Week In Review - October 12, 2020



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


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


ABORTION


The number of abortions obtained in Ohio has dropped 2 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the annual abortion report from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The total number of abortions was 20,102 in 2019, with 18,183 being obtained by Ohioans. In 2018, there were 20,425abortionsin the state. In 2017, the number was 20,893.


AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced recently that it's working with the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) to streamline the approval process of Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) for farmers participating in the H2Ohio water quality initiative to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie. In September, ODAg Director Dorothy Pelanda appointed Kip Studer and Peter McDonough to work in partnership with OABA and Ohio's soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to approve VNMPs that have been developed as part of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, according to a news release.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


The Ohio History Connection recently announced its "Sleepy Hollow Drive-in" movie series, which will take place every Friday in October at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the Ohio History Connection parking lot, located at I-71 and 17th Ave. (Exit 111) in Columbus. Advance tickets are available for $40 per car for non-members, $25 for members, with free tickets for premium members. Tickets are available online at www.ohiohistory.org.


A survey conducted this month by a statewide coalition of arts and cultural organizations, coordinated by Ohio Citizens for the Arts, points to significant widespread financial losses and foreshadows additional layoffs and permanent closures. The group said public health restrictions mandated on the arts and culture sector, particularly the performing arts, has prohibited most of the businesses statewide from reopening.


The home stadiums of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals will each be allowed to accommodate a maximum of 12,000 people during games for the remainder of the season, barring setbacks, according to Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes. Previously, FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati were allowed to hold only 6,000 fans during games. Ohio's two NFL teams were the first entities to receive variances from ODH's public health orders limiting capacity at sports and entertainment venues.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Top university researchers for the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) are among the who's-who list of academics to fill out Attorney General Dave Yost's newly announced Scientific Advisory Council under the Environmental Protection Section of the AG's office. Yost is stressing a "scientific approach" to environmental protection with the appointment of 11 national experts to the advisory council, to be co-chaired by Jon Sprague, director of science and research at the attorney general's office and past director of the AG's Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) under former attorney general and now-Gov. Mike DeWine; and by Director Christopher Winslow of Ohio State University's (OSU) Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab.


FY20-21 BUDGET


Ohio's two largest tax revenue sources lagged projections in September, but others helped push overall collections over estimates by half a percent, according to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Collections remain above estimates for the fiscal year so far. The non-auto sales tax was $13.7 million or 1.8 percent off estimates, generating $738.4 million versus $752.1 million expected. Personal income taxes were down $12.1 million or 1.3 percent, bringing in $888 million versus $900.1 million expected. The auto sales tax beat estimates by 11 percent or $14.7 million, generating $148.3 million versus $133.6 million expected. That continues a trend from recent months, and OBM Director Kim Murnieks said she's not been able to discern a "definitive answer" on what's causing the increase.


CENSUS


The Census Bureau announced late Friday that counting efforts will now continue through the end of the month to Saturday, Oct. 31. "As a result of court orders, the Oct. 5, 2020 target date is not operative, and data collection operations will continue through Oct. 31, 2020. Employees should continue to work diligently and enumerate as many people as possible ...," the bureau said in a release.


Ohio's self-response rate for the 2020 Census has surpassed 2010 figures despite challenges presented by the pandemic. With just weeks before the end of counting operations on Saturday, Oct. 31, Ohio's self-response rate stands at 70.5 percent, slightly above 2010's 69 percent. Another 29.3 percent of the state's population has been enumerated through the Census Bureau's non-response follow-up operations, meaning about 99.9 percent of the state has been enumerated, according to census data.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


A recent survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted by early childhood education advocacy group Groundwork Ohio found broad support for early childhood learning programs, with 95 percent of respondents saying that it's important for children to "get a strong start in life through quality early learning programs." The survey, conducted by polling group Public Opinion Strategies (POS), also included 69 percent of respondents saying that the most important years of learning in a child's life occur before the age of five, and 60 percent agreeing that "more should be done to ensure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best."


Groundwork Ohio Wednesday released a follow-up to its initial report looking at the metrics on why some children fall behind others, highlighting racial disparities in the system and calling on lawmakers to recognize racism as a public health crisis. The report, "Drafting a New Blueprint for Success: Reflections on Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity," came after the group held statewide and local conversations about childhood equity. It delves deeper into additional metrics that affect a child's ability to thrive, offers high-level recommendations for advancing early childhood equity in the state, and outlines ways in which the group is acting to ensure equitable outcomes for Ohio's children. It follows the group's earlier report that called for lawmakers to address inequity among groups of children in Ohio.


CIVIL RIGHTS


The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission is accepting nominations for awards meant to honor Ohioans who carry on the legacy of the celebrated civil rights leader. The commission, which operates with administrative support from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services' (DAS) Equal Opportunity Division, will announce award winners at the annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration to be held virtually in January. Nominations for each of the eight awards must be submitted by Friday, Oct. 30, and applications can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y5wn8spf. There is no limit on the number of nominations a person can submit.


CORONAVIRUS


Gov. Mike DeWine reiterated his early morning statement at a Friday afternoon news conference by saying he and wife Fran are praying for President and First Lady Trump and wish them a speedy recovery from COVID-19. The governor stopped short of directly questioning the president's frequent appearances without a protective mask and the similar approach taken by his family members at Tuesday's presidential debate, reiterating that all should wear face coverings and socially distance in close quarters.


Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday said President Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis offers lessons for Ohioans, including that even the leader of the country can get the virus. Citing Trump's words to not be afraid of the virus, DeWine said that does not mean Ohioans shouldn't be practical about it, but does mean taking the virus seriously "and respecting this enemy." He said Ohioans should remain focused. Among the "enduring" lessons, DeWine also said that while testing can be and is very important, even frequent testing cannot substitute for masks and social distancing. The governor said he has made no secret that he thinks the president should wear a mask more, saying so even before Trump tested positive.


In the absence of a coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that wearing masks was the "pathway to freedom" to again see loved ones and safely begin returning to normal. "We want to live, but we're not going the right direction," he said. "If more of us aren't wearing masks and if more of us aren't being careful, we're not going to be able to do these things because the spread will be so high." His comments came as the increase over the previous day exceeded 1,500 new cases, with the 21-day average case growth at 1,080. Deaths increased by 13 to reach 4,983 total, hospitalizations increased by 109 to reach 16,200, and intensive care unit admissions increased by 11 to reach 3,395.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) is seeking $5 million for domestic violence programs in the next state budget as Ohio has seen a 35 percent increase in domestic violence fatalities in the last year, according to the organization's fifth annual count of domestic violence fatalities report. ODVN released the new report Tuesday during its annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month event. The annual count, which uses media reports and other information provided to ODVN's member programs to identify deaths resulting from incidents involving intimate partner relationships, showed Ohio suffered 109 domestic violence fatalities from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. That's the second highest number of fatalities since ODVN began doing the count in 2015; only 2016-2017 saw a higher count of 116 deaths.


Panelists at the Columbus Metropolitan Club's (CMC) Wednesday forum discussed how to raise awareness about domestic violence and what communities can do to address the growing issue. The event featured panelists Lynn Rosenthal, president of the Center for Family Safety and Healing, who was also appointed in 2009 by former President Barack Obama to serve as the White House adviser on violence against women; Joy Bivens, director of Franklin County Job and Family Services; and Brandi, a domestic violence survivor and ambassador for the Center for Family Safety and Healing. Greg Moody of Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs moderated the forum.


The state of Ohio, advocacy groups and Ohio's local governments are all among the recipients of nearly $101 million in grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently in an effort to combat human trafficking and provide services to trafficking victims throughout the U.S. "The scourge of human trafficking is the modern-day equivalent of slavery, brutally depriving victims of basic human rights and essential physical needs as it erodes their sense of dignity and self-worth," said U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a release. "The Department of Justice is relentless in its fight against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Working with state and local law enforcement and community victim service providers, we will continue to bring these criminals to justice and deliver critical aid to survivors."


DEATH PENALTY


The U.S. Supreme Court may have cleared the way Monday for executions to resume in Ohio. The Court refused to hear the appeal of Death Row inmate Warren Henness, now scheduled to die on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 after his third reprieve from Gov. Mike DeWine this year.


A recent study from the University of Michigan analyzing cases of aggravated murder in Hamilton County found that Black defendants charged with aggravated murder were more likely to receive the death penalty when there was at least one White victim than defendants in any other defendant/victim racial combination. The study looked at all cases of aggravated murder from January 1992 through August 2017, and found that of the 599 cases of aggravated murder that occurred in Hamilton County over 25 years, Black defendants were 3.7 times more likely to receive the death penalty when there was at least one White victim, compared to defendants in all other defendant/victim racial combinations.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The pandemic and economic recovery that will follow is a "pivotal" time for the state, InnovateOhio Executive Committee Chair Falon Donohue told members Friday, and they discussed efforts to attract business executives and workers in general to consider Ohio for the future. This had also been a topic at the previous committee meeting in June.


The defense and aerospace industries represent a specific area in which Ohio can position itself for greater success in the post-pandemic economy, and that was a topic at Tuesday's Ohio Defense and Aerospace Forum. The event, first held in 2016, saw the addition of "aerospace" to its name for the first time this year and was held virtually due to the pandemic. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) noted the expanded name in his opening remarks, saying that reflects the overall work being done in Ohio. In addition to top Ohio officeholders, the forum featured Joe Zeis, defense and aerospace advisor to Gov. Mike DeWine; J.P. Nauseef, president and CIO of JobsOhio; and leaders at Ohio military bases, NASA Glenn Research Center and aerospace and defense businesses. U.S. Air Force (USAF) Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), gave the keynote address, and like other speakers, she discussed the military's shift in focus from combatting terrorism to maintaining its position amid great power competition with China and Russia.


The Rebuilding Ohio Coalition, a group of over 325 community and economic development nonprofits, recently released a platform of state policy recommendations designed to address re-growing local economies and to stabilize families and communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related economic fallout. Groups participating in the coalition include the Ohio CDC Association, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI), Finance Fund Capital Corporation, Greater Ohio Policy Center, Heritage Ohio, NeighborWorks Collaborative of Ohio and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, among others.


EDUCATION


Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) estimates a "COVID slide" as a result of school closures in wake of the pandemic. Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO, said the measures were informed in part by the Northwest Evaluation Association's data on the "summer slide" -- the erosion of learning that typically happens from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next. The learning loss estimates were translated into lost days of learning, based on a typical 180-day school year. Across the 19 states included in the study, the average estimates of how much students lost in the spring of 2020 ranged from 57 to 183 days of learning in reading and from 136 to 232 days of learning in math.


In an analysis of school quality and safety, financial website WalletHub ranked Ohio schools as performing moderately well in terms of school quality, but needing improvement in school safety and serving low-income students. In the study looking at test outcomes, student safety, class size and instructor credentials, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey achieved the highest marks, while New Mexico, Louisiana and Arizona rounded out the bottom three ranks.


The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released a question-and-answer document this week to help schools understand their obligations under civil rights laws while considering how to provide instruction amid the pandemic. The question-and-answer document is available at https://tinyurl.com/y6pgzusd.


An education data oversight panel voted Wednesday to recommend more training and support for school data coordinators but stopped short of supporting state licensure. The Education Management Information System (EMIS) Advisory Council makes recommendations to the state superintendent on improvements to EMIS, the technological hub for data reporting used for everything from state report cards to enrollment counts to state funding of schools. The council voted Wednesday to include in its next annual report recommendations presented by its EMIS Professional Qualifications and Development Workgroup, which was formed to explore the potential of licensure for EMIS coordinators.


The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has announced that its 2020-2021 budget includes a projected $1.3 million deficit due to the decreased number of spectators allowed to attend tournament games. "The OHSAA continues to explore cost saving measures and is working toward reducing that deficit as much as possible in order to continue providing services to member schools, its 26 sanctioned sports, and more than 15,000 contest officials," OHSAA said in a news release.


ELECTIONS 2020


Nine of Ohio's 88 counties have reached their goals for poll worker recruitment so far, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, while another 40 counties are within 100 poll workers of reaching their recruitment goal. During the final "Ready for November" Task Force meeting, LaRose said he has asked all county boards of elections to recruit and train 150 percent their normal allocation of poll workers to be prepared in case of a resurgence in the virus or some of other circumstance leads people to not show up to work on Tuesday, Nov. 3.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose Monday expanded a previous directive to allow counties to have more than one drop box for absentee ballots or for a bipartisan team of officials to hand collect the ballots -- but only on the grounds of the board of elections. LaRose has been fighting a state lawsuit by the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) and a federal lawsuit by voting rights groups that challenge his directive 2020-16, which limited counties to only one drop box. Late Friday, the 10th District Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the ODP lawsuit overturning a lower court ruling that prevented LaRose from enforcing the directive. The unanimous appeals court agreed that LaRose's interpretation of the Ohio Revised Code to limit the number of drop boxes was not appropriate, but in finding the lower court overstepped its authority, the judges said LaRose is not statutorily required to allow for additional drop boxes. A federal judge said Tuesday that the new directive allows boards of elections officials to collect ballots away from the board offices and dismissed a federal lawsuit challenging a previous LaRose directive limiting drop boxes to one per county. While LaRose's office had interpreted that directive to mean that board employees could only collect absentee ballots on the property of the board offices, Judge Dan Polster said in his ruling Tuesday that the directive "means that the Cuyahoga County board [of elections] may implement its intended plan to receive ballots at six public libraries, and that any other board in Ohio that votes to do so may deploy its staff to receive ballots off-site, as long as the board complies with the procedures set forth" in LaRose's directive. But plaintiffs asked Polster to reconsider, saying LaRose’s directive does not allow off-site collection, and late Thursday he agreed with them and issued an injunction against LaRose’s ability to enforce directives that ban off-site collection.


Two new polls continue to show a tight presidential race in Ohio, with one showing a tie and another giving Trump a lead. CBS News/YouGov released its battleground poll of 1,128 registered Ohio voters on Sunday. The poll was conducted Wednesday, Sept. 30 through Friday, Oct. 2, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. It found voters split at 47 percent between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, with 5 percent not sure and 2 percent supporting someone else. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they won't change their mind, while 11 percent said they probably won't change their mind, and 4 percent said they might change their mind. Meanwhile, a poll released Monday by Republican pollster Trafalgar Group shows Trump leading Biden 47.6 percent to 43.9 percent, with 3.9 percent undecided. The poll was conducted among 1,035 likely voters between Thursday, Oct. 1 and Saturday, Oct. 3.


The City Club of Cleveland will be holding an online panel discussion on ranked choice voting on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from noon to 1 p.m. Under ranked choice voting, voters may rank their choices among as many candidates as they want, and no candidate is declared the winner until someone receives more than 50 percent of the votes. Maine recently became the first state to implement ranked choice voting for statewide elections for governor, state legislature and Congress, and will be implementing it in the upcoming federal election. Information on accessing the online discussion is available at https://www.cityclub.org/forums/2020/10/21/another-way-tovote-rank-choice-voting-and-the-future-of-american-elections.


The Franklin County Board of Elections Tuesday acknowledged that a number of voters in the county were mailed the incorrect absentee ballot for their assigned address. The mix-up came as voters received the ballots on the first day of absentee voting. The board of elections said it was determined that a high-speed scanner used to proof ballots for accuracy was not working properly. The board of elections said that not all ballots were incorrect and that it is researching when the error occurred to determine the number of affected voters.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Wednesday that 51,918 Ohioans have signed up to serve as poll workers for the Nov. 3 general election. LaRose's office said the tally includes 21,079 Democratic poll workers and 19,169 Republican poll workers. The secretary of state said that because party requirements are not being met in many counties, 17,257 poll workers are still needed to meet the office's goal.


A new poll released Wednesday by the New York Times and Siena College has Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump essentially tied in the Buckeye State. The poll of 661 likely voters was conducted Friday, Oct. 2, through Tuesday, Oct. 6, and shows Biden with 45 percent and Trump with 44 percent, with 7 percent undecided. The poll was taken after Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, and most of it took place before he returned to the White House after spending the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.


A failed House candidate has filed a civil suit against former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), FirstEnergy and a political action committee that has been tied to Householder in federal court, claiming a pattern of corrupt activity through the use of dark money to fund false, misleading and malicious advertisements against the candidate. Bobby Mitchell, who lost a Republican primary for the 78th House District to Brian Stewart, tied his loss to an ongoing federal case against Householder that alleges Householder and his associates funneled money from "Company A" through Generation Now and other groups to support the election of his affiliated candidates to solidify Householder's power and help with the passage of HB6 (Callender-Wilkin).


Central Ohio Democrats and Democratic policy group ProgressOhio Thursday held a virtual press conference to remind voters that while attention has been put on the presidential race and the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Ohio Supreme Court will be on the ballot this fall as well. Two Ohio justices -- Judith French and Sharon Kennedy -- are running for re-election against 10th District Appeals Court Judge Jennifer Brunner and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell, respectively.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Thursday that his office has partnered with Walmart to distribute personal protection equipment (PPE) to Ohio county boards of elections for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election. The equipment, which is are being distributed through Walmart's Washington Court House Distribution Center, will include 800,000 masks, 27,000 gowns and 29,000 face shields that have either been donated or purchased by the DeWine administration.


The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio endorsed Judi French and Sharon Kennedy for Ohio Supreme Court; Theresa Gavarone, Kathy Wyenandt, Mark Fogel, Matt Huffman, Betsy Rader, Tim Schaffer, and Frank Hoagland for Ohio Senate; and Marilyn John, Haraz Ghanbari, Tom Patton, Jeff Crossman, Dave Greenspan, Phil Plummer, Tom Young, Gayle Manning, Alan Danowsky, Rachael Morocco, Randi Clites, Jeff LaRe, Tracy Richardson, Alexis Miller, Mark Johnson, Jason Stephens, Adam Holmes, and Richard Dana for Ohio House.

  • The Fraternal Order of Police Cap City 9 Lodge endorsed Mehek Cooke and Pat Manley for Ohio House. - The Fraternal Order of Police Queen City 69 Lodge endorsed Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup for Congress; Louis Blessing III for Ohio Senate; and Chris Monzel, Cindy Abrams, and Bill Seitz for Ohio House.

  • The Fraternal Order of Police Western Lake 116 Lodge endorsed Dave Joyce for Congress and Dan Troy for Ohio House.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


While the national unemployment rate continued to tick downward to 7.9 percent for September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the month also saw substantially fewer jobs added, at 661,000. Past numbers reported by BLS include 4.8 million jobs added in June, 1.8 million in July and 1.5 million in August, after slight revisions.


If August's employment rebound continues through the year, the employment rate is projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.82 percent for the next six months, according to the August report on leading indicators from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.


For the week ending Oct. 3, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 18,592 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). New jobless claims have been rising for three straight weeks after falling steadily during the previous several months as the state and the country continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, ODJFS reported 17,944 new jobless claims, and the agency reported 17,435 the week before that.


ENERGY/UTILITIES


A Franklin County court invoked the First Amendment Friday in rejecting Attorney General Dave Yost's effort to block FirstEnergy from donating, lobbying or otherwise influencing the Legislature in the "repeal, modification, replacement or change" of energy subsidy legislation HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) during the remaining 133rd General Assembly. Common pleas Judge Chris Brown denied the attorney general's request for a preliminary injunction against FirstEnergy Corp. and its affiliates, successor nuclear plant owner Energy Harbor, former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), Friends of Larry Householder, Generation Now, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, and other Householder associates.


Ohio will have nine coal-fired plants with 9,000 megawatts (MW) of generation remaining after Texas-based Vistra Energy shutters two power stations near Cincinnati in the next six years. The state will lose over 2,500 MW at the Miami Fort and W.H. Zimmer coal plants with the company's continued transition from high-carbon technologies to gas-fired and renewable sources. W.H. Zimmer has been generating more than 1425 MW in Clermont County since 1991. Miami Fort has 1180.8 MW remaining from four coal burners built in Hamilton County from 1949 to 1971 after retiring two units in 2010 and 2015. Vistra also is closing five other coal-fired plants generating 4,500 MW in Illinois.


Ohio ranks 47th in the nation for electric affordability, reliability and environmental impact in the "Electric Utility Performance" scorecard released Wednesday by the Citizens' Utility Board (CUB) of Ohio with assistance from sister organization CUB Illinois. CUB Ohio, which shares an address with the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and appears on ActBlue's fundraising portal, points to the Buckeye State's "disturbing" ranking in data provided by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).


The dream that began a decade ago with the creation of Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) -- at times seemingly quixotic but ever-hopeful -- became a reality Thursday when the 7-0 Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) granted Icebreaker Windpower a permit to commence the six-turbine project within sight of Cleveland's Lake Erie shoreline without the overnight shutdown LEEDCo had opposed. OPSB inked the permit modification provisionally granted last month after LEEDCo and other parties including Northeast Ohio's legislative delegation had complained that "feathering" or deactivating turbine blades eight hours a night from March to November had "killed" the offshore wind field at the 11th hour.


ENVIRONMENT


A new Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) study found 96 percent of the streams flowing into the Lake Erie Central Basin are not meeting the human recreation-based water quality standard for E. coli bacteria. The causes of non-attainment include combined sewer overflows, separate sewer overflows, urban runoff, wastewater treatment plant discharges, home sewage treatment systems and agricultural runoff, according to Ohio EPA's "Biological and Water Quality Study of the Lake Erie Central Basin Tributaries."


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has removed the final beneficial use impairment at the Ashtabula River Area of Concern (AOC), USEPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced Wednesday. Wheeler was joined by Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) for the announcement, which also included a number of other developments regarding Ohio water quality.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that he had tested positive for COVID-19, saying he had experienced "symptoms consistent with a sinus infection" Thursday and was tested out of an abundance of caution.


Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) has filed a private citizen affidavit (PCA) with the 12th District Court of Appeals in his latest attempt to have Gov. Mike DeWine arrested for his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) and Capitol Square Foundation (CSF) are seeking nominations for the Great Ohioans award, which is meant to commemorate notable Ohioans who have played a role in at least one event of lasting significance in world, American or Ohio history. Nominations opened Oct. 1 and run through Wednesday, Dec. 2. Find the 2021 nomination form and information on past winners at http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/museum/great-ohioans. The award, which was created in 2003 by CSRAB to honor the Wright Brothers, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, recognizes Ohioans in several areas including: inventions/medicine/science; literature/ journalism/history; academics; communications/education; entertainment/sports; and government/military/public service/religion.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine issued a proclamation declaring Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 as a day of prayer for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, both of whom recently tested positive for COVID-19, as well as all those who suffer from and have been affected by COVID-19. In addition, DeWine had ordered flags lowered to half-staff on all public buildings and grounds throughout the state from sunrise to sunset on Sunday in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service and in accordance with orders issued by the president.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


Enrollment is now underway for Ohio's primary care providers to sign up for the Ohio Department of Medicaid's (ODM) 2021 comprehensive primary care (CPC) and CPC for Kids programs. It is open through Friday, Oct. 30. According to ODM, "The CPC and CPC for Kids programs are value-based incentive programs that reward team-based care delivery models led by primary care practices that comprehensively manage their patients' health needs. There are 297 primary care practices participating in the 2020 CPC and CPC for Kids programs that care for approximately 1.4 million Ohio Medicaid members. Of those, 780,000 are kids. 2021 is the fifth year for the CPC program and the second year for the CPC for Kids program."


The Health Services Resource Administration (HRSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened applications Monday for a new round of Provider Relief Fund payments to assist health providers in addressing the pandemic. "Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments will be invited to apply for additional funding that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, will also be invited to apply, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic will also be eligible for relief payments," HRSA stated.


HIGHER EDUCATION


University of Akron (UA) President Gary Miller has named Dallas Grundy as the university's new senior vice president (SVP) and chief financial officer (CFO). Grundy will assume the role Nov. 30, pending approval from the Board of Trustees. Grundy joins UA after serving as the vice dean and CFO of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also spent nine years as associate dean of finance and administration at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Education and previously served as director of business affairs at Somerset Christian College in Somerset, New Jersey.


JUDICIAL


According to the Ohio Supreme Court, this election cycle voters will consider nearly 300 candidates for 216 judicial seats throughout the state, including two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court. Ohio voters also will elect judges to the 12 districts of the Ohio Court of Appeals and the county courts of common pleas. In addition, voters in Mahoning and Vinton counties will elect judges to their county courts. Among the highlights of this year's judicial elections are the following:

  • Ohio Supreme Court -- two seats, both contested.

  • Hamilton County -- 13 judicial seats, including one on the 1st District Court of Appeals; all races contested.

  • Franklin County -- 10 judicial seats, including two on the 10th District Court of Appeals; all races contested.

  • Cuyahoga County -- 19 judicial seats, including five on the 8th District Court of Appeals; six seats contested.

A former Miami County attorney heads the list of lawyers cited for misappropriating client funds, accounting for more than half of the $139,449.00 recently awarded to 10 victims of attorney theft. The Board of Commissioners of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection found that seven suspended or former members of the Ohio bar had stolen money entrusted to them, in addition to one who died with work unfinished.


"I don't think recovering addicts have a better life, but I do think we get a different view, and that's a beautiful thing." Stefanie Robinson, executive director of Hope Recovery Community in Medina and peer support advisor to Medina County Drug Court, is among the Ohioans who shared their story of drug and alcohol addiction and rehabilitation in the Emmy award-winning documentary, Second Chances: One Year in Ohio's Drug Courts. Written, produced, directed and edited by Wright State University communications-TV broadcast alum Anne Fife, Second Chances follows over a dozen recovering addicts' journey through Ohio drug courts in three counties: Hocking, Marion and Medina. Fife, producer for Ohio Government Television (OGT) and Cleveland PBS and NPR affiliate Ideastream, created the hour-long feature with support from the Ohio Supreme Court. The 2019 release was distributed through PBS, Court News Ohio and the National Center for State Courts.


State ethics advisors clarified the sort of work lawyers can legally perform and how they might market themselves to the average consumer Thursday -- emphasizing such opinions are nevertheless "nonbinding." They said firms cannot work both sides of a case while protecting parties' competing interests and may only adopt trade names that do not promise results or misrepresent legal expertise or association with public institutions. Advisory Opinions 2020-10 and 2020-11 of the Board of Professional Conduct begin with the assumption that, on number of levels, law firms are no different than a single lawyer.


LIBRARIES


The 2020 Ohioana Awards will hold a virtual ceremony free and open to the public this year on Wed., Oct. 21 from 7 to 8 p.m. The program includes remarks from this year's winners. Registration information can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yykbren8. The awards ceremony was originally planned to take place in the Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, but was changed due to COVID-19.


LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) announced it had cited three establishments each in press releases from Saturday and Sunday, a lower number than past weekends.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT


The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) recently released a briefing guide for 2020 candidates, offering recommendations on what should be done to address the "challenges on multiple fronts" faced by counties. The guide opens by noting that county budgets were already strained before the pandemic "due to past state and federal policy changes," including loss of the Medicaid managed care organization sales tax and reductions in the Local Government Fund (LGF) that have resulted in ongoing annual revenue losses of over $300 million. Counties will lose approximately $40 million in sales taxes due to removal of Ohio's grandfather clause to the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, CCAO added.


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS


The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency charged with promoting service and volunteerism in America, recently announced it will now operate as "AmeriCorps" as part of an effort to increase awareness of service opportunities. Along with the new name, the agency also revealed a new logo for itself and all its programs. This is the first major update for the agency since it was created 25 years ago.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (Ohio AEYC) was recently named winner of the Silver Award of Excellence in the "Most Valuable Nonprofit Response to COVID-19" category in the 17th annual International Business Awards. The award recognizes Ohio AEYC's efforts to help educators navigate the pandemic and its creation of communication networks to provide feedback from early childhood educators on the front line to policymakers.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Two of Ohio's leading law enforcement agencies have satisfied state policing standards five years after the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board adopted language for use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring. The Cleveland Division of Police and Franklin County Sheriff's Office are now certified by the Ohio Department of Public Safety's (ODPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), as are Gallipolis (Gallia County) and Sylvania Township (Lucas County) police.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) announced Monday that the state exceeded its minority business expenditure goal in FY20, spending $298.8 million with 314 businesses certified with Ohio's Minority Business Enterprise Program (MBE). That represented 21.5 percent of $1.39 billion in eligible expenditures, according to a DAS release.


Following the FBI's Thursday announcement that it thwarted a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. Mike DeWine and House Democratic leaders condemned the alleged plot and other violent threats that have been made over the past several months.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


The Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) announced this week that it will be launching Ride Easy Ohio, a campaign that will highlight safety initiatives to maintain public transportation as a safe and viable option during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found at www.ohioneedstransit.org/ride-easy-ohio.


The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is reminding Ohioans that effective Oct. 1, 2021, the state-issued identification that airline passengers present at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoints for boarding a commercial airline must be REAL ID compliant. Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021, the Ohio BMV said.


[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2020 Hannah News Service, Inc.]

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