A new grant program from the Ohio Department of Aging,
the Healthy Aging Grants program, will provide $40 million to local aging
services focused on helping Ohioans ages 60 and older stay healthy, live longer
and maintain their independence. Grants will be distributed to counties for
programs in areas such as food and housing assistance, Internet access and
digital literacy services. Once applications are approved, each county will
receive a base amount of $100,000, with additional funding provided based on
the number of county residents age 60 and older who are not enrolled on
The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) and the
Ohio State University (OSU) College of Nursing Thursday hosted the grand
opening of the new Golden Buckeye Center for Dementia Caregiving, housed within
the college. "The Golden Buckeye Center is the very first facility in the
state specifically focused on strengthening the knowledge, skills, and supports
of our caregivers for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other
dementias [ADOD]," ODA Director Ursel McElroy said at the ribbon cutting
The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority
(OAQDA) approved bond financing totaling $951,672 for Silverton Brewing Company
(HighGrain Brewery) through the Clean Air Resource Center (CARC), the agency
announced Thursday. HighGrain Brewery has been in business for four years in
Cincinnati. The company is developing a new location at 9176 Winton Rd. in
Springfield Township, renovating a former bowling alley to include a beer
production space, restaurant and a community gathering space with outdoor green
space. The project includes improvements to the building envelope, adding an
efficient HVAC system, as well as installing LED lighting and efficient
plumbing fixtures as part of the restaurant and production facility.
According to Secretary of State Frank LaRose,
Ohio business owners showed up in October, submitting 14,448 new filings for
the month -- an increase of more than 400 businesses compared to filings from
October 2022. The secretary of
state's office said 156,874 new businesses have been created so far in 2023.
The state is 22,762 new business filings away from breaking the state record.
KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Chris Gorman was
elected as chairman of the Ohio Business Roundtable (OBRT) by its members, the
organization announced Thursday. Gorman will take the position on Jan. 1, 2024,
succeeding RPM International Inc. Chairman and CEO Frank Sullivan at the end of
his two-year term.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) is
relaunching an enhanced version of the "Respect the Game" program to
address abusive fans who are the organization says are embarrassing
student-athletes and causing a shortage of sports officials. The Respect the
Game website is located at https://www.ohsaa.org/Respect-the-Game and contains
resources for school administrators, public address scripts, updated content
for preseason parent meetings, examples of positive behavior as observed by
contest officials, responsibilities for various groups, public service
announcements and more. Videos will also be added containing interviews with
school administrators sharing ideas that work at their schools in promoting
positive sporting behavior.
The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW)
recently announced that all 51 educational service centers (ESCs) throughout
the state earned a "High-Performing" designation. To earn the
designation, ESCs must generate cost savings of at least 5 percent across five
core service areas as compared to the expense client school districts would
incur by providing those services in-house or through another provider.
According to DEW, average savings are far in excess of 5 percent, averaging 40 percent
Two Ohio teachers
Thursday each received $25,000 Milken Educator Awards, which the organization
calls the "Oscars of teaching." At Shanahan Middle School, eighth
grade mathematics teacher Marissa McCarthy received the national award, which
comes with an unrestricted $25,000 financial prize. McCarthy's was the first
Milken Educator Award in the Olentangy Local School District in Lewis Center. McCarthy
joined Ryan Gilbert, an 11th and 12th grade English language arts teacher at
Ohio Hi-Point Career Center Bellefontaine, as the other 2023 Milken Award
winner from Ohio.
The Ohio Elections Commission Thursday fined a group that is seeking to
put a constitutional amendment on the ballot ending qualified immunity. Ohioans
to End Qualified Immunity has proposed an amendment that would repeal
constitutional immunities and defenses in cases alleging a civil rights
violation by government actors, but has not been able to get past the initial
petition review by the attorney general's office. Attorney General Dave Yost
has rejected the group's submission seven times, with the latest stating that
it contains "omissions and misstatements that, as a whole, would mislead a
potential signer as to the actual scope and effect of the proposed amendment."
On Thursday, the Elections Commission fined the group $100 for not filing a
timely report. Commission Executive Director Phil Richter told the panel that
he recommended the fine based on the fact that the group ultimately filed the
report, but did not file any explanation with the commission as to why the
finance report was not filed by the deadline.
The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) Monday announced the
slate of candidates it is backing for Ohio Supreme Court next year, including
Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Forbes, who will challenge DeWine
appointee Justice Joe Deters for the seat formerly held by Chief Justice Sharon
Kennedy. Democrats will be playing defense next year because both Justices
Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart are running for re-election. Both pulled
surprise upsets in 2018, but since then, legislative Republicans changed state
law so that party affiliation is listed on the ballot. Republicans are running
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Dan Hawkins and Hamilton County Common
Pleas Court Judge Megan Shanahan against the incumbents.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose this week joined an
amicus brief with two other state chief elections officers asking the Colorado
Supreme Court to overturn a lower court finding that former President Donald
Trump engaged in an insurrection. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington, a liberal group, filed the lawsuit in Colorado on behalf of a
number of Colorado voters, seeking to have Trump disqualified from the ballot
on the basis of violating the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which
bars those involved in an insurrection against the U.S. from holding office.
The lower court ruled that Trump had engaged in an insurrection on Jan. 6,
2021, but found the section does not apply to presidents and refused to remove
Trump from the Republican primary ballot.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted will be required to answer questions under oath in
FirstEnergy shareholders' civil complaint involving energy subsidy 133-HB6
(Callender-Wilkin) and next week must respond along with Gov. Mike DeWine to an
expansive request for documents or other communications related to the $61
million bribery scandal implicating former Republican House Speaker Larry
Householder and past Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, who are now
serving time in federal prison. The U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Ohio has ordered both Husted and DeWine to provide any responsive
records to the Columbus offices of Murray Murphy Moul + Basil LLP at 10 a.m. on
Friday, Dec. 8.
Asked about the FirstEnergy subpoena requiring him to
produce documents for the shareholder suit over the company's financial fallout
from 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin), Gov. Mike DeWine emphasized that neither he
nor Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who also has been subpoenaed, are currently parties to
the shareholder suit. Attorney General Dave Yost weighed in to say that the
subpoena is merely a "seeking of information." Meanwhile, Husted's
office provided a separate statement, "We're aware of the civil investor
lawsuit against First Energy. The lieutenant governor has already provided
public records pertaining to this, and we will continue to comply as we have
done in the past. There's no new information to disclose.”
The governor credited Attorney Dave Yost's legal team
Wednesday for the lion's share of work culminating in Ohio's proposed $110
million settlement with DuPont and successor company Chemours over water and
soil contamination from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used for seven decades in
the manufacture of Teflon. Making Ohio the first state to bring legal action
against DuPont for emitting cancer-causing PFOA, or C8, into the air and water,
now-Gov. Mike DeWine alleged in 2018 as state attorney general that the
company's Washington Works plant in West Virginia (across the Ohio River from
Washington County) had released the "forever chemical" from the 1950s
to 2013 despite knowing it was hazardous to humans and animals. PFOA, one of a
class of synthetic, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals used in consumer
and industrial goods, is linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid
disease, low birth weight and high cholesterol.
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) is now
accepting applications for the next round of its Water and Wastewater
Infrastructure Grant Program. The program is part of the Ohio BUILDS
(Broadband, Utilities, and Infrastructure for Local Development Success)
program launched in 2021 as a continuation of the H2Ohio initiative to ensure
the availability of safe and clean drinking water throughout the state. HB33
(Edwards), the budget bill, allowed up to $5 million in grant funding for water
and wastewater construction projects, including, but not limited to the
-Sewer/wastewater treatment plant
-New/replacement sanitary sewer lines.
-Excess sanitary sewer infiltration/inflow correction.
-Improvements to public drinking water treatment
-Drinking water line improvements or extensions.
and construction of drinking water storage towers.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has once again
delayed the implementation of the $600 Form 1099-K reporting threshold
requirement for third-party payment organizations. The $600 threshold was
included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). "It was the wrong move by
Congress," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Hannah News during a
press conference on Wednesday. "The IRS can delay just because agencies
have certain leeway in doing things. ... Nobody will bring suit against them,
likely, for delaying this. So they can delay it, which we asked them to,
repeatedly. They can then focus their efforts, essentially, on high-income tax
cheats." The current threshold is $20,000, and the IRS is planning to
implement a $5,000 threshold in 2024 as a phase-in.
The Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio
will meet for the first time in February or March 2024, Co-Chair Rep. Jay
Edwards (R-Nelsonville) told Hannah News. Edwards said he and fellow
Co-Chair Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) have agreed on a basic
"landscape" for the commission, and expects the panel to meet at
least four times. Each meeting will focus on one segment of the gambling industry
in the state -- lottery, casinos, horse racing and sports betting. Charitable
gaming might be added to the horse racing meeting, he said. He said the plan is
to invite the regulators who deal with a specific subject to testify first in
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has taken
action to place former University of Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon and
youth/college baseball insider Bert Neff Jr. on the Sports Gaming Involuntary
Exclusion List. According to a notice from OCCC, Neff obtained non-public
information from Bohannon and shared it with one or more individuals for the
purpose of sports gambling.
House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) Tuesday
told reporters that higher education reform bill SB83 (Cirino) "doesn't
have the votes" needed to pass the House floor. Sen. Jerry Cirino's
(R-Kirtland) legislation would make dramatic changes to the operations of
institutions of higher education. Cirino, chair of the Senate Workforce and
Higher Education Committee, has said the legislation is needed as a "course
correction" at college campuses where "true intellectual
diversity" is lacking. While a new version of the bill removed a provision
that would have prohibited university faculty from striking and added other
flexibilities, critics said the legislation still threatens collective
bargaining rights. Asked if the bill is "dead" or if the speaker
would continue to try to work on it, Stephens said, "I don't know that I'm
trying. I mean it's been in committee for what? Six months? Five months or
whatever? ... I think there are a lot of concerns with that bill from both
sides of the aisle frankly ... [I] understand what's being attempted, but
sometimes that language can ... go either direction."
A day later on Wednesday, SB83 came in for criticism
and praise during a House Higher Education Committee hearing when Chair Tom
Young (R-Centerville) divided hearing time evenly between proponents and
opponents of SB83, apportioning an hour and 15 minutes apiece. The very lengthy
witness list, however, overwhelmingly consisted of opponents. Opponents cast
the bill as anti-union and said it would impose vague, one-size-fits-all state
policies to override local decision-making that is already protecting the academic
freedom the bill seeks to ensure. Proponent witnesses frequently spoke on the
need for the DEI provisions of the bill, many of them citing a recent Wall
Street Journal report on the use of DEI principles in faculty hiring at
Ohio State University.
Senate leadership announced Wednesday the session
schedule for the first half of 2024, with eight total sessions planned and a
light calendar ahead of the Tuesday, March 19 primary election. Like the
House's first-half schedule for next year, the Senate's schedule shows a final
session before summer break on Wednesday, June 26.
The House Wednesday passed legislation that would
eliminate the spousal exception for rape by a near- unanimous vote. Rep.
Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati), a joint sponsor of HB161 (Miranda-Hillyer),
said that lawmakers have been working since 1985 to repeal the exception, which
prevents prosecution of a spouse for rape or sexual assault if no threat of
force or violence exists. She said repealing it "will correct an arcane
exception indicative of a bygone era." The bill passed by 74-1, with Rep.
Bill Dean (R-Xenia) being the only lawmaker to vote against it.
The House also passed HB257 (Hoops-Claggett) 73-3,
which would allow certain public bodies to hold virtual meetings. Sponsor Rep.
Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) said he had been skeptical before the pandemic about
allowing groups to conduct business virtually, but through the pandemic and
listening to comments from those organizations, he learned that public
participation was much higher through the utilization of virtual meetings, and
attendance increased among members of the panel.
Another bill that has been reintroduced in multiple
General Assemblies again cleared the House floor Wednesday: HB139 (Roemer-J.
Miller) would increase the penalties for assault if the victim is acting as a
sports official or the assault is committed in retaliation for the victim's
actions as a sports official. Sponsor Rep. Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) said
sports officials face significant issues and often quit within three years.
Many have cited low pay and threats as the reasons, and he said HB139 looks to address
at least part of that issue. He said that since they first introduced the bill
multiple sessions ago, more people have come in to testify in favor of the
Other legislation passed by the House on Wednesday
included the following:
- HB258 (K. Miller-Creech), which requires the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources to ask about organ donation when a person
is applying for a hunting or fishing license, which passed unanimously.
- HB176 (Grim), which makes changes to the
"Ohio Carpenters" license plate, which passed 68-6.
- Four road designations that passed
unanimously: HB64 (Grim), designating the "Keith G. Earley Memorial
Interchange;" HB75 (Lampton-Dean), designating the "Caitlin
Renee Preston Memorial Highway;" HB81 (Robb Blasdel-Jones),
designating the "Sheriff Dale R. Williams Memorial Highway;" and HB107
(Patton), designating the "Cleveland Firefighter Johnny Tetrick Memorial
Asked about filling the vacancy left by the
resignation of former Rep. Bob Young (R-North Canton), House Speaker Jason Stephens
(R-Kitts Hill) suggested they will wait to see which candidates file to run for
the seat next year by the Wednesday, Dec. 20 deadline.
Gender-affirming care is "leading to harmful and
deadly outcomes and consequences, especially for children," Dr. David
Bonnet told the Senate Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday. Bonnet, who
is the system chief medical officer of high reliability medicine at University
Hospitals in Cleveland according to his LinkedIn profile, was one of several
individuals testifying in support of HB68 (Click) during the meeting. The
legislation generally prohibits minors from obtaining gender-affirming care and
bans transgender women and girls from participating in school sports.
"Seventy years ago, the most celebrated new treatment for mental illness
... was to cut out the front part of the brain," Bonnet said, referring to
The Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus and Business
First Caucus held a long-planned joint meeting Tuesday, focusing on how child
care issues both affect the workforce today and play a role in education for
the future. Presentations were given to the caucuses by Ohio Action for
Children CEO Eric Karolak, Council for a Strong America State Director Cyndy
Rees, and Ashland County Community Foundation Chief Program Officer Kristin
Aspin. Karolak focused on the "business
side" of the topic, saying affordable child care is a requirement for
economic development and describing how child care poses an education issue as
well. Ninety percent of brain development occurs before children are old enough
to go to school, he explained, and so child care is where training the
"workforce of tomorrow" begins.
The Public Assistance Benefits Accountability Task
Force recently issued its report assessing where gaps exist in benefits
distributed from the state of Ohio and to make the system more "accurate,
efficient and effective." The report notes that its recommendations in the
areas of Ohio Benefits (OB) System, workforce and Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will take collaboration with the General
Assembly, DeWine administration, local government officials and other
stakeholders to achieve. The task force was chaired by Sen. Tim Schaffer
(R-Lancaster) and Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster).
The State and Local
Government Committee has released its recommendations for updates to existing
licensure requirements in the Ohio Revised Code. Per 132-SB255 (McColley), a
third of licensure requirements must be reviewed every two years. In total, the
committee was directed to review 19 public licensing entities including the
Accountancy Boards; Ohio Police Officer Training Commission; Department of
Agriculture; Ohio Architects & Landscape Architects Boards; Ohio Casino
Control Commission, Department of Commerce (DOC) - Division of Financial
Institutions; DOC - Superintendent & Division of Industrial Compliance; DOC
- Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing - Real Estate Commission
& Appraiser Board; State Cosmetology and Barber Board; Motor Vehicle Repair
Board; Bureau of Motor Vehicles; Department of Public Safety; State Board of
Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors; State Racing Commission;
Secretary of State; and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction
Services. On Tuesday, the House State and Local Government Committee accepted a
substitute version of a bill to implement those occupational licensing changes
and to expand review requirements to business licensures in future General
In other legislative
action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB305 (Stewart-Brown),
which deals with electronic court filings and fees; the House Families and
Aging Committee reported out HB173 (Troy), which designates May as “Older
Ohioans Month;” the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported
out SB17 (Wilson), which deals with financial literacy education; and HB206
(Click- Robb Blasdel), which address expulsions for endangering others; and the
House State and Local Government Committee reported out SB24 (Roegner), which
designates April as “Sikh Awareness Month.”
Lake Erie is in the worst shape of all the Great
Lakes, according to assessments released by the International Joint Commission
(IJC). "Lake Erie supports a productive walleye fishery, but elevated
nutrient concentrations and algal blooms are persistent problems. Lake Erie is
assessed as poor and unchanging," the IJC State of the Great Lakes 2022
Report says. Lake Superior and Lake Huron are "good and unchanging,"
while Lake Michigan is "fair and unchanging." Lake Ontario is
"fair and unchanging to improving." "In their 2023 report, the
commission's Science Advisory Board and Water Quality Board jointly evaluated
the implementation of domestic action plans, with a focus on Lake Erie. The
report found significant regulation of point source nutrient loads, such as
from wastewater treatment plants. By contrast, nonpoint agricultural sources of
nutrient loads are not well regulated in that both countries rely on voluntary
nutrient reduction programs," the IJC said.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Panel moderator and former state representative Rick Carfagna said that
health care can be a tedious issue for legislators to get their arms around,
but a group of senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle
gathered at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's Healthcare Transformation Summit to
discuss topics including Ohio's health care workforce, improving access to
health care in different forms and social determinants of health care
disparities. Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) said that when he came into the
General Assembly six years ago, he was as ready as anybody to dismantle
Medicaid. But during his time in the chamber, Medicaid has changed for the
better. Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London) added that Ohio has a quality health care
system, but there are still disparities, and he sees the system as reactionary
instead of preventive.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Thursday to implement
emergency regulations to allow new nursing home incentive payments for private
rooms to be instituted on schedule in the new year. The budget bill, HB33
(Edwards), provided for incentive payments for residents in private rooms at
New data from the U.S. Department of Education
estimate an increase in Pell Grant recipients and an increase in the number of
maximum Pell Grant awards after the launch of the redesigned 2024-25 Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The department called the new
form "simplified" and "streamlined." Starting with the
2024-25 award year, the FAFSA form will also include updates to student aid
calculations, linking eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level.
These changes will significantly expand access to federal student aid, the
department said. Pell Grants are used to support students from low-income
backgrounds who are seeking an undergraduate degree. The agency estimated that
about 610,000 new students will receive Pell Grants, driven primarily by the
changes to eligibility rules. Pell recipients are also set to receive more aid
under the changes, with nearly 1.5 million more students receiving the maximum
Pell Grant, the department said, bringing the total number of students eligible
for the maximum Pell Grant amount to more than 5.2 million.
A majority of the 154 full-time and adjunct faculty at
the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) recently voted to form a union
aligned with the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), naming themselves the CCAD
Faculty Alliance (CFA). Faculty said they held a secret ballot administered by
the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the CCAD Board of Trustees
refused to voluntarily recognize their union.
Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and the Toledo
Zoo announced they have developed a multi-year fellowship program to provide
students with career experience, mentorship and help creating a pipeline to
full-time job opportunities. The paid fellowship offers students with up to
three years of experience in various fields, including conservation, finance,
marketing, biology, operations and more, with the potential for full-time
employment after graduation.
Ohio home sales of 11,041 in October represented a 9.2
percent drop from the 12,165 seen a year earlier, according to Ohio Realtors.
The average sales price, however, was up 7.3 percent, from $254,988 to
The DeWine administration and Ohio Treasurer Robert
Sprague Tuesday announced details for the Ohio Homebuyer Plus program, which
creates specialized, tax-advantaged savings accounts to help residents with
house purchases. Prospective homebuyers will be able to open Ohio
Homebuyer Plus accounts through participating financial institutions starting
in January. The treasurer's office will administer the program, which will
reflect the "linked deposit" method of Ag-LINK and Family Forward.
This will enable account-holders who deposit money at participating banks or
credit unions to receive above-market interest rates, and they may also qualify
for certain state income tax deductions. Participants must meet the following
criteria: be an Ohio resident at least 18 years of age; have a primary
residence in the state of Ohio; and exclusively use the account proceeds toward
the down payment or closing costs of a primary residence purchased in Ohio.
The governor's office recently announced the signing
of Executive Order 2023-11D, authorizing the Office of Faith Based and
Community Initiatives to distribute $13.5 million in federal Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for FY24, as allowed under the
biennial budget bill, HB33 (Edwards). The funding is to be used by recipients
for one of the four allowable purposes of TANF funding: providing assistance to
needy families so they can be cared for in their own homes or those of
relatives; ending dependence of needy parents on government benefits by
promoting job preparation, work and marriage; preventing and reducing
out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establishing annual goals for such prevention
and reduction; and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent
Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday announced he has
appointed Robert J. Jones Jr. to the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division. Jones will assume office on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, and will
be taking the seat formerly held by Judge Denise Cubbon. He will serve the
remainder of the unfinished term and need to run for election in November 2024
in order to retain the seat.
A shortage of individuals willing to work in the
juvenile justice system is a leading cause of violence at youth prisons,
according to Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) Director Amy Ast.
"What could we do differently if we had more staff? There's no doubt
adding more staff -- being fully staffed -- would reduce violence in our
facilities. It would give more staff the opportunity to de-escalate youth prior
to them getting in a crisis state. And we would have more staff to conduct
motivational interviewing sessions that would be able to identify quickly when
youth are getting upset before they commit any harm to others," Ast said
during the first meeting of the Ohio Juvenile Justice Working Group Tuesday.
Gov. Mike DeWine created the working group following
the publication of an investigation of Ohio's youth prisons by newspapers
including the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer and Akron Beacon
Journal. Ast said for FY23, only 59
percent of clinical staff positions were filled.
The General Assembly and Gov. Mike DeWine should
make several changes to the adult use marijuana legalization ballot measure
approved by voters earlier this month, according to Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Rick Carfagna. The letter comes out
ahead of the Thursday, Dec. 7 effective date for the new initiated statute,
state Issue 2. In particular, Carfagna suggested lawmakers address employer
workplace protections, private property rights and the tax distribution.
The holidays are "not always the most wonderful
time of the year" for many Ohioans, according to the Ohio Department of
Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). "High expectations,
loneliness and stress can lead to being overwhelmed," OhioMHAS said.
"That's why OhioMHAS -- in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health
(ODH) -- unveiled a new round of public service messages urging Ohioans to
'Check in on Yourself.'" The campaign, which includes digital ads, social
media messages and billboards, aims to help Ohioans assess their stress level
and offers tips to manage it in a healthy way.
Wildlife-based recreational activities contributed
nearly $12.5 billion to Ohio's economy in 2022, according to a new report -- "Participation
Levels in and Economic Contributions from Outdoor Recreation in Ohio" -- conducted
on behalf of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of
Wildlife. Researchers surveyed Ohio residents to gauge their participation in
outdoor recreation and the economic impact of those activities. The survey
primarily focused on Ohioans' involvement in hunting, fishing, target shooting
and wildlife viewing. Collectively, the four activities provided nearly 80,000
jobs in Ohio and $4 billion in income, plus $1.1 billion in local and state
taxes, as well as more than $600 million in federal taxes. The activities
contributed a total of $6.7 billion to Ohio's gross domestic product (GDP) in
2022. Of the $12.5 billion of economic activity created through these
activities, Ohio residents contributed $12 billion.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife reminded white-tailed
deer hunters in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance area of Hardin,
Marion, and Wyandot counties that sampling is mandatory for all deer harvested
during the seven-day gun season, Monday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 3. The division
confirmed that six deer in the disease surveillance area have tested positive
for CWD since the summer of 2023, including one in Hardin County, the county's
first. Since the fall of 2020, 28 wild deer have tested positive for CWD: 21 in
Wyandot County, six in Marion County, and one in Hardin County. A disease
surveillance area in those three counties remains in effect. A sample was
recently discovered in Allen County that requires additional testing.
The Ohio Department of
Natural Resources (ODNR), with the help of the Ohio Valley Conservation
Coalition and the Portage Park District, has expanded the Tom S.
Cooperrider-Kent Bog State Nature Preserve by an additional 75 acres. "We
cherish this unique and important nature preserve which safeguards one of
Ohio's largest bogs," ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. "Protecting
areas like this helps to preserve Ohio's natural landscape so more people can
enjoy the wonders of the outdoors." The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and
Preserves' effort to acquire additional bog and uplands began nearly 10 years
Local governments spoke out Tuesday against a proposal
to increase employer contributions for the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund
(OP&F), saying it would increase expenses in what is already the largest
share of municipal budgets. The House Pensions Committee heard opponent
testimony on HB296 (Abrams-Hall), which would increase employer contributions
for police officers from 19.5 percent to 24 percent, bringing them on par with
what's paid toward firefighters' retirement. "The
Ohio Municipal League surveyed its membership to determine the percentage of
city and village budgets dedicated to public safety and found that members
spend an average of 75 percent of their budgets dedicated to public safety
services. When municipal budgets are constrained, either by economic issues or
through unfunded mandates like the one proposed in HB296, cities and villages
are faced with very few options to make up a revenue shortfall or to generate
new revenue without reducing services to residents across the board -- including
for public safety -- or raising taxes locally, something that our members are
generally not supportive of doing," said Kent Scarrett, executive director
of the Ohio Municipal League.
A recent poll from Quinnipiac University measured
voters' views on what is most responsible for political divisions, with social
media named as the leading entity by 35 percent of respondents. Political
leaders were second at 32 percent, followed by cable news channels at 28
percent; other countries were blamed by 1 percent. Respondents were asked to
pick among those four options in the poll. Among voters 18 to 34 years old, 45
percent said social media was the most responsible entity, followed by cable
news at 27 percent and political leaders at 26 percent. "When it comes to
the source of the angry white noise of discord and division, the segment of the
population most connected to it is the age group most critical of it,"
said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy. Republicans also blamed
social media the most at 37 percent, followed by 34 percent of Democrats and 33
percent of independents. The entity most blamed by Democrats was political
leaders at 39 percent.
The percentage of households in the U.S. that were
unable to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children crept higher in
2022 compared with 2021 and 2020, according to research from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA). Those criteria define when a person is
"food insecure," according to the USDA, and the number of households
with children that fit the description reached 3.3 million in 2022 (8.8 percent
of households), compared to 2.3 million households (6.2 percent) in 2021 and
2.9 million households (7.6 percent) in 2020. The USDA calls the increase from
2021 to 2022 statistically significant.
Numbers rose similarly
for households with "very low food security," in which the USDA says
survey respondents report children were hungry, skipped a meal or did not eat
for an entire day because there was not enough money for food. Households with
very low food security are identified by one or more members of the household
reducing food intake or eating patterns because of insufficient money and other
resources for food.
Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio saw eight people killed
in seven accidents, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP). That
number represents the fewest highway deaths over the Thanksgiving holiday since
2018, following 19 in 2022, 17 in 2021 and 11 in 2020. Of those eight
fatalities, the highway patrol says one person was not wearing a safety belt,
and one of the crashes involved impaired driving.
In a split 4-3 vote along party lines, the Ohio
Supreme Court Monday denied the requests of plaintiffs in three redistricting
cases to file objections to the new General Assembly maps adopted by the Ohio
Redistricting Commission and dismissed the cases. In a per curiam opinion, the
Court agreed with a motion to dismiss filed by Redistricting Commission members
Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester), and
Secretary of State Frank LaRose that there is no longer an operative complaint
that corresponds to the plan adopted by the commission in September.
The Controlling Board Monday approved all of the items
on its agenda, including two land purchases by the Ohio Department Natural
Resources (ODNR) and the creation of a new fund to collect fees from training
programs for arming school staff. The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS)
requested approval of the creation of a new line item for FY24 and FY25 that it
said would be used by the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) to collect fees for
training for school employees and teachers who are authorized to carry firearms
under provisions of 134-HB99 (Hall).
In the inaugural "Find Forgotten Funds"
competition, Michigan had the most searches for unclaimed funds on
missingmoney.com and Ohio had the most claims filed, according to the Ohio
Department of Commerce (DOC). DOC announced the competition ahead of the Ohio
State-Michigan football game.
Michigan had more than
240,000 searches for unclaimed funds, while Ohio completed the competition with
226,860 searches. As a result of those searches, Ohioans filed 33,386 claims to
reclaim their missing money. In Michigan, searches led to 19,269 claims being
filed. So far in November, the DOC Division of Unclaimed Funds has paid out
more than $3.4 million in unclaimed funds, according to DOC. Ohioans can search
for their unclaimed funds at any time on missingmoney.com.
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced
recently the application period is open for the second round of its Ohio
Residential Broadband Expansion Grant (ORBEG) program, which has a total of
$77.5 million to help Internet service providers (ISPs) expand affordable,
high-speed service to unserved and underserved areas. The
application deadline is Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 and all funds must be spent by
Dec. 31, 2026. Projects must be operational by that date as well. The first
round provided over $232 million to 11 ISPs, bringing access to more than
43,000 homes in 31 counties. ISPs using the funds must participate in the
Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program
(ACP), which provides a $30 per month subsidy for low-income families.
County prosecutors and other supporters of HB258
(Carruthers) told House members Tuesday the state must attack the supply as
well as the demand for e-cigarettes to head off looming health problems for
Ohio teens and adults addicted to vaping. The bill would hike retail penalties
for "repeated" or "continuous" sales of e-cigarettes and
allow rogue vendors to be shut down as a "public nuisance."
TREASURER OF STATE
Treasurer Robert Sprague announced Wednesday the State
Treasury Asset Reserve of Ohio (STAR Ohio) had generated and returned over $1
billion in investment income for participating entities during 2023. This
"milestone" was achieved on Nov. 22, according to his office. STAR
Ohio allows the state's governmental entities to invest in high-grade,
short-term securities while providing them with safety, penalty-free liquidity
and comparatively higher yields. The treasurer's office acts as the investment
advisor and administrator. Sprague's office also noted that when he took office
in January 2019, STAR Ohio had assets totaling $9.55 billion and they are now
over $23 billion. As of Oct. 31, there were 2,997 STAR Ohio accounts, and the
current daily yield is 5.58 percent.
Speaking at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's
Health Care Transformation Summit Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted described how
the industry can address workforce shortages and adapt to new technology. He
spoke in a keynote with CVS Health Vice President for State Government Affairs
Leanne Gassaway. Health care is "the biggest cost driver in state
government," poses a range of societal issues and affects people of all
ages in different ways, Husted told attendees. Regarding the workforce issues,
he brought up overall challenges of shifting demographic trends and the decline
in the labor participation rate. The state government is working to promote
STEM education through innovation districts, career centers and new means of
lifelong learning such as TechCred.