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Week in Review - June 26, 2023

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.

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AGRICULTURE Values under the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program are going up in 2023, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT). The average CAUV value for cropland is $1,433 per acre in 2023, up from $999 in 2022, ODT Program Administrator Stephanie Stultz-Wynkoop said during a virtual hearing on Thursday. "With each variable in the CAUV formula, we are seeing trends that are going to drive up the values," she said. "Crop yields and prices are increasing and putting upward pressure on the gross income calculation and variable. Expenses are down for two of our major crops -- soybeans and wheat -- which is resulting in higher net operating incomes. And the capitalization rate has remained relatively flat." The capitalization rate is 8 percent for 2023, which is up from 7.8 percent in 2022. More Ohio farmland will remain Ohio farmland. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) recently announced the following multiple new additions to the Farmland Preservation Program:

  • Ronnie and Jackie Johnson (Darke County) - 20 acres

  • Karen Riddle (Champaign County) - 80 acres

  • Rowe Family Farm (Highland County) - 209 acres

  • Jeffery and Mark Truster (Butler County) - 71 acres

  • Jan Bratton and son Michael Bratton (Fulton County) - 88 acres

So far in 2023, 13 farms have joined the program. ATTORNEY GENERAL A Franklin County judge has granted Attorney General Dave Yost's request to become a party to the litigation over the OneOhio Recovery Foundation's open meetings practices. Yost and Gov. Mike DeWine in 2020 negotiated the agreement with most Ohio local governments that led to creation of OneOhio, a nonprofit that oversees distribution of the bulk of opioid settlement payments coming to the state. The memorandum of understanding that started OneOhio includes language saying meetings and records of the nonprofits are to be open and public "to the same extent they would be if the foundation was a public entity." Meanwhile, OneOhio announced the IRS has granted OneOhio Recovery Foundation 501(c)(3) status retroactive to Dec. 3, 2021. In its announcement, the tax-exempt organization makes a point of identifying itself as a "non-government entity" in contrast to last month's Ohio Supreme Court decision declaring OneOhio "historically governmental" for the purposes of public records disputes. AUDITOR OF STATE The Ohio Auditor of State's Office served subpoenas to 17 schools that did not adequately respond to its survey seeking information on financial support of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of EdChoice vouchers. According to a letter Auditor Keith Faber wrote to members of the Senate on June 16, 10 schools refused to respond or were unresponsive to the survey, and three responses were "substantially incomplete." "Four schools subsequently provided responses or additional information after being served subpoenas," Faber said. Those schools were Middletown City School District, East Liverpool City School District, Marlington Local School District and Hudson City School District. AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY General Motors (GM) recently announced plans for a 1.1 million-square-foot expansion of its Brookville Duramax (DMAX) facility, as part of an overall $920 million investment in Ohio-based DMAX operations for production of future internal combustion engine heavy-duty truck powertrain products. The company said this will enable it to strengthen its industry-leading full-size truck business, but product details and timing related to future powertrain products were not released. BALLOT ISSUES The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) has provided 100,637 signatures to the campaign to place a reproductive/abortion rights constitutional amendment on the ballot in November, the party announced Tuesday. Party members collected signatures for the amendment -- "The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protection for Health and Safety" -- in all 88 counties, ODP said. "Ohio Democrats are proud to work with our partners in the reproductive rights space and do our part to get abortion rights on the ballot this November. As we wait for these signatures to be verified and approved, we're already out in communities across the state fighting for reproductive rights by urging Ohioans to vote 'no' on Aug. 8 so we can tell radical Republicans in November, 'We won't go back,'" ODP Chair Elizabeth Walters said. The No. 3 Senate Republican and a former legislator and journalist squared off Wednesday in a discussion of Issue 1, the proposed constitutional amendment to raise thresholds for ballot access and passage of future amendments. Under Issue 1, put on the ballot by joint resolution of the General Assembly, future amendments would need 60 percent voter approval to pass, and citizen-initiated amendment campaigns would need to meet specific signature thresholds in all Ohio counties, rather than half, to make the ballot. In a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum moderated by WSYX Assistant News Director Rodney Dunigan, Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), the Senate majority leader, argued for the issue, while Mike Curtin, former state representative and Columbus Dispatch editor, argued against it. Supporters of the reproductive/abortion rights constitutional amendment are "on track" to meet their goal of collecting the more than 413,000 valid signatures necessary to place the measure on the November 2023 ballot, leaders of Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR) said Thursday. OPRR Co-Founder Dr. Lauren Beene and fellow OPRR Co-Founder Dr. Marcela Azevedo said they couldn't share a specific number at the moment because they are in the middle of the counting and verification process. Supporters of the amendment will need to gather more than 413,000 valid signatures by Wednesday, July 5 to qualify for the November 2023 ballot. FY24-25 BUDGET Budget negotiators will have more money to work with as they try to reconcile versions of the FY24-25 budget bill, although the latest forecasts do show a slight reduction in projected revenue for the second year of the biennium. Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks and Legislative Service Commission (LSC) Director Wendy Zhan presented updated forecasts for tax revenues and the Medicaid caseload at Thursday's initial meeting of the conference committee on HB33 (Edwards). OBM added $513 million to its FY24 forecast but dropped its FY25 forecast by $84 million. LSC projects $334 million more in FY24 and $42.6 million less in FY25 as compared to February forecasts. OBM predicts an even larger FY23 surplus to end this biennium, with $387 million more expected compared to the February forecast. For FY24, OBM projects $513 million more in revenue, while projections for FY25 are slightly lower, down $84 million. Zhan said LSC projects $294.3 million more in surplus revenue to end FY23, $334 million more in revenue for FY24 compared to February forecasts, and $42.6 million less than forecast for FY25. Legislators on the panel did not ask them any questions. The meeting opened with a decision to work off the most recent version, the Senate's, and to abide by traditional rules requiring a majority of members from both chambers to approve amendments and the final conference report. Some lawmakers' disagreement with how Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) carries out its advocacy and assistance work sparked another round of budget amendments affecting the nonprofit. DRO argues the amendments will interfere with its federally required duties. DRO is designated to operate a client assistance program (CAP) and protection and advocacy system (P&A), which Ohio must have as a condition of receiving federal funding for developmental disability services, mental health and other programs. Some legislators have questioned DRO's methods in counseling people with disabilities about their options for services in the community, particularly conversations with children or people who have profound disabilities without a parent or guardian present. DRO has said the P&A system is meant to recognize the independent voices of people with disabilities, even those with guardians. In the prior budget bill, 134-HB110 (Oelslager), lawmakers created a special study committee to scrutinize DRO's work. That panel eventually issued a report urging that another entity be assigned to operate the CAP and P&A and suggesting the work come back into the state government fold. Ohio's electric, natural gas and water utilities would draw from nearly $1 billion in "All Ohio Future" funding for infrastructure projects in FY24 under last week's Senate-passed budget. As an alternative, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) could grant electric and gas distribution companies a new customer billing rider supporting economic development. The electric utility rider's price tag remains unknown, while natural gas companies could impose a $3 monthly billing charge to construct pipelines and facilities. Executive language for HB33 (Edwards) proposed renaming the current Investing in Ohio Fund as the All Ohio Future Fund and authorizing it for "necessary infrastructure." The House followed with a substitute budget specifying electric distribution and transmission as eligible projects, and the Senate answered by adding natural gas, water and sewer to the list. Water companies could not use All Ohio money for new or expanded wastewater treatment facilities, while natural gas utilities could defer uncollected infrastructure costs above the $3 monthly cap for future billing. In addition to $40 million appropriated by the governor and retained by House and Senate, the Senate version provides transfer authority of $917 million in remaining FY23 general revenue funds (GRF) for the All Ohio Future Fund. That represents an increase from the $500 million proposed by the House and a decrease from the $2.4 billion proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine. Ahead of the creation of the conference committee on the proposed FY24-25 budget, HB33 (Edwards), a number of Democrats from both the House and Senate held a news conference to urge restoration of the House funding for the Maritime Assistance Program (MAP). Rep. Michele Grim (D-Toledo) explained that the previous state appropriation of $43 million "has allowed ports to secure $150 million in matching federal funds to support billions of dollars in private investment and thousands of jobs. If this funding is not restored, then another port in another state will receive these funds. The MAP is integral to improving Ohio's maritime commerce and economy," she noted, seeking reinstatement of the $40 million biennial appropriation included in the House-passed version of the budget. Also joining her were Reps. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Sean Brennan (D-Parma), Elliot Forhan (D-South Euclid) and Elgin Rogers Jr. (D-Toledo) and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX Decision-making capabilities of college students -- including some graduating this spring -- were likely negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from Ohio State University (OSU) suggests. Students in a small study conducted by researchers at Ohio State were less consistent in their decision making during the 2020 fall semester compared to students who had participated in similar research over several previous years. The researchers compared responses to a hypothetical situation made by students during the pandemic to responses made by students in earlier studies. They found evidence that students in 2020 were more likely to cycle between going with their gut and more thoroughly mulling over their answers depending on how the scenario was described. "Our theory is that feeling stressed by everything going on was limiting students' resources to really evaluate the information that was presented to them," said lead author Melissa Buelow, professor of psychology at Ohio State's Newark campus. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT The House Civil Justice Committee adopted an extensive amendment to SB16 (Wilson), which addresses food donations, that updates Marsy's Law at the request of law enforcement and other interested parties. An emergency clause was also added. Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering), the sponsor of 134-HB343 (White), the implementing bill for Marsy's Law, said they have worked to come up with language that law enforcement, prosecutors, victims and the Ohio Judicial Conference call all agree on. The compromise language states that victims of the most serious crimes must receive a review of the form and be given access to an online code that explains all of the victim's rights, and automatically opts them into the privacy and notification provisions. Victims of non-violent offenses will receive a card that includes an online code that will take them to information on their rights. The bill passed the House 90-1, and the emergency clause was approved 89-0. EAST PALESTINE DERAILMENT Gov. Mike DeWine announced recently that he requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to again extend the deadline for Ohio to request a major disaster declaration related to the Feb. 3 East Palestine train derailment. DeWine previously requested a 120-day extension in March after FEMA indicated the disaster likely would not qualify for traditional aid; that extension expires on July 3. In a letter to FEMA, DeWine asked for an additional 120 days "to allow for continued assessments of the impacts of the derailment and to ensure a full resolution of the issues impacting East Palestine." It would ensure East Palestine can receive FEMA assistance if the derailment does qualify for traditional aid in the future. ECONOMY Ohio's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in May, setting a new record low and breaking the previous one of 3.7 percent set in April. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) also said Friday that the state added 6,600 jobs over the month. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in May was 207,000, down from 211,000 in April. The number of unemployed has decreased by 16,000 in the past 12 months from 223,000. The May unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.3 percent from 3.9 percent a year ago in May 2022. The U.S. unemployment rate for May 2023 was 3.7 percent, up from 3.4 percent in April 2023, and up from 3.6 percent in May 2022. EDUCATION While national test scores continue to show declines after the pandemic, particularly for the lowest performing students, a recent report backed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looks at how schools and states can better support "advanced learners" or potentially advanced learners. The report -- "Building a Wider, More Diverse Pipeline of Advanced Learners" -- was authored by the National Working Group on Advanced Education, which was convened by the Fordham Institute, an Ohio-based think tank that researches education and advocates for charter schools and school choice. The working group was composed of 20 members, including "researchers, practitioners, and advocates and represent[s] diversity in terms of ideology, race, gender, and geography." ELECTIONS Attorney General Dave Yost recently announced his office has partnered with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to create a new training for law enforcement on the state's Safe at Home program that is available through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) online portal, under the "Roll Call Refreshers" catalog. The course is approved for 0.5 credit hours of continuing professional training (CPT). The Safe at Home (SAH) confidentiality program was created by 131-HB359 (Duffey-Gonzalez) to assist survivors of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery by shielding their personal information from public record and providing them with a safe and secure way to participate in the democratic process. Program participants are assigned a substitute address designated by the secretary of state's office to serve as their address. The Franklin County Board of Elections announced that it has unanimously approved a permanent pay increase for poll workers that will be in place for the Tuesday, Aug. 8 special election. The board said that for the special election, voting location managers can earn up to $333.72, an increase from $243.72. Voting location deputies can earn up to $303.72, an increase from $218.72. Roster, paper, and machine judges can earn up to $278.72, an increase from $193.72. ELECTIONS 2023 Republicans and Democrats on the Ohio Supreme Court Friday split over the Legislature's power to "prescribe" a special election date at odds with the Ohio Revised Code when it "propose[s]" an amendment to the Ohio Constitution under Article XVI, Section 1. The majority prevailed 4-3 on the argument SRJ2's (McColley-Gavarone) Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023 date satisfies the meaning of "prescribe" and does not require legislation to amend current law that restricts special elections to local issues, clearing the way for the Aug. 8 special election to proceed. County boards of elections were sent new ballot language for Issue 1 after an error caused the wrong language for the proposed constitutional amendment to be sent to the boards. Counties were in the process of calibrating voting machines and preparing ballots for overseas and military voters, which are required to be sent out on Friday, June 23. Boards are also required to make the full language of the measure, which will appear before voters during the Tuesday, Aug. 8 special election, available to the public this week. The secretary of state's office told the boards in an email sent Tuesday that the sample ballot that was sent in preparation of the election was the wrong ballot. The office blamed it on a transcription error. Innovation Ohio, a left-leaning think tank, released a voter guide for the Tuesday, Aug. 8, special election. The group, which opposes Issue 1, said the guide is designed to "empower voters" for the election. The Ohio Voter Guide, which can be found at, includes links to voter registration and to check the status of a voter's registration. ELECTIONS 2024 Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) launched the first advertisement of his campaign for the U.S. Senate this week and the first ad of any of the Republican Senate candidates. The ad focuses on the U.S. border with Mexico and criticizes incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for his "repeated failure to recognize the seriousness of the U.S. border crisis." Dolan's campaign said the ads will run on television, radio and digital platforms across Ohio. NARAL Pro-Choice America Wednesday announced U.S. Reps. Greg Landsman (D-Cincinnati) and Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) among the incumbents it is supporting for Congress in its 2024 electoral program. The group noted that the endorsements come at the one-year anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, saying that it is important to elect "leaders who will fight for reproductive freedom." A new national Quinnipiac University Poll finds former President Donald Trump's support among Republican and Republican leaning voters remains largely unchanged in the days after a federal indictment over his handling of classified documents was announced. When Republican and Republican-leaning voters were given a list of 10 candidates seeking the GOP nomination for president: 53 percent support Trump while 23 percent support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each receive 4 percent support. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy receives 3 percent support and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson receives 1 percent support. All other listed Republican candidates receive less than 1 percent. In a hypothetical general election matchup, President Joe Biden has a slight lead over Trump 48 to 44 percent among all registered voters. In Quinnipiac University's previous national poll on May 24, Biden received 48 percent and Trump received 46 percent. These latest results continue a string of close head-to-head results between Biden and Trump since Quinnipiac University started asking this question in February 2023. ENERGY/UTILITIES The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) has issued $275 million in air quality revenue bonds to finance the Madison Fields Solar Project in Madison County. The 180 megawatt (MW) solar facility is expected to generate an average of 350,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy on an annual basis, which can provide the equivalent power for up to approximately 35,000 households. The project will create two full-time permanent jobs and 596 full-time temporary positions during the construction phase. In opponent testimony before the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Tuesday, committed supporters and detractors of electric security plans (ESPs) agreed on one thing: their proposed demise in SB102 (Wilkin) would replace them with a new system of utility ratemaking that could hurt rather than help consumers. The committee heard from American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio, AES Ohio (formerly DP&L), Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) and Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC). Bipartisan HB79 (Seitz-Sweeney) cleared a House committee Wednesday with what the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum (OHCEF) described as a new-and-improved state energy efficiency program but what the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) slammed as more "corrupt giveaways" to electric utilities. A substitute bill did little to change proponents’ and opponents' views, with several witnesses reprising previous testimony before the House Public Utilities Committee. Joint sponsor Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said sub bill amendments ranged from "trivial" to "substantive." The first group included technical changes but also the substitution of "shall" for "may" to describe the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) obligation to hold public hearings on electric distribution utilities' (EDU) energy efficiency portfolio plans under HB79. ENVIRONMENT The Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) released nearly $9.6 million for 10 conservation projects in seven counties in the month of May. In the commission's Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program, grant recipients agree to maintain properties in perpetuity. The program is focused on environmental conservation, including through the acquisition of green space and the protection of rivers and streams. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously reported out waste disposal reform bill SB119 (Reineke) on Tuesday despite opposition testimony from representatives of solid waste districts and the Construction and Demolition Association of Ohio (CDAO). SB119 has changed significantly since its introduction, with the committee recently accepting a sub bill that removed all fee increases and all new regulations. The bill was further amended to eliminate the bill's procedures concerning the establishment, amendment or repeal of the bill's new construction and demolition debris (C&DD) fees. AM1024-1 also eliminates the procedures governing fee collection, accounting, extensions and late penalties. Instead, the bill will apply the same procedural requirements that currently govern the administration and collection of solid waste fees. The bill then passed the full Senate by a vote of 30-0 on Wednesday. GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE Ohioans younger than 18 could no longer receive gender-affirming care under legislation passed by the House on Wednesday. The legislation, HB68 (Click), also prohibits transgender women and girls from playing women's and girls' school sports. The bill passed 64-28 after about an hour of debate on the House floor. Reps. Brett Hillyer (R-Dennison) and Jamie Callender (R-Concord) joined Democrats in voting against the measure. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he doesn't expect HB68 to be taken up over the summer. He pointed to what the chamber did on transgender athletes last year, saying it was a pretty simple measure compared to what the House had passed. The medical care aspect is "a much more serious issue," he said. The House also passed HB8 (Swearingen-Carruthers), which would create a "Parents' Bill of Rights" to require public schools to adopt a parental notification policy on student health and well-being and instructional materials with "sexuality" content. The bill passed 65-29, with Callender joining Democrats in voting against it. Reps. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) said the bill is not intended to discriminate against any group, and is only meant to provide more transparency in schools. They said the bill will encourage more parental involvement in schools, which improves educational outcomes. In other action in the House on Wednesday, representatives passed HB117 (Manning-Robinson), which eliminates the mandatory retention provision under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The House also passed construction worker protection bill HB205 (Swearingen-Plummer) and voted against concurrence with Senate amendments to budget bill HB33 (Edwards) by a vote of 23-71. The House also passed the following bills:

  • HB152 (Weinstein-Young), which requires health plans to cover hearing aids and related services to individuals 21 and younger. The vote was 85-8.

  • HB73 (Gross-Loychik), which authorizes the prescribing of off-label drugs and requires their dispensing if prescribed. The bill passed 73-17.

  • HB129 (Patton), which requires the licensure of commercial roofing contractors. The vote was 61-29.

  • HB122 (Pavliga-A. Miller), which expands intimidation offenses to include guardians ad litem and court-appointed special advocates. The bill passed 63-27.

  • HB86 (LaRe), which revises certain liquor control laws. The vote was 85-6.

The Senate passed all four pieces of legislation before it Wednesday unanimously, including HB191 (Swearingen-Seitz), which makes changes to Ohio's bail law in the wake of passage of last year's state Issue 1 and the Ohio Supreme Court's rescinding of Criminal Rule 46. Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) explained that the bill is the companion legislation to SB122 (Manning-Hicks-Hudson), which the Senate unanimously passed last month. The legislation includes an emergency clause because the new rules take effect July 1. The bill is now going on to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. Also unanimously passed by the Senate were SB28 (Roegner), to enter Ohio into the Physician Assistant Licensure Compact, and SCR5 (Craig-Lang), to support and encourage the work of the Ohio Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial in celebrating the nation's 250th anniversary. After session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he is interested in introducing legislation to reform Ohio's campaign finance and ethics laws. He said it is something he would look to do himself, expressing a desire to work with Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) on the bill. Particularly, Huffman said there are often errors on reports and he wants to find ways to be more proactive on informing elected officials on what they can and can't do. The House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday reported out HB205 (Swearingen-Plummer) on a unanimous vote of 13-0 after hearing almost three hours of opponent testimony that included the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's Rick Carfagna telling members it is a "key vote" for his organization and will be assigned a "'double weight' given its significance." That was followed by NFIB's Chris Ferruso saying his group "may consider a vote on this bill a key vote for the 135th General Assembly." Committee Chair Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) commented that it is unusual to identify those bills before a vote, with Carfagna saying it is a part of their advocacy and this allows legislators to vote with their "eyes wide open." The Senate Community Revitalization Committee continued its emphasis on addiction and recovery Wednesday with invited testimony from Ohio Recovery Housing, which said the state is serving less than one in three individuals needing residential treatment, and the Ohio Naloxone Project, which said the opioid overdose reversal drug should be free to a large swath of Ohioans, including pregnant women. When Dennis Papp started at the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) in 1976, computers were still several years away. At the time, the nonpartisan agency did the work of drafting hundreds of legislative proposals for all 132 members of the Ohio General with typewriters, and as a new hire, Papp didn't even get that. "I had to do things by hand," said Papp, who retired from LSC earlier this year after more than 46 years and as the longest serving member of the agency in Ohio history. Papp joined the LSC shortly after finishing law school. He spent much of his career serving the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked with 15 different committee chairs. Papp recently spoke with Hannah News to reflect on his decades of service, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the agency that is essential for state lawmakers to be able to draft and research legislation. In other action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB179 (Mathews-Stewart), which addresses vicarious liability in tort actions; the House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out HB158, which revises the cosmetologist and barber laws; the House Families and Aging Committee reported out HB5 (Ray-Baker), which modernizes Ohio’s adoption laws; the House Health Provider Services Committee reported out HB188 (Brewer-Baker), which recognizes National Nursing Assistants Week; the House Homeland Security Committee reported out HB167 (Miranda-Abrams), which deals with training for chiefs of police, and HB176 (Grim), which revises the “Ohio Carpenters” license plate; and the Senate Government Oversight Committee reported out SB91 (Schaffer), which deals with fraud, waste and abuse of public funds. LIBRARIES The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the State Library of Ohio, and local libraries are partnering to host Storytime in the Parks events, which will pair librarians who read stories with naturalists who carry out the theme of the story with hands-on, interactive programming. The event series, which is free to the public, will take place at state parks across Ohio. This year's themes include fossils, birds of prey, amphibians, hiking, reptiles, animal track identification, pond and creek exploration, and tree identification. Events will be taking place across the state through mid-September. A schedule of Storytime in the Parks events can be found at LOBBYISTS Ice Miller announced recently the addition of Ian Labitue to the firm's Public Affairs Group as of counsel. He will assist clients with business, government, real estate and public-private partnership opportunities. Labitue has served as a finance analyst, lawyer, strategist and economic development advocate for businesses for more than 20 years. He began his career with a bank and then a Fortune 500 company as a finance analyst. Prior to joining Ice Miller, he was the director of business development and strategy for a Columbus-based real estate development firm where he helped create and implement strategic initiatives in the areas of economic development and finance and also served as in-house counsel. MARIJUANA/HEMP The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) has issued four more dispensary certificates of operation. There are now 91 dispensaries legally operating under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM The number of Ohioans enrolled in Medicaid dropped by about 39,000 from April to May as the end of pandemic-era coverage policies brought the return of regular eligibility redeterminations. However, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) expects the figures in its May caseload report to increase, as some people who were removed might reapply and be reinstated without any coverage interruption. For now, the caseload report shows an April peak shy of 3.6 million, and a drop in May to 3,553,587 individuals enrolled in the program. For almost three years starting in March of 2020, Medicaid mostly could not disenroll anyone from the program as a condition of taking enhanced federal matching funds meant to address effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only those who requested to leave the program, died or moved to another state were taken off the rolls. The Biden administration recently issued a report outlining new flexibility to provide Medicaid-covered health services in schools. "States can adopt flexibilities outlined in the guide to reduce the administrative burden for schools significantly, making it easier to get paid for covered health services delivered to children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. By making it easier for schools to bill Medicaid and CHIP, small, rural, and under-resourced schools can provide more services, thereby improving health care access for children with Medicaid and CHIP coverage," said the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act directed CMS to expand access to Medicaid services in schools and reduce associated administrative burdens. A report from CMS, "Delivering Services in School-Based Settings: A Comprehensive Guide to Medicaid Services and Administrative Claiming," outlines new flexibilities in several categories. MILITARY AFFAIRS Members of the House Aviation and Aerospace Committee heard presentations Tuesday from NASA Glenn Research Center Director Jimmy Kenyon and U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Executive Director Tim Sakulich on work at their respective facilities and the economic benefits each provides to Ohio. Kenyon described how NASA Glenn is one of 10 NASA centers and the only one in the Midwest or north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Its main campus is at Lewis Field, which includes wind tunnels, space-like vacuum chambers and microgravity testing equipment. Aerospace communications equipment will soon be added, and Kenyon said the facility has over 1,500 civil servant employees and 1,600 contractors. Sakulich described how AFRL supports both the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.S. Space Force (USSF) and the overlap in technology work between it and NASA Glenn. He further discussed how the commercial sector benefits from AFRL work as well as both military branches and described the additional efforts at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). Rep. Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek) said Ohio's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) should be the "final and permanent location for Space Command headquarters" during informal sponsor testimony on HCR8 (Patton-Lampton) Tuesday. The resolution, which urges the federal government to select Ohio for that site, was introduced Tuesday as well and heard by the House Aviation and Aerospace Committee. Lampton described Ohio's "impressive history of supporting our nation's defense and many innovations in space-related resources" including the Wright Brothers. Lampton also described the history of WPAFB and its current role as the site for the Air Force Materiel Command headquarters, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Research Laboratory, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and several units. Ohio also has the 178th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group in Springfield and NASA Glenn Research Center in the Cleveland area, Lampton said further. NATURAL RESOURCES The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is offering up to $10 million in grants for projects that will eliminate hazards left behind by mining activity and create or improve communities and areas with abandoned mine lands. Abandoned mine lands (AML) are sites that were mined for coal prior to 1977. Eligible project sites include unreclaimed, previously reclaimed, or lands adjacent to abandoned coal mine lands, polluted waters, or communities impacted by historic coal production. OHIO HISTORY National Park Service (NPS) Regional Director Bert Frost announced the selection of Megan Parde as the new site manager of the First Ladies National Historic Site in Ohio. Parde is currently the interpretation program manager at Tonto National Monument in Roosevelt, AZ. She will assume her new role at First Ladies in July. Parde has 10 years of federal service with the NPS. PEOPLE Twenty years after earning his law degree from Yale Law School, Shumaker partner Larry J. Obhof Jr. has been selected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School Association. Beginning on July 1, 2023, Obhof will serve a three-year term during which he and committee members will focus on initiatives for the law school and advise Dean Heather K. Gerken. Executive Committee members also serve as alumni ambassadors through activities such as mentoring, recruiting, and attending regional events. The funeral for Sandra Werth Harbrecht Ratchford, the long-time president of Paul Werth Associates, has been set for 11 a.m. Friday, June 30 at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Broad St. in Columbus. Ratchford died Sunday, June 18 at the age of 73 after a battle with cancer. She joined her father's public relations firm Paul Werth Associates in 1983, becoming president of the company in 1986 on his retirement. Former Chief Executive Officer of Ohio REALTORS Bob Fletcher died recently at the age of 73, the association announced. He had served as chief executive officer for Ohio REALTORS for 27 years before retiring in 2018. President and CEO Jolene Thompson of American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP) has received the American Public Power Association's (APPA) Alex Radin Distinguished Service Award exceptional leadership and dedication to public power -- APPA's highest honor. POLLS/STUDIES A new national survey released by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute finds nearly two-thirds of respondents believe the federal charges against former President Donald Trump over the way he handled classified documents are serious, and 60 percent think he acted inappropriately with the documents. Asked whether they see the charges as serious, 45 percent said they are very serious, 20 percent said somewhat serious, 13 percent said not too serious, and 16 percent said not serious at all. Meanwhile, respondents gave the U.S. Supreme Court a 29 percent positive to 58 percent negative job approval rating, and registered voters in the survey gave it a 30 percent positive to 59 percent negative rating, the lowest mark since the poll began measuring Court approval in 2004. PUBLIC SAFETY Nearly nine out of 10 law enforcement officers in Ohio are certified under minimum state standards issued by the Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, and a slightly higher number of residents live in communities patrolled by certified peace officers. This is according to the 2023 Public Report on Law Enforcement Certification from the board. Basic certification, however, only represents three of 13 total policing standards promulgated by the state and does not require bias-free policing, community engagement, body-worn cameras or best practices for investigating officer misconduct and policing mass protests and demonstrations, among others. Thirteen of 88 county sheriffs, moreover, have not adopted state policing standards, including Adams, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Paulding, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca and Vinton counties. Five of those -- Adams, Monroe, Morgan, Noble and Paulding -- have no certified law enforcement agency of any kind. TAXATION Lawmakers should require the tax commissioner to use a three-year average of data in overseeing county property valuations to dampen the effects of a major runup in valuations pending in some counties, local government officials told a House committee Tuesday. Under HB187 (Hall-Bird), the Ohio Department of Taxation would be required to consider all sales from the three preceding years, rather than a sampling, when performing sales ratio studies that look at valuations versus sale prices. Similar language was incorporated into the Senate-passed version of the budget bill, HB33 (Edwards). Legislators sponsoring the proposal recently held a press conference to address the need for the change, pointing to predicted valuation increases in excess of 30 or 40 percent in some counties. TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE After transportation budget bill HB23 (Edwards) included requirements regarding the installation and use of wayside detectors that are designed to alert train operators of potential issues, the Senate version of biennial budget HB33 (Edwards) was amended to create a fund to help railroads with installation of the devices. The language on the devices had been added to the transportation budget in the wake of the East Palestine derailment, when a detector had detected an overheated bearing before the accident but the engineers were not alerted before it failed. The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission Tuesday tabled discussion on a renewal for its business inclusion program for the second month, though it did extend the current policy set to expire this week for another six months. The commission had been presented with a proposal last month that would reauthorize the program, which seeks to connect more minority, women, and veteran-owned small businesses with commission contracts, for another six years. Action on that proposal was put on hold after commissioners had questions about it, especially the proposed sheltered market opportunities program that would hold certain contracts for small business enterprise (SBE) bidding only. The commission also discussed work on a comprehensive formal debt policy for the agency. Bethany Pugh, managing director for PFM and a financial advisor for the commission, said the policy will help lay the foundation and to create the framework under which the commission will consider debt issuance going forward. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is soliciting public input on its update to the Ohio Airport System Plan as it performs a comprehensive analysis and overview of Ohio's 104 public use airports to help identity needed improvements for future growth and sustainability. The plan is updated every 10 years. The last report, released in 2014, found the airport system supports more than 123,000 jobs and produces an economic impact that exceeds $13 billion annually. ODOT said one of the goals of the plan is to provide the ODOT Office of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a methodology for prioritizing and funding airport development projects.

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

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