This report reflects the latest happenings in government relations, in and around the Ohio statehouse. You’ll notice that it’s broad in nature and on an array of topics, from A-Z. This will be updated on a weekly basis.
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AGING AARP is now accepting nominations for its 2023 Ohio Andrus Award for Community Service, which honors 50+ Ohioans who are sharing their experience, talent and skills to enrich the lives of their community members. Nominations will be evaluated by AARP Ohio based on how the volunteer's work has improved the community, reflected AARP's vision and mission, and inspired other volunteers. The award recipient will be announced in early fall. Additional information and the nomination form are available online at www.aarp.org/AndrusAward. The application deadline is Saturday, July 15. ATTORNEY GENERAL Attorney General Dave Yost said Wednesday that the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas had issued a preliminary injunction against Ohio Clean Water Fund, a charity he sued after accusing the charity's founder Michael Peppel of pocketing donations raised to help East Palestine residents on behalf of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley to provide residents of East Palestine with emergency aid and bottled water after the Norfolk Southern train derailment. Yost claims Peppel and others have pocketed at least $131,000 of the roughly $141,000 raised from more than 3,000 donors. BALLOT ISSUES Five former Ohio attorneys general -- Richard Cordray, Lee Fisher, Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro and Nancy Rogers -- sent a letter Monday to Ohio lawmakers announcing their opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the threshold for passage of future amendments to 60 percent. They join former Govs. Richard Celeste, Ted Strickland, John Kasich and Bob Taft in opposing the amendment. The attorneys general said the proposal "seeks to discard a commitment to majority rule that has been part of our Ohio Constitution since 1912. Constitutions are designed to endure, and major changes in fundamental constitutional arrangements should not be made unless the changes are supported by a careful understanding of the policies being changed and the consequences of the proposed changes. Such changes should not be made without the opportunity for participation of those most intimately affected by the Constitution -- the people. Clearly, that has not happened in this rush to revise our Constitution.” Gov. Mike DeWine was asked Wednesday for his thoughts on the former governors and attorneys general who have come out in opposition of proposals to make amending the Ohio Constitution more difficult. "I respect them. I respect what they have to say," DeWine said. "I'm just waiting to see what the House and Senate are going to do." The Senate version of a proposed constitutional amendment raising the required threshold for passage for future amendments to 60 percent cleared a House committee Tuesday, but whether it appears on an August special election ballot will come down to the wire after the Wednesday, May 3 House session was cancelled. Secretary of State Frank LaRose has told lawmakers that legislation authorizing a Tuesday, Aug. 8 special election will need to pass by Wednesday, May 10, in order to give boards of elections 90 days to prepare for it. With Wednesday's cancellation, the House currently has only a session scheduled for May 10, the day of the deadline. SJR2 (Gavarone-McColley), which would put the 60 percent amendment before voters, passed out of the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee Tuesday by a 7-6 vote, with Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) again joining Democrats in opposition as he did with the House version, HJR1 (Stewart). In other developments, the House Government Oversight Committee cancelled both its Tuesday and Wednesday hearings where it had scheduled a vote on August special election bill SB92 (McColley-Gavarone). There had surfaced an amendment stripping the bill of its appropriation while House Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jon Cross (R-Kenton), a member of the House Government Oversight Committee, told Hannah News that he supports the idea of increasing the threshold to pass future amendments to 60 percent, but he does not support creating a special election in August to vote on the measure. FY24-25 BUDGET With biennial budget HB33 (Edwards) passing the House and Senate hearings ongoing, Senate Democrats Monday held a press conference to highlight their priorities for the coming biennium, saying that while they like a number of provisions of both the governor's proposed budget and the House version, they see room for improvement. Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said over the next couple of months, her caucus will address their priorities to ensure that the state budget will support fair tax policies that don't benefit the wealthy and puts the burden on wealthy Ohioans. They also will push for fair school funding, transparency and accountability in education, strengthening the workforce, supporting business growth, providing resources for safety measures for communities while upholding local control, increasing safe and affordable housing, and protecting the environment. The Broadcast Educational Media Commission (BEMC) and other public media stations as well as higher education organizations asked the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee Tuesday to increase or restore funding from cuts in the House-passed version of the FY24-25 state budget, HB33 (Edwards). In addition to funding for its own operations, BEMC's budget includes line items for Ohio Government Telecommunications (OGT) Services, otherwise known as the Ohio Channel, the Statehouse News Bureau, as well as Ohio Public Radio and TV stations, Radio Reading Services (RRS), and educational multi-media projects. The governor's budget recommendation was already below BEMC's request, but the House-passed budget made cuts for every line item except for the Ohio Channel, where lawmakers added funding. Behavioral health providers asked the Senate Education Committee in budget testimony Tuesday to maintain student wellness funding and new mandates on how to spend it, while educational service centers asked to share in the same kind of increases given to school districts. Career-technical education representatives were also among witnesses at the hearing on HB33. Teresa Lampl, CEO of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, said with recent increases in mental health demands and the general trend that lifetime mental illness often begins in adolescence, student wellness and success funding proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine and retained by the House is important for meeting students' behavioral health needs. She also suggested that the Senate keep "or even strengthen" requirements for prioritizing spending on physical and behavioral health and for schools to partner with local providers. Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss presented her agency's budget proposal Tuesday to the Senate Health Committee. Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), chair of the committee, asked Criss if she could delineate how much of the agency's spending is going to school programs, noting there is also money for school mental health services via the Student Wellness and Success Fund, championed by Gov. Mike DeWine and now integrated into the new school funding formula. School leaders told a Senate committee Wednesday they have an overall positive view of the literacy initiatives in the budget, specifically cheering the House's decision to include a repeal of the retention mandate under Ohio's reading guarantee law. Barbara Shaner, representing the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators (OAESA) and flanked by the other major school management associations, told the Senate Education Committee the requirement in HB33 (Edwards) to use evidence-based methods aligned to the science of reading and the prohibition on "three-cueing" approaches enjoy general support among schools. However, the groups urged the committee to ensure schools "have the tools they need" to implement the changes -- specifically mentioning the funding for teacher training, as an example. The Senate Education Committee heard calls Thursday to go beyond voucher expansions supported by Gov. Mike DeWine and the House and include a backpack bill-style universal eligibility policy in the budget. School safety and security were the topics for testimony on HB33 (Edwards), and witnesses spoke on EdChoice, alignment of the Jon Peterson Scholarship and Autism Scholarship and charter school policies, among other subjects. Workers who care for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) should make at least $20 an hour on average, according to numerous witnesses who testified during the Senate Medicaid Committee's hearing on HB33 (Edwards) on Thursday. DD advocates said they appreciated the House version's direct care worker wage increase to $18 an hour by the end of the biennium but emphasized that a more significant pay hike is necessary immediately. Gary Tonks, president and CEO of the Arc of Ohio, said while it's always been difficult to recruit and retain direct support staff, the current situation is a "crisis." CHILDREN/FAMILIES Reps. Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth) and Rachel Baker (D-Cincinnati) Thursday outlined upcoming changes to HB5, their "Adoption Modernization Act," which was introduced in February as placeholder legislation and is a priority bill for Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill). The bill is currently in the House Families and Aging Committee and has not received a hearing. Ray told Hannah News the bill was introduced with placeholder language because the Ohio Association of Probate Judges' (OAPJ) Modernization Committee had not finalized its recommendations at the time. She and Baker have an interested party meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 9 and want to hear about any additional suggestions, with a substitute bill potentially being offered in the next two to three weeks. Ray was adopted as a child, and Baker has adopted three children as well as serving as a court-appointed special advocate for cases involving youth. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT A recent panel at the Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) explored the difficulty of getting more women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and the pay gaps they face in the field once they graduate from college, seeing the situation as an economic development issue for the state of Ohio. According to panel moderator, Sheri Chaney Jones, founder and CEO of SureImpact and founder and president of Measurement Resources Company, women make up nearly half the workforce, but are unrepresented in key fields. In STEM careers, only 18 percent of leadership roles are held by women. She cited statistics that show 11 percent of construction jobs are held by women; 15 percent of engineers and architects; and 6 percent of welders. Forty-six percent of high school girls do not think they are smart enough for their dream jobs, and 70 percent of girls believe some jobs are better for men than women. One-third stay away from leadership because they don't want men to think they are bossy, she said. Google officials announced Wednesday they are adding two data centers on previously acquired land in Columbus and Lancaster, in addition to the current one in New Albany, which saw an expansion announced in 2021. Construction is already underway at both sites and the company's total investment in Ohio will exceed $2 billion as a result. Gov. Mike DeWine took part in the press conference, saying the announcement reflects his effort to invest in people through the FY24-25 budget and "sends a signal … about where Ohio is going." EDUCATION Interim Superintendent Stephanie Siddens recommended two senior Ohio Department of Education officials for consideration as her replacement by the State Board of Education. Siddens wrote a memo to the board recently to recommend Jessica Voltolini, ODE's chief of staff, and Chris Woolard, chief program officer. The board is scheduled to consider the appointment of an interim superintendent at its May 8-9 meeting. ELECTIONS The Ohio Elections Commission Thursday fined Secretary of State Frank LaRose's campaign $50 for a disclosure error in one of his campaign materials during last year's re-election effort. Meanwhile, the commission began hearings on a complaint against Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) that alleges she did not properly report assistance her campaign received from allies of former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford). Both complaints were brought by Chris Hicks, a Southwest Ohio conservative who has clashed with the state Republican Party on various issues. The complaint against the LaRose campaign argued that it sent out campaign material without the proper disclosures. The hearing against Schmidt comes almost two years after Hicks had filed the complaint arguing that Schmidt had not properly reported campaign activity done on her behalf. The commission had set the complaint for a full hearing, but had not scheduled that hearing until Thursday. ELECTIONS 2023 Ohio voters in 67 counties cast ballots in Tuesday's primary election; reports showed light turnout and few problems. The election was the first to require a photo identification as part of changes made in 134-HB458 (Hall). There were 420 local issues that were voted on, and some municipalities held primary elections for local offices. A slight majority of school funding issues on the Tuesday primary election ballot failed to pass, according to a database of levy results maintained by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). Of the 75 school issues up for a vote, 36 passed, a rate of 48 percent. For comparison, voters approved 49 of 75 issues in the 2022 primary, a 65 percent passage rate. Renewal requests enjoyed broad support, with 72 percent passing, while two thirds of new funding requests were defeated. The passage rate for new funding requests was the lowest since 2007, according to OSBA. Libraries, however, enjoyed their typically strong performance, with six of seven issues passing Tuesday, according to the Ohio Library Council (OLC). The only one to fail was in Henry County, where Napoleon Public Library's request for an additional, continuing 0.5 mill levy got only 48 percent support. EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT The state of Ohio is showing significant improvement in its unemployment claims numbers when compared to other states, according to financial advisory website WalletHub. Ohio ranked 43 for new jobless claims, with "1" meaning jobless claims increased the most and "51" meaning they increased the least. ENERGY/UTILITIES Leading detractors of bipartisan energy efficiency legislation in the previous General Assembly returned to the House Wednesday to reaffirm their opposition to HB79 (Seitz-Sweeney) as a market-busting bill that would bar the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) from performing normal ratemaking duties and cost ratepayers more than what the program would save them in unused energy. The Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition (NOAC) were the House Public Utilities Committee's sole opponents to HB79, a fact noted by at least one lawmaker. While residential charges are nominally capped at $1.50, said OCC and NOAC, no one, including the Legislative Service Commission (LSC), had tallied the energy efficiency (EE) program's (1) true cost for utility incentives or "shared savings," (2) lost distribution revenue (LDR), (3) cost deferrals and (4) program evaluation. The state's oil and natural gas industry paid $57.6 million in real estate property taxes in eight Eastern Ohio counties in 2021, according to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA). "The latest tax numbers again reinforce the positive impact our industry has in the communities where we operate," OOGA President Rob Brundrett said in a news release. "Not only does the industry employ more than 200,000 Ohioans and provide abundant and affordable energy, but we also provide millions of dollars for local governments and infrastructure projects." Since shale development began in Ohio in 2010, the industry has paid more than $349.9 million in property taxes in those eight counties, OOGA said. The 2021 tax payments rank second highest over the past 12 years, behind only 2020 ($62.2 million). ENVIRONMENT Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) financing options are in high demand, according to the agency. OAQDA issued more than $645 million in air quality revenue bonds in 2022 -- three times the amount from 2021, OAQDA Chair James Simon and OAQDA Executive Director Christina O'Keeffe wrote in the agency's annual report. "As inflationary pressures on our economy persist and interest rates rise, the demand for OAQDA financing is increasing," they said, noting the 2022 bond-funded projects created and preserved nearly 600 Ohio jobs. FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS Adelphi Bank is the Buckeye State's first Minority Depository Institution (MDI), the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of Financial Institutions announced Monday. The division issued a Certificate of Authority to Commence the Business of Banking to Adelphi Bank on Jan. 18, 2023. Financial institutions started and owned by members of minority groups have been around for quite some time, but it wasn't until 1989 that Congress formalized the term Minority Depository Institution (MDI) as part of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). GAMING/GAMBLING Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) Executive Director Matt Schuler issued an emergency order prohibiting the acceptance of any wagers on the University of Alabama baseball team. "The Ohio Casino Control Commission has received reports from one of its certified independent integrity monitors regarding wagers made on University of Alabama baseball," Schuler wrote in a message to sports gaming licensees. "Any wagers placed on an incomplete sporting event that has had wagering suspended through the issuance of an emergency order must be voided in accordance with Chapter 3775-11-01(F)." GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE Attorneys for Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) want the judge overseeing litigation on the constitutionality of EdChoice vouchers to quash plaintiffs' subpoena seeking to depose him. His attorneys argue his testimony is not relevant or necessary to the case but also cannot be compelled because of Article II, Section 12 of the Ohio Constitution, which states, "Senators and representatives, during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to, and returning from the same, shall be privileged from arrest, in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace; and for any speech, or debate, in either house, they shall not be questioned elsewhere." Ian Dollenmayer will serve as the next executive director of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) announced Tuesday. Dollenmayer most recently served as the legislative liaison for the Ohio Department of Taxation for more than four years. Previously, he served as a legislative aide in the Senate for three years. In other action, the House State and Local Government Committee reported out HB76 (Hall-White) which addresses data storage by state agencies; the House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB116 (Peterson-Claggett) which deals with taxpayer deductions; and the House Higher Education Committee reported out HB27 (Mathews-J. Thomas) which requires higher ed institutions to provide financial cost and disclosure forms. GOVERNOR
Appointments made during the week include the following:
Nicholas D. Blois of Strongsville (Cuyahoga County), Anthony L. Sabo of Marysville (Union County) and Frank W. Welsh of Ashville (Pickaway County) reappointed to the Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety for terms beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Jan. 1, 2029.
Allen W. Behnke of Lima (Allen County) and Robert K. Keener II of Mogadore (Summit County) to the State Emergency Response Commission for terms beginning March 30, 2023, and ending Jan. 13, 2025.
Beth Hansen of Bexley (Franklin County) and Scott P. Borgemenke of Dublin (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Racing Commission for terms beginning April 27, 2023, and ending March 31, 2027.
Daniel J. Guttman of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund Advisory Council for a term beginning March 14, 2023, and ending Jan. 31, 2026.
Thomas P. Milligan of Sidney (Shelby County) and James C. Oda of Piqua (Miami County) reappointed to the Edison State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning April 26, 2023, and ending Jan. 17, 2029.
Elizabeth McNellie of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed to the Miami University Board of Trustees for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Feb. 28, 2032.
George A. Skestos, Jr. of Columbus (Franklin County) and Bradley R. Kastan of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Ohio State University Board of Trustees for terms beginning May 14, 2023, and ending May 13, 2032.
Thomas W. Parfitt of Albany (Meigs County) to the Ohio University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 14, 2023, and ending May 13, 2032.
Garrett T. Meek of Pickerington (Fairfield County) as a student member on the Ohio University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 14, 2023, and ending May 13, 2025.
Richard C. Fryda of Columbiana (Mahoning County) to the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 1, 2023, and ending April 30, 2032.
Mario Basora of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Early Childhood Advisory Council for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.
Valerie A. Lemmie of Dayton (Montgomery County) to serve as chair of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for a term beginning May 1, 2023, and ending July 28, 2025.
David W. Johnson of Salem (Columbiana County), Chauncey A. Cochran of Newark (Licking County), and Peggy Griffith of Deerfield (Portage County) reappointed to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Board of Directors for terms beginning June 12, 2023, and ending June 11, 2026.
Christopher J. Ferruso of Westerville (Franklin County) to the Industrial Commission of Ohio Nominating Council for a term beginning March 30, 2023, and ending Oct. 20, 2025.
Cheri L. Hottinger of Newark (Licking County) to the Industrial Commission of Ohio for a term beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2029.
Emmett M. Kelly of Upper Arlington (Franklin County) and Joy D. Davis of Logan (Hocking County) reappointed to the Tax Credit Authority for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Jan. 12, 2027.
Edward D. Good of Shadyside (Belmont County) reappointed to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Feb. 26, 2029.
Terry L. Casey of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Personnel Board of Review for a term beginning March 30, 2023, and ending Feb. 8, 2029.
Amol Soin of Dayton (Montgomery County) reappointed to the State Medical Board for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending March 18, 2028.
Sherry L. Johnson of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) reappointed to the State Medical Board for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending April 25, 2028.
John F. Boyle of Chillicothe (Ross County) to the State Medical Board for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Dec. 27, 2027.
Jennifer D. Brumby of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the State Medical Board for a term beginning Aug. 1, 2023, and ending July 31, 2028.
Elaine M. Lewis of Groveport (Franklin County) to the State Medical Board for a term beginning May 11, 2023, and ending March 18, 2028.
Peter J. Stautberg of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) and David J. Quolke of North Royalton (Cuyahoga County) to serve as alternate members on the Ohio Elections Commission for terms beginning April 19, 2023, and ending Dec. 31, 2026.
Stephen P. Caraway of West Union (Adams County) to the Ohio Elections Commission for a term beginning April 19, 2023, and ending Dec. 31, 2027.
Joseph A. Starkey of Waterford (Washington County) reappointed to the Technical Advisory Council on Oil and Gas for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Jan. 31, 2026.
Barry J. Alexin of Westerville (Franklin County) and Bradley J. Perkins of Nashport (Muskingum County) reappointed to the Ohio Reclamation Forfeiture Fund Advisory Board for terms beginning April 27, 2023, and ending Jan. 10, 2027.
Timothy J. Cosgrove of Kirtland (Lake County) reappointed to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board for a term beginning April 27, 2023, and ending April 22, 2026.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Ohio continued to rank among the worst states for health outcomes in the Health Policy Institute's (HPIO) recently released 2023 Health Value Dashboard, despite making some modest gains. The fifth edition found Ohio ranked 44th on health value -- a combination of population health outcomes and health care spending metrics -- compared to other states and D.C. While the report details significant ways Ohio is falling short in health outcomes, particularly around issues of equity, it also lays out areas of strength and approaches to improve population health. "This edition of the Dashboard is very much a glass half full, half empty kind of moment," Amy Bush Stevens, vice president of research and evaluation for HPIO, said Monday during a conference hosted by the organization. While the report still finds Ohioans continue to live less healthy lives and spend more on health care than residents in other states, this year's ranking was also the state's best to date. Ohio hovered around spot 46 or 47 in the last four editions of the report -- the most recent of which was released in 2021. Kelley Long, executive director of Ohio Professionals Health Program (OhioPHP), highlighted the services her agency provides to health care providers in need of mental health and addiction services for the Senate Community Revitalization Committee on Tuesday. Noting the thinning ranks of health care providers, she said it is important to help them -- who were already stressed before the pandemic and even more so now because of the pandemic. She said her association surveyed licensees of 13 health care licensing boards in the state in 2021, receiving nearly 14,000 responses. She said they found that 23 percent of Ohio's health care workers said they had an increase or significant increase in substance use as a result of the pandemic. There was a 70 percent increase in health care workers who said they felt down, depressed or hopeless nearly every day. And there was an 88 percent increase in thoughts of suicide among Ohio's health care workers. HIGHER EDUCATION The University of Toledo (UT) will more than double the amount of renewable energy generated on its Health Science Campus with a 540-kilowatt addition to its existing solar array. Work on the expansion is expected to begin this summer, with the new array generating power before the end of the year. Once the addition is completed, the solar array will have a total capacity of nearly 900 kilowatts, producing about $70,000 worth of electricity annually for the campus. HUMAN SERVICES Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder is encouraging Ohioans to recognize National Foster Care Month by celebrating Ohio's foster caregivers and by learning more about becoming a foster caregiver. This year's National Foster Care Month theme is "Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families." It highlights the importance mental health plays in a foster youth's overall well-being and long-term success. Many youth entering the foster system have experienced instability or trauma, the department notes. Ensuring they have access to trauma-informed and individualized care, including addressing anxiety and depression, can ensure that mental health issues don't prevent a child from growing to reach their full potential, the department said. JUDICIAL Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy Friday announced a Supreme Court of Ohio Reentry Task Force. This multidisciplinary task force representing state and local agencies, judges, law enforcement, and community health and rehabilitation partners will be chaired by Judge Chryssa Hartnett of the Stark County Common Pleas Reentry Court. Judge Hartnett's court is one of nine in Ohio with a specialized reentry docket. According to the Court, she has asked the task force to analyze the needs, services, and practices between courts and the reentry population. The task force will identify best practices to aid in reentry with a holistic approach to improve outcomes for those living a life restored. In addition to prison reentry, the task force will examine local jail release efforts. The Supreme Court of Ohio has released results from the February 2023 Ohio Bar Examination. There were 141 first-time test takers and 60 percent of them earned passing scores. A total of 358 people sat for the exam and 151 passed. The list of those who passed can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/ktar2xfx. LIBRARIES More than 300 public library directors, fiscal officers, trustees, and supporters gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday to meet one-on-one with their members of the Ohio General Assembly during Ohio Library Day at the Statehouse. The top issue for the group, library funding in the biennial state budget, was discussed along with the innovative programs and services offered to Ohio's 7.7 million cardholders. MARIJUANA/HEMP Because the General Assembly did not take action on the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's (CRMLA) proposed initiated statute over the last four months, the group began collecting signatures on Friday, May 5 to place the measure on the November ballot, CRMLA spokesperson Tom Haren told Hannah News. "We are confident that we will gather the required number of signatures and submit them by July 5 to get on the ballot in November of this year," Haren said. There are more than 355,000 patients registered in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP), according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP). Specifically, there are 355,368 patients registered in the program, OBP said in its March 2023 patient and caregiver numbers update. Of registered patients, 21,346 are military veterans, 22,447 are classified as "indigent" and 1,295 have a terminal diagnosis. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has awarded three more dispensary certificates of operation under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. There are now 80 dispensaries legally operating in the state. The following dispensaries received certificates of operation:
Inspire Cannabis, located at 5280 College Corner Pike in Oxford.
Insa, located at 27751 Chardon Rd. in Willoughby Hills.
WyldSkye, located at 3534 Dorr. St. in Toledo.
The Ohio Department of Commerce's (DOC) Division of Liquor Control (DOLC) has transferred $9.7 million to the Statewide Prevention and Treatment Fund over the last year, the agency announced Monday. Each year, the division transfers 20 percent of liquor permit fees to the fund. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) administers the fund, putting the dollars toward prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to help Ohioans overcome mental illness and drug/alcohol use disorders.
Increased funding for mental health is critical for moral and economic reasons, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday during NAMI Ohio's annual meeting at the Statehouse. "We're creating jobs faster than we have people to fill them. Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we have people who can fill these jobs, so they can live up to their potential," DeWine said. "When we help people with a mental health problem, mental illness, we're helping them, their family, and we're also frankly helping ourselves. We're helping everybody in the state of Ohio." DeWine said the executive budget proposal included provisions intended to provide more mental health funding to schools, incentivize more individuals to go into the mental health care workforce and increase resources to local communities.
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF) recently announced a new mental health kit to help employers and management address when an employee is experiencing a mental health crisis in the workplace as well as policies and procedures to assist. The comprehensive guide was developed in partnership with OhioMHAS. The toolkit is being rolled out with key employers across the state with the help of Cardinal Health and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The "Mental Health in the Workplace Employer Resource Guide" provides helpful tips and talking points, statewide and federal resources, as well as strategies which can be used to address when a suicide occurs in the workplace. There are also marketing materials, including posters, rack cards, flyers, and more, provided with the toolkit to promote the use of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife held a grand re-opening ceremony for the Magee Marsh Visitor Center and a celebration of the governor's Bird Ohio Day on Thursday, May 4. A blend of wetlands, lake and forested beach ridge habitat, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is a top destination for birding and also for hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor activities.
The OneOhio Recovery Foundation, founded by state and local governments to oversee distribution of opioid settlement proceeds, recently launched a resources page on its website. The site includes an overview of the nonprofit and its leadership, the process for distributing grants from the foundation, and funding allocations from opioid manufacturer and distributor settlements, as well as the memorandum of understanding that established OneOhio. The information is at https://www.oneohiofoundation.com/resources.
Kent State University held its annual commemoration this week of May 4, 1970, the day when Ohio National Guard members fired on Kent State students during an anti-war protest on campus -- killing four and wounding nine students.
The Columbus Foundation announced recently that Frederic Bertley, president and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), is the 2023 honoree of "The Spirit of Columbus Award." Created in 2013 in honor of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world, the award, also known as the Jerrie, "celebrates those in the Columbus community who exhibit bravery, determination, and boldness through their actions." According to the foundation, Bertley was selected in recognition of his commitment to Central Ohio in the areas of science literacy, education equity, and the workforce pipeline.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) recently presented Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering) with its "Distinguished Advocacy Award."
For nearly 45 years, Roslyn Bucy Kaleal has been a constant presence with Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions (CCS). Now, she plans to retire at the end of June. Kaleal has worked alongside nine executive directors, 20 board chairs, and numerous staff, consultants, and volunteers.
The Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education (Ohio ACTE) announced the hiring of Dee Smith as executive director. Smith has worked at government relations firm Pappas & Associates since 2004. Previously, she was a legal assistant at Cark, Cook, Holt and Pugh in Memphis and at Roth Shannon and Underwood in Reynoldsburg.
The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus (LWVMC) announced that the 2023 Democracy in Action Award event will honor Fran Ryan for her service in the city of Columbus and leadership in area nonprofit organizations. The award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum at 300 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets are available through the League's website at www.lwvcols.org. The award is the league's highest honor and is given in recognition for outstanding participation in civic affairs.
Anyone who has an Ohio Basic Peace Officer certification with two years of full-time (or equivalent) Ohio law enforcement experience may now apply to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) as a lateral cadet with the intent of becoming a state trooper, Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Charles A. Jones announced Monday. Applications for a new lateral class will be accepted throughout the month of May. The new lateral cadet class is expected to begin training in September. Historically, the patrol has required already commissioned law enforcement officers to attend the full training program for cadets, which lasts approximately six months and includes approximately 1,200 training hours. Because the lateral cadets will have at least two years of full-time law enforcement experience, the patrol's Academy Cadet Training Program will be shortened to approximately 12 weeks.
The state honored eight fallen law enforcement professionals Thursday at the 35th Annual Ohio Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony in London. Of the fallen officers, half died from COVID-19. Another seven officers, including six who died of the Spanish flu between 1918-1920, were added to the memorial. Attorney General Dave Yost joined members of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) and law enforcement professionals from across the state to pay tribute to the fallen.
The Ohio Public Works Commission (PWC) on Monday announced six conservation project awards that will benefit communities in four counties. The Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program is dedicated to environmental conservation including acquisition of green space and the protection and enhancement of rivers and streams. All grant recipients must agree to maintain the properties in perpetuity for future generations. Projects are vetted by the state's 19 regional natural resource assistance councils.
New "reimagined" rest area buildings will replace current structures over the next four years, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday while unveiling a new welcome center on Interstate 70 in Preble County. The first new rest area building already opened in Ashtabula County on Interstate 90 westbound in March. Other rest areas getting upgrades include ones in Portage, Washington and Meigs counties this year; Fayette, Muskingum and Belmont counties in 2024; Van Wert, Wyandot, Marion, Union, Miami, Madison, and Pickaway counties in 2025; and Delaware, Summit, Lake, Auglaize, and Butler counties in 2026.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors unanimously approved its updated outpatient medication formulary rule on Friday. BWC Medical Services and Safety Committee Vice Chair Peggy Griffith said the formulary makes a number of changes, and that only one stakeholder comment was provided -- a positive one. She said the formulary was recommended by the BWC Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.
BWC Administrator/CEO John Logue also announced that the open enrollment period for employers to select a managed care organization (MCO) to oversee medical management for injured workers runs from Monday, May 1 and through Friday, May 26. BWC offers open enrollment every two years for employers to select from a network of 10 MCOs that manage claim filings and medical care that injured workers need to recover and return to work, Logue said.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Monday a "Find Your Career Pathway" video resource is now available as part of In-Demand Jobs Week. The video aims to guide students "in their educational journey to landing a successful career" in Ohio, according to the administration. It provides information to students, parents and teachers.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2023 Hannah News Service, Inc.]