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Week In Review - September 6, 2022




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


Women's Med Center of Dayton will cease patient services on Thursday, Sept. 15, abortion rights organization Pro-Choice Ohio announced Tuesday. The clinic, located in the Dayton suburb of Kettering, is closing because of Ohio's current abortion law and Indiana's recently-passed abortion ban, which is set to go into effect on Sept. 15. Women's Med is also closing its facility in Indianapolis, Pro-Choice Ohio said. However, the clinic would remain open past mid-September if a lawsuit challenging Indiana's new abortion law is successful in the Monroe County Circuit Court in Bloomington, Pro-Choice Ohio spokesperson Gabriel Mann told Hannah News on Wednesday.


ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE


In observance of Aug. 31 as Ohio Overdose Awareness Day and the start of Recovery Month in September, the DeWine administration announced a new website for those seeking access to naloxone, the opioid overdose medication. At https://naloxone.ohio.gov, individuals seeking the medication for themselves or others, organizations that distribute naloxone and first responder agencies in search of it can submit requests or find information about where to pick it up. The site also has information about how to administer naloxone and about how to find addiction treatment services.


ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT


The Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University (OSU) has selected art historian and arts administrator Gaetane Verna as its next executive director, effective Nov. 15. Verna currently serves as the director and artistic director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Ontario, where she has worked since 2012.


ATTORNEY GENERAL


The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) seized more than 1,000 firearms and 140,000 rounds of ammunition from a property in Knox County where the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and other law enforcement agencies recently engaged in multi-jurisdictional standoff that ended in officers' shooting and killing 56-year-old Randy and 53-year-old Bradley Wilhelm. The Ohio Attorney General's Office is taking over the investigation at the request of the Knox County Sheriff's Office, which was trying to execute search and arrest warrants for the guns and Randy Wilhelm early Saturday when the brothers barricaded themselves at their property on Gilchrest Road in Howard.


AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY


Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement Monday saying his administration is "working with Honda and LG to ensure that they choose Ohio for this new electric battery plant." According to media reports, Ohio is under consideration for an electric vehicle (EV) battery production facility that would result in $4.4 billion in investments by Honda and LG Energy Solution (LGES).


According to a plan submitted to the federal government earlier in August, Ohio plans to build out 42 electric vehicle charging stations at a cost of around $1 million each over the next five years using funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law passed earlier this year provides $7.5 billion to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure over next five years with a goal of having a nationwide network of 500,000 charging facilities by 2030 and ensuring "convenient, reliable, affordable and equitable charging for all users." The federal funding is broken down into a $5 billion formula program and a $2.5 billion discretionary grant split evenly between corridor charging and community charging. For the formula program, known as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, each state was required to submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan describing how the state intends to use its NEVI funds in accordance with guidance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The deadline for those plans was Aug. 1, and every state met that deadline. The federal government, including the new Joint Office of Energy Transportation, has until Friday, Sept. 30, to approve the plans.


CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Wednesday authorized reformulated versions of the Moderna and PfizerBioNTech vaccines that are designed to take aim at the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. The FDA amended its emergency use authorizations (EUAs) to authorize the "bivalent" formulations of the vaccines for use as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination. Regarding the country's other health emergency, the White House's Monkeypox Response Team recently announced new administration actions, including providing additional vaccines and support to states and cities holding events "that convene large groups of LGBTQI+ individuals, specifically gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men."


CORRECTIONS


One of the largest school systems in the state is among a handful of its kind to provide college-level classes in all of its facilities. That's the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), which said Friday it is expanding educational offerings to inmates in high-security prisons. DRC's Ohio Central School System (OCSS) serves thousands of prisoners each year. "Providing an avenue for the men and women in our prisons to better themselves is one of the best things we can do to help them succeed," DRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith said in a statement. "Expanding our delivery and the number of people who have access to education while in prison is a rehabilitative necessity."


The DeWine administration plans to release another $51 million for construction, renovation and other infrastructure improvements at county detention centers. The governor worked with the General Assembly to secure a new round of grant funding for the Ohio Jail Safety and Security Program in the current capital budget. This is in addition to $45 million for jails in the previous fiscal year and another $5 million earlier in August for targeted projects. Among its primary goals, the Jail Safety and Security Program supports local efforts to reduce recidivism in detention settings that influence positive change. Renovation and new construction appropriate to a modern criminal justice system helps jail staff understand issues that may contribute to inmates' criminal behavior, such as mental health or substance abuse, according to the administration, which had received requests totaling $368 million.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for 10 projects expected to create 767 new jobs and retain 2,032 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $68 million in new payroll and spur more than $318.4 million in investments across Ohio.


EDUCATION


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced it is taking applications in search of 150 education professionals, community partners and family members to be part of the Whole Child Network, a virtual platform for learning about and sharing approaches that support whole child needs. More information about the Whole Child Network is at https://tinyurl.com/k344j49y. Those interested can apply at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ODENAWCN by Friday, Sept. 9


About $90 million in additional spending would go toward reading and literacy initiatives under FY24-25 budget recommendations under consideration by the State Board of Education (SBOE). The literacy focus -- the most detailed part of the draft budget recommendations -- is part of board priorities that target learning recovery and acceleration in the wake of pandemic disruptions to learning the past few years.


Draft budget recommendations prepared by Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff and discussed Monday by the board's Budget Committee propose new spending in three areas identified as priorities by the board:


  • Literacy: $54.5 million in FY24, $11.3 million of that federal; $33.7 million in FY25.

  • Learning acceleration: $45.6 million in FY25, $3.5 million of that federal.

  • Workforce readiness: $24.5 million in both FY24 and FY25, all with state funding.

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) ratified the conceptual agreement reached with Columbus City Schools Sunday night by a 71 to 29 percent vote. This allowed students in the state's largest school district to return to classrooms on Monday. The Columbus Board of Education then unanimously voted to approve the contract during a special meeting Monday morning. Members of the board and CEA signed the three-year contract during the meeting, according to Columbus City Schools.


The Ohio Department of Education announced it has extended by one week the deadline for organizations to seek inclusion on a state list of high-quality tutoring programs to be published in October. The deadline is now Friday, Sept. 9 instead of Friday, Sept. 2. As part of HB583 (Bird-Jones), ODE is required to compile and publicize by Saturday, Oct. 1 a list of high-quality tutoring programs provided by public and private organizations. Local districts will not be required to select tutors from this list, however. Application information is at https://tinyurl.com/4swcxaz8 .


The Biden administration announced Wednesday a series of actions by the federal government and other partners to address teacher shortages. Officials from online job boards, state governments and teachers unions met Wednesday afternoon at the White House to discuss the issue. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint letter to education and workforce leaders at the state and local levels encouraging them to take specific steps to address shortages in schools and invest in the teaching profession. Those steps include using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to increase teacher pay and taking advantage of DOL funding for apprenticeships in education professions. That letter is available at https://tinyurl.com/2p8wd7ft. Three talent recruitment and job platforms -- ZipRecruiter, Handshake and Indeed -- rolled out tools meant to make it easier to find, recruit and hire teachers and other school professionals and help more people find jobs in education.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced it opened applications Thursday for the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award, which honors classified school employees who provide exemplary service to their schools, students, colleagues and communities. The award program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. Nominations can be submitted at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z7VWVB3. Meanwhile, nominations are open through Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honor that the federal government bestows on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math teachers. Anyone may nominate a current STEM teacher who is teaching grades 7-12, and teachers can also apply for the award. The application deadline is Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. More information about the award, nominations and applications is available at https://www.paemst.org/.


ELECTIONS


Secretary of State Frank LaRose Thursday announced the re-launch of the "Styling for Democracy. Now Vote!" initiative that he started in 2020 to get more Ohioans registered to vote and to recruit more poll workers. The partnership works with barbershops, salons and barber schools to encourage members of their community to sign up to be poll workers, register their family and friends to vote, and educate the community on the multiple ways to vote. Barbershops and salons looking to partner with LaRose on the initiative may contact Henry Curtis at hcurtis@ohiosos.gov.


ELECTIONS 2022


Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Tuesday that every registered Ohio voter will soon be receiving an absentee ballot request form. Funding for the mailing was approved by the Ohio General Assembly earlier this year. The mailing of absentee voter applications to all registered voters during gubernatorial and presidential election cycles has been standard practice for more than a decade. In all, nearly 8 million registered Ohio voters will receive the absentee voter application.


According to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, as of Monday, there were four filings in each of the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races to appear as write-in candidates on the November ballot. In the governor and lieutenant governor's race, the filings by Monday's deadline for write-ins included Timothy Grady and running mate Dayna Bickley, Craig Patton and running mate Collin Cook, Renea Turner and running mate Adina Pelletier, and Marshall Usher and running mate Shannon Walker. In the U.S. Senate race, the four independent write-in candidates who filed were John Cheng, Matthew R. Esh, Stephen Faris and Shane Hoffman.


Hannah News published an updated list of candidates for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election this week that can be found on the homepage at www.hannah.com.


The Ohio Debate Commission Monday announced dates for planned events in the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and Ohio Supreme Court chief justice races, though the Republican candidates in those races have yet to commit to participating. The commission said the gubernatorial debate is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 10; the U.S. Senate debate will be on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The chief justice race will be a forum rather than a debate and will happen on one of those two days, the commission said. All three events are to be held at the Akron-Summit County Public Library's main auditorium.


To accompany the release of its guidebook on how to put on a candidate debate, the Ohio Debate Commission recently held online webinars for groups interested in hosting their own forums. The commission told webinar attendees that a high-quality debate is moderated by professionals selected through an unbiased process. The debate should include development and use of well-considered questions; have production quality maintained across media; allow for candidate walk-thrus and moderator run-thrus to acclimate them to staging, timing, sound systems and cameras; and promote civility among candidates, moderators and audience members.


While not an official debate, the candidates' forum hosted Friday by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the Ohio Association of Regional Councils (OARC) did feature both gubernatorial candidates on the same stage -- just a few hours apart. Friday's event, held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Columbus, focused on the candidates' plans for infrastructure, job growth and economic development in Ohio. Both candidates made individual comments as well as participated in a moderated discussion. Gov. Mike DeWine kicked off the event in the morning, while former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley closed it in the afternoon.


U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), Democratic candidate for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat, and Republican J.D. Vance both announced they would be participating in debates before the election, though Ryan said he would take part in three and Vance said he had agreed to two. Only one date was agreed to by both campaigns.


Assistant Secretary of State Kimberly Burns sent a letter to independent secretary of state candidate Terpsehore Maras Tuesday informing her that she will no longer be on the ballot based on the recommendation of former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell, who heard a protest to Maras' candidacy filed by an Ohio Republican Party staffer. In the letter, Burns said Maras' petition for the ballot contained 4,993 valid signatures, falling short of the required 5,000 signatures needed.


Former U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci, now chairman of the America Greatness PAC, announced Tuesday that he will be hosting and moderating a series of forums "aimed to unite conservatives and revive the MAGA Movement." The first event in the series will be held Thursday, Sept. 15, at Thirsty Cowboy in Medina and will feature a conservative "Vendors Village" and will include a who's who panel of conservative leaders in Ohio, Renacci said.


Ohio Kids First (OKF) Tuesday launched its online 2022 voter guide featuring candidate questionnaire responses. The group said its questionnaire has been sent to all Ohio House and Senate candidates and focuses on issues that matter most to infants, toddlers, preschool-aged children and the families who care for them. OKF said it is calling on candidates to submit their responses so that voters can see where they stand on these issues. Additionally, the questionnaire will serve as a tool for determining OKF's level of engagement on behalf of particular candidates, the group said. The Voter Guide can be accessed at www.OhioKidsFirst.org/candidates.


The Vote for Ohio Kids Campaign has scheduled a leadership forum for Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Columbus Convention Center and will feature the candidates for governor. The group said the event will bring together business, health care, education, and child advocacy leaders to discuss issues that matter most to Ohio's future, including supporting and prioritizing Ohio's citizens. Speakers scheduled for the event include Gov. Mike DeWine and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley and keynote speaker Brenda Jones Harden, professor of social work at the Columbia School of Social Work and the president of the ZERO TO THREE Board of Directors.


The congressional campaigns of U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Democrat Emilia Sykes both launched their first television ads on Wednesday. Chabot, running for re-election in the 1st Congressional District, released an ad, "Fighting," which contrasts him with opponent Greg Landsman. Sykes, running as the Democratic nominee for the 13th District, began airing an ad titled "My Community," which her campaign said highlights her deep roots in the community and a bipartisan, independent record of getting things done when she was minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives.


The following endorsements were made over the week:


  • The Ohio Supreme Court campaign of Terri Jameson announced the endorsements of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Daily Kos.

  • End Citizens United/Let America Vote endorsed Nan Whaley for governor.

ENVIRONMENT


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has broken ground on the Spring Run Conservation Area Wetland Restoration in Montgomery County, marking one of the first H2Ohio wetland projects in the Ohio River Basin to get underway. This 57-acre project is within the Wolf Creek Watershed. The H2Ohio grant will help create 13 wetlands onsite to help with stormwater erosion along the Wolf Creek as it heads downtown to meet with the Great Miami River. The restoration will reduce sediments, assimilate nutrients, moderate surface water flow, and expand wildlife habitat in the project site, which is connected to Sycamore State Park.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE


The Ohio Controlling Board approved all funding requests on its agenda Monday, with the exception of one item from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), which was withdrawn. Another item from the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) was added to the regular agenda during the meeting.


It was for a roughly $486,600 waiver of competitive selection as well as $456,500 to contract with Health Management Associates of Lansing, MI for provider reimbursement activities.


The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) is looking for about 60 volunteers to assist with placing flags on the Statehouse grounds as part of a 9/11 memorial display. Those interested in volunteering to assist with the installation, maintenance, or de-installation of this year's 9/11 memorial should contact Dayna Jalkanen at DJalkanen@ohiostatehouse.org or 614-728-2697.


GOVERNOR


Appointments made during the week include the following:


  • Judy A. Budi of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending May 17, 2027.

  • Bailey Simons of Logan (Hocking County) to the Hocking Technical College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending Aug. 26, 2023.

  • Douglas William Boedeker of Washington Court House (Fayette County) reappointed to the Southern State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending May 11, 2028.

  • Christian E. Bauserman of Delaware (Delaware County) to the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors for a term beginning Sept. 25, 2022 and ending Sept. 24, 2027.

  • Melinda Jane Ferris of Columbus (Franklin County) to the State Board of Pharmacy for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending June 30, 2026.

  • Christine Pfaff of Lewis Center (Delaware County) to the State Board of Pharmacy for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending June 30, 2025.

  • W. Craig Zimpher of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Employment Relations Board for a term beginning Oct. 7, 2022 and ending Oct. 6, 2028.

  • Gregory Alfred Guzman of Maumee (Lucas County) and Daniel Adam Molina of Loveland (Clermont County) reappointed to the Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs for a term beginning Oct. 8, 2022 and ending Oct. 7, 2025.

  • Scott James Fleming of Oakwood (Montgomery County) reappointed to the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending July 10, 2025.

  • Michael B. Gardner of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending June 28, 2027.

  • Sandra Thompson of Jewett (Harrison County) to the Broadcast Educational Media Commission for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2022 and ending June 30, 2026.


GREAT LAKES


The Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) is now requesting proposals for the new Lake Erie Communities and Coastal Resilience Grant. One-year grants of up to $250,000 will be considered for projects in the eight Ohio Lake Erie coastal counties, according to OLEC. Applications are due no later than Monday, Oct. 3, with selections to be announced later in the fall. Application materials and guidance for the Lake Erie Communities and Coastal Resilience Grant are available at https://lakeerie.ohio.gov/funding-oportunities/coastal-resilience .


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


The Nursing Facility Payment Commission held its fourth and final meeting on Tuesday, once again hearing testimony from leaders of the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA), LeadingAge Ohio and the Academy of Senior Health Sciences. While all three organizations agree that nursing facilities need additional funding, there are differences of opinion about how exactly that extra money should be distributed. OHCA Executive Director Pete Van Runkle said quality incentives should be a "bonus" for facilities and shouldn't be considered as part of the base rate. "We should not combine those two together. The base rate is exactly what it says -- it's the 'base.' It's based on costs. It's a way of reimbursing all providers for the costs that they incur in caring for Medicaid residents. That is the way it has always been, and that is the way it should continue to be," Van Runkle said.


HIGHER EDUCATION


Santa J. Ono, who served as the president of the University of Cincinnati from 2012 to 2016, has been named the 15th president of the University of Michigan (UM). Ono is currently the president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and formerly served as senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University in Georgia. Ono, 59, is a vision researcher whose work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye disease. He has also held leadership positions at the Posse Foundation and the Urban Health Initiative of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities.


Kent State University and the University of Akron (UA) School of Law (Akron Law) recently finalized a Juris Doctor degree partnership program for students to obtain a bachelor's degree from Kent State and a law degree from Akron Law in six years. The program is commonly referred to as a three plus three degree program (3+3 program).


Ohio University's (OU) Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service announced it has received a grant from the PORTSfuture Program allowing it to host a variety of youth outreach activities focused on STEM-based learning. Over the summer, OU staff and students hosted "Summer STEM Days" for regional youth in Jackson and Pike counties to learn about water quality and residential stormwater pollution mitigation.


A federal judge recently ruled in favor of Cleveland State University (CSU) student Aaron Ogletree in a lawsuit over whether universities could require students to use a webcam to show their room to a school official prior to taking a virtual test in an effort to prevent cheating. The case appears to be the first in the nation to hold that the Fourth Amendment protects students from unreasonable video searches of their homes before taking a remote test, according to civil rights attorney Matthew Besser, who represented Ogletree. In its defense, Cleveland State reportedly argued that room scans are not searches because they are limited in scope and conducted to ensure academic fairness and exam integrity, and not coerced.


JUDICIAL


Starting in 2023, lawyers will be able to satisfy all continuing legal education (CLE) hours through self-study. The Ohio Supreme Court responded to COVID-19 by temporarily allowing practicing attorneys to meet all 24 hours of their CLE requirement remotely over the last three overlapping biennial compliance periods. That led to the creation of more than 20,000 approved CLE self-study credits in the past two years. The provisional rule change became a permanent recommendation last spring. The public comment period is complete, and the rule amendment is now final. "With thousands of certified on-demand courses, this amendment makes it easier for lawyers to focus on their clients and practices while also maintaining their educational requirements," Supreme Court Attorney Service Director Gina Palmer said in a statement.


Over five dozen of Ohio's most violent felons blame the three-year-old Reagan Tokes Act for a raft of constitutional attacks on the separation of powers, due process and right to a jury. The Office of Ohio Public Defender (OPD) agrees. The Ohio Attorney General's Office says they're mistaken, and that minimum-maximum punishment in bipartisan 132-SB201 (Bacon-O'Brien) simply revives indefinite sentencing previously adopted by the Legislature, executed by the courts, and administered by the executive branch. The Supreme Court has put on hold more than 60 criminal appeals of first- and second-degree felony convictions since 2020, when Christopher Hacker and Danan Simmons challenged their sentences under the Reagan Tokes Act, which requires judges presiding over crimes including rape, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and other violent crimes to sentence offenders to both a minimum prison term and a maximum term half again as long -- the latter triggered if the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) can show inmates have committed serious rule infractions, served extended periods in restrictive detention, or were rated high-security risks during their initial stay. Offenders have no right of appeal from this administrative showing.


JUVENILE JUSTICE


Cuyahoga County leads the state and nation in the disproportionate transfer of Black youth to the adult criminal justice system, say the Office of Ohio Public Defender (OPD) and the Children's Law Center.


Former Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), now a member of Cleveland City Council, joined Managing Counsel Brooke Burns of OPD's Youth Defense Department and staff attorney Leah Winsberg of the Children's Law Center for Friday's Cleveland City Club (CCC) panel, "The Faults in Our System: Transforming Juvenile Justice." "It's so clear there's a really big disconnect between how our criminal legal system treats young people and what our young people need to thrive and survive in our communities around Cleveland, especially Cuyahoga County," moderator Piet van Lier, senior researcher for Policy Matters Ohio, said to introduce the panel.


LIQUOR/ALCOHOL


The DeWine administration is advising liquor permit holders to "serve responsibly" as college students return to campus statewide. The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control (DLC) are urging restaurants, bars and carry-outs to educate themselves on laws governing alcohol purchases and underaged drinking.


OHIO HISTORY


The Ohio History Connection will host its "Ohio Open Doors" series when building and landmark owners and operators open their doors to the public for free special tours and programs from Friday, Sept. 9 to Sunday, Sept. 18. "Ohio Open Doors shares stories of important landmarks and interesting sites right in our backyards, highlighting the history and unique nature of some of Ohio's most treasured places," said Amanda Schraner Terrell, director of the Ohio History Connection's State Historic Preservation Office.


Among the events, the Ohio Statehouse Museum and Education Center will host a day of "unique, topical tours" in the Statehouse on Tuesday, Sept. 13.


Ohio is full of historically significant sites, which help create a rich culture as well as ample opportunity for tourism. During Wednesday's Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC), two leaders of state historical organizations discussed efforts to promote the state's rich history to Ohioans, as well as the nation.


Panelists for the event included Megan Wood, who was named the first female executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection (OHC) earlier this summer. The forum also featured Napoleon A. Bell II, the co-founder of Heritage Tours and its annual Civil Rights Heritage Tour, which begins in Columbus and travels to notable civil rights locations across the country. Bell is also the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.


PENSIONS


The Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA) ramped up its criticisms this week of performance bonuses paid to State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) investment staff, saying some managers are getting quarter-million-dollar payouts or greater, in some cases doubling their salaries and far outstripping the compensation of working teachers. In response, STRS argues that it's saving money overall with management of assets in-house versus by external firms; the fund managed about 70 percent of its investments, according to spokesperson Nick Treneff. "It really is a value to the system because we are paying Broad Street prices, not Wall Street prices," Treneff said.


PEOPLE


The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) has announced its statewide award winners for 2022. The honorees are being recognized for leadership in their communities through volunteer service both in and outside the legal profession, according to a news release from OSBF. This year's award winners will be honored on Friday, Oct. 7 at the 2022 All Rise Annual Awards Celebration at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin. Winners include the following:


  • Akron Municipal Court Judge Annalisa Williams won the Ritter Award, OSBF's highest honor

  • Inajo Davis Chappell of Solon won the Ramey Award for Distinguished Service

  • Carl Smallwood of Columbus won the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award

  • The Building Bridges organization in Dayton won the Outstanding Program or Organization Award

  • Valissa Turner Howard of Cleveland won the Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and under

A.J. Wagner, a former Montgomery County judge and auditor and State Board of Education (SBOE) member, died last week after complications from leukemia. According to the Dayton Daily News, a memorial service for Wagner is planned for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, 300 College Park, Dayton.


POLITICS


In a reorganization meeting held Tuesday evening, Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) Chair Elizabeth Walters was re-elected to her position. She faced no opposition. Walters gave brief comments after her election, saying Ohio Democrats have a lot to be proud of but still a lot of work to do ahead of November's elections. She said the party is in "healthy shape," is debt free, and has one of the largest and most diverse and coordinated campaigns in the nation. She noted that the party had just registered 1,000 new voters on Ohio college campuses in the past month. She also highlighted the party's new website, which she said is organized toward helping Ohioans vote, run for office, and get involved in activities from the local level up to the state campaigns.


Bryan Williams, the vice chairman of the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) and the chairman of the Summit County Republican Party, said this week that he will be challenging current Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik for the chairman's job at the party's organizational meeting on Sept. 9. Williams told Hannah News he believes the party needs a leadership change "now rather than later." With a new majority elected at the Aug. 2 primary for the party's state central committee, he said primary voters have spoken in favor of having new members on the committee and have the right to have officers of their choice. He also argued that the committee should be able to have leadership elections at its organizational meeting rather than waiting until January, as Paduchik has argued the party's bylaws only allow.


POVERTY


The General Assembly should focus less on politics and more on ensuring hungry Ohioans are able to access food as the state continues to recover from the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said Thursday. "This is a state Legislature that cares more about denying women's rights and putting more guns on the street than it does to help moderate-income, lower-income and middle-class families," Brown told reporters during an event hosted at the MidOhio Food Collective (MOFC) in Grove City. Brown specifically urged lawmakers to immediately distribute the $50 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that the Ohio Association of Foodbanks (OAF) has requested.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Col. Charles Jones was sworn in Thursday by Gov. Mike DeWine and received his official commission as 20th superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) during a ceremony at the patrol's training academy in Columbus. Maj. Joshua Swindell was also formally promoted to lieutenant colonel and will serve as assistant superintendent under Jones.


The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) is giving drivers a neighborly heads-up: troopers will be out in force over the Labor Day weekend to remove alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers from the road. The Labor Day reporting period begins Friday, Sept. 2 at 12 a.m. and ends Monday, Sept. 5 at 11:59 p.m.


TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE


The State Committee on Computer Science (SCCS) voted unanimously Tuesday to approve its 10 draft recommendations during its final meeting, though committee members were encouraged to help with implementation going forward. SCCS received "a few hundred" responses during the public comment period, according to Battelle Senior STEM Relationship Manager Kelly Gaier Evans. Among the recommendations are the following:


  • Creation of an Office of Computer Science Education (OCSE) with five or more staff in the governor's office and additional staff at ODE, ODHE and related workforce agencies.

  • Funding equal to 1 percent of the state's K-12 formula -- approximately $94 million -- dedicated to CS education starting in 2023.

  • Require one CS credit for high school graduation by 2030, similar to existing requirements for a half credit in health education and financial literacy.

  • Create a "CS Promise" to fund access to CS courses at least once per grade level with 100 percent of the cost borne by the state rather than by local districts. Funding would start in the 2023-2024 academic year.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS/BROADBAND


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Thursday announced a newly designed "Broadband Infrastructure Training Program" at Buckeye Hills Career Center in Rio Grande. The program will train Ohioans to help with the buildout of the state's broadband expansion. According to Husted, students will go through an approximately 12-week interactive learning journey that includes the design, installation and service components of broadband networks.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE


Citing the recent increases in the price of gasoline, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2022. Taxpayers may use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes. For July through December 2022, the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the year. In addition, the new rate for deductible medical or moving expenses (available for active-duty members of the military) will be 22 cents for the remainder of 2022, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of 2022. These new rates became effective July 1, 2022.


WORKERS' COMPENSATION


In 2023, state and local government employers will see their first year without a rate cut since the Kasich administration and face what amounts to their first overall hike in over a decade when rising administrative costs are factored in, based on Friday's vote by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors. The board's Actuarial Committee provided three scenarios for public employer base-rate changes next year: a "conservative" +8.4 percent, an "optimistic" -13.4 percent, and a baseline of -2.4 percent. Members pinned the wide variance in those numbers on "uncertainty during COVID-19" and in the end chose an average zero-percent (0 percent) base-rate change across all insured classes totaling approximately 3,800 public employers.


WORKFORCE


Ohio was recently ranked 10th overall among "states where employers are struggling the most in hiring" in a report by financial advisory website WalletHub, with a 7.4 percent job openings rate in the past month and 6.93 percent rate for the past 12 months. The top nine states were Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, Vermont, West Virginia, Montana, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Virginia. Ranks for Ohio's other neighboring states included Michigan, 20th; Indiana, 36th; and Pennsylvania, 42nd. The rankings were developed by giving double weight to the past month job openings rate compared to the year-long figure. Ohio was tied for sixth in the past month's data, with Massachusetts and Virginia also at 7.4 percent, and came in 32nd for year-long data behind four sets of tied states. The figures were obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced results for the July round of TechCred applications, with 348 employers approved for funding that will enable 3,855 Ohioans to earn tech-focused credentials. It is the 15th round of the program; the September application period runs from Thursday, Sept. 1 to Friday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. In total, the program has led to 1,958 employers approved for funding and 48,632 credentials being earned.




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


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