State Government Roundup: Medical Pot; Ohio National Guard; PUCO; Business Filings

DOC Extends Processor Clarification Deadline

Medical marijuana processor applicants planning to submit clarifying information to the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) now have until Wednesday, Oct. 24 to do so.

The previous due date was Wednesday, Oct. 17. (See The Hannah Report, 10/4/18.)

In a news release, the department said it has received “numerous questions” about details that should be included in the facility plot plan.

“Based on those questions, the department wanted to provide additional guidance that the applicants should show both the interior and exterior of the facility in order to demonstrate all of the security-related rule requirements,” DOC said. “Recognizing that there was confusion about this question, the department has extended the response deadline to 12 p.m. on Oct. 24. If you have already submitted your clarification response, we will allow you to resubmit based on this guidance if you need to provide additional information.”

Ohio National Guard to Rename Camp Ravenna for President Garfield

The Ohio National Guard announced Tuesday that Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center will formally be renamed after President James Garfield, who also served as a major general in the Ohio National Guard.

The name change will occur during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday, and will honor the service of Garfield and his family, which includes three generations of descendants who served in the Ohio National Guard. His great-grandson fought in Europe during World War II, a guard press release notes.

“The renaming represents a historic point in the history of this location,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio assistant adjutant general for Army. “Camp James Garfield is a state-of-the-art training facility that allows the Ohio National Guard to train in live, virtual and gaming scenarios and achieve the highest levels of readiness in the most efficient way possible.”

The facility, which was originally an ammunition manufacturing plant, is undergoing $37 million in upgrades to better serve as a training facility for the military, civilian law enforcement and first responders. This includes a $7.4 million expansion of the firing range to allow usage of machine guns, which U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) had pushed for along with other measures to improve Ohio defense facilities. (See The Hannah Report, 8/3/18.)

Camp Ravenna is also a contender as a site for the East Coast missile defense system, which was a topic of discussion at the Ohio Defense Forum Tuesday. (See separate story, this issue.)

PUCO Assisting Massachusetts Gas Restoration with Eye to Ohio

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is sending gas pipeline safety experts to Massachusetts to help its department of public utilities restore natural gas service in areas of Merrimack Valley hit by last month’s Columbia Gas explosions. The commission said Monday its staff will be watching for any conditions relevant to Ohio, where Columbia Gas serves 1.3 million customers.

Two of PUCO’s natural gas pipeline safety inspectors will work under the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) over a five-week period beginning Sunday, Oct. 14. The department is overseeing the safe restoration of natural gas service in Merrimack Valley, where Columbia Gas has committed to repairing or replacing nearly 55 miles of infrastructure over the next six weeks.

“Ohio is pleased to lend a helping hand by providing qualified safety experts in a time of need,” PUCO Chairman Asim Haque said in a statement. “Ohio’s safety program routinely scores perfect ratings from the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

On Sept. 13, a series of outages, explosions and fires occurred after an apparent over-pressurization of the valley’s local natural gas distribution system, affecting thousands.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) has since called on PUCO to order Columbia Gas to refile its latest pipeline safety report with an update of conditions in Ohio. (See The Hannah Report, 10/4/18.)

“The PUCO is committed to ensuring the safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation of Ohio's natural gas pipeline system,” its release stated, noting it oversees more than 56,000 miles of distribution lines providing natural gas to individual users, more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines and more than 1,100 miles of gathering lines.

Separately Monday, PUCO said findings in Massachusetts will inform its response, if any, to OCC’s request.

“That will certainly be an outcome of their being out there,” commission spokesman Matt Schilling told Hannah News. “If there are lessons to be learned for the state of Ohio, we will do that.”

September Business Filings Announced

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Monday that 9,375 new entities filed to do business in Ohio in September, an increase of 617 when compared to September 2017.

Ohio is currently on track for 2018 to be another record-breaking year for new business filings. Since January, the Buckeye State has seen 96,499 new businesses file, up 5,760 from the same nine-month period last year, Husted said.

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on October 16, 2018.  Copyright 2018 Hannah News Service, Inc.