW, in the process of updating base-cost inputs from FY18 to FY22 figures, per HB33 (Edwards), some districts that did not report expenditures in particular categories were excluded from calculations. For example, 14 districts did not report spending on athletic co-curricular activities, so the roughly 11,000 students at those schools were excluded from calculation of the per-pupil amount. Including them would have reduced the per-student amount used in the calculation for that spending category by $1.40, from $192.21 to $190.81. A few per-student spending categories used in the formula suffered from this problem.


The Senate unanimously voted Wednesday to approve an Iowa career-technical education professional as the first deputy director over career-technical education at the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), a position established as part of the K-12 governance overhaul enacted in the biennial budget. In addition to moving much authority over K-12 policy implementation from the State Board of Education to the governor's cabinet, HB33 (Edwards) created two Senate-confirmed deputy director positions over K-12 education and career-technical education. About a month ago, DEW Director Steve Dackin recommended the appointment of Jeremy Varner as the first deputy director for the DEW Division of Career-Technical Education and Workforce. Varner testified earlier Wednesday to the Senate Education Committee, which approved forwarding his nomination to the full body.


The House Higher Education Committee continued its review of science-of-reading implementation efforts by teacher preparation programs Wednesday while also hearing a proposal that would dig into what future teachers are being taught about student mental health and behavior. The committee took sponsor and proponent testimony on HB572, Rep. Andrea White's (R-Kettering) proposal for a onetime audit by the Ohio Department of Higher Education of what educator preparation programs offer in terms of training to deal with mental health, behavior issues and classroom management. White said she'd heard repeatedly about the mental health and behavior challenges teachers are encountering in schools, which prompted her to want to learn more about how teachers are prepared to deal with those issues. With statistics on teacher burnout, teacher attrition and declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs, the issues need to be addressed quickly, she said.


ELECTIONS 2024


Krista Magaw has been named as the Democratic ballot replacement in the 71st Ohio House District, taking the place of James Duffee, who withdrew from the race. Magaw is the retired executive director of the Tecumseh Land Trust, a nonprofit that preserved over 33,000 acres of farm and natural land with permanent conservation easements, including 155 farms, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and more than 44 miles of streams.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) re-election campaign Monday announced the launch of "LGBTQ+ Ohioans for Sherrod," which it said is a coalition of LGBTQ+ Ohioans backing Sherrod's reelection.


Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) won a special election for the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson Tuesday, edging out Michael Kripchak. The two candidates will face off again in November for a seat in the next Congress. While former President Donald Trump had overwhelmingly won the district in 2020 and Johnson won re-election with nearly 68 percent in 2022, Rulli was winning with about 55 percent of the vote. Rulli won most of the counties in the district, including his home of Columbiana, but Kripchak won Tuscarawas and was leading Rulli by 14 votes in Mahoning County.


Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said after Rulli’s victory that, because he’s less than two years into his term, his seat will have to go on the November ballot. GOP county chairs for Carroll, Columbiana and Mahoning counties picked Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) to replace Rulli on the ballot over Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel (R-Columbiana) and former Rep. Tim Ginter, and Senate Republicans now plan to seat Cutrona at the Wednesday, June 26 session.


The following endorsement was made over the week:


  • The re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a conference call where the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare endorsed Brown's re-election.


ENVIRONMENT


Fifty-eight local health departments and municipalities across 47 Ohio counties are receiving nearly $1.1 million in grants for mosquito control activities, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). The funding will help mitigate the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Ohio EPA said. The grants include $188,368 for the removal of scrap tires, which can become breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) Monday heard testimony from three witnesses raising concerns about an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) rule package to establish stream mitigation regulations. Following their remarks, agency representatives said the item would be refiled. The package was in response to 134-HB175 (Hillyer).


House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Columbus) are both happy to see HB7 (White-Humphrey) on Wednesday's House floor calendar, the caucus leaders told reporters after the House Rules and Reference Committee meeting on Tuesday. "This is a bill that helps to take care of babies and mommas throughout Ohio, and we're excited about having that bill on the floor tomorrow," Stephens said.


The sponsors of the latest resolution that would put Ohio among the states calling for an Article V convention of states under the U.S. Constitution testified Tuesday on legislation they said would seek to alleviate concerns that such a convention would end up going beyond the stated purpose it was called for. Reps. Bernard Willis (R-Springfield) and Riordan McClain (R-Nevada) Tuesday gave sponsor testimony on HB608 (Willis-McClain) before the House Government Oversight Committee, which they said directly answers questions surrounding their HJR3 (Willis-McClain), which calls for the convention to address topics including a federal balanced budget, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and instituting term limits on members of Congress.


The House Aviation and Aerospace Committee Tuesday heard a presentation on how drones are already being used in emergency services and ways that could expand in the future, including under a statewide pilot program. The presentation was given by CAL Analytics Managing Director Sean Calhoun and Hilliard Police Department Deputy Chief Ron Clark.


Wednesday’s House session included passage of HB178 (Brent-Callender), aka the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, meant to prevent discrimination based on hairstyle; HB164 (Seitz-Jarrells), which would establish the Foster-to-College Scholarship Program; HB7 (White-Humphrey), a bill on maternal and infant health knowns as the Strong Foundations Act; HB503 (Jones-Peterson), which allows killing feral hogs without a license; HB380 (Hillyer-K. Miller), an omnibus road naming bill; SB40 (Roegner), to have Ohio join the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact; HB236 (Lear-M. Miller), regarding access to advocates for patients in congregate care; HB364 (Dobos-Klopfenstein), regarding seed sharing; HB403 (Cutrona), regarding towing; HB378 (Lorenz-Santucci), regarding a homestead exemption for surviving spouses of servicemembers killed in the line of duty; HB303 (Hall-Santucci), regarding EMS training; HB432 (Jones), regarding career-technical education; HB289 (Robb Blasdel-Swearingen), regarding sex offender residency requirements; HB331 (Mathews-Young), regarding village dissolution; HB327 (Wiggam-Swearingen), regarding E-Verify; and HCR11 (Klopfeinstein-King), to condemn the Chinese government for its role in the fentanyl trade; and concurrence with Senate amendments to HB158 (Roemer-M. Miller), regarding cosmetology and barbering.


Wednesday’s Senate session included passage of HB49 (Barhorst-Fergus), regarding hospital price transparency; SB237 (Gavarone-Manning), an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) measure; SB112 (Rulli), regarding door safety standards for schools; SB176 (Sykes-Romanchuk), regarding child support orders for children over 18 with a disability; SB186 (Blessing-Ingram), regarding property taxes; and SB206 (Hackett), regarding derelict and abandoned aircraft.


Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) spoke to reporters following the Senate Rules and Reference Committee meeting Wednesday, offering her thoughts on projects in the capital budget and one-time funding bill, Pride Month and education issues such as vouchers and requiring public schools to allow students to attend religious classes during the school day.


Representatives from the health care distribution industry and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce were among the groups that provided opponent testimony to the House Public Health Policy Committee on Wednesday on a bill that would allow Ohioans to import prescription medication from Canada. Meredith Craig of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said that the program modeled in HB92 (Young-Santucci) copies a similar program that has been launched in Florida. However, Craig said the Florida program is running into Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and issues of supply chain security that have stopped the importation of drugs from Canada to Florida from starting. Craig also said the bill could affect local pharmacies that could lose business to Canadian drug imports, and such a program could lead to the import of counterfeit drugs from Canada.


The state of Ohio should act soon to regulate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel (R-Columbiana) said Wednesday. "Make no mistake -- carbon capture technology is coming. If Ohio takes the initiative to establish Class VI injection well primacy, we can communicate that Ohio is ready to compete with other states and that we are open for business. Because we have not acted, preferring to leave it to the Biden administration, we are losing investment," Robb Blasdel told the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee during her sponsor testimony on HB358.


The Senate Government Oversight Committee Wednesday heard from a number of witnesses, fulfilling the requirement in the Ohio Revised Code to take public testimony on licensing practices of boards and commissions. Testimony covered topics including the grain trading tester certificate program; police training; auctioneers; and real estate licensure.


In other legislative action, House Aviation and Aerospace Committee reported out HB149 (Willis), regarding drone surveillance; House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out SB96 (Lang-Wilson), regarding posting of labor law notices; House Economic and Workforce Development Committee reported out HB349 (Barhorst-Jones), regarding natural gas pipelines; House Families and Aging Committee reported out HB512 (Pavliga), regarding emergency placement facilities for children; House Government Oversight reported out HB455 (Patton-Manning), to establish the Ohio Ireland Trade Commission; and HB367 (Mathews-Hillyer), regarding deepfakes; House Health Provider Services Committee reported out SB28 (Roegner), to have Ohio join the Physician Assistant Compact; House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB496 (Hoops), regarding property taxes and county auditors; and HB399 (Brown-Lampton), regarding income tax credits for organ donors; Senate Education Committee reported out SB112 (Rulli), regarding school building safety standards; House Homeland Security Committee reported out license plate bills HB223 (Thomas), HB248 (Demetriou-Manchester), HB287 (Baker) and HB302 (Rogers-Swearingen); House Insurance Committee reported out HB24 (White), regarding biomarker testing; Senate Small Business and Economic Opportunity Committee reported out HB49 (Ferguson-Barhorst), regarding hospital price transparency; and SB198 (Lang-Manning), regarding state ID cards for inmates upon release; Senate Transportation Committee reported out SB206 (Hackett), regarding abandoned and derelict aircraft; and SR155 (Gavarone), regarding consumer choice in the auto market; and Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee reported out SB226 (Johnson), regarding property protections.


GOVERNOR


Judicial appointment made during the week includes the following:


  • Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Rebecca Bennett to the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Probate and Juvenile Division to succeed Judge R. Alan Lemons, who retired.


GREAT LAKES


The Lake Erie Commission Thursday announced that it has awarded nearly $150,000 to three projects. The funds come from the Lake Erie Protection Fund which is supported through the sale of Lake Erie license plates and tax-deductible donations.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


A recent report by Stateline noted mpox cases are on the rise nationally compared to 2023, and experts are urging complete, two-part vaccinations for those at risk. Through May 25, there were 1,089 cases reported nationally compared to 434 at the same time in 2023. Approximately a third were in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The disease can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets or contact with bodily fluids and can cause a rash, severe pain that can require hospitalization and death in rare cases that usually involve patients with other complications. The initial 2022 outbreak mainly affected men in gay and bisexual communities, Stateline noted, and public health experts are concerned there may be increased cases during the summer as people gather for large celebrations. In Ohio, the vast majority of mpox cases were in 2022, with 393 out of a total 458 reported by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) since the disease began appearing in the U.S. The earliest onset date for those cases was May 29, 2022, with all but one coming after June 1. Cases were highest in August at 157, and there were 379 cases from July through November 2022.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Democrats objected Wednesday on the Senate confirmation vote of appointments for the Cleveland State University Center for Civics, Culture and Society Academic Council. Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said on the floor that one of the four had made inflammatory remarks against the LGBTQ community and written papers on race, and argued the three others do not live in Ohio. Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) said the appointments were referred to lawmakers by the university's board of trustees and will be part of a special board created under biennial budget HB33 (Edwards), and will not be determining overall public policy.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


A hearing on legislation to standardize the digitization of recorded documents Wednesday included substantial debate on whether discretionary fees included in the bill should be subject to the typical split that sends money to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. The House Finance Committee heard testimony from all comers on SB94, Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) and Al Landis' (R-Dover) bill to modernize records and conveyances maintained by county recorders.


JUDICIAL


The Board of Professional Conduct says it's up to the Ohio Supreme Court to create policy on how lawyers and their former law firms can resolve fee disputes. It says Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct only applies to joint cases involving attorneys from different firms or law offices, though it concedes that the Supreme Court has not ruled specifically on the reach of Rule 1.5. The board has been asked whether Section (f) of Rule 1.5 mandates fee arbitration or mediation between a lawyer or lawyers and the individual firm that previously employed them. The rule says the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) must oversee the mediation or arbitration of fee complaints but assumes disputing attorneys worked for separate firms or law offices at the outset of the joint case or legal matter. "Since no provision of Rule 1.5 expressly regulates the division of fees between departed lawyers and their former firm, it reasonably follows that R. 1.5 (f) is inapplicable to disputes that arise from such a situation," the board states.


NATURAL RESOURCES


Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine Friday joined Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz and Shawnee leaders for the grand opening of Ohio's 76th state park, Great Council State Park near Xenia. Great Council State Park is located along U.S. Route 68 on the site of the historic seat of the 16th-century Shawnee village Old Chillicothe, which later became known as Oldtown. The site is known for its Shawnee and pioneer history. The new park offers visitors a glimpse of what Shawnee life looked like in the 1700s through a 12,000 square-foot interpretative center. Modeled after historic Shawnee longhouses, the multi-storied center features a gallery space, interactive exhibits, and a short film about the history of Old Chillicothe. The nearly 15-acre park also features a native plant prairie, a half-mile trail, and scenic views of the Little Miami River.


Ohio will hold its annual free fishing days on Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. All residents will have a chance to fish at any public waterway without a license. This includes Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and Ohio's public lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


The Ohio CSEA Directors' Association (OCDA) has rebranded itself as the Ohio Child Support Professionals Association (OCSPA), the nonprofit recently announced. OCSPA said that as a unified voice and resource for child support professionals in Ohio, the new name is more inclusive of all members across the state.


The Columbus Metropolitan Club hosted a forum on the current state of nonprofits, with local leaders talking about what challenges they face -- including lower donations and uncertainty over federal funds -- and the benefits of community support. The discussion featured Matthew Goldstein, CEO of Besa; Suzan Bradford, executive director of the Lincoln Theater; Gabrielle Fields, executive director of Franklinton Farms; and Kristen Rost, vice president at the Nationwide Foundation. It was moderated by Dan Sharpe, vice president for community research and grants management at the Columbus Foundation.


PENSIONS


Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) Chair Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) on Thursday announced a new subcommittee to address the issues at the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) of Ohio. Members of the subcommittee will include Romanchuk, ORSC Vice Chair Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), Rep. Beryl Brown Piccolantonio (D-Gahanna) and Anthony Podojil, Romanchuk announced at the end of Thursday's ORSC meeting. During the meeting, the council heard a presentation on pension board governance and fiduciary duties from Randall Miller of Funston Advisory Services and Tiffany Reeves of Faegre, Drinker, Biddle and Reath.


PEOPLE


The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OH) announced Monday that Khalid Turaani has been named its new executive director, overseeing operations in Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. Turaani has more than 15 years of executive experience in public affairs and advocacy in Washington, D.C., and Europe. His tenure includes engagements with Congress and the European Parliament, along with a decade-long tenure as a CEO in the private sector.


The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) announced several additions to its leadership team this week. John Annarino was named chief of staff last month. In that position, Annarino leads programs in treatment, community services and criminal justice. Annarino was previously chief medical and health officer at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) and senior advisor to the director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Before that, Annarino was BWC's chief legal officer from 1995 to 2005 and executive director of the Industrial Commission of Ohio. Other new additions to OhioMHAS leadership will join the department on Monday, June 17. Jamie Erickson will be the department's chief human resource officer. Erickson worked at ODH for 23 years and started her career at Mount Carmel hospital before that. Meredith Cameron is joining OhioMHAS as deputy director of community services. In her prior role, Cameron served as the chief of medical operations of BWC. Staci Swenson will join OhioMHAS as deputy director of treatment services. Before taking this role, Swenson was the director of the certified community behavioral health clinic at Southeast Healthcare.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) is partnering with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Ohio State University (OSU), and Ohio School Resource Officers Association (OSROA) in a new program to educate elementary school students and families about the importance of wearing a seat belt and using a booster seat. OTSO said the program, "Buckle Up with Brutus," blends the latest in car seat safety science into a fun, interactive program. The program was among the recommendations from the Safety Belt Task Force, which released a full report on seat belt use in Ohio last month.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


Ahead of the Tuesday, June 11 special election for Ohio's 6th Congressional District, the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Ohio released a report showing the "practical" effects of gerrymandering in creating a district that is "culturally, economically, and geographically" incongruent. LWV Executive Director Jen Miller said she wanted to use the attention on the special election, in which state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) faced off against Democrat Michael Kripchak, to highlight the effects of gerrymandering. "This report shows in tangible terms that rigging legislative maps to favor one political party or candidate over another harms voters," she said in a statement. "Gerrymandering makes elected officials less accountable, fuels partisan extremes, unnecessarily slices and dices communities, and increases voter frustration."


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Joint Sunset Review Committee heard representatives of two state agencies, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) and the Ohio Department of Children and Youth (DCY), ask for discontinuation of entities within their departments on Tuesday. Representing DCY, Brian Stout told the committee the Ohio Child Care Advisory Council (CCAC) has a role advising and assisting the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) with the development of child care programs. However, the structure of the CCAC has a very similar mission and structure to DCY's Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), which also qualifies for federal funding for its Head Start Collaboration grant. Stout therefore recommended the continuation of the ECAC and the sunsetting of CCAC, with the responsibilities of the latter able to be streamlined into the former. George McNab of ODI gave testimony to the committee on a number of agencies within that department. Citing the significant changes in the health insurance industry since the program's inception, McNab recommended the sunset of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Health Reinsurance Program. When Ohio created that program in 1993, it was specifically targeted at small employers and individuals who could not obtain traditional health insurance, functioning as a high-risk insurance pool backed by state funding. However the program was suspended in 2014 after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted federally.


STUDIES/POLLS


A recent Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) report on child care argues that Ohio lawmakers have through "neglect, underfunding, and an insufficient response to the sector's needs during the pandemic" created a child care landscape "that serves no one well." The report, titled "Ohio's Child Care Crisis," said that inaction by the General Assembly has led to low wages, tiny margins, and high turnover common in the sector. Policy Matters said Ohio makes it more difficult than any other state for parents to qualify for Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC), and reimburses providers "so poorly that the federal government has had to step in to demand policy changes. As a result, too few providers can afford to stay open, and too few families can access affordable child care."


TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE


State lawmakers, university presidents and industry experts Tuesday gathered in the Atrium of the Statehouse for the first ever Artificial Intelligence (AI) Symposium hosted by the Inter-University Council of Ohio. Keynote speakers Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Greg Simpson, retired chief technology officer at GE and author of The Quantum Contingent, mostly highlighted the promise of AI and large language models. Husted described his first experience using ChatGPT shortly after it was released. "I remember thinking 'this is going to change everything,' and I know technology ... you know a lot of people like to overhype it, but that's not overhyping it in my mind," Husted said. "It is going to change everything and it's true."


A recent study by the organization Child Trends offered recommendations for use of artificial intelligence (AI) in contexts involving children and families, saying "stronger guidance and regulations" are needed to ensure rigorous assessment of potential harm from AI systems. While federal and state officials have weighed the need for AI regulations, Child Trends said that is not taking into account use of AI by children and their families or caregivers. This is particularly an issue as students have increasingly used AI for homework assistance and interact with AI-generated content, while caregivers, including teachers, attempt to use AI to foster child engagement.

 





[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2023 Hannah News Service, Inc.]



 



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