top of page

Week in Review March 11, 2024


Ohio statehouse government affairs week in review January 2023


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

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


ABORTION


Two of the nation's largest retail pharmacies will soon dispense mifepristone, also known as the "abortion pill." CVS and Walgreens both announced they have received certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to dispense the medication. "We've received certification to dispense mifepristone at CVS Pharmacy and plan to fill prescriptions for this medication in states where legally permissible," CVS spokesperson Amy Thibault told Hannah News. However, despite the reproductive/abortion rights constitutional amendment passing in Ohio, it's still currently illegal for pharmacists to dispense mifepristone in the state, Thibault said.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


The OneOhio Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit created by the state and local governments to oversee the bulk of opioid settlement proceeds, issued a request for proposals (RFP) Monday as the first step in a 2024 grant cycle that could send out as much as $51 million to support treatment, prevention and other addiction abatement strategies. OneOhio also opened registration Monday for eligible entities -- nonprofits, for-profit entities with services aligned to the foundation's purpose, government jurisdictions -- interested in pursuing a grant. Applications will officially open Tuesday, April 2 and be due Friday, May 3. As much as $51,194,220 is available in the 2024 grant cycle, and OneOhio will consider projects lasting one, two or three years. OneOhio will consider proposals spanning multiple of the foundation's 19 regions, but will not consider statewide projects this cycle. The RFP and additional information about the grant process is at https://www.oneohiofoundation.com/grants.


AGRICULTURE


Ohio State Fair officials have announced two more concerts in the 2024 Ohio State Fair Concert and Event Series. Comedian Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias will perform on Wednesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $65 or $55, and went on sale Friday, March 8. Norteno band La Zenda Nortena will play on Sunday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20, and also are on sale. According to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, norteno music is popular in the northern regions of Mexico.


AUDITOR OF STATE


Auditor of State Keith Faber's office recently made Crestline Exempted Village Schools the sixth jurisdiction and only school district on its list of "unauditable" entities for lack of adequate records. Crestline has 90 days from Tuesday, Feb. 27 -- when Faber's office provided notification of unauditable status -- to provide records needed to complete an audit or it becomes open to legal action.


FY24-25 BUDGET


State tax revenues ran nearly 2 percent ahead of expectations in February and are just about on target for the fiscal year so far, according to preliminary revenue data from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Tax receipts reached $2.11 billion in February, $38.4 million or 1.2 percent over forecasts. The sales tax drove that trend, coming in $32 million or 3.5 percent ahead, yielding $954.2 million versus expectations of $922.2 million. The non-auto sales tax was ahead by $22.3 million or 2.8 percent, while the auto sales tax was up $9.6 million or 7.2 percent. Income taxes missed the mark by $14.8 million or 5 percent, bringing in $278.2 million versus expectations of $293 million. The Commercial Activity Tax was close to the target, yielding $524.1 million and missing expectations by just $2.4 million or 0.4 percent.


CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen recently endorsed a recommendation for adults age 65 and older to receive an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. The agency said that acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease for older adults and currently available data on vaccine effectiveness. Senior citizens are "disproportionately impacted" by COVID-19, as over half of hospitalizations during October through December 2023 were people in that age group. The recommendation "allows older adults to receive an additional dose of this season's COVID-19 vaccine to provide added protection," Cohen said.


The CDC also recently updated its recommendations on how people can protect themselves and the community from respiratory viruses including COVID, flu and RSV. The updated guidance provides a "unified approach" to addressing those risks, according to the CDC, as there are now "far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19." Cohen said that while progress has been made, "commonsense solutions" such as vaccination, treatment and staying home when sick are needed to protect against serious illness from respiratory viruses.


Since the pandemic began, there have been 3.73 million total cases, 150,599 hospitalizations, 15,767 ICU admissions and 43,772 Ohio resident deaths reported by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The JobsOhio Board of Directors met Thursday in Lima, with specific focus on military and federal issues given the presence of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) there. Board Chair Josh Rubin opened by noting JobsOhio's efforts to ensure they benefit the entire state, with the Vibrant Communities Program a "great example" of that. President J.P. Nauseef added that JobsOhio is investing $300,000 through that program to renovate two buildings in downtown Lima. Rubin further voiced optimism about JobsOhio's pipeline of economic development projects, despite a slowdown in overall business deals, and noted their support for workforce development programs. He also said Allen County has seen nearly $1 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. Other parts of Nauseef's report included reiterating the message this is "Ohio's time" and detailing how the state has recovered in economic development since 2011. He attributed that to the "industrious" workforce, competitive business climate and JobsOhio's efforts. Nauseef said Ohio was ranked second in jobs created by foreign direct investment, which is significant given reshoring efforts.


EDUCATION


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Monday announced the recipients of the Career Technical Education Equipment Grant Program, which they said will expand career technical education access to an additional 10,345 students across the state. The Career Technical Education Equipment Grant Program will provide 56 schools with grants totaling more than $67.7 million. Recipients will use the funding to purchase new equipment for career technical and compact schools across Ohio for various programs including engineering, manufacturing, health sciences, construction, and more. The second round of the Career Technical Education Equipment Grant will open later this spring. Schools interested in applying for the second round can visit www.Workforce.Ohio.gov/CTEEquipment.


The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) released an updated list of curricular and instructional material for reading aligned to new mandates for instruction established in the biennial budget, HB33 (Edwards). Gov. DeWine proposed and lawmakers enacted requirements for reading instruction to include approaches aligned to what's referred to as the science of reading, generally a systematic effort to cover elements including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The budget included funding to help schools buy these materials and for teachers to be trained in the approved methods. The list is at https://tinyurl.com/bdcny2bb.


ELECTIONS


In the second part of its report on voting policies in Ohio, Innovation Ohio's (IO) Education Fund said Ohio consistently ranks below other Midwest battleground states when it comes to turnout, and suggested that certain voting policies could help improve both registration and turnout numbers, especially among younger voters. The group released the first part of its report last year, saying there are at least 700,000 Ohioans who are registered to vote but have not participated in the last three federal elections. The second part of the report compares Ohio's voting policies with other Midwest states, saying Ohio trailed Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Iowa in turnout for the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections. The highest turnout came in the 2020 presidential election with 67 percent of voters casting a ballot in Ohio, but that trailed all four of the other states, with Wisconsin turning out more than 75 percent of its voters.


The 2024 election could be the last free and fair election in the U.S. if Donald Trump is elected president, according to author and historian Heather Cox Richardson. "We are on a knife edge. It is not new -- it's been coming for a long time. But this is the election to guarantee that there will be another election in 2028. If we do not do it right this time, the future does not look good," Richardson said during a conversation with Red Wine & Blue founder Katie Paris at a City Club of Cleveland forum on Thursday. Richardson is a professor of history at Boston College, and her latest book is “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America.” Richardson said the current political landscape reminds her of several periods in American history.


ELECTIONS 2024


States cannot enforce the "insurrection or rebellion" section of the U.S. Constitution against former President Donald Trump or other federal candidates/officeholders, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a per curiam opinion. "A group of Colorado voters contends that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits former President Donald J. Trump, who seeks the presidential nomination of the Republican Party in this year's election, from becoming president again. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with that contention. It ordered the Colorado secretary of state to exclude the former president from the Republican primary ballot in the state and to disregard any write-in votes that Colorado voters might cast for him. Former President Trump challenges that decision on several grounds. Because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates, we reverse," the Court wrote. While there were no dissenting opinions, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote one concurring opinion, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote another concurring opinion.


A new poll released this week by SurveyUSA shows a tight race in Ohio’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with businessman Bernie Moreno holding a lead over Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The poll surveyed 568 likely Republican primary voters from Tuesday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, March 3. The pollster noted that its last survey, conducted three months ago, showed LaRose leading, but now he trails both other candidates. In the latest survey, Moreno has 29 percent, followed by Dolan at 27 percent and LaRose at 21 percent, with 23 percent of respondents undecided.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) campaign Thursday announced it has raised nearly $5.7 million in the first two months of 2024. The campaign reported it has $13.5 million on hand.

The Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA), the campaign arm of the Ohio House Republican Caucus, reported Thursday that it has spent more than $3.1 million ahead of the Tuesday, March 19 primary as it seeks to protect a number of incumbents facing primaries. Thursday was the deadline for candidates to report spending for the first two months of this year ahead of the March primary. OHRA also reported receiving nearly $500,000 in contributions, and has $400,392 on hand.


The secretary of state’s office announced Thursday that less than two weeks before the March 19 presidential primary, Ohio voters have cast 131,613 absentee ballots statewide. The secretary of state's office said that through Monday, March 4, a total of 234,647 absentee ballots had been requested. Of the 131,613 absentee ballots cast, 59,969 were cast by mail, while 71,644 were cast in person at county boards of elections.


Early in-person voting began Wednesday, Feb. 21 and continues through Sunday, March 17. Election Day is Tuesday, March 19. The remaining schedule for early voting is as follows:


  • Saturday, March 9, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Monday, March 11 and Wednesday, March 13 through Friday, March 15, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, March 12, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

  • Saturday, March 16, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Sunday, March 17, 1-5 p.m.

  • Monday, March 18 - No early voting hours.

  • Tuesday, March 19 - Election Day polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Voters will need to have a government-issued photo identification when voting in person. Those IDs include an Ohio driver's license; a State of Ohio ID card; Interim ID form issued by the Ohio BMV; a U.S. passport; U.S. passport card; a U.S. military ID card; Ohio National Guard ID card; or a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ID card. All photo IDs must have an expiration date that has not passed.


Just days after a defiant J.R. Majewski announced he was staying in the Republican primary for the 9th Congressional District, he said he would indeed be suspending his campaign. Majewski released a statement on Saturday announcing the suspension of his campaign, saying, "While I know I would win, and have a great shot in the general election now that my record has been cleared, it is inevitable that the Deep State will do whatever it takes to fight against me. Even going as far as attacking my family and once again accusing me of stolen valor." Then on Thursday, Majewski announced that he has endorsed Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Maumee) in the primary.


The NFIB Ohio PAC said Tuesday that it has launched a digital ad campaign asking Ohioans to vote for "Ohio's Main Street Champions," six candidates the PAC has endorsed in the election. The six candidates are Sen. George Lang and former Rep. Kyle Koehler for Ohio Senate and Reps. Brian Stewart, Adam Mathews, Jon Cross and Don Jones for Ohio House.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The state representative campaign of Republican Gordon Short announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Max Miller (R-Rocky River).

  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) PAC endorsed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for re-election.

  • The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Bernie Moreno announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL).

  • The congressional campaign of Republican Shane Wilkin announced the endorsement of Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester).

ENERGY/UTILITIES


In an extraordinary reversal Friday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) administrative law judge renewed the stay of commission investigations into FirstEnergy's political spending, corporate separation, and possible diversion of customer charges and their potential connection to $61 million in bribes related to the General Assembly's passage and governor's signing of energy subsidy 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin). The order follows PUCO's decision less than two weeks ago to resume four separate investigations into FirstEnergy. Administrative Law Judge Megan Addison's five-page order follows the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel's (OCC) equally unexpected reversal Thursday on the repeated stay of PUCO investigations into FirstEnergy. That followed Thursday's request by the Ohio Attorney General's Office for the commission to once again halt subpoenas and discovery of the utility so as not to hamstring the state's RICO case against FirstEnergy's former CEO Chuck Jones and former Senior Vice President of External Affairs Michael Dowling and former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo.


However, OCC on Monday followed its request to halt the PUCO 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) investigations by reminding commissioners of its "ample rights of discovery" into the bribery scheme and its possible charge-off to utility ratepayers. Joined by the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), OCC appealed the Friday, April 19 discovery deadline ordered by the administrative law judge in PUCO's four investigations into FirstEnergy's political spending, corporate separation, and possible diversion of customer charges to HB6-related kickbacks.


It's official: Fortune 500 Vistra Corp. says it's now owner of Ohio's Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants after completing the stalled deal Friday with Akron-based Energy Harbor, the facilities' previous successor of FirstEnergy. Texas-based Vistra announced the $3.43 billion agreement a year ago but spent the rest of 2023 fighting a raft of interested parties at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the PUCO Federal Energy Advocate (FEA), OCC, PJM Interconnection's Independent Market Monitor (IMM), and Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC).

The PUCO has approved the $6.6 billion sale of Dominion Energy's natural gas distribution company to Canadian energy giant Enbridge Inc. over the concerns of OCC and Ohio Energy Leadership Council (OELC), formerly Industrial Energy Users (IEU) Ohio. PUCO commissioners said Wednesday that Calgary-based Enbridge, describing itself as "North America's largest natural gas utility by volume," will continue to provide East Ohio Gas Company's (EOG) 1.2 million customers "safe, reasonably priced and adequate" service without interruption. Dominion/EOG employs 1,500 people with a territory covering 400 local government jurisdictions in 27 Ohio counties concentrated in Northeast Ohio, representing millions more in persons served.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Charles F. Kurfess, a Republican three-term Ohio House speaker and longtime lawmaker and judge, died Friday, March 1 at age 94. Kurfess, also a U.S. Army veteran, served in the House from 1957 through 1978, including three terms as speaker from 1967 through 1972 and three as minority leader from 1973 through 1978. It was during his tenure as speaker that the Legislature enacted the state income tax. Kurfess went on to serve as a judge on the Wood County Court of Common Pleas from 1991 until retirement at the end of 2002. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2024, at 11 a.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church, 5520 Fremont Pike, Stony Ridge, OH. Family will receive visitors beginning at 10 a.m., until the time of service.


Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday issued a statement reacting to the death of former Sen. Ted Gray, who served in the Ohio Senate longer than any other person in Ohio history. Gray spent more than 43 years in the Ohio Senate, more than any other person in Ohio history, and was elected majority leader in the Senate and president pro tempore. His last term began in 1990, when he was appointed to serve as Senate Finance chair. In his statement, DeWine said, "Fran and I were very saddened to learn of the death of our friend, former State Sen. Ted Gray.”


All rules on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) agenda were cleared during its Monday meeting, though Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Dennison) raised a question for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) regarding class VI injection wells and state supremacy. No ODNR representative was present, so Hillyer said he would ask that at another time. There was no public testimony or other member questions in regard to other rules on the no change or regular agendas. The next JCARR meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.


Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), chair of the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee, has established a new review process for the governor's appointees to boards of trustees at public universities, asking them to complete questionnaires that provide more information about their thoughts on higher education. The governor's appointees are approved with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. Before being considered on the Senate floor, appointees to the boards of the state's public universities and community and technical colleges must be considered by the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee. Committee Chair Cirino said he wanted more information about the appointees before approving them.


GREAT LAKES


The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) and International Joint Commission (IJC) have signed the first-ever memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the groups. The agreement aims to advance the commissions' existing shared goals and objectives, such as developing a Great Lakes science plan, coordinating science vessel activities and promoting annual Great Lakes Day events, according to GLC.


GUNS


Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released Friday the 2023 annual report on concealed handgun licensing, saying 90,582 total permits were issued. It was the first full year without a license requirement in order to carry a concealed handgun, following 134-SB215 (Johnson) taking effect in June 2022. County sheriffs issued 15,581 new licenses and 75,001 renewals, which are required every five years. The report noted receiving a license entails eight hours of education and enables permit-holders to concealed carry in the 39 states which recognize Ohio's license. By comparison, there were 94,298 new licenses issued in 2021 and no year between 2014 and 2021 saw fewer than 50,000 new licenses.


HANNAH NEWS RACES TO WATCH


The Republican primary in House District 83 will see a member of House leadership trying to defend his seat for a fourth term against a would-be newcomer to the Statehouse as Rep. Jon Cross (R-Findlay) is challenged by Ty Mathews. Mathews serves in the Army National Guard and recently returned from a deployment to Iraq. He was also previously a legislative and policy analyst for Ohio Treasurer of State Robert Sprague. Cross is currently assistant majority floor leader in the House and his committee assignments include energy and natural resources, finance, finance subcommittee on higher education, government oversight and rules and reference. While Cross has not been primary sponsor of any bills in this General Assembly, he has co-sponsored dozens of bills.


On the outs with his caucus, first-term Rep. Elliot Forhan (D-South Euclid) now faces two challengers for his seat in the strongly Democratic House District 21, which covers communities in Northeast Cuyahoga County. Beachwood City Council member and attorney Eric Synenberg and small business owner Angel Washington are now competing with Forhan for the Democratic nomination. Synenberg has lined up support from a number of local political leaders, including Sen. Kent Smith (D-Euclid), the Senate minority whip; former Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, former House Speaker and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish; and local mayors including Georgine Welo of Forhan's hometown in South Euclid. Numerous labor groups and the Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com also endorsed him. Washington's campaign touts the endorsements of the Cuyahoga County Progress Caucus, Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC, International Association of Firefighters Local 93, and two members of Cleveland City Council, among others.


This year's Republican primary in the 98th House District features a second bid by conservative activist and attorney Scott Pullins, who previously lost to Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) in 2022. Kick is now term-limited, so Pullins faces Mark Hiner and Brandon Lape in a three-way race. Hiner is a business owner and received Kick's endorsement, while Lape previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 and 2022.


Seven Democrats and one Republican are vying for the Central Ohio seat currently held by term-limited state Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), who is running for Congress. Ohio House District 6 includes portions of west Columbus, including West Scioto, Lincoln Village, Westland, Westgate, and Hilltop. The district is safely blue with a Democratic index of 56.92 percent, according to data from the Ohio Redistricting Commission. On the Democratic side, the candidates include Brandon Barcus, Patrick Barnacle, Eli Bohnert, Christine Cockley, Adhanet Kifle, Kawther Musa, and Elijah Williams. One of them will face off against the lone Republican candidate, Hussein Jabiri, in the general election.


With redistricting putting incumbent Rep. Richard Dell'Aquila (D-Seven Hills) outside the new 15th House District boundaries, the open seat has drawn two contenders apiece in the party primaries for the contest, including one who's consulted on district maps. Democratic primary voters will choose between Chris Glassburn, a city council member for North Olmsted and consultant to General Assembly Democrats in the redistricting process, and TJ Mulloy, a campaign worker, financial adviser and former union laborer. On the Republican side, Brooklyn City Council member Aaron Borowski faces off against Ryan McClain, a candidate in past cycles.


Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) is betting on incumbency and primary challenger George Brunemann on a team Trump tie-in to push them to victory in the typically quiet 29th District. Abrams seemed poised to complete four House terms in 2026 until she joined Democrats last year to elect House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and drew censure from the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) as one of the "Blue 22." The victor will face Democrat Joe Salvato and Independent Liz Anderson this November in a heavily GOP-leaning district, all but ensuring the Republican primary winner the House seat.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Mike Duffey has been a fixture on Capitol Square for decades, but he's taking on a new role as chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). Duffey recently spoke with Hannah News about his background and the state of higher education in Ohio. As many universities face tough economic conditions and an at-times fraught political environment, Duffey said colleges remain "the dominant way people can get ahead. I think of it as that fundamental economic mobility -- that talent pipeline - [that] helps Ohio compete and win against other states, [and] that produces economic prosperity. Overall, if we can raise median wages in the state because of education level, that reduces dependency on social services, and allows people to pursue their dreams," Duffey said. "I really think that higher education is the crux of the American dream for most people."


The Controlling Board Monday again approved the advanced disbursement of Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC)'s State Share of Instruction (SSI) payments as the school continues to work through financial difficulties. EGCC announced last month that it is pausing registration and enrollment for terms beyond the spring semester and cutting about 40 staff positions due to its financial condition. The school, which has locations in Steubenville and Youngstown, is currently undergoing "heightened cash monitoring" through the U.S. Department of Education. Monday's Controlling Board item was the third such request by EGCC.


Notre Dame College (NDC) in South Euclid announced Thursday it will close at the end of the 2024 spring semester, citing long-standing financial challenges related to declining enrollment, a shrinking pool of college-aged students, rising costs and significant debt. "The Board of Trustees has worked tirelessly for years on multiple fronts to address long-standing issues. This includes refinancing debt, navigating a down market, strategically using federal and state COVID-19 relief funds to maintain our mission during the pandemic, launching a centennial fundraising campaign, pursuing two potential higher education partners for a possible merger or acquisition; and working closely with major donors and other stakeholders to raise additional revenue. These heroic efforts were not enough to close the financial gap in time to satisfy debt obligations and allow the school to continue to operate independently," the board said in its announcement.


The Hiram College Board of Trustees has announced the selection of Robert E. Bohrer II as the 24th president of the private liberal arts college, which is located in Northeast Ohio. "We are delighted to have Dr. Bohrer serve as Hiram's president," said Robert Turner, chair of the Hiram College Board of Trustees. "He is an experienced educator and strong leader whose vision and judgment will serve Hiram well as we continue to fulfill the mission of the college, just as we have done since 1850." The college will celebrate 175 years in 2025. Bohrer went to Hiram in 2022 to serve as the vice president of academic affairs and dean. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years in faculty and administrative positions at Gettysburg College.


INSURANCE


A new policy brief released by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) found increased cell phone usage in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the largest contributor to distracted driving in the U.S. and has led to increased insurance costs. The report, "Distracted Driving: State of Risk," cited a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) survey that found 2.5 percent of drivers stopped at intersections were talking on hand-held phones at any moment during the day. DOT also found that self-reported data on hand-held and hands-free use brings the total up to approximately 7.6 percent of drivers who were using a cell phone during any moment of the day in a vehicle.


Ohioans on Medicare are being cautioned to watch for false claims made with their Medicare numbers for medical supplies. The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) says fraudulent claims are often made for urinary catheters, back and knee braces and glucose monitors. Scammers will use an individual's Medicare number to fraudulently bill Medicare, often at thousands of dollars per claim. Individuals whose numbers are used are not necessarily affected financially but can face difficulties in obtaining a new number and card from Medicare or possible complications in receiving legitimate medical supplies in the future.


JUDICIAL


If the mutual dissatisfaction of all parties were the test of Ohio Supreme Court jurisprudence, the high court delivered Wednesday in a split decision that handed Ohio State University and a disgruntled student partial losses; curtailed Ohio Court of Claims jurisdiction; and remanded to the 10th Appellate District a COVID-related case it did not want. The appeals court must now determine (1) whether OSU has met the discretionary immunity exemption to claims against the state and, if so, (2) whether its refusal to refund all student fees during the Spring 2020 coronavirus shutdown was a proper application of that immunity. Only if the 10th District finds the university is not entitled to discretionary immunity would the case go back to the Court of Claims for a decision on Brooke Smith's argument that she should have received pro-rated refunds not only for room, board and recreation but also for fees related to instruction, course registration, learning technology, programming and general operations.


LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR


Opening the Governor's Executive Workforce Board meeting Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced a new state resource aimed at helping connect those seeking a new career with the resources needed to achieve their career goals. The Ohio Career Navigator can be found at www.OhioMeansJobs.com. Husted said the tool is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) and the Ohio Business Roundtable's Attainment Coalition. He said the Career Navigator will be a central location for career exploration resources. He said many agencies already have a variety of programs and tools to assist people exploring a career, but the new tool will bring all of those together "in a robust tool."


LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


Ohio Liquor (OHLQ) is collaborating with Ireland's Bord Bia agency to bring the largest-ever collection of Irish whiskey and gin to the heartland, the DeWine administration announced Monday. "Available starting this week at more than 130 select OHLQ locations, the Irish Cask and Craft Collection features an exclusive lineup including single-cask, limited production, and new-to-Ohio spirits from over 20 distinguished Irish distilleries," OHLQ said. OHLQ is a partnership between the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of Liquor Control and JobsOhio Beverage System (JOBS).


LOBBYISTS


The Ohio Lobbying Association (OLA) announced that Don Boyd, the vice president of state government relations and general counsel at the Ohio Bankers League, has been appointed as the incoming president of the association's board of trustees for 2024. In addition OLA's 2024 Board of Trustees includes President-elect Melissa Kuhn Wheeler, Westfield Group; Vice President Chrisy Wright, IGS Energy; Secretary/Treasurer Michelle Holdgreve, Ohio Contractors Association; At-large members Ronnie Romito, Governmental Policy Group, Hunter Wright, THW Consulting, and Dave Salisbury, Sean Dunn & Associates; and Immediate Past President Tony Brigano, Hicks Partners.


Thomas Pappas & Associates recently announced the addition of William Schwartz to its public policy consulting team. Schwartz brings 14 years of legislative, advocacy and public policy experience to the firm, most recently having been a founder of The WRS Group, where he worked on the new school funding formula and report card reform. During his tenure as a lobbyist at the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Schwartz represented over 3,500 school board members across 711 school districts at the Statehouse and before state government. At OSBA, he led efforts to monitor legislation, develop public policy strategies, and interact with state and national media. While there, he also filled policy development and analysis roles for the Ohio Education Policy Institute and Ohio School Law Journal.


Business consulting firm Hicks Partners announced Tuesday it hired Jean Carter Ryan, a veteran of state and local government, as senior advisor. She was founding president of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority, a public finance agency that supported major economic development efforts like Dublin's Bridge Park development. Before that, she served in multiple gubernatorial administrations, including as deputy director of the Economic Development Division for the Ohio Department of Development.


MARIJUANA/HEMP


While Jim Canepa loved leading the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of Liquor Control, he was ready for a new challenge after voters approved adult use marijuana. "I probably had the second-best job in all of state government. Like, maybe the first best would be riding a horse through a state park as a ranger -- but it was a great job," Canepa told Hannah News during an interview in the Riffe Center. Canepa is now the first superintendent of the newly-created DOC Division of Cannabis Control (DCC).

The Cleveland School of Cannabis (CSC) is the first accredited cannabis school in the nation, CSC has announced. The school received a 10-year accreditation from the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), CSC said. CSC offers in-person and online programs in horticulture, processing and dispensary operations, along with a live online home-grow program called "My First Plant" that filled up in just one month after Ohio's Issue 2 passed in November 2023, according to CSC. The institution itself has been serving the cannabis industry since 2017, taking in students from 28 states across the country and graduating more than 1,000 individuals.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The public comment period for proposals for the state's 2024-25 hunting and trapping seasons, including white-tailed deer, waterfowl, and small game is now open, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife announced. Comments on Division of Wildlife proposals can be submitted online at https://tinyurl.com/2775r3vf through Wednesday, March 13.


The ODNR Division of Wildlife began releasing 85,000 rainbow trout across the state on Wednesday, March 13. The 95 stocking locations were chosen to give as many anglers as possible a chance to reel in these fish in March, April, and May. Trout releases are designed for high angler success and harvest. Find a complete list of release dates and locations at www.ohiodnr.gov/troutstockings. Fishing techniques can be found at www.wildohio.gov.


The ODNR Division of Wildlife confirmed that a female fisher, a mammal that was collected as roadkill in Ashtabula County in February 2023, was pregnant. Although that fisher did not successfully give birth, the results are a sign that fishers are colonizing Ohio. A fisher is a forest-dwelling carnivorous mammal in the weasel family. Fishers were extirpated from Ohio in the mid-1800s. In 2013, Ohio's first modern-day fisher sighting was confirmed. Since then, there have been 40 confirmed fisher observations across nine northeast Ohio counties -- Ashtabula, Columbiana, Geauga, Trumbull, Mahoning, Lake, Jefferson, Harrison, and Tuscarawas. Two-thirds of those sightings occurred in the last three years. Fishers are moving westward from established populations in Pennsylvania and naturally colonizing Ohio.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) has named Crystal Jones as its new senior director of workforce partnerships. Jones, who most recently served as vice president of marketing, diversity, and community impact at Clark State College, will help the association strengthen partnerships to address Ohio's workforce training needs while also serving as director of the Ohio Semiconductor Collaboration Network. Jones has more than 17 years of experience in academia and marketing, and over a decade of professional experience building relationships with community organizations and businesses.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The state's burn ban regulations are now in effect and will last through May, the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced. "Safety is a responsibility we all share," State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said. "That's why it is critical that Ohioans understand and appreciate the significant risks associated with fires, especially during more vulnerable times of the year, and that they adhere to these important restrictions. Together, we can protect our communities and environment." Greg Guess, fire program administrator and assistant chief for the ODNR Division of Forestry said, "Most people don't know that Ohio has a spring fire season. As we enter the spring season, we ask that Ohioans increase their awareness of the risks of outdoor burning and make themselves aware of seasonal regulations. This way, we can help to keep Ohio safe from wildland fires in 2024."


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


Ohio voters should support the anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment proposed by Citizens Not Politicians, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said during an event in Columbus on Sunday. "The Constitution says, 'We the people' not 'We the politicians,'" Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said. "This isn't a Democrat or Republican issue -- the politicians of both parties manipulate the maps to eliminate competition, and when there is no competition there is no performance and we have division and we can't solve our problems," he continued. "It's time to get the legislators and other politicians out of the map-drawing business. Fair maps now!" The "Terminate Gerrymandering" event drew supporters from across the state and was organized by Citizens Not Politicians, the bipartisan coalition working to amend the Ohio Constitution in 2024.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Ohio Inspector General's (IG) office recently released its 2023 annual report, saying investigations that year include fraudulent disbursal of millions of taxpayer dollars related to unemployment assistance. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) "identified suspected fraudulent activity related to more than $25 million in unemployment benefits disbursed by intermittent and contracted workers employed by the agency, and sent referrals to the inspector general's office to investigate the alleged unlawful actions," according to the report. It outlined several of those cases as well. A total of 255 complaints were received by the IG's office, resulting in 20 cases being opened. Eighteen cases were closed during the year, with around half substantiated. There were 38 recommendations made to agencies in eight cases, 18 referrals in seven cases, 43 criminal charges in six cases and $6.84 million in identified monetary losses from six cases.


The Department of Development (DOD) has new leadership in its TourismOhio office in its pursuit to brand Ohio as "the heart of it all" when it comes to encouraging people to travel to Ohio. The new director of TourismOhio, Sarah Wickham, follows former Director of Tourism Matt MacLaren, who is now the director of travel and tourism policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Wickham received a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Ohio State University, did her first year of general legal studies at Capital University Law School, and received a master's in education in middle childhood education. Wickham says her past experiences as a teacher in the Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools has allowed her to gain the communication skills needed to encourage people to try something new.


TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE


Discussion at the fourth Ohio Air Mobility Symposium Monday and Tuesday included a focus on policy and infrastructure changes needed to prepare for new aircraft types and their use cases, along with technical conversations about development and certification processes. Speakers included government and military leaders, university officials and industry representatives. The annual event has been organized by Ohio State University (OSU) students and traditionally held on the OSU campus, though the Monday events took place at the Ohio Statehouse this year.


TOBACCO/SMOKING/VAPING


Tobacco use doesn't just account for millions of deaths in the U.S. each year, the societal and economic costs of smoking are also huge. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated smoking costs the U.S. over $600 billion each year, accounting for both medical care and lost productivity, a recent analysis by the financial advisory site WalletHub estimates the state-by-state, per-person cost of smoking. WalletHub's analysis includes potential monetary losses, like the lifetime and annual cost of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs, brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


If voters give their blessing to a half-percent sales tax increase in November, Columbus and the surrounding area would spend more than $8 billion to expand Central Ohio's transit and transportation infrastructure system as the region is expected to see major population growth over the next 25 years. A panel of Central Ohio transportation experts, along with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin advocated for the project during Wednesday's Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum.

A driver in Ohio can have their driver's license suspended for reasons ranging from operating a vehicle impaired to accumulating excessive points on one's license to defaulting on child support payments to using another person's driver's license to purchase alcohol underage. The cost of having one's driver's license reinstated can vary up to $600, depending on the offense for which the driver's license was originally suspended. A full list of Ohio's driver license reinstatement procedures and fees can see seen at https://tinyurl.com/yby2rk9b. A study released recently by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland says that more than 60 percent of Ohio's driver's license suspensions do not result solely from driving infractions. Rather, such suspensions arise because the driver whose license has been suspended owes a debt before the license's reinstatement, or what the study calls a debt-related suspension (DRS).

 


 



 


 



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


115 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Opmerkingen


bottom of page