This report reflects the latest happenings in government relations, in and around the Ohio statehouse. You’ll notice that it’s broad in nature and on an array of topics, from A-Z. This will be updated on a weekly basis.
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Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Christian Jenkins Tuesday afternoon officially extended his temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking enforcement of the "heartbeat" abortion ban, 133-SB23 (Roegner), through Wednesday, Oct. 12 -- another two weeks. He had indicated earlier during the status conference on the case Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost that this was his intent. Jenkins has set a preliminary injunction hearing for Friday, Oct. 7. In the meantime, Ohio clinics can provide abortion procedures up to 20 weeks' gestation.
General Motors (GM) announced Friday that it would make a $760 million investment at its Toledo facility, transforming the transmission plant for production of drive units that will be used in future Ultium-based battery electric trucks. Renovation work is slated to begin this month, according to GM. The announcement was attended by Ohio leaders including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Rep. Marcy Katpur (D-Toledo) and Gov. Mike DeWine. Brown's office said the investment will be bolstered by the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, which he helped write and pass. Brown said, "Ohio union workers are the future of the auto industry, and that future starts today, right here, in Toledo." GM expects to retain the more than 1,500 employees currently at the facility, and it will be the company's first electric vehicle (EV) plant of its kind in the U.S., according to Brown.
Proponents of Issue 1, the constitutional amendment that would require judges to consider public safety as a factor when setting cash bail, say it is simply about putting the system of setting bail back to the way it was before the Ohio Supreme Court changed it with its decision in DuBose v. McGuffey. The Court in January found that decisions on cash bail should be limited to a defendant's appearance in court and not on whether an individual could commit future crimes while out on bond. In response, legislative Republicans, with the backing of Attorney General Dave Yost, passed HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen) to put the issue on the ballot to supersede the decision. Rep. Jeffrey LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) told Hannah News that the issue is about returning to the process and procedure that's been around for decades when it comes to setting cash bail amounts that was overturned by the decision. Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus), who helped to co-author the official arguments against Issue 1 with Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), said the problem with the amendment is that it will make Ohioans less safe. Particularly, Leland argued that Issue 1 will keep nonviolent offenders and poor people in jail because they can't afford the bail issued against them. Wealthy offenders, he said, will post bail regardless of the amount and go out and commit crimes. He called bail a guessing game.
The first death associated with monkeypox was reported by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on its dashboard Thursday. ODH Public Information Officer Ken Gordon told Hannah News an adult male who had tested positive for the virus died and that he also had "other health conditions." Infections with the type of monkeypox currently seen are "rarely fatal," Gordon continued, and most fully recover within two to four weeks without requiring medical treatment. People with weakened immune systems can be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
Newly released Ohio Department of Health (ODH) data show 325,483 people have received a bivalent COVID-19 booster shot in Ohio since Sept. 1, though that figure includes 9,046 listed as residents of other states and 124 whose residency was not reported. People ages 70-74 made up the largest share at 50,673, followed by those 65-69 at 48,687; 50-59 at 38,736; 80 and older at 36,487; and 60 to 64 at 34,247. There have been 49,957 bivalent vaccinations in Cuyahoga County, 40,438 in Franklin County and 25,187 in Hamilton County. ODH's COVID-19 numbers released Thursday showed a continued decline in new cases, dropping from 14,536 in the Sept. 22 data to 12,101 for the seven days ending Sept. 29. New hospitalizations fell from 523 to 432 and ICU admissions declined from 41 to 22. There were 89 deaths reported in the new data, compared to 92 on Sept. 22. The Ohio Hospital Association reported there were 847 hospital patients and 127 ICU patients currently testing positive for COVID-19, compared to 1,028 and 128 on Sept. 22.
Melissa Kmetz of Lakeview Elementary School in Cortland is the 2023 Ohio Teacher of the Year, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Tuesday. Interim Superintendent Stephanie Siddens bestowed the award at a schoolwide assembly. Smetz is in her 17th year teaching English language arts at the elementary school. "In addition to her instructional role, Kmetz frequently leads projects that connect school, families and the community. Each year her students participate in projects to uplift and help others while educating students about the world. Throughout her career, these projects have included support globally to help those experiencing hunger, helping individuals impacted by natural disasters, helping with the wishes of terminally ill children, creating comfort kits for children in foster care and supporting local animal shelters," the department said.
Anti-hunger advocates in Ohio made their case once again for the state’s using a portion of its remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to continue the pandemic-era policy of providing free meals to all school children, regardless of income, during Monday's Legislative Children's Caucus meeting. For two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal waivers allowed districts to serve all students free meals, but earlier this year on June 30 those waivers ended, forcing schools to transition back to a paid system.
Attorney General Dave Yost's office is asking a Franklin County judge to freeze the assets of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder William Lager and vendors of the defunct online charter school, claiming they are likely insolvent and a freeze is needed to maximize the public money that can be reclaimed. In May, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft had ruled that Lager illegally profited from contracts with ECOT and breached his fiduciary duty to the school. She issued partial summary judgement against ECOT vendor companies affiliated with Lager: $28.8 million against Altair Learning Management; $128.4 million against IQ Innovations; and $4.3 million against Third Wave Communications. The judge wrote that a trial is needed to determine the amount of Lager's own liability.
Miami University announced it will use a $5 million award from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to create the new School-Based Center of Excellence (SBCOE) for Prevention and Early Intervention to address mental health issues. "By partnering to create this new School-Based Center of Excellence for Prevention and Intervention, where teachers and administrators can learn to implement prevention and intervention practices in their classrooms and schools, we are demonstrating that good mental health is just essential to physical wellbeing and academic success," Gov. Mike DeWine said. "This Center for Excellence will help complement the Student Wellness and Success Funds, staff trainings and prevention curriculum resources already received."
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently updated its graduation requirement webpages, which were built based on feedback from stakeholders throughout the state to help communicate the long-term graduation requirements. The new pages reflect current graduation requirements, guidance, contact information and resources. With this new update there are individual pages for course requirements, demonstration of competency and demonstration of readiness, along with the old requirements and a significant number of new resources. The new pages can be found at https://tinyurl.com/4p528vyy.
Friday, Sept. 23 marked the beginning of early voting for Ohioans living abroad for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election, with roughly 3,000 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballots sent out, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office. The voter registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 11, and the usual early and absentee voting period will begin Wednesday, Oct. 12. Voting information is available online at the Ohio Secretary of State's Voter Toolkit, VoteOhio.gov. Once there, Ohio voters can download the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), check their voter registration status, find their polling location, view their sample ballot and track the status of their absentee ballot.
The campaigns of U.S. Senate candidates Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance confirmed that they have agreed to meet for two debates -- one in Cleveland and one in Youngstown. The first meeting is set to occur at WJW-TV Fox 8 studios in Cleveland on Monday, Oct. 10, with the second debate scheduled for WFMJ-TV at Stambaugh Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17. Vance, along with Gov. Mike DeWine, declined last week to appear at debates hosted by the Ohio Debate Commission. Meanwhile, the Ryan campaign also said it has accepted a debate hosted by WLWT News 5 that would be held at the Parrish Auditorium on Miami University's Hamilton Campus on Tuesday, Oct. 4, but the Vance campaign has not accepted that date.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) told attendees at the Ohio AFL-CIO Convention Tuesday he considers the November election to be a "crossroads" for the nation but believes his U.S. Senate campaign holds "a very, very strong position to give Ohio another working-class senator next to Sherrod Brown." He briefly criticized Republican nominee J.D. Vance as having two main donors in venture capitalist Peter Thiel and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), adding that McConnell's money came from corporations that have shipped jobs overseas and increased their CEOs' pay. Vance would help them cut corporate taxes if elected, Ryan continued, but a "working class revolution" in Ohio can prevent that.
The November election is about freedom, he said, including abortion rights. Ryan said the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision was "the largest governmental overreach into the private lives of American citizens in the history of our lifetime."
Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) Chair Elizabeth Walters Tuesday blasted new ads run by the Congressional Leadership Fund attacking Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) in the 13th Congressional District race that accuse Sykes of being soft on crime. The 30-second spots claim that Sykes will "put all of us in danger" and supports letting dangerous criminals out onto the street. Walters said the legislation that the ad attacks is a bipartisan bill that addresses bail reform and aims to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail while punishing the most violent and dangerous criminals.
Innovation Ohio announced that it has launched its 2022 Election Hub, which it described as "an ever-evolving and growing resource for those looking for the latest research on what issues and values are motivating voters across Ohio this election cycle." The group said the hub gives in-depth information on top issues affecting Ohioans, how the candidates stack up in key races, research-tested guidance on how to speak to voters, "and everything else that democracy warriors need to know to win in Ohio." The hub can be found at https://innovationohio.org/io_hub/2022-election-hub .
Secretary of State Frank LaRose stopped at a Columbus barbershop Wednesday to promote his office's initiative to get voters registered through partnerships with Ohio barbershops and salons, where he also fielded questions about election security threats. LaRose started the initiative, called "Styling for Democracy," in 2020, saying he got the idea from a friend who runs a barber college. This year, he touted Ohio's again passing the 8 million mark for voter registrations. He reminded Ohio voters that Tuesday, Oct. 11 is the deadline to register to vote.
The campaign of Republican U.S. Senate nominee J.D. Vance announced that Donald Trump Jr. will be campaigning with Vance on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at a series of events. The events will be held at noon at Graystone Banquet Hall in Perrysburg; 2:30 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police Steve Young Memorial Lodge 24 in East Caledonia; and 4:30 p.m. at Copper Lodge Hall in Columbus.
Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters said Thursday the party would play a supporting role to reproductive rights organizations on plans for an abortion rights constitutional amendment, but in the shorter term is considering the possibility of referendum campaigns against lame duck abortion enactments. During a party press conference at the Statehouse focused on criticisms of Gov. Mike DeWine's record, Walters was asked what language the party was considering for a possible abortion ballot issue campaign. She said the party would let abortion rights organizations take the lead on specific language and would support their efforts. But she added that the more pressing question is whether to pursue a referendum in 2023 to overturn whatever additional abortion restrictions the GOP seeks to enact in the waning days of the 134th General Assembly.
The following endorsements were made over the week:
The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of the Cleveland American Middle East Organization (C.A.M.E.O.).
The Plain Dealer endorsed Jennifer Brunner for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice and Marilyn Zayas and Teri Jamison for Ohio Supreme Court justice. Their opponents, Republicans Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer, had declined to meet with the editorial board.
The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of the Ohio Conference of Teamsters.
The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund endorsed Ismail Mohamed, Bride Rose Sweeney, Rachel Baker, Rita Darrow, Matt Shaughnessy, Chuck Horn, Evan Rosborough, Brian Flick, Christina Collins, Sophia Rodriquez, and Barbara Luke for the Ohio House of Representatives.
The state's leading government aggregator says the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is wrong to question the energy co-op's transfer of more than a half million customers back onto FirstEnergy and other utilities and claims state regulators have no legal basis to decertify it as an electric supplier. Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) met PUCO's three-week deadline Wednesday to "show cause" why it should remain an energy aggregator in the Buckeye State -- a legal threshold the commission rarely invokes for an energy supplier as big as NOPEC. "I think they're in error, and when they read today's filing, I think they will agree that was a misinterpretation of our plans of operations and governance," NOPEC Executive Director Chuck Keiper told Hannah News.
One group of Central Ohio legislators cheered the opening Wednesday of a fueling station that will power Amazon trucks with gas captured from farm waste, while another contingent held a virtual press conference to urge U.S. EPA (USEPA) action to set cleaner vehicle standards for the medium term. Clean Energy Fuels cut the ribbon Wednesday on its new Groveport facility, constructed as part of a contract with Amazon to expand its facilities and power the company's trucks with lower emissions fuels. The Groveport facility was the first of 19 new stations to open. The renewable natural gas (RNG) provided at the station is made by using a digester to capture methane found in waste like livestock manure, providing a fuel source much cleaner than the diesel usually powering the semitrucks, dozens of which were hooked up for fueling at Wednesday's event.
Separately Wednesday, Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) joined a virtual press conference with the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and Columbus City Council’s Emmanuel Remy to urge the Biden administration and Ohio’s congressional delegation to support “the strongest possible” new clean car standards from USEPA for 2027-2035.
Saying the state never proved the elements needed in order for a trial court to freeze former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chair Sam Randazzo's assets, the 10th District Court of Appeals overturned an order given by the trial court that allowed for the seizure of up to $8 million of Randazzo's assets. Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown had issued the order based on a motion from Attorney General Dave Yost's office, who argued that the court needed to freeze Randazzo's assets based on alleged criminal conduct related to the passage of 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) and concerns that Randazzo was giving away and liquidating property before the state could file action against him.
State leaders Wednesday announced that $2.5 million in H2Ohio grants will go to four local communities to help improve drinking water quality and to repair or replace aging water and wastewater infrastructure. "Investing in water resources ensures that our communities have modern infrastructure that provides for safe and affordable drinking water," said Gov. Mike DeWine.
The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) recently approved bond financing totaling up to $175,000 as well as a small business grant for up to $20,000 for Two Brothers Auto Group, Inc. in Canton, through the Clean Air Resource Center (CARC). The project will include the installation of a high-efficiency spray booth system that will provide a significant reduction in harmful air emissions produced during the auto repair process, while improving their capacity and ability to serve more customers.
The Ohio Ethics Commission Thursday issued a reminder to public officials that state ethics laws apply to those who direct the expenditure of federal and state government stimulus funds, citing stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and a state investment in Appalachian communities passed as a part of HB377 (Hall-Swearingen). It cautioned state and local officials that those funds are public funds. In that context, the commission said long-standing conflict of interest laws must be observed. "The Ohio Ethics Law protects the public by prohibiting those in public service from directing or influencing government processes to benefit their private interests," Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, Wednesday hosted a news conference call to highlight his efforts to protect and strengthen Social Security benefits for seniors. He explained that this comes after several Republican members in the House and Senate have made proposals that he said undermine the retirement security Americans have earned. "Ohioans pay into Social Security with every paycheck, and they want to know they can count on it when they retire," said Brown. "That shouldn't be partisan -- Social Security is one of the most popular and most unifying institutions in the country. Ohioans should not have to worry with every election that politicians are going to try to take away the retirement they earned."
If not for term limits, Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) would be running for another term in the Senate, the longtime state legislator told Hannah News in a wide-ranging interview. "I absolutely love my job. I think I have the best job in the world because it allows you, in some small way, to feel like you're part of something big," Hottinger said. He said he wasn't interested in returning to the House, citing leadership uncertainty as a major factor. House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) is also term-limited, and it's unclear who will take the gavel in that chamber.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) allowed all agenda items to move forward without any discussion or testimony on Tuesday. Among items clearing the committee were eight rules from the State Lottery Commission, seven from the division of sports gaming and one from the Video Lottery Gaming Terminals Division.
The leadership of the Study Committee on Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) and Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) Program released a "preliminary list of potential categories of recommendations" for improving the child care landscape and the SUTQ system during the Wednesday meeting. The study committee, which has been meeting since December 2021, was formed out of late-stage budget negotiations on HB110 (Oelslager) and is charged with issuing a final report containing recommendations for the quality rating system and for increasing access to child care across the state by Dec. 1, 2022. The committee leaders presented 10 preliminary recommendations and asked members to provide feedback on them within the next two weeks.
Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) Wednesday released the roster of the caucus staff for the remainder of the 134th General Assembly. Jordan Plottner was appointed as House Democratic chief of staff in May 2022. Plottner served the House in staff leadership roles from 2009 to 2019 before leading strategy, public affairs and marketing for the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center. Other staffers include Deputy Chief of Staff Andy DiPalma, Policy Director Nick Muccio, Legal Counsel Sarah Cherry, Deputy Legal Counsel Cindy Peters, Finance Director Stephen Harris, Director of Communications David Meyers, Deputy Director of Communications Maya Majikas, Constituent Outreach Coordinator Hunter Patterson, and Ethan Goodman, Uma Loganathan, Paul Peters, and Vincent Coleman, policy advisors.
The University of Toledo (UT) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently announced new technology designed to combat the harmful algal blooms (HABs) known for afflicting Lake Erie. Algae scientists at UT are testing a "real-time optical sensor" at the Toledo Water Treatment Plant as part of its source water monitoring to protect the public drinking water supply during harmful algal bloom season. At the same time, ODNR recently hosted a showcase on a new system aimed at mitigating the HABs. Using a research and development grant from the Ohio Water Development Authority, ODNR partnered with AECOM Technical Services to demonstrate the Algae Harvesting Hydronucleation Flotation Technology (HFT) in William H. Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
With reportedly as many as half of states, including Ohio, expected to enact bans or major restrictions to abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the ability of women to give birth in a cost-effective and safe manner is getting renewed attention. The average conventional delivery in the U.S. costs over $3,000 with insurance, and without insurance it could cost over $10,000, according to WalletHub. The financial advisory website recently released an analysis of the best and worst states to have children in, comparing all 50 states and the District of Columbia on a range of factors like health care costs, the number of pediatricians per capita, the annual average infant-care costs, infant and maternal mortality rates, state policies on Medicaid coverage for parenting programs, and more. According to the analysis, Ohio is in the middle of the pack for best states to have a child in, ranked at 31. This is a similar score to other Midwestern states, including Michigan (32), Indiana (38), and Kentucky (34). Pennsylvania (20) was ranked in the top half of states, while West Virginia (45) was found to be among the worst states to give birth in.
Shared campuses of state universities and community college have helped institutions identify savings and efficiencies, but more can be done, Auditor Keith Faber said in a performance audit released this week. According to Faber's office, Ohio is the only state with multiple campuses shared by four-year public universities and colleges. The list includes Ohio State University and Rhodes State College in Lima, OSU and North Central State College in Mansfield, OSU and Marion Technical College in Marion, OSU and Central Ohio Technical College in Newark, Kent State University and Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio University and Belmont College in St. Clairsville, and Ohio University and Zane State College in Zanesville. The Ohio Performance Team, a division of Faber's office, reviewed seven operational areas at these institutions to determine how resources were shared and used: programs and courses; facilities utilization; information technology; student services; campus security; facilities management; and staffing.
ProMedica Health System has agreed to make two outstanding payments it owes the University of Toledo's (UT) medical school as part of an academic affiliation agreement, Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday. Earlier, Yost had threatened to sue the health system if it didn't make at least one of the two payments it owes to UT. Yost said ProMedica has indicated that it would make both payments by the close of business on Wednesday, Sept. 28. "This is the best possible solution to the impasse -- ProMedica will make good on its monthly payments, and the University of Toledo will receive the $7.6 million it is due without litigation," Yost said. "Both parties are returning to the negotiating table in good faith, and I look forward to seeing this partnership flourish for the good of the region."
Ohio State University (OSU) released a report detailing its regional and statewide economic impact in 2019. Including operational and capital expenditures as well as student and visitor spending, the university is estimated to have supported $19.6 billion of industry output, 116,819 jobs, $7.5 billion of labor income, and $663.1 million of tax revenue in the state. "We have long known that institutions of higher education have the capacity to significantly drive economic development and create a ripple effect of positive impact in the communities and states where they are located," OSU President Kristina M. Johnson said. "This data-driven report quantifies that impact and establishes a benchmark against which we will measure future success in our ongoing mission to be the nation's preeminent, 21st-century land-grant university." In addition to more than $8.5 billion in operational and capital expenditures, the university also generated $341.8 million in estimated spending by Ohio State students and $585.5 million in estimated visitor spending.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves virtually joined Northeast Ohio leaders in discussing what Intel can provide nationally, to the state and at the local level Friday as part of a Cleveland City Club forum. Graves, a Cleveland native, said that when President Joe Biden took office, the U.S. and Northeast Ohio area in particular were "grappling" with decades of underinvestment in infrastructure, workers, businesses and communities of color, along with supply chain challenges and labor shortages. Since then, he continued, there have been "a number of meaningful pieces of legislation" including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act more recently. This will grow the economy "from the bottom up and the middle out" and increase the ability of the U.S. to compete globally while transforming communities such as Cleveland. The CHIPS and Science Act "will unleash the next generation of American innovation," Graves said. It is also critical for national security and has already led to market reactions, he said.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) announced approval Monday for a 30-year Job Creation Tax Credit for Intel's project in New Albany, saying the 3,000 new jobs are expected to generate $405 million in annual payroll. As previously announced, it is expected to spur $20 billion in investments in Ohio. Policy Matters Ohio (PMO), however, critiqued the approval, saying that this will effectively lead to further tax breaks worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" due to provisions in the capital budget, HB687 (Oelslager). The exact amount is unknown, PMO claimed.
The Board of Commissioners of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection recently awarded $501,502 to 11 victims of attorney theft. Among the problems, a former Ohio attorney was found to have misappropriated client funds. The actions of two deceased attorneys also were involved in claims presented to the board. Disbursements are funded through registration fees paid by every Ohio attorney.
Acting on a filing from Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati), the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed at his request a public records lawsuit he had filed against the city of Cincinnati. Brinkman filed the lawsuit amid his unsuccessful campaign for Cincinnati City Council and an effort to pass a charter amendment for the city. Among the records that Brinkman sought were those concerning the city solicitor’s providing legal advice to the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Brinkman's council candidacy.
The Ohio Library Council (OLC) held its annual convention and expo this week, Wednesday, Sept. 28 through Friday, Sept. 30 in downtown Toledo at the Glass City Center. The event was expected to draw more than 700 people for educational sessions, exhibits and best-selling authors, event organizers said. Attendees got a chance to try out new technology including coding robots, e-health kits and voice assistants, among others.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) announced Thursday that Ohio Task Force 1 (OH-TF1) had received additional activation orders in regard to Hurricane Ian, and is expanding its role into a "Type 1 capability" for urban search and rescue efforts. The release said the team is skilled in those operations as well as hazardous materials response, medical care, logistics, communications and planning. Their accompanying equipment will include around 50 tons of specialized emergency gear, team support items and canines.
AEP Ohio announced Wednesday that it was sending nearly 590 employees and contractors -- including line personnel, tree crews, damage assessors and crew supervisors -- to both Florida and Georgia to help with anticipated power restoration needs due to Hurricane Ian. They have been dispatched in waves over recent days, with damage assessment teams already in Florida and line crews heading to Georgia. They are expected to remain for at least two weeks.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Geological Survey is accepting applications for the Ohio Geology Student Research Grant program. Now in its eighth academic year, the program supports graduate and undergraduate students who conduct geologic research in the state. The ODNR Division of Geological Survey will award grants of $2,500 each to three earth science students at Ohio colleges and universities. Grantees are selected based on their application, their professor's letter of recommendation, and the relevancy of their proposed research.
ODNR Director Mary Mertz and Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker recently presented the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium with a $500,000 check for wildlife conservation efforts in Ohio. The funds are for facility upgrades to the Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center and for conservation work to restore native amphibians and reptiles. Freshwater mussels are Ohio's most imperiled wild animal, ODNR said. Because of their at-risk status, efforts have been underway by the Columbus Zoo and others to raise and release mussels in Ohio's waterways.
Boat owners interested in renting public boat dock slips at some of Ohio's most popular boating destinations may apply for an online lottery beginning Saturday, Oct. 1, according to the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft. The online lottery application period will end at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31. Online applications will be accepted for spring 2023 availability at the following state parks: Alum Creek, Buck Creek, Buckeye Lake, Burr Oak, Caesar Creek, Delaware, Dillon, Guilford Lake, Indian Lake, Lake Milton, Mary Jane Thurston, Mosquito Lake, Paint Creek, Salt Fork, Shawnee, and West Branch. Those selected for the 2023 season will be entitled to renew their dock rental privileges for up to five years (renewable each spring). For more information, go to https://tinyurl.com/tau9h2fc . To learn more about dock options at each park, contact the local park office.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) announced that President and CEO Ellen Katz will be leaving the organization by June 2, 2023. Katz, who joined GCF in May 2015, said, "For me, it is time to explore what's possible for my next chapter. I was asked to serve at least seven to 10 years when I started, and I will be leaving after eight years. We had a vision for what GCF could become under my leadership, and while there is so much more potential, I feel I've done what I set out to do. I know the future is bright for GCF to have even more impact. It is an exciting time for someone new to take the lead.”
New polling released recently continue to show Gov. Mike DeWine with a wide lead over Democratic challenger Nan Whaley, with a close race in the U.S. Senate race between Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance. The Baldwin Wallace (BW) Ohio Pulse Poll showed Democrat Ryan leading Republican Vance 48 percent to 45 percent with 7 percent undecided. The poll showed Ryan leading among independent voters, who favored him by 7 percentage points, and women, who support him by a 13-point margin. In the governor's race, DeWine has a 56 to 38 percent lead over Whaley, including a 34-percent lead among independent voters. BW Ohio Pulse Poll respondents said the economy is the top issue in their vote, with 71 percent of respondents considering it of "high importance," including 82 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats, and 66 percent of independents.
Meanwhile, a Marist Ohio Poll also showed a statistical dead heat between Ryan and Vance, with Vance getting 46 percent, Ryan 45 percent, and 9 percent undecided. Independent voters go for Ryan 42 to 40 percent. Fifty percent of women respondents support Ryan, while 53 percent of men support Vance.
While 40 percent of Ohio residents have a favorable opinion of Ryan, more than one in three (35 percent) has either never heard of or are unsure how to rate him. Twenty-five percent have an unfavorable opinion of Ryan. Ohioans' impressions of Vance are upside down. 30 percent have a favorable view of him and 36 percent have a negative one. Like Ryan, though, 34 percent have either never heard of or are unsure how to rate Vance. The Marist Poll also gave DeWine an 18-point lead over Whaley, 55 to 37 percent, and a 16-point lead among respondents who "definitely plan to vote."
Democratic pollster Change Research also released a poll that it said showed Ryan leading Vance 47 percent to 42 percent. The poll also found DeWine leads Whaley in the Change Research poll 45 percent to 39 percent, with 17 percent not sure or saying they would not vote in the race.
In the latest poll released Tuesday, Spectrum and Siena College show Democrat Tim Ryan leading Republican J.D. Vance in a tight U.S. Senate race, while Gov. Mike DeWine holds a 23-point lead over Democrat Nan Whaley in the gubernatorial race. In the Senate race, Ryan leads Vance 46 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Ryan has a 47 to 35 percent lead among independent voters. Vance has the support of 52 percent of men, while Ryan leads among 54 percent of women. In the race for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice, Democrat Jennifer Brunner and Republican Sharon Kennedy are tied at 40 percent, with 18 percent undecided. Brunner has the support of 47 percent of women, while Kennedy has the support of 45 percent of men. Issue 1 has overwhelming support of respondents, with 82 percent saying they would support a constitutional amendment that would require courts to consider public safety, a person's criminal record, the seriousness of the crime and the likelihood a defendant will show up for court when setting bail. Support on Issue 2 was closer, with 59 percent saying they would favor a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections.
The state has certified another round of law enforcement agencies for use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring. Of a dozen policing standards issued by the Ohio Community-Police Collaborative Advisory Board, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) says police in East Canton (Stark County), Poland Township (Mahoning County) and Racine (Meigs County) have satisfied those required for official recognition by its Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). Of approximately 900 law enforcement agencies in Ohio, 585 have at least met minimum state standards, and another two are currently pursuing certification. They serve most of the state's larger population areas and therefore represent over 84 percent of all Ohio peace officers.
Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday announced that support is now available for nonprofits and governmental agencies to establish or enhance community-based interventions to prevent violence and connect crime victims to recovery services. A total of $20 million in grant funding is now available as part of the governor's new Community Violence Prevention Grant Program, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). The grant program is aimed at supporting community-based nonprofits, law enforcement agencies, and state and local government entities that have implemented or would like to implement collaborative approaches toward reducing community violence.
RACES TO WATCH
Freshman Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater) is hoping to hold on to her seat as she faces a challenge from former Rep. Kathleen Clyde, who is considered a "rising star" by the national Democratic Party. Pavliga currently represents House District 75, which includes central and southern Portage County. Clyde represented House District 75 during her time in the chamber before being term-limited in 2018. The newly-drawn House District 72 includes mostly northern and central Portage County. According to the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) 2022 Ohio Election Guide, House District 72 has a political Republican index of 50.75 percent. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray got nearly 52 percent of the vote in 2018, while Gov. Mike DeWine received about 48 percent. In 2020, former President Donald Trump got nearly 53 percent of the vote, while President Joe Biden received about 47 percent.
A member of Democratic leadership faces off against a political newcomer in the horseshoe-shaped House District 5, which runs along the borders of the southern half of Franklin County. Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester), an attorney who serves in Democratic caucus leadership as assistant minority whip, is seeking a third full term. He first joined the House in 2017 to replace former Rep. Heather Bishoff, who left office early. Republicans nominated Ronald Beach IV, a medical assistant and public administration graduate student whose Ohio National Guard service saw him assisting in nursing homes during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. House District 5 now runs in a U shape along the southwestern and southeastern borders of Franklin County, picking up some territory previously in the same district as Grove City, which is now in House District 10. The 2022 Ohio Election Guide, published by the Ohio Manufacturers' Association and compiled with assistance from Hannah News, assigns it a Republican political index of 49.23 percent. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray won the district by more than 10 points in 2018, while Joe Biden had a narrower victory of about 3 points versus Donald Trump in 2020.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State Frank LaRose recently announced 15,815 new business filings in August 2022, a slight uptick from the 6-month low last month. While this serves as a slight 2.7 percent increase from August 2021, new business creation is still down nearly 13 percent from the same point last year, the secretary of state said. The secretary of state's office said 123,674 new businesses have been created in 2022 so far, averaging 15,459 per month. A total of 142,057 had been created at the same point last year.
Officials for a contractor working on modernization of Ohio's unemployment compensation system were indicted in federal court in West Virginia in August on charges that they stole trade secrets from their prior employer, prompting the state to put the project on hold. The indictments allege David Gerald Minkkinen and Sivaraman Sambasivam of Sagitec Solutions took information from their prior employer, Deloitte, to help build their unemployment compensation technology product, known as Neosurance. Sagitec was hired to overhaul Ohio's unemployment compensation system, which runs on outdated technology dating to 2004. According to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) spokesperson Bill Teets, the project is meant to address the inability of the current system to scale with increased demand and adapt to new policies or procedures, as well as make the system more friendly to customers and usable for ODJFS employees who manage claims. The department is looking into what the charges mean for the modernization efforts.
The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio released its "State of the Workforce" report for 2022 in conjunction with a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday, with Chief Operating Officer Chance Shannan giving initial comments before a panel discussion. Shannan said the labor force participation rate continues to be at the lowest level in the past 40 years. Since 1950, 20 percent of men have dropped out of the workforce, and that trend doesn't appear to be ending. The female participation rate in the workforce plateaued in the early 2000s and then dropped off due to the 2008 recession and now the pandemic. That rate may take decades to rebound without intervention. Birth rates are also declining, which is another barrier for long-term workforce projections.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder announced Thursday that Ohio has launched a campaign to encourage individuals to consider a career in children services. The campaign includes multimedia advertising across the state, as well as the creation of OhioMeansJobs.ohio.gov/ChildrenServices, a new landing page on OhioMeansJobs.com that makes it easier to explore careers and search for jobs in children services.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2022 Hannah News Service, Inc.]