This report reflects the latest happenings in government relations, in and around the Ohio statehouse. You’ll notice that it’s broad in nature and on an array of topics, from A-Z. This will be updated on a weekly basis.
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Last year, according to Stateline, conservative Republicans in the Missouri Legislature took a run at blocking Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood, a frequent and prominent target of anti-abortion activists and politicians. But in the fine print of their measure, those Republicans revealed that their ambition wasn't only to target a familiar abortion foe. They were going after specific forms of birth control as well, notably, emergency contraceptives, often sold under the brand name Plan B, and intrauterine devices, known as IUDs. GOP lawmakers tried to stop Missouri's Medicaid agency from paying for those forms of contraception.
Stephan Shehy is the new state policy director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the organization announced Wednesday. Prior to joining the policy team at OFBF, Shehy worked at University of Cincinnati Health, where he was manager of advocacy and health policy. Before that, Shehy was a majority policy adviser for the Ohio House. He has also served as a congressional staffer for U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville).
The Ohio Attorney General's Office has announced a free webinar focused on empowering and protecting those 60 and older. "A Strong and Just Ohio: Reframing the Elder Abuse Discussion," to be presented Wednesday, June 22 by the attorney general's Elder Abuse Commission, will explore how to generate a sense of collective responsibility, elevate the issue of elder abuse on the public agenda, and develop systemic solutions, his office says.
Attorney General Dave Yost wants to stop or slow the movement of illicit guns used in violent crime. As a result, he announced a new partnership Wednesday between the AG's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that will allow the state to analyze and match ballistics evidence faster for law enforcement agencies inside and outside Ohio. BCII has established a direct link to the National Correlation and Training Center, Ohio's first statewide ballistics collaboration. Beginning this week, says Yost, the bureau will provide local law enforcement quicker access to ATF's library of 4.5 million pieces of firearm evidence in the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), the only automated interface for ballistics imaging covering the entire United States.
The Biden administration has launched rulemaking to standardize electric vehicle (EV) charging nationwide with $7.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently opened comment on proposed minimum standards allowing EV owners access to 500,000 rapid, Level 3 charging stations every 50 miles along major highways and in urban and rural communities. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program looks to provide states $5 billion in formula funding to build charging infrastructure along major corridors, including in disadvantaged and hard-to-reach areas. IIJA has earmarked another $2.5 billion for competitive grants promoting EV charging and air quality in "overburdened" communities. USDOT will open the grant application period later this year.
FY23-24 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the $3.5 billion capital budget bill on Tuesday, telling reporters it's unlike any capital budget he's aware of in Ohio history. The language of HB687 (Oelslager) allows the DeWine administration to transfer up to $1.5 billion from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to bond funds during the FY23-24 biennium to support capital appropriations. It also permits the director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) to transfer more cash unless disapproved by either the speaker of the House or president of the Senate. "We have the option of going back to the Legislature for permission to spend the rest in cash. It is very possible that we will do that ... and it's possible that this entire budget will be paid for in cash," DeWine said. "If we pay cash for all of this, I am told by our budget team that we will save the taxpayers of the state of Ohio up to $1.6 billion in interest in the coming years."
Health care providers will likely have COVID-19 vaccines for the state's youngest children by Monday, June 20, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has unanimously approved vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer for children younger than the age of five, Vanderhoff said during a virtual press conference. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 to consider recommending the shots. If the committee recommends the shots, the CDC director would then have to sign off on the authorization before they are allowed to be used nationwide.
The state Controlling Board approved all funding requests in its final meeting of FY22 Monday after several items were held for questions. House Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) expressed surprise that London Correctional Institution (LoCI) and Madison Correctional Institution (MaCI) needed more money -- $40,000, to be exact -- for hotel accommodations. The funding is not for state officials or federal inspectors but for prison guards. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (DRC) chief legislative officer, Joe Gruber, said LoCI and MaCI both have a 35 percent vacancy rate for prison guards -- nearly triple DRC's statewide average of 13.6 percent.
The personal finance site WalletHub rated U.S. states and the District of Columbia by their economies in a recent report, with Ohio placing 39th overall and fourth among neighboring states. Michigan was 15th, followed by Indiana, 22nd; Pennsylvania, 33rd; Kentucky, 42nd; and West Virginia, 51st. The rankings involved 28 "key indicators of economic performance and strength" ranging from GDP growth to startup activity to share of jobs in high-tech industries. The top five states were Washington, Utah, California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Wallethub also listed states under sub-rankings of economic activity, economic health and innovation potential. Ohio placed 30th nationally and fourth regionally in economic activity; 46th nationally and fifth regionally in economic health; and 32nd nationally and fourth regionally in innovation potential.
The pre-summer break frenzy of legislative activity brought new K-12 policies into law or saw them advance toward enactment, although the relatively few working days left for the General Assembly yet this year will make it more difficult for proposals still pending to cross the finish line. The bulk of education policymaking came via HB583 (Jones-Bird), a bill introduced to address substitute teacher shortages but eventually converted into a catchall for other proposals - tutoring, vouchers, school funding cleanup, dyslexia support and others.
Legislation significantly reducing the number of hours required for educators to carry firearms in schools was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday. Under HB99 (Hall), educators authorized by their local school board to carry guns on campus will now only be required to undergo 24 hours of training, down from the 737 hours of police officer training currently needed under Ohio law, as interpreted by the Ohio Supreme Court. During a press conference at the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) office in Columbus, DeWine said requirements that an armed educator receive more than 700 hours of police training or have at least 20 years of experience as a police officer are "unrealistic" for schools seeking to arm their teachers and staff. Asked if he thought HB99 was something the crowd chanting "do something" was asking for in Dayton after the Oregon District mass shooting, DeWine said he didn't know.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton during the Oregon District mass shooting that left nine dead and many more injured, told reporters during a separate news conference that HB99 isn't what advocates were seeking -- it's the opposite. "It's a complete bastardization of what people in Dayton said, frankly," she said. "This is not what the people of Dayton had in mind when they started chanting that. ... It is sad that the politics have gotten to the point where they actually misuse people's words in Dayton after everything the folks have been through to move forward on extreme efforts that the Fraternal Order of Police disagrees with and teachers are against. I thought they'd have the courage to do something, but the only thing they've done is something to make it worse."
A State Board of Education (SBOE) committee voted Monday to recommend slightly increasing the test score students must achieve on third grade English tests to be promoted to fourth grade under Ohio's reading guarantee law. The Performance and Impact Committee voted to increase the cut score from 683 to 685; the sub-score on the reading component of the test, which can also be used to qualify for promotion to fourth grade, would increase from 46 to 47.
Several SBOE members backed an effort Tuesday to hire second-place contender Larry Hook as state superintendent after Steve Dackin's sudden resignation, but they fell short of the majority support needed to get the proposal on the board's voting agenda.
Board President Charlotte McGuire, who was not at the board meeting, issued a statement later acknowledging Ohio Ethics Commission interest in Dackin's role in the superintendent search process before his hiring. Dackin quit weeks after his hiring at the May board meeting, citing "revolving door" concerns. He had been coordinating the board's search process for a new superintendent to replace Paolo DeMaria, but resigned his seat and position of board vice president shortly ahead of the application deadline to make a bid himself.
The SBOE Tuesday heard the latest update on how students are recovering from pandemic-induced learning losses. Data presented by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) showed that while students made substantial gains in the 2021-2022 school year, they have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The presentation was part of ODE's ongoing "Data Insights" series, which was born out of the pandemic and shares state-level findings of internal analyses and studies by the department's research partners. One of the largest improvements seen this school year was that the vast majority of districts were able to provide consistent five-day, in-person instruction. On any given week there have been fewer than 3 percent of districts not operating fully in-person since last September. The only exception came in mid-January when up to 9 percent of districts went remote or to a hybrid format. During the 2020-2021 school year, up to 62 percent of districts were remote or hybrid throughout the winter months.
The SBOE took an emergency vote Tuesday to give preschools more flexibility on student ratios in integrated classrooms that include both special education and general education students, responding to feedback from the field. The board's Integrated Student Supports Committee had voted Monday to recommend changes to Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3301-51-11, a part of the operating standards for education of students with disabilities outlining preschool special education requirements.
Members of the SBOE Emerging Issues and Operational Standards heard an update on Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) Educational Savings Accounts during their monthly meeting this week. Sue Cosmo, director of the Office of Nonpublic Educational Options at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), explained the process parents follow to be enrolled in the program, which was established to address academic needs due to the pandemic, as well as how providers are listed in the marketplace. Through the program, low-income families can receive a $500 savings account for each child for the purchase of learning opportunities during the remainder of this school year and next year. As of June 9, Cosmo said the department has a total of $106,749 in approved claims and 6,129 families who have received awards. There are 505 service providers and there have been $46,051 in payments and reimbursements to parents and service providers.
The City Club of Cleveland hosted an interview session Wednesday with Betsy DeVos, who served as U.S. secretary of education under former President Donald Trump and has a new book out, Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child. City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop interviewed DeVos during the forum. Moulthrop started by asking DeVos to elaborate on the mantra of "education freedom." DeVos said it's "much broader" than the concept of school choice, entailing the ability of families to choose the best option for their children, not just at a different school building than where they are assigned but also the ability to customize learning experiences. She said the education system is very similar to what was created more than a century ago, and she'd tried to visit and highlight schools that did something substantially different during her tenure.
DeVos also declined to directly address an audience question asking if the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX that she'd adopted as education secretary would apply to the genital examinations included in legislation to ban transgender girls from girls' sports that recently passed the Ohio House. She did express concern about having biological males compete in women's sports, but said she wouldn't delve into Ohio politics, deferring to Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who happened to be in attendance at the forum. As he'd done previously, Huffman criticized the House's methods for moving the proposal -- it was attached to another bill as a last-minute amendment late at night. He said Sen. Kristina Roegner's (R-Hudson) related bill would move in the lame duck session, and he questioned the necessity of the examinations the questioner had mentioned. "I'm not sure why that's in the bill, it's completely unnecessary. All of these tests can be done with a simple DNA swab," Huffman said.
The Ohio Supreme Court heard a classroom liability case Thursday that could have consequences for public school districts across the state. Justices will decide whether R.C. 2744.02(B)(4)'s "physical defect" exception to school immunity is limited to faulty, discrete objects or may include the absence of necessary equipment, including a science lab fire extinguisher that might have spared two Greenville City School children from being burned. The Court heard oral argument Thursday in Jane Doe 1, et al. v. Greenville City School, which details the "severe injuries" of two students when a bottle of isopropyl alcohol caught fire and exploded, forcing one to undergo a number of surgeries and skin grafts. They later alleged the science lab lacked a fire extinguisher required by code.
Thirteen individuals have been selected for induction into the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Officials Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled to occur on Saturday, June 18 in Columbus, according to a news release from OHSAA. Each of the 13 inductees is being honored for outstanding officiating careers and significant contributions to interscholastic officiating in Ohio.
The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine raised twice as much money as Democratic challenger Nan Whaley during the most recent fundraising period. Friday, June 10 was the deadline for statewide candidates to submit post-primary campaign finance reports to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office. DeWine-Husted for Ohio reported raising nearly $2.1 million during the period, which captured contributions made over the last six weeks. The campaign reported nearly $7 million cash on-hand, almost 10 times as much as the campaign for Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton. The Whaley-Stephens campaign announced that it raised more than $1 million in the most recent filing period and has $708,000 in cash on-hand.
In the down-ticket races, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced raising $321,531 during the period. His campaign has more than $1.9 million in cash on-hand. The campaign of Democratic secretary of state candidate Chelsea Clark reported raising $26,139 over the period and has $34,806 in cash on-hand.
Attorney General Dave Yost's campaign reported raising $152,094 and has more than $2.3 million in cash on-hand. The campaign of Democratic attorney general candidate Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) reported raising $54,258 and has $129,752 in cash on-hand.
Auditor of State Keith Faber's campaign reported raising $105,652 and has nearly $1.4 million in cash on-hand. The campaign of Democratic auditor of state candidate Taylor Sappington reported raising $24,593 and has $20,085 in cash on-hand.
Treasurer of State Robert Sprague's campaign reported raising $118,905 and has $856,695 in cash on-hand. The campaign of Democratic treasurer of state candidate Scott Schertzer reported raising $49,434 and has $121,288 in cash on-hand.
In the race for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Sharon Kennedy (R) raised $186,610 and has $812,281 in cash on-hand. Justice Jennifer Brunner (D) raised $147,038 and has $400,288 in cash on-hand. In the other Ohio Supreme Court races, Justice Pat DeWine raised $174,474 and has $600,432 in cash on-hand, while Democratic opponent Judge Marilyn Zayas raised $102,296 and has $264,957 in cash on-hand. Justice Pat Fischer raised $106,023 and has $353,406 in cash on-hand, while Democratic opponent Judge Terri Jamison raised $105,883 and has $208,805 in cash on-hand.
The Franklin County Board of Elections' move to certify Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) as a 6th District candidate obviates the need for his litigation against Secretary of State Frank LaRose, parties said in a dismissal request that was granted Friday, June 10 by the Ohio Supreme Court. Meanwhile, in another lawsuit by candidates seeking to make the ballot after redistricting-fueled chaos, two Republicans are seeking to intervene and gain the right to switch districts.
Mary Trump, the niece of former President Donald Trump, is asking Ohioans to send money to Tim Ryan's U.S. Senate campaign. "When my uncle and his enablers tried to overturn the will of the American people and steal the 2020 presidential election, the guardrails of democracy were bent to their absolute limits. In fact, if Republicans had been in control of both the House and Senate, they could have been successful," Mary Trump said in a campaign fundraising email on behalf of the Democratic candidate.
Tim Ryan's U.S. Senate campaign announced two new TV advertisements on Wednesday, saying they will draw a contrast between Ryan and his Republican opponent, author J.D. Vance.
The following endorsements were made over the week:
The gubernatorial campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of the Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) of Ohio.
The gubernatorial campaign of Nan Whaley announced the endorsement of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT).
The state treasurer campaign of Scott Schertzer announced the endorsement of OEA.
Chairwoman Jenifer French of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) pinned successive power outages in Central Ohio and other parts of the state Wednesday on several "stressed" transmission lines and a decision out of Pennsylvania to shut off electricity to scores of neighborhoods and businesses.
Speaking in advance of PUCO's scheduled docket, French said the 13-state regional transmission organization (RTO) headquartered in Norristown, PA, PJM Interconnection, had ordered American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio to impose mandatory blackouts in central Columbus starting Tuesday and recurring Wednesday after a brief reprieve. Power for around 100,000 customers in other parts of AEP territory was restored on Wednesday. A number of suburbs and other communities within the I-270 outer belt did not lose power.
A bipartisan group of legislators and members of the House Public Utilities Committee and House Energy and Natural Resources Committee say the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) should be able to bypass the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council and submit candidates to the governor for one of four commission seats. HB690 is joint-sponsored by Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) of the House Public Utilities Committee and legislative veteran Rep. Gayle Manning (R-Ridgeville). Co-sponsors are House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) and Ranking Minority Member Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and House Public Utilities Committee Vice Chair Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth) and Ranking Minority Member Kent Smith (D-Euclid).
In a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Administrator Michael Regan Friday, June 10, Gov. Mike DeWine called for complete elimination of temporarily suspended limits on the sale of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15). "E15 offers Ohio consumers cleaner emissions, more fuel from renewable sources, and, perhaps most critically, a less expensive fuel option," DeWine said in a statement. "By permanently removing unneeded summertime E15 regulations, we can encourage more Ohio gas stations to offer E15 and give Ohioans an option that provides real gas price relief." The Biden administration this spring issued an emergency waiver of federal rules that typically restrict the sale of E15 gas from June 1 to Sept. 15.
On the same day the Senate voted 30-2 to pass legislation authorizing the Ohio Lottery to offer Internet-based games, a coalition of bars, bowling alleys, convenience stores, grocery stores and other entities announced the creation of the Ohio Lottery Retailers Association (OLRA). "Our group is frustrated by the continued efforts by the Ohio Lottery to take customers out of their brick-and-mortar locations," OLRA Director Greg Beswick said. The OLRA's formation is a "direct response" to iLottery bill SB269 (Manning), the group said, adding that the bill "gives a mobile app monopoly to a Canadian vendor to offer games with greater payouts than Ohio Lottery games operated today by hundreds of Ohio-based Lottery retailers."
Ohio's casinos, racinos and traditional lottery games brought in less revenue in May 2022 than the same month last year, according to reports from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC). Earnings at the state's four casinos were down slightly, with the facilities pulling in $86.7 million in May 2022, compared to $86.8 million in May 2021. Revenues at the state's seven racinos totaled $114.9 million in May 2022, down from $122.4 million in May 2021. Total traditional lottery ticket sales were $350.9 million in May 2022, down from $385.9 million in May 2021.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) is now accepting sports gaming license applications from sports betting proprietors, management services providers and suppliers. "Today, the window officially opens for Type A, Type B and Type C gaming proprietor license applications, as well as the first-designated mobile management and management services provider applications and supplier applications to be submitted to the commission," OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler said during the commission's meeting on Wednesday.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) welcomed two new members at its Monday meeting, Sens. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) and Dale Martin (D-Cleveland). Brenner replaced Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Martin took the place of his predecessor in the 21st Senate District seat, former Sen. Sandra Williams. Rep. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) temporarily filled in for Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) as well. All regular and no change agenda items cleared JCARR, with one re-filed rule from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) receiving testimony. The rule regarded background checks as part of the licensing procedure for high-volume dog breeders.
Bills signed by the governor over the week include the following:
HB99 (Hall), which establishes the Ohio School Safety Crisis Center and the Ohio Mobile Training Team to develop a curriculum and provide instruction and training for individuals to convey deadly weapons and dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone, to expressly exempt such individuals from a peace officer basic training requirement, to require public notice if a board of education or school governing body authorizes persons to go armed in a school, and to make an appropriation.
HB140 (Merrin), which enacts the "Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act" to modify the form of election notices and ballot language for property tax levies.
HB321 (Kick-Young), which eliminates the apprentice auctioneer and special auctioneer's license, makes other revisions to the law governing auctions, and makes changes to the lien enforcement notice and towing provisions of the self-service storage facilities law.
HB340 (Bird-Blackshear), which designates September as "International Underground Railroad Month."
HB427 (White-Manchester), which prohibits the use of a controlled substance or manipulation of controlled substance addiction as a method of human trafficking or to compel prostitution.
HB687 (Oelslager), which makes capital appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2024, and to make other appropriations.
SB15 (Wilson), which changes the circumstances in which certain fiscal officers may be held liable for a loss of public funds.
SB61 (Blessing-Antonio), which deals with condominiums, planned community properties, and new communities.
SB156 (Roegner), regarding the regulation of knives.
SB160 (O'Brien), which requires certain entities to inform veterans and their spouses about available health care benefits, requires the Ohio Department of Medicaid to inform a veteran who applies for Medicaid about the county veterans service commission, and names the act the "Veteran Information Act."
SB204 (Roegner), which enters Ohio into the Counseling Compact.
SB224 (Cirino), which makes changes to the laws governing funeral homes, funeral professionals, funeral hearses, funeral escort vehicles, preneed funeral contracts, and the parental right of disposition for a deceased adult child, and requires the appointment of alternates to the Ohio Elections Commission.
SB225 (Schuring), which modifies the historic rehabilitation and the opportunity zone investment tax credits, adjusts the applicability of certain recently-enacted provisions related to tax increment financing and downtown redevelopment districts, and authorizes the city of Canton to distribute money in the Hartford-Houtz Poor Fund to the Canton Ex-Newsboys Association or any other charitable organization.
SB231 (Hottinger), which expressly authorizes the issuance of an income tax refund in the name of a deceased taxpayer's fiduciary.
SB236 (Wilson-Lang), which enables insurers using an online platform to automatically enroll purchasers in digital communications and modifies a requirement regarding the use of salvage motor vehicle parts in repairs.
SB239 (Blessing), which addresses qualifications for professional treatment staff, regarding the FY23 payment rates for intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and to make an appropriation.
SB246 (Rulli-Lang), which levies a tax on a pass-through entity's income apportioned to Ohio and authorizes a refundable income tax credit for an owner for such tax paid.
SB264 (Brenner), which regulates remote work under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act and the Consumer Installment Loan Act.
SB273 (Hottinger-Hackett), which amends the law governing the Ohio Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association and makes changes regarding required distributions under an alternative retirement plan.
SB287 (Manning), which allows county credit card charges for temporary and necessary assistance care provided by a county veterans service office.
Ohio became one of the 23 states in the nation Monday to allow citizens to carry concealed handguns without a permit or proof of firearms training, an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that some view as intuitive and others view as extreme. Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement calling for thorough preparation, notwithstanding Ohioans' constitutional rights. "Just because you're not legally required to get training doesn't mean it's not a good idea," Yost says. "Using a firearm is not instinct and watching TV shows is not training. Ohioans should learn how to handle their firearms from a qualified instructor. A trained citizen is a safe citizen." He notes "constitutional carry" rights in Ohio for those 21 and older are not in fact unlimited and end at the door of certain establishments, including all government buildings, schools and mental hospitals and those employers, businesses, universities, places of worship and other institutions that wish to ban them.
Mayors from six of the state's largest cities Monday held a virtual news conference calling on state and federal legislators not to abandon their significant number of residents and rather enact common-sense gun reforms which several of them identified as background checks, red flag provisions, a ban on assault weapons, safe storage, a limit on the magazine size and upping the age for anyone to buy a gun -- particularly AR-15s.
Sunday, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) issued the following statement: "Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America's children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country. Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities. Our plan increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can't purchase weapons. Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense proposal into law." Among the nine provisions in their proposal are the following: support for state crisis intervention orders; investment in children and family mental health services; and protections for victims of domestic violence.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Ohio registered its first confirmed case of monkeypox, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff had stressed that it does not spread as easily as COVID, requiring "very intimate contact." The infection is in an adult male Ohio resident. He went on to say that ODH is working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient's health care providers to ensure appropriate care for the patient. ODH strongly recommends that anyone who is experiencing symptoms of an unexplained rash (lesions on any part of the body) contact a health care provider as soon as possible. People who are feeling ill should stay home. Persons who only have flu-like symptoms without rash should get tested for COVID-19. Ill persons should wear a mask when seeking care or if they are not able to isolate from others.
ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff on Thursday confirmed the state's first measles case of 2022. The infected child is from Franklin County and recently traveled to a country with confirmed measles cases, according to the department. ODH is currently not disclosing additional information about the infected individual. Ohio occasionally sees measles cases as the result of importations from other countries where measles remains endemic. This is the first confirmed measles case in Ohio since 2019. The CDC notes that as of June 3, 2022, a total of three measles cases were reported by two jurisdictions. (Jurisdictions refer to any of the 50 states, New York City and the District of Columbia). Ohio's last confirmed measles outbreak was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases.
The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) issued a request for proposal (RFP) Wednesday for $4.2 million from the 2021 Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) for rape crisis centers and sexual assault programs. The supplemental COVID-19 funds will help programs with virtual/remote and crisis services, increased emergency needs of sexual assault survivors due to COVID-19, and hiring bonuses and retention payments to attract and maintain staff to support continuity in sexual assault services.
State and local mental health officials gave a preview Thursday of what Ohioans can expect from the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Ohio will transition from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, to 988 in a month on Saturday, July 16. Director Lori Criss of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) led a briefing on the transition Thursday, assisted by people with experience providing and seeking crisis services. They were joined by Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater), a psychologist and the sponsor of legislation to establish a state fund to support 988 operations, HB468, which passed the House shortly before the summer recess. The hotline is available for those who are experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis, or their family members, to call, chat or text for assistance. Criss said callers can expect an answer from a trained professional who will ask them to describe their situation and assist over the phone to connect them to supports in the community. In some cases, a mobile crisis unit can respond, and a 911 response could be mobilized if needed. Criss said work is underway now on interoperability of the 911 and 988 systems.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) launched an "extensive outreach effort" of free individualized employment services to veterans and the spouses of active and former military members, according to the administration. This will involve contact with 45,000 Ohioans over the next six weeks, asking them whether they want the free assistance. Those who do can schedule a virtual or in-person appointment at OhioMeansJobs (OMJ) centers throughout the state.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is set to receive about $10.65 million to eliminate hazards left behind by abandoned mine lands (AML) and improve communities affected by historic coal mining. The grant is provided by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) for the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program. The AMLER Program, formerly known as the AML Pilot Program, was authorized by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations by OSMRE. ODNR will be administering the money through grants.
ODNR announced the winners of its 2022 Ohio State Parks Photo Contest. All winning entries, except the People's Choice award, were chosen over three rounds of judging by a panel of ODNR employees. The People's Choice Award was voted on by the public. ODNR's photo contest offered five categories for images taken in an Ohio state park after Jan. 1, 2022: wildlife in action, recreation in the parks, wondrous water, novice naturalist, and explore trails. Participants were able to submit up to five entries per category.
Gov. Mike DeWine late Monday joined ODNR Director Mary Mertz and Ohio State Parks staff at Indian Lake State Park to discuss ODNR's plans to address invasive aquatic vegetation that has affected boating on Indian Lake. ODNR has three dedicated aquatic weed harvesters running at Indian Lake during the 2022 season. Experienced staff will also target high-growth areas with aquatic herbicides to manage the overgrowth, and more staff have been added to increase the operation's efficiency.
A guide on "Reporting About Substance Use and Mental Health" was released for media professionals Tuesday, with the goal of reducing "potentially stigmatizing language or imagery" in news and media coverage. The document was prepared by Gov. Mike DeWine's RecoveryOhio initiative, Attorney General Dave Yost's Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness and the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance. One suggestion is to refer to a person as one with a substance use disorder or in active addiction rather than as "addict, junkie, user, drug abuser, drunk [or] alcoholic." People should also be referred to as in recovery or long-term recovery, rather than "former addict, reformed addict [or] clean." Other suggestions include referring to people as individuals who live with mental illness or mental health conditions, or were diagnosed/experiencing specific conditions, rather than calling them "mentally ill" or "schizophrenic, bipolar [or] anorexic."
Leaders of nonprofits in the region met at a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday to discuss the state of their sector, including how local needs are increasing now amid inflation and internal workforce challenges. Michael Corey, executive director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, noted as well that the panel and attendees were fortunate to have power and air conditioning at the event amid blackouts in the Columbus area. Other panelists included Dan Sharpe, vice president of community research and grants management at the Columbus Foundation; Lisa Courtice, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Ohio; and Leah Evans, president and CEO of Homeport. The discussion was hosted by Deborah Aubert Thomas, president and CEO of Philanthropy Ohio. During opening remarks, club board member Carey Schmitt said nonprofits had "battled back from the pandemic, only to be met with new challenges including the steepest inflation in decades."
Charter Communications announced Monday that former Sen. Sandra Williams had been hired as director of government affairs, following her recent resignation from the Ohio Senate. She will be responsible for state and local efforts in Northeast Ohio, according to the company. Williams had represented the 21st Senate District since 2015 and served in the Ohio House before that. She was also previously vice chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, an associate professor at Cleveland State University (CSU) and Tiffin University (TU) and served in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Rev. John Edgar, who has served as executive director of Community Development for All People (CD4AP) for the past 18 years, is retiring effective Thursday, June 30, the organization announced. He will be replaced by Michael Premo, who was selected by the Board of Directors after a national search.
Most Americans oppose allowing transgender girls and women to play sports against cisgender girls and women at the professional, college and high school levels -- even as they increasingly see acceptance of transgender people as good for society -- according to a new poll conducted by the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Washington Post. The poll, conducted online from May 4 through May 17 using a random national sample of 1,503 adults, found that 55 percent said transgender girls should not be allowed to compete against other girls at the high school level, compared to 30 percent who said they should be allowed and 15 percent with no opinion. At the college level, 58 percent said transgender women shouldn't be allowed to play women's sports, while 28 percent said they should be allowed and 15 percent had no opinion. At the professional level, 58 percent said transgender women shouldn't be allowed to play women's sports, while 28 percent said they should be allowed and 15 percent had no opinion. Forty-nine percent opposed allowing transgender girls to participate in youth sports, while 33 percent supported that, and 17 percent had no opinion.
The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) added two more police departments Friday, June 10 to the hundreds of agencies certified for statewide law enforcement standards issued by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. Archbold (Fulton County) and Bridgeport (Belmont County) police departments have adopted state standards for use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring. There are now 580 certified law enforcement agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), sheriffs' offices, and university, hospital and transit police, among others. They include 87 percent of all peace officers in the state and cover most of Ohio's metropolitan areas, leaving 300 plus agencies that have yet to embrace certification.
A recent report by personal finance site WalletHub on recreation and entertainment opportunities ranked Ohio as 17th nationally and second among neighbors. Pennsylvania was 13th nationally, followed by Michigan, 26th; Indiana, 40th; Kentucky, 41st; and West Virginia, 50th. In WalletHub's two subrankings, Ohio was 12th in nightlife and 19th for entertainment and recreation. This put it at first among neighbors for nightlife and second behind Pennsylvania for entertainment.
Two recent reports from personal finance site WalletHub measured states' racial equality, with Ohio ranked 38th in education and 43rd in terms of economy. The education study compared states across six metrics that looked at the difference between White and Black Americans in areas such as high school and college degrees, test scores and graduation rates. The Edbuild study, released in February 2019 and cited by WalletHub, showed that Ohio is actually one of 14 states in which predominantly non-White districts receive slightly more funding than predominantly White districts. Some neighboring states fared better in the overall rankings. West Virginia and Kentucky were among the states with the greatest equality, ranking second and ninth respectively. Indiana ranked 26th, Michigan ranked 36th and Pennsylvania ranked 44th. Among Ohio's neighboring states, the economic rankings showed Kentucky was ninth nationally, followed by West Virginia, 24th; Indiana, 38th; Pennsylvania, 42nd; and Michigan, 46th. Alaska held first place, while Illinois was last among the 50 states. The District of Columbia fared even lower at 51st.
For the first time since mid-April, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported more than 10,000 new initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). For the week ending June 11, ODJFS reported 11,295 jobless claims to DOL. "Approximately 3,444 of those have been flagged for more stringent identity verification, to ensure they are not fraudulent," ODJFS said. The previous week, ODJFS reported 9,484 jobless claims. For the week ending May 28, ODJFS reported 8,817, while it was 8,293 on May 21, 8,218 on May 14, 7,021 on May 7, 6,255 on April 30, 8,283 on April 23 and 10,884 on April 16.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told reporters Wednesday he expects a bill that would expand access to care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and other substances to pass this week. In addition, Brown discussed his bipartisan "All-American Flag Act," which would require the U.S. to purchase American flags made totally in the U.S. The burn pit legislation, introduced by U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT), is named for Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson of Columbus, who deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard and passed away in 2020 from cancer as a result of toxic exposure during his military service, Brown said. The bill's official title is "The "Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022." Unlike the situation for veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to Agent Orange, Brown said this legislation has "presumed eligibility." This means that if a veteran was in Iraq, Afghanistan, or served in another area where they could have been exposed to toxic materials, and they have one of over 20 designated illnesses, they are automatically eligible for care. [Editor's note: The PACT Act of 2022 did pass the Senate.]
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced Monday that it will host a statewide virtual Skilled Trades Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22. Pre-registration is open at https://bit.ly/3PH9LkU. "We often hear from employers that they need skilled workers, and this job fair will be an excellent way for them to find great candidates," ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder said. More than 50 employers with open positions have registered to participate; they are seeking welders, mechanics, carpenters, electricians, tool and die makers, plumbers, insulators, programmers and more.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2022 Hannah News Service, Inc.]