Week In Review - June 6, 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


The city of Lebanon has signed a stipulation to amend its anti-abortion ordinance and refrain from enforcing it against those challenging the ban. The case, National Association of Social Workers [NASW] et al. v. City of Lebanon, Ohio et al., is the first challenge to an abortion ban filed since a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked suggesting that the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio. The NASW and Women Have Options Ohio (WHO/O), represented by the ACLU of Ohio and Democracy Forward, have challenged the ordinance as a violation of constitutionally-protected rights to due process and freedom of speech, as well as the Ohio Constitution. Lebanon's ordinance is one of nearly 50 in the country and the first to be adopted in Ohio. The city of Mason passed a similar ordinance but repealed it in December 2021.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) on Friday, May 27 announced a new agreement with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and Blanchard River Demonstration Farms to assess the agronomic and economic effects of H2Ohio best management practices (BMPs). BMPs, which are measures to reduce nutrient runoff into Ohio waterways, are the main focus of ODAg's portion of the H2Ohio program. They are being implemented on farmland across the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). The goal of the new agreement is to evaluate the practices to allow for more informed farmer and policy-making decisions, ODAg said.


The capital area tops Ohio in the second round of meat processing grants announced Wednesday. Columbus/Franklin County is among 45 communities around the state receiving nearly $15 million to bolster local meat supply chains and reduce dependence on out-of-state processors. The 75 separate awards, led by nearly $1 million to four meat processors in Franklin County, follow roughly $10 million in grants last February. A total of 53 counties have received funding to date.


APPALACHIA


A $500 million Appalachian development fund proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine in his 2022 "State of the State" speech was amended into a COVID relief funding bill for local governments and passed by both chambers Wednesday. The legislation, HB377 (Hall-Swearingen), also picked up an omnibus amendment that included a $20 million appropriation for administration of the Aug. 2 statewide primary necessitated by Ohio's redistricting saga, as well as dozens of land conveyances previously included in SB322 (O'Brien). The bill also picked up a number of other provisions including the following:


  • $750,000 for Ohio Department of Natural Resources weed harvesting operations at Indian Lake.

  • An amendment sought by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to ensure that poll workers will not be treated as system members as a result of increased earnings from Ohio's double primary this year.

  • Per language from the House, $422 million in federal COVID relief funding for smaller, "non-entitlement" units of local government that did not receive direct funding from the federal government.

  • Provisions from Sen. Tim Schaffer's (R-Lancaster) SB299, which expands the category of township employees -- such as who are considered part-time for purposes of health coverage. Schaffer said if the Legislature does not act, many of these first responders will max out on their hours by September under the Affordable Care Act.

AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY


Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 40 other attorneys general recently announced a $19.2 million multi-state settlement with Ford Motor Company over false advertising. Yost's office said Ford misrepresented the fuel economy of its 2013 and 2014 C-Max hybrids and the payload capacity of 2011-2014 Super Duty pickup trucks. The settlement prohibits Ford from making false or misleading advertising claims regarding estimated fuel economy and payload capacity going forward. The suit was led by Oregon, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont and Arizona, and joined by the attorneys general of 35 additional states and jurisdictions.


Ford Motor Company announced Thursday that it will invest $1.5 billion in its Avon Lake (Lorain County) assembly plant to produce a new electric vehicle (EV), creating 1,800 jobs there. The automaker is also investing $100 million between its Lima engine plant and Sharonville transmission plants, creating 90 jobs in total there. Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef were on hand for the announcement, part of overall Ford investments in the Midwest. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority is slated to consider a tax credit for the project at a future meeting, according to DeWine, and JobsOhio is planning to provide grant assistance. Construction is expected to begin later in the year, with assembly starting midway through the decade. The expanded facility will continue making Ford's E-series vans, medium-duty trucks and Super Duty chassis cabs.


FY23-24 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS


Both chambers of the General Assembly voted to pass HB687 (Oelslager) on Wednesday, sending the capital budget to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. The House approved the legislation by a vote of 82-8, while the Senate passed it 32-0. On Tuesday, both House and Senate finance committees accepted identical sub bills to their respective capital appropriations bills, HB687 (Oelslager) and SB343 (Dolan). The bill itself, as explained by Senate Finance Chair Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and House Finance Chair Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), now totals $3.514 billion -- up from the $3.3 billion total of the proposal outlined May 24 by Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks. The most unique aspect of this capital appropriations bill, according to Dolan, is that it uses $1.5 billion in General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars -- cash, in other words -- to pay for the projects in the bill, and it authorizes additional use of GRF "if sufficient revenue exists." The bill also includes nearly $1.1 billion for Intel. Other appropriations are as follows:


  • $703.4 million for K-12 schools, including $600 million for school facilities; $100 million ARPA funds for school safety grants; and $3.4 million for the schools for the blind and deaf.

  • $400 million for higher education facilities.

  • $557 million for the Public Works Commission.

  • $403.8 million for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and $103.3 million for the Department of Youth Services.

  • $50 million for local jail grants.

  • $191 million in community projects. These are the projects that legislators propose for inclusion in the capital appropriations bill.

  • $500 million for the Department of Natural Resources.

CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Amid an ongoing child care crisis in Ohio and across the country, the Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) hosted panelists from Central Ohio who discussed how the pandemic exacerbated an already strained system as well as what can be done to improve it. Moderated by Micah Walker, trending news reporter at the Columbus Dispatch, the event featured panelists Elizabeth Brown, president pro tempore of the Columbus City Council; Tony Collins, president & CEO of the YMCA of Central Ohio; and Joy Bivens, deputy Franklin County administrator of health and human services.


CORONAVIRUS


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 17,530 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days ending Thursday, compared to 19,546 the week before. This is the first-time week-over-week numbers declined since the end of March, when they fell from 3,668 on March 24 to 3,103 on March 31. The number of new hospitalizations also dropped from 506 the week of May 26 to 482 Thursday, while ICU admissions ticked up from 30 to 34. Reported deaths dropped from 38 to 29. In total, ODH has reported 2.78 million cases, 117,295 hospitalizations, 13,630 ICU admissions and 38,657 deaths. According to the Ohio Hospital Association, there are currently 753 hospital patients and 89 ICU patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 685 and 79 on May 26.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


The General Assembly launched hearings Thursday on a bipartisan effort to bring transparency to the Ohio Parole Board -- one of several state government bodies that don't stream or televise hearings, don't record them, or both. Reps. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) and Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) presented joint sponsor testimony to the House Criminal Justice Committee on HB511, which is broadly co-sponsored by 31 Democratic and Republican members to date. Along with deliberative proceedings conducted behind closed doors, Humphrey said full parole board hearings lack full accountability to the public, including transcripts, recordings or other documents.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced recently the state had entered a partnership with the government of Aragon, an autonomous community in Spain, to develop and strengthen economic, technological and commercial cooperation. The memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation was signed by DOD Director Lydia Mihalik and Marta Gaston Menal, minister of economy, planning and employment for the government of Aragon. The signing was conducted in a virtual ceremony, with the Aragon delegation attending in the city of Zaragoza and Ohio officials at a recently opened SAICA Group facility in Hamilton. DOD and JobsOhio worked with Aragon to develop the agreement.


EDUCATION


Another bill among a handful of proposals to restrict instruction on certain "divisive" concepts, this one addressing gender and sexual orientation as well, had a first hearing Tuesday in the House State and Local Government Committee. Reps. Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) told the committee that their HB616 is about parental rights. The legislation prohibits public schools and private schools accepting students on state scholarships from teaching or providing training that promotes or endorses "divisive or inherently racist" concepts, defined to include critical race theory (CRT), intersectional theory, the New York Times essay collection "The 1619 Project," diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) learning outcomes, inherited racial guilt, and any other concept so defined by the State Board of Education (SBOE). In addition, it bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for K-3 students, and requires it be developmentally or age-appropriate for older students. The SBOE would develop a procedure for taking complaints on alleged violations of the bill, with the potential for school funding to be withheld as a penalty.


Newly-minted Superintendent Steve Dackin visited the Ohio Dyslexia Committee at its Tuesday meeting for brief remarks to highlight literacy as his top priority and thank them for their contributions. "There's no greater calling in Ohio than to make sure all kids -- all kids -- can read at or above grade level. No greater calling. Your work is a foundation to that," Dackin said. "We're going to lead the nation in making sure kids can read ... with your help we're going to get there," he said.


The Senate Wednesday passed and the House concurred on legislation that reduces the number of training hours required for armed school staff in the wake of an Ohio Supreme Court decision that had put the requirement on par with the training required for law enforcement. The Senate passed HB99 (Hall) 23 to 9 with all Democrats voting against it along with Sens. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard). The House concurred on the amendments to the bill 56 to 34. Despite calls from teacher unions to veto it, Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement that he will sign HB99.


The SBOE Budget Committee started budget planning talks for the FY24-25 cycle Wednesday with an overview of what the state now spends in priority areas like learning recovery, literacy, preschool and workforce. Committee and board leadership said helping students and schools overcome pandemic learning loss will be a high priority.


A Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum grew contentious at times as panelists debated the latest bill in the Statehouse aiming to restrict education on certain "divisive or inherently racist concepts" as well as on "sexual orientation or gender identity." The event was held just a day after HB616 (Loychik-Schmidt) got its first hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee. The bill is among a handful of proposals that would limit how these topics can be discussed in schools. Also in the Ohio House, HB327 (Grendell-Fowler Arthur) is a similar bill that would extend to institutions of higher education.


ELECTIONS 2022


Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), in remarks supporting passage of HB377 (Hall-Swearingen), said the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary is a "real problem" for every member with a primary opponent, noting the May 2022 primary turnout was low. Seitz said the Legislature "missed the boat" by not requiring the secretary of state to send absentee ballot request forms to all voters in the 2022 primary. "My friends, you are looking at a primary in which you will be lucky to get 2 to 5 percent of the voters coming out," Seitz said. "I think all of us would agree that a turnout of 2 to 5 percent is a tremendous roll of the dice, and a shoddy excuse for democracy. If we're in for $20 million for this primary, it wouldn't have been more than $1.5 million to do what we can to boost voter turnout in that primary. ... But our friends across the Atrium would not do it. ... I do not know what the answer is at this point. I rise again to be comradely with our friends over there, and say OK we'll concur with your amendments to our bill. But folks, we better wake up to the fact that we are tired of playing second fiddle to your old guitar."


Gubernatorial challenger Nan Whaley is urging Gov. Mike DeWine to adopt her plan for a $350 inflation "rebate" to eligible Ohioans to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Democrat and former Dayton mayor says the $2.68 billion due to Ohio in the next round of federal funding is enough to cover the proposed rebate for roughly 7.4 million adults, or 89 percent of those in the state, who would receive $2.59 billion, leaving something under $10 million for other purposes. Eligibility would track economic impact payments in 2020 and 2021, with individuals earning up to $80,000 or couples up to $160,000 per year receiving $350 or $700, respectively.


A group of potential legislative candidates this week filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court asking it to order that their candidate filings be accepted by boards of elections. Specifically, the six plaintiffs are seeking an order for Secretary of State Frank LaRose and county boards of elections to accept any declarations of candidacy for the General Assembly and political party state central committees that were filed before 4 p.m. on May 4, 2022 and are otherwise valid, and accept any declarations of intent to be a write-in candidate that were filed before 4 p.m. on May 23, 2022 and are otherwise valid. Further, they are asking for their candidacies to be certified for the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary election.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose Saturday issued a directive to county boards of elections telling officials to begin preparing for an Aug. 2 primary election for General Assembly and state central committee races after a federal court ordered use of the third General Assembly map passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission but which had been struck down twice as unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. The order and directive are in effect for this election only. LaRose's directive told boards to program their voter registration and central tabulation systems using the third map, known in court documents as "Map 3," by Tuesday, June 7. Boards must also follow a revised elections calendar outlined in the directive for the requirements associated with conducting a statewide primary election on Aug. 2.


Two separate Democratic candidates this week announced they were ending their campaigns for the Ohio House after a federal court ordered the use of the third General Assembly map passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Colleen Reynolds, a Democrat who had filed to run in the district currently held by Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), announced she was ending her campaign because the third map drew her in with incumbent Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati), whom she described as "a dear friend and great advocate in Columbus." On the other side of the state, former state legislator and Cleveland councilman Jeff Johnson said he was ending his campaign for a state Senate seat because of the new map. "This map unfairly shifts Northeast Cleveland citizens into a majority CLE westside and suburban district that reduces the Black vote to 25.5 percent," he wrote on Twitter.


GAMING/GAMBLING


Legal sports bets can be placed in Ohio starting on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) announced Wednesday. Sports gambling legalization law HB29 (Wiggam-A. Miller) requires that the universal start date be no later than Jan. 1, 2023. According to OCCC, Ohio's sports betting start date will represent the largest expansion of gambling in state history and will be the largest simultaneous launch of sports gambling in the U.S.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Members of the House late Wednesday night passed legislation that would prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in women's and girls' sports. Republicans added the language to teacher residency program revision bill HB151 (Jones) near the end of the House's hours-long session. Reps. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) all spoke in favor of the amendment, arguing that transgender women have an unfair biological advantage over cisgender women. The amendment was accepted by a vote of 56-28, and the bill was passed by the same margin.


The House also sent education omnibus legislation HB583 (Bird-Jones) to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk. Rep. Adam Bird (R-Cincinnati) praised the Senate amendments, while Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) and Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) criticized the amendments for weakening oversight of charter schools and expanding vouchers to wealthy families. The House concurred with Senate amendments 54-36.


The House voted 55-33 to pass SB156 (Roegner), which recognizes knives as "arms" that are constitutionally protected and provides uniform laws throughout the state regarding the ownership, possession and purchase of knives. Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) said it's important that local governments be prohibited from enforcing stricter knife laws than the state, as many people travel with knives throughout Ohio. SB156 ultimately passed by a vote of 57-32.


The chamber voted 55-31 to pass SB239 (Blessing) after Republicans voted to include an amendment Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said would ensure direct care workers at intermediate care facilities (ICFs) receive the 6 percent raise they got in the budget, HB110 (Oelslager). House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Columbus) and other Democrats said they didn't support the amendment, as they weren't convinced the extra money would actually go to the workers.


Members of the House voted 80-10 to pass HB497 (Manning-Robinson), which eliminates retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) said parents should make the decision about whether their child should be held back, while Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) noted that retention often leads to more school dropouts and other problems.


The House also concurred with Senate amendments on the following bills which now go to the governor for his signature:


  • HB193 (Cutrona-Pavliga), which deals with electronic prescriptions for schedule II controlled substances. The vote was 85-0.

  • HB371 (Schmidt-Denson), which addresses mammography screening coverage. The vote was 84-0.

  • HB430 (Cross), which makes changes to laws on facilities, landlords and orphan wells. The vote was 55-28.

  • HB518 (Hoops), which deals with several local court changes. The vote was 80-7.

  • The House also passed the following bills:

  • SB160 (O'Brien), which deals with health care benefits for veterans. The bill passed 84-0.

  • SB224 (Cirino), which makes changes in the funeral industry. The bill passed 83-0.

  • SB225 (Schuring), which increases historic tax credits. The bill passed 85-5.

  • SB231 (Hottinger), which allows the state to issue an income tax refund to a deceased taxpayer's fiduciary. The bill passed 89-0.

  • SB246 (Rulli-Lang), which deals with pass-through entity taxes. The bill passed 87-2.

  • SB264 (Brenner), which regulates remote work by mortgage loan originators. The vote was 86-1.

  • SB273 (Hottinger-Hackett), which makes changes to the law governing the Ohio Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association. The bill passed 88-0.

  • SB287 (Manning), which allows county credit card charges for assistance care provided by a county veterans service office. The bill passed 88-0.

  • HB142 (Brinkman-Crawley), which allows Medicaid to cover doula services. The bill passed 81-3.

  • HB203 (Powell), which deals with occupational licenses. The bill passed 54-33.

  • HB492 (Loychik-Pavliga), which requires school coaches to complete mental health training. The bill passed 63-25.

  • HB501 (Hall), which makes changes to township law. The bill passed 86-2.

  • HB513 (Cross-Roemer), which deals with bad debts for cigarette and vapor products taxes. The bill passed 89-0.

  • HB556 (Swearingen), which makes changes to the nonprofit law. The bill passed 90-0.

  • HB575 (Cutrona), which deals with fraternal benefit society solvency. The bill passed 90-0.

  • HB578 (Roemer), a license plate and highway designation bill. The bill passed 90-0.

  • The House adopted the following resolutions:

  • SCR16 (Gavarone), which disapproves of Ohio Supreme Court proposed changes on remote hearings. The vote was 59-29.

  • HR194 (Stoltzfus-Ginter), which urges the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to consider adding Canada to the Special Watch List of countries where the government violates religious freedom. The vote was 58-29.

  • HCR46 (Johnson-Wilkin), which urges the president to refrain from recommending that the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chillicothe be closed. The vote was 89-0.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said the chamber will not be in session again until November.


In a last-minute resolution added to the Senate calendar Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted to disapprove of Ohio Supreme Court rule changes that would make it easier for courts to hold remote hearings including trials. The action on SCR16 (Gavarone) came on the last day of session for the Senate before it broke for the summer and potentially until the November election as the next sessions scheduled for September are "if-needed."


In a separate constitutional amendment resolution, the Senate adopted HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen) by a vote of 26-6. Gavarone said the resolution is identical to her SJR5 (Gavarone) that passed the Senate last week, but Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) said the arguments for it are misleading.


The Senate also passed HB140 (Merrin) addressing ballot language for property tax levies. Blessing said the bill would let taxpayers know what they are getting into, but Fedor argued the bill will make ballot language more complicated and not easier for them to understand the impact of a levy. Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) also said there were concerns about the impact the bill could have on trying to pass levies for developmental disability communities. She said she wished the Senate gave more time to the bill to make adjustments to the language. The bill passed 22-10, with Sens. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) joining Democrats in voting against it.


Other bills that passed the Senate Wednesday included the following:

  • HB99 (Hall), lowering the number of training hours required for armed school personnel by a vote of 23 to 9.

  • HB193 (Cutrona-Pavliga) regarding electronic prescriptions and Schedule II controlled substances by a vote of 31-1.

  • HB206 (Ghanbari-O'Brien) permitting township police to enforce specialized traffic offenses on interstate highways if authorized by a township board of trustees by a vote of 29-3.

  • HB371 (Schmidt-Denson), revising the laws governing the coverage of screening mammography and patient notice of dense breast tissue by a vote of 31-1.

  • HB377 (Hall), distributing coronavirus funds, by a vote of 31-1.

  • HB430 (Cross) to address underground utility facilities affected by construction, to exempt mobile computing units from certain building regulation, to make changes relating to the landlord and tenant law, to limit regulation of telecommunications, wireless, or Internet protocol-enabled service providers, to revise the law governing the plugging of idle and orphaned wells, to revise the use of the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, and to designate April as "Ohio Work Zone Safety Awareness Month" by a vote of 25-6.

  • HB447 (Lampton) regarding workers' compensation for employees who work from home by a unanimous vote.

  • HB515 (Hoops-Riedel), exempting from income tax certain gains from the sale of an ownership in a business by a unanimous vote.

  • HB518 (Hoops), creating the Fulton County Municipal Court by a unanimous vote.

  • HB537 (Abrams), designating Feb. 12 as "Cholangiocarcinoma Awareness Day" by a unanimous vote.

  • HB687 (Oelslager), the capital appropriations bill, by a unanimous vote.

  • SB131 (Roegner-McColley), addressing licensure reciprocity, by a unanimous vote.

  • SB164 (Hottinger-Yuko), prohibiting the destruction of a domestic animal by use of a gas chamber.

  • SB255 (Antonio-Williams), designating a portion of Lorain Avenue in Cleveland as the "Officer Wayne A. Leon Memorial Highway."

  • SB269 (Manning) clarifying that the Ohio Lottery Commission has the authority to operate certain Internet lottery games and prohibiting the commission from conducting Internet lottery game versions of certain number match lottery games by a vote of 30-2.

  • SB323 (Hackett), an omnibus road naming bill by a unanimous vote.

The Senate also concurred on House amendments to SB61 (Blessing-Antonio); SB156 (Roegner), SB160 (O'Brien), SB224 (Cirino), SB225 (Schuring), SB239 (Blessing), and SB264 (Brenner), thus sending them all on to the governor for his signature.


The Senate Wednesday also said goodbye to Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), who announced her resignation effective Wednesday, June 8. While she did not say what she would be doing during her speech on the floor, she told Hannah News that she is taking a job in the private sector, though she said she is not able to announce what her new position will be yet. She said it will be working in the area of state and local government.


In other action, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution putting a constitutional amendment before voters that bar any noncitizen from voting in local elections. Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) said opponents of HJR4 (Edwards-Seitz) have said it is not needed, but asked if it is not addressed now, then when should it be addressed? He said he could see one local government changing its charter to allow noncitizens to vote, and if the General Assembly tried to stop it, that government would call for them to be grandfathered. There would also likely be a court battle.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) Wednesday passed three motions telling staff to upgrade Statehouse security in the wake of a number of recent incidents on the Capitol grounds. The first motion directs Executive Director Laura Battocletti to replace the Statehouse windows with secure ballistic glass and metal frames after demonstrations in Downtown Columbus in 2020 saw several ground floor windows broken as well as a separate incident last year where an intruder entered the Statehouse after hours by throwing a trash can through a window. The second motion directs CSRAB staff to evaluate current security cameras and coordinate with the governor's office, the House clerk and the Senate clerk on the placement of new cameras around the Statehouse grounds. The third motion directs Battocletti to research and provide renderings of perimeter security of the facility. The improvements, however, are not related to a deadly shooting on the Statehouse grounds Sunday evening, May 29.


The Ohio State Highway Patrol is asking the public for tips to help solve the murder of a person who died of a gunshot wound on the Statehouse grounds Sunday evening. Patrol Sgt. Brice Nihiser told Hannah News that an officer heard a gunshot and went to investigate, finding the victim "with an apparent gunshot wound" at the northwest corner near the Statehouse building. Despite lifesaving measures attempted on the victim, he died on the Statehouse grounds.


In other action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB648 (Pavliga) which expands the jurisdiction of the Portage County Domestic Relations Court; and HB439 (Galonski-Hillyer) which addresses the involuntary treatment of mentally ill individuals; the House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out HB235 (Swearingen-Baldridge) which enacts the High Hazard Training Certification (HHTC) Act; the House State and Local Government Committee reported out SB239 (Blessing) which deals with qualifications of professional treatment staff; the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out HB279 (Brown-Oelslager) which revises laws governing wrongful death claims; and the Senate Ways and Means Committee reported out HB140 (Merrin) which enacts the "Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act."


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that he signed the following two bills into law:


  • HB30 (Wiggam-Kick) which clarifies the law governing slow-moving vehicles and revises the lighting and reflective material requirements applicable to animal-drawn vehicles. Eff. 90 days.

  • HB338 (Hoops) which changes the laws related to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, regional transit authorities, toll violations between states, the financial contracting authority of the director of transportation for purposes of the Brent Spence Bridge Project, and makes an appropriation. Permanent law provisions, eff. 90 days; appropriation eff. immediately.

Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • Jude S. Foulk of Marion (Marion County) reappointed to the Marion Technical College Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending April 29, 2025.

  • Elizabeth Jane Ferris of Springboro (Warren County) to the Wright State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending June 30, 2025.

  • Lynn A. Isaac of Toledo (Lucas County) to the University of Toledo Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending July 1, 2030.

  • Christian Robert Palich of Plain City (Union County) to the Kent State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending May 16, 2031.

  • Robert Keith Larrimer of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Architects Board for a term beginning June 13, 2022, and ending Oct. 2, 2026.

  • Jillian Suzanne Brown of Blue Ash (Hamilton County) to the Accountancy Board for a term beginning June 13, 2022, and ending Oct. 20, 2028.

  • Jodi Lynn Salvo of Bolivar (Tuscarawas County) to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending Oct. 10, 2024.

  • Dorothy L. Battles of Thompson (Geauga County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending Nov. 12, 2024.

  • Caryn Beth Candisky of Bay Village (Cuyahoga County) to the State Lottery Commission for a term beginning June 13, 2022, and ending Aug. 1, 2023.

  • Ray Arthur Rummell of Sherrodsville (Carroll County) reappointed to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning June 2, 2022, and ending June 28, 2026.

GREAT LAKES


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) will award a $225,000 grant to the state of Ohio to develop and implement a beach monitoring and notification program, the agency announced Tuesday. "Since 2002, USEPA's partners across the nation have used nearly $206 million in BEACH Act grants to protect the public by monitoring beaches for bacteria, maintaining and operating public notification systems, identifying local pollution sources, and reporting results to USEPA," the agency said. Under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, USEPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial and tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.


GUNS


Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday he will ask lawmakers to put up substantial sums to increase the security of facilities at all public and private school buildings in Ohio, among other efforts to address school safety and gun violence generally in the wake of the Texas elementary school shooting. But he said he will not spend time or energy advocating to generally address the supply of guns or ease of access to guns because he knows lawmakers won't act on those topics.


DeWine did say he will make another run at pushing for enactment of "public safety orders" for people with serious mental illness deemed a serious threat to themselves or others, assuming adequate due process can be provided. And he outlined past and continuing efforts for warrants and records to be properly logged so the background check system can effectively halt purchases of guns by those who are barred from having them. But DeWine said steps to address the sheer number of guns in society and the general ease of access in obtaining them are not among his plans. He said he has two criteria for sending a proposal to the Legislature: it has to make a difference, and it has to be able to pass. DeWine said state leaders must do more to address the threat in the wake of the Texas shooting.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


The House Health Committee accepted a substitute version of HB318 (Swearingen-Plummer) on changes to the law governing practice of anesthesiologist assistants Tuesday, with Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) saying it adds the definitions of "ambulatory surgical center" and hospital back into the law and makes changes regarding the definitions for direct supervision and immediate presence, among other changes from the prior sub bill. The bill was reported out by a 12-2 vote with opposition from West and Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield).


The House Health Committee amended and reported out HB28 (Wiggam), establishing requirements for regulation of stretcher vans, after hearing from one proponent and one opponent Tuesday. The amendment, offered by Ranking Member Beth Liston (D-Dublin), added notification and consent language for the patient, a guardian, or a holder of medical power of attorney before patients are transported in a stretcher van rather than in an ambulance or other vehicle. The amendment was drafted by Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) and had support from sponsor Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster).


The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) is now a Level II trauma center. UTMC announced late last year it was seeking provisional approval to operate as a Level II trauma center, and the state officially granted that request effective Tuesday, May 3. UTMC had been a Level III trauma center since August 2019. The major difference between Level III and Level II is the size of the team and the speed with which UTMC can respond to incoming trauma cases.


Speaking to members of the House Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee, health care officials with the Ohio Children's Hospital Association spoke out against legislation that would restrict gender affirming care for minors seeking to transition, as well as rebutted claims from proponents of the bill. Among the major issues raised by the panel about HB454 (Click-Grendell), the bill would strip Medicaid funding from hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to minors -- meaning not just an individual provider would be ineligible for Medicaid funding, but also all health care services provided by the hospital to any child.


LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced results of the 2022 Ohio Wine Competition, with Gervasi Vineyard's Sognata Vidal Blanc Ice Wine winning Overall Best of Show and Best of Ohio. It was held May 16-18 in Geneva-on-the-Lake. There were 386 total entries, with 322 receiving medals -- 38 double gold, 42 gold, 148 silver and 94 bronze.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) is offering up to $17 million in grants for projects that will eliminate hazards left behind by mining activity and/or improve areas with abandoned mine lands. Abandoned mine lands (AML) are sites that were mined for coal prior to 1977. Project sites eligible include unreclaimed, previously reclaimed, or lands adjacent to abandoned coal mine lands or polluted waters or communities affected by historic coal production. The new program will sub-grant Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) funds received from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). Projects must follow the guidelines set forth in OSMRE's AMLER Guidance Document, available at https://tinyurl.com/kzbzwn7z .


PENSIONS


Actuarial calculations used by the State Teachers Retirement System are "reasonable, consistent and accurate," according to an audit commissioned by the Ohio Retirement Study Council. State law calls for the council to contract for such an audit of each state retirement system at least every 10 years; STRS also recently underwent a fiduciary audit under a similar section of state law. The council hired PTA/KMS, an advisor team that previously helped lawmakers with the last round of major pension reforms in 2012. PTA/KMS said it reviewed and sought to duplicate actuarial work conducted by Cheiron, STRS' hired actuarial firm, and Segal, which conducted a five-year actuarial experience review in 2017.


POLITICS


An attorney for five members of the Ohio Republican Party's (ORP) State Central Committee (SCC) who sued the state party is vowing to appeal after a Franklin County judge dismissed the case this week. SCC members Laura Rosenberger, Denise Verdi, Joe Miller, Mark Bainbridge and Joann Campbell filed the lawsuit last year, making multiple claims including that the state party was supporting candidates without the support of the SCC. It named the state party and its chairman, Bob Paduchik, as well as Dave Johnson, the party's treasurer. In dismissing the case, Judge Jaiza Page sided with the state party, which moved to have the case dismissed for reasons that the plaintiffs did not state a claim upon which relief may be granted and because the internal disputes of a state political party are not justiciable.


POLLS/STUDIES


New polls this week suggested a close U.S. Senate race between Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance and a not so-close race between Gov. Mike DeWine and Democrat Nan Whaley. USA Today Network and Suffolk University released this week's polling on the U.S. Senate race and the governor's race. In the U.S. Senate race, Vance leads Ryan 42 percent to 39 percent, within the margin of error. However, Ryan faces headwinds as 49 percent said they want their vote in the race to "change the direction President Biden is leading the nation." Only 24 percent said they want their vote to support the direction Biden is leading the nation.


In the governor's race, the poll of likely voters shows 45.4 percent are leaning toward DeWine, 29.8 percent for Whaley, and another 10.6 percent for independent Niel Peterson, with 13.4 percent undecided. According to the Columbus Dispatch, nearly one in three voters surveyed said they have never heard of Whaley, while of those who have heard of her, 24.6 percent hold a favorable opinion, 20 percent unfavorable and 24 percent undecided. For DeWine, 55 percent said they have a favorable view of the governor, while 31 percent have an unfavorable view.


Meanwhile, a separate poll released by Innovation Ohio and GrowProgress shows Ryan leading Vance 43 to 41 percent. The poll shows Vance with 78 percent of Republican voters, while 91 percent of Democrats are backing Ryan.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday announced more than $2 million in grants will go to eight law enforcement agencies as part of the second round of funding for his Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program. The program is funded through a combination of money from biennial budget HB110 (Oelslager) and federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, with the latest round funded solely through ARPA. The governor said the program was created to address various issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including violent crime. Funding will primarily be used to recruit, retain and hire law enforcement officers.


State certification of Crawford County brings to 70 the number of sheriffs' offices having adopted law enforcement standards issued by the Ohio Community-Police Collaborative Advisory Board. The addition of Crawford County Sheriff's Office to agencies meeting statewide standards for use of force, including deadly force, and agency and recruitment and hiring leaves the following sheriffs' offices still uncertified: Adams, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Henry, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Paulding, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Shelby, Trumbull, Vinton and Wayne counties. A half dozen of those, moreover, contain no state-certified jurisdiction of any kind.


The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported 17 deaths on Ohio's roadways during the 2022 Memorial Day weekend according to provisional statistics. This Memorial Day saw more fatalities than last year, when there were 15 traffic deaths during the weekend. The four-day reporting period began Friday, May 27 and ran through Monday, May 30.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


The deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court for the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw a new General Assembly redistricting plan passed Friday morning, June 3 without the commission's meeting. The Court last week struck down a redistricting plan adopted by the commission, giving commissioners until 9 a.m. on Friday to come up with a new map. In the meantime, a federal court ordered elections officials to hold a Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary using the third map created by the commission that had been struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court. That map would be in effect for this election only.


The League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWV), the ACLU of Ohio, and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute Friday asked a federal court not to order use of a redistricting map until after the next Ohio Supreme Court deadline for drawing a new map. The parties had filed the motion in Gonidakis v. Ohio Redistricting Commission before the federal court ordered that the state use a redistricting plan that has been struck down as unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court for use in this year's election only, with a Tuesday, Aug. 2 date for the primary. The three-judge panel of the federal court in April had given state officials until Saturday, May 28, to work through redistricting issues, but said that it would order the use of the third map passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission if no new map was adopted. The court issued the order on Friday, May 27.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS/BROADBAND


The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee passed a bill Tuesday over the objections of the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC), Pro Seniors, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (SOLS) that reverses a recent Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) decision rejecting telecom industry rule changes to phone companies' obligations as providers of last resort (POLR). PUCO's proposed rule package in O.A.C. 4901:1-6-21 has been before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) since amendments to R.C. 4927 in the 131-HB64 (R. Smith) budget clarified incumbent phone companies' responsibility for basic local exchange service (BLES), especially in areas without adequate cell phone coverage or broadband service supporting voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Serious auto crashes in urban areas are more likely on city streets that look to drivers like highways, according to new research that analyzed roads in Columbus, OH. The study, conducted at Ohio State University (OSU), applied machine learning techniques to analyze more than 240,000 images of road segments in Columbus, taken from Google Street View. Researchers wanted to know what the roads looked like to drivers and whether that was linked to serious and deadly crashes. Findings showed street segments that were classified as "open roads" -- those where the photos showed more visible sky, more roadway and more signs -- had 48 percent more crashes that caused injury or death than those classified as "open residential." The open road classification included almost all of the highway segments in Columbus (93 percent), but it also included more than half of the city's arterial road segments (59 percent) -- the major high-capacity roads through the city.


VETERANS


Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Secretary of State Frank LaRose spoke Friday morning at the annual wreath-laying ceremony in advance of Monday's observance of Memorial Day. The ceremony included recognition of Gold Star families and a speech by Gold Star father Jim Tate, who recalled the life of his late son, Marine Jacob Tate, his youngest and adopted child, who died in 2011 in Afghanistan.


A ranking of states' status for military retirees placed Ohio at 40th nationally and trailing all neighboring states, with WalletHub saying it used 29 key metrics. West Virginia was 20th, followed by Kentucky, 23rd; Pennsylvania, 25th; Michigan, 30th; and Indiana, 34th. In sub-rankings, Ohio placed 11th for health care, 41st for economic environment and 42nd for quality of life. Among neighbors, it was second in health care and fifth in quality of life and economic environment.


WORKERS' COMPENSATION


While the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) reported $975 million in net investment income losses during the fiscal year to date, the agency's financial position is strong, according to BWC leaders. During Friday's BWC Board of Directors meeting, Chair Chan Cochran said he's pleased that even with the negative returns, "assets remain at a healthy $8 billion." The BWC's all funds net position was $8.0 billion through April 30, 2022, down from $8.1 billion on April 30, 2021, according to documents provided by BWC spokesperson Kim Norris.


BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud announced that Friday's meeting was the last for Director Dewey Stokes, who is retiring. Before working at BWC, Stokes served as a Columbus police officer for 27 years, president of the national Fraternal Order of Police for eight years and as a Franklin County commissioner for 12 years, McCloud said. Stokes was appointed to the BWC Board of Directors in 2010 by former Gov. John Kasich. Stokes will be replaced by Terence Joyce, whose appointment was announced by Gov. Mike DeWine earlier in May.

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


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