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Week in Review November 20, 2023

Ohio statehouse government affairs week in review January 2023

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

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ABORTION Attorneys involved in "heartbeat" abortion case Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost must file simultaneous briefs on the effects of passage of Issue 1 on the case in the next three weeks, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Thursday. No responsive briefs will be permitted. Issue 1 passage added language on reproductive and abortion rights to the Ohio Constitution. ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE The DeWine administration says "poly-drug" mixtures of large-animal veterinary drugs including xylazine and carfentanil -- estimated to be 100 times stronger than fentanyl -- with cocaine or methamphetamine have been on the rise since a previous high in 2017. The Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued a public safety bulletin Monday alerting Ohioans to the increasing number of illicit drug cocktails with ranging combinations of elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, horse sedatives medetomidine and xylazine, fentanyl and other substances with powerful stimulants, creating highly "unpredictable and potentially deadly" poisons. APPALACHIA The Controlling Board Monday approved without objection additional funds for the Appalachian Community Grant Program after the Governor's Office of Appalachia said the increases were needed in order to meet timelines laid out by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT Basketball fans will soon have the opportunity to visit "LeBron James' Home Court" in Akron, the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) announced. "LeBron James' Home Court is a multimedia storytelling experience that offers a look at LeBron's life with never-before-seen items along his journey from Akron to the NBA, Olympics, business, philanthropy and beyond," LJFF said on an Eventbrite page. General admission tickets are $23 and can be purchased at ATTORNEY GENERAL Chiefs of police and county sheriffs are joining the Ohio Attorney General's Office in a bid for greater transparency in peace officer training and employment history. The AG announced changes to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) portal Tuesday to make it easier for hiring authorities and citizens to understand an officer's appointment to and separation from law enforcement agencies. While employment and training outcomes have long been public record, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) voted this year to include not only in-person training but also distance-learning credits on the OPOTA portal to track an officer's performance from academy to advanced coursework. AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY A new battery cell research and development center was announced for the Ohio State University (OSU) campus Monday, with Honda committing $15 million and $4.5 million in federal funding provided for the project. The center will be a 25,000 square-foot renovated facility slated to open in April 2025. OSU's Institute for Materials and Manufacturing Research (IMR) will manage the center, which is part of the OSU innovation district. In addition to preparing workers for the automotive industry and attracting more electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing and supply chain businesses, the center will also provide a source of academic and industry connections in chemical and physical sciences, engineering, business and policy-making. Honda is serving as lead foundational partner for the project, and there have been an additional $7 million in committed funds so far including the federal money. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) and Mike Carey (R-Columbus) secured the $4.5 million through the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Extramural Construction program. Schaeffler, an automotive and industrial supplier, will also serve as a partner on the project. BUSINESS/CORPORATE The National Retail Federation (NRF) asked for legislation to combat organized retail crime at the annual meeting of the Ohio Council Retail Merchants (OCRM) in Columbus on Tuesday. NRF President Matt Shay said that organized retail crime networks can cause some retailers to remove otherwise saleable stock from retail floors, eliminate some hours of operation or close stores entirely. He says legislation would make it easier for law enforcement to confront the issue. CIVIL RIGHTS Sen. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) issued a statement Monday denouncing vandalism at the Jewish Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Brooklyn over the weekend, saying he was "angered" by the crime. According to the Cleveland Jewish News, the vandalism included swastikas painted on headstones. Speaking to reporters at an event at Ohio State University (OSU) Monday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also acknowledged the issue. "There is no room for hate -- no matter what your religious belief is, no matter what may be going on in Israel, here in America we have no room for any of that," Husted said. "We should be the source of peace and reason, and things like that that happen in our communities and our college campuses are terrible and they should be denounced by everyone. The governor and I are speaking out against that; we hope others will join in that." Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine had instructed the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) to work with OSU and Columbus police following two incidents targeting the Jewish community near campus. DEATH PENALTY The Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week from supporters of the latest bipartisan effort to abolish Ohio's death penalty. In advance of Wednesday's hearing on SB101 (Antonio-S. Huffman), the group Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE) sent the General Assembly a letter signed by more than 50 family members whose loved one was murdered urging lawmakers to end state-sponsored executions. OTSE hosted several of those who signed the letter Monday at a Statehouse press conference featuring their personal stories of loss and struggle with the criminal justice system. Speakers called for statutory, judicial and sentencing reform focused on family survivors of murder. Gary Mohr, who was the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in the Kasich administration, joined two of his predecessors Wednesday in coming out in favor of abolishing the death penalty in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on SB101 (Antonio-S. Huffman). He told the committee, "I have not spoken against this law until now out of the utmost respect for the team that carries out these executions. This is the most professional and caring group of diverse Ohioans I have ever worked with, and I worked very closely with them." He went on to say, "While I cannot definitively describe the personal toll on the members of the team, I can tell you my direct participation and decision-making in executions had and continues to have a profound impact on me." He oversaw 15 executions in his time as DRC director from 2011 to 2018. The other former directors who have opposed the death penalty include Reginald Wilkinson and Terry Collins. DISABILITIES Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Director Kim Hauck announced recently that $2.8 million in funding has been distributed to county boards of developmental disabilities to use for supporting youth and families. The funding is part of DODD's Keeping Families Together (KFT) subsidy program aimed at keeping children and youth with complex needs in their homes and communities when possible. EDUCATION Wednesday, at an Ohio State Highway Patrol event, Gov. Mike DeWine updated reporters on Tuesday's fiery bus crash involving five vehicles on I-70 in Licking County that killed six people, including three members of the Tuscarawas Valley High School Band. A visibly shaken DeWine called for a moment of silence during the OSHP celebration and commended troopers for their professionalism and compassion at the crash scene. He said he had just met with Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the crash scene independently of OSHP. "This continues to be a day of mourning," the governor said. "I'm sure there's no one in the [Tuscarawas Valley] community that has not been touched by this really unbelievable tragedy." The governor’s Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group observed an opening moment of silence Thursday following this week's fiery bus crash killing three students and three adults on I-70. Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Andy Wilson thanked the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and Licking and Tuscarawas county sheriffs for their response to the tragedy before taking up the previously scheduled agenda of the working group. The meeting was joined by Rep. Bernie Willis (R-Springfield), whose school bus seatbelt mandate in HB279 is one of two pieces of legislation currently directed at school bus safety. Rep. Richard Brown's (D-Canal Winchester) HB140 calls for stronger deterrence against commuters who ignore stopped school buses. Wilson acknowledged Willis' bill and said it might be a vehicle for the group's eventual recommendations. The State Board of Education (SBOE) took initial steps Tuesday to potentially restore licenses for teachers who were permanently barred from the profession and recognized the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year and other contenders for that honor. Board members also debated their future under the new K-12 governance structure and how to deal with gaps in their administrative capacity. In addition, the board adopted a new timeline for concluding the search for a permanent state superintendent, including at least one and potentially two additional meetings in December beyond the already scheduled meeting on Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12. Interim Director of the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Jessica Voltolini will hold a public meeting next week, Tuesday, Nov. 21, to provide an update about the agency's transition and other topics. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at the DEW office, Room 102, 25 S. Front St., Columbus. The Ohio Channel will livestream the meeting. The agenda for the meeting, available at, says Voltolini will provide an update on the agency's transition since the implementation of changes to the department in the state budget, HB33 (Edwards). ELECTIONS 2024 Kettering City Councilwoman Jyl Hall is running for the Ohio Senate 6th District, the Dayton Daily News reported. A Democrat, Hall is the daughter of former Congressman Tony Hall. She joins a crowded field of Democrats who are seeking the seat currently held by Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), which now favors Democrats thanks to redistricting. Others who are planning to run for the seat include Rep. Willis Blackshear (D-Dayton) and Dayton Board of Education member Jocelyn Rhynard, the newspaper said. Less than a week after Ohio voters approved a reproductive and abortion rights amendment through Issue 1, the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announced it was launching a new digital ad attacking the Republican U.S. Senate candidates on the issue. The ad criticizes Bernie Moreno, Frank LaRose and Matt Dolan over their views on abortion, ODP said. Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), a day after he announced he would not run for re-election in 2024, officially announced Tuesday that he is running for the Second Congressional District. The seat will be open after this term after U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) announced he would not seek re-election. The district, which covers 16 counties, is considered a safe Republican seat. Though Antani does not currently live in the district, congressional candidates are not required to be a resident of their district to run for a seat. Antani said his residence is currently 17 miles from the district, and he plans to move into it should he win. Three Democrats -- Desiree Tims, Christine Cockley, and Erika White -- launched their campaigns for various open seats in the Ohio House this week. Tims is the current executive director of Innovation Ohio and is running for the 38th House District seat currently held by Rep. Willis Blackshear (D-Dayton), who is running for the Ohio Senate in 2024. Cockley is running for the 6th Ohio House District, a seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus). She currently works for the YWCA Columbus. White said Tuesday she is running for the 41st House District, a seat currently held by Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Maumee), who is term-limited, and who defeated White in 2022. White is currently the president of Communications Workers of America Local 4319 and vice president of the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO. Republican Patty Hamilton, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, recently announced she will run for the 12th Ohio House District. The seat is currently held by Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville), who is running for re-election. The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • Republican congressional candidate J.R. Majewski announced that he has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

  • Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Dolan announced he has been endorsed by East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick, and Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle.

ENVIRONMENT The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) released guidelines Wednesday for the upcoming round of funding in the Brownfield Remediation Program, with applications accepted beginning Tuesday, Dec. 5. The application window will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 1, 2024. Nearly $350 million will be available and was provided in the state budget. The program has already helped hundreds of communities with site clean-up and redevelopment preparation, DOD said. Under the guidelines, approximately $175 million will be available in FY24. There will be $1 million set aside for each county and the remaining $82 million will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Set-aside funding not obligated by July 4, 2024 will become available statewide. The other $175 million will also become available statewide on July 1, 2024. DOD will use 2.5 percent of the total funding for administrative purposes. FEDERAL U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) announced Thursday evening that he will be retiring from Congress at the end of this term and won't run for re-election. Wenstrup was first elected in 2012, defeating then-U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) in a Republican primary before going on to win the General Election for the Second Congressional District. He announced his decision not to run for a seventh-term in a three-minute video posted to X, also known as Twitter. The 65-year-old doctor and former U.S. Army surgeon cited a desire to spend more time with his young family as the reason for his decision. U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) joined 13 U.S. representatives from Ohio in calling on U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to support Intel's application for funding for its Ohio project through the CHIPS Program. The U.S. representatives were Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), Shontel Brown (D-Beachwood), Mike Carey (R-Columbus), Warren Davidson (R-West Chester), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Dave Joyce (R-Mentor), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Greg Landsman (D-Cincinnati), Max Miller (R-Parma), Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), Mike Turner (R-Dayton) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati). GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Adena) said Tuesday he will retire Friday, Dec. 1, creating a vacancy in the 30th Senate District, which covers Athens, Belmont, Harrison, Jefferson, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble and Washington counties and part of Guernsey County. Senate Republicans said they will take applications until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29 for those interested in completing Hoagland's term, which runs through the end of 2024. His retirement statement did not specify a reason for his early departure but said he "looks forward to spending time with his grandchild and family." House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) told reporters Tuesday that a proposal from a small faction of Republican lawmakers to strip judges of their ability to interpret Issue 1 is not seriously being considered. After Ohio voters last week approved Issue 1, the amendment that enshrined reproductive and abortion rights into the state constitution, four state lawmakers, Reps. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), Bill Dean (R-Xenia), Melanie Miller (R-Ashland) and Beth Lear (R-Galena), proposed a plan to block courts from interpreting the law. "To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative," the lawmakers said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "The Ohio Legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides." Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters Wednesday that the Senate will likely pass legislation before recreational marijuana legalization Issue 2 takes effect on Thursday, Dec. 7, with those changes including an emergency clause if possible. Huffman said he met with Gov. Mike DeWine and House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) on potential changes earlier this week and has also spoken with Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) on changes they may want. He said the plan is to put a bill through the Senate General Government Committee and hold a number of hearings, including on days that don't normally have legislative hearings. The bill would be on the floor on Wednesday, Dec. 6. With Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) still recovering after a recent hospitalization, Huffman said he plans to put Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) on the panel, noting his experience with medical marijuana. The Senate Wednesday passed four bills, including legislation aimed at protecting student privacy and a ban on insurance companies setting rates for dental services that aren't covered. Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) said his SB29 (S. Huffman) will prohibit schools and technology providers from tracking students' activity from school-issued devices. In addition, technology providers will be unable to use educational data for any marketing or advertising. The bill passed unanimously. The Senate also passed SB115 (Schuring), which among other items dealing with dental insurance, prohibits insurance companies from dictating the price of non-covered services, a topic that has spanned multiple General Assemblies. The bill passed 22-8, with Sens. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), and Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) voting with Democrats against it, and Sen. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) voting in favor. The Senate also unanimously passed SB62 (Reineke-Brenner) to designate Oct. 4 as "Rutherford B. Hayes Day," and SB81 (Romanchuk), which allows certain advance practice registered nurses and physician assistants to sign certain documents related to psychiatric inpatients that are currently required by law to be signed by a physician, including treatment and discharge orders and only for certain behavioral health services, by a vote of 29-1. The House passed legislation Wednesday to require schools to set policies on staff speech, with majority Republicans saying it's meant to address ideological conformity in schools and Democrats warning it would sow confusion and exacerbate teacher shortages. Under HB214 (Holmes), schools would be required to set policies stating they won't require employees or applicants to affirm or opine about specific ideologies or beliefs, or use such statements as part of evaluation criteria, among other restrictions. The bill passed 64-30. The chamber also passed HB201 (Hillyer-Demetriou), which would prohibit the state or local government from adopting California's stricter vehicle emissions standards, or from restricting vehicle sales based on fuel source. Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), joint sponsor of the bill with Rep. Steve Demetriou (R-Chagrin Falls), said if Ohio adopted California's standards, the pastime of seeing the U.S. by car would become unaffordable for many, and he argued the electrical grid does not have the capacity to support a mass switch to electric vehicles. The bill passed 70-23. Also passing was HB250 (Miranda-Richardson), which expands the criteria for students to earn a seal on their high school diplomas related to military enlistment. The sponsors, Reps. Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) and Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), said the current criteria exclude students who've been admitted to one of the military service academies, or who get a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. The bill passed 94-0. Also passing on a 93-1 vote was SB34 (Schaffer), which designates July as Sarcoma Awareness Month and also moves Ohio's observance of Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month from September to April, aligning with the national observance. A Republican House member Tuesday compared the practice of some lending and financial institutions to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies in their ratings of companies and certain borrowers to the former practice of "redlining" that was used last century to discriminate against Black and poor residents. Rep. Tom Young (R-Centerville), giving sponsor testimony on his HB4 (King-Young), told the House Financial Institutions Committee that is his own interpretation of ESG, which the bill seeks to prohibit as discriminatory. Redlining, which was a practice of refusing to lend to or insure borrowers who lived in a certain area because of what institutions deemed a financial risk, was used to eliminate access to capital for certain groups, Young said. The Ohio Statehouse will host a gala celebration in January 2024 to unveil the first new major painting to hang in the Statehouse Rotunda in over 60 years. The painting will picture astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik, all Ohioans noted for their time in space. Bill Hinsch of Perrysburg was chosen to paint the picture. Other works from Hinsch hang in the Air Force Museum in Dayton and at the Pentagon. Hinsch was chosen from a group of 36 artists to complete the artwork. Tickets for the Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024 dinner and unveiling of the new artwork are now available at The House Public Health Policy Committee Wednesday approved legislation banning the use of co-pay accumulators or other insurer practices that prevent money paid through fundraisers or drugmaker assistance programs from being counted toward a patient's share of health care costs. The committee passed HB177 (Manchester) at its fourth hearing, after lengthy testimony from a drug pricing consultant brought in to help address members' questions about the complexities of prescription drug coverage and pricing. There isn't an immediate need for a second judge in Adams County, according to Adams County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Spencer. During testimony on HB283 (Pizzulli-Schmidt), Spencer told the House Civil Justice Committee Tuesday that the total number of cases is down 12.5 percent from 2013 to 2022. "No case, any division, has been required dismissed as a result of untimely hearings or unavailability of the court ... in stark contrast to the proponents' suggestions," Spencer said. Asked by Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) why all the other local elected officials in Adams County believe there is an emergency to create another judgeship, Spencer said it's likely because they all supported his Republican opponent in the 2022 election. The four agencies that were the most behind on meeting their regulatory restriction reduction goals under 134-SB9 (McColley-Roegner) have made enough progress to avoid action being taken against them, Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) Chair Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said Thursday. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) all provided written testimony on their efforts to catch up. Callender did not require representatives of the agencies to present the testimony in-person or answer questions during Thursday's JCARR meeting. The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) Tuesday approved its upcoming capital budget request. The request is for more than $15 million and mainly focused on two items, the roof building envelope and the second phase of replacing air handlers. CSRAB also approved a request from Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) to display the Israeli flag on the Statehouse grounds. The approval is good for 90 days. CSRAB Executive Director Laura Battocletti also told the board that a new operator is expected to take over operation of the Capitol Cafe in the next couple of weeks, though there is not an exact date. The cafe is currently replacing old equipment after HouseTaco moved out. In other legislative action, the House Government Oversight Committee reported out HB257 (Hoops-Claggett) which deals with virtual meetings for public bodies; HB272 (Mathews-Pizzulli) which deals with concealed carry in buildings with courtrooms; and HB51 (Loychik-Schmidt) which prevents state and local authorities from helping to enforce any federal laws or rules regarding guns; the House State and Local Government Committee reported out its recommendations regarding its occupational license review and reported out HB184 (Bird-Brennan) regarding charitable solicitation; the House Transportation Committee reported out HR198 (Williams) which addresses all-electric vehicles; and HB286 (Santucci) and HB294 (Lorenz-Lear), naming bills; the Senate Local Government Committee reported out HB101 (Bird-Schmidt) which addresses village dissolution; the House Public Health Policy Committee reported out HB190 (Brent-White) which designates the week of April 11-17 as “Black Maternal Health Week” and HB256 (K. Miller-Creech) which requires ODNR to inquire about organ donation; the Senate Health Committee reported out SB81 (Romanchuk) which deals with medical scope of practice; and the Senate Insurance Committee reported out SB63 (Lang) which deals with asbestos claims. GOVERNOR Gov. Mike DeWine again discussed Monday the fallout of last week's election, saying he's still pushing for near-term changes to the new marijuana law and advising that the public take some of the legislative pushback to Issue 1's abortion rights expansion with a grain of salt. DeWine spoke to reporters after a speech to the Ohio School Boards Association Delegate Assembly, during which he reviewed the literacy instruction policies established in the most recent state budget, HB33 (Edwards), and mentioned his recent nomination of Steve Dackin to serve as director of the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW). The governor also addressed statements by legislators pushing back against Issue 1, including reported efforts to strip the judiciary of jurisdiction. "Until the public starts to see a whole bunch of members of the Legislature wanting to do something in this area now, I wouldn't bet that anything's going to happen," he said. "There's 132 members of the General Assembly if my math's right ... on any one given day, any one member might think something, or say something, and might even introduce a bill. But that doesn't mean anything's going to happen." DeWine said the timing is not right for another ballot issue on abortion. GREAT LAKES The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has announced grants of more than $266,000 will go to three organizations along Lake Erie to help keep waterways clean. The grants are funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA) with a 25 percent matching contribution from ODNR. The grant money helps local communities, private marinas, and other vessel facilities build boat sewage pump-out facilities for the disposal of untreated boat sewage. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Ohio is not seeing the dramatic spike in cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases that it had last year, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said in a press conference Thursday. Still, he said it is important to prepare for a winter surge of flu, RSV, as well as COVID-19, including by getting the vaccines against the viruses. He said there has been a small increase in RSV, but not the dramatic spike from last year. Additionally, he said that a late summer COVID surge "seems to be receding," but adding that history shows that there will be some sort of winter surge of all three viruses. HIGHER EDUCATION Youngstown State University (YSU) Thursday offered its vacant presidency position to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), but the congressman did not immediately commit to accepting the offer. Multiple media outlets reported that the YSU Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting and voted 8-1 in favor of offering the job to Johnson. The position has been vacant since former President Jim Tressel retired earlier this year. In response to the news, Johnson posted a statement on his social media, saying, "Very recently, I was made aware of the opportunity to become president of Youngstown State University by a national executive search firm. I wasn't looking for another job, because I love serving the people of Eastern Ohio. When I was approached about leading this great university, with students' success at the forefront, and helping to prepare the next generation of Americans to lead, I listened.” Gov. Mike DeWine instructed the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) to work with local police following a string of antisemitic incidents near the Ohio State University campus. "We will not tolerate hate and violence on our college campuses or anywhere in Ohio. These are despicable acts, and as governor, I will ensure that the state continues our efforts to protect all Ohio students," DeWine said in a statement. "I have instructed the Ohio State Highway Patrol to coordinate with the Ohio State University Police Department and the Columbus Police Division of Police to provide extra patrols for the area around the OSU campus. These patrols will begin immediately and will assist in ensuring the students and public in and around the university area safe." Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner this week named the latest group of Ohio colleges and universities designated as Collegiate Purple Star campuses for their efforts to support students with military backgrounds, increasing to 51 the number of schools that have earned the designation since 2022. Nearly 5.5 million borrowers are enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, including 2.9 million who have $0 payments, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education. The Biden-Harris administration launched the SAVE plan, an income-driven repayment plan that calculates payments based on a borrower's income and family size, instead of their loan balance, over the summer after President Joe Biden's student loan debt forgiveness program was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. All other borrowers enrolled in SAVE are saving an estimated $102 a month ($1,224 a year) compared to what they would have paid on the previous Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, the department said. Overall, enrollment in SAVE has grown by 60 percent since it replaced the REPAYE plan this summer. The DeWine administration announced Tuesday that applications can now be submitted by institutions of higher education wishing to administer events in the "Teacher Bootcamp Program," where educators learn skills at local businesses in order to better prepare students for in-demand occupations. The application period opened Tuesday and will close at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. Colleges and universities are eligible for up to $200,000 and can enroll teachers in their bootcamp once awarded funds. When the teachers complete their courses, the institution will be reimbursed for tuition costs. Qualifying coursework is to be delivered in bootcamp format and may include continuing education units (CEUs) or graduate credit coursework. The program is meant to promote teachers' professional development and show career opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, broadband and 5G, cybersecurity, health care and transportation. A total of $500,000 is available through the program. INSURANCE Gov. Mike DeWine gave brief remarks to the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) Thursday at its annual meeting in Columbus. NCOIL includes state legislators who chair insurance committees, lobbyists and insurance company representatives. Also attending the event were Senate Insurance Committee Chair Bob Hackett (R-London) and House Insurance Committee Chair Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek), who DeWine identified as active NCOIL members. He added Hackett and Lampton have worked on insurance-related issues in Ohio including workers' compensation and strengthening distracted driving laws, and voiced appreciation for the overall work of NCOIL in guiding public policy to keep up with emerging insurance marketplace trends. JUDICIAL The Ohio Supreme Court upheld 129-SB70's (Schaffer) 10-year-old arson registry by a vote of 4-2-1 Thursday, Nov. 9, in a wildly mixed opinion that one Republican rejected and one Democrat joined in what might be described as a left-handed concurrence. That despite all-but unanimous support for the law in the Legislature and co-sponsorship by prominent Democrats and Republicans including the current Senate minority leader. Writing for the majority, Justice R. Patrick DeWine says allowing the General Assembly to prescribe lifetime registration for actual, attempted or complicity to commit arson unless the prosecution and law enforcement together recommend a shorter period of no less than 10 years -- subject to the court's discretion -- does not violate the separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. He invokes a number of seminal legal arguments in support of that conclusion. Statistics released recently by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts showed a 13 percent increase in total bankruptcy filings nationwide in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, a "moderate rebound" after over 10 years of "sharply dropping totals." Data specific to Ohio's two district courts showed a 10.65 percent increase for the state, with rises of 12.2 percent in the Northern District and 8.8 percent in the Southern District. There were 20,309 total filings in the state in the year ending Sept. 30 and 18,353 in the 12 months before that. A five-judge commission appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to hear the ethics complaint against Judge-elect Stephanie Lynn Williams has upheld the Board of Professional Conduct's recommendation that the three-year magistrate be forced to pay a $1,000 fine, costs of the proceeding and pending attorney fees for dressing in judicial robes and claiming she was a judge during her successful Republican campaign for Cambridge Municipal Court. JUVENILE JUSTICE Following publication of an investigation of Ohio's youth prisons by newspapers including the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer and Akron Beacon Journal, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday he's appointing a task force to review safety, staffing and education challenges, among other issues, in the juvenile justice system. Tom Stickrath, a former director of the Ohio Department of Youth Services with additional leadership experience at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, will chair the Juvenile Justice Working Group. He now chairs the National Commission on Accreditation for Corrections. Other members include Retired Juvenile Court Judges Anthony Capizi and David Stucki, respectively from Montgomery and Stark counties; Judge Amy Lewis of Greene County Juvenile Court; Gabriella Celeste, policy director of the Schubert Center for Child Studies; and Melissa Day, juvenile division chief for the Stark County Prosecutor's Office. DeWine also said four members of the General Assembly will serve in an advisory role: Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and Sens. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). LOBBYISTS Thomas P. Pappas & Associates said Tuesday it's hired Kyle J. Miller as a public policy consultant in its Columbus office. Most recently, Miller managed the Mental Health Insurance Assistance Office in the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI). His experience also includes time working for the Ohio House and Senate, as well as fundraising and event planning. MARIJUANA/HEMP The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) has awarded a dispensary certificate of operation to Ayr Dispensary, located at 4918 Airway Rd. in Riverside. There are now 112 dispensaries legally operating under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. During a Monday meeting, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), Gov. Mike DeWine, and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) discussed potential changes to Issue 2, the marijuana legalization initiated statute just approved by voters. Stephens said lawmakers "clearly understand what voters voted for." However, he wants some "guardrails" on homegrown provisions. DeWine suggested a Thursday, Dec. 7 deadline to make changes, but Stephens said only some provisions become effective at that point. He said he sees a "nine-month runway" to deal with broader issues, such as the tax rate. He said the new law "overlaps" with the medical marijuana infrastructure already in place. A significant portion of the tax revenue generated by adult use marijuana should be used to fund law enforcement training across the state, Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) said Tuesday. Abrams said that under her forthcoming bill, the first $40 million in recreational marijuana taxes each year would be used to fund law enforcement training, and the rest of the revenue would go toward the items included in Issue 2. While he supported Issue 2 and is thrilled that adult use marijuana legalization was approved by voters, Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said there are aspects of the new law that likely require attention from the General Assembly. "There are some issues with home grow that weren't addressed in the initiated statute itself dealing with aggregation," Callender told reporters following Thursday's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) meeting. Other issues that could be addressed by the General Assembly include the tax rate, advertising restrictions and efforts to ensure children cannot access cannabis, he said. MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM The Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) got an overview Thursday on efforts to drive better quality care and allow providers to share in the savings accruing from an overall healthier population. Presenters included representatives of CBiz Optumas, the actuarial firm that helps JMOC set spending targets for the budget; Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran and Medical Director Dr. Mary Applegate; and Amy Murray, who works in this area for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of Ohio's Medicaid managed care plans. The bulk of the hearing focused on testimony from Applegate, who described ODM's efforts in value-based payment. MENTAL HEALTH The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) recently released a 22-point, multi-year plan aimed at strengthening the state's behavioral health workforce, which it said will help to strengthen and grow the state's wellness workforce. Implementation of this plan will help ensure timely access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support for the growing number of Ohioans seeking help for a mental health or substance use disorder, the agency said. OhioMHAS said the foundation for development of the roadmap dates to 2021, when it contracted with a consultant to compile and analyze baseline data on Ohio's behavioral health workforce and prepare a report that eventually guided the development of a plan to address systemic workforce needs. The report revealed that while demand for behavioral health services soared 353 percent from 2013-2019, the available workforce only increased 174 percent. Additionally, an estimated 2.4 million Ohioans live in a community that does not have enough behavioral health professionals. NATURAL RESOURCES Fracking will be allowed in Salt Fork State Park, Zepernick Wildlife Area and Valley Run Wildlife Area, the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission (OGLMC) decided Wednesday. Commissioners approved the nominations to drill for oil and gas on the properties owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) despite the loud and nearly constant objections of chanting protesters at ODNR's office on Morse Road. In recognition of national Native American Heritage Month, the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft is hosting programs at different Ohio State Parks in November. "Ohio was the setting of many important moments in Native American history and it's important for us to continue sharing those stories." ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. "Special programming gives visitors a way to connect with those who came before us, while having fun and educational experience." ODNR reports that bowhunters across Ohio have harvested 69,897 deer through Sunday, Nov. 12. And Lt. Gov. Jon Husted reported he harvested an eight-point whitetail buck in Morrow County with a 10-point crossbow. In total, bowhunters checked 4,621 white-tailed deer on Saturday, Nov. 11, the highest single-day total so far this season, according to ODNR's Division of Wildlife. NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS Alesha Washington says there's a human instinct to wonder, "Am I doing this right?" and that the work around that can be hard and frustrating. But there is a beauty in helping a community grow into what it can become. Cleveland-native Washington spent years working in the nonprofit sector in Cleveland with the George Gund Foundation and Greater Cleveland Partnership, among others. "I never imagined that I was going to leave this place," Washington told the City Club of Cleveland on Thursday. But Washington, now the president and CEO of the Seattle Group in Washington state, has been described as "the next generation of philanthropy" for her efforts in advocacy, equity and community organizing. PEOPLE House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) announced Wednesday that Aaron Mulvey, press secretary for House Republicans, will be leaving to become chief communications officer at the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS). Former Rep. Bob Young Thursday pleaded guilty to three counts of violating a protection order, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, with attorneys agreeing to one year of probation and no jail time for those charges and his previous domestic violence conviction. Young's formal sentencing will take place on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. POLITICS As campaigns for 2023 ended Tuesday night with general elections nationally, the campaign for a 2024 candidate continued on Wednesday as five remaining candidates took the stage in Miami for the third debate to find the Republican party's Presidential nominee. The debate featured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Former Vice President Mike Pence has suspended his campaign since the second debate, and former North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum didn't meet the Republican National Committee's qualifications to join Wednesday's debate. North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will headline the Ohio Republican Party's annual state dinner that will be held on Friday, Dec. 1, the party announced on social media. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St. A VIP and chairman's reception will be held beforehand. More information can be found at SECRETARY OF STATE According to the office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the relocation of the secretary of state's office from North Fourth Street to 180 Civic Center Drive, is expected to be completed next week. The secretary of state's office said its last day in the 22 N. Forth St. location was on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The new office at 180 Civic Center Drive will be fully operational starting Tuesday, Nov. 21. STATE GOVERNMENT The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) reported nearly $3.7 billion in project activity as of September 2023 -- that includes 91 projects in design and 294 in construction. The majority of projects were at K-12 schools and state agencies. OFCC, the agency responsible for overseeing state-funded capital projects as well as state-supported construction and renovation projects at schools, held its Thursday meeting at the office of the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg. TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE The DeWine administration announced guidelines Tuesday for its $125 million innovation hubs program, with communities able to submit proposals beginning Jan. 5, 2024. The program is targeted for small and medium-sized Ohio cities, as Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland already have innovation districts. The hubs are meant to use existing industry and research strengths to "build sustainable pipeline talent and commercialize new products and technologies," according to the administration. The goal is to create jobs, increase STEM talent, attract research funding and secure outside capital investment. To qualify, communities must designate a lead entity to represent a group or consortium of industry partners. The lead applicant must establish collaborations among a university or research-oriented organization, private sector industry partners, nonprofit or business development organizations, and political subdivisions. Cities in Hamilton, Cuyahoga and Franklin counties are not eligible. Under a previously announced change in policy, Dec. 1 is the earliest date in which Google may delete accounts that have been inactive for two years. Users will be given notifications on their Google account and recovery email, if one is available. The deletion will include all content and data for the account. This policy applies to personal accounts, rather than Google accounts set up through work, school or another organization. A "phased approach" will be used, according to Google, starting with accounts that were created and never used again. The accounts will receive "multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion." Northeast Ohio Flight Information Exchange (NEOFIX) Project Director Stuart Mendel and Manufacturing Works Project Management Liaison Howard Thompson both testified to the House Aviation and Aerospace Committee Tuesday in support of HB77 (Willis), which sets requirements and prohibitions on drone use. The two also discussed NEOFIX's work to establish the infrastructure needed for future drone operations. In HB77 proponent testimony, Mendel described how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted hundreds of new exemptions in 2016 so companies could operate drones for uses including insurance, construction and agriculture. That has led to efforts to make drones a "full-fledged industry," and sales of consumer drones to dealers surpassed $1.25 billion in 2020. TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) said this week that it is now accepting applications for its Orphan Rail Crossing Program. The program was approved earlier this year as part of transportation budget HB23 (Edwards). It provides $1 million to address repairs and improvements to crossings that are no longer used, abandoned by the railroad or are currently active but have no clear ownership or responsible party for maintenance. WORKFORCE The Governor's Executive Workforce Board met Tuesday, with members voting unanimously to create the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan Committee and the Public Benefits Review Committee. The quarterly meeting also saw updates on implementation of the FY24-25 budget given by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, child care initiatives as discussed by Ohio Department of Children and Youth (DCY) Director Kara Wente and remarks from Gov. Mike DeWine. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday that 480 employers were approved for funding in the September round of TechCred, which will enable Ohioans to earn 5,289 tech-focused credentials. It was the 22nd round of the program, and sets a record for most employers awarded and credentials funded. The November application round is currently open until Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023 at 3 p.m. Top industries receiving awards in September included manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing services.

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

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