Week In Review - May 31, 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


A survey of academic economists in Ohio found the vast majority think a prohibition on abortion would have negative consequences for women, reducing their educational attainment, labor force participation, and overall earnings. The survey, published by Scioto Analysis, found 22 of 24 economists agreed prohibiting abortion would decrease educational attainment among women; 20 agreed it would reduce women's labor force participation; and 22 agreed it would reduce their earnings. Of the 22 economists who agreed ending abortion access would reduce women's educational attainment, many said low-income women would be disproportionately affected while those with higher incomes would probably get access to abortion another way, such as traveling to a different state.


Legislation banning abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned would be devastating for women, families and the health care industry, according to opponents of HB598 (Schmidt). The House Government Oversight Committee on Thursday heard opponent testimony from 10 in-person witnesses, and accepted written testimony from several others. The process was similar to the one utilized for proponents during the last hearing.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio State Fair will sell tickets at the lowest level, $6, as part of early bird admission through May 31. The Ohio Expositions Commission noted that this year's 12-day fair features "a wide variety" of free entertainment along with food, rides, vendor sales and concerts. The fair runs from Wednesday, July 27 to Sunday, Aug. 7, with hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on most weekend days. The midway will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, except for the last day when it closes at 10 p.m. Admission gates close at 6 p.m. on Aug. 7.


More information is available at https://www.ohiostatefair.com/ .


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded nearly $1.63 million to 21 Ohio arts organizations, with $1.17 million going to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) for federal FY22 as part of the NEA state and regional partnership grant program. All federal dollars earned by OAC from the NEA are reinvested statewide through OAC grantees helping individuals and organizations pursue artistic endeavors.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Ohio's reported missing children decreased again in the Ohio Attorney General's latest numbers for 2021, while those returned home safely also continued to fall -- the not-so-good news. Missing children facing physical danger are on the rise as well after a brief reprieve in 2020. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) had posted a steady increase in missing children through 2017, when the number hit 20,043, followed by a decreasing pattern that resulted in 14,027 reported missing youth in 2021 -- a 30 percent improvement over four years. Of those, 8,366 involved a runaway. Six missing children in 2021 resulted in fatalities.


BALLOT ISSUES


The Ohio House Wednesday adopted a resolution that would put before Ohio voters a constitutional amendment barring noncitizens from voting in local elections. Noncitizens are already barred by state and federal law from voting in those respective elections, but proponents of HJR4 (Edwards-Seitz) have said a constitutional amendment is needed after the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) opined that it could be allowed for local elections in home rule municipalities. The move also comes after the village of Yellow Springs tried to allow noncitizens to vote in its elections before Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered the Greene County Board of Elections to reject those registrations. HJR4 passed 68 to 28, with Democratic Reps. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Dan Troy (D-Willowick), Michael O'Brien (D-Warren), and Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) voting in favor with all of the Republican members present.


Ohio voters are closer to deciding in November whether courts are required to consider public safety when determining cash bail amounts. Both chambers of the General Assembly on Wednesday reached the three-fifths majority on their respective resolutions required to place the cash bail constitutional amendment on the ballot. The Senate voted 24-6 to adopt SJR5 (Gavarone) and the House voted 63-33 to adopt HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen). The resolutions now head to the opposite chambers, with one of them expected to adopt the measure next week to put it on the November ballot.


FY23-24 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS


Consideration of the FY23-24 capital appropriations proposal kicked off Tuesday in the General Assembly as Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks testified in the finance committees of both houses. Murnieks provided an overview of the proposal, although the actual legislation is not yet available. Placeholder bills have been introduced in both houses -- SB343 (Dolan) and HB687 (Oelslager). Murnieks indicated discussions were continuing between the administration and Legislature in areas such the state's tax structure, the scope and amount of the community projects portion of the proposal and funding for jails. Murnieks said the proposal totals $3.3 billion, with $2.7 billion of that in GRF-backed debt funding and another $594 million coming from non-GRF backed bonds and other sources, include approximately $300 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. She assured the committees that the state remains "well under the constitutional five percent limitation on debt service as a percent of revenue" with the sale of bonds anticipated to support this capital proposal. She told Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) that it stands at 3.6 percent now.


CENSUS


The U.S. Census Bureau said recently in its Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) that Ohio was one of eight states believed to have received net overcounts during the 2020 census, along with Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Utah. Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were estimated to have net undercounts. The Census count for Ohio was rounded to 11.5 million, and the estimate is that it was overcounted by 1.49 percent -- the percentage closest to zero for any of the states that were over- or undercounted. Other percentages included Delaware, +5.45; Hawaii, +6.79; Massachusetts, +2.24; Minnesota, +3.84; New York, +3.44; Rhode Island, +5.05; Utah, +2.59; Arkansas, -5.04; Florida, -3.48; Illinois, -1.97; Mississippi, -4.11; Tennessee, -4.78; and Texas, -1.92.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Gov. Mike DeWine announced the selection of Jenny Stotts as Ohio's first youth ombudsman and Jennifer Sheriff as the first family ombudsman. The two will lead the Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The office is set to open Tuesday, May 31 and was a recommendation in the Children's Services Transformation Advisory Council's Final Report, according to ODJFS. In addition, Rachel Selby will serve as state liaison for the ombudsmen office, helping increase awareness about its services.


The Biden administration announced Sunday that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra had invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help manufacturers of infant formula obtain the raw materials and consumables needed to further accelerate production. President Joe Biden delegated DPA priorities and allocation authorities to Becerra on Wednesday, May 18. Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff discussed state actions to address the shortages Wednesday as well.


A bill to restrict gender affirming care for children who want to transition got another round of proponent testimony Thursday, when parents said they felt pressured by health professionals to go forward with surgery and hormone treatments for their children without enough attention to the mental health struggles and suicidal ideation that preceded their interest in transition. The House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee held a third hearing -- the second for proponent testimony on HB454 (Click-Grendell), which among other provisions would bar medical professionals from providing the likes of puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery.


CORONAVIRUS


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 19,546 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days ending Thursday, compared to 19,536 the week before. The week-over-week difference of 10 cases is a marked change from May 19, when the number of cases rose from 15,970 in the prior period. There were 506 new hospitalizations and 30 ICU admissions, compared to 473 and 32 on May 19 and 353 and 36 on May 12. The number of reported deaths fell from 40 to 38 for the week. In total, ODH has reported 2.76 million cases, 116,813 hospitalizations, 13,596 ICU admissions and 38,628 deaths. According to the Ohio Hospital Association, there were currently 685 hospital patients and 79 ICU patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 640 and 79 on May 19.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


Bail reform in HB315 (Hillyer-Leland) picked up a series of amendments Wednesday and a phalanx of opposition from the bail industry. It said the Ohio Constitution guarantees cash bail as a means of liberty and the surest way of returning defendants to court. Witnesses charged no-bond proponents with false claims of criminal justice savings that contradict a Legislative Services Commission (LSC) finding of "significant annual costs" to implement HB315 -- a price tag opponents said would fall on taxpayers.


The House Criminal Justice Committee heard from a dozen witnesses and accepted nearly as many amendments to the bill from Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), including a lower evidentiary standard for prosecutors to overcome the presumption of pretrial release; the ability for courts to increase bond to 40 percent of defendants' monthly income when they lie on their financial affidavit; and clearer directions to judges on when to impose bond, among other changes.


DISABILITIES


Gov. Mike DeWine Friday unveiled a new communication card to help individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing exchange information with law enforcement. The new card was developed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Traffic Safety Office (OTSO), Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), and statewide law enforcement partners. It can be downloaded onto a phone or printed and stored inside a vehicle, wallet, or purse, and includes various pictures that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can point to to help them more easily communicate during interactions with law enforcement.


The communication card also displays icons of common violations and provides tips to help law enforcement officers effectively communicate with those who are hard of hearing or deaf.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for six projects set to create 1,281 new jobs and retain 747 jobs statewide. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $91.7 million in new payroll and spur more than $185 million in investments across Ohio.


Intel announced Thursday that Gilbane Building Company had been selected to manage early excavation work for its two chip factories, with McDaniel's Construction Corp., Inc. (MCCI), Northstar Contracting Inc. and GTSA Construction Consulting serving as partners. The project is expected to involve 7,000 construction jobs in Central Ohio, along with tens of thousands in indirect and support jobs.


The Ohio Ethics Commission recently adopted an informal advisory opinion that found a township and village can take a donation from a company building a solar facility in their area. The opinion was issued to the Licking County Prosecutor's Office on behalf of a township board of trustees and addresses the question of whether a company building a solar-powered electric generation facility in the township and an adjacent village could donate money to the two public entities. The donation would be provided for potential expenses associated with the project, including any incurred by the respective fire departments for necessary equipment and training.


ECONOMY


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that Ohio added 9,500 jobs in April as the unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent from 4.1 percent in March. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in April was 233,000, down from 237,000 in March. The number of unemployed has decreased by 88,000 in the past 12 months from 321,000. The April unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.6 percent in April 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for April 2022 was 3.6 percent, unchanged from March 2022, and down from 6.0 percent in April 2021.


EDUCATION


Schools would no longer be required to retain third grade students who cannot reach the cut score on state English tests under legislation that passed the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee unanimously Wednesday. The retention mandate did draw a defense from the Fordham Institute in final testimony on the bill, but it did not sway the committee. The 11 members present at Tuesday's committee meeting voted to report out HB497 (Manning-Robinson), sponsored by the committee chair, Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), and the ranking member, Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). The legislation keeps the requirement that schools offer intervention and remediation to students reading below grade level, but would repeal the retention mandate for this year's third graders and call for one administration of the third grade English tests instead of two.


Legislation to require public posting of teaching materials would build public trust and affirm good practices already enacted in many schools, proponents argued Tuesday in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. The committee took proponent testimony on HB529 (Hillyer-Roemer), which the sponsors described as a response to contentious local school board meetings and a tool to reduce misunderstanding on what is or isn't being taught. Lawmakers have also been considering multiple bills that would bar instruction on specific "divisive" concepts, but those have been assigned to the House State and Local Government Committee. Witnesses included two local school board members and two Arizona-based advocates representing the Goldwater Institute and FreedomWorks.


ELECTIONS 2022


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) recently announced the launch of the "Workers First Campaign," a coordinated campaign of community organizers who will work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot this year -- from the U.S. Senate to statewide offices to county and local offices. ODP said the Workers First coordinated campaign will work in tandem with candidates at all levels "to tell the story of how Democrats are fighting for working families" and to turn out the vote for Democratic candidates this fall.


U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan's campaign said Monday that it was launching its first TV ad of the general election. The 30-second spot, titled "Never," criticizes Republican nominee J.D. Vance, arguing that he turned his back on Ohio's manufacturing workers and contrasting him with Ryan. The ad highlights Intel's investment in a new microchip plant in Ohio.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The gubernatorial campaign of Democratic nominee Nan Whaley announced the endorsements of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval.

  • Vote Mama announced the endorsements of Crystal Lett and Tina Maharath for Ohio Senate and Louise Valentine for Ohio House.


ENERGY/UTILITIES


FirstEnergy could achieve through corporate consolidation what it could not accomplish through the 133-HB166 (Oelslager) budget, says the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC): An end run around the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) significantly excessive earnings test (SEET) of windfall profits. OCC says FirstEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Strah's comments on a potential consolidation of Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. during this week's annual shareholder meeting revive questions around a SEET test that awarded FirstEnergy $306 million in excessive profits under HB166. The bill allowed the company to average earnings across the three regional utilities until the General Assembly overturned SEET consolidation in HB128 (Hoops-Stein). That bill also repealed most of 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) except for subsidies to selected solar farms and to coal generating plants operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC) and bankrolled by all Ohio ratepayers.


The House Public Utilities Committee accepted an amendment Tuesday to HB450 (Baldridge-Lanese), which Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said would address some opponent concerns and includes changes sought by proponents. Chair James Hoops (R-Napoleon) told Hannah News they will look at any remaining opposition concerns and see if something can be worked out further. He'd like to have a committee vote "possibly next week." Seitz's amendment, AM3144-2, replicates previous action in the "one energy" amendment to 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin), limiting the amount a community solar project can generate to 100 percent of its expected annual requirements, rather than 120 percent. Seitz said this is so they do not get into the "business of being a generator for other users." He also said the amendment has two actions to "smooth out" the cost implications of the bill -- the first is a requirement that projects be located proportionally through the service territories of all four electric distribution utilities (EDUs) in Ohio, so resulting solar activity is not clustered in one area. Seitz added it was of particular concern as most distressed properties are within one EDU's territory.


ENVIRONMENT


Local health departments and municipalities in 42 counties are sharing $813,610 in grant funding for mosquito control activities, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA).


Approximately $143,000 will be used to remove scrap tires, which can become breeding grounds for mosquito larvae, the agency said. The funding will help mitigate the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika, West Nile and La Cross Encephalitis.


GAMING/GAMBLING


Adding sports betting games to Keno machines might not be as simple as some advocates hoped.


According to Type C sports gaming rules proposed by the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC), proprietors who operate new terminals will be required to remit significantly less revenue to the Ohio Lottery than those utilizing existing Ohio Lottery systems. "The rule proposes that a proprietor who operates a system independent of any current Lottery systems shall remit 10 percent of gross sports gaming revenue," OLC Office of Operations Deputy Director Constance Miller said during a recent sports betting webinar. "The Lottery has not approved the use of existing Lottery equipment and systems, but the rule proposes that if approved to utilize existing Lottery systems, a proprietor shall remit 60 percent of gross sports gaming revenue," Miller said.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) Monday announced that Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) was named Ranking Member on the House Civil Justice Committee.


Ohio should not open "Pandora's Box" by becoming the next state to call for a Convention of the States under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, more than 20 opponents to SJR4 (McColley-Rulli) told the Senate General Government Budget Committee on Tuesday. Most of the opponents provided conservative arguments for opposing the measure, with many of them saying they feared a "runaway convention" could result in the Second Amendment being weakened or eliminated. Opponents also argued that members of Congress will be in control of the process of the convention, saying they cannot be trusted to adhere to any of the rules set ahead of time.


The House Wednesday unanimously passed HB468 (Pavliga), which establishes a 9-8-8 suicide hotlilne. Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater) said she hopes the bill adds multiple points of entry for mental health care and awareness. The House also unanimously passed HB554 (Lightbody-Bird), which allows temporary educator licenses to be issued to applicants with expired professional teacher's certificates and professional educator licenses. Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), a sponsor of the bill, said currently, a former teacher would have to renew a license before returning to the classroom. She said the bill could help with the teacher shortage many school districts are facing.


Other bills passed by the House Wednesday include the following:


  • HB423 (Roemer-Young), designating the All-American Soap Box Derby as the official state gravity racing program, by a vote of 87-1.

  • HB569 (Holmes-White), authorizing higher education institutions to establish the Ohio Hidden Hero Scholarship Program, which helps caregivers of veterans to earn college certificates and/or degrees, by a unanimous vote.

  • HB591 (Sweeney-Click) designating the last week of February as "Eating Disorders Awareness Week" in Ohio, by a vote of 89-1.

  • HB606 (Bird-Ingram) enacting "Sarah's Law for Seizure Safe Schools" and requiring public and chartered nonpublic schools to create a seizure action plan for each student with a seizure disorder or epilepsy. It passed unanimously.

  • SB61 (Blessing-Antonio), regarding the ability of condominium and planned community owners to install solar panels, by a vote of 77-11.

  • SB204 (Roegner), entering Ohio into the Counseling Compact, by a unanimous vote.


The House also informally passed HB607 (LaRe-Swearingen), which would put into state law that public safety is a factor in considering bail, and concurred unanimously on Senate amendments to HB321 (Kick-B. Young) making changes to Ohio's auction laws, thus sending this bill on to the governor for his signature.


Legislation seeking to address the substitute teacher shortage and a number of other education-related issues passed the upper chamber on Wednesday. The Senate voted 24-6 to approve HB583 (Bird-Jones), which became an education catch-all bill after the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee adopted several amendments over the last two weeks. Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) discussed many of the bill's provisions, saying the bill is necessary and needs to pass as soon as possible to be ready for the next school year. In the end, the bill passed along partisan lines.


In other action, the Senate passed SB299 (Schaffer) along party lines by a vote of 24-6. The bill also includes an emergency clause, which passed by the same margin. The legislation increases the amount of time township employees can work while still being considered part-time workers. Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) said the bill is necessary to ensure fire departments in rural areas can continue to provide emergency services.


The Senate unanimously passed legislation prohibiting any government or private agency from using a person's disability as a reason to deny or limit that person's care for a minor. "This is part of our ongoing efforts to get the best care possible for Ohio's children in need," Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London) said of SB202 (Hackett-Antonio). "This bill puts an end to this discrimination against the disabled in our state and helps ensure all children will get the loving and responsible care they deserve."


The Senate also passed the following bills unanimously:


  • HB340 (Bird-Blackshear), which designates September as "International Underground Railroad Month."

  • HB427 (White-Manchester), which explicitly prohibits the use of a controlled substance as a method of human trafficking or to compel prostitution.

  • The Senate unanimously concurred with House amendments on the following bills, sending them to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk:

  • SB15 (Wilson), which changes the circumstances in which certain fiscal officers may be held liable for a loss of public funds.

  • SB236 (Wilson-Lang), which allows insurers using online platforms to automatically enroll consumers in digital communications.


After session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters that the General Assembly is planning to provide $20 million from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to pay for the second primary election, which is expected to occur on Tuesday, Aug. 2. "We'll have a couple of bills next week -- the capital budget, and then a second bill that will have some other spending items in it, and one of those is to pay for the Aug. 2 primary," Huffman said. Huffman said lawmakers aren't planning on making any other changes to the General Assembly primary election process for 2022.


The Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee heard testimony Wednesday from the State Fire Marshal, the State Dental Board and the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) as part of the Legislature's occupational licensure review.


In other legislative action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out SB224 (Cirino), which revises laws governing funeral homes; HB556 (Swearingen), which amends nonprofit law; HB439 (Galonski-Hillyer), which addresses involuntary treatment for mentally ill individuals; the House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out HB466 (Edwards), which deals with health care staffing agency requirements; the House Health Committee reported out HB196 (Kelly-Carruthers), which regulates surgical assistants; the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported out HB492 (Loychik-Pavliga), which requires coaches complete mental health training; and HB151 (Jones), which deals with teacher mentorship programs; the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out HB624 (Dean), HB517 (Hoops) and HB590 (Boggs), highway naming bills; House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB501 (Hall), which revises township law; HB513 (Cross), which addresses bad debt recovery for cigarette/tobacco/vapor products; Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported out SB306 (Brenner), an education omnibus bill; the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs reported out HB581 (J. Miller-Holmes), which allows county veterans service offices to use credit cards; the House Insurance Committee reported out HB575 (Curtona), which modernizes fraternal benefit society solvency oversight; the Senate Insurance Committee reported out HB447 (Lampton), regarding workers' compensation law; and the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee reported out SB131 (Roegner-McColley), regarding licensure reciprocity.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine ordered that flags at public buildings fly at half-staff until the evening of Saturday, May 28, per orders issued by President Joe Biden, in remembrance of the victims of this week's shooting at a Texas elementary school, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Amy T. Shore of Bexley (Franklin County) reappointed to the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending May 17, 2031.

  • Julie Lynn Centofanti of Youngstown (Mahoning County) as a student member on the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending April 30, 2024.

  • Kim G. Rothermel of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Medical Board for a term beginning May 17, 2022, and ending March 18, 2027.

  • Shawn Livingston of Thurman (Gallia County) and Jenny Heiser of Beavercreek (Greene County) to the Board of Nursing for terms beginning May 27, 2022, and ending Dec. 31, 2025.

  • Thomas Barracato of Akron (Summit County) reappointed to the State Vision Professionals Board for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending March 22, 2025.

  • Heather Katafiasz of Wadsworth (Medina County) to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending Oct. 10, 2024.

  • Carol Hofbauer of Powell (Delaware County) and Timothy Allan Cross of Enon (Clark County) to the State Speech and Hearing Professionals Board for terms beginning May 20, 2022, and ending March 22, 2025.

  • Mary Kaye Scaramucci of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) reappointed to the State Dental Board for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending April 6, 2026.

  • George Everett Brown of Pataskala (Licking County) has been appointed to the State Fire Council for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending November 1, 2025.

  • Sayeed Reza Mehmood of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Forestry Advisory Council for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending Feb. 27, 2026.

  • Sheetal Bajoria of Dublin (Delaware County) to the Ohio Casino Control Commission for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending Feb. 21, 2026.

  • John F. Sarver III of Brook Park (Cuyahoga County) and Tracy Sue Freeman of Pickerington (Fairfield County) to the Public Benefits Advisory B ard for terms beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2025.

  • Patrice Hamiter of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) to the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending March 31, 2024.

  • John Wilson Royer of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending March 18, 2025.

  • R. Sean Grayson of Powell (Delaware County) to the Industrial Commission Nominating Council for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending Oct. 20, 2022.

  • Phillip Eric Duffy of Kettering (Montgomery County) to the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Council for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending June 1, 2024.

  • Tina I. Ernst of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Advisory Board of the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and S. Zaheer Hasan of Waterville (Lucas County), Avraham Louis Goldstein of Columbus (Franklin County) and Larry L. Macon Sr. of Richfield (Summit County) reappointed, all for terms beginning May 20, 2022, and ending May 4, 2023.

  • Amber Leigh Anderson of Middlefield (Geauga County) to the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism for a term beginning May 20, 2022, and ending April 21, 2024 and Ronald R. Soeder of Concord (Lake County), Morna O. Smith of Gahanna (Franklin County) and Daniel F. Meyer of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) reappointed for terms beginning May 20, 2022, and ending April 21, 2025.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


Ohio University's (OU) Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine was named first in the state and 14th in the nation for the most graduates practicing primary care by U.S. News and World Report. The college was also ranked 21st in the nation for most graduates practicing in rural areas and tied for 78th for 2023 Best Medical Schools: Primary Care, up from 104th in 2019. The rankings comprise all M.D. and D.O. programs in the nation.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Ohio State University's (OSU) Board of Trustees Thursday approved a 4.6 percent increase on tuition and fees for incoming Ohio freshman. The increase amounts to a $549 annual change from last year's rate. The increase means in-state tuition in Columbus will total $12,485 for one year. Returning undergraduate students will not see an increase due to the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee, which freezes costs for each inbound in-state student cohort for four years. Housing and dining rates are also set to increase by 4.6 percent for incoming students. Those will also remain frozen for those in the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee. At regional campuses, in-state tuition and fees for incoming students will be set at $8,944 for the Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark campuses and $8,900 at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. Most regional campus students do not live on campus. Additionally, non-resident students will see a 5 percent surcharge increase, meaning overall tuition and mandatory fees for incoming non-resident student will increase by $1,703. Also Thursday, the Board of Trustees officially approved contract extensions and raises for several of OSU's head coaches, including head football coach Ryan Day. The board approved a two-year contract extension, meaning Day will serve as head coach at least through the 2028 football season. His compensation will increase from $7.6 million annually to $9.5 million annually, with a base salary of $2.0 million per year.


Ohio State University recently named three new additions to top leadership teams. Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa Gilliam announced that Wendy Smooth, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the university's senior vice provost for inclusive excellence, effective Aug. 1. OSU also announced that Norman Jones, dean and director of Ohio State Mansfield, will now serve as vice provost and dean for undergraduate education, effective July 1. Also, Mary Stromberger has been appointed vice provost and dean for graduate education at Ohio State, effective Aug. 1. Stromberger joins the university from Colorado State University (CSU), where she currently serves as vice provost for graduate affairs and dean of the graduate school. Stromberger will also hold the ENGIE-Axium Endowed Chair at OSU.


Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner Thursday announced the first round of colleges and universities designated as Collegiate Purple Star campuses for their support of military-connected students. The Collegiate Purple Star award was first unveiled by the ODHE in March. It is an off-shoot of the state's Purple Star recognition for PreK-12 schools, which was created in 2017 under the Kasich administration as a way to encourage schools to better serve military families. Ohio is the first state in the country to offer the Purple Star designations for schools and institutions of higher education. A second round of applications will be accepted later this year, likely in October, Gardner said. Find more information at https://www.ohiohighered.org/purple-star.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) announced recipients of its 2022 Housing Tax Credits Friday, with 31 developments awarded over $31.9 million in 10-year federal tax credits. These developments will create or preserve 1,554 apartments for families, seniors and individuals at risk for homelessness. Projects receiving awards are located in all regions of Ohio, and they include eight developments in rural communities that will create affordable housing. The funding supports 227 units created or preserved in Appalachian Ohio as well. Among the 31 developments, 14 are for seniors, 13 are for families and four will provide supportive services.


The Ohio Controlling Board Monday approved a request from the Ohio Department of Development (DOD) to use $1.7 million in federal funds for rental assistance. Rep. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland) asked agency officials how quickly the rental assistance program will be going out and how DOD will be promoting the use of the federal funds for those facing eviction. Latisha Chastang, the deputy chief of community services at DOD, told Sweeney that some of the delays were due to the agency's working to identify the best needs for Ohio and trying to streamline the technology that will be used for the program so that when it goes live there would not be as many bugs.


Ohio could see substantially more affordable housing development if it supplemented federal tax credits for that purpose with a state version, developers, employers and human services advocates told a House committee Thursday. The House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee heard from proponents of HB560 (Hoops-Pavliga), which would provide $50 million in nonrefundable credits per year for a limited period to go toward projects that have qualified for the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).


LOCAL GOVERNMENT


A pending emergency resolution before a committee of the Cleveland City Council seeks to strip FirstEnergy of naming rights to FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Proposed by Councilmember Brian Kazy, the two-page resolution "calling upon First Energy Corp. to relinquish its naming rights to the city's publicly-owned football stadium" was scheduled for a first read Monday in Cleveland City Council's Committee on Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The resolution notes Akron-based FirstEnergy obtained the naming rights in 2013 for $107 million after voters approved a Cuyahoga County tax in 1990 and reupped it twice to extend stadium funding through 2035.


NATURAL RESOURCES


High school students with a passion for the outdoors are invited to serve on the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC). The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is accepting applications for the 2022-2023 class of conservationists. ConTAC is a statewide network of students who work to promote ODNR's youth outreach programs. Students enrolled in high school for the 2022-2023 school year are eligible to apply. Applications are due by Monday, June 20, 2022. Find more information at https://tinyurl.com/bdhr26ra.


Through a partnership with the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has added a new Storybook Trail at Mosquito Lake State Park. Mosquito Lake is one of the largest lakes in Ohio with more than 7,000 acres of surface area. Wildlife watching, boating,


fishing, horseback riding, and hiking can also be done at the park. The Storybook Trail featured at Mosquito Lake is Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renee Filce Smith and Chris Gabriel. On the child-sized panels lining this trail, children can follow the story of Hugo, the determined little dog who encourages his animal friends to help him along his impossible adventure.


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) now offers access to "historic treasures" from its state parks through the Cardinal Collection, a museum available online. This online museum includes artifacts, historic patches, sculptures and artwork in an easy-to-use database that allows for searches or browsing. The Cardinal Collection is available at https://tinyurl.com/5fk4xk43.


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


The capital-area charity Summer Rays Inc. and dozens of properties advertised as recovery facilities are closed for good, the Ohio Attorney General's Office says. The AG says former director Charles (Chuck) Kirk and family members who ran his board of directors violated their fiduciary duties and exploited residents for their own personal gain. The state first sued Summer Rays and Reynoldsburg Revolve Church (RRC) in 2018, and a receiver recently concluded a court order dissolving both nonprofits.


The Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) announced that it received the 2022 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. "We appreciate receiving this important recognition and are grateful to our team, partners and member hospitals for their commitment to energy and sustainability," said Kevin Zacharyasz, director of OHA's Energy and Sustainability Program. "OHA received the same honor in 2021 and received the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award for Energy Efficiency Program Delivery in 2016, 2019 and 2020."


PENSIONS


A fiduciary audit of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) commissioned by the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) found the system generally well run, with board members who act in the long-term interest of the pension fund and leadership that controls costs while keeping high performance standards. But STRS could improve its stakeholder engagement and communication efforts and should address dissension among board members, the report states. Funston Advisory Services submitted its report to ORSC, which state law requires it to commission fiduciary audits of the state pension systems every 10 years. The audit report does note a need for more timeliness on the council's part in this regard -- the previous audit was more than 10 years ago, in 2009.


The Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) endorsed a staff recommendation Tuesday for state law to be changed to raise the pay threshold at which someone is considered a public employee, to avoid having poll workers be considered members of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) because of this year's double primary. Normally, poll workers are not considered public employees if they receive less than $600 per year, meaning they do not accrue OPERS service credit, nor are they or their employer required to make contributions to OPERS. An extra statewide primary election in 2022 resulting from Ohio's ongoing redistricting saga threatens to push some poll workers over that threshold, so the OPERS amendment would increase the threshold by $400 in a year when there is more than one primary or general election. Karen Carraher, executive director of OPERS, said poll workers typically earn $200 to $300 per election, depending on the rates and training requirements in their respective counties. The amendment also would make some administrative changes for OPERS to manage the hybrid benefit plan, which was closed to new entrants a few months ago because of declining enrollment.


Also winning approval Tuesday was a staff recommendation for an amendment to allow the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) to institute a contribution-based benefit cap (CBBC), which would prevent members from greatly increasing their monthly retirement benefit because of late-career salary jumps. OPERS already uses such a cap, authorized as part of 2012 pension reform laws. Such "anti-spiking" provisions are common in the pension systems.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) announced Friday that its troopers will participate in "Operation CARE's All-American Buckle Up Mobilization" from Monday, May 23 to May 30. It is a program of patrol, enforcement and planning activities meant to reduce crashes and help educate drivers on the dangers of driving impaired, without a safety belt and distracted.


The week coincides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Click It or Ticket campaign and an effort by the 6-State Trooper Project focused on use of safety belts. The project includes state police in Ohio's five neighbors: the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the West Virginia State Police, as well as OSHP.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


In a ruling Wednesday the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated for the fifth time the General Assembly map adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission and ordered the commission to produce another map by the morning of Friday, June 3. Practical considerations about administering the 2022 election do not override constitutional mandates, the ruling stated. "Neither the current election deadlines, the General Assembly's inability or unwillingness to alter those deadlines, nor the question whether the map would be a viable option for use in the 2022 election cycle prevented the commission from adopting a new, constitutional district plan," the 4-3 ruling states. Justices, however, denied requests from the plaintiffs to find members of the commission in contempt of court.


A day after the Ohio Supreme Court for the fifth time struck down a General Assembly redistricting commission map, Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) sent a letter to his colleagues on the Ohio Redistricting Commission asking for a meeting. Meanwhile, Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma), the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General, said he has filed a criminal complaint against the Republican members of the commission for dereliction of duty.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Ohio and Kentucky officials said Tuesday that they officially submitted a joint application to the federal government that requests nearly $2 billion in federal funding to fix the Brent Spence Bridge and improve the corridor that runs through Northern Kentucky and the city of Cincinnati. According to Gov. Mike DeWine's office, Ohio and Kentucky are seeking $1.66 billion in federal grant funding through the Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant. The grant request represents approximately 60 percent of the $2.77 billion project cost. Each state will also allocate significant state and other federal dollars toward the project. The states will split the cost of the new bridge 50/50, and each state will be responsible for the needed work on its side of the border.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION


Gov. Mike DeWine's authority to set state policy on unemployment compensation went before the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday. Hanging in the balance is a sizeable chunk of $300 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated for last year's final round of $300 weekly payments to unemployed Ohioans. The governor announced a halt to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program in Ohio last spring after businesses blamed continued payments for the depleted workforce. "As Ohio emerged from the pandemic, employers across the state struggled to fill job openings. Gov. DeWine identified a governmental policy that contributed to this worker shortage: the unemployed, for over a year, had been receiving hundreds of extra dollars a week through ... the CARES Act," Attorney General Dave Yost states in his January brief. Following the state's FPUC termination on June 26, 2021, former Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann sued the DeWine administration for blocking Ohioans' access to the final months of the $300 payments.


VETERANS


Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) Workforce Manager Ryan Blackburn, who chairs the state Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ), recently received a national award for working to create a strong and inclusive community for military spouses. The Community Leader Impact Award was presented to Blackburn and other MSEEZ leaders by Hiring Our Heroes, an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, at the sixth Annual Military Spouse Employment Summit in Washington, D.C.

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


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