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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ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the RecoveryOhio initiative, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Department of Health's (ODH) Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) have partnered to install kits with the overdose reversing drug naloxone at Ohio rest areas across the state. AGRICULTURE A newly created alliance between multiple state agencies, organizations and Ohio State University will focus on mental health in agriculture with the goal of ensuring Ohio farmers, families and communities are better equipped to deal with stress. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg), Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Ohio State University (OSU), Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, and Farm Credit Mid-America make up the new Ohio Agricultural Mental Health Alliance (OAMHA). ATTORNEY GENERAL Attorney General Dave Yost said Friday he's appointing a new working group to make recommendations for the future of law enforcement training. The announcement follows recent indications from Gov. Mike DeWine that he'll put a strong focus on facilities for scenario-based law enforcement training in the upcoming capital budget. Thomas Quinlan, assistant executive director of the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (OPOTA), will chair the new Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Law Enforcement Training. Attorney General Dave Yost on Monday announced a 90-count indictment handed down by a Delaware County Grand Jury against three former Columbus Zoo officials. Yost alleged that the former executives -- former Chief Executive Officer Tom Stalf, former Director of Marketing Pete Fingerhut and former Chief Financial Officer Greg Bell -- "extorted, conspired, bribed and stole" about $2.29 million over a 10-year period. The charges result from an investigation by Yost's office, Auditor of State Keith Faber's office and the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office. Attorney Dave Yost is leading amici briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court dispute over allegations the Biden administration is pressuring social media to censor its opponents. Yost says the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies are attempting to use their governmental and law enforcement powers to silence individuals "unpopular with the predominant or governing group." AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY The United Auto Workers (UAW) started a strike Friday against Big 3 automakers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, targeting one facility each but holding out the possibility of walking out of all plants. The Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex is among the three plants. IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET The All Ohio Future Fund allocating money for securing economic development projects was a budget item Gov. Mike DeWine previewed in his “State of the State” address, and it underwent several changes during the legislative process and then through DeWine's vetoes. His executive proposal transferred up to $2.4 billion from the FY23 General Revenue Fund ending balance to the fund. The House set that transfer at $500 million, the Senate increased it to $917 million and the conference committee settled on $667 million, according to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) comparison document. The fund is a renaming of the Investing in Ohio Fund and expands its economic developments purposes, though a list of activities it would have supported was removed in the House-passed version. CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX The website coronavirus.ohio.gov, the go-to place for information on COVID-19 for more than three years since the pandemic began, will cease to be the state's information hub for coronavirus, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said Friday. Information on the virus will move to the ODH website at https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/covid-19, while statistical and weekly case reports will move to a DataOhio page at https://data.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/data/view/covid-19-reporting. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on Thursday reported a decline in new weekly COVID-19 cases for the first time since July 6, and this also represented the first week numbers were posted on a DataOhio website rather than coronavirus.ohio.gov. ODH reported 8,224 new cases, down from 9,690 on Sept. 14. Hospitalizations increased from 259 to 319 however, and deaths rose from 19 to 28. The number of ICU admissions dropped slightly from 12 to nine. DEATH PENALTY Gov. Mike DeWine Monday issued another execution reprieve, delaying the scheduled execution of condemned inmate Scott Group from January 2024 to February 2027. No one on Death Row has been executed during DeWine's time as governor. He has issued numerous reprieves, citing drugmakers' unwillingness to provide pharmaceuticals for use in capital punishment and the possibility that using them for lethal injection would jeopardize access to medicines for other purposes. EAST PALESTINE DERAILMENT U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order Wednesday seeking "to ensure that Norfolk Southern continues to be held accountable and to address any of the long-term effects caused by the train derailment" in East Palestine, according to the White House. At Biden's direction, FEMA also named Jim McPherson as federal disaster recovery coordinator to oversee long-term efforts in the area. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Joby Aviation Inc. announced plans Monday to build an electric air taxi manufacturing facility at Dayton International Airport, creating 2,000 new jobs in the region. The facility is set to come online in 2025 and will produce an all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will carry a pilot and four passengers at speeds of 200 miles per hour over a 100-mile range. Joby plans to operate them as part of aerial ridesharing networks in cities and communities world-wide. The company will invest at least $477.5 million in a 140-acre site, with construction beginning next year. It will use nearby existing buildings for its operations in the interim and plans to produce up to 500 aircraft per year. The total new payroll is expected to surpass $140 million. The DeWine administration announced Wednesday that a multi-state regional initiative led by Ohio had been awarded one of eight regional hub designations and $24.3 million in FY23 federal funds under the Microelectronics Commons (ME Commons) program. The Midwest Microelectronics Consortium (MMEC) comprises over 65 public, private and nonprofit entities and has leadership from many key Ohio institutions, according to the DeWine administration. It is dedicated to advancing the research and production of crucial microelectronics for the defense industry. The ME Commons program is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (USDOD). ECONOMY Ohio's unemployment rate rose to 3.4 percent in August, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), a slight increase from July's 3.3 percent, as the state's nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 3,500 over the month. ODFJS said the state's employment, which went from a revised 5,636,200 in July to 5,639,700 in August, marks the highest payroll employment reported since the series started in 1990. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in August was 196,000, up from 194,000 in July. The number of unemployed has decreased by 37,000 in the past 12 months from 233,000. The August unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.7 percent from 4.1 percent in August 2022. EDUCATION Ohio school athletics coaches can now obtain state training resources to help student-athletes struggling with mental health issues, Gov. Mike DeWine announced this week. The budget, HB33 (Edwards), includes a provision that requires all coaches to complete the training before they can apply for or renew their pupil activity program permits. "Coaches know how to motivate young people and lead them to success on the field but may not be aware of how to help student-athletes with the challenges they may be facing off the field," DeWine said in a news release. "The goal is to give coaches the tools they need to help identify student-athletes who may be struggling and connect them with the help they need." The State Board of Education's (SBOE) spent the majority of its meeting Monday preparing for the transfer of power over K-12 education governance to the renamed Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW). With many of the provisions in the biennial budget set to take effect early in October, the board's September meeting marks the last under its previous role. Seven members of the State Board of Education filed a lawsuit Tuesday to challenge the new K-12 governance structure enacted in the state budget that transfers most of their power to a gubernatorial appointee, arguing it violates the Ohio Constitution. The lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, is assigned to Judge Karen Phipps. On Thursday, Phipps issued an order temporarily blocking the DeWine administration from moving forward with implementation of the law creating the new Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) or appointing an agency director. Recent data on Ohio students' post-pandemic learning trajectory highlights the need for more sustained focus on math achievement, panelists at a Fordham Institute event said Tuesday. Fordham hosted Ohio State University research Vlad Kogan to discuss his recent analysis of spring 2023 test data compared to recent years' performance. Ohio Department of Education (ODE) budget chief Aaron Rausch Monday reviewed upcoming changes in the biennial budget that will require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to "amend, rescind or establish new Administrative Code." The majority of the changes are already "in process" he said. Interim Superintendent Chris Woolard said he plans to provide a six- to seven-month timeline for the implementation of budget provisions at the board's next meeting in October. ELECTIONS The Ohio Elections Commission on Thursday set three complaints against a treasurer for multiple Republican campaign committees for a full hearing after all sides of the complaints requested one. The commission also fined State Board of Education member Charlotte McGuire's campaign over a self-reported violation. The hearings were set in complaints filed by Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), Franklin County Engineer Cornell Robertson and former Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien against William Curlis. The complaints allege that Curlis filed inaccurate campaign reports or, in Kunze's case, written unauthorized checks out of Kunze's campaign fund for himself. Chris Banweg, a Hudson councilman, Marine veteran and business executive, announced his bid for the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). ELECTIONS 2023 One Person One Vote, the coalition of groups fighting against the August special election Issue 1 that would have raised the passage threshold of future constitutional amendments, spent more than $19 million in its successful effort to defeat the amendment. Groups supporting Issue 1, however, spent more than $30 million combined. Friday was the filing deadline for groups raising funds and spending on then-Issue 1 to report their campaign finance activities since the last report was filed in July. A split Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the Ohio Ballot Board to reconvene and rewrite the ballot language for Issue 1, the reproductive and abortion rights amendment, narrowly finding that use of the term "citizens of Ohio" is misleading but rejecting all of the other arguments against the language. The Ballot Board met Thursday to follow through on the Ohio Supreme Court's order, swapping in and out a few words. The following endorsements were made over the week:
The Oho Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to oppose recreational marijuana legalization measure Issue 2
ELECTIONS 2024 Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who is term-limited after next year, announced Friday that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for the Ohio Senate in 2024 for the seat currently held by Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who also is term-limited and running for the U.S. Senate. He previously served in the Ohio Senate from 2008 to 2016. Dolan succeeded him after Patton could not seek re-election due to term limits. The following endorsements were made over the week:
Republican Craig Riedel's congressional campaign announced the endorsement of a number of Republican officials, including Reps. Adam Bird (R-Cincinnati), Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), Adam Miller (R-Nashport), Kevin Miller (R-Newark), Tim Barhorst (R-Fort Laramie), Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), Tom Young (R-Centerville), Bill Dean (R-Xenia) and Angie King (R-Celina).
Frank LaRose's U.S. Senate campaign announced the endorsement of more than 150 conservative leaders across Ohio, including Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison), Josh Williams (R-Oregon) and Mike Loychik (R-Cortland).
Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Craig Riedel for U.S. House District 9.
The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Frank LaRose announced the endorsement of 25 Republican officials and conservative community members, including Rep. Melanie Miller (R-Ashland).
NRDC Action Fund endorsed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) for re-election.
ENERGY/UTILITIES A report released Tuesday on the clean energy industry found Ohio had a 4.6 percent increase in jobs during 2022, representing an addition of more than 5,000 that brought the total to 114,395 workers. E2, a national nonpartisan business group, and Evergreen Climate Innovations analyzed data for 12 states in the Midwest, and several speakers offered remarks in a virtual press conference on the report. ENVIRONMENT Phosphorus removal structures have been extremely effective in reducing phosphorus, one of the main culprits behind the formation of harmful algal blooms (HAB) on Lake Erie, according to Ohio State University professor Jay Martin. During his presentation at the "2023 Understanding Algal Blooms: State of the Science Conference," Martin said his team had placed these "P filters" at two fields in Northwest Ohio known to have high levels of phosphorus runoff, sharing two years of data. He said one site had reduced phosphorus by 38 percent, and the other reduced phosphorus by 49 percent. GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE Two more misdemeanor charges have been filed against Rep. Bob Young (R-North Canton) in his ongoing domestic violence case. According to Barberton Municipal Court records, Young was charged Friday with violating a protection order and menace by stalking, both first-degree misdemeanors. Appearing in court on Monday, he was again given a recognizance bond and will continue to be subject to GPS monitoring. He announced his resignation from the House earlier this month, effective on Monday, Oct. 2, saying that while he will be "vigorously defending" himself against the charges, the allegations have become a distraction. The House State and Local Government Committee started Tuesday on a four-hearing series to review occupational licensure requirements, per 132-SB255 (McColley), which requires review of a third of requirements every two years. Rep. Marilyn John (R-Shelby), chair of the committee, said she plans two hearings in October to take general public testimony on occupational licensure requirements in addition to the four hearings set for this week and next to hear from licensing agencies. Tuesday’s hearing featured testimony from the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors and the Ohio Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Division of Financial Institutions, while Wednesday’s hearing included the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Cosmetology and Barber Board and Motor Vehicle Repair Board. Under legislation proposed by Reps. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), construction workers at certain facilities would be required to "demonstrate proficiency in spoken English." "How would that be tested?" Sen. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) asked during HB205's first hearing in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Wednesday. Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) made a second round of changes to the fall schedule for House sessions Thursday, assuring the House won't meet this month but adding more potential sessions later in the year. Canceled were an if-needed session set for Wednesday, Sept. 27 and a session set for Wednesday, Oct. 18. Added were a session for Wednesday, Oct. 11 and if-needed sessions for Wednesday, Oct. 3, Tuesday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 12. According to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB), the Ohio Village Muffins and Lady Diamonds will face off against the Capitol Cannon, made up of state senators and representatives, in an old-fashioned game of "base ball" Tuesday, Sept. 26. The match will run 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Statehouse's West Lawn, and it is free and open to the public. In other legislative action, the House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB187 (Hall-Bird), regarding property taxes; and Senate General Government Committee reported out SB62 (Reineke-Brenner), to designate Oct. 4 as “Rutherford B. Hayes Day.” GOVERNOR Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for COVID-19 late Tuesday afternoon after developing cold symptoms and a fever. "At approximately 5:30pm today, Gov. DeWine tested positive for COVID-19. He started experiencing mild cold symptoms yesterday. Believing he had a mild head cold, he proceeded with his workday today. As the day progressed, his symptoms worsened, and his doctor advised that he take a COVID-19 test, which was positive. He reported having a 101-degree fever at the time of taking the test in the late afternoon. He is now resting at home. The current strain of COVID-19 can present itself with symptoms much like a head cold. Gov. DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) advise testing yourself for COVID-19, even if you think you have only a minor cold," his office said in a statement. GUNS The state of Ohio is temporarily enjoined from enforcing the law prohibiting municipalities from enacting local gun and knife regulations, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Branch has decided. The city of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval sued the state over the state's preemption laws against local gun and knife regulation, saying they violate home rule provisions of the Ohio Constitution. Branch blocked the state from enforcing Section 1 of knife regulation preemption 134-SB156 (Roegner) and 132-HB228 (Johnson) provisions addressing local gun regulation prohibitions. Gov. Mike DeWine joined federal, state and local criminal justice leaders Tuesday to announce Central Ohio's new Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC), a partnership of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC), Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII), Columbus Division of Police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Housed within the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS), CGIC is a long-term collaboration of evidence examiners, intelligence analysts, and investigators under one roof to investigate and prevent gun violence. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES The Ohio Commission on Minority Health (OCMH) credited Gov. Mike DeWine's "Plan of Action to Advance Equity" Wednesday for the state's commitment to eliminating health disparities among Black Ohioans and other minorities. OCMH Director Angela Dawson addressed legislators as part of invited testimony before the Senate Community Revitalization Committee. HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS The Senate Select Committee on Housing continued its deliberations Wednesday with invited testimony from Tim Williams of the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association; Dan Acton of the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association; Tim Bete of St. Mary Development Corp.; and Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano on behalf of the County Auditors Association of Ohio. JUDICIAL Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy warned of an attorney shortage in a vast majority of Ohio counties and a pressing need for more assigned judges in her first State of the Judiciary address. Addressing the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference (OJC) Thursday, Kennedy told judges and other participants that Ohio struggles to provide adequate legal counsel in most of its geographic area and in some legal specialties, as do many other states. "Three quarters of Ohio's attorneys are in the state's seven largest counties. That leaves only 25 percent of attorneys to represent the legal needs of people in the other 81 counties," she said, noting the latter are home to well over half of all Ohioans. The Ohio Supreme Court wants to get out of the business of deciding what areas of law are legitimate specializations or restricting attorneys' claims to be specialists, even if they are not certified by an accredited organization. Current language in the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio and Rules of Professional Conduct requires the Supreme Court Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists to accredit all organizations from which lawyers claim certification. The Court also determines which practice areas are legitimate specialties and prohibits attorneys from claiming a specialization if not certified by a commission-accredited group. All that would change under proposed rule changes released by the Court this week. "An attorney certified as a specialist by an organization not approved as an accredited organization may communicate that fact, provided the attorney shall include a disclaimer stating the organization has not been approved by the commission to certify attorneys as a specialist," proposed amendments to Section 5(B) of bar Rule XIV state. The Ohio Supreme Court is accepting school applications for transportation grants supporting student tours of the Ohio Judicial Center and its Visitor Education Center. The program allows more students to learn about the state judicial branch, appeals process and generally how Supreme Court decisions impact Ohio law. The center allows visitors to participate in a mock trial -- "a highlight for many students," the Court says. The application form and more information on tours can be found at tinyurl.com/3rxvajjf. Commissioners for the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection announced nearly a half million dollars in restitution to 18 consumers of legal services Monday. Awards include $200,000 to two clients of former attorney Dorothea Jane Kingsbury of Cuyahoga County, convicted in 2021 of theft, attempted theft and money laundering involving more than a half million dollars in trust funds from disabled and mentally ill clients. Kingsbury surrendered her law license last March and is now serving a four-year sentence. She could be released early if she remunerates victims herself. The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission (OCSC) has offered Reentry 2030 Program Director Melissa Knopp of the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center its top post following former OCSC Director Sara Andrews' retirement in July. The commission's interim director and former assistant director, Nikole Hotchkiss, also had applied for the permanent job. Before considering Knopp's candidacy in executive session Thursday, OCSC gathered to approve its Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice committee rosters and hear a brief update from its new Data Committee, which is still coming up to speed. The Criminal Justice Committee is chaired by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Annettee Chambers-Smith and the Juvenile Justice Committee by Judge Helen Wallace of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court's Juvenile Division. LOCAL GOVERNMENT Legislation proposed by Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) would prohibit participatory budgeting in cities. "The bill ... simply protects the budgeting powers of municipalities across Ohio by reinforcing their statutory authority to make appropriation decisions," Cirino told the Senate General Government Committee during sponsor testimony on SB158 Wednesday. According to People's Budget Cleveland, the participatory budget model proposed in Issue 38 has been used in 1,500 cities worldwide. If voters approve the charter amendment, Cleveland residents would directly decide how to spend 2 percent of the city budget, which is approximately $14 million. Cleveland residents ages 13 and older could submit ideas, develop proposals and vote in-person and online on how to use funds. A resident-led steering committee would guide the process. Cirino said the proposal is "ludicrous," citing bipartisan opposition to the measure. MARIJUANA/HEMP The state of Ohio would collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue every year if voters approve the adult use marijuana legalization measure this November, according to a report from the Ohio State University Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC). "Though these projections are subject to various assumptions, the tax revenue experiences of other states support claims that Ohio is likely to generate hundreds of millions in tax revenues from a mature adult-use market. For comparison, in FY21, Ohio casinos have generated gross tax revenues of over $300 million, so it is possible that cannabis sales in Ohio will generate tax returns comparable to those now collected through the gross casino revenue tax," the report says. NATURAL RESOURCES The Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission (OGLMC) on Monday tabled nominations to drill for oil and gas on land owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Commissioners acted after they were unable to agree on an addendum proposed by ODNR. Nominations will be considered at the next meeting, OGLMC Chair Ryan Richardson said. The commission did approve nominations to allow oil and gas development on four parcels owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) after approving its proposed addendum. Commission Chair Ryan Richardson also briefly addressed the alleged fraudulent use of people's identities in the OGLMC nomination process. "I do not believe that we as a commission have any authority or ability to conduct an investigation into what happened. However ... the attorney general's office has come out publicly and stated that they are conducting an investigation into what happened here. As a former attorney with the AG's office and now as someone who is a client, I have every confidence in the fantastic lawyers and investigators and people at the attorney general's office, who have the capability and authority to conduct this investigation," she said. OHIO HISTORY The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee on Tuesday designated Ohio's Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as the state's first World Heritage Site and the 25th World Heritage Site in the U.S., according to the governor's office and the Ohio History Connection (OHC). The earthworks were built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago. PEOPLE Richard "Rick" Savors, longtime spokesperson for the Ohio School Facilities Commission and its successor agency the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, died last week at age 67 in Virginia. Savors retired from the facilities commission at the end of 2019. He previously worked in broadcasting and for the Ohio School Boards Association. A memorial service is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 45 W. Winter St., Delaware, with a reception to follow. The Greater Stark County Urban League announced that Thomas West, former Democratic lawmaker from Canton and former president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), is its new president and CEO. REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT A week after it first convened, the Ohio Redistricting Commission finally found its co-chairs in Auditor Keith Faber and Senate Minority Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and adopted its first working Ohio House and Senate plan introduced by legislative Republicans. The commission could do little during last week's meeting as House and Senate Republicans could not agree on a co-chair. On Wednesday, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) agreed on Faber as their appointment. Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) introduced Republican maps during the hearing, telling the commission that the overarching concept on the maps was to avoid splitting communities, with only one city and five township split in the overall plans. He also said the plan avoids "double-bunking" current legislators so that two are paired in the same new district. In response to a question from House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), McColley said the plan would favor Republicans in 23 districts in the Senate and 62 districts in the House. The plan was accepted 4-2 along party lines as the working document, while a plan introduced by Antono and Russo failed 4-2, despite their urging the commission to consider both plans. Ahead of the meeting, Russo and Antonio had discussed their proposal on Tuesday, saying their maps more closely match Ohio's statewide voter map than current maps; respects current county and municipal boundaries while keeping communities of interest together; and avoids partisan packing of voters. Attorney General Dave Yost also had written a letter to commission members advising them that they could proceed with business without co-chair appointments being finalized. TAXATION The Senate Ways and Means Committee held its first hearing Wednesday on legislation to address the rise in property valuations and taxation, a day after the House Ways and Means Committee reported out a similar bill -- HB187 (Hall-Bird) -- for that chamber. Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) testified on his and Sen. Terry Johnson's (R-McDermott) SB153, which "seeks to address the precipitous rise in property valuations, and therefore property taxes, across Ohio due to the 2023 triennial update." Lang explained how the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) conducts the triennial update and said there is discretion to weigh data points for each of the previous three years' valuations differently. Currently, ODT puts the most weight on the third year as that is considered by them to be most reflective of the coming year. However, Lang said, that has meant "some valuations are more than doubling." TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE The go-live date for implementation of the Ohio Turnpike's new toll collection system is now in November due to delays, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission was told Monday, increasing construction project costs. Turnpike Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed told the commission that contractor TransCore is currently testing back-office systems for the new toll collection system. While the go-live date for those functions is scheduled for the end of September, Ahmed said he believes "it will slip by a few weeks." WORKFORCE The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) encouraged Ohioans seeking a new career to consider construction, where jobs are in demand following several manufacturing announcements. Monday, Sept. 18 to Friday, Sept. 22 is "National Construction Appreciation Week." The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) this week announced it will be providing $368,000 to expand OhioMeansJobs in Fayette County in advance of a new lithium-ion battery plant currently under construction in Jeffersonville.
[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2023 Hannah News Service, Inc.]