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Week in Review September 11, 2023


Ohio statehouse government affairs week in review January 2023


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

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


ATTORNEY GENERAL


Led by Attorney General Dave Yost, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), joined by attorneys general from the 49 other states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories, is urging Congress to establish a special commission on the emerging use of artificial intelligence (AI) to concoct child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from existing child pornography and "deep-fake" images of children who have yet to be victimized physically but are now exploited virtually. The AGs acknowledged Congress' recent commitment to studying AI's larger impact and launching a regulatory framework to study potential harms, including to national security and public education.


BALLOT ISSUES


If the ballot language for Issue 1, the reproductive and abortion rights amendment, is allowed to stand, many voters will reach "incorrect conclusions" about what the amendment does, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the language said in a brief filed this week. Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit last month challenging the language written by Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office for Issue 1 and adopted by the Ohio Ballot Board along party lines. In a merit brief filed Tuesday, the group argues that the ballot language will "mislead, deceive, or defraud the voters," in violation of the Ohio Constitution, which contains a prohibition on such language that appears before voters. The Ohio Supreme Court "has never hesitated to strictly enforce that requirement," the merit brief states. "It should do the same here." The group is asking for the use of the full amendment language so that voters can see for themselves the language that they are being asked to approve, or alternatively, to order the Ballot Board to reconvene and adopt language that accurately describes the measure.


Citizens Not Politicians, the group behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting commission to draw General Assembly and congressional district lines, said it has refiled its proposal with the attorney general after a previous rejection. At that time, Attorney General Dave Yost said the petition summary was incomplete or misleading, raising concerns about which sections of the amendment were described at length in the summary versus those that were not. "We made adjustments in response to the attorney general's guidance and refiled our summary of the petition along with thousands of signatures from everyday Ohioans who understand that the current politician-run system is broken because it allows politicians and lobbyists to manipulate voting districts to protect their interests," said Citizens Not Politicians spokesperson Chris Davey.


IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently published guidance for implementation of a new law included in the budget bill changing how schools can make up for lost in-person class days with remote learning. The final version of HB33 (Edwards) includes a Senate-added provision to repeal the old "blizzard bag" law allowing schools to post online or send home in paper form lessons to be completed when school is closed for weather or other hazards. It was replaced with language requiring schools to adopt by Aug. 1 of each academic year a plan to provide online instruction to make up the equivalent of up to three days of missed school. The plans are required to include provision of real-time, interactive instruction to the extent possible and attendance requirements and documentation. The new law takes effect Tuesday, Oct. 3, and ODE is urging schools to update their calamity day plans by Wednesday, Nov. 1.


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Tuesday that the application period for the Super RAPIDS grant program, which was infused with a one-time funding boost through budget bill HB33 (Edwards), is now open. RAPIDS (Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills) focuses on providing Ohio technical centers, community colleges, and universities with the right kind of equipment to prepare students for the workforce, helping to meet the needs of regional businesses. According to the governor's office, HB33 provides $100 million through Super RAPIDS initiatives. The program will help address urgent workforce development needs and provides a one-time funding boost to the traditional RAPIDS program. For this grant opportunity, $40 million is available through a competitive RFP process. As a comparison, through six rounds of the traditional RAPIDS program, a total of $47.3 million has been awarded.


CHILDREN/FAMILIES


The new Department of Children and Youth (DCY) is driving to meet goals in key areas within its first three months while starting to sketch out additional focus areas, Director Kara Wente told Hannah News in an interview about implementation of the agency created in HB33 (Edwards). Wente started the year as head of children's initiatives for Gov. Mike DeWine, then carried the torch for his budget proposal to create DCY and was named its head weeks after enactment of the bill. She came with experience from the kindergarten readiness group Future Ready Columbus and time as a top official at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Wente set targets in a few areas for the first 90 days of the agency's development. DCY has until the beginning of 2025 to completely absorb the child-focused programs it is taking over from several other cabinet agencies. Initial planning focused on expansion of early childhood education as funded in HB33; Step Up to Quality (SUTQ) equal access efforts; central intake; home visiting; and alignment of licensing. The first eight weeks of work have not changed the initial goals, Wente said Tuesday. "We're not recalibrating. We're driving for the next 25 days to hit those plans and then know what's happening in the next 90 days, six months, because most of them will have a phased approach," she said. "Then we'll pick up a couple of new building blocks to do very similar work with." On the horizon for DCY are efforts related to youth mental health and child welfare system placements.


Anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers that receive funding through the state budget are spending significantly more money on marketing than on patient education and support, according to a new report from abortion rights organization Pro-Choice Ohio. The findings were part of a study funded by Columbus City Council, according to the group. Researchers analyzed 10 crisis pregnancy centers in Columbus, five of which receive funding through the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program -- three facilities associated with Pregnancy Decision Health Center (PDHC) and two associated with Women's Care Center (WCC). The budget, HB33 (Edwards), provides $7 million in each fiscal year to the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program using funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, according to the report. Researchers also found a number of other issues with crisis pregnancy centers in Columbus, including employees that provided false information about pregnancy, abortion and birth control.


Gov. Mike DeWine signed a proclamation declaring September Kinship Month and released a video message thanking grandparents and all kinship caregivers for opening their homes to the children who need them. Matt Damschroder, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), said, in Ohio, more than 297,000 children live with a kinship caregiver. "Kin" can refer to a relative or other adult who has a relationship with the child, such as a neighbor, teacher, or family friend. They take over full-time care of a child when the child's parents are unable to do so, ODJFS explained. Programs highlights included the Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator (OhioKAN) program, Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program and Kinnect to Family.


The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) announced over $3 million in federal emergency shelter and supportive services grants Wednesday for domestic violence victims and their dependents. Thirty-two grant recipients in 24 counties will help community-based, nonprofit organizations to provide emergency shelter and/or supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence and dating violence and their dependents. Funds can support COVID-19 testing, vaccine access, mobile health unit access, and workforce training. OCJS administers the grants through the FFY21 Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) American Rescue Plan (ARP) Supplemental COVID-19 Testing, Vaccine Access, Mobile Health Units Access Funds program. Awards support 15 months of program funding from July 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2024.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


According to federal prison records, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder has been moved back to Ohio to serve his 20-year federal prison sentence on corruption charges. He is currently serving his sentence at FCI Elkton, located in Lisbon. Meanwhile, co-defendant and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges is serving his five-year sentence in Michigan. Householder was convicted on racketeering charges in March for leading a $60 million bribery scheme involving FirstEnergy and a push to pass nuclear bailout legislation 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin). He was sentenced on June 29 to 20 years in prison.


DEATH PENALTY


Bipartisan House members expressed confidence Wednesday that Ohio will repeal its death penalty in the 135th General Assembly. Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) gathered at the Statehouse with Ohioans to Stop Executions, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, Ohio Council of Churches, Ohio Catholic Conference, Ohio Conference of the NAACP and Ignite Peace to announce a pending companion bill to SB101 (Antonio-S. Huffman), which was introduced in March and had its first and only hearing in May.


EAST PALESTINE DERAILMENT


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Tuesday announced that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is providing an $879,509 emergency grant to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) to support community health and resilience in East Palestine in the aftermath of the Norfolk Southern train derailment. The grant comes in response to a request from the state of Ohio for additional funding to address immediate and ongoing behavioral and mental health needs in East Palestine and expand and improve the capacity of local crisis response systems.


ECONOMY


The nation added 187,000 jobs in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though the national unemployment rate rose from July's 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent in August. The rise in the unemployment rate was largely due to an increase of 514,000 unemployed persons to 6.4 million. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent and the number of unemployed persons was 6.0 million. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) rose in August. The jobless rates for adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (12.2 percent), Blacks (5.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) showed little change over the month. Both the number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks, at 2.2 million, and the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.3 million, edged up in August. The long-term unemployed accounted for 20.3 percent of all unemployed persons.


EDUCATION


Auditor of State Keith Faber's office got a lot of inquiries about what constitutes support when he surveyed schools on whether they were backing litigation over state school vouchers, plus some pushback. Local school officials involved in the lawsuit released a raft of records from Faber's office Tuesday, saying the survey, sent at the Senate's request, was an attempt to bully them and discourage participation in the legal battle. Faber's office retorted that resistance to providing basic information on public funds sought by the survey raises questions in itself. A coalition of school districts and resident families had filed suit in early 2022 to challenge the constitutionality of the EdChoice scholarship program, alleging it violates the constitutional guarantee of a "common" school system and constitutional prohibitions on giving control of education funding to religious sectors. During budget deliberations, Senate Republicans' top lawyer, Matthew Oyster, sent a letter in May to Faber's office asking him to compile a report on schools' and educational service centers' financial support for the litigation. Records of correspondence by Faber's staff released by the litigants at the press conference Tuesday showed the auditor's staff acted promptly to answer the Senate's request. Faber Chief of Staff Sloan Spalding wrote back two days later that the office would "get a plan in place to gather and report back to the Senate on this information -- right away.”


Mark Lowrie, a broadcast journalism teacher at Gahanna Lincoln High School in Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, is the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) said. Interim Superintendent Chris Woolard visited the Gahanna school Thursday morning to surprise Lowrie with the award. Lowrie was a TV sports producer and editor in Northeast and Central Ohio before starting a teaching career in 2001 in Amherst, where he spent 18 years directing the high school broadcasting program until moving to Gahanna-Jefferson in 2019. There, he has designed four new courses and grown enrollment in the program from 27 to more than 130 students. Lowrie's students have earned numerous national and regional Student Production Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). Lowrie was one of 11 regional honorees representing State Board of Education districts named in August, and competed for the statewide honor along with three other finalists: Joseph Miller of Port Clinton City Schools; Andrea Novicky of Springfield Local Schools; and Shanti' Coaston of Westlake City Schools. Lowrie will now represent Ohio in the 2024 National Teacher of the Year selection process sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.


The Ohio Association of Career and Technical Education (Ohio ACTE) announced its new slate of Executive Board members for 2023-2024. They are as follows:

  • President Mike Parry, representing Grant Career Center

  • President-elect Brian Bontempo, representing Auburn Career Center

  • Secretary Krista Gearhart, representing South Stark Career Academy

  • Treasurer Liz Jensen, representing Kettering-Centerville-Oakwood Compact

  • Immediate Past President Jon Graft, representing Butler Tech

  • Ohio ACTE Executive Director Dee Smith

ELECTIONS


Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent new cybersecurity mandates to county boards of elections this week, his fourth security directive since taking office. The new directive outlines extensive security standards for vendors, strengthens physical security requirements, and modernizes cybersecurity capabilities. Requirements include items such as changing passwords every 90 days and not keeping a physical copy of those passwords in accessible public areas. Boards are also required to enroll in services offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Other provisions reinforce current security measures including implementing security language in contracts with vendors to help increase security posture while conducting elections; system maintenance through patching and upgrading systems; and ensuring that county board of elections receive proper training and are prepared with incident response plans, according to LaRose's office. The directive's requirements must be implemented by Friday, Dec. 29.


ELECTIONS 2026


While he didn't announce anything on Wednesday, Treasurer of State Robert Sprague indicated he is considering a run for governor or another statewide elected office in 2026. During a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum, Ohio Public Radio-TV Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler asked Sprague why he recently loaned his campaign more than $900,000, saying she's heard rumors that he is planning to run for governor. Sprague said he isn't planning to announce anything until after the 2024 presidential election, and is focused on his current job. However, he provided a preview of themes he might focus on during a future campaign. Sprague said he's excited about several new initiatives in the treasurer's office, noting he is working with Gov. Mike DeWine to launch a new program in January 2024 to help people buy houses in Ohio.


ENERGY/UTILITIES


The Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and other advocates for vulnerable Ohioans sought to prevent a setback Wednesday in the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) July order expanding winter disconnect protections. Three of the state's largest utilities were asking PUCO to reconsider its decision granting under-privileged ratepayers 30 days' grace if they have applied for but not received formal approval for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) or Winter or Summer Crisis Program. Duke Energy Ohio filed for rehearing one day after the commission order, and Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion Energy Ohio followed with a similar request.


American Electric Power (AEP) says it is considering its next move after the PUCO ruled Wednesday that submetering companies are not "public utilities" or "electric light companies" under the commission's jurisdiction and are not "electric suppliers" encroaching on AEP's certified territory, as those terms are currently defined in the Ohio Revised Code. In a 166-page order, the unanimous commission stated that, under R.C. 4905.03(C), the landlord of a multi-housing development is the "consumer" of electricity from the public utility -- in this case, AEP -- while the submeterer -- in this case, Nationwide Energy Partners (NEP) -- is the landlord's "agent" hired to administer its energy contract with tenants. "The commission's jurisdiction ends at this point and does not extend to a landlord's reselling of that electricity to its tenants," commissioners stated. The commission did acknowledge AEP’s and other parties' concerns that submetered tenants lack consumer protections afforded public utility customers and invoked its separate authority to impose "reasonable terms and conditions" to ensure landlords "are providing [electric service] to the ultimate end user in a manner which is safe and consistent with the public interest.”


FEDERAL


Teachers and other education professionals could deduct substantially more from their federal income taxes to help offset the cost of supplies they buy for their students and classrooms under legislation being introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown joined a Clark County teacher on a press teleconference Wednesday to announce plans for the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act of 2023, which would increase the deduction from $250 to $1,000 and make other professionals like administrators and aides eligible to seek it. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Angus King (I-ME) are co-sponsoring the bill. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) are expected to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House.


GAMING/GAMBLING


With the exception of scratch-off tickets, gambling revenues were down in July 2023, according to information provided by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC). Sports gambling total gross receipts (handle) was $331 million in July, down from $362.1 million in June. Sports betting handle totals were $446.2 million in May, $520.6 million in April, $737.2 million in March, $639.1 million in February and $1.1 billion in January. However, taxable revenue from sports betting increased slightly in July compared to June. OCCC reported $37.1 million in taxable revenue in July, compared to $32.7 million in June.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday said Rep. Bob Young (R-North Canton) should resign in the wake of misdemeanor domestic violence charges that Young is facing. DeWine's call for Young to resign came as a number of Young's Republican colleagues in the Ohio House sent him a letter asking him to step down while he faces the charges. House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), who was with Young at a fundraiser earlier the night of the incident that led to the charges, has also called for Young to resign. Young has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which alleged he assaulted two family members, as well as to later charges of violating a protection order after he attempted to contact one of the family members. Asked about the case after an event he attended Thursday, DeWine told reporters that Young should leave office. "This is a matter, obviously, that is up to the General Assembly. But these are some serious charges. It's not a good situation. So, yeah, I think he should resign," DeWine said.


Three Democratic bills unveiled Thursday to reform Ohio's utility laws include comprehensive legislation to ban the charge-off of political contributions or lobbying expenses to customers' bills. Senate Minority Whip Kent Smith (D-Euclid) said SB149 (Smith) is necessary to prevent a repeat of the corruption behind energy subsidy 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin), which he said Republicans had failed to do in the previous and current General Assemblies. Democrats also announced SB150 (Smith-Craig) to expand consumer protections from utility disconnection. In addition, bipartisan SB151 (Smith) would repeal R.C. 4928.01(A)(41)-(42) guaranteeing participating utilities "prudently incurred costs" for a "legacy generation resources," a/k/a Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC). The bill is the latest attempt to end consumer subsidies for two aging coal plants and refund all customer charges since their statutory enactment in HB6.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) is commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, with a ceremony and memorial flag display on the West Lawn of the Statehouse. The flags represent the 2,977 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93. When seen from above, the design represents the World Trade Center towers, with a space in the shape of the Pentagon and an open strip representing the field in Pennsylvania. The flags will remain in place until noon on Tuesday, Sept. 12.


Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced Thursday that Monica Moran will replace Mike Rowe as chief of staff for the Ohio Senate Minority Caucus beginning Monday, Sept. 11. Rowe, whose last day was Friday, Sept. 1, had been with the caucus for 14 years, first as communications director and then as chief of staff. Moran joins the Ohio Senate with decades of experience in public affairs, positions of leadership and communications. Most recently, she served as deputy chief of staff to Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano.


GOVERNOR


Gov. Mike DeWine this week told reporters that one of his top legislative priorities for the fall will be public safety. This means addressing “the whole area of people who are under disability … [which means] they can’t have a gun.” DeWine also said a priority for the next capital budget will be scenario-based training for law enforcement.


Appointments made during the week include the following:

  • Sandra K. Barber of Wauseon (Fulton County), John W. Bridenbaugh of Defiance (Defiance County) and Lisa L. McClure of Grover Hill (Paulding County) reappointed to the Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 9, 2029.

  • John F. Poulson of Archbold (Henry County) to the Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 9, 2026.

  • Corrine M. Burger of Dublin (Delaware County) and Rick D. Ritzler of Galena (Delaware County) reappointed to the Columbus State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Aug. 31, 2029.

  • Jessica J. Cunningham of Lima (Allen County) to the James A. Rhodes State College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Aug. 31, 2025.

  • Joseph A. Zacharias of Marietta (Washington County) to the Washington State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Feb. 17, 2029.

  • Bernie R. Anderson of McConnelsville (Morgan County) and Randall T. Barengo of Marietta (Washington County) reappointed to the Washington State Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Feb. 17, 2029.

  • Thomas A. D'Anniballe of Steubenville (Jefferson County) to the Eastern Gateway Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Oct. 16, 2027.

  • John F. Thompson of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the Wright State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2032.

  • Mick D. Zwayer of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Investment Board for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Jan. 30, 2027.

  • Farid Naffah of Cortland (Trumbull County), Darryl D. Mehaffie of Greenville (Darke County) and Neal F. Zimmers of Granville (Licking County) reappointed to the Ohio Arts Council for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 1, 2028.

  • Heather Brazell-Hill of Malta (Morgan County) to the Ohio Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Dec. 30, 2024.

  • Lori Barreras of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 28, 2028.

  • Ann M. Ream of Canton (Stark County), Pedro J. Munoz of Bellbrook (Greene County) and Scott H. Neely of Westerville (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 30, 2025.

  • Peter J. Moore of Pataskala (Licking County) reappointed to the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Council for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 1, 2026.

  • Debra K. Radecky of Hudson (Summit County) to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending May 27, 2024.

  • Michael J. Scharfenberger of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) reappointed to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending May 27, 2026.

  • Loraine Ringhiser-Carlson of Heath (Licking County) and Matthew Granito of Middlefield (Geauga County) reappointed to the Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board for terms beginning Aug. 4, 2023 and ending March 12, 2026.

  • Virinder Sidhu of Mason (Warren County), Teresa L. Remy of Jackson (Jackson County) and Scott M. Wesbecher of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Board of Nursing for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Dec. 31, 2025.

  • Roger R. Geiger of Dublin (Franklin County) to the State Vision Professionals Board for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending March 22, 2026.

  • Anthony J. Buchta of Dublin (Franklin County) to the State Board of Pharmacy for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Trina L. Buettner of Defiance (Defiance County) reappointed to the State Board of Pharmacy for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2027.

  • Colleen Shay Murray of Huron (Erie County) and June E. Taylor of Beachwood (Cuyahoga County) to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission for terms beginning Aug. 17, 2023 and ending June 30, 2025.

  • Guy C. Coviello of Youngstown (Trumbull County) reappointed to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission for a term beginning Aug. 17, 2023 and ending June 30, 2028.

  • Donald R. Huck of Lancaster (Fairfield County) and Gregory W. Kimble of Dover (Tuscarawas County) to the Technical Advisory Council on Oil and Gas for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Jan. 31, 2026.

  • R. Gregory Browning of Worthington (Franklin County) to the Ohio Water Development Authority for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2031.

  • James S. Simon of Akron (Summit County) reappointed to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2031.

  • Tad W. Rumas of Sunbury (Delaware County) to serve as the governor's designee on the Midwestern Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023.

  • Erin M. Froehlich of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Program Certification Board for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 14, 2024.

  • Matthew J. Donahue of Pickerington (Fairfield County) to serve as the governor's designee on the Task Force to Study Ohio's Indigent Defense System for a term beginning July 24, 2023.

  • Craig S. Mathes of Hilliard (Franklin County) to the Governor's Executive Workforce Board for a term beginning Aug. 4, 2023.

  • Jerry Sue Thornton of Moreland Hills (Cuyahoga County), Richard J. Platt of Newark (Licking County), Robert C. Smith of Westlake (Cuyahoga County) and Lester L. Lyles of Vienna, VA reappointed to the JobsOhio Board of Directors for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 5, 2027.

  • Joshua B. Rubin of Dublin (Delaware County) as chair of the JobsOhio Board of Directors for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 5, 2027.

  • Caryn B. Candisky of Bay Village (Cuyahoga County), Angela M. Mingo of New Albany (Franklin County) and James N. Brady of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the State Lottery Commission for terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending Aug. 1, 2026.

  • Christopher D. Mucher of Yellow Springs (Greene County) reappointed to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending July 1, 2027.

  • Philip S. Renaud of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Audit Committee for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2026.

HIGHER EDUCATION


Twenty-eight schools were named in the first group of Ohio colleges, universities, and technical centers to earn the Ohio Reach Postsecondary designation for efforts to support foster care-connected students. The Ohio Reach Postsecondary designation was established in the spring and is awarded to campuses that meet certain criteria for supporting students with experience in foster care or kinship. The state's Ohio Reach network, administered through the Ohio Children's Alliance, provides resources to institutions of higher education, child welfare agencies and foster care alumni enrolled in higher education.


Former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Cleveland Major Justin Bibb are the featured speakers at the annual Leadership Forum hosted by the Ohio State University (OSU) John Glenn College of Public Affairs. "The purpose of the Leadership Forum is to provide meaningful coverage of current and emerging trends in leadership, public administration and public policy. Programing is both practical and insightful for public and nonprofit professionals in all sectors. Each year, the forum features inspirational and informative keynote talks by nationally known thought leaders and includes an array of faculty and practitioner-led breakout sessions," the university said. The conference will take place Friday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Ohio Union at Ohio State.


West Virginia University (WVU) President E. Gordon Gee plans to step down when his contract expires in 2025, according to multiple media reports. Gee served two stints as president of Ohio State University (OSU), first from 1990 to 1998 and more recently from 2007 to 2013. He held similar roles at Vanderbilt University, Brown University and the University of Colorado. Gee, 79, is in his second tenure at West Virginia that began in 2014. He also was the school's president from 1981 to 1985. Gee announced his plans earlier this month after the WVU Board of Governors extended his contract by one year to June 2025.


HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS


The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) Wednesday released a report analyzing the impact of nearly $660 million in federal housing assistance distributed during the pandemic, finding the aid was critical to keeping many people housed and generated substantial social benefits. During the pandemic, Congress authorized Home Relief Funds for emergency rental assistance, known as ERA1 and ERA2, to prevent the eviction of low-income people. Ohio's network of 47 community action agencies (CAAs) distributed the nearly $660 million in assistance allocated to Ohio. The report dissects the Social Return on Investment (SROI) for homeowners, tenants, utility companies, taxpayers, and other stakeholders, estimating that the housing relief programs created $3.4 to $4.4 billion in social value. OACAA commissioned Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service to conduct the study, which was carried out in 2022 and covers programs that were authorized in 2020.


JUDICIAL


The Ohio Supreme Court Thursday granted a request from plaintiffs to dismiss two separate lawsuits challenging Ohio's congressional map, meaning the current map will be used for the 2024 election cycle. The Court granted the motions to dismiss in Neiman v. LaRose and League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose without further comment on Thursday, two days after the plaintiffs in both cases had asked for the dismissal. The filings came after the U.S. Supreme Court had reversed an Ohio Supreme Court decision in the Neiman case and sent it back to the state to reconsider in the wake of the decision in Moore v. Harper, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state courts may review congressional redistricting efforts of state legislatures. Groups had sued state officials over the map in the Ohio Supreme Court, with former Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor siding with Democrats to rule the map unconstitutional. In their request to dismiss, the Neiman plaintiffs noted that because the map had been adopted without any minority support, it would only be in effect through 2024 under provisions of the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court had previously asked all parties to submit briefs on the question of Moore's impact on the Ohio cases. The Neiman plaintiffs had also asked the Court to vacate the briefing schedule in the wake of the motion to dismiss.


A Franklin County judge was to hear arguments Friday, Sept. 8 in naloxone distribution nonprofit Harm Reduction Ohio's dispute with the OneOhio Recovery Foundation over the latter's open meetings compliance. OneOhio was formed by the state and local governments to manage the bulk of opioid settlement funding coming to the state, and the memorandum establishing its governance structure states the private foundation's meetings and records are to be open as if it were a public entity. Harm Reduction Ohio has alleged OneOhio is not following that principle, filing suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on issues of meetings and in the Ohio Supreme Court on documents. Justices at the Supreme Court found OneOhio is the "functional equivalent" of a public office for open records purposes. Judge Mark Serrott of Franklin County Common Pleas Court told OneOhio to follow the open meetings law in April but declined to grant Harm Reduction Ohio's request that money distribution and hiring decisions be put on hold pending the litigation. OneOhio has since made some financial decisions and forwarded candidates to Gov. Mike DeWine's office for leadership of the foundation, resulting in the appointment of Alisha Nelson as executive director.


A Kentucky man convicted in Ohio courts of attempted voyeurism did not need to start over his 10-year obligation to register as a sex offender and report regularly to authorities when he moved to Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The decision, written by Justice Melody Stewart, found that nothing in Ohio law would "toll" or pause an offender's reporting obligations while they were living and reporting in another state, as Kentuckian Michael Schilling did in his home state following his 2008 conviction for a 2007 misdemeanor violation. The Supreme Court also found Schilling had been wrongly informed his reporting requirements were dictated by the Adam Walsh Act, which was in effect at the time of his sentencing but had replaced the prior reporting scheme in Megan's Law, the relevant statute at the time of the crime. Schilling registered as a sex offender with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office on the day of his sentencing in 2008 but returned to Kentucky and registered with state police there. More than a decade later, in 2019, Schilling filed a request to end his reporting obligations with the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, seeking the early termination available to those on a 15-year reporting clock after 10 years of compliance. Prosecutors opposed the motion, saying that Megan's Law, rather than the Adam Walsh Act, controlled the case and did not allow for early termination. They also argued Schilling's 11 years of reporting in Kentucky did not count toward his 10-year obligation in Ohio.


LOBBYISTS


Andy Bowers, who worked under former Ohio Auditor and Attorney General Betty Montgomery, and Will Hinman, who was director of former Speaker Bob Cupp's (R-Lima) office, announced the launch recently of Bowers Hinman Capitol Affairs. The firm will engage in legislative advocacy, executive and regulatory lobbying, association management, political consulting, business development, procurement guidance, grassroots coordination, relationship and coalition building, and public affairs and communications strategy at the local, state and federal levels.


MARIJUANA/HEMP


The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association (OMCIA) supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) recommendation to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the organization announced. Multiple media outlets reported that HHS sent a letter to the DEA recommending the change, but HHS declined to provide the letter to Hannah News and would not confirm the exact recommendation. "Following the data and science, HHS has expeditiously responded to President Biden's directive to HHS Secretary Becerra and provided its scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA on Aug. 29, 2023. This administrative process was completed in less than 11 months, reflecting this department's collaboration and leadership to ensure that a comprehensive scientific evaluation be completed and shared expeditiously," an HHS spokesperson said in a statement. Schedule III drugs have "moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Other Schedule III drugs include acetaminophen with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.


The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) awarded a dispensary certificate of operation to Story of Cincinnati, located at 3950 Edwards Rd. in Cincinnati. OBP has now issued 104 dispensary certificates of operation under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP). The board also recently awarded certificates of operation to the following dispensaries:

  • The Forest Cincinnati, located at 4412 Mount Carmel Tobasco Rd. in Cincinnati.

  • Shangri-La Dispensary, located at 4618 St. Clair Ave. in Cleveland.

  • Story of Cincinnati II, located at 3944 Edwards Rd. in Cincinnati.

NATURAL RESOURCES


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife and Ohio State University are partnering to conduct a multiyear study on the survival and nest success of female wild turkeys. Ohio's wild turkey abundance is thought to have peaked around 2001 and has fluctuated since then. Adult hen survival, nest success rates, and poult survival play a role in population levels. From 2017 to 2019, below-average hatches of turkey poults resulted in a decrease in wild turkey abundance. Hatches in 2021 and 2022 were above average.


PEOPLE


The Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC) announced that its chief operating officer, Julie DiRossi-King, has moved up to become president and CEO of the association. DiRossi-King succeeds Randy Runyon, who led the association for 13 years.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol announced the recent promotion of Capt. Matthew L. Them to the rank of major in the Office of Finance and Logistics, where he serves as commander. Them joined the patrol in 2004 and has served as a post commander and in the Office of Planning, Research and Development in addition to the Office of Finance and Logistics. He has a bachelor's degree in finance from Ashland University.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Ohio Task Force 1 (OH-TF1) has returned to Ohio from the Atlanta area after staging there for two days in anticipation of needing to participate in response efforts for Hurricane Idalia. The task force conducted training and planning sessions while awaiting orders before being sent back home.


The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) on Wednesday announced the addition of two police departments to law enforcement agencies certified under state standards established by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. Portage Park District (Portage County) and Smithfield Township (Jefferson County) police have met state requirements for agency recruitment and hiring and use of force, including deadly force. In addition, seven agencies were recertified.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


A coalition of voting and civil rights groups Wednesday held a call with reporters before the first meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw new Ohio House and Senate maps ahead of the 2024 elections, urging the commission to "follow the rules" and draw a fair map that is equitable to all Ohioans. Jeniece Brock of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative said the groups know it is possible to follow all of the rules and draw fair maps. Also a member of Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent group of academics, political party officials, and community officials that is not affiliated with the official Ohio Redistricting Commission which had solicited public input and submitted maps to the official commission during the previous map-drawing process, she pointed to that group's work as an example of what she said is a fair process that produces fair maps.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS/BROADBAND


The Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation and Goodwill Columbus will provide free broadband-related job training at Goodwill Columbus' new facility on Brice Road, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday. DeWine added that the state provided approximately $800,000 in capital funding for the training center, which will also offer courses in information technology, health care, hospitality and commercial driving. The Broadband Infrastructure Training Program will cover fundamentals of broadband, electrical and fiber connections, according to Goodwill Columbus. It will also offer hands-on training and develop digital literacy and academic skills. More information about the program and Goodwill Columbus' other job training locations can be found at http://www.goodwillcolumbus.org.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Gov. Mike DeWine said this week that $100 million is now available to help local communities eliminate dangerous railroad crossings. The funding is part of the Ohio Rail Crossing Elimination Program, which the governor's office said will assist the work of local communities to engineer construction projects to eliminate dangerous crossings and pay matching funds that are required for additional support from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Funds were allocated to the program through biennial budget bill HB33 (Edwards). Ohio has approximately 5,700 railroad grade crossings, which are locations where roadways intersect with railroad tracks. Railroad grade crossings are both a safety hazard and a barrier to traffic, including emergency vehicles. Since the FRA began collecting blocked crossing data in late 2019, more than 10,500 reports of blocked crossings in Ohio have been filed.


WORKFORCE


Policy Matters Ohio's annual of "State of Working" report found a strong labor market more favorable to working people than at any time since the Great Recession; however, the report also shows the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been uneven, with most of the strong job growth concentrated around a few metro areas. Data show Ohio recovered to pre-COVID job levels in May 2023 and posted the highest number of jobs in the state's history by July, with 5,639,200 jobs reported, according to preliminary numbers. "Recovering the jobs lost to COVID-19 in less than half the time it took to recover jobs from the Great Recession is a triumph for good public policy. Whereas the prior recovery was slowed by austerity policies that choked off government spending when it was needed most, the federal response to the COVID recession was scaled to the size of the crisis," Policy Matters states in the report. The left-leaning public policy research group said Ohio is experiencing the tightest labor market in a generation, estimating there are two job openings per unemployed worker. This tight labor market, the report says, is "vital to restore decades of suppressed wage growth, during which workers produced more wealth than ever, but corporations and the wealthiest captured most of the gains."






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


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