Week In Review - June 27, 2022



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

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


ABORTION


Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway granted a second preliminary injunction against anti-abortion law SB157 (Johnson-S. Huffman) Friday, finding the plaintiffs had demonstrated "a substantial likelihood of success on their patients' substantive due process claim." This follows a previous one in April and a temporary restraining order in March. The injunction had been requested by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the national ACLU, the ACLU of Ohio and Fanon A. Rucker of the Cochran Firm-OH representing reproductive health care providers, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region and Women's Med Dayton.


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should do more to investigate the recent uptick in suspected arson and vandalism against anti-abortion organizations across the country, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Yost pointed to reports from Catholic groups and media outlets that anti-abortion facilities have been attacked following the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. There have been media reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown in anti-abortion facilities in Wisconsin and Oregon, as well as vandalism on the exterior of anti-abortion centers in Virginia and North Carolina. Yost's office could not provide an example of such an attack occurring in Ohio.


Individuals who accompany patients seeking care from abortion providers have received an increased number of violent threats from anti-abortion activists over the last several months, a Northeast Ohio clinic escort coordinator told Hannah News on Thursday. Hannah Servedio emphasized during a phone interview that she was speaking in her capacity as an escort coordinator in the Cleveland area, and not as a senior organizer for Pro-Choice Ohio. She said there are approximately 120 escorts who work in her area, noting she has spoken with many of them about their experiences with anti-abortion activists as the U.S. Supreme Court moves closer to handing down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. [Editor's note: The majority ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was released by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, June 24.]


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


The Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University (OSU) announced it is now welcoming guests free of charge. The center's newest exhibition "Portal For(e) the Ephemeral Passage," opened this month. jaamil olawale kosoko, guest curator of "Portal For(e)," introduced the summer-long exhibition. Their role as curator is part of the artist's three-year collaboration with the institution as an Artist Residency Award recipient. The exhibition provides interconnected events that invite visitors to ruminate on Black feminism and queer theory, as well as intimacy and wellness. In addition to works by kosoko, "Portal For(e)" features pieces from nora chipaumire, Jennifer Harge and Devin Drake, Dana Michele, Jasmine Murrell and Keioui Keijaun Thomas.


A new state law allowing individuals to possess consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio will become effective on Friday, July 1. Currently, Ohioans can buy consumer fireworks in Ohio but must transport them out of the state within 48 hours of purchase. Legalizing the possession of backyard fireworks is one of several provisions of HB172 (Baldridge-O'Brien) that becomes effect July 1, including language allowing many Ohioans to begin legally discharging consumer fireworks on certain holidays unless otherwise restricted by local laws. Under HB172, Ohioans can discharge consumer fireworks on July 3, July 4 and July 5, along with the preceding and following Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They can be set off between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to the Ohio Department of Commerce's (DOC) Division of State Fire Marshal. Ohioans can also legally set off backyard fireworks on the following dates, assuming local laws don't prevent it:


  • New Year's Eve (4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.)

  • New Year's Day (12 a.m. to 1 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Chinese New Year (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Cinco de Mayo (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Memorial Day weekend (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Juneteenth (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Labor Day weekend (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

  • Diwali (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

The Ohioana Library has announced the finalists for the 81st annual Ohioana Book Awards. First given in 1942, the awards are the second-oldest state literary prizes in the nation and honor outstanding works by Ohio authors and illustrators in five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Juvenile Literature, Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature, and Nonfiction. The sixth category, About Ohio or an Ohioan, may also include books by non-Ohio authors. This year's list includes a Pulitzer Prize winner, three finalists for the National Book Award, a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist, and winners of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Honors, and the Kirkus Prize. Ohioana has also launched its seventh Readers' Choice Award poll to allow the public to vote online for their favorite book from the finalists. The poll is available at http://www.ohioana.org/.


After stepping into the role as the new CEO and president of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Tom Schmid said he knew "job one" was restoring trust, both among the public and the zoo's staff. Schmid, who led the Texas State Aquarium for more than 20 years before coming to Columbus, took over the position in December 2021 following a tumultuous year for the zoo that involved multiple scandals.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Ohio is joining a $1.25 million settlement with Carnival Cruise Line following a 2019 data breach that compromised the personal information of 180,000 employees and customers. Carnival announced in March 2020 that a hacker had accessed certain employee email accounts, and that the company had known about suspicious emails for at least 10 months. Eight attorneys general mounted a multi-state investigation of Carnival's email security and compliance with state notification statutes on data breaches.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Free parent education materials are being offered to Ohio families through a partnership of the Governor's Children's Initiative, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Ohio Children's Trust Fund. The availability of the "Triple P" materials aligns with the Governor's Children Services Transformation Advisory Council's recommendation to "invest in services, training and supports for parents." To sign up for the program, go to www.triplep-parenting.com/oh-en/triple-p/.


Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Shayla Davis (D-Garfield Heights) Wednesday introduced HB701, proposing a one-time refundable $600 income tax credit for infant formula purchases by parents and guardians. The bill comes amid national shortages of infant formula, and the sponsors said formula can cost between $1,200 and $1,500 for the first year of a baby's life.


CORONAVIRUS


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the green light Saturday to allowing children over six months old to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, expanding eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children. The CDC's recommendation was the final piece needed in the process to approve vaccines for children six months to 5 years old. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) had authorized the vaccines for children under 5 years of age last Friday. President Joe Biden said the expanded vaccine eligibility marks a "monumental step forward" in the nation's fight against the virus.


Specifically, children six months to 5 years old are eligible to receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, whichever is available. The CDC said the COVID-19 vaccines have "undergone -- and will continue to undergo -- the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history." Parents and caregivers can reach out to their doctor, nurse, local pharmacy, or health department, or visit www.vaccines.gov to see where vaccines for children are available.


DISABILITIES


The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council) Wednesday unveiled a new brand and website as it continues its work for people with developmental disabilities and their families across the state. According to the agency, the burgundy and blue colors emphasize the mission of the council to create change that improves independence, productivity and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families in community life. The new brand and website also continue to put accessibility and ease of use for the people it serves and the community at large at the forefront of its work. To view the new logo and website, go to https://ddc.ohio.gov/.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced recently that $100 million was available in the second round of the Transformational Mixed-Used Development Program. The first-round results were announced in March. The program provides credits for major efforts to help finance new construction and improve vacant buildings. The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) is now accepting FY23 project applications with a deadline of 4 p.m. on Friday, July 8.


ECONOMY


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that Ohio added 4,800 jobs in May as the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, down from 4.0 percent in April. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in May was 226,000, down from 233,000 in April. The number of unemployed has decreased by 86,000 in the past 12 months from 312,000. The May unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.4 percent in May 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for May 2022 was 3.6 percent, unchanged from April 2022 and down from 5.8 percent in May 2021.


EDUCATION


Backers of a lawsuit in Ohio challenging the constitutionality of the state school voucher program said that the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Tuesday does not affect their litigation. Characterizing the ruling in Carson v. Makin as narrowly drawn "regarding public funds for private religious education," the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy and the Vouchers Hurt Ohio coalition issued the following statement: "We are undaunted and moving full speed ahead. The SCOTUS decision is very limited in scope and does not address the central issues of our challenge in Ohio based on the Ohio Constitution. We believe the EdChoice private school voucher program is fraught with unconstitutional issues," said William Phillis, executive director for the Ohio Coalition. "The EdChoice private school voucher program is unconstitutional because it creates a separate system of schools when the Ohio Constitution clearly calls for a single system. It makes segregation worse, siphons money away from an underfunded public common school system and increases the reliance on local property owners and taxes to pay for public schools. However, both The Buckeye Institute and the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) hailed the 6-3 decision with CCV's Ohio Christian Education Network's Troy McIntosh observing that with this decision, "states cannot discriminate against Christian schools. ... Today's 6-3 decision sends a clear message that religious intolerance against these schools from state officials is in direct violation of First Amendment religious freedoms."


ELECTIONS 2022


Hannah News this week published its updated list of candidates running for the General Assembly in the Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 primary election. The primary was ordered by a federal court in response to delays in adopting a new redistricting plan after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down multiple plans adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. This August primary uses districts created under the third plan adopted by the commission. The updated list was compiled using data from the secretary of state's office and boards of elections and is subject to change due to ongoing litigation, including a lawsuit before the Ohio Supreme Court where multiple candidates are asking to be put on the ballot because of a dispute over the filing deadline. District numbers on the list may differ from current district numbers due to the redistricting process. The list includes the incumbents under the current district number they represent. Additionally, a list of candidates along with their filing addresses in an Excel spreadsheet format is also posted on the front page of www.hannah.com.


Ohio's county boards of elections began distributing primary election ballots Friday to active-duty military and overseas voters, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced, thus officially opening Ohio's second primary election this year, this one on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The deadline for Ohioans to register to vote is Tuesday, July 5 and early voting begins Wednesday, July 6. Ohio voters will find the following races on their Aug. 2 primary ballot:


  • Ohio House of Representatives.

  • Ohio Senate.

  • Democrat State Central Committee.

  • Republican State Central Committee.

  • Local issues and measures impacting their communities.

In a press conference ahead of Columbus Pride, Democratic candidate for auditor Taylor Sappington and Statehouse candidate Jim Obergefell sharply criticized Republican officials including Gov. Mike DeWine for their positions regarding LGBTQ+ Ohioans. The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) identified Sappington as Ohio's first openly gay candidate for statewide office, while Obergefell was the plaintiff in the case that legalized gay marriage. "Instead of taking decisive action to put more money in the pockets of working Ohioans or drive costs down, DeWine and Statehouse Republicans are attacking our friends and neighbors to score political points. They're not going after corporations that price gouge, they're not going after the shareholders that continue to pad their bottom line, they're going after LGBTQ+ Ohioans who are just trying to live their lives and be their authentic selves …," Sappington said.


Ohioans should vote for the Republican slate of Ohio Supreme Court justice candidates because "predictability matters," leaders of the state's five largest business organizations said Tuesday. Justice Sharon Kennedy (R) is running against Justice Jennifer Brunner (D) for chief justice, while Justices Pat DeWine (R) and Pat Fischer (R) are running against Judges Marilyn Zayas (D) and Terri Jamison (D), respectively. "The Court races that are on the ballot this year have three incumbent 'judicial-restraint' judges, and there are three judges that are much more 'activist' running against them," Ohio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Stivers said during a press conference at his organization's office in downtown Columbus. "The philosophy of the Court is at stake. This is not about Republicans. It's not about Democrats. It's about the judicial philosophy that our business members are looking for," Stivers said, adding that "activist" judges in other states have created "new liability" and "new problems" for businesses.


After a Tuesday event in Columbus where he received the backing of the Baptist Ministerial Alliance of Columbus and Vicinity, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, criticized President Joe Biden for not pushing a "working class" tax cut to alleviate economic concerns due to inflation and higher gas prices. Speaking to Hannah News, Ryan said a tax cut is the only short-term, immediate step Congress and the president can take to help with economic concerns.


Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance shouldn't be asking Ohioans for money to support his campaign, according to We the People Convention (WTPC) President Tom Zawistowski. "You and your campaign are asking hard-working Ohioans, in the middle of the worst inflation in 40 years, to reach into their pockets and send millionaire J.D. Vance money when you have virtually unlimited funding from one of the richest men in the world! Really J.D.?" Zawistowski said in an email, criticizing a recent Vance campaign fundraising email. "You should be embarrassed using these misleading emails to lie to Ohio conservatives about that bogus poll to try to scare them into giving their hard-earned money to you instead of using it to support their families! We are not fools. We know whose phone calls you are going to take as a senator, and it will not be ours," he continued. "We can do math, J.D. If Peter Thiel has to put $25 million into your campaign to beat Ryan, that would be the equivalent of an Ohio worker who makes $50,000 per year donating $250. That's pocket change for Peter Thiel and for you, J.D. Vance."


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The Ohio Treasurer campaign of Democrat Scott Schertzer announced the endorsement of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Ohio State Legislative Board.

  • The gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Nan Whaley announced the endorsement of the Ohio State Association of Letter Carriers.

  • The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of the Ohio Laborers' District Council.

ENERGY/UTILITIES


The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) and the Office of Ohio's Consumers' Counsel (OCC) are calling for a full investigation of elective power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio customers this week. Deliberate "load shedding" seeks to prevent worse damage to the grid, but OMA is questioning AEP's use of billions of dollars in electric distribution and transmission charges that are supposed to ensure system reliability. The Ohio House Minority Caucus also called from an investigation as did Gov. Mike DeWine as they seek the answer to a number of questions such as when the 13-state regional transmission organization (RTO) encompassing Ohio, PJM Interconnection, first request load-shedding, and when AEP complied. And why were customers, including cities, hospitals and other institutions, not notified in advance of planned power outages due to grid strain?


Water and sewer customers in 19 Ohio counties will save $3.1 million in rates and claim a final $4 million refund from the Trump-era Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approves a proposed agreement between Aqua Ohio, the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the city of Marion and PUCO staff. Aqua had requested an increase of more than $8.25 million but instead settled for $5.18 million for a reasonable rate of return (ROR) of 6.78 percent. Under the settlement, the water company will issue a quarterly report on the number of consumers who applied for and actually obtain low-income assistance from Aqua.


JobsOhio's newly released report on shale oil and gas development confirms the inverse relationship between rising energy costs and the record downturn in Ohio's "fracking" industry beginning in 2021. Natural gas has posted three straight quarterly losses in the Buckeye State since the fourth quarter of 2020 in the latest numbers compiled by Cleveland State University (CSU) and reported by JobsOhio -- the first time that has happened since the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) began tracking shale output on Jan. 1, 2011 in the early days of the "fracking" boom. Losses follow a double-digit gain in natural gas output just before news of the coronavirus broke in late 2019 and early 2020. The 40-page report explains the counterintuitive definition of shale investments dominated by windfall profits paid to mineral rights owners under historic energy inflation.


ENVIRONMENT


The DeWine administration announced $192 million in new grants for 112 projects as part of the first round of brownfield remediation funding Friday, following a prior announcement of $60 million for 78 projects. The first round was divided into two sets of funding to get the initial money out quickly, Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Chief Communications Officer Todd Walker told Hannah News.


Applications are currently under consideration for the second round that is exclusively for counties which did not exhaust their $1 million set-aside. All remaining funds not used by counties in the first two rounds will be made available statewide in the third round, which will open for applications on July 1. The brownfield program launched in December 2021.


The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) has approved $2.9 million in bond financing to support the sustainable growth of two Northern Ohio businesses. JAM Best One Fleet Service was approved for up to $2.8 million through the Clean Air Improvement Program (CAIP), according to OAQDA. In addition, bond financing totaling up to $100,000 and a small business grant for up to $20,000 were approved for Baker's Collision Repair Specialists through the Clean Air Resource Center (CARC).


Gov. Mike DeWine's signing of legislation, HB175 (Hillyer), excluding ephemeral streams from Ohio's water pollution control programs was an unexpected step backward in the state's efforts to address water quality issues, Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund Program Director Pete Bucher said Wednesday. "This bill removes ephemeral streams, also known as 'seasonal' or 'rain-dependent' streams from what is defined as a 'water of the state' in Ohio," Bucher said. "Unless the Biden administration updates the federal equivalent, the 'waters of the United States,' Ohio will remain without solid protections for over 36,000 miles of streams in our state." However, DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney told Hannah News that HB175 strikes the appropriate balance between environmental protection and allowing for economic development to occur, noting the governor's office and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) worked with lawmakers to improve the bill. "The final version struck a balance of providing some finality and guidance in the law to ensure that if you have a property or are transferring a property, that you know what you can do with it, and what would be subject to regulation, while also making sure that the state does have a say in regulation under appropriate circumstances," Tierney said.


ETHICS


The ethics-ruling body for the Ohio bar is deferring to the American Bar Association (ABA) in a new advisory opinion addressing not only prosecutors and public defenders assigned to the same case who are spouses or family but also friends, roommates and acquaintances. The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct notes Rule 1.7, Comment 21 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct states that attorneys related by blood or marriage have the "presumption of shared confidences, feelings of loyalty" and cannot represent opposing sides in a case without informed, written consent from the parties. The board acknowledges its rules do not touch on personal ties beyond immediate family but says other relationships may trigger conflicts of interest based on the "degree of mutual affinity" and related concerns.


The board also issued two additional advisory opinions. Opinion 2022-04 addresses connections between prosecutors and public defenders' offices and says former defense counsel now serving as an elected county prosecuting attorney, absent informed, written consent, must appoint an assistant prosecutor to cases he or she previously handled on the other side of the bar. In addition, Opinion 2022-05 states that lawyers who notarize client documents in their own cases generally will not violate the "advocate-witness" standard of professional conduct Rule 3.7(a).


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said excess profits taxes are needed in response to inflation in general and high gas prices during a press call Thursday, with the revenues used to pay rebates to the American people. He added that industry influence on Congress makes that unlikely, however. "I don't think anybody's doing enough -- Republicans or Democrats -- when it comes to fighting inflation," Brown said, adding that a number of industries have "profiteered" during the pandemic. Brown told reporters he supported President Joe Biden's proposal for a three-month federal gas tax holiday as long as the savings went to motorists rather than oil companies. The excess profits tax would be an even stronger option, he continued, and the U.S. also needs to rebuild its supply chains. Inflation is a global issue and worse in other countries, he said, so it is not a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) is recovering after a bicycle accident Thursday, June 16, according to a statement his family provided to the press. "We are thankful for the quick acting and kind good Samaritans that helped him on the scene, the Akron firefighters/paramedics who helped get him to the appropriate medical professionals and a bike helmet that protected him from a serious head injury," the statement said. It added that Sykes is in "good spirits" but may not return to community events immediately.


Recently elected Sen. Dale Martin (D-Cleveland) has been appointed to the Senate Energy and Public Utilities, Workforce and Higher Education, Transportation, Ways and Means and Small Business and Economic Opportunity committees. He will also serve on the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority and the Correctional Institutions Inspection Committee.


GOVERNOR


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Haley Lynn Dees of Lisbon (Columbiana County) as a student member on the Kent State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending May 16, 2024.

  • John Frederick Fazio of Avon Lake (Lorain County) as a student member on the Miami University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending Feb. 28, 2024.

  • Hannah Lenae Ratliff of Kitts Hill (Lawrence County) and Slater Twain Bakenhaster of Piketon (Pike County) as student members on the Shawnee State University Board of Trustees for respective terms beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2024; and beginning June 17, 2022, and ending June 30, 2023.

  • Dilip Rasiklal Shah of Powell (Delaware County) to the Shawnee State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 27, 2022, and ending June 30, 2030.

  • Olivia Safady of Olmsted Falls (Cuyahoga County) as a student member on the Northeast Ohio Medical University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 30, 2022, and ending June 29, 2024.

  • Jake Wrege of Olmsted Falls (Cuyahoga County) as a student member on the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending May 1, 2024.

  • Madeline Margaret Vining of Toledo (Lucas County) as a student member on the University of Toledo Board of Trustees for a term beginning July 2, 2022, and ending July 1, 2024.

  • Sergul Ayse Erzurum of Canfield (Mahoning County) to the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 27, 2022, and ending April 30, 2031.

  • Cynthia Carol Calhoun of Bedford Heights (Cuyahoga County) to the Ohio University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending May 13, 2031.

  • Todd E. Barnhouse of Pickerington (Fairfield County) to serve as chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

  • Carissa Marie Krane of Xenia (Greene County) to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Investment Board for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending Jan. 30, 2026.

  • Janice Lynne Culver of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the Accountancy Board for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending Oct. 20, 2022.

  • Michael P. Pell of West Union (Adams County) and Dennis G. Shaffer of Galena (Delaware County) to the Banking Commission for terms beginning June 17, 2022, and ending Jan. 31, 2026.

  • Ronald Todd Puff of Mansfield (Richland County) reappointed to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission for a term beginning July 2, 2022, and ending July 1, 2026.

  • Canise Yvette Bean of Columbus (Franklin County) and Faisal Ahmad Quereshy of Richfield (Summit County) reappointed and George Thomas Williams of Canton (Stark County) appointed to the State Dental Board, all for terms beginning June 17, 2022, and ending April 6, 2026.

  • Christine L. Shepard-Desai of Akron (Summit County) to the Oil and Gas Commission for a term beginning June 17, 2022, and ending Oct. 14, 2026.

  • Robert J. Walter of Columbus (Franklin County) to the State Employment Relations Board for a term beginning June 20, 2022, and ending Oct. 6, 2027.

  • Heidi M. Samuel of Columbus (Franklin County) and Charles Richard Moses of Dublin (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio History Connection Board of Trustees for terms beginning June 27, 2022, and ending June 26, 2025.

GUNS


President Joe Biden expressed deep disappointment in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that struck down a New York state law requiring individuals show a self-defense need to obtain a concealed carry license. The Buckeye Institute praised the decision, noting it filed an amicus brief in the suit. Biden said the ruling "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all," noting recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX as well as "daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines." He called for further "common sense" firearms laws around the nation. Buckeye Institute President and CEO Robert Alt said the New York requirements were "onerous" and "unacceptably prevented law-abiding Americans from carrying firearms for the purposes of self-defense." Ohio no longer has a license requirement for concealed carry, following the June 13 effective date of SB215 (Johnson).


HIGHER EDUCATION


Miami University has named Susan McDowell its vice president for research and innovation. McDowell has served as vice provost for research at Ball State University since 2017 and as a faculty member in the Department of Biology there since 2003. As vice provost, she oversaw growth in annual external funding from $24 million to $89 million and is responsible for oversight of the largest open portfolio in the history of the university ($156 million).


The Edison State Community College Board of Trustees has announced Christopher D. Spradlin as the institution's sixth president. Spradlin currently serves as executive vice president and provost of Edison State, having begun in July 2016. Spradlin's projects at Edison State have included an implementation of the Guided Pathways to Success model, the development of new academic programs such as aviation and veterinary technology and the opening of new campuses in Troy and Eaton. Spradlin is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges' Commission on Structured Pathways, and he chairs Ohio's Competency-based Education Steering Committee.


The University of Cincinnati (UC) announced that Christopher Surratt has been selected as the next dean of the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. Surratt, who will join UC Friday July 1, pending approval by the UC Board of Trustees, currently serves as associate dean of research and graduate programs for the Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences at Long Island University.


Ohio State University (OSU) has been awarded a trademark for the word "THE" by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), trademark attorney Josh Gerben announced on Twitter. The trademark applies to branded products -- t-shirts, baseball caps, hats -- sold through athletics and collegiate channels. The USPTO refused Ohio State's trademark application when it first applied it 2019, saying the word "THE" was "merely ornamental" and because the clothing company Marc Jacobs had filed an application to trademark "THE" several months earlier. OSU and Marc Jacobs ultimately settled their dispute, agreeing that both parties could own a registration for “THE.”


Youngstown State University (YSU) President Jim Tressel announced Wednesday night that he plans to leave his position effective Feb. 1, 2023. Tressel, 69, said he plans "to work seven days a week for the next seven months" until his departure. "It has been truly a blessing and labor of love to serve Youngstown State University in a number of capacities, and we will continue to do so, in whatever fashion that the YSU Board of Trustees sees fit," Tressel said in an email to the campus community.


Shari and Cory Foltz, the parents of Stone Foltz, are suing Bowling Green State University (BGSU), arguing BGSU is responsible for their son's death. Foltz was a 20-year-old sophomore at BGSU when he died in March 2021 after drinking "a copious amount of alcohol" at an off-campus event organized by the BGSU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity, of which Foltz was a new pledge. The lawsuit, filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, alleges BGSU knew about the practice of dangerous hazing in Greek organizations while encouraging students to join them.


HOUSING/URBAN REVITALIZATION


The DeWine administration Wednesday awarded $39.87 million in tax credits for 29 projects around the state under Ohio's Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. This will rehabilitate 38 buildings in 19 communities and 16 counties. The funds will be distributed by the Ohio Department of Development (DOD). The funding assists private developers with rehabilitation of historic buildings in downtown areas and neighborhoods. Many of them are vacant and generate little economic activity, according to the department, but the work will lead to further investment and interest in adjacent property. The tax credits will not be issued until construction is complete and all program requirements are verified. The projects are expected to leverage a total of approximately $564 million in private investment.


JUDICIAL


Juvenile Judge Richard Lemons of the Scioto County Common Pleas Court acted in the best interest of three children left to fend for themselves by the Scioto County Children's Services Board (SCCSB) and drug-addicted parents but nevertheless breached ethical standards by acting unilaterally on their behalf, the Board of Professional Conduct concluded in a new disciplinary finding.


Mental or psychological disorders in themselves do not affect candidates' character and fitness to practice law and should not be considered in their admission to the bar, the Ohio Supreme Court says in a new request for comment on proposed rule changes. The Court is now seeking comment on two amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. Currently, Section 13(D)(3) provides admission committees 15 separate factors to consider when evaluating a bar applicant's character, fitness and moral qualifications to practice law, including the following: "Evidence of mental or psychological disorder that in any way affects or, if untreated, could affect the applicant's ability to practice law in a competent and professional manner."


Attorney General Dave Yost has secured a victory over federal court judges who ordered the Chillicothe Correctional Institute (CCI) to transport an inmate to Ohio State University (OSU) Medical Center in Columbus for a brain scan after three decades on Death Row. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned lower-court verdicts in Twyford v. Shoop. Raymond Twyford confessed to murdering a man in Jefferson County nearly 30 years ago and was sentenced to death. He has since appealed that verdict and asked the U.S. District Court and 6th Circuit to order CCI Warden Tim Shoop to provide him neurological testing at OSU. According to Yost, Twyford did not say how the court could take legal notice of those results.


LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke in Zanesville Wednesday, discussing brownfield remediation work that will be funded through recently announced grants. The Muskingum County Land Reutilization Corp. received two grants, with $1.85 million going to cleanup and demolition of a Mosaic Tile building that was built in 1894. The site will then be prepared for redevelopment.


MENTAL HEALTH/ADDICTION RECOVERY


Several mental health and addiction recovery groups are joining together to host the 2022 Recovery Celebration: Growing Stronger Together on Tuesday, June 28 at KEMBA Live!, an outdoor concert venue in downtown Columbus. The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event is hosted by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Peg's Foundation, and mental health boards from throughout Ohio. Ohio PRO, Ohio Citizen Advocates for Addiction Recovery, NAMI Ohio, and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation will also be participating in the event, providing resources for individuals and family members in attendance.


NATURAL RESOURCES


Several trails and recreation areas in Ashland, Morrow, and Richland counties will be closed until further notice due to damage caused by recent storms, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced Friday. Initial response to the week's severe weather focused on visitor safety and included general clean-up as well as clearing roadways, campgrounds, and other high-traffic areas. With general access and some power restored, ODNR said staff have been able to fully assess the trail conditions. Trails, bridges, stairs, and boardwalks located in Mohican State Park and Forest, as well as Malabar Farm State Park sustained significant damage. In many areas these trails are impassable due to downed trees and must be closed for visitor safety. Updated information is available at www.ohiodnr.gov.


The ODNR Division of Wildlife announced Tuesday the purchase of an additional 6,898 acres at Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area in Southeast Ohio. The acquisition brings the total acreage of Ohio's largest wildlife area to 54,525 acres of public land for hunting, fishing, trapping, birding, and outdoor recreation. This latest acquisition at Appalachian Hills is the final installment in a series of additions that have taken place since 2020. Funding for the cumulative purchases came from $68 million in capital improvement and wildlife funds.


ODNR recently announced the purchase of two more properties along the Little Darby Creek State and National Scenic River in Madison County, expanding the state's Scenic Rivers Program. These properties, near other land protected through ODNR and the Nature Conservancy, create a 300-acre block of land that safeguards Little Darby Creek as well as nearby tributaries and streams. This area -- made up of prairie, wetlands, and wooded bluffs -- is home to rare plant species and a spring wildflower display. Rare and endangered mussel species including the federally endangered clubshell mussel are also found in the Little Darby.


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Equality Ohio will receive $62,000 to help transgender individuals update their birth certificates, the Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) announced Wednesday. The funding will be used to provide accurate information about services and procedures for changing gender markers on Ohio birth certificates, OSBF said. The award to Equality Ohio is one of several grants announced by OSBF, which total $332,000 for the spring cycle. The grants to Ohio nonprofit organizations are intended to promote a better understanding of the rule of law and build a better justice system. The grants address a variety of issues, including immigration, affordable housing, civic education, online legal help, advocacy training and legal training. Other recipients include The Catholic Charities Corporation, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education, Ohio Legal Help, Ohio State Legal Services Association and the Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio.


OneOhio Recovery Foundation directors acknowledged the urgency Thursday in getting the nonprofit up to speed on policy, messaging and fiduciary responsibilities for its $444.4 million share of the state opioid settlement. The board moved forward on foundation planning following its inaugural meeting in May, when most of its 19 regional members were in place. It has since added Don Mason in Region 12, Senate president appointee Majority Whip Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and House speaker appointee Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater). House and Senate minorities previously named Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) as legislative members. Still lacking representation is Region 16. The board voted to approve Ashtabula County Commissioner Kathryn Whittington (Region 13) as chair, Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer Michael Roizen (attorney general appointee) as treasurer, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board member Larry Kidd (gubernatorial appointee) as secretary.


PEOPLE


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Ohio Board Chair Joyce Campbell has been elected president of the National NAMI Board of Directors. Campbell was previously first vice president of the national organization, according to NAMI Ohio. Campbell also serves as a judge on the Fairfield Municipal Court, and is one of the first judges in Ohio to establish a specialized mental health court.


POLITICS


From raising the minimum wage and child care access to the increasingly divisive nature of the Ohio Statehouse, Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) Executive Director Hannah Halbert discussed several policy issues as well as some political ones during a conversation at the City Club of Cleveland Tuesday.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


The primary kicked off Friday, June 17, the same day as various members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission filed their responses to petitioners in the three lawsuits over legislative maps -- League of Women Voters of Ohio, et al., Bria Bennett, et al., and Ohio Organizing Collaborative, et al. -- about why the commissioners not only failed to comply with the Court's May 25 order to redraw the legislative maps but also ignored the Court by filing nothing and regarding whether they should be required to appear before the Court in person. Responses filed by the end of the workday were from LaRose, Auditor of State Keith Faber, Republican legislative members Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and Democratic legislative members Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington).


SECRETARY OF STATE


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced recently that 14,596 new business filings were filed in May 2022, a 27 percent decrease from May 2021 and a 14 percent decrease from the same point in 2020. LaRose said inflation continues as a major factor stifling small business optimism nationwide. He cited a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) that showed that inflation was the single most important problem facing their business. In a separate study conducted by NFIB Ohio, inflation was ranked as the issue most concerning to Ohio small business owners by 49 percent of respondents.


TAXATION


Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that his administration estimates it would lose $587 million in state revenue available for road projects in Ohio should it suspend the gas tax for three months as President Joe Biden suggested this week. Biden on Wednesday proposed suspending the federal gas tax until September in order to alleviate pressures of high gas prices in Americans, and suggested states also do the same for their own gas taxes. Currently, Americans pay 18.4 cents per gallon for the federal gas tax and 24.4 cents for diesel. In Ohio, motorists pay an additional 38.5 cents for the gas tax and 47 cents for diesel.


TOBACCO/SMOKING


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday ordered all JUUL e-cigarette products off the market, citing "inconsistent and conflicting data" on safety. "Today's action is further progress on the FDA's commitment to ensuring that all e-cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery system products currently being marketed to consumers meet our public health standards," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf in a statement. "The agency has dedicated significant resources to review products from the companies that account for most of the U.S. market. We recognize these make up a significant part of the available products and many have played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping." The FDA's orders, called marketing denial orders (MDOs), only pertain to the commercial distribution, importation and retail sales and do not restrict individual consumer possession.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed told members that inflation is poised to have "potential long-term" effects on the commission's future budget, with increases in costs affecting the price of guardrails in particular. Ahmed said some guardrail components have doubled in price since the last purchase, and engineering firms have asked OTIC to revisit its billing rate caps due to higher actual labor costs. Contractors have also requested the commission adopt a fuel price adjustment for multi-season construction projects like that of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The recent federal bipartisan infrastructure law did not dedicate funds for toll agencies, Ahmed continued. While revenues are higher than expected, the increasing costs mean OTIC is "not ahead" financially and will have to look at long-term capital needs "very carefully" in preparation for the next budget, he said.


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday new online initiatives aimed at saving Ohioans time when interacting with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) including, for the first time, the ability to renew driver's licenses and state identification cards online starting Monday, June 27. Through the process, Ohioans can go to the Ohio BMV website at www.BMV.Ohio.Gov, complete a renewal application, upload copies of required documents, and receive the new license through the mail. DeWine said this move is part of his administration's promise to transform the Ohio BMV customer experience. Additionally, Ohioans will also be able to transfer a vehicle title beginning Monday, July 11 through the Ohio Title Portal.


UNIONS


While Ohio's pandemic state of emergency ended this time last year, many public employees say the crisis isn't over for them. Members of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), AFCSME Local 11, gathered outside the Statehouse Friday to demand "respect," in the form of more compensation, for what they described as dangerous and traumatic working conditions during the pandemic. The OCSEA is the state's largest public employee union representing over 27,000 members, including health care workers, prison and corrections officers, public school teachers, transportation officials, behavioral health workers, administrators, and more.

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


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