Week In Review - October 19, 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


In a letter to the Washington Post, former Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Stephanie Krider wrote that she quit her post because of damage to her movement's reputation from its alliance with President Donald Trump. She criticized leaders of various anti-abortion organizations for prioritizing power over all else. "I am confident that, in advocating for this president, we will have lost our soul," she wrote.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


Attorney General Dave Yost Thursday said a university partner in a study to identify the genetic factors that make some individuals more susceptible than others to developing an opioid addiction has reached an initial milestone of 100 patients enrolled. The study of opioid use disorder was undertaken by Yost's Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE), which began its work last year.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


Following the Sunday, Oct. 11 death of Joe Morgan, 77, a Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and a former lead broadcaster for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Gov. Mike DeWine, a passionate baseball fan, issued the following statement: "Fran and I, along with our children, extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Joe Morgan -- the greatest second baseman of all time, a great base runner and hitter, and a gracious and genuinely nice person. He was a player who mastered every detail of the game. We saw him play many times with our older children -- Pat, Jill, Becky and John. It was a thrill to watch him! To Brian, Alice, Mark and Anna, he was the voice of Sunday night baseball when later he was an announcer. He had a unique ability to explain what was happening on the field to the average fan. He was a master at explaining the 'why' of baseball. In both business and charity, even after his playing days were over, he continued to be involved in the Cincinnati-area community."


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Ohio and 27 other states have secured a judgment against Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc. for a data breach that exposed the names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of 6.1 million people, including more than a quarter million patients in Ohio. "Protecting patients is the job of a hospital, and that includes shielding patients' personal information from hackers," Attorney General Dave Yost said. "Exposing the identities of patients should never happen, and it will take a long time to rebuild that trust."


Attorney General Dave Yost Thursday joined prosecutors from Ohio's largest counties -- Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley -- in a news conference to answer growing calls in other state legislatures and Congress to ban no-knock search warrants in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. They said such warrants are rarely used in Ohio but would nevertheless benefit from statutory reforms to provide greater protection to citizens and officers alike. They sent the governor and House and Senate majority leaders a letter with proposed changes which Yost characterized as "more lawyerly … surgical and nuanced than an outright ban." He also noted their changes are "ripe" for amendment into pending legislation in the lame duck session.


One day before arresting former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and associates on charges of a bribery conspiracy related to HB6 (Callender-Wilkin), federal investigators served Attorney General Dave Yost's office with a subpoena for records related to the failed ballot campaign to overturn the energy subsidy law. Left-leaning advocacy group ProgressOhio obtained the subpoena and circulated it Thursday, saying it raises questions about Yost's role in the HB6 corruption saga. Yost's office said it's not a target of the investigation and that the subpoena was to be expected given its statutory duties in reviewing ballot campaign filings.


CENSUS


After months of back and forth on the end date for 2020 Census counting operations, the Census Bureau announced counting efforts will officially conclude this Thursday, Oct. 15, about two weeks ahead of the previously announced Saturday, Oct. 31 deadline. According to media reports, the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday approved a request from President Donald Trump's administration to suspend a lower court order that had extended the count's schedule.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


Groundwork Ohio Tuesday released a report on lead hazards in child care settings commissioned by the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. According to the groups, "The report, 'Building the Way to a Healthier Future: Investigating a Path Forward to Ensure Ohio's Youngest Children are Safe from Lead Paint Hazards in Child Care Settings,' includes the most comprehensive national scan of state policies on lead-safe practices in child care programs to-date and is one of the first in the nation on lead prevention in child care facilities."


CORONAVIRUS


Over the past week, Ohio three times set new records for single-day increases in new cases of COVID-19, notching 1,840 cases Friday; 2,039 Wednesday; and 2,178 Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The state also surpassed 5,000 total deaths in Monday’s case report. Gov. Mike DeWine stressed in his Thursday briefing that, "This is the worst situation Ohio has been in." He also noted that hospitalizations are rising significantly and ICU admissions went up "rather dramatically."


Noting Ohio, the U.S. and the world are likely at "halftime" of the pandemic as scientists continue to work on developing a vaccine that's ready for mass distribution in Summer 2021, DeWine had said on Tuesday that he was extremely concerned about the state's current coronavirus indicators. "It could be a tough winter. It could be a tough November, December and January because we're moving inside, and because we're now seeing, for the last two weeks, fairly significant spread through the greater part of Ohio at a high rate," DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. "Cases are up. Positivity's up. Hospital admissions are up. Plus the early first indicators -- doctor visits, emergency room visits from people with COVID-like symptoms, these are going up very, very fast."


The state still has $900 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to distribute, Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks told Hannah News in an interview. The remaining dollars are likely to go to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and other state agencies to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other entities to help struggling individuals and small businesses pay their bills, she said.


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said Friday that Interim Director Lance Himes signed an updated health order for salons, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses that allows the resumption of oral and nasal piercings.


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced Tuesday that personnel providing non-urgent medical transportation at nursing homes are among those who should be tested for COVID-19 when entering, in line with recently released protocols on indoor visitation.


The Ohio Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday that FEMA has provided an additional opportunity for volunteer and combination fire departments to seek funding for expenses related to COVID-19, including expenditures made since Jan. 1.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David M. DeVillers announced Wednesday a surge in enforcement to address gun crimes in two Columbus neighborhoods. As part of the "hot zone" firearms initiative, federal and local law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities will jointly identify dangerous offenders for federal prosecution in the Hilltop and Linden neighborhoods.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) recently awarded $31,204,165 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for the rehabilitation of 40 historic buildings statewide. Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $347 million in private investments in nine communities, DSA said.


ECONOMY


The Cleveland Innovation Project announced a plan Wednesday to improve the regional economy in the coming years, including fully expanding broadband access and supporting women- and minority-owned businesses. Its goal is to become a leading Midwestern region for technology-led growth and inclusion by 2030. The project is an alliance of the Cleveland Foundation, Fund For Our Economic Future, Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), JumpStart and TeamNEO.


EDUCATION


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Friday that it is extending regulatory flexibility in light of the pandemic to allow schools to offer free meals to all children through the current academic year. USDA had previously approved flexibility through December.


School district leaders from the Ohio 8 Coalition of urban school districts offered updates on the state of remote learning amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic during a Friday webinar, including policy wins and challenges at the state and federal levels. Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and co-chair of the Ohio 8 Coalition, said a major win for urban schools involved securing use of federal CARES Act dollars for impoverished districts that were being directed to private schools and elsewhere by a U.S. Department of Education rule.


About $10 million in rebates is available for schools to help defray the cost of replacing older buses and improve air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced. The agency is accepting requests until Friday, Oct. 30 and will take questions about applying at DERA@epa.gov. To learn more about the rebate program, applicant eligibility, selection process, available technologies, and informational webinar dates, visit www.epa.gov/dera/rebates.


The State Board of Education reviewed Tuesday the Ohio Department of Education's process for promoting teaching materials in light of recent controversy over the New York Times "1619 Project" essay collection, and heard another wave of public testimony about the board's stance on racism and equity.


The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report Wednesday that analyzes the effects of brick-and-mortar Ohio charter schools on a battery of student outcomes, such as state exam scores, attendance rates, and disciplinary incidents. The study indicates significant benefits for students at charter schools, particularly among Black students and those who live in urban areas. Conducted by Stephane Lavertu, a professor at Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs, the study uses anonymous student-level data provided by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and relies on rigorous statistical methods to gauge the effect of charters from 2015-16 through 2018-19.


The State Board of Education opted for deeper cuts elsewhere to avoid even modest reductions in early childhood education and literacy programs in submitting its FY22-23 budget request to the DeWine administration this week. The final request also jettisoned draft language urging a reduction in spending in the EdChoice program.

ELECTIONS 2020


Federal appeals judges froze a lower court ruling enabling placement of absentee ballot drop boxes in more locations while Secretary of State Frank LaRose mounts an appeal. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster's ruling late Friday. On Thursday, Oct. 8, Polster had ruled that LaRose could not enforce directives limiting use of drop boxes or elections staff for collecting absentee ballots to the grounds of county boards of elections offices. "The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter election rules on the eve of an election," wrote Judge Richard Griffin in Friday's 2-1 ruling. "Here, the district court went a step further and altered election rules during an election."


The most recent former vice president and the current vice president both made campaign stops in Ohio on Monday as the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns seek to capture the Buckeye State's 18 Electoral College votes. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a drive-in rally at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 14 union hall in Toledo on Monday afternoon, and participated in a "voter mobilization" event in Cincinnati later in the day. Vice President Mike Pence held an in-person speaking event in Columbus in the afternoon, while President Donald Trump spoke during a rally in Sanford, FL on Monday night.


According to the Baldwin Wallace (BW) University Great Lakes Poll released on Sunday, Oct. 11, President Donald Trump leads former Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio 47 percent to 45.4 percent, within the poll's 3.1 percent margin of error. Biden leads Trump 50.2 percent to 43.2 percent in Michigan, 49.6 percent to 44.5 percent in Pennsylvania and 49.2 percent to 42.5 percent in Wisconsin, according to the BW poll.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that Ohioans have been showing up to vote early in record numbers after the first week of absentee balloting. Tuesday, Oct. 6 was the first day Ohioans could cast ballots in-person early at county boards of elections or receive their vote-by-mail ballots. According to LaRose's office, 193,021 Ohioans voted early in-person in the first week, nearly triple the number of voters who cast ballots at the same point four years ago, when 64,312 voted.


With three weeks to go until Election Day, more than 300 election-related lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country with nearly every state having a legal battle over how elections are administered, according to an online panel discussion Tuesday sponsored by the National Task Force on Election Crises. Those lawsuits include challenges to absentee ballot drop box limitations in Ohio and in Texas, although in both cases, a federal appeals court has allowed those limitations to continue.


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are still locked in a tight race in Ohio, according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. The former vice president has support from 48 percent of likely voters while Trump gets 47 percent, unchanged from Quinnipiac's first poll of likely voters in late September. The latest poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent and was conducted from Oct. 8-12, with 1,160 likely voters taking part.


As voters cast early ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, one voting group said it is seeing more volunteers to help its election protection efforts in Ohio and across the nation than in previous years. Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio, speaking during an online briefing on Wednesday, said her group and its partners in the Buckeye State have approached how it uses volunteers this year during the pandemic in a different way from what they did before. The coalition has created election prep teams in counties around Ohio to gather information on election administrative plans and to work with county boards on how to help voters better this year.


The four candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court discussed how they view the role of a justice and the influence of outside groups in a virtual forum sponsored by the Ohio Debate Commission released to the public this week. In one race, Justice Sharon Kennedy, who was first elected to the Court in 2012 after unseating Justice Yvette McGee Brown, faces off against Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell, who is running for the third time for the Court. Kennedy highlighted what she said are her "34 years of diverse service," including time as a police officer and trial court judge. O'Donnell opened by saying he will address cases before the Court as if it directly affected his family because he knows it will ultimately affect someone else's. In the other race, Justice Judith French, who was appointed to the Court by Gov. John Kasich and defeated O'Donnell to retain her seat in 2014, is challenged by former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, now a judge on the 10th District Court of Appeals.


Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was scheduled to campaign in Cleveland this Friday. However, the event was cancelled after positive COVID tests among campaign staff.


President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump was scheduled to headline an event in Cincinnati this Friday, the Trump campaign announced.


The Ohio Department of Public Safety Thursday hosted a virtual discussion on safety issues surrounding the upcoming Nov. 3 election featuring the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, the Ohio National Guard, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Homeland Security, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol presenting to members of the Ohio Mayor's Alliance, police chiefs, and senior teams from nine of Ohio's larger cities. Representatives from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association also participated in the discussion. According to ODPS, the discussion centered on potential issues surrounding the election and post-election timeframes. Areas of state expertise and resources available to local jurisdictions were also discussed, including the correct protocols to request assistance. Presenters discussed polling location jurisdiction, experience with past demonstrations and civil unrest, and awareness of possible cyber threats.


Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose Thursday requesting daily updates for the Legislature on any ongoing election problems in the state, including a delay in mailing absentee ballots that has affected voters in Lucas and Summit counties.


Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Professor Ric Simmons recently launched ChooseYourJudges.org, an interactive website designed to educate voters on who to vote for in judicial elections based on the voters' personal viewpoints, according to the university.


The Ohio Women's Public Policy Network said it launched its 2020 general election voter guide website. The group said the guide provides voters information on where candidates for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate stand on policy issues affecting women and families. More information about the project and the full voter guide are available online at www.womenspublicpolicynetwork.org/voter-guide.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


For the week ending Oct. 10, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 20,090 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). New jobless claims have been rising for four straight weeks after falling steadily during the previous several months as the state and country continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, ODJFS reported 18,592 new jobless claims. The week before that, ODJFS reported 17,944, and the week before that, the agency reported 17,435. The total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 30 weeks (1,772,416) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last four years.


ETHICS


The Ohio Ethics Commission issued a new advisory opinion last week, addressing the question on whether a public official or employee can attend a ceremonial event in an official or honorary capacity.


FEDERAL


Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced Tuesday. The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 31, 2020. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.


After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Congress, President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans are attempting to stack the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure the law's demise, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said Wednesday. "They want to use the courts to legislate. They want to use the courts to overturn the entire ACA. They tried to pass it through Congress, and they failed. They tried for seven or eight years. So they go to the Supreme Court, and try to get the Supreme Court to legislate against the ACA," Brown said during a call with reporters.


GAMING/GAMBLING


The Ohio Lottery is continuing to set sales records buoyed by robust revenues gained from scratch-offs, pick games, social games and video lottery terminals (VLTs), Finance Director Greg Bowers told the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) this week. The state's seven racinos also fared well in September, Bowers said, noting VLTs made $92.8 million, which is $6 million more than September 2019. The Ohio Lottery received $31.1 million from VLT sales in September 2020. The state's four casinos raked in $71.9 million in September 2020, up from $68.4 million in September 2019, according to statistics provided by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


The National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL released its updated demographics for state legislatures, finding state lawmaking bodies have become more female and slightly more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before. The new analysis builds on NCSL's previous research from 2015 and covers the gender, race/ethnicity, education, age, and religion of state legislators across the country.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine this week appointed Kenneth E. Ryan to the vacant seat on the Athens County Common Pleas Court, Probate/Juvenile Division, replacing the late Judge Robert Stewart. Ryan, an attorney from Athens and already a candidate to succeed Stewart before the judge's September death, took office Tuesday, Oct. 13 and will need to prevail over opponent Zachary L. Saunders, an Athens County assistant prosecutor, to begin the full term starting Feb. 9, 2021.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


While the nation waits on development of a COVID-19 vaccine, federal and state officials joined representatives of Ohio's six children's hospitals to discuss the increased importance of maintaining youth vaccination rates for traditional diseases and other services during the pandemic. Gov. Mike DeWine has repeatedly raised this topic during recent briefings, with he and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted both receiving flu shots on camera as well. In the discussion held late Tuesday, Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), discussed a recent report on declining rates of vaccination and other services among children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).


HIGHER EDUCATION


Miami University recently announced a $20 million gift from alumnus Rick McVey that will fund the construction of a new data science building on Miami's Oxford campus. The contribution is one of the top-five largest single gifts in Miami's history, according to the university. In recognition of the gift, the building will be named the Richard M. McVey Data Science Building, an action recently approved by the Board of Trustees.


Ohio State University (OSU) announced another round of settlements in the late Dr. Richard Strauss sex abuse scandal Tuesday as the work group reviewing the State Medical Board of Ohio's (SMBO) handling of the case convened for what is scheduled to be one of its final two meetings. OSU says it has reached a $5.8 million settlement with 23 additional victims in five lawsuits targeting Strauss' conduct over two decades as a university sports doctor. Along with May's $40.9 million agreement with 162 former students, the school says each survivor will receive an average settlement of $252,000.


Meanwhile, other sex abuse survivors of Strauss Wednesday called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big Ten Conference to launch an OSU investigation equal to the NCAA and Big Ten's involvement in Penn State and Michigan State University's sexual misconduct probes.


After a three-day strike, Youngstown State University's (YSU) faculty union, YSU-Ohio Education Association (OEA), and the YSU administration reached a tentative agreement in the early hours of Thursday morning. In return, YSU-OEA agreed to end its strike, returning to work and to the classroom Thursday. The strike had started Monday over disagreements with a new three-year contract deal with the school.


INSURANCE


A recent data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) looking at the reasons why Americans don't have health insurance reported that affordability tops the list of concerns. Using data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, NCHS found that 73 percent of Americans without health insurance say they don't have it because they can't afford it, while 25 percent said they're not eligible, 21 percent said they don't need or want health insurance, 18 percent said that signing up for health insurance was too confusing or difficult, and another 18 percent said they couldn't find a plan that meets their needs. Respondents could select more than one reason for being uninsured.


JUDICIAL


As Judge Amy Coney Barrett sat before U.S. senators for the opening of confirmation hearings, legislative leaders from across the U.S., including Ohio's two GOP chamber leaders, released a letter urging approval of her nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) drafted and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) signed the letter alongside legislative leaders from all 50 states. It was sent to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).


The state's highest court is set to consider whether Ohio law criminalizes not only simple drug possession but also drug use and drug addiction. Former House Judiciary Committee chairman and sitting 3rd District Judge John Willamowski says there is no constitutional basis for such a policy in a Supreme Court appeal rejected by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor but accepted by a majority of her peers. Underlying the case is the 2018 birth of "J.B." to Kelly Foreman in Seneca County. The baby showed signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome and was tested for illegal substances. Cocaine and other drugs were found in the infant's system, prompting Ms. Foreman to admit having used within 10-14 days of J.B.'s birth, though not at her Seneca County home.


The Ohio Supreme Court has issued two new bench cards to guide judges' attention to a growing backlog of cases under COVID-19 as new filings continue to roll in to courts around the state. "Pathway Approach for Civil Cases" helps judges to "triage" cases for better workflow. A "more modern" take on traditional differentiated case management (DCM), the pathways system goes beyond case type and disputed amounts, triages cases upon filing, recognizes most civil cases present "uncomplicated facts and legal issues," and includes non-judicial staff and technology in managing cases from start to finish. The second bench card provides further "Strategies for Addressing a Backlog of Hearings" from coronavirus-related case continuances, including remote mediation conferences, virtual hearings and civil trials, special "settlement weeks," temporary extra dockets heard by visiting judges, increased use of intervention in lieu of conviction (ILC) and diversion, and court resources prioritized by case profile.


The Ohio Supreme Court announced sanctions Thursday against 298 members of the state bar who have failed to comply with Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements. Of these, the Commission on Continuing Legal Education fined and suspended 62 attorneys from the practice of law. Three had failed to complete New Lawyers Training during their initial CLE compliance period.

LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


The Ohio Liquor Commission (OLC) will hear the latest round of COVID-19 complaints against night clubs and taverns after a busy weekend for the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU). The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) division cited 10 establishments for liquor control and public health violations, including dancing within six feet of partners, other social distancing infractions, serving alcohol past 10 p.m., and failure to wear masks.


Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) Thursday introduced SB374 that would repeal the Ohio Liquor Commission's emergency rule that cuts off the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol at 11 p.m. The rule was passed in late July after Gov. Mike DeWine requested it, noting a number of outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with bars across Ohio. The sponsors said their bill has 22 bipartisan co-sponsors.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Wildlife Council recently approved a slate of new rules and regulations concerning deer carcass taxidermy, fishing limits and aquaculture production, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The new white-tailed deer carcass taxidermy and processing regulations take effect Sunday, Nov. 1, while the other rules will take effect on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, ODNR said.


Gov. Mike DeWine and ODNR Director Mary Mertz recently celebrated the openings of the South Gorge Bridge at John Bryan State Park and the Amphitheater Falls Overlook at the adjacent Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The state park and nature preserve are both in Greene County, near Yellow Springs.


PEOPLE


The Freedom Foundation announced the hiring of Lauren Bowen to serve as outreach director at its Ohio office. Bowen has worked as a senior public affairs liaison for Ohio Treasurers Josh Mandel and Robert Sprague since 2013. In her new role, Bowen will coordinate the organization's efforts to inform public employees in Ohio about U.S. Supreme Court decisions allowing them to opt out of union membership and dues.


ProMedica announced that Kate Sommerfeld, its president for social determinants of health (SDOH), was recognized as one of Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Emerging Leaders for 2020. According to ProMedica, Sommerfeld has overseen efforts to help ensure that ProMedica's community investments improve the health and well-being of at-risk populations. She has worked to form traditional and non-traditional partnerships that enable ProMedica to better understand and address social determinants of health needs, including access to food, jobs, safe housing, reliable transportation and more.


PUBLIC SAFETY


The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) cited 491 drivers over the first week of October as part of a joint project with five other states to focus on distracted driving enforcement.

TAXATION


Gov. Mike DeWine and the General Assembly should move to "clean up and rebalance Ohio's upside-down tax code," Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) Senior Project Director Wendy Patton said Thursday. The proposal, which would increase taxes on the wealthiest Ohioans, would direct $1.94 billion toward addressing budget shortfalls cause by the pandemic-induced recession, Patton said during a Zoom press conference releasing the organization's report, "Rebalance the Income Tax to Build a Better Ohio for Everyone." The October 2020 report builds on Policy Matters' July 2020 report, which called for the state to eliminate "tax loopholes" like the small business deduction.


TECHNOLOGY


The CyberOhio Advisory Board heard a presentation on ways to increase the level of computer science instruction in K-12 schools during its meeting Wednesday, with board President Kirk Herath offering details on improving "digital literacy" levels as well. Herath said that 32 million adults nationally struggle with "basic tasks" on computers, and InnovateOhio and BroadbandOhio are working to address that at the state level. Those tasks include finding recipes, making retail purchases and filing taxes online, and Herath said that lack of knowledge leaves them vulnerable to cyberattacks.


TOBACCO/SMOKING


Ohio is among 43 states and territories that are calling on the entertainment industry to close the tobacco loophole in video on demand (VOD) streaming services, which have failed to adapt age ratings from theatrical movies and broadcast television. Attorney General Dave Yost and other states' attorneys general asked VOD streaming services in 2019 to reduce tobacco imagery in their products, citing large numbers of middle and high school users of e-cigarettes. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) joined companies in urging cooperation by the Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screenwriters Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees


VETERANS


The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) recently announced the members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes former legislator and gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich of Cincinnati. The 20 inductees will be honored for their accomplishments and achievements at the 29th annual Induction Ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 5.


WORKERS' COMPENSATION


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) this week named Shawn Crosby as its new chief of claims services. Crosby, a Cincinnati resident, first joined the BWC as a front-line clerk in 1993 and most recently served as Cincinnati claims director. She replaces former claims chief Patricia Harris, who was recently promoted to chief operating officer.


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

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