Week In Review - October 25, 2021



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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.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


Gov. Mike DeWine Friday announced that RecoveryOhio, the Addiction Policy Forum and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) are teaming up to host a free, statewide training to help those affected by addiction on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The program, called enCompass, is a comprehensive resource for navigating substance use disorder. Funded by OhioMHAS, enCompass targets family members who are trying to navigate the complex world of addiction while helping loved ones achieve recovery and others on the frontline.


New research out of Ohio State University (OSU) suggests that access to naloxone, a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, doesn't make people see drug use as safer. Naloxone is so effective at saving the lives of opioid overdose victims that it raised concerns drug users might be inclined to think heroin and related drugs are no longer risky, researchers said. However, the study found increased access to naloxone didn't lead Americans, even drug users, to think heroin was less risky, the findings showed.


AGING


The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) announced that Jennifer Carlson has joined the agency as assistant director where she will serve as chief adviser to ODA Director Ursel McElroy and will drive the development of innovative policy and programs to improve the health, wellness and safety of older Ohioans. Carlson previously was associate vice president for government affairs at Ohio State University's Office of Health Sciences. Her other experience includes serving as chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, chief policy adviser over five cabinet agencies for former Gov. Bob Taft and director of federal relations and health policy for former Attorney General Betty Montgomery.


Students can apply to the Ohio Scholars in Aging program through the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education. The program provides scholars of all academic backgrounds with the opportunity to learn about aging-related policymaking, establish professional contacts, and gain career knowledge and skills in the field of aging. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in an accredited educational institution in Ohio and to emerging professionals in a variety of careers. The application deadline is Sunday, Oct. 31. Find more information at https://tinyurl.com/4c4cv7mm.


AGRICULTURE


Due to a late harvest and adverse weather conditions, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) extended the 2021 H2Ohio program deadline for planting cover crops and incorporating manure. H2Ohio producers enrolled in the 24-county area will now have until Monday, Nov. 1 to plant their overwintering cover crops and complete all manure incorporation requirements, the department said.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Attorney General Dave Yost redoubled his critique of police defunding Tuesday in a 2021 Law Enforcement Conference address highlighting "buyers' remorse" in a number of cities that downsized police and reassuring officers who've remained on the job that most Ohioans and Americans, Black or White, support the people in blue. "The past 18 months have been especially difficult for everyone in law enforcement, and we all know how widespread demonization of the blue has boosted retirements and impeded recruitment," Yost told the virtual gathering, saying undeserved criticism has only deepened the naturally hostile environment of policing. "Like every other institution, law enforcement has always adapted to circumstances as society changes and expectations evolve. And we've continually gotten better, year after year, decade after decade. And now we have a new period where we're going to raise the level of officer training and weed out the very few people who have a badge but shouldn't. Bad cops don't just hurt the people they mistreat. The anger and distrust they create in the community makes the job that much harder and that much more dangerous for the vast majority of good cops -- all of you who are dedicated to protecting their communities. ... The vast majority of Americans trust and support law enforcement, especially when they experience the alternative. Our job is to make sure that we continue to merit that trust and support."


BUSINESS/CORPORATE


The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) will hold its annual Workforce Summit in two virtual half-day sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 27 and 28. The year's theme is "Attracting the 21st Century Manufacturing Workforce," and OMA called the event Ohio's "most recognized gathering of manufacturers and their workforce suppliers and partners."


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


The number of children suffering from lead exposure in Ohio has decreased in recent years, though the state is still well above the national average, according to panelists at Monday's Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus meeting. New research recently published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that over half of all children nationwide have detectable lead levels in their blood and that Ohio's levels are more than twice the national rate. The research found that Ohio has the second highest proportion of children with lead in their blood compared to all 50 states. The full study can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/457n5cxt. In 2019, over 3,500 Ohio children were diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Caucus co-chair Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said also that for most this lead exposure was caused by lead-based paint and dust and chips in older homes. She said lead pipes that deliver water are also a major factor with the state's having more than 650,000 lead pipes still in use.


CORONAVIRUS


From mid-August to mid-September, nursing home deaths from COVID in Ohio increased from 0.04 per 100 to 0.2 per 100, with national trends also rising, according to AARP. The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard showed more than 2,000 deaths nationwide. Infections among staff and residents of nursing homes also increased, from 0.6 per 100 to 1.92 per 100 among residents, and among staff from 1.2 per 100 to 2.95 per 100.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late Wednesday took action to expand the use of a booster dose for COVID-19 vaccines in eligible populations. According to a release from the agency, it has amended its emergency use authorizations (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines to allow for the use of a single booster dose as follows:


* The use of a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series to individuals

  • 65 years of age and older.

  • 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19.

  • 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

* The use of a single booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at least two months after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to individuals 18 years of age and older.


* The use of each of the available COVID-19 vaccines as a "mix and match" booster dose in eligible individuals following completion of primary vaccination with a different available COVID-19 vaccine.


* To clarify that a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series to individuals 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.


Saying he likely watches the numbers as closely as anyone in the state, Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters Thursday that around 6,000 to 7,000 Ohioans are receiving their first vaccination each day, with the rate of booster doses much higher than that. DeWine continued that he would like that number to be higher but said there is a shrinking number of unvaccinated people who could receive a first dose. Of those age 12 and up, 64.25 percent have started vaccination and 60 percent have completed it, under Ohio Department of Health (ODH) definitions. ODH also reported 432,383 Ohioans have received an additional dose, including 15,105 in the last 24 hours.


DEATH PENALTY


The Supreme Court of Ohio has unanimously rejected Death Row inmates' attempt to quash the state execution protocol as a violation of Ohio's rulemaking process. Clearing up some judicial confusion over rulemaking laws, the Court said Tuesday that the five-year-old protocol is neither an "internal management" rule that requires filing with the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) and Ohio Secretary of State (SOS) nor a "general" rule that must be filed with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in addition to LSC and SOS. Death Row inmate James O'Neal challenged the lethal injection protocol as an unvetted rule in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in 2018. Cleveland Jackson, convicted of fatally shooting a teenager and 3-year-old during a 2002 robbery, intervened in the case several months later. They claimed the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) had violated its rulemaking duties under R.C. 115.15, Ohio's general rules statute, and R.C. 5120, the code section controlling DRC.


DISABILITIES


Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) named Cleveland Clinic the Governor's Inclusive Employer Award winner for 2021 based on its commitment to employing individuals with disabilities.


Moments after taking the oath of office, Gov. Mike DeWine had signed Executive Order 2019-03D to establish Ohio as a Disability Inclusion State and a Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities. Reinforcing this commitment, budget bill HB110 (Oelslager) calls for an awards presentation during October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to employers meeting criteria for hiring individuals with disabilities.


ECONOMY


A new survey of Ohio's academic economists shows that not a single respondent thought coal subsidies would improve the state economy. The survey published by Scioto Analysis found that of the 22 economists who responded, 21 disagreed that "subsidies for coal plants paid for through state-mandated rate increases such as those in [133-HB6] have economic benefits that outweigh their costs" with 13 disagreeing strongly. The remaining economist was uncertain about the effect of such subsidies. Among those who disagreed, the problem of the negative external cost of coal pollution was raised in comments multiple times.


EDUCATION


While Ohio's state report cards lacked A-F school ratings because of legislation passed in light of pandemic disruptions to education, the underlying data reveal important trends, according to advocacy groups on education and child welfare. The Children's Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) said the data highlight the need to focus on equity in education, but contrasted that message to the State Board of Education's vote the day before the report card release to repeal a resolution supporting equity and condemning racism in education. Groundwork Ohio said dropping enrollment, attendance and performance data raise concerns about long-term student attainment and Ohio's workforce and economy. The Fordham Institute noted that while low-income and minority students lost more ground academically amid the pandemic, performance data from the Big Eight districts show the drop in the Performance Index was slightly smaller among charter schools in those districts, with a 28.6 percent decrease from the charters versus 32.2 percent for the districts.


Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) troopers were "highly visible" along bus routes and in school zones this week for the observance of National School Bus Safety Week. The patrol noted the requirements for drivers near a stopped school bus: Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction are required to stop at least 10 feet from the bus while the bus is receiving or discharging students. When a road is divided into four or more lanes, only traffic driving in the same direction as the bus must stop. Drivers may not resume their travels until the bus resumes traveling.


The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN), which supports the work of STEM schools in the state, announced a leadership transition Monday. Heather Sherman, director of the network, will move on to lead STEMx, a multi-state STEM advocacy coalition that, like OSLN, is also affiliated with Battelle. Kelly Gaier Evans, also with Battelle, will become the new OSLN director.


ELECTIONS


The Board of Professional Conduct announced judicial campaign conduct seminars for 2022 candidates Tuesday. The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct requires incumbent judges and other candidates to attend a two-hour seminar on campaign practices, finance and ethics. Judicial candidates must complete the required course from one year prior to 60 days after they are certified to appear on the ballot. The seminar features presentations by Board of Professional Conduct staff and the Ohio Secretary of State's Office along with a question-and-answer segment.


ELECTIONS 2022


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Monday endorsed Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in the race for Ohio governor. Brown called Whaley "a fighter for all of Ohio" and lauded her leadership through tough times.


Former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), a candidate for governor, welcomed Lara Trump to the Republican Party of Medina County's annual finance dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The event also featured special guests like Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and Women for Trump spokesperson Madison Gesiotto.


The following endorsements were made over the week:

  • The gubernatorial campaign of John Cranley announced the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 67.

  • The U.S. Senate campaign of Josh Mandel announced the endorsement of retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

ENERGY


The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved another round of solar projects Thursday, giving a green light to Clearview Solar I in Champaign County and Ross County Solar, LLC.


ENVIRONMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson announced Friday that $3.7 million in H2Ohio grants will go to several local communities to help improve drinking water quality and to repair or replace aging water and wastewater infrastructure.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Members of the Capital Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) on Thursday unanimously approved a capital budget request of nearly $20.2 million for FY23-24. That is the largest capital request since the Ohio Statehouse renovation, which took place from 1990 to 1996, CSRAB Executive Director Laura Battocletti told Hannah News. The proposal seeks to spend more than $6.4 million to replace mechanical equipment such as the air handling unit, controls, exhaust/ventilation fans, piping supports/sump and air quality control retrofit; nearly $4.6 million on electrical upgrades such as repairing or replacing transformers, secondary power lines and panels; $4 million on repairs and renovations to the elevators; and $2 million on security improvements to the building.


For the first time in more than two decades, both chambers of the Legislature adopted a concurrent resolution invalidating a rule from the executive branch. The Senate voted 30-0 to adopt HCR35 (Callender), which nullifies the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE) rule that would have removed requirements for all schools to provide courses in personal safety and assault prevention, foreign language, technology, family/consumer science and business education. The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) had recommended the General Assembly invalidate the rule following opponent testimony from educators and business groups. That recommendation was introduced by JCARR Chair Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) as HCR35, which was then adopted unanimously by the House. Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), vice chair of JCARR, said state agencies normally work with lawmakers on the oversight panel when there is an issue with a rule. That didn't occur in this case, she said, noting nobody from ODE testified in support of the rule at the JCARR hearing.


After Wednesday's session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters that he expects the Conference Committee on HB29 (Wiggam-Miller) to complete work on sports gambling legalization in the next 10 days.


In other action, the Senate passed bills on knife rights [SB156 (Roegner)] and gun rights [SB185 (Schaffer)] by votes of 23-7. The chamber also passed an emergency pandemic blended learning bill [SB229 (Blessing)] by a vote of 30-0.


The Law Enforcement Training Funding Study Commission enacted by budget bill HB110 (Oelslager) is approaching full membership and its first gathering to develop a predictable, annual funding system for peace officer training in Ohio. The commission must issue recommendations by March 1, 2022 to allow the General Assembly 10 months to adopt a stable funding system before the $15 million pilot program created by HB110 and administered by the Ohio Attorney General's Office concludes at the end of next year. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has appointed Sens. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), Sandra O'Brien (R-Rome) and Frank Hoagland (R-Adena) to the commission, with the governor adding Muskingum County Sheriff Matthew Lutz, Middletown Mayor Nicole Anne Condrey, Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski and President Gary Allen Wolske (Cuyahoga County) of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.


A lack of certainty is one of the dominant issues corporate executives face in regard to government, Ohio Business Roundtable President and CEO Pat Tiberi told the legislative Business First Caucus Tuesday.


Citing the issue of vaccine mandates, Tiberi said he was troubled by both federal efforts to require many businesses to ensure their staff is vaccinated or undergoes weekly testing and attempts by some state governments to prohibit private businesses from having the option to require their employees be vaccinated. He also said they should be free to require masks on their premises. Tiberi thanked the caucus members for helping voice business leaders' frustrations regarding the Biden administration mandate as well, saying that if policymakers can think through the lens of business leaders, then Ohio will be able to grow more jobs.


In other action, the Senate Financial Institutions and Technology Committee reported out HB177 (Carfagna-Fraizer) which permits governments to use blockchain; and the House Criminal Justice Committee reported out HB226 (Pavliga-A. Miller) which expands intimidation offenses to include guardians ad litem and court appointed special advocates; SB36 (Manning-S. Huffman) to address crime victims reparations standards; and HB3 (Boyd-Carruthers) which enacts Aisha's Law addressing strangulation in domestic violence circumstances.


GOVERNOR


Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • Richard C. Perry of Solon (Cuyahoga County) to the Central State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Sam D. Bassitt of Lima (Allen County) reappointed to the James A. Rhodes State College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Aug. 31, 2024.

  • Cynthia Booth of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning on Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Aug. 31, 2022.

  • Terri W. Meldrum of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed to the Columbus State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Aug. 31, 2027.

  • Matthew T. McAlear of Whitehouse (Lucas County) to the Owens Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Sept. 21, 2026.

  • Lucinda D. Erickson of McConnelsville (Morgan County) to the Washington State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 20, 2021 and ending Feb. 16, 2027.

  • Cheryl Ann Rice of Grove City (Franklin County), Leah R. Amstutz of Richwood (Union County) and Rachel Marie Johanson of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Joint Legislative Study Committee Regarding Career Pathways and Post-Secondary Workforce Training Programs in Ohio for terms beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending upon completion of the duties of the committee.

  • Melinda Sykes Haggerty of Upper Arlington (Franklin County) to the Children's Trust Fund Board for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending July 2, 2024.

  • Dorsey Lee Hager, Jr. of Milford Center (Union County) to the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Feb. 4, 2023.

  • Catherine Rose Cline of Woodsfield (Monroe County) to the Credit Union Council for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Sept. 22, 2024.

  • Joy Darlene Davis of Logan (Hocking County) to the Tax Credit Authority for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Jan. 12, 2023.

  • Michael R. Bertolone of Concord (Lake County) to the Governor's Executive Workforce Board for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

  • Russell Matthew Demagall of Columbia Station (Lorain County) to the Board of Building Appeals for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Oct. 13, 2025.

  • Anthony Sabo of Marysville (Union County)to the Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Jan. 1, 2023.

  • J. Richard Lumpe of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Employment Relations Board for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Oct. 6, 2027.

  • Robin E. Judd of Bexley (Franklin County) to the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Oct. 14, 2024.

  • Lesley Annette Linn of Galloway (Franklin County) and Rachel C. Mounts of Cuyahoga Falls (Summit County) to the Chemical Dependency Professionals Board for terms beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Dec. 23, 2023.

  • Donna C. Alexander of Hudson (Summit County) reappointed to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending May 27, 2024.

  • Kierra S. Branch of Grove City (Franklin County) to the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending March 14, 2024.

  • Jeffrey D. Fishel, Jr. of Delaware (Delaware County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Nov. 12, 2023.

  • Clayton A. Harris of Solon (Cuyahoga County), Richard Stephen Fambro of Powell (Delaware County) and Michael E. Heldman of Findlay (Hancock County) reappointed to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission for terms beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Sept. 20, 2024.

  • Charles T. McConville of Mount Vernon (Knox County) and Brooke Marie Burns of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission for terms beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Aug. 21, 2025.

  • Frederick E. Lampe of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) and Larry R. Dinkins, Jr. of Uniontown (Summit County) reappointed to the Ohio Rail Development Commission for terms beginning Oct. 21, 2021 and ending Oct. 20, 2027.

  • Thomas G. Stephenson of Hamilton (Butler County) reappointed to the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending July 10, 2024.

  • Randle Evan Solganik of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County) to the Small Business Stationary Source Technical and Environmental Compliance Assistance Council for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending July 30, 2025.

  • Jonathan Daniel Bernstein of Columbus (Franklin County) to theSewage Treatment System Technical Advisory Committee for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Dec. 31, 2022.

  • James F. McGregor of Gahanna (Franklin County) to the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Sept. 29, 2025.

  • Brian J. Buschur of Tipp City (Miami County) reappointed to the Environmental Education Council for a term beginning Oct. 15, 2021 and ending Oct. 1, 2023.

GREAT LAKES


Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz was named vice chair of the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) at the group's annual meeting. "I am truly honored to be given this opportunity to help protect these beautiful bodies of water," Mertz said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to working more closely with the commission to implement our shared passion for the lakes and using that to keep them clean and safe for future generations to enjoy."


HIGHER EDUCATION


Clark State College also recently announced that Sharon Bommer has been appointed as the new dean of business and applied technologies. Bommer joins Clark State following years of industry and educational experience including most recently as an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Management, Systems, and Technology at the University of Dayton.


Wright State University (WSU) and Sinclair Community College renewed a partnership meant to provide affordable, efficient pathways for students pursuing bachelor's degrees. Wright State President Sue Edwards and Sinclair President Steve Johnson signed a new Wright Path agreement that introduces expanded services for students and 25 new associate and bachelor's degree pathways in high-demand career fields, including computer engineering, crime and justice studies, information technology, cybersecurity and more. The partnership provides a more affordable and seamless transition into a Wright State bachelor's program for students who earn an associate degree at Sinclair.


The Fairfield County Workforce Center, which officially opened late last month, offers training programs for high-demand industries including manufacturing, skilled trades, and health care. It is a collaborative partnership between the Fairfield County Commissioners, Ohio University (OU) Lancaster, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and Hocking College.


JUDICIAL


The Ohio Supreme Court acknowledged the passing of several members of the state judiciary, announcing Thursday that Judge T. Mark Beetham of Harrison County Court had died from complications of COVID-19. He followed Judges Nancy McDonnell and Joseph Russo of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, whose deaths were announced one week after Judge Larry Jones' of the 8th District Court of Appeals.


The Commission on Continuing Legal Education's (CLE) latest sanction of 146 attorneys are its lowest since the commission began imposing penalties in 2008. Eleven of those sanctioned for CLE noncompliance also were suspended from the practice of law -- two for failing to complete New Lawyers Training in their initial compliance period.


Disciplinary Counsel Joseph Caligiuri is hosting the state's first continuing legal education (CLE) on Ohio Supreme Court rules for client fund management of Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA). IOLTAs function similarly to homeowner escrow accounts, he notes. Lawyers safeguard client funds, including legal retainers and settlement funds, by depositing them in the trust account for subsequent disbursement. "Trust Accounting 101: Basic Management Skills and Best Practices," an in-person, interactive course, will address related sections of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers will learn about different kinds of legal fees, how to account for them, and how to perform required monthly reconciliation. Offering 3.5 hours of CLE, the seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 3. The course is limited to 30 people, and the $75 cost can be paid by check or money order to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.


The Ohio Supreme Court announced final adoption of amendments adding "Child Welfare Law" as a legal specialty in the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. Rule changes to Appendix VI provide the following definition of the new field of specialization: "Child Welfare Law is the practice of law representing children, parents or the government in all child protection proceedings including emergency, temporary custody, adjudication, disposition, foster care, permanency planning, termination, guardianship and adoption. Child Welfare Law does not include representation in private custody and adoption disputes where the state is not a party." The rule language becomes effective on Monday, Nov. 1.


The Ohio Supreme Court's Republican majority upheld retroactive registration of violent offenders under "Sierah's Law" 4-3 Thursday, when Democrats accused them of befuddling Ohio's constitutional standard for retroactivity for the last 20 years. The Court could not even agree whether the overarching "Crimes - Procedure" in Title 29 of the Revised Code or "Penalties and Sentencing" in R.C. 2929 signals a criminal rather than civil enactment, or whether the ex post facto test developed under the U.S. Constitution determines whether an Ohio statute is substantive and criminal or remedial and civil.


MARIJUANA/HEMP


Clark State College in Springfield announced its agriculture program has added a new cannabis course to be offered in the spring of 2022. The course will cover various topics such as historical and modern uses of cannabis, use in modern society, economy, politics, medical effects of cannabis, evolution, classification, and growth of the cannabis plant.


MENTAL HEALTH


The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is receiving feedback on its draft implementation plan for the federally mandated transition to a "988" three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by July 16, 2022. The plan was released on Sept. 30, and feedback will be taken through December according to the executive summary. OhioMHAS will also continue development of the needed regulatory and financing structure and any necessary legislation. The draft plan will be revised and finalized in January 2022.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that 17 Ohio community mental health centers would receive a total of $54,029,734 in funds to expand access to mental and behavioral health support for Ohio communities. A full list of recipients is available at https://tinyurl.com/yc4rztrk.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined youth mental health experts Wednesday to discuss legislation meant to address the trends in suicide deaths and attempts among youth, particularly children of color.


In his weekly teleconference with reporters, Brown invited comments from Arielle Sheftal, principal investigator in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and LaToya Logan, executive director of Project LIFT, which specializes in services for Black children in Cleveland. Brown is co-sponsor of the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act in the Senate. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the legislation would establish a grant program for initiatives offering youth suicide prevention and lethal means safety education, training and resources to health care professionals, and integrate such training into the curriculum for health care providers in training.


NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Dam Safety Enforcement Team has received the 2021 Regional Award of Merit from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) for outstanding contributions to dam safety.


Ring-necked pheasants will be released at wildlife areas and other public hunting locations during Ohio's youth hunting season on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23-24, according to ODNR Division of Wildlife. Pheasant releases will continue into late October and November on the following dates:

  • Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30-31 (second youth weekend).

  • Friday, Nov. 5 (opening day).

  • Saturday, Nov. 13.

  • Thursday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day).

Ohio's 2021 white-tailed deer archery hunting season is off to a decent start with 16,095 deer harvested through Sunday, Oct. 17, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The average harvest total for the same date during the past three years is 20,112 deer. Deer archery season began on Saturday, Sept. 25 and is open until Sunday, Feb.6, 2022. Ohio's top 10 counties for deer harvested during the first 23 days of the 2021-22 deer season include the following: Coshocton (643 deer taken), Trumbull (535), Tuscarawas (529), Ashtabula (522), Holmes (489), Licking (466), Knox (411), Guernsey (403), Muskingum (372) and Richland (328).


ODNR selected Mark Jones as the new chief of its Division of Geological Survey. As chief, Jones will oversee the division's efforts to provide geologic information and services needed for responsible management of Ohio's natural resources. Dedicated to researching and mapping Ohio's geology, the division is the state's permanent archive and public access point for geologic data that supports industry, commerce, environment, safety and public education.


ODNR celebrated the structural completion of the new marina building at Alum Creek State Park. On Tuesday, ODNR Director Mary Mertz and guests were given an update on progress and invited to sign a piece of steel that will be part of the new building, according to the department. The new marina building will include retail and boat rental space, food service, public restrooms, public shower facilities and outdoor gathering spaces. The facility will complement the recently renovated docks and fuel system installed at the main marina.


PEOPLE


The Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) named Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) as its legislators of the year for "outstanding leadership and action" on issues affecting children and families supported by the children services system.


POLLS/STUDIES


President Joe Biden's approval rating in the latest national Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday is at 37 percent, versus 52 percent disapproval, about the same as the 38-53 rating in a poll earlier this month. Among registered voters, his approval rate is slightly better but also negative, 40-51. Approval ratings for both parties in Congress are also negative -- 30-60 for Democrats, 23-65 for Republicans.


Asked about the prospect of former President Donald Trump's running again in 2024, 58 percent of respondents do not want him to run and 35 percent do. Democrats oppose a repeat run 94-4; independents, 58-35. But Republicans are more enthusiastic about a run than in the spring, saying 78-16 they want him as a candidate, versus 66-30 in a May poll. Fifty one percent of respondents said Trump had a mainly negative effect on American politics, versus 41 percent who see a mainly positive effect.


POVERTY


Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (GOFBCI) is partnering with Operation Warm and other community organizations to distribute new shoes and coats to underserved children living in Ohio. Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine has worked with Operation Warm to distribute coats in the past.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Col. Richard S. Fambro joined Ohio Traffic Safety Office Director Felice Moretti Wednesday to launch a new educational program for youth -- DRIVE to Live -- and to encourage parents to discuss the importance of driving safety with their young drivers. DRIVE to Live is a new educational program intended "to positively impact our youth and engage in conversations about good decision making." It is geared to meeting teens where they are and building relationships between students and those in public safety. To schedule a presentation, call 614-752-2792 or email oshp@dps.ohio.gov.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) announced that Ben Bruns recently joined the office as secretary of the Controlling Board and OBM legislative liaison. He is a native of St. Henry and graduate of the University of Dayton. His experience includes work for U.S. Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).


TELECOMMUNICATIONS


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Monday that the state will accept Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership grant applications starting Monday, Oct. 25 through Friday, Dec. 17, with the award announced in January. The grant is open to Ohio colleges and universities that identify a nonprofit telecommunications industry partner to lead the effort, according to his office. This follows the unveiling of a "Strengthening Ohio's Broadband and 5G Workforce" strategy in September. Speaking at Youngstown State University (YSU), Husted said the DeWine administration is working to expand broadband access around Ohio but needs a trained workforce to build that infrastructure.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Ohio Turnpike facilities will soon be monitored by a new camera system. Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) members approved a $1.7 million contract with Northwestern Ohio Security Systems Inc. to purchase hardware, software and services to provide improved monitoring of buildings and service plazas.


The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio Turnpike have been busy preparing and inspecting equipment for the upcoming winter season, according to the agencies. ODOT is also looking to fill around 500 seasonal plow driver positions, the department said. ODOT has more than 3,300 drivers who often work 12 hour shifts during snow events. While most are full-time drivers, ODOT also uses auxiliary drivers. These auxiliary drivers are ODOT employees who normally do other tasks and only plow snow when needed. A third group of drivers are hired seasonally. In addition to trucks and manpower, ODOT has more than 770,000 tons of salt on hand.


The new standard license plate design, "Sunrise in Ohio," will be offered to Ohioans beginning Wednesday, Dec. 29, Gov. Mike DeWine and Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) Registrar Charlie Norman announced Thursday. It is the first update since the "Ohio Pride" design was released in 2013. DeWine said it is meant to represent "the beauty of Ohio" and the state's geographic diversity. Norman also commented that this is the 76th standard plate design, with the first offered in 1908. The design includes a sunrise at the center, with a state outline in the style of the "Ohio. Find It Here." marketing campaign and the Wright Flyer at the top with a banner that says "Birthplace of Aviation." The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) later issued a statement that the direction of the plane has been corrected, following a Cincinnati Enquirer report that the banner was attached to plane's front end. Also included on the plate -- which was inspired by the state seal -- are city skyscrapers, a body of water, a wheat field and a girl on a swing with a dog under a tree. DeWine acknowledged in response to press questions that the dog did resemble a Springer Spaniel, such as his family's Dolly, but can represent all pets.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION


For the week ending Oct. 16, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 7,554 initial traditional unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). That number is lower than last week, when the state reported 9,851 traditional jobless claims. The eight-week average is 10,725, according to ODJFS. Ohioans filed 45,750 continued traditional unemployment claims last week, which was 4,983 fewer than the previous week. The total number of traditional claims filed from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16 was 53,304.


UTILITIES


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) suffered another defeat when the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously rejected its "barebones" certification of FirstEnergy Advisors as a violation of commissioners' basic statutory duty. It said PUCO's green light to the electric marketer had ignored the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel's (OCC) valid objections to the commission's failure to examine FirstEnergy rule compliance and "corporation separation" from the competitive retail electric service (CRES). The settlement agreement signed by PALMCo Energy Ohio, PALMCo Power Ohio, PUCO staff, and the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and adopted 5-0 by commissioners also requires the retail marketer to donate all remaining cash and assets from its Ohio operations and all deposits and securities returned by the state's electric distribution utilities (EDU) to a charity of OCC's choosing.


VETERANS


Gov. Mike DeWine recognized 12 of the 20 members of this year's Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame class Monday, while also paying tribute to former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell following the news of his death that morning. The induction included an event at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM), and NVMM President Michael Ferriter -- one of the inductees -- noted in his remarks that Powell was a keynote speaker when the museum opened. "I served in the United States Senate when he was [U.S.] Secretary of State and had the opportunity to work with him in regard to helping people with AIDS, particularly [in] Haiti, and so I had a lot of good memories of my relationship with him. We've lost a true American hero today," DeWine told reporters.


WORKERS' COMPENSATION


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) announced Thursday that it has begun sending dividend checks to 3,000 newly eligible employers to ease the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio's business community and economy. In September, the BWC Board of Directors approved the expansion of the agency's December dividend to approximately 3,000 additional employers who did not originally meet eligibility requirements. BWC began mailing checks on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. At DeWine's request, BWC's board has authorized more than $9.2 billion in dividends to Ohio employers since 2019.

[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2021 Hannah News Service, Inc.]


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