Week In Review - September 26, 2022



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

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


ABORTION


Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins plans to extend the temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking enforcement of "heartbeat" abortion ban 133-SB23 (Roegner) through Wednesday, Oct. 12, according to both parties in Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost. Spokespeople for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio and Attorney General Dave Yost's office told Hannah News that Jenkins discussed his plans for the extension during a status conference. The judge is also setting a preliminary injunction hearing for Friday, Oct. 7, ACLU of Ohio Communications Director Celina Coming and Ohio Attorney General's Office Communications Director Bethany McCorkle said.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


Gov. Mike DeWine recently released the 2021 RecoveryOhio annual review, which gives an overview of the work that RecoveryOhio has done in the areas of prevention, treatment, and mental health and substance use. The RecoveryOhio initiative and advisory council were created in 2019 in an effort by the DeWine administration to improve how the state addresses mental health and substance use disorders. The council has issued more than 70 recommendations in the areas of stigma, parity, workforce development, prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery supports, and data and outcomes measurement. Some of these recommendations included the following:


  • The statewide "Beat the Stigma" campaign.

  • enCompass training for family members who are helping loved ones through their addiction into recovery.

  • Overdose Strike Team.

  • OneOhio Recovery Foundation, which will distribute a portion of the millions of dollars in settlement funds obtained from the lawsuit against drug manufacturers.

AGRICULTURE


The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) said Monday the 2022 Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program (VEAP) application period is being reopened to both new and existing Ohio vineyards to replace non-bearing vines or to plant new vines. VEAP allows wineries/vineyards to invest in and plant high-quality, high-value grapes onsite instead of purchasing them from other states. The VEAP is an incentive program created and funded by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee (OGIC). Due to the small number of grapes produced in Ohio, many wineries, farmers markets', and retailers are forced to purchase grapes of several different varieties from other states to meet production needs. The VEAP is designed to provide a more stable source of high-quality, high-value grapes grown in Ohio. Additionally, the program will allow for more Ohio wines to qualify for the Ohio Quality Wine (OQW) program and increase consumer awareness of Ohio's premier wines made from Ohio-grown grapes.


Large dog breeders in Ohio would not be allowed to perform surgical procedures on dogs without pain medication or anesthesia and without a veterinarian present under new legislation proposed by Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) and Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon). The legislation was announced by Lanese and Vicki Deisner, executive director of Ohio Animal Advocates, at a press conference on Wednesday. Lanese said the bill will be formally introduced in the coming days. Lanese said the goal of the legislation is to codify the requirement and eliminate confusion between what is in the law and what is in Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) rules that were proposed earlier this year.


The USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) said that the final date for Ohio wheat growers to apply for crop insurance coverage or for current policyholders to make changes to their existing policy for the 2023 crop year is the sales closing date of Friday, Sept. 30. "Federal crop insurance is critical to the farm safety net," RMA notes. "It helps producers and owners manage revenue risks and strengthens the rural economy. Producers may select from several coverage options, including yield coverage, revenue protection, and area risk policies." Producers without insurance should contact a crop insurance agent to get information on coverages, options, and premium cost. For producers who have coverage, this is the time for them to review the policy with an agent to make sure it meets their needs.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


ProMedica Health System has a week to make at least one of the two payments it owes the University of Toledo (UT) under an academic affiliation agreement, Attorney General Dave Yost said Wednesday. If a payment isn't made in that timeframe, ProMedica will be sued by the state, Yost said. "The affiliation agreement was to be a win-win for both sides, but that happens only when both parties honor their agreement," Yost said. "ProMedica needs to pay up -- to do right by the medical students and ProMedica patients who stand to lose big-time from its non-payment." Initiated in 2015 for 50 years, the affiliation agreement is designed to enhance the quality of medical care and outcomes for ProMedica patients. It requires ProMedica to send monthly payments to support the needs and academic mission of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences -- money that represents 44 percent of the medical school's annual budget, according to Yost's office. In return, ProMedica receives certain benefits, including the services of the university's medical faculty and residents, as well as other university support for Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children's Hospital.


CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported a sharp drop in new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, from 20,552 in the Sept. 15 update to 14,536 Thursday. This is the first time since May 5's update that there were fewer than 15,000 new cases reported. ODH data on monkeypox showed there have been 259 total cases in the state, 26 hospitalizations and no deaths, with 7,979 associated vaccinations in 73 counties. Compared to the Sept. 15 data, this shows increases of 22 cases and seven hospitalizations. There were 411 vaccinations reported over the week.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


The ACLU of Ohio is placing three billboard advertisements throughout Lima, the home city of House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), calling for the passage of bail reform bill HB315 (Leland-Hillyer). The group said the bill has the "power to transform communities statewide and improve Ohio's pretrial system through commonsense policy solutions."


DEATH PENALTY


The Ohio Supreme Court announced Wednesday that the execution date for Danny Lee Hill has been set for July 22, 2026 in the case State v. Hill (1990-0177). Hill has been convicted of the 1985 murder of 12-year-old Raymond Fife. However, this follows Gov. Mike DeWine's issuing reprieves to three Death Row inmates earlier this year because of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's inability to secure drugs to administer lethal injections.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


While Intel has recently dominated the economic development headlines in Ohio, the state's Department of Development (DOD) is engaged in a wide array of programs to help communities improve in attracting business projects and expanding Ohio's workforce. DOD Director Lydia Mihalik, who recently said Ohio is undergoing an "economic renaissance," discussed those efforts in a recent interview with Hannah News. She couldn't give specifics on DOD requests for the upcoming FY24-25 budget, but Mihalik said the department will continue to focus on administration priorities of investing in "things that are important to people, places and businesses throughout the state of Ohio."


EDUCATION


The State Board of Education's Budget Committee voted Monday to recommend FY24-25 spending priorities that include tens of millions of dollars in literacy supports, but without $42 million in state support for summer learning and tutoring that had been recommended by Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff. The Budget Committee voted 4-1 Monday to submit a budget proposal for full board consideration in October. The budget recommendations include new proposed spending in the following areas:


  • Literacy: $56 million in FY24, $11.3 million of that federal; $36.4 million in FY25.

  • Learning acceleration: No new funding in FY24; $5.6 million in FY25, $3.5 million of that federal.

  • Workforce readiness: $24.5 million annually in state funding for FY24 and FY25.

The State Board of Education also heard hours of impassioned testimony Tuesday on a resolution opposing draft federal Title IX regulations, with most speakers saying the resolution would harm transgender children. The large majority of people testifying argued the resolution would worsen the mental anguish and suicide risk of trans youth, and require outing them to sometimes unsupportive family members. A smaller number of presenters lauded board member Brendan Shea for introducing the resolution, saying it affirms basic biology and stands against ideological indoctrination of children. Dozens of people spoke over about three hours while protestors opposing the resolution gathered outside the Ohio Department of Education offices in Columbus. Shea formally introduced his resolution later Tuesday during the board's new business discussion.


Interim Superintendent Stephanie Siddens has apparently thrown her hat in the ring as the State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its hunt for the next state superintendent. During the board's Tuesday meeting, President Charlotte McGuire said Siddens has indicated she wants to be considered permanently for the role as Ohio's top education official.


The inflation-adjusted average weekly wages of teachers have been essentially flat from 1996 to 2021, increasing by just $29, according to a recent report published recently by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). In comparison, the study found the inflation-adjusted weekly wages of other college graduates rose about $445 over the same period. The report says that teachers face a financial penalty compared to other similarly educated professionals that discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to keep current teachers in the classroom.


The State Board of Education (SBOE) heard a breakdown of professional conduct data from 2021 during its September meeting. Aaron Ross, director, and Abbie Miller, senior managing attorney, of the Office of Professional Conduct at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), provided an overview of the annual educator conduct report. In 2021, there were 17,378 referrals, 1,055 investigations, 875 dispositions, and 405 disciplines.


ELECTIONS 2022


Democrat Tanya Conrath Friday appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court a decision by Secretary of State Frank LaRose to disqualify her candidacy from the 94th Ohio House District race, saying there is no precedent for LaRose's reasoning in breaking a tie vote against her. Conrath, an Athens businesswoman, was selected by county Democratic parties in the district to replace Rhyan Goodman on the ballot after he withdrew from the race days after he appeared as the sole candidate for the Democratic nomination on the August primary ballot. The Athens County Board of Elections tied over whether Conrath could appear on the ballot in place of Goodman, and LaRose broke the tie against Conrath, arguing that because Goodman withdrew from the race before the results of the primary were certified, there was no candidate on the ballot for Conrath to replace.


The Miami County Board of Elections has approved Melissa Van Dyke of Wayne Lakes in Darke County as a write-in candidate for the 80th House District, according to the Dayton Daily News. The board had previously denied Van Dyke's candidacy as an independent because she had voted in the Democratic primary in August, but after reviewing a revised legal opinion from prosecutors, reversed course and unanimously approved her candidacy, the newspaper said. Van Dyke's attorney had argued that party affiliation is not a factor in running as a write-in at a general election. Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is running for re-election in the district.


In a 4-2 decision issued Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Frank LaRose to certify Terpsehore Maras as an independent secretary of state candidate on the Nov. 8 ballot. She will now face off against LaRose and Democrat Chelsea Clark. LaRose had qualified Maras for the ballot in July, but then removed her from the ballot after an Ohio Republican Party staffer filed a challenge to her candidacy, and retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell, who had been appointed by LaRose as an independent hearing officer, declared that 17 of Maras' signatures were invalid, putting her below the required threshold to qualify for the ballot. Maras then sued in the Ohio Supreme Court.


A group of Ohio Republicans including former Auditor and Attorney General Jim Petro is planning a "Think for Yourself Ohio" tour urging support by "moderate Republicans and centrist independents" for "common sense" candidates like Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan. According to the group, WelcomePAC, it consists of "regional Republicans who oppose the denial of valid elections, attacks of insurrection on our nation's Capitol" but support the election of Ryan.


Gov. Mike DeWine and Republican U.S. Senate nominee J.D. Vance will not appear at an Ohio Debate Commission debate with their opponents, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Nan Whaley and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Tim Ryan, the commission announced. The commission also said that it will not hold any "empty chair" or "empty podium" debates that just feature the Democratic candidates. The commission said it had planned general election debates for the governor's race and the U.S. Senate race on Oct. 10 and Oct. 12 that would have been held at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. It had provided a save the date to the candidates after the May primary and sent formal invitations on July 1, with a deadline to RSVP set for Tuesday, Sept. 20. Whaley and Ryan had accepted the invitation, but DeWine and Vance declined.


The Ohio Supreme Court Thursday in a 4-3 decision ordered the Mahoning County Board of Elections to certify Eric Ungaro as an independent candidate for the 59th House District after the board had refused to certify his petition last month.


The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announced it will be holding its first "family reunion" on Saturday, Sept. 24. ODP said the event will be different than a typical, "four-hour rubber chicken dinner. The event will be a celebration of the successes secured by Ohio Democrats over the last three years as well as a call-to action for the last 45 days of one of the most important elections in Ohio history." The program will begin at 2 p.m. and will be held at Kemba Live!, 405 Neil Ave., in Columbus.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine announced the endorsement of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF).

  • The NFIB Ohio PAC endorsed Rob McColley, Michelle Reynolds, Steve Huffman, Steve Wilson, Nathan Manning, Shane Wilkin, Andy Brenner, Kristina Roegner, Al Landis and Michael Rulli for Ohio Senate; and Dontavius Jarrells, Jill Rudler, Allison Russo, David Dobos, Omar Tarazi, Brian Stewart, Bride Rose Sweeney, Tom Patton, Jenn Giroux, Jessica Miranda, Cindy Abrams, Bill Seitz, Bill Roemer, Bob Young, Beth Bigham, Andrea White, Tom Young, Phil Plummer, Rodney Creech, Josh Williams, Derek Merrin, Jennifer Gross, Thomas Hall, Sara Carruthers, Scott Oelslager, Thomas West, Reggie Stoltzfus, Gayle Manning, Dick Stein, Scott Lipps, Adam Mathews, Jamie Callender, Al Cutrona, Beth Lear, Jean Schmidt, Adam Bird, Nick Santucci, Sharon Ray, Melanie Miller, Thad Claggett, Brian Lampton, Bill Dean, Gail Pavliga, Jeff LaRe, Haraz Ghanbari, Marilyn John, Scott Wiggam, Susan Manchester, Monica Robb-Blasdel, Jim Hoops, Roy Klopfenstein, Jon Cross, Angela King, Tracy Richardson, Gary Click, DJ Swearingen, Bob Peterson, Mark Johnson, Ron Ferguson, Adam Holmes, Darrell Kick and Sarah Fowler-Arthur for Ohio House.

  • Emily's List endorsed Tina Maharath, Catherine Ingram, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Nickie Antonio and Patricia Goetz for Ohio Senate; Mary Lightbody, Allison Russo, Munira Abdullahi, Anita Somani, Bride Rose Sweeney, Jessica Miranda, Louise Valentine, and Kathleen Clyde for Ohio House; and Cheryl Stephens for lieutenant governor.

  • Ohio Value Voters endorsed Sharon Kennedy for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice and Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer for reelection to the Ohio Supreme Court.

  • Stand Up for Ohio announced opposition to Issue 1, which addresses cash bail.

  • The Ohio Nurses Association endorsed Nan Whaley and Cheryl Stephens for governor and lieutenant governor; Jeff Crossman for attorney general; Taylor Sappington for state auditor; Jennifer Brunner for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice; Terri Jamison and Marilyn Zayas for Ohio Supreme Court associate justice; Tim Ryan for U.S. Senate; Greg Landsman, Marcy Kaptur and Emilia Sykes for Congress; Tina Maharath, Catherine Ingram, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Anthony Eliopoulos, Hearcel Craig, Andrew Brenner, Kent Smith, Nickie Antonio, Bill DeMora, Patricia Goetz, and Robert Hagan for Ohio Senate; and Mary Lightbody, Richard Brown, Adam Miller, Allison Russo, Beth Liston, Russell Harris, Anita Somani, Michael Skindell, Sean Brennan, Bride Rose Sweeney, Tom Patton, Darnell Brewer, Phillip Robinson, Juanita Brent, Dan Troy, Cecil Thomas, Rachel Baker, Jessica Miranda, Allison Mayhaus, Rita Darrow, Matt Shaughnessy, Tavia Galonski, Casey Weinstein, Addison Caruso, Phil Plummer, Amy Cox, Nancy Larson, Erika White, Elgin Rogers, Chuck Horn, Lawrence Mulligan, Thomas West, Brett Hillyer, Joe Miller, Joy Bennett, Jamie Callender, Louis Valentine, Brian Flick, Vincent Peterson, Kathleen Clyde, Jeff LaRe, Haraz Ghanbari, Taylor Eastham, Barbara Luke, Jim Obergefell, and William Ryan for Ohio House.

  • Ohio Citizen Action endorsed Jennifer Brunner for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice; Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison for Ohio Supreme Court justice; Tim Ryan for U.S. Senate; Greg Landsman, Marcy Kaptur and Emilia Sykes for Congress; and Casey Weinstein for re-election to the Ohio House.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT


According to new figures released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio's unemployment rate rose to 4 percent in August from 3.9 percent in July as the state added 7,500 nonagricultural wage and salary jobs over the month. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in August was 229,000, up from 223,000 in July. The number of unemployed has decreased by 54,000 in the past 12 months from 283,000. The August unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 4.9 percent in August 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for August 2022 was 3.7 percent, up from 3.5 percent in July 2022, and down from 5.2 percent in August 2021.


ENERGY/UTILITIES


Consumer advocates are expanding their push for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to stave off economic hardship and possible death this winter with a major overhaul of its annual utility-reconnect order in recognition of post-COVID inflation and continued joblessness. A half dozen agencies including the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) answered PUCO's end-of-business deadline Wednesday for a special public comment period for its Winter Reconnect Order after commissioners rescheduled a final decision from last week's agenda. In previous comments, OCC, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) and Pro Seniors had called on the commission to freeze disconnections for all or part of the heating season; delay disconnection when a consumer has been unable to get into a community action agency; permit winter-reconnect once per utility instead of once per season; and require utilities to publish disconnections and reconnections by zip code both monthly and annually.


Ohio is now part of a regional partnership to develop a robust regional hydrogen market, supply chain and workforce in collaboration with six other states. Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday his signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) along with the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. As part of the coalition, members will support hydrogen production that has little to no greenhouse gas emissions in the region and leverages their unique assets. This will enhance energy security and improve public health outcomes, while both enabling existing industries to remain globally competitive and encouraging new industries to come to the Midwest.


FirstEnergy Corp. Friday announced that John Somerhalder II, chair of its Board of Directors, had been named interim president and CEO. This followed former president and CEO Steven Strah's decision to retire from those positions and as a member of the board, according to FirstEnergy. Strah was named acting CEO in October 2020 after the firing of CEO Charles "Chuck" Jones, and had his position made permanent in March 2021.


The General Assembly should pass legislation giving the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) the authority to issue subpoenas, according to Consumers' Counsel Bruce Weston. "We don't have our own subpoena power. ... Subpoena is basically a way to require someone to appear. A lot of people who have information about an issue that might affect consumers don't actually want to appear or give testimony, right?" Weston told the OCC Governing Board during Tuesday's meeting. Weston said the current system requiring OCC to ask the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to sign subpoenas isn't appropriate, noting PUCO itself is involved in the 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) nuclear bailout scandal.


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted Wednesday to approve a unanimous settlement agreement that sets new rates for water and sewer service for Aqua Ohio. This calls for the company to increase its annual revenues for water service by $5.178 million, a 7.9 percent increase over the current revenues. Sewer service annual revenues will also increase by $303,595, representing an 8.96 percent increase. The average residential user will see an increase of $3.04 to $4.01 on their monthly water bill and $0.00 to $4.97 on their monthly sewer bill, depending on the service territory.


ENVIRONMENT


As part of Gov. Mike DeWine's H2Ohio water quality initiative, the Ohio EPA recently released the final reports for 10 emerging technologies that could play an important role in the reduction of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie. The technologies were chosen for evaluation through the H2Ohio Technology Assessment Program (TAP) by the TAP Advisory Council, which was created by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) to guide Ohio in addressing HABs in Lake Erie. According to Ohio EPA, the TAP Advisory Council considered 40 technology proposals to recommend for evaluation by an independent, third-party partner with the expertise to consider the wide-ranging technologies. Ohio EPA selected Tetra Tech as a third-party technology vendor to analyze and evaluate the 10 most promising technologies recommended by the TAP Advisory Council, and the reports released Monday contain Tetra Tech's findings. The initial listing of those technologies can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/bdzdhrca.


FEDERAL


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told Hannah News in a press call Tuesday he is "running through the tape" of his final term, including work to see five bills pass this year. Portman also discussed the war in Ukraine, how inflation and the economy are the predominant issues Ohioans raise to him and the "crisis" at the Southern border. Portman said there are bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate to pass legislation on the electoral count process, though he raised concerns about differences in the U.S. House bill. He also seeks passage of the JOBS Act expanding use of federal funds for worker re-training; a retirement security bill expanding the ability to get into a 401(k) or IRA; Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0 legislation he said is particularly important given the effects of fentanyl; and a bill protecting intellectual property from China that was not fully included in the final CHIPS and Science Act.


GAMING/GAMBLING


Of the approximately 1,370 type C sports gaming hosts recommended for licensure by the Ohio Lottery, only about 840 have submitted an application to the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), according to Ohio Lottery Sports Gaming Project Manager Jon Dillinger. OCCC has approved 500 type C sports betting licenses, which are available to facilities like bars, restaurants and bowling alleys with D-1, D-2 or D-5 liquor permits. Dillinger said seven type C sports gaming proprietors have applied for licenses with OCCC, noting the Ohio Lottery is working on getting contracts ready for each proprietor as the OCCC reviews their applications.


As he predicted before HB29 (Wiggam-Miller) was enacted, Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) Executive Director Matt Schuler said Wednesday that the legalization of sports betting is motivating many problem gamblers to come out of the shadows and ask for help. "We know from our surveys that Ohioans have a problem with sports gaming today, and the rate of the problems for sports gaming slightly exceeds that of casino gaming. But the calls to the helpline have been less than 1 percent, relative to sports gaming," Schuler said during the commission's discussion of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services' (OhioMHAS) annual problem gambling report. OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss and Schuler both noted that helpline calls on sports gambling have already increased 32 percent. In commission action on Wednesday, 311 type C sports gaming host licenses were approved. In total, 811 type C licenses have been awarded.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Ohio State University (OSU) announced it will serve as the lead partner for the first-ever science park devoted to space research. Voyager Space selected a proposal from the university, the state, JobsOhio, and One Columbus to host the terrestrial analog of the George Washington Carver Science Park (GWCSP) at Ohio State. The analog laboratory will be a replica of the Starlab space station science park and allows researchers to test missions and conduct parallel experiments on the ground, the university explained. The GWCSP, established by Voyager and its operating company Nanoracks, is a core element of Starlab, the companies' future commercial space station. In December 2021, Voyager and Nanoracks won a $160 million Space Act Agreement from NASA to design Starlab as part of their Commercial Destination Free Flyers (CDFF) project. The GWCSP is the world's first-ever science park in space, operating on the International Space Station.


INTEL


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) announced Tuesday it had issued a permit to Intel allowing the company to install equipment and initially operate up to four semiconductor manufacturing facilities in two buildings in Licking County. The facilities are required to use state-of-the-art controls as included in the permit to ensure the area continues to comply with federal air quality standards once it is operating, according to an Ohio EPA release. Air modeling required by Ohio law was performed by an Intel consultant and verified by Ohio EPA as part of the process. This analysis shows that no adverse health or welfare effects would be expected from air emissions at this facility.


JUDICIAL


The Supreme Court of Ohio has opened a public comment period on proposed amendments to the rules for courts. The proposed changes include revised rules about technology in the courts, which follows up on the Legislature's updates to rules for civil cases, a clarification about expert witness qualifications, and suggested modifications to juvenile court rules. The text of the proposed changes can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/464yz77a. Comments should be submitted in writing by Thursday, Oct. 27, to Michel Jendretzky, legal counsel, Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 S. Front St., 7th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215; or to ruleamendments@sc.ohio.gov .


NATURAL RESOURCES


Eastern monarch butterflies are now flying through Ohio on their way from summer breeding areas to overwintering sites in Mexico, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife announced. Monarchs may travel 50 to 100 miles per day, one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom, and their journey can span thousands of miles. Native flowers provide monarchs with the fuel needed to reach overwintering areas. Ohioans should look for monarchs in the coming weeks in forests, fields, gardens, and waterways as they migrate through the state. Migrants may travel individually or in groups. Monarch butterflies are in decline across their range, as are many other pollinating insects, due primarily to the loss of prairie and grassland habitat. One of the most important ways to help declining butterflies and other pollinating insects is by conserving tracts of unmown grasslands, the division said, noting that it manages habitat on many of Ohio's state wildlife areas to provide these grasslands that provide nectar producing plants.


National Public Lands Day is this Saturday, Sept. 24. Held on the fourth Saturday every September, the day is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the National Park Service and other federal agencies. It is traditionally the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).


PENSIONS


Unions representing Ohio first responders commissioned a poll they say shows support for efforts to strengthen funding for the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F) with contribution rate increases for employers. The system has been trying to win legislative support for HB512 (Abrams-Baldridge), which would equalize and increase employer contribution rates for police and fire employers to match the 26.5 percent the state pays to the Highway Patrol Retirement System. The majority of poll respondents expressed support for police and fire personnel in general and for increasing employer contribution rates versus employee rates or further benefit cuts.


PEOPLE


Working as both a teacher and an advocate for educators, Deb Tully has been on the front lines of education policy for years. After over two decades with the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), Tully retired at the end of August, speaking with Hannah News on her final day about the state of education in Ohio. This is the latest installment of Hannah’s “Faces on Capitol Square” series.


The Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) presented the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association (OLCA) with its First Amendment Award on Wednesday, in recognition of OLCA members' reporting on Ohio's redistricting saga. The award was presented at SPJ's annual Founders' Day event. Noah Blundo of Hannah News, current president of OLCA, attended to accept the award. The event featured other award presentations, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for former OLCA President Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch.


POLLS/STUDIES


The Montrose Group recently released its Opportunity Ohio 2022 Poll showing a large lead for Gov. Mike DeWine in his re-election bid and a slight lead for Tim Ryan in the U.S. Senate race. According to the poll, DeWine leads Democrat Nan Whaley 49 percent to 36.5 percent, with about 12 percent undecided. Montrose Group said DeWine holds a lead over Whaley in every major media market including Dayton, where Whaley previously served as mayor. In the U.S. Senate race, the poll showed Ryan with 46.1 percent to 43.1 percent lead over Republican J.D. Vance, with 11 percent undecided. Montrose Group said Ryan is getting 22 percent of Republicans polled while Vance is getting 12 percent of Democrats polled. Ryan is also winning the Youngstown market while DeWine is defeating Whaley there. The poll was taken before former President Donald Trump's rally in Youngstown on Saturday, Sept. 17. The economy and cost of living was the top issue among those surveyed (32.5 percent), followed by abortion (15.5 percent) and crime and violence (13.9 percent).


POVERTY


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will send $50 million to Ohio foodbanks beginning in January 2023, according to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks (OAF). "Ohio's foodbank network is extremely grateful to the Biden-Harris administration and the USDA for their announcement that they will provide nearly $1.5 billion in additional funding for emergency food assistance nationally, roughly $50 million of which will be used to direct food to Ohioans in need beginning in 2023," OAF Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt and the OAF Board of Directors said in a statement. OAF emphasized that the General Assembly and Gov. Mike DeWine should still distribute the requested $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to Ohio foodbanks as soon as possible.


RACES TO WATCH: ELECTIONS 2022


Two candidates with backgrounds in education face off this fall in southern Franklin County's House District 10, a reconfiguration of the Grove City-area seat that incorporates sections of Columbus to make for a more competitive landscape. Democrats nominated Russell Harris of Grove City, a retired Ohio Education Association (OEA) consultant and lobbyist with a long history in Ohio's school funding debates and litigation. Republicans nominated David Dobos of Columbus, a former Columbus City Schools Board of Education member and president who now runs an educational products and services company. Incumbent Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) withdrew from contention ahead of the August legislative primary. The district covers Grove City and parts of Columbus' West and South sides.


Both candidates seeking to succeed Rep. Michael O'Brien (D-Warren) in the 64th House District cite their experience as the reason they are the best qualified candidate in the race. The district as currently drawn contains the city of Warren as well as the southeastern portion of Trumbull County. It has about a 54 percent Democratic index, with Joe Biden winning 51 percent of the vote in 2020 and Richard Cordray winning nearly 59 percent of the vote for governor in 2018. With O'Brien unable to run due to term limits, the race sees Democrat Vincent Peterson facing off against Republican Nick Santucci.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT


With the deadline passing for lawmakers to draw a new congressional map after the previous one was struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court, a coalition of advocacy organizations and labor unions Friday bashed the Ohio Redistricting Commission and called for fair maps that represent all Ohioans. The second congressional map adopted by the commission was struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court in July. While the Ohio Constitution gives the General Assembly 30 days to draw a new map after such an action and another 30 days for the Ohio Redistricting Commission to do so should the General Assembly fail, Republican leaders have argued that because they intend to appeal the Ohio Supreme Court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, no map is required until at least after the appeal deadline of Monday, Oct. 17.


The Equal Districts Coalition, which includes over 30 groups, held a press conference in the Statehouse Atrium Friday with speakers singling out Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission in their criticisms of the latest deadline passing with no action.


Common Cause Ohio Tuesday launched a new "timeline tool" that it said details the history of Ohio's redistricting process since 2020. The timeline -- a Knightlab-created tool that integrates photos, Tweets, videos, and other multimedia forms -- is intended for the press and public to be informed of the ongoing delay toward creating fair maps in Ohio. The timeline will be updated periodically to reflect new developments in the mapmaking process.


SECRETARY OF STATE


Secretary of State Frank LaRose Monday warned Ohio business owners about a deceptive letter that he said is offering to sell a government service that the state already provides for free. According to LaRose, one of the newest in a line of suspicious, misleading, and even fraudulent mailers involves Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. This mailer claims to "obtain and mail a hard copy of your Ohio UCC Financing Statement Form" for a $90 fee. The same PDF document being referenced can be downloaded and printed for free at the Ohio Secretary of State's website at https://ucc.ohiosos.gov.


STATE GOVERNMENT


The Controlling Board Monday approved two requests from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) that would spend millions in addition to already budgeted funds to renovate lodges at Ohio's state parks. The projects involve renovations at Hueston Woods Lodge in Preble County, Deer Creek Lodge in Pickaway County, Salt Fork State Park Lodge in Guernsey County and Mohican State Park Lodge in Ashland County.


The Controlling Board also approved two requests from the secretary of state's office to run public service announcements on the upcoming election. Chris Oliveti, representing the secretary of state, told Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London) that every corner of the state will be touched by the advertisements.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Radio listeners on the Ohio Turnpike are hearing a lot about E-ZPass lately, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed said Monday. "You may have noticed an increased Ohio Turnpike E-ZPass presence on your local radio stations," Ahmed said during his report to the commission. "Our experience has shown that radio provides the best return on investment. We use influencer campaigns during drive-time weather and traffic reports." The OTIC's influencer campaigns are paid endorsements by local radio personalities, Ahmed said.


WORKFORCE


A number of career centers across the state are nearing capacity, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said during his remarks to the JobsOhio Board of Directors on Friday. Husted attributed the increased enrollment to a number of factors, including state incentives for career centers that increase the number of students who graduate with "in-demand" credentials.


In conjunction with National Workforce Development Month, Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced that ApprenticeOhio sponsors can apply for grants of up to $25,000 each to help cover apprenticeship training costs incurred since July 1, 2020. Ohio employers with registered apprentices in their workforces also can apply for the grants. The program is available through Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The reimbursement grants are available as a result of a federal "Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation" grant that ODJFS received in 2020. Sponsors and employers can apply for the grants at Apprentice.Ohio.gov through Dec. 31. They can receive reimbursement of up to $2,500 per apprentice for up to 10 apprentices to help cover the cost of training and tool allowances. All applicants must have both a state of Ohio OH|ID, which can be secured online at: https://ohid.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ohid/login and a federal Registered Apprenticeship ID.



[Story originally published in The Hannah Report. Copyright 2022 Hannah News Service, Inc.]


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