Friday, Feb. 16, 2024
Longtime Ohio State Fair General Manager Virgil
Strickler will remain part of the fair despite retiring, Gov. Mike DeWine said
Tuesday before unveiling a bust of Strickler that will be displayed alongside
the state Agricultural Hall of Fame in the Ohio Expo Center's Kasich Hall.
DeWine said he received "quite a tour" from Strickler after being
elected governor, adding Strickler knows "a great history of the
fair" and calling him "Mr. State Fair." He also detailed how
Strickler started the fair's Youth Reserve Program, which has provided millions
of dollars to 4-H and FFA programs.
Coal-impacted communities can now apply for the
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and
Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative, according to a
Tuesday announcement by the Ohio Department of Development (DOD). The POWER
initiative is run by ARC in partnership with the Governor's Office of
Appalachia, and targets projects that support workforce and economic
development in communities affected by the downturn in the coal industry.
Letters of intent are due Friday, March 1 and applications are due by
Wednesday, April 17.
ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA) Division I Men's Basketball Committee should continue holding the
"First Four" games of the March Madness basketball tournament at the
University of Dayton, four members of Ohio's congressional delegation wrote in
a letter. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), U.S.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) and U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Troy) also
asked the committee to expand Dayton's role by allowing it to host the first and
second rounds of the tournament in 2027 and 2028.
Ohio Department of Children and Youth Director
Kara Wente joined a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) panel Wednesday for a
forum on the economics of child care. The forum also featured Eric Karolak, CEO
of Action for Children; Aslyne Rodriguez, senior director of Regional Strategic
Partnerships for the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA); and Carol Haynes,
executive director of Kiddie Academy. While many industries have recovered from
the COVID-19 pandemic, the panelists said child care is one industry still
feeling the effects of closures. Haynes said her centers that closed during the
pandemic have continued to struggle with enrollment while those that
"operated as pandemic centers" recovered sooner.
Encounters with law enforcement come with a
list of rights and responsibilities for all Americans. But following incidents
like those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jayland Walker in recent years,
police interactions with Black Americans have drawn even more scrutiny. The
ACLU of Ohio Monday released a series of videos entitled, "Know Your
Rights: Rights Versus Reality," in which a citizen's rights concerning law
enforcement are discussed, how those rights are seen differently to people of
color and how citizens can respond to various police interactions.
EAST PALESTINE DERAILMENT
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and J.D. Vance
(R-OH) Wednesday called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) to establish a voluntary disease registry for East Palestine residents
due to the train derailment over a year ago. HHS should also use its full
authority to ensure affordable treatment for potential long-term health effects
of the derailment, they said. HHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) should
establish and maintain the national registry of serious diseases and illnesses
among persons exposed to toxic substances, making it voluntary for East
Palestine residents, they continued. Residents have requested such a voluntary
tracking and investigation of possible trends in illness and recovery,
according to Brown and Vance.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/URBAN REVITALIZATION
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD)
announced Wednesday that 23 movie and television productions will receive more
than $44 million in tax credits through the Motion Picture Tax Credit Program.
The projects are expected to create 530 full-time jobs and generate nearly $503
million in production expenses, including $146.7 million in total eligible
production expenses. Under the tax credit program, refundable tax credit awards
represent 30 percent of production cast and crew wages and other in-state spending
for eligible productions. Those can include feature-length films,
documentaries, pre-Broadway productions, television series, miniseries, video
games and music videos. Tax credits are awarded to television series and
miniseries first, then all others, based on the positive economic impact for
Ohio and the effect on permanent workforce.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) resumed
committee work this week as it adapts to its new role in Ohio's K-12 governance
structure. Board President Paul LaRue told Hannah
News he's appointed leaders for the following four committees:
- Policies and Procedures Manual: Vice
President Martha Manchester, chair; Diana Fessler, vice chair
- Budget: LaRue, chair; Brendan Shea, vice
- Legislative: Charlotte McGuire, chair; Jim
Mermis, vice chair
- Second Chance/Licensure: John Hagan, chair;
Meryl Johnson, vice chair
The SBOE is expected to move to the William
Green Building in downtown Columbus, State Superintendent Paul Craft told
members Monday. The Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has given the
board "notice" of the move, Craft told Hannah News. "We haven't seen anything in writing yet, but the
DAS director herself said 'this is our plan,'" Craft said. The William
Green Building, located at 30 W. Spring St., is about four blocks north of the
board's current meeting place at the Department of Education and Workforce
(DEW), 25 S. Front St. Craft said he tentatively expects the move in April.
Craft also hinted that SBOE might not be alone in its move in response to board
member Walt Davis who asked if DEW "gets to stay" in the building at
25 S. Front.
SBOE’s looming deficit is deep enough that it
could require steps as drastic as cutting a third or half the staff or
increasing license fees that teachers pay by more than 50 percent, Craft told
board members Monday as the panel undertook Budget Committee discussions on
tackling the crisis. Board members voted later Monday to request a $10 million
General Revenue Fund (GRF) transfer to bridge the gap to the next biennium.
Craft said board revenues are estimated at about $11.5 million this and next
year, but FY24 and FY25 spending is expected to run $15.4 million and $17.4
million, respectively. That will wipe out the current cash balance of about
$1.8 million and put the board $4 million in the hole by the end of the
biennium, absent a solution, Craft said. The agency is already about 10
positions below its 70 budgeted positions, and the Office of Budget and
Management won't approve any further hiring until the board has a plan to fix
the deficit in place.
The SBOE reviewed the Resident Educator Program
Monday, with some members questioning whether the mentoring program is worth
the money amid an impending budget shortfall due to the board's restructuring
under HB33 (Edwards). The Resident Educator (RE) Program, which began in 2011,
is meant to improve teacher retention. It offers mentoring and professional
development to beginning teachers. The two-year program also requires
participants to pass the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA), which
makes them eligible for a professional teaching license. Craft told members the
program, which draws on licensure fees, is one of the largest expenditures for
the board. The RESA alone costs about $1.9 million this year due to changes
under the state operating budget. The assessment costs about $1 million on a
regular year-to-year basis. Several board members questioned whether they're
getting that much value out of the program.
The House Primary and Secondary Education
Committee Tuesday heard a wave of proponent testimony from supporters of
legislation to provide educational savings accounts (ESAs) to students at
nonchartered nonpublic (NCNP) schools, formerly known as "08"
schools. In sponsor testimony, Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) said HB339 is needed
to correct an "oversight" from the voucher expansion in HB33
(Edwards). The "unintended consequence of utilizing the voucher program
... rather than the educational savings program is to eliminate this population
of students from school choice," he said. Over 50 individuals, including
parents, students, and NCNP school leaders appeared in-person or submitted
testimony in support of the bill.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association
(OHSAA) Board of Directors on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal to
expand the number of divisions in soccer, basketball, softball, baseball and
girls volleyball. With the amendment to General Sports Regulation 17, girls and
boys soccer will now have five divisions, while girls volleyball, girls and
boys basketball, softball and baseball will all have seven divisions. In those
sports, Division I and Division II will only include 64 schools, according to
The following endorsements were made over the
- The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed Frank
LaRose and Bernie Moreno for U.S. Senate; Shane Wilkin, Reggie Stoltzfus,
Michael Rulli, Craig Riedel, Kevin Coughlin, and Chris Banweg for Congress;
George Lang, Kyle Koehler, and Sandra O'Brien for Ohio Senate; and Brian
Stewart, Mike Dovilla, Cindy Abrams, Thomas Hall, Sara Carruthers, Kellie
Deeter, Adam Mathews, Beth Lear, Jean Schmidt, Dave Thomas, Sharon Ray, Kevin
Miller, Gail Pavliga, Haraz Ghanbari, Meredith Craig, Josh Hlavaty, Bill
Albright, Jon Cross, Tracy Richardson, D.J. Swearingen, Justin Pizzulli, Kevin
Ritter, and Don Jones for Ohio House.
- Ohio Values Voters endorsed Ron Hood, Jim
Jordan, Bob Latta, Reggie Stoltzfus, Max Miller, and Warren Davidson for
Congress; Candice Keller, Susan Manchester, Jerry Cirino, Tim Schaffer, Mark
Romanchuk and Sandra O'Brien for Ohio Senate; and Brian Stewart, Aaron
Borowski, Mike Dovilla, Jenn Giroux, George Brunemann, Josiah Leinbach, Josh
Williams, Jennifer Gross, Diane Mullis, Jodi Salvo, Anthony Savage, Michele
Teska, Kathy Grossman, Heather Salyer, Beth Lear, Adam Bird, Gary Fox, Melanie
Miller, Thad Claggett, Levi Dean, Heidi Workman, Mike Tussey, Marilyn John,
Bill Albright, Dennis Finley, Josh Hlavaty, Matt Huffman, Jonathan Newman, Roy
Klopfenstein, Ty Mathews, Angie King, Tim Barhorst, Gary Click, Steven Kraus,
Gina Collinsworth, Kevin Ritter and Mark Hiner for Ohio House. The group
previously endorsed Craig Riedel for Congress and Bernie Moreno for U.S.
- The National Association of
Wholesaler-Distributors Political Action Committee (NAW-PAC) endorsed Frank
LaRose for U.S. Senate.
- The congressional campaign of Republican
Shane Wilkin announced the endorsement of former Ohio Senate President Doug
- The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Bernie
Moreno announced the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
- The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus endorsed
Amy Cox for Congress; Willis Blackshear Jr. for Ohio Senate; Ismail Mohamed,
Meredith Lawson-Rowe and Terrence Upchurch for Ohio House; the proposed
Citizens Not Politicians redistricting reform amendment; and the proposed Raise
the Wage Ohio $15 minimum wage amendment.
- The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action
Fund endorsed Dontavius Jarrells, Latyna Humphrey, Meredith Lawson-Rowe,
Christine Cockley, Allison Russo, Sarah Pomeroy, Chris Glassburn, Phil
Robinson, Eric Synenberg, Dani Isaacsohn, Cecil Thomas, Rachel Baker, Jessica
Miranda, Stefanie Hawk, Derrick Hall, Rose Lounsbury, Desiree Tims, Erika
White, and Joe Rinehart for Ohio House; and Willis Blackshear Jr., Beth Liston,
and Casey Weinstein for Ohio Senate.
Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
(PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo and former FirstEnergy executives Chuck Jones and
Michael Dowling are out on bond and under electronic surveillance after
surrendering to authorities Monday afternoon in 133-HB6's (Callender-Wilkin)
$61 million bribery scandal and appearing in Summit County Common Pleas Court
for arraignment Tuesday. All pleaded not guilty to 60 state felony charges
including bribery, aggravated theft, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity
and money laundering, among other crimes, and were each released on $100,000
bond by Judge Susan Baker Ross. However, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost left
the door open to more indictments. "This indictment is about way more than
one piece of legislation," Yost said, referring to ill-fated energy
subsidy 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin). "It is about the hostile capture of a
significant portion of Ohio's state government by deception, betrayal and
Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters Tuesday he was
looking for a "subject matter expert in the area of utilities" when
he appointed Sam Randazzo as PUCO chairman in early 2019. "There was no
one that knew more [than Randazzo] ... and that's why we picked him. We know he
had been on both sides of the issue. He had a very good way of explaining
issues and had a really great depth of knowledge of some very, very difficult
issues," DeWine continued in response to questions about Randazzo's recent
indictment on state charges. Asked about a dinner he had with Jones and Dowling
in December 2018 and the PUCO appointment process, DeWine said, "I don't
remember it coming up in the discussion."
Wednesday, DeWine defended his former chief of
staff and current advisor after a report said she had been told by Randazzo
about a $4.3 million payout from FirstEnergy before he took the job with the
commission. The Cleveland Plain Dealer,
citing the indictment against Randazzo and the executives, reported Tuesday
that Laurel Dawson, DeWine's former chief of staff, who assumed a role as an
advisor in 2021, had been informed of the payment to Randazzo by FirstEnergy in
January 2019, which he had categorized as a final payment of a consulting
agreement. The newspaper said Dawson had testified as a witness to the grand
jury that handed down the indictments.
On other topics, DeWine said he has so far
received positive feedback from his administration's latest draft of gender
affirming care rules. He reiterated that it was never his administration's
intent to restrict care, but they wanted to make sure the quality of care is
good. He doesn't anticipate major future revisions, though they will continue
to listen to input. "I think we've come up with something that will in
fact work with children," he said. "I know some people might say why
do you even put it out since the Legislature overrode your veto ... The answer
is we don't know what courts are going to do. I think having these rules in
place, if in fact there is a stay issued by a court, just makes sense."
PUCO Chair Jenifer French can continue her
service into 2029 after Gov. DeWine reappointed her to the regulatory body
Friday. DeWine's office confirmed Friday the governor intends also to
redesignate her as chair, a separate process from her reappointment to the
commission seat. DeWine first named French, a former Franklin County common
pleas judge, to the commission in 2021, following the resignation of Sam
Randazzo, who left amid scrutiny over the HB6 scandal and has since been
New Albany Data Center (NADC) will enjoy a
renewable, eight-year discount from American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio to
energize up to 1.5 million square feet of space in Central Ohio. The
"reasonable" arrangement will help the LLC secure Lincoln Rackhouse's
$500 million investment in the Silicon Heartland Data Center Campus -- its
official name -- and to employ 25- 50 workers when complete. The Ohio Revised
Code allows the PUCO to approve favorable electric rates for mercantile
customers consuming at least 700 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year. AEP
and NADC requested the special arrangement last September in a joint filing to
The PUCO has reversed course and will now hold
full public hearings in Philadelphia-based Inspire Energy Holdings' $160,000
civil forfeiture negotiated in private by agency staff. PUCO previously found
the competitive retail electric service (CRES) had advertised monthly rates as
low as $59 on enrollment, later hiking them to as much as $699.99 per month for
customers' remaining contract period. Inspire was accused of misleading and
deceptive statements, fraudulent enrollments, and falsely identifying company
marketers as city officials. Commissioners relented last week and granted two
of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel’s (OCC) six allegations of error against PUCO.
The Inflation Reduction Act's provision
allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices with
pharmaceutical companies is expected to save Medicare $100 billion over 10
years, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier
Becerra told Columbus officials on Monday. "That's $100 billion that we
get to keep in Medicare and in the pockets of Medicare beneficiaries,"
Becerra said during a roundtable discussion at the Columbus Urban League,
joined by U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus). Becerra said Medicare started
negotiations with pharmaceutical companies on 10 drugs earlier this month, and
the administration will announce the new prices in September. The 10 drugs
involved in the negotiation include Eliquis (treats blood clots), Jardiance
(diabetes and heart failure), Xarelto (blood clots and coronary or peripheral
artery disease), Januvia (diabetes), Farxiga (diabetes, heart failure and
chronic kidney disease), Entresto (heart failure), Enbrel (rheumatoid arthritis,
psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis), Imbruvica (blood cancers), Stelara
(psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis); and
One full year of legal sports gambling in Ohio
has seen a significant increase in calls to the state's problem gambling
helpline, with the number of calls up to 10,637 in 2023 from 6,835 in 2022, or
an increase of 55 percent. In response to the growing need for resources for
problem gambling, the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio (PGNO) hosted a
conference Thursday, Feb. 15 and Friday, Feb. 16 for national experts, state
leaders and other innovators to discuss problem gambling prevention, recovery
and research. Both days of the conference started with an open recovery meeting
for individuals in recovery for problem gambling as they prepare to take part
in the conference.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC)
should not prohibit wagers on individual performances of college athletes,
sports betting operators told OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler in public
comments. Several sportsbooks filed public comments in response to the National
Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) request that OCCC ban prop bets on
college athletes. The comments were obtained by Hannah News through a public records request. BetMGM, DraftKings,
FanDuel and Fanatics filed comments together, telling OCCC Executive Director
Matt Schuler that the NCAA's request would have unintended consequences.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Mark Serrott
Wednesday denied a motion seeking to bar the use of the Ohio House Republican
Alliance (OHRA) campaign account by House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill)
as OHRA begins spending to protect incumbents with primary opponents next
month. Reps. Derek Merrin (R-Maumee), Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and Ron Ferguson
(R-Winterville) filed the lawsuit against Stephens, OHRA Co-Chair Rep. Jeff
LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and J. Matthew Yuskewich, who serves as the OHRA treasurer,
arguing that Stephens has falsely claimed to be in charge of the account even
though they say a majority of the caucus elected Merrin as chair of the caucus
and Plummer as the vice chair. On Feb. 1, the three lawmakers filed a motion
asking the judge to block Stephens and others from making expenditures to or
from any bank account associated with OHRA's Legislative Campaign Fund (LCF)
while the litigation is ongoing and from operating the campaign fund in any
manner, including issuing statements that purport to be made by the campaign
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board
(CSRAB) heard an update on Statehouse security as part of Executive Director
Laura Battocletti's report Thursday, including the possibility of instituting
background checks before lobbyists receive access badges. Battocletti said they
are the only group not subject to that currently and it would involve a
one-time fee of $40. Those discussions have been internal and Battocletti said
lobbyists have not yet been consulted on the potential change. She also discussed
efforts to maintain security at the Statehouse loading dock, including the Ohio
State Highway Patrol's (OSHP) stationing a trooper there during daytime hours.
There have been changes to the external and internal cameras as well, which can
lead to better identification of people if needed.
As part of the Capitol Square Foundation (CSF)
report, CSF Chair Charles Moses moved to accept the nominations of NASA Chief
Flight Director Gene Kranz, U.S. Rep. John Bingham and artist Howard Christy as
"Great Ohioans." "These three selections represent Ohio's
diversity in different fields of endeavor. An artist, a dedicated public
servant and a leader in the United States' effort in space exploration. All
three made profound contributions to Ohio's unique place in national and world
history," Moses commented. Specifically, Kranz was flight director in the
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs and is depicted in the "Ohioans in
Space" painting; Bingham was vital to drafting the 14th Amendment; and
Christy painted two of the artworks now hanging in the Statehouse. Those
nominations were approved by the board.
For two decades, Rep. Beryl Brown Piccolantonio
(D-Gahanna) has been involved in state and local government, though her
commitment to public service goes back further. Growing up in Mayfield Heights,
a suburb of Cleveland, Piccolantonio told Hannah
News her parents modeled community service, with both being active in the
community. Her father, Eric Brown, also served on the local school board.
Piccolantonio said she decided to run for the seat because she knows she has a
thorough and deep understanding of both state and local government, and how
they interact and how they actually can best serve people. She also said she
felt her skill set was an important one to have for a legislator.
In legislative action, the House Transportation
Committee reported out naming bills HB255 (Claggett) and HB381 (Brennan).
Appointments made during the week include the
- Michael A. Rex of Athens (Athens County)
reappointed to the Wildlife Council for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and
ending Jan. 31, 2028.
- Heather B. Robinson of Powell (Delaware
County) to the Wildlife Council for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending
Jan. 31, 2028.
- Adam M. Conway of Granville (Licking County),
Danielle R. Gill of Logan (Hocking County) and Paul Parks Mechling II of
Pierpont (Ashtabula County) reappointed to the Forestry Advisory Council for
terms beginning March 1, 2024 and ending Feb. 29, 2028.
- Charleta B. Tavares of Columbus (Franklin
County) reappointed to the Ohio Elections Commission for a term beginning Feb.
9, 2024 and ending Dec. 31, 2028.
- Karl C. Kerschner of Tiffin (Seneca County)
to the Ohio Elections Commission for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending
Dec. 31, 2028.
- Peyton B. Morrow of Shreve (Wayne County) to
the Miami University Board of Trustees as a student member for a term beginning
March 1, 2024 and ending Feb. 28, 2026.
- Lisa A. Peterson of Worthington (Franklin
County) to the Miami University Board of Trustees for a term beginning March 1,
2024 and ending Feb. 28, 2033.
- William C. Elliott of Worthington (Franklin
County) to the Ohio Higher Educational Facility Commission for a term beginning
Feb. 9, 2024 and ending Jan. 1, 2030.
- Ilham El-Monier of Columbus (Franklin County)
to the Oil and Gas Commission for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending Oct.
- James S. Aslanides of Coshocton (Coshocton
County) to the Oil and Gas Commission for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and
ending Oct. 14, 2025.
- Roger L. Osborne of Fleming (Washington
County) to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and
ending June 28, 2025.
- Joshua J. Agin of Zanesville (Muskingum
County) and Michael A. Sliva of Cadiz (Harrison County) reappointed to the Ohio
Reclamation Forfeiture Fund Advisory Board for terms beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and
ending Jan. 10, 2028.
- Allison R. Cain of Belmont (Belmont County)
and Brian D. Morley of Louisville (Stark County) reappointed to the Technical
Advisory Council on Oil and Gas for terms beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending
Jan. 31, 2027.
- Joseph D. Snyder of Kent (Portage County) to
the Self-Insuring Employers Evaluation Board for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024
and ending Aug. 22, 2026.
- Sandra Drabik Collins of Toledo (Lucas
County) to the State Employment Relations Board for a term beginning Feb. 9,
2024 and ending Oct. 6, 2026.
– Bruce E. Bailey of Westerville (Franklin
County) reappointed to the Ethics Commission for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024
and ending Jan. 1, 2030.
- Marcia R. Knox of Dayton (Montgomery County)
to the Public Utilities Commission Nominating Council for a term beginning Jan.
22, 2024 and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.
- Gordon M. Gough of Dublin (Franklin County)
reappointed to the Industrial Commission Nominating Council for a term
beginning Feb. 5, 2024 and ending Oct. 20, 2027.
- Jonathan F. Link of Delaware (Delaware
County) to the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Surveyors for a term beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending Sept. 24, 2028.
- Scott A. Pendleton of Cadiz (Harrison County)
reappointed to the State Veterinary Medical Licensing Board for a term
beginning Feb. 9, 2024 and ending Dec. 31, 2026.
- Ray A. Hephner of Walton Hills (Cuyahoga
County) to the State Veterinary Medical Licensing Board for a term beginning
Feb. 9, 2024 and ending Dec. 31, 2025.
Republicans should work with Democrats to
address the worsening problem of gun violence in Ohio, House Democrats and gun
safety advocates said during the inaugural Gun Violence Prevention Summit
(GVPS) at the Statehouse on Thursday. "There's not a day that goes by that
we don't lose individuals in our communities and children to gun violence.
There is now not a single place that is immune to this issue -- your
neighborhood, your schools, our university campuses, nightclubs, concerts,
churches, grocery stores, shopping centers, and yes, even a parade celebrating
the Super Bowl champions, like we saw yesterday," House Minority Leader
Allison Russo (D-Columbus) said during her remarks. "We all know that gun
violence is now the leading cause of death for children and teenagers. Think
about that -- children and teenagers are more likely now to die because of guns
than they are to die of a car accident, or from a fall, or some disease. It's
guns and gun violence. I think we can do better," she continued.
Legislators announced the introduction of a number of related bill including
one that would declare gun violence as a "public health crisis," one
that would create the Ohio Task Force on Gun Violence, the "Keeping Our
Survivors Safe Act," which would prohibit gun ownership by individuals
convicted of a first-degree domestic violence misdemeanor charge, one to enact
a "common-sense concealed carry" policy in Ohio and one to implement
universal background checks for gun sales.
HANNAH NEWS RACES TO WATCH
The people of Clermont County will choose
between 62nd House District incumbent Republican Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) and
her challenger, Republican candidate Dillon Blevin, a U.S. Army veteran who is
now owner of Cincy Decks and Outdoor Living. He is backed by Associated
Builders and Contractors of Ohio, Ohio Citizens PAC, and We the People
Convention. Belvins says he will "restore what it means to be a
representative," according to his campaign website. Schmidt, running for
her third term as state representative, currently serves on the House Finance,
House Civil Justice, House Criminal Justice and House Families and Aging
committees, chairing the latter committee.
In the GOP primary race for Cuyahoga County's
only Republican-leaning district, a former lawmaker, a city council member and
a media producer are vying to succeed term-limited Rep. Tom Patton
(R-Strongsville), who's running for the Senate. The candidates include former
Rep. Mike Dovilla, who served in the House through 2016 and that year tried to
succeed Patton when he was leaving the Senate for the House, a race now-Sen.
Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) won. Also running is Gordon Short, an attorney and
accountant who serves as Ward 4 councilman for the city of Strongsville. In
addition, there's Anthony L. Alexander, who ran last cycle in the GOP primary
for the 7th Congressional District. His congressional campaign materials
describe him as a site supervisor in the developmental disabilities field and a
multi-media host and producer. Patton has endorsed Short as his successor, as
has Dolan, whom Patton is seeking to succeed. The mayor of Strongsville, where
Short serves on council, also endorsed him, as did the mayor of Berea, where
Dovilla lives. Short also has the nod from Cleveland.com's editorial board and
the Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC, among other supporters.
Three Democrats are vying for the party's
nomination to run for the 6th District Senate seat being vacated by sitting
Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), who is running for Ohio's 2nd Congressional
seat. State Rep. Willis Blackshear (D-Dayton) of the 38th House District is
running against Kettering councilwoman Jyl Hall and Dayton Public School Board
member Jocelyn Rhynard in this newly redrawn district.
A youth pastor and a certified registered nurse
anesthetist will face off in the Republican primary for the open 54th House
District covering most of Huron County and parts of Lorain County. Current seat
holder Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) is term-limited, and has thrown his support
behind Kellie Deeter, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), nurse
practitioner, and a local small business owner who owns Firelands Anesthesia in
Norwalk and Firelands Medispa. She is facing Anthony Savage, a youth pastor who
also owns a business in online retail.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
The Ohio Division of Emergency Medical Services
(Ohio EMS) announced that non-sterile personal protective equipment (PPE), such
as gloves, masks, gowns and hand sanitizer, are being made available by the
Ohio Department of Health (ODH) as the "use by" date will expire in
time. The PPE supplies were purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Package
quantities include 875 non-sterile surgical masks and 200 N95 NIOSH-approved
respirators. ODH can ship requested items to organizations which have a FedEx
or UPS account, arrange for pick up at the ODH warehouse in Groveport or
deliver orders of at least five PPE cases to facilities within 25 miles of the
warehouse. Entities interested in requesting PPE should go to http://tinyurl.com/39ceab2n. Those with questions about this PPE offer or shipping options should
contact the warehouse at RSS@odh.ohio.gov or
Ending health disparities and recognizing that
largely will happen outside hospital walls were priorities expressed by Airica
Steed in a City Club of Cleveland forum Friday close to the year anniversary of
her taking over as CEO of MetroHealth System, Cuyahoga County's public
safety-net hospital. Steed described herself as motivated by earlier
experiences when she was not in a position of influence, and by the premature
deaths of her own family members, including a sister. "She was refused a
mammogram that I'm confident would have saved her life," she said. Steed
succeeded Akram Boutros, who was fired following allegations of improper bonus
Morakinyo A.O. Kuti is the 10th president of
Central State University, the institution announced Friday. After a nationwide
search, Central State decided to promote Kuti, the university's vice president
for research and economic development and director of land-grant programs.
"Kuti's appointment as the 10th president of Central State University
marks a new era of research and innovation for the institution. With his
extensive experience and track record of success, Kuti is well-equipped to lead
the university in fulfilling its mission of providing quality education and
opportunities to underrepresented students," Central State said.
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD)
announced Monday that it is now accepting applications from college students
for the College Technology Internship Program, which provides work experience
and pay starting at $15 per hour. Internships for this round can occur between
May 1 and Oct. 31. Students can apply through Feb. 26. Intern experiences can
include all areas of study, and tasks they have performed include development
of social media platforms, mobile apps, websites and virtual reality technology,
as well as implementing new software to modernize operations and improve
cybersecurity. In 13 rounds of the program so far, 902 interns have been hired.
Ohio State University (OSU) Athletics Director
Gene Smith fired men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann on Wednesday. Holtmann
had four years remaining on his contract and will be owed $12.8 million from
the university, according to OSU. "I want to express my appreciation
toward Chris for the first-class program, and the well-respected program, he
has run here at Ohio State," Smith said. "He and his wife, Lori, are
wonderful people. I thank each of them for their seven years here in Columbus
and I wish them well."
The Controlling Board Monday approved a
contract that will allow the Department of Youth Services (DYS) to expand a
program providing CrossFit services to youth at DYS facilities. Anna Garver,
chief fiscal officer at DYS, told the panel that DYS currently offers the
program at Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correction Center, and the contract with
Craving More LLC services would expand it to three facilities. In addition to
the physical fitness program, Craving More also provides trauma informed
trainers who provide holistic training for youth as they re-enter the community
on parole. Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), who held the item, asked Garver if
DYS offers any programs outside of CrossFit at the facilities. Garver said that
they do have physical education programs at all of the facilities but DYS is
always looking for new opportunities and programs to offer.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) re-election
campaign announced Tuesday that it has signed a collective bargaining agreement
with IBEW Local 1466 recognizing non-management campaign staff.
The City Club of Cleveland Wednesday hosted a
discussion on "Can Libraries Be Everything to Everyone?" featuring
Executive Director and CEO of the Cleveland Public Library Felton Thomas Jr.,
Executive Director of the Ohio Library Council Michelle Francis, Executive
Director and Fiscal Officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Jason
Kucsma, and CEO of the Baltimore County Public Library and President of the
Public Library Association Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, with Shanelle Whigham,
senior vice president and national community engagement director at KeyBank, as
moderator. The discussion centered on what libraries are currently doing to
serve the communities around them, and the importance of the freedom to read.
checked 213,928 white-tailed deer during the 2023-24 deer hunting season that
concluded Sunday, Feb. 4, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
(ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The final total represents all deer taken during
archery, gun, muzzleloader, and youth seasons since Sept. 9, 2023. During the
Ohio deer seasons hunters took an estimated 12 million pounds of venison. This
is the second year in a row that Ohio's deer harvest has surpassed 200,000, and
the 12th time overall -- all since 2002. This season's count was the highest in
more than a decade with hunters checking 217,018 deer in 2012-13 season.
Recovery Foundation Board welcomed new leadership at its first meeting of the
year Wednesday as former Chairman Larry Kidd stepped down to focus on his 2nd
Congressional District race to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup
(R-Cincinnati), making way for board Vice Chair Don Mason to serve as interim
chairman until officer elections in May. The board also voted unanimously to
approve a request for proposal (RFP) for its first round of grant funding. The
RFP for $51,194,221 this calendar year will be released Monday, March 4, when
state and local governments, nonprofits and for-profits in OneOhio's 19 regions may begin registration at its new online Grant Headquarters,www.oneohiofoundation.com/grants.
Supreme Court had already cleared the way for the Ohio History Connection (OHC)
to appropriate native earthworks in Licking County from a country club, but the
matter is now back before justices as OHC prepares for a trial on how much
Moundbuilders is owed for the eminent domain taking. In December 2022, the
Supreme Court ruled that OHC could proceed with appropriation of Octagon
Earthworks, which were subsequently recognized as a World Heritage Site by the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
along with other Hopewell earthworks in Ohio. On Monday, the Court declined to
grant a stay of lower court rulings that excluded evidence as part of the
eclipse will cast a large shadow over the U.S. on Monday, April 8, and much of
Ohio will be left in that shadow, promising to draw spectators from places
around the U.S. without such a prime geographic vantage point. Ohio hasn't seen
the totality of a solar eclipse in over 200 years, and TourismOhio has launched
a new tool to help guide the historic influx of eclipse watchers either already
in Ohio or those visiting from elsewhere. Ohio cities from Lima to Toledo, then
to Cleveland and Akron will be in the path of totality, and 55 Ohio counties
will experience at least a partial eclipse. The website titled "Total
Eclipse of the Heart of it All" guides visitors through eclipse-related
activities in each county in the eclipse's path. The website can be found at http://tinyurl.com/4a2xrwbz.
former Ohio State University lobbyist and Ohio Senate budget director, is the
new investment expert in a State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) board seat
that is the subject of litigation. Gov. Mike DeWine's office announced Perera's
appointment Friday. G. Brent Bishop, DeWine's prior appointee to the seat,
resigned that post and one on the University of Toledo Board of Trustees, the
governor's office confirmed. DeWine removed former board member Wade Steen and
appointed Bishop last year, citing in part Steen's attendance record at
meetings and concerns he appeared to be advocating for a specific investment
firm. However, a magistrate in the 10th District Court of Appeals recently
recommended Steen be reinstated, although judges of the court will ultimately
decide what happens.
will stay on leave as executive director of STRS through mid-May, and the STRS
board will hire someone to provide him "professional development"
before further decisions about his future at the pension fund. Neville's
attorney strongly criticized the leave extension. The board put Neville on
leave in November in response to an anonymous letter alleging harassment and
threats, and Attorney General Dave Yost hired outside attorneys to investigate
the matter. The extension through Friday, May 17 puts Neville on the sidelines
until after the upcoming election for the STRS board seat now held by its
chair, Dale Price. The filing deadline for that election is Friday, Feb. 23.
Votes will be due by Monday, May 6, and the new board term will commence in
September 2024. The board has been divided on the direction of STRS, with
litigation now playing out over another board seat previously held by Wade
Gerhardstein, 68, of Venice, FL and formerly of Marysville, OH, died Monday,
Feb. 12 following a stroke and a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. His career
began with an internship in the Ohio Senate and later as legislative aide to
Sen. Paul Gillmor. He later held roles at the Ohio Department of Administrative
Services and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. He joined Columbia
Gas/Nisource and served as director of governmental affairs from 1996-2015. He
is survived by his wife and former Rep. Dorothy Pelanda of Venice, daughters,
grandchildren and numerous relatives and friends.
Manufacturers Association (OMA) Tuesday named Jessica Borza as managing
director of workforce services. She replaces Sara Tracey, who left the
organization in December. In addition, as part of the OMA Workforce Services
leadership team restructuring, Beth Hahn was also promoted to senior director
of workforce services. According to the organization, "This restructuring
will enable OMA to continue leading workforce development across Ohio and bring
the workforce services team to the next level."
new data from the personal finance website WalletHub,
Ohio ranks 18th among the states with the highest political engagement among
African Americans in 2024. The top three states with the highest political
engagement among African Americans are Pennsylvania, Missouri and Maryland. The
lowest three are Vermont, North Dakota and South Dakota. WalletHub scored each
state using metrics such as Black voter turnout in the 2020 presidential
election and in the 2022 midterm elections, Black voter registration in the
2020 presidential election and in the 2022 midterm election, and proportional
representation of Black people in the House of Representatives. Also included
in the data were responses from experts in political science.
DeWine and Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Andy Wilson
announced this week that $1 million will be made available for law enforcement
and prosecutors throughout the state to investigate and prosecute crimes of
sexual assault in Ohio. The funds will be awarded through the new Ohio Sexual
Assault Investigations Grant Program. They can be used for drug-facilitated
sexual assault toxicology testing, sexual assault kit (SAK) testing, expert
testimony, SAK storage upgrades, transportation and shipping costs, sexual
assault investigations training, specialized DNA analysis and other sexual
assault investigation costs. This round of grants follows grants announced at
the beginning of 2024 to agencies statewide supporting victims of sexual
assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking.
Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of State Fire Marshal announced Tuesday
that it is increasing the grants it is giving to local fire departments and
first responders around the state to upgrade their radio communication systems.
In total, 307 fire departments in 75 counties in Ohio were selected to receive
the 2024 Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS) Grant. The $4 million
in grants given in 2024 is an increase of $500,000 over 2023.
DeWine wants to permanently rename Cleveland's "Dead Man's Curve,"
identified as one of 13 unlucky roadways for "end-of-queue" crashes
where traffic has stopped and approaching cars risk serious rear-end
collisions. DeWine joined Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director
Jack Marchbanks Thursday to announce a new warning system for the state's
busiest urban centers identified by ODOT as "high-congestion,
high-crash" areas. The administration is installing state-of-the-art
camera technology in and around Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati that will
detect major pile-ups and flag highway drivers two miles away with the
message-board alert, "Slow Traffic Ahead: Watch for Stopped Traffic."
Real-time updates also will be sent to the state OHGO and other traffic apps.
Sharon Kennedy parted company with the Ohio Supreme Court's 5-2 ruling
Wednesday that the General Assembly had authority to expand cities' taxing
authority beyond their territorial boundaries to collect revenue from Ohioans
working from home during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The majority said
while the Ohio Constitution's home rule amendment in Article XVIII, Sections 3
and 7 empowers municipalities to tax work performed within their borders,
Section 13 gives the Legislature ultimate authority to limit those powers.
Writing for the majority, Justice R. Patrick DeWine said uncodified language in
Section 29 of coronavirus omnibus HB197 (Powell-Merrin) properly allowed
employees' work from home to be "deemed to be a day performing personal
services at the employee's principal place of work."
Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley Monday granted a preliminary injunction blocking
the implementation of Ohio's Social Media Parental Notification Act, saying it
violates the First Amendment rights of minors and aspects of it are
"troublingly vague." The law was passed and signed into law by Gov.
Mike DeWine as part of biennial budget bill HB33 (Edwards) and would impose
civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day for social media websites that do not
obtain consent from parents or guardians of children under 16 who use such
sites. It was set to take effect on Jan. 15, 2024, but NetChoice, an Internet
trade association representing the social media websites, including Google,
Meta, X, and Nextdoor, sued to block it.
artificial intelligence (AI) technology "is here to stay," Lt. Gov.
Jon Husted announced Thursday that InnovateOhio and the AI Education Project
(aiEDU) have launched an "AI toolkit" for K-12 school districts in
the state. The resource is meant to help policymakers, administrators, IT
staff, teachers and parents advance AI Literacy. It also promotes student
privacy, data security, ethics and other factors. Husted said this toolkit,
"Guidance and Resources to Advance AI Readiness in Ohio Schools," stemmed
from a series of forums on AI that InnovateOhio hosted in 2023. The goal of the
toolkit is to prepare all Ohio students for jobs in an increasingly AI-driven
world and help develop policies and recommendations regarding "the
proliferation of AI tools," according to Husted's office. It is available
DeWine and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks
announced Tuesday that $106 million will be awarded to 383 transit projects
throughout Ohio. The announcement came as the state celebrates "Ohio Loves
Transit Week" this week, which runs through Saturday, Feb. 17. The funds
are being awarded through seven separate grants programs offered by ODOT's
Office of Transit. The grant programs focus on workforce mobility, senior
citizen and special needs transportation, rural transit, and busing. According
to ODOT and the governor's office, the funding will be used for a variety of
purposes such as transit fleet expansion, replacement vehicles, preventive
maintenance, facility upgrades, new equipment and technology, and operating
Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) has announced roughly $2.5 million in competitive
grants to train teen drivers from low-income Ohio families through the
"Drive to Succeed" scholarship program. OTSO, a division of the Ohio
Department of Public Safety (DPS), says local government agencies including
police departments, sheriffs' offices, health departments, educational service
centers (ESC), school districts, career technical schools and others can seek
funding to provide driver training at "little to no cost."
TREASURER OF STATE
Robert Sprague's office said Tuesday that two more financial institutions have
signed up for Homebuyer Plus, a program created in the biennial budget that
gives Ohioans more advantageous interest rates on savings toward the purchase
of a home and also qualifies them for a tax deduction on those savings.
Sprague's office said Home Loan Savings Bank and Richwood Banking Company have
joined the program, bringing the total participating institutions to 10. The
full list of participating institutions is at http://tinyurl.com/w4hrphp6.