Week In Review: November 1, 2019



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


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


ABORTION

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals should conduct an en banc review of a decision finding Ohio's Down syndrome abortion ban unconstitutional, Attorney General Dave Yost said in a court filing. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently blocked implementation of 132-HB214 (LaTourette-Merrin), upholding U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black's ruling from March 2018. Under the law, doctors could be charged with a fourth-degree felony if they perform an abortion on a woman seeking the procedure because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

After the Ohio Supreme Court again declined to hear an appeal from Women's Med Center of Dayton (WMCD), attorneys for the last abortion clinic in Dayton are asking a federal court to block enforcement of an Ohio law that requires ambulatory surgical facilities to have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. The motion was filed in a case that has been pending in federal court since 2015. Planned Parenthood and WMCD v. Hodges is being considered in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division.


AGING


The DeWine administration is working on a program to offer training and expertise to local jurisdictions facing more complex elder abuse cases, such as instances of financial exploitation where proving lack of consent can be a murky issue. Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy mentioned the forthcoming initiative during remarks to the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging conference Thursday in Columbus.


AFFORDABLE CARE ACT


State Reps. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) and Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) Wednesday announced they plan to introduce legislation that would incorporate into Ohio law patient protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. The legislation comes as a ruling in Texas v. U.S. by the Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is pending -- a decision that could threaten the health care coverage of an estimated two million Ohioans with pre-existing conditions if the ACA is overturned, the Democrats said.


AGRICULTURE


The House Agriculture and Natural Resources limited the scope and duration of proposed tax credits for beginning farmers in a new substitute bill for the bipartisan legislation accepted Tuesday. Previously unlimited, the credits for beginning farmers and those who lease or sell them farming property would be capped at $10 million total from 2020 to 2025, after which the credits would cease. Revisions in the substitute bill for HB183 (Manchester-Patterson) would also open the credits to people selling or renting assets to family members.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Schools can now apply for grants totaling $10 million for the 2019-20 school year as part of funding included in the state budget, HB166 (Oelslager). Attorney General Dave Yost's office announced that public schools, chartered nonpublic schools and those operated by county boards of developmental disabilities are eligible for the grant totaling either $2,500 or $4.49/student, whichever amount is greater. The funding can be used for school resource officer training, active shooter training, professional development for student mental health professionals and any other necessary school safety training. All applications are due by Friday, Dec. 13.


BALLOT ISSUES


While the federal government does provide protections against foreign entities gaining control of critical infrastructure in Ohio and across the U.S., the Buckeye State should adopt a constitutional amendment to better protect its power plants, electric transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines and water treatment plants, Reps. Don Manning (R-New Middletown) and

Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said Wednesday.


Speaking to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee during the panel's first hearing on HJR2, Manning said they have been "troubled by the growing trend of foreign entities acquiring or financing some of our country's most critical infrastructure," so they'd like to place the "Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Amendment" (OCIPA) on the November 2020 ballot.


FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) says the state must quash the referendum campaign against HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) energy subsidies once and for all or risk losing its two nuclear power plants and their half billion dollars in annual gross domestic product (GDP). The company lodged a second request this week for expedited briefings in State ex rel. FES v. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts after its first attempt failed in early September. The Ohio Supreme Court answered Thursday by ordering the campaign and Secretary of State Frank LaRose to respond to FirstEnergy's "new exigencies" no later than Tuesday, Nov. 5.


BUSINESS/CORPORATE


Cleveland will be the home of the new Americas headquarters for the London Stock Exchange's ELITE initiative and the site of its "Global ELITE Day 2020" conference next year, according to a Monday announcement. ELITE is the London Stock Exchange Group's (LSEG) international business support program for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), which selected nine Ohio companies and the city of Athens for its first U.S. division in December 2018. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was in London on an economic development trip when the announcement was made during this year's ELITE Day where he gave a keynote address.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday ordered a new panel to conduct an in-depth examination of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (DRC) policies and practices as they relate to post-release control supervision by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (APA). DeWine signed an executive order creating the Governor's Working Group on Post-Release Control to review and recommend improvements to the state's system. The APA, which is a division of DRC, is responsible for the post-release control supervision of more than 20,500 adult felony inmates who have been released back into society after serving their prison sentences.


Members of the of the Ohio Democratic Women's Legislative Caucus (ODWLC), including Reps. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), gathered Wednesday in the Ladies Gallery of the Statehouse to call for hearings on several anti-domestic violence bills.


DEATH PENALTY


After telling reporters Friday that the scheduled Dec. 11 execution of Death Row inmate James Hanna was "highly unlikely" given ongoing difficulties obtaining drugs to perform lethal injections, Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday delayed Hanna's execution until July 16, 2020 and that of Kareem Jackson, who was scheduled to die on Jan. 16, 2020, until Sept. 16, 2020. Asked whether it was time to consider ending capital punishment in Ohio, DeWine said that would be a discussion the General Assembly would need to have. He added that the possibility of drug companies' ending state access to other drugs if their products are used for lethal injections is something "we have to be very concerned about."


Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday capital punishment is "at a standstill," a status that appears unlikely to change anytime soon. "We are at a standstill, unless the department can obtain drugs, and I don't think that is very likely, frankly," he said after a speech to the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for nine projects expected to create 1,222 new jobs and retain 1,883 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $82 million in new payroll and spur more than $89 million in investments across Ohio.


EDUCATION


Six education entities will coordinate $3 million in state funding to help expand the pool of teachers who can teach College Credit Plus Courses, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) announced. Lawmakers included the funding in the biennial budget, HB166 (Oelslager), to pay for graduate coursework for teachers to become credentialed to teach College Credit Plus courses in the high school setting. The budget language gave priority in awarding the funding to consortia that pair colleges or universities with economically disadvantaged high schools with few or no teachers credentialed to teach College Credit Plus courses.


Several advocates urged the Senate Education Committee against authorizing development of state health education standards Tuesday, saying it would give further license for schools to use sex education materials that promote risky behaviors and erode the law's existing emphasis on teaching abstinence.


A sponsor of the legislation repeatedly remarked to witnesses that the proposal does not address the curricular decisions of local education officials, while the committee chair, Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), said she recognizes the topic of sex education is fraught but wants to find a way to develop standards on a range of other health-related topics.


The State Board of Education's Graduation Requirements and High School Redesign Task Force laid out Monday the questions it will consider for the first phase of its work to consider how the high school experience should change to help students become prepared for what's next in their lives. The task force plans an initial information gathering and research phase, followed by work on developing a framework of attributes for an engaging and inspiring high school, followed by development of recommendations to Superintendent Paolo DeMaria on a statewide approach to developing and promoting such high schools.


Ohio students who took the National Assessment of Educational Program (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card, matched or beat the national averages but in some cases lagged the state's own scores from the 2017 version of the assessment. In all cases, the scores showed fewer than half of students scoring at the proficient level.


ELECTIONS 2020

The Ohio Republican Party announced that Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, will be speaking at the party's fundraiser and 2020 election kickoff next month. The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Spread Eagle Tavern, 10150 Plymouth St., Hanoverton, OH. The event will also feature Bob Paduchik, a senior advisor to Trump's re-election campaign.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


- The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced the following endorsements: former U.S. Rep. Edward Feighan; Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown; former Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair Dave Betras; Parma City Council members Brian Brochetti, Mark Casselberry, Allan Divis, Larry Napoli, Kristin Saban and Roy Jech; Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma); Parma City Auditor Brian Day; Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter; former Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson; Lorain Clerk of Courts Ted Kalo; Fremont City Councilman Christopher Liebold; Parma City Treasurer Tom Mastroianni; Upper Arlington City Councilwoman Susan Ralph; Lorain County Treasurer Daniel Taralek; and Parma Clerk of Courts Marty Vittardi.


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke with reporters Tuesday about his thoughts on impeachment proceedings, the 2020 presidential election and recent legislative developments. Portman said that some have criticized Senate Republicans for not taking a stronger stance against impeachment as some Republicans in the House have. However, he said, should the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump, the Senate's job would be to act as jurors. Reporters asked if Portman still intended to vote for Trump in 2020. "I am."

Members of Ohio's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines Thursday on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and laying out the guidelines moving forward.


GAMING/GAMBLING


The sponsors of a Senate bill that would legalize sports betting in Ohio told a committee Tuesday that they expect to have experts testify to the constitutionality of putting oversight with the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Sens. John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Sean O'Brien (D-Cortland) gave sponsor testimony on their SB111 (Eklund-O'Brien), which would give oversight of a legalized sports betting market to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The Ohio House has been hearing its own bill, HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly), which puts oversight duties in the hands of the Ohio Lottery Commission. House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) recently told reporters that there are constitutional questions about using the casino commission and whether the amendment adopted by voters in 2009 to legalize casinos in Ohio allows sports betting.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


The General Assembly Monday sent three bills to Gov. Mike DeWine for his consideration including SB26 (Kunze) which includes the sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products as well as authorizes a state income tax deduction for teachers' out-of-pocket expenses for professional development and classroom supplies, and modifies the business income deduction to allow lobbyists and lawyers to claim it. Also sent to the governor was HB189 (Patterson-Blessing) -- Tyler's Law -- which addresses amusement ride operation and safety and SB24 (Wilson-Yuko) which creates the Alzheimer's Disease and Dementias Task Force.


The Ohio House unanimously passed two bills during its session Wednesday to update state laws regarding humane societies and humane agents (HB24 [Hambley]), and to correct errors in the Ohio tax code (HB197 [Powell-Merrin]).


After session, House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) told reporters that the chamber continues its work on HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly), the sports betting bill, and said the bill will move when they work out all of the issues. He said they are addressing language dealing with mobile devices among other issues in the bill. Asked if the House is working with the Senate on the issue, he said they are going to do what the House thinks is right, and the Senate will do what it thinks is right, and maybe they will be able to come to an agreement on their differences. He also said that he doesn't think HB381 (Keller), the latest "stand your ground" legislation, will be merged into HB354 (Plummer-Swearingen), which addresses gun background checks and mental health.


The Sunset Review Committee heard from six state agencies at its Tuesday meeting, with all seeking continuation. They included State Emergency Response Commission, Small Business Stationary Source Technical and Environmental Compliance Assistance Council, Advisory Council on Amusement Ride Safety, Ohio Grape Industries Committee and Farmland Preservation Advisory Board.


The Senate Judiciary Committee continued its antitrust investigation into "Big Tech" Monday at the University of Cincinnati, where witnesses debated whether existing state and federal antitrust laws are equal to "Big Data's" power in the 21st century -- whether, in fact, online giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon are empowering rather than emasculating smaller firms and warrant antitrust worries at all. The committee heard from Co-Director Felix Chang of UC's Corporate Law Center, President/CEO David Chavern of News Media Alliance, Thomas Zych of Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland, President Jake Ward of Connected Commerce Council, Vice President/General Counsel Carl Szabo of NetChoice, and Co-Founder MaryEllen Reider of Yarlap in Oxford.


Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) Thursday announced that the Senate will broadcast and stream all of its committee hearings live beginning in January.


Freshman Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Zanesville) drew support from House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Butler (R-Dayton) and Majority Whip Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) Thursday in announcing the reintroduction of "surprise" medical billing reforms vetoed by Gov. Mike DeWine in budget bill HB166 (Oelslager). Holmes, Butler, Edwards and Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) joined at the Statehouse to discuss the as-yet unnumbered bill, which would require out-of-network providers to bill patients at their in-network rate or negotiate a different rate with their insurer, among other alternatives.


Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) and Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) announced Thursday a package of legislation meant to address high insulin costs, including a price cap on insulin provided by health plans.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) announced that Phase Two of the Ohio Statehouse parking garage repair project officially begins Monday, Nov. 4. During Phase Two of the repairs, the garage will remain in service, however at a reduced capacity. Approximately 25 percent or 300 spaces will be under construction throughout the entire project.


Despite warnings from criminal justice reform advocates that the bill would continue to increase the prison population without effectively addressing the state's drug problem, the House Criminal Justice Committee unanimously reported out SB55 (Gavarone) on Thursday. The "Relapse Reduction Act" would enhance penalties for most drug trafficking offenses when committed within 1,000 feet of an addiction services provider's facility if the offender "recklessly disregards" where the offense is being committed.


Ohio lawmakers took another step toward cracking down on drivers passing stopped school buses on Thursday. The House Criminal Justice Committee accepted a substitute version of school bus photo evidence bill HB83 (BrownSchaffer) that now includes language from HB89 (Antani) and HB105 (Brown-Scherer) requiring deputy registrars to display graphics on school bus procedures, increasing penalties for repeat offenders and making a $1 million appropriation, among other provisions.


Proponents of a bill that would eliminate a requirement for a financial institution to provide notice of a consumer's legal rights prior to collecting a debt on a junior lien on a residential property, such as a second mortgage, said the requirement is vague, onerous and creates a negative consumer experience, while opponents said the requirement provides protections for consumers who may otherwise be taken advantage of by predatory, non-depository institutions. At Thursday morning's meeting of the House Financial Institutions Committee, proponents of HB38 (Hillyer) included representatives of bank and credit union associations, while opponents included consumer lawyers specializing in mortgages.


In other action, the House Health Committee reported out HB210 (Carruthers) which deals with TB screenings for child care and preschool workers, HB287 (Russo-Perales) regarding home- and community-based waiver services for military families and SB101 (Yuko) designating May as "Preeclampsia Awareness Month"; the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out HB106 (Scherer-Sheehy) that tightens teen driving restrictions and HCR14 (Sheehy-Rogers) which designates Sept. 7, 2019 as Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day; Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee reported out HB10 (Brown-Stoltzfus) which establishes the Governor's Office of Drug Policy, SB194 (Rulli) which deals with voter registration systems and SB165 (Schaffer) which establishes requirements for EBT cards; Senate Higher Education Committee reported out SB181 (Coley) which addresses workforce-education partnership programs.


HIGHER EDUCATION


While state and federal governments have matching policy goals when they invest in postsecondary education, they do so in very different ways according to a recent report published by the Pew Charitable Trusts examining how higher education funding has changed over the past 20 years. The federal government mostly provides direct financial assistance to students through programs like the Pell grant, while states still fund institutions directly through operating budgets. In the wake of the Great Recession, federal investments have grown while state investments, while increasing, remain below pre-recession levels.


Wright State University named Provost Susan Edwards as its next president, succeeding President Cheryl B. Schrader, who plans to retire Dec. 31. Edwards will assume the role Wednesday, Jan. 1.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded Kent State a three-year, $298,000 International Research for Students (IRES) grant which will allow graduate students to study at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan, the university announced recently. Students will come from anthropology and biological sciences, and they will conduct studies focused on morphology, genetics, neuroscience and primate behavior.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that lawmakers should heed the words of state university leaders who want to leave collegiate athletics out of any measure to legalize sports betting in Ohio.


Gov. Mike DeWine urged leaders of colleges and universities Wednesday to focus on how they can develop, attract and keep people with skills in Ohio, saying homegrown talent is key for a state with a slow-growing population. In a speech to the Ohio Department of Higher Education's (ODHE) Trustees Conference at Columbus State Community College, DeWine said he'd like institutions to inventory the programs where they excel. He also suggested a step university and college leaders could take to keep young people here: granting in-state residency for graduate school tuition to anyone who completes their undergraduate degree at an Ohio institution, including private institutions. The governor told conference attendees he respects their institutions' independence and is not interested in changing higher education governance.


JUDICIAL


The Ohio Supreme Court has released results from the July 2019 Ohio Bar Examination. The passage rate for the 885 applicants who sat for the exam was 647 (73.1 percent); out of 734 first-time test takers, 82 percent received passing scores. The exam took place July 30-Aug. 1 in Columbus. To see a list of all who passed, go online to https://tinyurl.com/y6topb8e .

Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced the appointment of Kevin Braig to serve as a judge on the Logan County Court of Common Pleas, General Division. Braig, of Belle Center, will assume office on Monday, Dec. 2 and must run for election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 for the remainder of the term ending Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. Braig is replacing Judge William Goslee, who resigned.


The onetime Ohio State University (OSU) football player and longtime attorney who tipped off former Ohio State University football Coach Jim Tressel about players' swap of team memorabilia for tattoos ran out of luck Wednesday when the Ohio Supreme Court handed Christopher Cicero the permanent disbarment Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and the Board of Professional Conduct have long sought.



MARIJUANA/HEMP


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, giving the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) a regulatory framework to follow as the agency considers modifications to its initial draft hemp rules. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the program, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill, creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the U.S.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) on Thursday awarded certificates of operation to two dispensaries in Akron. The board has now issued 44 certificates of operation to dispensaries under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Geological Survey is encouraging students to fill out applications for the Ohio Geology Student Research Grant program. Now in its fifth academic year, the program offers support to both graduate and undergraduate students conducting geologic research in the state, ODNR said. The ODNR Division of Geological Survey will award three grants of $2,500 each to earth science students at Ohio colleges and universities. Each grant winner will be selected based on the quality of their application, the strength of their professor's letter of reference and the relevancy of the proposed research.


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry recently inducted two individuals, Gary Kaster and Dave Apsley, and one organization, the Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum, into the "Forest of Honor" for their contributions in the Buckeye State.


NEWS MEDIA


Using data from the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, researchers from Ohio State University


(OSU) found that Americans who consumed more partisan media had stronger negative feelings than others toward political opponents. This dislike was linked to greater belief in misperceptions about those from the "other side." "Partisan news outlets promote a feeling of animosity toward the other side and that animosity can help explain inaccurate beliefs," said R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at Ohio State. "As people grow increasingly hostile towards those with whom they disagree, our study found they are more likely to believe false information about them."


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


Voices for Ohio's Children, an advocacy coalition on children's issues dating back decades, will become part of the Ohio Children's Alliance as part of a new "strategic partnership," the two organizations announced Monday. The two merged officially Friday, Nov. 1.


PENSIONS


Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPER) Chief Investment Officer Paul Greff has been named to a new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) committee that will provide the commission with diverse perspectives on asset management.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) announced Tuesday that its board of directors has hired Laura Koprowski, vice president of government affairs and communications at the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), as its new executive director. OPTA is a statewide membership organization that advocates for public transportation in Ohio. Koprowski will succeed Executive Director W. Curtis Stitt, who is retiring in January.


STATE GOVERNMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration has been working hard to comply with a new law requiring state agencies and a number of state commissions to create a "base inventory" of regulatory restrictions in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC), DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney told Hannah News in an interview.


The biennial budget, HB166 (Oelslager), includes language requiring all administrative agencies and the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Lottery Commission, Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio State Racing Commission and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to review their existing rules to identify regulatory restrictions that include the words "shall," "must," "require," "may not," and "prohibit." The base inventory must be completed by Tuesday, Dec. 31.


The Ohio inspector general Thursday issued two reports, the first dealing with misappropriated lumber by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) employee, and the second regarding several issues within the Ohio Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Division of Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion and Division of Construction Management.


Despite opposition testimony from the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (OAND), the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) allowed the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) to move forward with rescinding a rule that made OAND the official liaison between SMBO and the industry.


The Ohio Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) Monday continued developing plans to honor the 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote and encourage voter participation. Since the prior meeting, the group has a drafted a letter intended to go to potential partners with the goal of engaging youth during the centennial through projects, essays and creative contests for students.


TAXATION


Policy Matters Ohio's Wendy Patton was the sole opposition witness Wednesday on legislation that would create a new tax credit for "transformational mixed use development" (TMUD) projects. In testimony and throughout questioning by members of the House Economic and Workforce Development Committee on SB39 (Schuring), Patton repeatedly pointed out that tax credits do, in fact, spend taxpayer money. She said Ohio already sees approximately $9 billion a year in revenue "foregone" and this bill would only add to that total of tax expenditures.


TECHNOLOGY


With Gov. Mike DeWine's Friday signing of SB52 (Gavarone), Adjutant General John Harris told reporters the first civilian Ohio Cyber Reserve (OhCR) units will likely be formed in 30 to 60 days, though they will not reach operational capability until the bill's effective date in 90 days. The concept for a cyber reserve came from discussions with CyberOhio and the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee (OC3), so the project already has industry engagement and a number of interested professionals. The adjutant general's office launched a website for applicants immediately following the press conference, and Harris said the next steps will be to vet applicants and train them through existing "cyber ranges" at the University of Cincinnati and University of Akron.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Monday release of $105 million in funding to public transit agencies, a large increase reflecting the substantial expansion of transit funding in the latest transportation budget. The budget, HB62 (Oelslager), provided about $70 million in General Revenue Fund (GRF) appropriations, while Ohio got $35 million in Federal Transit Administration funding to support 38 rural transit systems. The state funding will be distributed as follows:


- $45 million for the Ohio Transit Partnership Program to support rural and urban transit agencies.


- $17 million for 27 urban transit agencies, distributed via formula.


- $4 million for 38 rural transit agencies to meet federal matching requirements.


- $2 million for the Elderly & Disabled Transit Fare Assistance Program.


- $2 million for the Specialized Transportation Program for seniors and people with disabilities.


Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday signed an executive order reauthorizing DriveOhio as the statewide center for the advancement of smart mobility solutions. DeWine announced the signing during an on-stage conversation with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks at the opening session of the Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference (OTEC).


UTILITIES


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) brought the three-year rate hike in water and sewer service for a half million Ohioans to nearly $9 million this week, approving a 3.733 percent surcharge on Aqua Ohio customers for capital improvements and infrastructure upgrades -- the company's second system improvement charge (SIC) granted by PUCO in 2019.


A 30-year veteran of American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP), Andrew Blair, is the nonprofit wholesale electric supplier's new vice president of financial planning and analysis. Blair, assistant to the vice president since 2013, will oversee its debt management and power settlement groups and coordinate the development of annual budgets for all projects and business activities.


WORKERS' COMPENSATION


Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud updated her board of directors Friday on Gov. Mike DeWine's vision for the state insurance agency and assured them the administration and bureau are heading in the same direction. McCloud, in her first year as CEO, did not offer an update on agency rebranding vetted in earnest since March but said her recent leadership retreat had affirmed the governor's priorities for BWC: invest in (a) drug recovery, (b) workforce safety, wellness and innovation, and (c) school, firefighter and law enforcement safety, while (d) advancing BWC's growth as a service-oriented agency and (e) expanding data analytics as part of DeWine's state technology project, InnovateOhio.


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