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Week in Review November 6, 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.

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.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) awarded federal grants exceeding $1.3 million to nine residential drug abuse treatment programs in Allen, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lorain, Montgomery, Shelby and Union counties. The Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program (RSUDT) seeks to prepare the drug addicted for community reintegration through community-based treatment and other broad-based aftercare services. "RSUDT assists states and local governments in developing and implementing residential programs within state correctional, local correctional and detention facilities where inmates are incarcerated long enough to receive treatment," said OCJS, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS).

As the OneOhio Recovery Foundation works toward distributing its first round of grants and development of its first strategic plan, Executive Director Alisha Nelson sent a letter to interested parties Thursday asking them to work with the foundation. Nelson wrote that details will soon be released on a series of stakeholder meetings and listening sessions across the state. She also encouraged those interested in applying for OneOhio grants to become familiar with the opioid addiction abatement strategies that guide how funding can be spent. Those abatement strategies are attached as Exhibit A to the OneOhio Code of Regulations, available at https://tinyurl.com/46p2bwu5.

AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has extended the 2023 H2Ohio program deadline for planting overwintering cover crops, citing a late harvest and adverse weather conditions. H2Ohio producers from the 24 counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin now have a deadline of Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, to plant overwintering cover crops. For more information about the extended deadline or the H2Ohio Program, growers can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District.

ODAg is now accepting applications for hemp cultivation licenses. The application window will be open through Sunday, March 31, 2024, ODAg said. New applicants and current licensees can apply through the hemp licensing portal on the ODAg website.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently completed work with the Gorman Heritage Farm Treatment Wetland System as part of an H2Ohio initiative. The Gorman Heritage Farm project creates a three-celled treatment wetland system to slow down and filter water from a 23-acre drainage area. The treatment train reduces the amount of nutrients and sediment that flow from the farmed land to Mill Creek. The Gorman Heritage Farm is a working farm in the village of Evendale with a mission focused on sustainable agriculture and farm-based educational experiences.

ATTORNEY GENERAL


Ohio and 30 other states are working to identify total investment losses by elderly and retired Americans who fell for a $68 million precious metals investment scheme perpetrated by one man in Woodland Hills, CA. Attorney General Dave Yost has joined the 71-page consent decree in which Safeguard Metals and its sole operator, Jeffrey Ikahn aka "Jeffrey S. Santulan" and "Jeff Hill," have confessed willful violations of federal and state securities laws, including the Ohio Securities Act, and agreed to halt their fraudulent marketing of precious metal investments. The consent order follows a multi-state lawsuit filed May 2022 in the U.S. District for the Central District of California, Western Division, in Los Angeles by the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and 31 state securities regulators, including the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Securities.

BALLOT ISSUES


The General Assembly should pass a less restrictive law than "heartbeat" abortion ban 133-SB23 (Roegner) if the reproductive and abortion rights constitutional amendment (Issue 1) is rejected by voters on Tuesday, Nov. 7, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday. "If we are able to defeat this, then we can go back and try to craft something in the Legislature that is more acceptable to the majority of Ohioans," DeWine told reporters after making remarks during an anti-Issue 1 rally with student canvassers at the DoubleTree hotel in Dublin. If lawmakers don't agree to change 133-SB23 -- which prohibits abortion when fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks' gestation -- DeWine suggested he could work around them by proposing another ballot issue.

The language in the proposed reproductive and abortion rights amendment could open the door for minor children to obtain abortions without their parents' consent or knowledge, according to conservative legal analysts. Anti-Issue 1 campaign Protect Women Ohio (PWO) hosted a webinar on Tuesday featuring Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) Vice President May Mailman, University of Toledo College of Law professor Lee Strang and former Deputy Solicitor General of Ohio Megan Wold. Mailman said while the Ohio Constitution may not protect a minor child's right to buy and use firearms without parental oversight even though children could be considered "people" in the document, the Ohio Constitution could possibly protect a minor's right to an abortion without parental consent under Issue 1.

However, in a recent op-ed shared by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the campaign supporting Issue 1, Capital University law professor Dan Kobil said the above claims made by opponents are "highly misleading. … Ultimately the amendment, far from creating a legal framework of 'abortion without limits,' allows for reasonable regulations consistent with what has existed in Ohio and the rest of the country for almost 50 years," Kobil said. "The amendment will not automatically invalidate any existing Ohio laws apart from the current six-week ban," Kobil said, referring to 133-SB23 (Roegner), which prohibits abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected. "Rather than engage the merits of the proposal, opponents have attempted to distract voters about what the amendment actually does. They contend that the amendment is aimed at depriving parents of their ability to help children decide whether to seek an abortion or 'sex changes,'" Kobil continued. "This contention is highly misleading. Ohio's current law already limits the ability of parents to choose reproductive options for their child, such as ending a pregnancy resulting from a rape. Moreover, the amendment does not include gender reassignment in its examples of protected 'reproductive decisions.' The contention that 'sex changes' will suddenly have constitutional status is thus a significant stretch."

With Ohio voters being asked to weigh in on two separate statewide "Issue 1" ballot questions within the span of a few months, a bill receiving its first hearing Tuesday would change the current numbering convention so that ballot issue numbers would not repeat in future elections - at least not for a while. Reps. Adam Mathews (R-Lebanon) and Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) gave sponsor testimony on their HB271 (Mathews-Peterson) to the House State and Local Government Committee, which would specify that, for elections occurring after the November 2024 election, statewide ballot issues be designated by the Arabic numeral consecutive to that of the last statewide ballot issue in the immediately preceding election.

The 10 percent excise tax proposed in Issue 2 will not be enough to pay for adequate regulation of the cannabis industry and the expected increase in health problems that could occur under adult use marijuana legalization, according to Treasurer of State Robert Sprague and Auditor of State Keith Faber.

"The tax rate that they're proposing would be one of the lowest in the country. I just think it's too low. It's way too low," Sprague said during a press conference at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's office on Capitol Square. "By the time that you get done paying for all of the additional addiction services and the problems that recreational marijuana across the board is going to create in the state of Ohio, I think that they're sticking the taxpayers with those costs. They're not paying for them through the taxes," he continued. "I can't see where they get to even neutral on this tax proposal." Faber called the tax rate a "joke."

Supporters of Issue 1 predicted their efforts would succeed during a virtual press conference Thursday, but added the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Ohio may also be critical to preventing a national abortion ban.

"We are on the cusp of locking the right to abortion into Ohio's Constitution," said Reproductive Freedom for All President and CEO Mini Timmaraju. Her organization was formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Our coalition is leaving nothing on the table to make sure we secure a win that will protect Ohioans' fundamental freedoms and serve as a reminder to anti-abortion extremists in red, blue and purple states that when abortion is on the ballot, abortion wins." Timmaraju continued that the 2024 race represents "another fight coming swiftly on the horizon" as "all of the Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate support dangerous abortion bans." This puts them "at odds with the majority of Ohioans," she added. Conversely, Timmaraju said if enough Democrats are elected next year, they could enact a federal right to abortion.

CITIES

Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik announced Thursday that $3.1 million is available as part of the new Brightening Ohio Communities Grant Program that launched this week. The state officials said the new program will improve energy efficiency and save money in some of Ohio's most vulnerable communities. The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Development, and administration officials say it will help lower-income communities pay for energy-efficient streetlights, perimeter lighting, and lighting in municipal-owned parking lots.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for three projects expected to create 2,247 new jobs and retain 63 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 $152 million in new payroll and spur more than $482 million in investments across Ohio. Most of the new jobs stem from Joby Aero's previously announced project in Dayton, which will see the construction of a large-scale manufacturing facility capable of delivering up to 500 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft per year. Joby Aero expects to create 2,000 full-time positions, generating $140 million in new annual payroll, and previously said it will invest at least $477.5 million in the project. The TCA approved a 2.055 percent, 30-year Job Creation Tax Credit for this project, with an estimated value of $93 million.

EDUCATION

Members of Ohio's Attendance Taskforce Friday released their recommendations for how state leaders and education officials can improve school attendance amid a significant increase in chronic absenteeism that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, Interim State Superintendent Chris Woolard and others highlighted the state's new approach to addressing absenteeism during an event at the Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls. Husted and others signaled a need to move away from punitive measures for enforcing attendance and instead focus on prevention and positive approaches. The education department defines chronic absence as a student missing 10 percent or more of school hours. In the 2022-2023 school year, Ohio's chronic absence rate was 26.8 percent, meaning more than 615,000 students in the state were considered chronically absent.

The Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group heard updates from law enforcement officials during its Monday meeting, as well as presentations from three bus manufacturers on the safety features they include on their vehicles. Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Andy Wilson, who chairs the group, opened by noting Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Interim Director Jessica Voltolini had joined. The school bus representatives were Chad Duncan of Navistar, Albert Burleigh of Blue Bird and Ricky Stanley of Thomas Built Buses. Features they described to the group include improved lighting; full view cameras; improved parking systems; electronic stability control; collision avoidance technology; and pedestrian detection systems.

The state is asking a Franklin County judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging new literacy curriculum standards set in the operating budget, HB33 (Edwards). The Reading Recovery Council of North America recently filed the lawsuit, challenging elements of the budget that ban "three-cueing" instruction, defined as "any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax and visual cues." The litigation alleges the law overstepped the authority of the State Board of Education to set education policy, is unconstitutionally vague and violates the constitution's single-subject rule. The case is assigned to Judge Karen Phipps of Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the same judge presiding in a challenge to the budget's K-12 governance reforms, which stripped the State Board of Education of most of its powers.

ELECTIONS

The state Controlling Board Monday approved a late request from the secretary of state's office for an additional $2 million to repay county boards of elections for the Aug. 8 special election. The additional funding brings the secretary of state's total reimbursement authority to over $18 million. The meeting was also the last for Controlling Board Secretary Ben Bruns, who is leaving for a position as legislative director for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, President Jill Schuler said.

The Ohio Elections Commission Thursday unanimously followed Executive Director Phil Richter's recommendation and set a number of complaints against former House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, among others, for full hearings. Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Attorney General Dave Yost's offices had referred Householder and Borges to the commission, alleging violations including donations in excess of the state limit and improper uses of campaign finance funds.

ELECTIONS 2023

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), in a video posted to his social media, said he had voted early in-person at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Friday. He said he voted in favor of both statewide issues on the ballot. While Brown has previously advocated for a "yes" vote on Issue 1, the reproductive and abortion rights amendment, he had not officially taken a position on Issue 2, the recreational marijuana legalization initiated statute. He had told reporters just two days before voting that he had not yet decided, calling it a complicated issue. Brown said his wife, Connie Schultz, also voted for both issues.

Ohioans will see 26 funding requests for 25 library systems on the Tuesday, Nov. 7 ballot, according to data from the Ohio Library Council.

Tuesday's ballot will include 170 school funding issues, according to a levy database maintained by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). The greatest number of school funding issues will be decided in Portage and Trumbull counties, which have nine apiece on the ballot; Cuyahoga County, which has eight on the ballot; Lucas, Stark, Summit and Wood counties, six apiece; and Ashtabula, five. For comparison, voters faced 120 school funding issues in the most recent general election, in 2022. In the spring primary this year, they saw 75.

The following endorsement was made over the week:

  • Anti-Issue 2 group Protect Ohio Workers & Families announced that the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association is opposing the initiated statute to legalize adult use of marijuana.

ELECTIONS 2024

Bernie Moreno officially filed to run as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Wednesday, while also sending a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose requesting he not take part in reviewing the petition.

Moreno went further in a gaggle with reporters, saying LaRose and Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) should both resign their current public offices to focus on campaigning full-time as Moreno will. As part of that claim, Moreno particularly focused on LaRose's role overseeing the 2024 primary election they are running in and noted LaRose was re-elected in 2022 to serve four years as secretary of state.

The following endorsement was made over the week:

  • The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Bernie Moreno announced the endorsement of Moms for America Action.

ENERGY/UTILITIES

The state has rejected Biden administration standards for electric vehicle (EV) charging and "demand response," which reduces or shifts power consumption during periods of high use. Wednesday, Nov. 15 is the federal deadline to adopt proposed energy standards, prompting the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Wednesday to embrace the competitive market. Passed by Congress in 2021, the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) has amended the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) with model policies for residential, commercial and industrial demand response (DR) administered by electric distribution utilities (EDU). New PURPA standards also require Ohio and other states to consider the adoption of regulated utility rates supporting "affordable and equitable" EV charging -- public or private. "[T]he commission shall consider establishment of rates that accelerate third-party investment in EV charging for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles," PUCO says in Wednesday's order, summarizing IIJA requirements.

FEDERAL

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) led a bipartisan group of 118 legislators from both chambers of Congress Friday in urging U.S. Senate and House armed services committee leaders to preserve language of the Building Chips in America Act within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), in order to prevent delays in the Intel project in Central Ohio and others. As Senate and House leaders prepare to negotiate a final version of the NDAA, the letter, signed by Brown and others, says they want the final legislation to preserve the authority the bill allows to implement the CHIPS and Science Act. Brown says that bill will boost domestic microchip manufacturing, strengthen U.S. supply chains, lower costs and improve national security. The letter sent Friday urges leaders to maintain language permitting flexibilities.

GAMING/GAMBLING

With college and professional football in full swing, Ohio's sports betting operators are seeing significant increases in total gross receipts (handle) and taxable revenue, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC). Sports gambling handle for September was $690.4 million, up from $378.8 million in August. Taxable revenue from sports betting in September was $81.8 million, up from $40.8 million in August. DraftKings (associated with Hollywood Toledo Casino) reported the highest handle among Ohio sportsbooks, with $261.3 million in September. The company reported $28.5 million in taxable revenue.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Just three confirmed voting sessions remain on the calendar for the Ohio Senate for 2023 after schedule changes announced Wednesday. The clerk's office announced cancellation of sessions set for Wednesday, Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 29, but the addition of an if-needed session for Tuesday, Dec. 12. The changes leave session dates scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 15, Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Wednesday, Dec. 13. The House schedule for the rest of 2023 includes sessions Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, plus if-needed sessions Nov. 29, Tuesday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 12.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) Tuesday discussed Issue 1 and Issue 2 following the House Rules and Reference Committee. The speaker also spoke with reporters about Gov. Mike DeWine's call to pass a mental health "red flag" law, and legislation to lower the cost of tickets at high school sports events, among other topics.

While many Ohioans may view politics as nasty and divisive, millennial members of the General Assembly say they're working to change that perception. Reps. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown), Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus), Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) and Nick Santucci (R-Warren) joined WOSU's Anna Staver for a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) "Millennial Voices in Ohio Politics" forum on Wednesday. "We have four representatives here, and we're not yelling at each other. We're not complaining. We're not arguing. This is democracy, in a lot of ways," Hall said. "We disagree on some issues, and that's perfectly fine, but it's about getting together and showing people that this can work," he continued. "There are so many issues we face, there are so many bills that we vote on in a bipartisan basis. There's always a false notion that Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats hate Republicans -- both of their ideas suck, and I want to vote for somebody else. But in the Statehouse, it's not like that."

In other legislative action, the House State and Local Government Committee reported out HCR7 (Creech-Peterson), which calls on Congress to make daylight saving time permanent; the House Transportation Committee reported out highway naming bills HB268 (Schmidt) and HB293 (Hoops); the House Higher Education Committee reported out HB242 (A. Miller-Stein), which establishes the Armed Forces Reserve Component Scholarship Program; and the House Insurance Committee reported out HB141 (LaRe-Blasdel), which deals with occupational and physical therapists and chiropractors.

GOVERNOR

Gov. Mike DeWine reinforced calls to pass mental health "red flag" legislation Monday following Maine's gun massacre and warned the president's border policies could further exacerbate Ohio's gang violence and fentanyl crisis. DeWine addressed the capital-area 2023 Ohio Corrections and Law Enforcement Security Threat Group Conference, which he noted was the first forum on criminal investigation and detention in two decades. "We are compartmentalized. One group does not talk to another," he said, noting what often happens with convicted and suspected felons in Ohio. "We do not always follow that person with information." The result, said DeWine, is violent gang activity perpetrated by a relatively small number of offenders -- what he called his administration's "number one focus" in public safety.

Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • Amanda Sabo-DeLuca of Cadiz (Harrison County), Elisha R. Cangelosi of Grove City (Franklin County), Denielle Rittinger of Chillicothe (Ross County), Johni L. Hayes of Columbus (Franklin County), Pamela D. Hamer of Xenia (Greene County), Nicholas Johnson of Columbus (Franklin County), Lindsey E. Campbell of Luckey (Wood County) and Diane J. Fox of Grove City (Franklin County) to the Early Intervention Services Advisory Council for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Jody L. Beall of Blacklick (Franklin County), Carrie S. Beier of Fremont (Sandusky County), Maria Breno of Napoleon (Henry County), Jennifer R. Ottley of Plain City (Union County), Jennifer L. Remeis of Bexley (Franklin County), Jamie S. Sanders of Fredericktown (Knox County), Susannah M. Wayland of Columbus (Franklin County), Bonnie J. Hubbard-Nicosia of Bexley (Franklin County), Erin E. Simmons of Tiffin (Seneca County), Tracey L. Chestnut of Centerburg (Licking County) and Katherine A. Greenawalt-Cherry of Troy (Miami County) reappointed to the Early Intervention Services Advisory Council for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Tracy L. Carter of Akron (Summit County) reappointed to the Stark State College of Technology Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Aug. 1, 2026.

  • Michael J. Budzik of Logan (Hocking County) to the Hocking Technical College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Aug. 26, 2026.

  • Mitchell K. Hurst of Springfield (Clark County) to the Clark State College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Nov. 30, 2026.

  • Richard A. Myser of St. Clairsville (Belmont County) to the Belmont College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending May 12, 2026.

  • Joseph A. Cameneti, Sr. of Vienna (Trumbull County) and Thomas A. O'Neil of Youngstown (Mahoning County) to the Eastern Gateway Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Oct. 16, 2027.

  • Robert A. Montagnese of Pataskala (Licking County) reappointed to the Central Ohio Technical College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 30, 2026.

  • Michael B. Bridenbaker of Monclova (Lucas County) to the Owens Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 21, 2028, and Travis Reiff of Bowling Green (Wood County) for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 21, 2024.

  • Michael L. Bennett of Zanesville (Muskingum County) to the Zane State College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending July 31, 2026.

  • Larry L. Macon, Jr. of Sagamore Hills (Summit County) to the Kent State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending May 16, 2027.

  • Kevin J. Flanigan of Grafton (Lorain County) reappointed to the Lorain County Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Aug. 30, 2028.

  • Mark S. Lerner of Akron (Summit County) to the University of Akron Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending July 1, 2032.

  • Lidia B. Ebersole of Perrysburg (Wood County) to the University of Toledo Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending July 1, 2032.

  • John W. Rozic of Waterville (Lucas County) to the Ohio Higher Educational Facility Commission for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Jan. 1, 2029 and Patricia Jackson of Columbus (Franklin County) for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Jan. 1, 2027.

  • Suzanne M. Turner of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) to the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Council for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 1, 2024, and Danielle P. Flickinger of Uniontown (Stark County), Montgomery S. Taylor of Willoughby (Lake County) and Adrienne M. Bell of Perrysburg (Wood County) for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 1, 2026.

  • Nathan D. Turner of Holland (Lucas County) to the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council for a term beginning Oct. 16, 2023 and ending March 14, 2024.

  • Cristal Vincent of Sidney (Shelby County) and Michael R. Coury of Olmsted Falls (Cuyahoga County) to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending May 27, 2026.

  • Todd M. Fowler of Thurman (Gallia County), Shannon Campbell Trotter of Upper Arlington (Franklin County), Richard A. Fankhauser of Columbus (Franklin County) and Charles E. Sanders, Jr. of Dublin (Union County) reappointed to the Medical Quality Foundation Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending July 20, 2026.

  • Alisia Clark of Columbus (Franklin County) and Kamini Lakhi of Columbus (Franklin County) appointed and Suresh R. Sharoff of Dublin (Delaware County) reappointed to the Commission on Minority Health for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 2, 2025, and Sheila M. Wright of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) and Katherine E. Tullio of Rocky River (Cuyahoga County) appointed to terms starting Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 2, 2024.

  • Jack R. Green of Columbus (Franklin County) and Mary L. McCarthy of Delaware (Delaware County) reappointed and Frederick L. Ransier III of Columbus (Franklin County) appointed to the Minority Development Financing Advisory Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 30, 2030.

  • Scott A. Sullivan of Springboro (Warren County) to the JobsOhio Board of Directors for a term beginning Oct. 4, 2023 and ending July 5, 2027.

  • James C. Miles of Miamisburg (Montgomery County) reappointed to the Credit Union Council for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 22, 2026.

  • Jessie C. Wright of Poland (Mahoning County) and Keenan P. Cooper of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Accountancy Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Oct. 20, 2030.

  • John M. Mangas of Sylvania (Lucas County) to the Ohio Real Estate Commission for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Ernest W. Durbin II of Hamilton (Butler County) to the Real Estate Appraiser Board for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 30, 2024.

  • Melissa Van Allen of Columbus (Franklin County), Craig R. Campbell of Leesburg (Highland County), Timothy E.J. Keck of Grove City (Franklin County), Trevor M. Bates of Powell (Delaware County) and Jeffrey N. Sczpanski of Galloway (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainers Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Aug. 27, 2026.

  • Therese E. Vogel of Tiffin (Seneca County) appointed to the State Cosmetology and Barber Board for a term beginning Nov. 1, 2023 and ending Oct. 31, 2027 and Debbie Penzone of Columbus (Franklin County) for a term beginning Nov. 1, 2023 and ending Oct. 31, 2028, and Thomas Taneff of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed for a term beginning Nov. 1, 2023 and ending Oct. 31, 2028.

  • Larry D. Burks of West Chester (Butler County) and Dan Dergham Ridi of Maumee (Lucas County) reappointed to the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending July 10, 2026.

  • Jason E. Dunn of Cincinnati (Hamilton County), Daniel S. Moder of Newark (Licking County) and John Young of Hilliard (Franklin County) to the TourismOhio Advisory Board for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 27, 2026, and Lance A. Woodworth of Marblehead (Ottawa County) and Logan P. Rex of Wapakoneta (Auglaize County) for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 27, 2024.

  • Crystal M.C. Davis of Twinsburg (Summit County) and Diane M. Miller of Toledo (Lucas County) reappointed to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 1, 2026.

  • David P. Hanselmann of Lewis Center (Delaware County) to the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Jan Allen of Columbus (Franklin County) appointed and Robert M. Roach of Columbus (Franklin County) and James B. Hadden of Bexley (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio History Connection Board of Trustees for terms beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending June 26, 2026.

  • Amy McClure of Dublin (Franklin County) to the Board of Trustees of the Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Library Association for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Sept. 15, 2027.

  • Jason W. Cromley of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Franklin Park Conservatory Joint Recreation District Board for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending Aug. 31, 2026.

  • Kevin R. Corey of Fairfield (Butler County) to the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending April 21, 2025, and Kimberly S. Smidt Poma of Hilliard (Franklin County) for a term beginning Oct. 27, 2023 and ending April 21, 2026.

GUNS

House Democrats pushed Tuesday for greater local autonomy to regulate guns, both via a standalone proposal and attempts to amend such policies into another bill expanding gun owners' ability to carry concealed in government buildings. Multiple witnesses provided testimony in opposition to this concealed carry expansion at the hearing of the House Government Oversight Committee on HB272 (Mathews-Pizzulli). Tuesday's hearing also included sponsor testimony on HB217 (Somani-C. Thomas), regarding gun locks, and HB218 (Upchurch-Brewer), which would restore local powers to regulate guns. Current law prohibits carrying guns into a courthouse or another building where a courtroom is located. Under HB272, local governments could allow concealed carry of handguns in the latter type of building at times when the court is not in session.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Members of the House Higher Education Committee Wednesday accepted a sub bill for higher education reform bill SB83 (Cirino) that removes a provision prohibiting university faculty from striking and adds other flexibilities, though Democrats on the committee said the legislation still threatens collective bargaining rights. Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), who appeared at the hearing to discuss the changes, said he still strongly supports the provisions barring faculty and college employees from striking but agreed to remove it at the request of House members. "I stand firmly behind the idea ... that students' instruction should not be put in jeopardy because of labor negotiations," he said.

After the University of Cincinnati (UC) and former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced plans earlier this year to form a new academic center committed to finding bipartisan common ground and achieving policy solutions, the school officially opened the Portman Center for Policy Solutions late last month.

"I view this center as a way to encourage young people to engage in public service that focuses on civility, bipartisanship, and finding common ground," Portman said in a statement.

HOUSING/URBAN REVITALIZATION

According to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), the Save the Dream Ohio Mortgage Assistance application closed on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023 as the number of current applications outpaces the remaining amount of funding. Ohioans who need assistance with mortgage payments should contact their local HUD-approved housing counseling agency or their local legal aid office, OHFA said. The Mortgage Assistance component of the Save the Dream Ohio program provided eligible Ohio homeowners with financial assistance to pay delinquent mortgage payments and/or future mortgage payments for up to six months. To date, more than 18,000 Ohio homeowners have been assisted through the mortgage assistance component of the program.

The fourth round of the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program will provide grants totaling $150 million to help local communities tear down dilapidated commercial and residential buildings and prepare them for new development, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Tuesday.

The first three rounds were funded through a total of $150 million in the 2021 budget, supporting 3,699 projects in 87 counties. The new round was made possible by HB33 (Edwards) funding; the program is run by the Ohio Department of Development (DOD). As before, each county will have access to $500,000 in set-aside funding and the remaining funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until June 30, 2024. After that date, any remaining set-aside funds will be added to the general amount as well.

IMMIGRATION

A report released by Ohio Business for Immigration Solutions (OBIS) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) found immigrants made up 6.3 percent of Ohio's manufacturing workforce, while representing only 4.7 percent of the state population in 2019. The report also noted the growing demand in this industry, saying the number of online job postings for production occupations increased 351.8 percent and first-line supervisors of production and operators increased 277.8 percent. It said international students can help fill those jobs, noting around 17,400 international students were enrolled in degree programs or optional practical training (OPT) in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields as of October 2021. Two-thirds of them were pursuing an advanced degree. The report was developed in partnership with the Greater Akron Chamber.

JUDICIAL

The Supreme Court of Ohio announced the results Friday from the Ohio Bar Examination from July 2023.

In total, 966 people sat for the exam, and 707 (73 percent) passed. Of those sitting for the exam, 820 were first-time test takers, with 80 percent of those receiving passing grades. Since January 2022, aspiring lawyers in Ohio have been able to take the bar exam entirely electronically, including submitting required documents and fee payment. Applicants are also now able to see the results of their exam immediately instead of waiting on results through the mail. Those who have met all requirements will be sworn in at special sessions of the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday, Nov. 13 at the Palace Theater in Columbus. The ceremony for law school graduates of Ohio State University, Capital University, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University will be held at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony for graduates from Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Toledo, Ohio Northern University, University of Akron and other out-of-state law schools will be held at 2 p.m.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Tiffin City Council was authorized to declare the judgeship on the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court vacant. Former Judge Mark Repp had been suspended by the Supreme Court from the judge's bench for one year starting in 2021. Repp argued that since he didn't voluntarily vacate his bench, he should have been able to return to the bench once the suspension ended, until the original term he was elected to expires in 2025. In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court rejected Repp's argument. The Court found the law does not assess the reason for the vacancy, but rather that "it matters only whether the judge was absent from his or her official duties for at least six consecutive months."

The Ohio Supreme Court has suspended the state law licenses of 232 attorneys for failing to register with the Office of Attorney Services for the period of Sept. 1, 2023 to Aug. 31, 2025. In the previous two-year period, the Supreme Court had suspended 240 law licenses for failure to register. Attorneys who practice in Ohio are required to register with the Supreme Court every two years and pay a fee. To be reinstated, the suspended attorneys would have to meet those requirements and pay a reinstatement fee. Any attorney who continues to practice law while under suspension could be investigated for the unauthorized practice of law. The list of those suspended can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/2p8vpuxj.

LABOR

Six weeks after it started, the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Big Three automakers appears close to an end, with the union confirming tentative deals last week and over the weekend with Ford and Stellantis and reports Monday that a tentative deal had been reached between the UAW and General Motors. The strike, which started in September, saw pickets at the Toledo Jeep plant, owned by Stellantis, and General Motors parts facilities in West Chester and Streetsboro, among dozens of other strike sites across the U.S.

Reps. Michele Grim (D-Toledo) and Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) announced Wednesday that they are introducing the STAND UP Act (Strike Term Access to Negotiation During Unemployment Protection) which would allow striking workers to apply for unemployment benefits after two weeks of a workers' strike. Miranda said that many workers in her district had non-union jobs connected to the Sharonville plant, where nearly 700 workers were laid off following the UAW strike at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. The STAND UP Act would allow for those non-union workers connected to the strike to receive unemployment benefits, as well. The bill would also waive the requirement that a worker must be looking for a new job while unemployed due to a labor strike to continue receiving unemployment benefits.

LOBBYISTS

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has named Brad Bales of Columbus as senior director of state and national policy. In this role, Bales will be responsible for managing the organization's legislative and regulatory team. Bales will also represent the interests of farm bureau members with Congress, the General Assembly and with federal and state agencies. Bales graduated from Ohio University and most recently served as a senior legislative liaison for Gov. Mike DeWine. Before that, he was director of legislative affairs for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Elected officials and residents who live near biosolid lagoons and digesters Tuesday urged the House Agriculture Committee to give local governments more power to regulate these operations, complaining of loose permitting processes and environmental hazards. Under HB193 (K. Miller-Lampton), townships and counties would be able to regulate biosolid lagoons and biodigester facilities through zoning, and county commissioners would be able to approve or disapprove such facilities before the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) acted on their permits. Kassie Lester, a trustee in Greene County's Bath Township, said Ohio EPA's permitting of the Dovetail Energy LLC facility in her community appeared to be mostly paper-based and not inclusive of site visits or an assessment of whether nearby roads could handle the facility's traffic.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

There are now four more dispensaries legally operating under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP). The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) has awarded dispensary certificates of operation to the following facilities:

  • Ayr Wellness, located at 27900 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere.

  • Main Street Medical Cannabis, located at 3111 E. Main St. in Columbus.

  • Ayr Wellness, located at 6722 State Route 132 in Goshen.

  • Good River Wellness, located at 27101 Euclid Ave. in Euclid.

NATURAL RESOURCES Visitors of all ages will soon experience an immersive learning experience at the Salt Fork State Park Eco-Discovery Center. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) broke ground on the 3,300 square-foot project in late October. Inside the center, Bigfoot acts as a character guide throughout the building, highlighting facts and teaching visitors how, despite having big feet, Bigfoot's environmental footprint is small. The exhibits display an interactive journey through Salt Fork's forest ecosystem and end with visitors' learning ways they can practice sustainability to protect natural resources. Outdoors, visitors will find a patio with seating, a rain garden, meadow plantings, native trees, and a trail leading through the habitats and to the lake. NEWS MEDIA In a complaint for writ of mandamus filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, the Columbus Dispatch and its owner, Gatehouse Media, are seeking body and dash cam footage from the Columbus Police Department (CPD) from a July 6, 2023 incident. The filing states that on July 6, CPD offices were involved in gunfire exchange with three individuals suspected of armed robbery of a Porsche dealership. During that incident, one suspect was killed and one CPD officer was injured. The other suspects were apprehended a couple days following the incident. A journalist from the Dispatch requested from CPD on that day and the day after any Use of Force Reports (UOFR) from the incident, or if not, the reason the request was denied. The Ohio Supreme Court last week heard opening arguments in an appeal from former Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow over what forms of personal health information are legally protected as confidential. In 2021, Ludlow had filed a public records access complaint against the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) after ODH refused to fully comply with Ludlow's request in April 2020 for information about Ohioans who had died of COVID-19 before that point. ODH provided Ludlow with a dataset that included information like a person's age and sex, race and the time and place of death, but the department withheld the names and addresses of dead people as "private health information." A special master in the Ohio Court of Claims ruled that the information Ludlow requested did not meet the Ohio Revised Code criteria for health information that was exempt from disclosure and recommended ODH be ordered by that court to comply with Ludlow's request. POLLS/STUDIES A recently released poll by Ohio Northern University's (ONU) Institute for Civics and Public Policy (ICAPP) shows voters supporting Issue 1 and a general support for legalized marijuana, though the way Issue 1 is worded on the ballot may play a factor on how voters cast their ballots. The web-based poll was conducted among 668 registered voters in Ohio from Monday, Oct. 16 through Thursday, Oct. 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent. It questioned respondents on Issue 1, the reproductive and abortion rights amendment, and their attitudes about abortion. While it did not directly ask respondents how they would vote on Issue 2, the recreational marijuana legalization initiated statute, they were asked about their attitudes on marijuana and surrounding policy. The ONU poll also took an early look at the 2024 presidential and U.S. Senate races. It found that former President Donald Trump is still the clear favorite among Ohio Republicans, and he leads a hypothetical re-match with President Joe Biden in the Buckeye State in the General Election. Among Republican voters, 64 percent want Trump as the nominee, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trailing with 10 percent and Ohio native Vivek Ramaswamy at 9 percent. Just 6 percent said they would likely support another candidate if he is the nominee and only 5 percent said they would not support Trump if he was convicted of a felony. In a rematch of the 2020 election, Trump beats Biden 45 percent to 40 percent in Ohio, with 10 percent undecided. A new Quinnipiac Poll Wednesday showed little has changed from other recent election polls in the 2024 presidential primary and general election races, despite a month that included war between Israel and Hamas, rising global tensions, another U.S. mass shooting, and a civil trial for former President Donald Trump beginning. According to the poll, Trump leads the Republican primary field with 64 percent among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, while President Joe Biden is earning 77 percent among Democratic and Democratic leaning voters. In a hypothetical rematch of the 2020 general election, Biden receives 47 percent among registered voters, while Trump receives 46 percent, virtually unchanged from Quinnipiac's August and September national polls. When independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is added, Biden receives 39 percent, Trump receives 36 percent, and Kennedy earns 22 percent. Adding independent Cornel West to make it a four-way matchup, Biden gets 36 percent, Trump has 35 percent, Kennedy receives 19 percent support, and West earns 6 percent. POVERTY Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced $154 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday for Ohio's "Winter Crisis" Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), running Wednesday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, March 31. During the five-month period, disadvantaged seniors and families can apply for one-time assistance with their heating bills from the Ohio Department of Development (DOD), which administers the federal Low-Income HEAP (LIHEAP) program. The Winter Crisis program assists Ohioans whose service has been disconnected, are facing disconnection, need to transfer service or establish new service, have defaulted on their Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), need to make their first PIPP payment, or have 25 percent or less supply of bulk fuel to maintain service. Households must have gross annual income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level -- $52,500 for a family of four. REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT Saying two legislative members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission are offering nothing new and are only asking the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss challenges to the maps drawn by the commission because they now believe the Court will be favorable to their position, plaintiffs in the three redistricting cases asked the Court to deny the motions filed earlier this month by Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester). LaRe and McColley asked the Court to dismiss the three cases and vacate its previous orders striking down previous plans, arguing that the Court had initially lacked and still lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims raised in the complaints. The plaintiffs, however, said the Court has already heard those arguments and rejected them. As the plaintiffs in the League of Women Voters [LWV] of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Commission stated in their opposition filing Monday, the arguments by the lawmakers "spark an acute sense of deja vu." The Citizens Not Politicians (CNP) coalition submitted a revised version of its anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment to the Ohio Attorney General's Office on Tuesday, CNP spokesperson Chris Davey said in an email. The group took the action because it found a typographical error in the AG-approved summary language of the amendment. SECRETARY OF STATE With the news of thousands of Ohio voters being removed from the voter rolls through the state's supplemental process ordered by Secretary of State Frank LaRose last month becoming public, legislative Democrats Tuesday held a press conference saying the removal was done without any warning or public notice and included a number of voters who voted recently. LaRose has said that the process is required by federal law and mostly involved the removal of deceased voters, duplicative registrations, and those who have moved from the rolls. On Tuesday, Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), along with Sen. Bill DeMora (D-Columbus) called the removal of nearly 27,000 politically motivated and said LaRose needs to provide more answers. They also said he has done the minimum to bring attention to the removal from the rolls. Secretary of State Frank LaRose this week celebrated the anniversary of his office's @VerifyOhio, a digital initiative launched last year aimed at educating Ohioans on election and entrepreneurship. LaRose said in a release this week that the account has become a trusted source of accurate information in its first year. The account can be found on all major platforms: X (Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram. LaRose said the initiative has successfully battled misinformation by fact-checking myths, addressing commonly asked questions, and helping prepare Ohioans for upcoming elections. These important functions have helped direct Ohioans to solutions and accurate information, including on Election Day with the secretary of state's "rapid response" operations. STATE GOVERNMENT A fund meant to help people swindled in investment schemes provided more than $1.3 million in its first year of operation, the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) said Friday. The Investor Recovery Fund, created in the FY22-23 biennial budget, 134-HB110 (Oelslager), allows victims to receive up to the lesser of 25 percent of their loss to investment scams or $25,000. DOC's Division of Securities said $3.6 million remains in the fund, and the agency is allowed to add up to $2.5 million from excess operating revenue to the fund. The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) held a short hearing without testimony on Monday. All items on the agenda cleared the committee, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule changes from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and non-citizen emergency medical assistance program changes from the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The next JCARR meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16, when agencies failing to achieve the reduction in their regulatory restrictions under 134-SB9 (McColley-Roegner) have been invited to testify before the committee. TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE The House Aviation and Aerospace Committee heard presentations Tuesday on advanced air mobility (AAM) technology, both in terms of how it can be used by the state and the need to prevent malicious usage. Chair Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) also noted the use of AAM technology such as commercially available drones in the Israel-Hamas conflict, telling Hannah News they are being used by Hamas to deliver small munitions and for observation. He further said the budget contained line items for the Jewish community in Northeast Ohio regarding "defensive advanced air mobility concepts and systems." Charter Communications, also known as Spectrum, announced Wednesday it will invest nearly $500 million to improve the speed of existing Internet networks in Ohio and nearly $750 million to bring broadband service to around 140,000 unserved homes and small businesses in 16 counties. Charter's Director of Public Relations Mike Hogan told Hannah News the majority of the 140,000 locations are in rural Ohio, particularly Southern and Appalachian regions. TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE The Ohio Traffic Safety Council (OTSC) provided an update Wednesday on state enforcement of distracted-driving law 134-SB288 and the DeWine administration ad campaign designed to make patrol officers' jobs easier. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) said a seven-month mass media blitz had contributed to 90 percent of all drivers' awareness of cell phone restrictions behind the wheel and a 7.5 percent reduction in driver phone use since the ad campaign began last April. Outlets include Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pandora, Spotify, TV, radio and cable sports, with the first two displaying ads paid for by the state. VETERANS Gov. Mike DeWine declared November Hire-A-Veteran Month Thursday to encourage Ohio employers to consider veterans when hiring for open positions. DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst in making the declaration. "If you're an employer looking to build your workforce, we hope you'll consider hiring veterans," Damschroder said. "Veterans are loyal, dependable, and they're great at working on a team. They bring tremendous strengths and skills to any organization." With nearly 700,000 veterans and service members, Ohio has the fifth largest such population in the U.S. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION Volunteer fire departments are beginning to take advantage of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's (BWC) expansion of the Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program, BWC Administrator/CEO John Logue said Friday. Gov. Mike DeWine and Logue announced in July that local volunteer fire departments can now apply for up to $15,000 in grant funding for emergency "turnout" gear. "To date, we have 123 applications that have requested turnout gear in particular. We've approved 38 of those at the moment. Those represent departments that cover 816 volunteer firefighters," Logue said. For the grant program overall this fiscal year, BWC has approved 78 applications totaling more than $950,000, he added. WORKFORCE The latest application period for the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP) opened Nov. 1 and will run through the end of the month, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced. This also marks the first time all Ohioans have the opportunity to participate in the program, which was previously limited to those who were low-income, partially unemployed or totally unemployed. IMAP enables participants to receive one or more tech-focused credentials at no cost. The application period is open for training providers such as two- and four-year colleges and universities, career centers and other private entities. Once funds are awarded, they will be reimbursed up to $3,000 for each credential issued. The period closes at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30.




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


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