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Legislative Report July 22, 2024
Prepared by: Government Relations Staff
Government Relations Legislative Report
135th General Assembly

This legislative report is intended to keep section members up to date on legislation pending before the Ohio General Assembly.
Bill Information
PROPERTY, INCOME TAX CHANGES
(MATHEWS A)

To modify the law regarding property taxation and income tax rates.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/25/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Seventh Hearing)

STATE FUNDING-CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS
(CUTRONA A, UPCHURCH T)

To provide authorization and conditions for the operation of certain state programs, to make capital appropriations and reappropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2026, to make other appropriations, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/28/2024 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. immediately

AFFORDABLE HOUSING TAX CREDIT
(PAVLIGA G, MCNALLY L)

To authorize a nonrefundable tax credit for
the construction or rehabilitation of certain
federally subsidized rental housing and to
authorize a uniform method for the tax valuation
of most such housing.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/13/2023 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Economic and Workforce Development, (Fifth Hearing)

FAIR ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SERVICES ACT
(YOUNG T, KING A)

To enact Ohio's Fair Access to Financial Services Act regarding financial institutions and other businesses that conduct economic boycotts or discriminate against certain companies or customers based on certain factors and to make an appropriation.

  CURRENT STATUS

11/14/2023 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Financial Institutions, (First Hearing)

FY24-25 OPERATING BUDGET
(EDWARDS J)

To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2025, to levy taxes, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.

  CURRENT STATUS

1/24/2024 - Consideration of Governor's Veto; Senate Overrides Veto, Vote 24-8

REFUNDABLE INCOME TAX CREDIT
(SKINDELL M, ISAACSOHN D)

To make the earned income tax credit partially refundable.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/9/2023 - House Ways and Means, (First Hearing)

VETERAN HIRING TAX CREDITS
(SCHMIDT J, MILLER A)

To authorize refundable tax credits for hiring certain veterans, service members, and their spouses.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/13/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION-INFLATION INDEX
(HALL T, DEMETRIOU S)

To index the homestead exemption amounts to inflation.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/31/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate Ways and Means

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION-EXPANDED QUALIFICATIONS
(TROY D)

To increase the amount of and expand the income qualifications for the homestead exemption.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/18/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

TOBACCO PRODUCT BAD DEBTS
(HALL T, STOLTZFUS R)

Regarding the deduction and recovery of bad debts for cigarette and tobacco and vapor products taxes.

  CURRENT STATUS

10/11/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

HOMESTEAD TAX EXEMPTION - DISABLED VETERANS
(PATTON T)

To authorize a total property tax exemption for the homesteads of totally disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/12/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE
(JARRELLS D, MOHAMED I)

To increase the state minimum wage.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/25/2024 - House Commerce and Labor, (First Hearing)

MUNICIPAL INCOME TAX RETURNS EXTENSIONS
(THOMAS J)

To modify the law regarding extensions for filing municipal income tax returns and to limit penalties for late filings.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/31/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate Ways and Means

PAY STUB PROTECTION ACT
(JARRELLS D, LIPPS S)

To enact the Pay Stub Protection Act requiring employers to provide earnings and deductions statements to each of the employer's employees.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/9/2024 - Senate Small Business and Economic Opportunity, (Second Hearing)

NONPROFIT WORKFORCE REINVESTMENT ACT
(SANTUCCI N, MILLER A)

To enact the Nonprofit Workforce Reinvestment Act to allow certain tax-exempt retailers to retain a portion of state sales taxes to fund employment services.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/23/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

TAXPAYER DEDUCTIONS
(PETERSON B, CLAGGETT T)

To allow taxpayers to deduct in a single year the full bonus depreciation and enhanced expensing allowances the taxpayer deducts for federal income tax purposes.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/2/2023 - REPORTED OUT, House Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

REMOTE WORKERS - MODIFIED MUNICIPAL INCOME TAX
(ROBB BLASDEL M, MATHEWS A)

To allow businesses with remote workers to use a modified municipal income tax apportionment formula.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/21/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate Ways and Means

TAX DEDUCTIONS - 529 PLANS
(MATHEWS A, SANTUCCI N)

To modify the income tax deductions for contributions to 529 plans and ABLE accounts.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/6/2023 - REPORTED OUT, House Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

TAX EXEMPTION - MILITARY PAY
(MATHEWS A, MILLER A)

To expand a municipal income tax exemption for military pay.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/23/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

CLASSIFY CERTAIN PAYMENTS - INVESTORS
(KING A, YOUNG T)

To classify certain guaranteed payments to pass-through entity investors as business income.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/9/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

TEMPORARY AGRICULTURAL WORKERS - TAXES
(STEIN D)

To authorize certain municipalities to levy a tax on providers of housing for temporary foreign agricultural workers.

  CURRENT STATUS

11/28/2023 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

VICARIOUS LIABILITY IN TORT ACTIONS
(MATHEWS A, STEWART B)

Relative to vicarious liability in tort actions and to provide that the tolling of the limitations period during the defendant's absence or concealment does not apply to statutes of repose.

  CURRENT STATUS

7/15/2024 - Sent to Governor for Signature

PROCEDURES FOR PROPERTY TAX VALUES
(HALL T, BIRD A)

To make changes to the law governing real property valuation and tax complaints, to temporarily modify the computation of the homestead exemption, to abate property taxes on certain municipal and community improvement corporation property, to make an appropriation, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

12/6/2023 - PASSED BY SENATE; Vote 31-0, Emergency Clause 29-2

ELECTRONIC TAX PAYMENTS
(ROEMER B, DEMETRIOU S)

Regarding the Treasurer of State and the electronic payment of taxes.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/7/2023 - Referred to Committee House State and Local Government

PERSONAL INCOME TAX JOINT FILER CREDIT
(YOUNG T, DEAN B)

To modify the computation of the personal income tax joint filer credit.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/19/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Fifth Hearing)

PASS-THROUGH ENTITY TAXES
(CALLENDER J, YOUNG T)

To modify the income tax treatment of income subject to other states' pass-through entity taxes.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/27/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

ADAMH BOARDS
(PIZZULLI J)

Regarding the composition of boards of alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health services; the authority of the boards; and the requirements for operation of recovery housing residences.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/12/2023 - Referred to Committee House Behavioral Health

REVISE OCCUPATIONAL REGULATIONS
(FOWLER S, KLOPFENSTEIN R)

To revise and streamline the state's occupational regulations and to make an appropriation.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/24/2024 - Senate Government Oversight, (Second Hearing)

HOMESTEAD TAX EXEMPTION - DISABLED VETERANS
(RICHARDSON T, HOLMES A)

To expand and enhance the homestead property tax exemption for disabled veterans.

  CURRENT STATUS

12/5/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

PROPERTY TAX FREEZE
(ISAACSOHN D, HALL T)

To authorize a property tax freeze for certain owner-occupied homes.

  CURRENT STATUS

2/6/2024 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

PROPERTY TAX HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION
(MATHEWS A, DELL'AQUILA R)

To authorize an enhanced property tax homestead exemption for certain long-term homeowners.

  CURRENT STATUS

12/12/2023 - House Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

DAMAGE COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS
(SEITZ B, YOUNG T)

To require in a civil action for damages caused by another person's criminal act that such other person was convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or adjudicated delinquent in connection with the criminal act.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/14/2024 - BILL AMENDED, House Civil Justice, (Sixth Hearing)

PROPERTY TAX LEVIES, COMPLAINTS
(MATHEWS A, HALL T)

To eliminate the authority to levy replacement property tax levies and to modify the law governing certain property tax complaints.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/30/2024 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED & REPORTED OUT, House Ways and Means, (Sixth Hearing)

PHASE OUT STATE INCOME TAX
(MATHEWS A, LAMPTON B)

To phase-out the state income tax on nonbusiness income over six years and to repeal the commercial activity tax after 2029.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/14/2024 - House Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

EMPLOYEE SALARY HISTORY
(MIRANDA J, ABDULLAHI M)

To prohibit employers from seeking a prospective employee's wage or salary history.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/25/2024 - House Commerce and Labor, (First Hearing)

BLOCKCHAIN BASICS ACT
(DEMETRIOU S)

To prohibit certain state and local government actions respecting digital asset mining, to exempt certain digital currency transactions from state and local income taxes, to prohibit local charges on digital assets, to require the state retirement systems to evaluate certain digital asset investments, and to name this act the Ohio Blockchain Basics Act.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/21/2024 - House Financial Institutions, (First Hearing)

AUTOMATIC SEALING-CRIMINAL RECORDS
(HILLYER B, SEITZ B)

To enact the Getting Rehabilitated Ohioans Working Act to allow for the automatic sealing of certain criminal records.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/11/2024 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Criminal Justice, (Third Hearing)

CHILD CARE GRANTS
(WHITE A, ROEMER B)

To establish certain child care grant programs, including those related to child care capacity and learning labs, and to make an appropriation.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/8/2024 - House Finance, (First Hearing)

CAPITAL BUDGET
(EDWARDS J)

To amend Sections 307.80 and 423.120 of H.B. 33 of the 135th General Assembly to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of certain state programs, to make capital appropriations and reappropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2026, to make other appropriations, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/20/2024 - BILL AMENDED, House Finance, (Second Hearing)

CAMPAIGN FINANCE-FOREIGN NATIONALS, BALLOT ISSUES
(SEITZ B)

To modify the Campaign Finance Law regarding foreign nationals and ballot issues.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/2/2024 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. 90 days

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DEADLINES-2024 ELECTION
(DOBOS D)

To delay the deadline for a major political party to certify its presidential and vice presidential candidates to the Secretary of State for the 2024 general election.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/2/2024 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. 90 days

FILM, THEATER TAX CREDITS
(SCHURING K)

To modify the film and theater tax credit and to authorize a tax credit for capital improvement projects relating to the film and theater industries.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/24/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

ESG POLICIES-STATE ENTITIES
(SCHURING K)

Regarding environmental, social, and corporate governance policies with respect to the state retirement systems, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, and state institutions of higher education.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/18/2024 - House Financial Institutions, (Second Hearing)

INTERNAL REVENUE CODE CHANGES
(BLESSING III L)

To amend section 5701.11 of the Revised Code and to amend Sections 225.12, 265.10, 265.20, and 701.10 of H.B. 45 of the 134th General Assembly to expressly incorporate changes in the Internal Revenue Code since February 17, 2022, into Ohio law, to make changes to the Emergency Rental Assistance program, to revise an existing earmark, to modify the requirements for a temporary arts economic relief grant program, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

3/15/2023 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. immediately

NON-RECOURSE CIVIL LITIGATION
(WILSON S)

To amend the law regarding the non-recourse civil litigation advance business.

  CURRENT STATUS

12/6/2023 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, Senate Judiciary, (Second Hearing)

INTERNAL REVENUE CODE CHANGES
(ROEGNER K)

To expressly incorporate changes in the Internal Revenue Code since February 17, 2022, into Ohio law and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

1/17/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate Ways and Means

TAX EXEMPTION-BABY PRODUCTS
(SCHAFFER T)

To exempt certain baby products from sales and use tax.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/7/2023 - Referred to Committee House Ways and Means

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION-VETERAN SPOUSES
(BRENNER A)

To modify the homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.

  CURRENT STATUS

7/28/2023 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. 90 days

ELECTRONIC LICENSING APPLICATION REQUIREMENT
(BRENNER A)

To require a state occupational licensing agency to accept electronic license applications.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/20/2023 - Referred to Committee House State and Local Government

911 SERVICE LAW CHANGES
(WILSON S, SMITH K)

To make changes to the law governing 9-1-1 service and to repeal program requirements for emergency-service-telecommunicator training.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/6/2023 - REPORTED OUT, Senate Financial Institutions and Technology, (Eighth Hearing)

ASBESTOS CLAIMS-DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS
(LANG G)

To require a plaintiff in a tort action alleging an asbestos claim to file specified disclosures.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/11/2024 - Referred to Committee House Insurance

ELECTRONIC TAX PAYMENTS, STATE TREASURER
(GAVARONE T)

Regarding the Treasurer of State and the electronic payment of taxes.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/7/2023 - Referred to Committee House State and Local Government

JEDD FORMATION REQUIREMENTS
(BLESSING III L)

To allow two or more municipalities to create a joint economic development district without involving a township.

  CURRENT STATUS

4/16/2024 - House Economic and Workforce Development, (First Hearing)

HIGH-VOLUME LANDLORD TAX
(BLESSING III L, ANTONIO N)

To levy a tax on certain high-volume landlords.

  CURRENT STATUS

3/22/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

TAX-EXEMPT RETAILERS-EMPLOYMENT
(REYNOLDS M, INGRAM C)

To allow certain tax-exempt retailers to retain a portion of state sales taxes to fund employment services.

  CURRENT STATUS

3/29/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

HIGHER EDUCATION OPERATIONS ENHANCEMENT
(CIRINO J)

To enact the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act regarding the operation of state institutions of higher education, and to revise the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act.

  CURRENT STATUS

1/3/2024 - Re-Referred to Committee

ENTER SOCIAL WORKER COMPACT
(ROEGNER K)

To enter into the Social Work Licensure Compact.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/10/2024 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. 90 days

FRAUDULENT, DECEPTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES
(RULLI M)

To address fraudulent business filings, deceptive mailings, reinstatement of canceled
business entities, and addresses of statutory agents, and to make changes
regarding property taxation, fire investigator firearms, acting or assigned judge
reimbursements, common pleas clerk of court duties, recreational vehicle park
and camp operation licenses, and state ballot numbering.

  CURRENT STATUS

7/15/2024 - Sent to Governor for Signature

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION LAW CHANGES
(LANG G, ROMANCHUK M)

To make changes to Ohio's Unemployment Compensation Law.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/7/2023 - Senate Insurance, (Third Hearing)

TAX CREDITS-SINGLE FAMILY HOMES
(SCHURING K)

To authorize a nonrefundable, transferable income tax credit for the construction of new, or conversion of rental housing into, owner-occupied single family homes.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/24/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Third Hearing)

FAIRNESS ACT-DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITIONS
(ANTONIO N)

To enact the Ohio Fairness Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, to add mediation as an informal method that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission may use, and to uphold existing religious exemptions under Ohio's Civil Rights Law.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/13/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate Government Oversight

FRAUDULENT CLAIMS WITH STATE
(HICKS-HUDSON P, DEMORA B)

Regarding filing false or fraudulent claims with the state and defrauding the state of money or property.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/13/2023 - Referred to Committee Senate General Government

INCREASE STATE MINIMUM WAGE
(SMITH K, CRAIG H)

To increase the state minimum wage.

  CURRENT STATUS

9/27/2023 - Senate Workforce and Higher Education, (First Hearing)

TEMPORARY TAX VALUATION CHANGES
(LANG G, JOHNSON T)

To temporarily modify the method for valuing farmland and other real property for tax purposes.

  CURRENT STATUS

10/11/2023 - Senate Ways and Means, (Fourth Hearing)

ENTER LICENSURE COMPACT - DIETICIANS
(ROEGNER K)

To enter into the Dietitian Licensure Compact.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/26/2024 - PASSED BY SENATE; Vote 30-1

STATE INCOME TAX-PHASE OUT
(LANG G, HUFFMAN S)

To phase-out the state income tax on nonbusiness income over six years and to repeal the commercial activity tax after 2029.

  CURRENT STATUS

1/24/2024 - Referred to Committee Senate Ways and Means

MINIMUM WAGE-EITC
(BLESSING III L)

To modify the state's earned income tax credit, to increase the basic state minimum hourly wage, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/22/2024 - Senate Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

AUTHORIZE TAX CREDIT-HOUSING BASED ON INCOME
(BLESSING III L, CRAIG H)

To authorize a refundable income tax credit or rebate for homeowners and renters whose property taxes or a portion of their rent exceed five per cent of their income.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/25/2024 - Senate Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)

REGULATION, TAXATION-MARIJUANA, CANNABIS, HEMP
(SCHURING K, HUFFMAN S)

To modify the regulation and taxation of medical marijuana, adult use cannabis, and hemp.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/11/2024 - Referred to Committee Senate General Government

SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS-BIENNIUM ENDING 2025
(DOLAN M)

To make certain supplemental operating appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2025.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/12/2024 - Senate Finance, (Second Hearing)

CAPITAL BUDGET
(DOLAN M)

To amend Sections 307.80 and 423.120 of H.B. 33 of the 135th General Assembly to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of certain state programs, to make capital appropriations and reappropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2026, to make other appropriations, and to declare an emergency.

  CURRENT STATUS

6/25/2024 - Referred to Committee Senate Finance

LEGISLATIVE CODE OF ETHICS
(SCHURING K)

To adopt the Legislative Code of Ethics for the members and employees of
both chambers of the 135th General Assembly, employees of any legislative
agency, and candidates for the 136th General Assembly.

  CURRENT STATUS

5/24/2023 - ADOPTED BY HOUSE; Vote 88-0

logoWeek in Review

Friday, July 19, 2024

AGRICULTURE

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) on Wednesday issued a public health advisory for all "Diamond Shruumz" brand infused cones, chocolate bars, and gummies due to their link with multiple illnesses and one potential death. Prophet Premium Blends of Santa Ana, CA issued a recall of all Diamond Shruumz brands products on June 27. However, ODAg became aware the products were still for sale in smoke/vape shops and other retail stores. The recall was issued in response to multiple reports of illnesses across the U.S. Ill people reported neurological symptoms including seizures, central nervous system depression (loss of consciousness, confusion, sleepiness), agitation, abnormal heart rates, hyper/hypotension, nausea and vomiting.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

The Ohio Attorney General's Office has dropped 40 felony charges and dismissed one defendant in the $72 million Northwest Capital investment fraud case and re-indicted seven remaining parties in four separate actions to "streamline" their prosecution. The Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) and Attorney General Dave Yost originally announced last year's coordinated indictment of eight persons associated with the Toledo firm on more than 200 felony counts. Yost and DOC, which investigated Northwest with the AG's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), say that from 2011 to 2021, the defendants purported to act as intermediaries between businesses wishing to sell their accounts receivable and clients interested in alternative investments.

BALLOT ISSUES

Attorney General Dave Yost Monday handed another defeat to backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal constitutional immunities and defenses in cases alleging a civil rights violation by government actors -- the ninth such rejection of the proposed summary of the amendment he has given the group. The group resubmitted the summary on Friday, July 5, but was rejected by Yost Monday for lack of a title, which Yost said in a letter sent to the petitioners "alone provides sufficient cause to reject the submitted petition, and the petition is rejected on that basis." After the eighth rejection of the petition, the group took Yost to court, but were unable to get any relief from the Ohio Supreme Court to try to make this year's ballot, when the Court refused to speed up the lawsuit.

County boards of elections Thursday were due to return to the secretary of state's (SOS) office signatures submitted by Citizens Not Politicians for a proposed redistricting amendment, though whether the group had enough to qualify for the ballot won't be announced until next week. The group submitted more than 730,000 signatures on July 1 in an effort to qualify for the November ballot. The proposed amendment would create a 15-member citizens' redistricting commission that would draw state legislative and congressional lines. While Thursday, July 18 was the deadline for county boards to complete their check of the validity of the signatures and return them to the secretary of state's office, an SOS spokesman said it would likely be next week before an announcement is made on whether the group collected enough to make the ballot. The group needs 413,487 valid signatures, or 10 percent of the total votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election, in order to be on the ballot. Of that total, they also must have at least 5 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 44 counties.

CITIES

The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) plans to collaborate with the city of East Cleveland and its police department at their request "in an effort to improve traffic safety," according to information provided to Hannah News by OSHP Lt. Ray Santiago of the Public Affairs Unit. He said additional details about the initiative will be announced when they become available.

CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported Thursday an increase in new COVID-19 cases at 3,896, continuing an upward trend that has now lasted seven weeks. This follows the July 11 update, which marked the first time since mid-March there were over 3,000 cases in a seven-day period. At the national level, the White House announced Wednesday that President Joe Biden had tested positive for the virus while campaigning in Las Vegas. He was reportedly experiencing "mild symptoms" including a runny nose, cough and "general malaise." Biden is self-isolating at his home in Delaware and continuing to receive Paxlovid, according to the latest update from White House physician Kevin O'Connor. Other specific increases reported by ODH Thursday included the following:

- 124 hospitalizations, compared to 108 on July 11.

- Seven ICU admissions, compared to three on July 11.

- 10 deaths, compared to two on July 11.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 3.76 million total COVID cases, 152,128 hospitalizations, 15,831 ICU admissions and 44,030 Ohio resident deaths reported by ODH.

EDUCATION

The State Board of Education (SBOE) Wednesday announced the 11 educators named as the 2025 State Board District Teachers of the Year. From this group, four will be selected as finalists for the 2025 Ohio Teacher of the Year honor later this year. From the finalists, one will be named Ohio Teacher of the Year. Those regional honorees include the following:

State Board District 1 - Melinda Newell

State Board District 2 - Kimberly Haney

State Board District 3 - Justin Stone

State Board District 4 - Alison Sears

State Board District 5 - Michelle Dohrmann

State Board District 6 - Treva Bolton

State Board District 7 - Amanda Schaeffer

State Board District 8 - Aaron Davis

State Board District 9 - Jennifer Bindus

State Board District 10 - Danee Pinckney

State Board District 11 - Jennifer Winkler

Officials at the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Thursday gave an update on the progress made by school districts on new science of reading literacy requirements established in the biennial budget, HB33 (Edwards), and they reviewed several education bills that passed the General Assembly in June before lawmakers broke for the summer. During the agency's bi-monthly public meeting, Chief of Literacy Melissa Weber-Mayrer reviewed districts' alignment with approved literacy instruction material, educators' uptake of science of reading training, and the reach of ReadOhio literacy coaches. Survey results from the 2022-23 school year showed the majority of schools were either aligned (32.5 percent) or partially aligned (29.5 percent) with the DEW approved list of core curriculum and instructional materials while about 38 percent of schools and districts were not aligned.

ELECTIONS

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that the Stark County Board of Elections had violated the Open Meetings Act by secretly approving the purchase of Dominion voting machines over the objections of county commissioners and electors who contacted them with concerns about the technology following the contentious 2020 presidential election. In an opinion written by Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, the Court said the elections board, chaired by Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Sam Ferruccio and administered by Republican Jeff Matthews, had ignored the basic rules of grammar in its interpretation of R.C. 121.22(G)(2) of the act, which limits executive session to the following: "To consider the purchase of property for public purposes, the sale of property at competitive bidding, or the sale or other disposition of unneeded, obsolete or unfit-for-use property in accordance with section 505.10 of the Revised Code, if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest." Justices remanded Look Ahead America v. Stark County Board of Elections to the common pleas court for a new trial applying the Court's interpretation.

ELECTIONS 2024

Ohio officials over the weekend denounced violence in the political process following the shooting at a Pennsylvania campaign event Saturday for former President Donald Trump where Trump was wounded and one attendee was killed. Media reports indicated the deceased shooter was a 20-year-old resident of a town around an hour from the event; investigators are still working to identify a motive for the attack. President Joe Biden said Sunday that violence in politics could not be "normalized" and he ordered the U.S. Secret Service to provide the Trump campaign with every resource needed to ensure Trump's continued safety. An independent review of measures in place at the Saturday rally will also be conducted with the results released publicly.

Super PACs funded by out-of-state megadonors, self-funded candidates, and national spenders funneling millions through local-sounding groups to obscure the source of the funds were among the latest trends in money in politics that were highlighted during Ohio's congressional primaries this year, including the U.S. Senate race, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center. The left-leaning group's Ian Vandewalker wrote in an analysis that one of the most notable trends in Ohio's federal primaries was how much of the money that was spent came from outside the state. While congressional candidates have always raised some money nationally, he noted, the portion of their funds coming from donors outside their districts or states has significantly increased.

Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Martin Hume is now the Democratic nominee for the Ohio Senate's 33rd District in November after the other potential candidates withdrew their names from consideration, according to the Youngstown Vindicator. The seat is on the ballot after former Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) was elected to Congress. Sen. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) was appointed to the seat to replace Rulli last month and will face Hume.

Federal campaign finance reports filed Monday showed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) continuing to lead Republican challenger Bernie Moreno in fundraising, with Brown reporting $10.7 million on hand to Moreno's $4.5 million. Brown had reported last week that his campaign had raised $12.8 million in the second quarter. His report also showed he has spent about $18.1 million to try to hold his seat against Moreno. Moreno's campaign said it had raised $6.8 million across two campaign entities. Bernie Moreno for Senate reported raising nearly $1.9 million in contributions, spending $1.67 million, and has nearly $4.5 million on hand. Team Moreno separately reported nearly $4.3 million in contributions, spending nearly $3.8 million, including funds transferred to Bernie Moreno for Senate, and has $759,749 on hand.

All Voting is Local and Common Cause Ohio Wednesday renewed their call for Secretary of State Frank LaRose to issue a directive addressing outside groups that challenge the eligibility of Ohio voters, saying it is creating an environment of voter intimidation and complicating the role of election officials. Kelly Dufour, voting and elections manager for Common Cause Ohio, said on a call with reporters they have learned of private groups who are challenging voters "under the guise of election integrity." She argued the groups have been using publicly sourced and out-of-date data to issue the challenges. She noted examples, including one in Hamilton County that took the board of elections there an hour to hear the case before dismissing it. She said in that case, the voter found her life scrutinized in public, having to testify before the board on her living and working arrangements.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) against Executive Order 14019 which was signed by President Joe Biden on March 7, 2021 seeking to expand voting access by directing the heads of federal agencies to develop programs to help register voters and increase voter participation. AFPI argues that the order uses taxpayer money to create voter registration programs and design get-out-the-vote initiatives in an effort to help elect Democratic candidates, including Biden. A fact sheet released by the White House at the time the order was signed said Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies "that suppress their vote." It said the order "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voting registration services and information about voting." The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Texas, argues that the order violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which allows courts to hold unlawful and set aside agency action that is not in accordance with law; arbitrary and capricious; contrary to constitutional rights; in excess of the agency's statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations in the absence of statutory authority and not in accordance with procedure.

The following endorsements were made over the week:

- Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio (PPAO) endorsed Justices Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart and Judge Lisa Forbes for the Ohio Supreme Court; Rep. Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, Crystal Lett, Rep. Rachel Baker, Desiree Tims, Rep. Michelle Grim, Rachael Morocco and Jan Materni for the Ohio House; and Reps. Willis Blackshear and Casey Weinstein for the Ohio Senate.

- The Ohio State Medical Association Political Action Committee endorsed Joe Deters, Dan Hawkins, and Megan Shanahan for Ohio Supreme Court; George Lang, Willis Blackshear, Lou Blessing, Kyle Koehler, Susan Manchester, Terry Johnson, Beth Liston, Tim Schaffer, Mark Romanchuk, Tom Patton, Bill Reineke, Casey Weinstein, and Brian Chavez for the Ohio Senate; Dontavius Jarrells, Latyna Humphrey, Ismail Mohamed, Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, Christine Cockley, Allison Russo, Anita Somani, Munira Abdullahi, Mark Sigrist, Stephanie Kunze, Brian Stewart, Tristan Rader, Sean Brennan, Chris Glassburn, Bride Rose Sweeney, Mike Dovilla, Juanita Brent, Phil Robinson, Terrence Upchurch, Eric Synenberg, Darnell Brewer, Dan Troy, Dani Isaacsohn, Cecil Thomas, Sedrick Denson, Rachel Baker, Karen Brownlee, Cindy Abrams, Bill Roemer, Jack Daniels, Steve Demetriou, Andrea White, Tom Young, Desiree Tims, Phil Plummer, Rodney Creech, Erika White, Elgin Rogers, Michele Grim, Josh Williams, Thomas Hall, Scott Oelslager, Jodi Salvo, Gayle Manning, Joe Miller, Adam Mathews, Jamie Callender, Lauren McNally, Adam Bird, Nick Santucci, David Thomas, Sharon Ray, Melanie Miller, Kevin Miller, Brian Lampton, Heidi Workman, Jeff LaRe, Haraz Ghanbari, Marilyn John, Matt Huffman, James Hoops, Ty Mathews, Tim Barhorst, Tracy Richardson, D.J. Swearingen, Justin Pizzulli, Bob Peterson, Mark Johnson, Jason Stephens, Kevin Ritter, Don Jones, Adam Holmes, and Mark Hiner for the Ohio House.

ENERGY/UTILITIES

The exponential growth of data centers and cryptocurrency processors in Central Ohio and other parts of the state is spurring debate at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) over which ratepayer class(es) should bear electric transmission and distribution costs to serve "power hungry" installations -- as American Electric Power (AEP) calls them -- at the center of the state's economic development goals. PUCO opened a special hearing docket eight weeks ago to address the expansion of Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants into a capital region fast becoming a Silicon Heartland in AEP Ohio's territory. The utility proposed the following commission regulations for data centers and cryptocurrency/mobile data centers on May 13, prompting a flurry of responses from industries, trade associations, power producers and other stakeholders including the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC). Among the recommendations are that both classes must commit to 10-year service agreements and pay all base rates and single-issue riders charged to other large commercial or industrial customers.

Hamilton County leads the state with energy efficiency grants exceeding $900,000 in the second round of awards from the Ohio Department of Development's (DOD) Advanced Energy Fund (AEF). Five counties are receiving a total of $5.4 million to complete AEF funding to businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and educational institutions for energy efficiency (EE) projects including LED lighting, solar power upgrades, weather sealing, windows, doors and EE retrofits. The first round awarded $3.1 million to four organizations in three counties.

OCC Maureen Willis signaled a renewed push for increased biennial funding to move her statutory office closer to its $9 million annual budget before former Gov. John Kasich cut it in half. She previewed the FY26-27 budget cycle Tuesday during an executive presentation to the OCC Governing Board. Her predecessor, Bruce Weston, had convinced the Legislature to restore $1.5 million of the Kasich cut in Weston's first year and secured a smaller increase in the 133rd General Assembly. Willis says the agency will be preparing a new biennial request for submission to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) in the fall.

GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohioans should have access to legal casino games and lottery tickets on the Internet, the four House members on the Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio said in the panel's new report. The report includes one set of recommendations from the three House Republicans on the commission, and individual recommendations from the other members. The commission, co-chaired by Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), was created in the FY24-25 budget bill, HB33 (Edwards). A total of four hearings were held. Reps. Edwards, Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester), Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) all recommended that the state move forward with the legalization of iLottery and iGaming, but urged caution to ensure brick-and-mortar businesses aren't harmed. Edwards, LaRe and Abrams said iLottery and iGaming "could be a net benefit to the state of Ohio."

Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) Executive Director Matt Schuler said Wednesday that he's thrilled with the overwhelming support for problem gambling funding in the final report from the Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio. "Every single member of the commission that submitted a letter pointed out their support to continue efforts in funding for responsible gambling. That message came through loud and clear. Every single one of the members agreed on that one point," Schuler said during the monthly OCCC meeting. "That's the first time I have seen unanimity in the General Assembly, or a panel of the General Assembly, on the matter of problem gambling," he continued. "We are way beyond the question of whether it is a problem. We are now in a position where there is a focus on making sure the tools are available to all agencies to be able to provide education, treatment and prevention services to those who need it. I think that's a huge positive that came out of all the hearings, and the report."

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) Executive Director Laura Battocletti Thursday submitted her resignation to the board effective Dec. 13. The board said later a search committee will begin work to find her replacement. Serving as the executive director since 2016, Battocletti previously served as clerk of the Ohio House of Representatives, as well as a legislative aide, policy aide, journal clerk and deputy clerk. Before going to CSRAB, she was the director of government affairs and the problem gambling coordinator for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Speaking to Hannah News, Battocletti said she is ready to pursue the next chapter in her life, including spending more time with her family. She did not rule out another position in the future, but said after 38 years around the Statehouse, she decided it was time to move on.

GREAT LAKES

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) released an updated water use database website that it said is more secure and will make it easier for the public to access water use data. Upgrades to the site include a streamlined, more intuitive process for water use data managers to report their jurisdictions' data and metadata; an improved public-facing "create your own query" tool that will allow users to create charts based on their specific data selections; and improved security features to better protect data before being published. To view the new website, visit waterusedata.glc.org.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Gov. Mike DeWine should line-item veto language in SB144 (Romanchuk) directing the Ohio Medical Quality Foundation (OMQF) to dissolve itself and transfer its assets to the Ohio Professionals Health Program (OhioPHP), OMQF Chair Charles Sanders wrote in a letter to the governor. The provision was part of an amendment added to the bill in the House Health Provider Services Committee, and the bill passed both chambers of the Legislature on June 26. The bill was sent to the governor for his signature on July 15. In the letter, dated July 12, Sanders criticized the legislative process on SB144 and expressed doubt that the General Assembly has the legal authority to require a nonprofit organization to dissolve itself and transfer its assets to another organization.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Mike Duffey and Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Director Stephen Dackin Tuesday continued to urge students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after federal delays in the revised form's release at the end of 2023. Ohio is ahead of the national average in FAFSA completion rates this year but remains 6 percent behind last year's rate. Upon completing the FAFSA, eligible students can receive up to $7,395 per year in federal Pell grants, up to $5,000 in Ohio College Opportunity Grants (OCOG) from the state, and access to other grants from colleges or foundations. Ohio created a toolkit on www.ItsForYou.org that helps schools track completion rates as part of its efforts to promote FAFSA completion over the last several years. The deadline for the 2024-25 FAFSA form is June 30, 2025, according to ItsForYou.org.

The University of Toledo (UT) announced a new brand meant to create cohesion across its public research institution and academic medical center with the slogan, "The Power To Do." Interim President Matt Schroeder unveiled the new logo: UT's midnight blue and gold colors remain the university's core identity, but new magenta and teal accents will appear in creative materials that also include a new curved graphic element with shades of blue that mimics the curve of the UT shield logo. The launch of the new brand also features a new identity for UT's clinical operations under UToledo Health, which is the brand framework for all health care operations that take place at the University of Toledo Medical Center or a UT physicians clinic.

Amid eroding trust in institutions of higher education, Ohio State University (OSU) President Ted Carter said the key to regaining trust and the future of higher ed will lead though large, public, land-grant, Research 1 institutions like Ohio State. In a conversation with NBC4 anchor Matt Barnes at Wednesday's Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum, Carter, who took over as president at the beginning of the year, discussed his vision for Ohio's flagship university and weighed in on higher education issues like affordability and enrollment, the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmative action ruling, his thoughts on higher education reform bill SB83 (Cirino), and more. While Carter said he doesn't believe in legacies, his goal for OSU is to become "the best at everything."

JUDICIAL

The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas preliminary injunction hearing/merits trial on the constitutionality of minor gender-affirming care ban HB68 (Click) began in Judge Michael Holbrook's courtroom on Monday. The law, which had been vetoed by Gov. Mike DeWine but overridden by the Legislature, is currently blocked by a temporary restraining order (TRO) until the conclusion of the hearing/trial. Despite provisions in gender-affirming care ban HB68 (Click) allowing physicians to continue gender services for some minor patients already receiving those services, the language would interrupt the appropriate treatment course for many others, according to Cincinnati Children's Division of Endocrinology Clinical Director Sarah Corathers.

Ohio Judicial Conference Director and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer recently told the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct and Office of Disciplinary Counsel that its job is not to opine on the constitutionality or legality of a judge's rulings: that goes to courts of appeal. He was speaking as a character witness for former state senator and sitting Judge Tim Grendell of the Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court, who awaits panel recommendations on Disciplinary Counsel Joseph Caligiuri's three-count complaint. Grendell, a major presence during a decade on Capitol Square, has been mired in a protracted legal fight with Caligiuri and an even longer battle with Geauga County Auditor Charles Walder, which is ongoing and informs one of several disciplinary complaints against the former senator. The board held extensive hearings over six days in February, March and April, during which Caligiuri argued and Grendell defended various alleged violations of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) issued a consumer alert regarding cannabis products containing Delta-8 THC that feature packaging appealing to children. The action is being taken following the July 16 issuance of cease-and-desist letters by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to five companies for utilizing packaging that imitates food items popular with young people. The letter orders the companies to immediately stop marketing these products to children. Gov. Mike DeWine has urged the General Assembly to prohibit the sale of Delta-8 THC to minors, but lawmakers have not yet passed a bill addressing the issue.

MENTAL HEALTH

Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) is welcoming state action to suspend admissions at a Youngstown youth treatment facility but worries plans from state mental health regulators to correct problems there don't get to the underlying causes. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) says it is in contact with the facility regularly to respond to complaints but faces statutory limits on its powers. DRO, a nonprofit designated by the state to advocate for people with disabilities and mental illness, recently issued a report highlighting serious concerns about Youth Intensive Services, including use of dangerous restraint techniques and frequent instances where youth walked off the site and later returned showing evidence of drug use or sexual assault. DRO said upon issuing the report that it felt OhioMHAS was not doing enough to address the problems. The department responded with assurances it was working with the facility and DRO, and about two weeks ago it announced suspension of admissions at the facility, as well as requirements for corrective action by YIS. OhioMHAS said it was prepared to take further action if the situation does not improve.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been a safety net for thousands of Ohioans since its launch in Ohio and nationally two years ago on July 16, 2022, Gov. Mike DeWine's office said Tuesday. During the program's two years in operation, Ohio's call centers have responded to nearly 340,000 calls, texts and chats. Over two years, that averages to over 14,000 contacts per month, the governor's office noted. Ohio has the highest number of 988 call centers of any state in the nation at 19, allowing the vast majority of calls from Ohioans to be answered in-state by individuals with knowledge of local resources that can make a difference in a crisis. The average speed-to-answer rate of a 988 call in Ohio is 25 seconds, compared to the national average of 36 seconds, with an average of two percent of calls from Ohio rolling over to the national 988 network.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Ohioans who spot a wild turkey or ruffed grouse during July and August are encouraged by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to submit those observations as part of the department's annual population surveys. Since female turkeys and their young are most active during summer months, wildlife biologists use information about public sightings of the birds to estimate population statuses and reproductive success. Observation of either turkeys or grouse can be reported on ODNR's Wildlife Reporting System at https://tinyurl.com/yhwtp3t8. Sightings can also be reported on the HuntFish OH mobile app, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/357v3wz2 .

A low head dam in Carroll County that is affecting the area's water quality and fish habitat has been scheduled for removal as part of the state's H2Ohio program. ODNR has awarded a grant to Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District to remove the Riley Run dam, located along a tributary of Yellow Creek near the Village of Salineville. The dam is scheduled to be removed in 2025.

A bill largely focused on the management of Ohio's scenic waterways was among almost two dozen bills sent to Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday for his signature. Specifically, SB156 (Reineke-Hackett) transfers the management of the Scenic Rivers Program now under the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft to ODNR's Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP). The bill also addresses the berth formerly given to waterways within Ohio designated as "scenic river areas," which had been defined as the land within 1,000 feet in all directions from the waterway. SB156 eliminates that specification from the ORC, addressing concerns from some landowners regarding private property rights and whether ODNR does or does not have authority over that portion of land, according to Ohio Scenic Rivers Program Administrator Bob Gable at ODNR.

OHIO HISTORY

Every generation has its opinions about "kids these days," but a new exhibit from Ohio History Connection (OHC) invites visitors to learn about young Ohioans throughout the state's history. The Ohio History Center is currently hosting "Hide & Seek: Finding Young Ohioans in the Archives," at the center at 800 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus. The exhibit delves into archival collections to depict youth from throughout various periods in Ohio history. "Hide & Seek showcases children as creators -- documents they have created or edited, art they have produced -- and features artifacts and collections items that illustrate what it was like to grow up in Ohio at certain points in time over the past two centuries," said Wendy Korwin, OHC manager of archives services. Themes of the exhibit include Becoming, Belonging and Building. The exhibit's wall panels and banners tell stories like that of Newark's John Clem and Circleville's Joseph Fissell, who both served as drummer boys in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Other display features from the archives and history collections show original documents and toys, including an iconic red Cozy Coupe car made by Little Tikes, based in Hudson, OH.

OHIO STATE FAIR

Fair season during each summer wouldn't be the same without the different deep-fried or sugary new morsels that just can't be sampled throughout the rest of the year. New additions and familiar favorites will ensure that's the case for this year's Ohio State Fair, opening on Wednesday, July 24. Many of the new entrants to the food scene will find a home in the fittingly titled New Food Avenue, to be located between Main Street Stage and the Mountain Dew Midway. The area will showcase six new vendors with offerings ranging from pickle lemonade to savory "bombz" to dairy-free strawberry bream parfaits. Schmidt's of German Village and Velvet Ice Cream will each separately offer menu items unique to the Buckeye State. A full list of 2024 Ohio State Fair events and attractions with times and locations can be found at https://tinyurl.com/33vr6h9a .

Before the kickoff of the 2024 Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, July 24, State Fair leadership announced new safety procedures developed with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. New this year, minors will not be permitted to enter the fairgrounds after 6 p.m. daily without an adult chaperone, including a relative or parent. Other safety measures at this year's Ohio State Fair will include the following:

- Magnetometers - Visitors are screened through metal detectors upon entry.

- Bag searches - Purses, backpacks, book bags, coolers, strollers, etc. are permitted, but are subject to search.

- Concert screening - All guests entering the WCOL Celeste Center for concerts must go through an additional weapons detection screening and are subject to additional screening and bag searches prior to entry.

- No smoking - The smoking of marijuana is prohibited, and outdoor cigarette smoking will only be permitted in designated areas.

- Ride safety - The Ohio Department of Agriculture's (ODA) Ride Safety Division works closely with the ride provider, Talley Amusements, as well as an independent third-party ride inspector for a layered ride inspection process including prefair ride inspections conducted by ODA, as well as daily inspections conducted by the ride foreman and independent ride inspector.

PEOPLE

Dr. Bhavik Kumar has been appointed chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH), the organization announced Monday. Kumar will oversee the medical providers and health care centers that serve more than 60,000 patients, PPGOH said. Kumar has served as a medical director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana for more than five years. He will continue to support that affiliate while assuming his new role at PPGOH with almost a decade of experience providing care and advocating for patients seeking comprehensive primary care, gender-affirming care, abortion care and other family planning services.

The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) announced Tuesday it has promoted two members of its government relations team to managing director roles. Lindsey Short is now managing director for advocacy and energy services while James Lee is managing director for public policy services. Both will report to OMA President Ryan Augsburger. Short will direct advocacy efforts in energy policy, workforce development and civil justice while Lee will manage the OMA policy committee program and coordinate day-to-day lobbying activity across a range of legislative and regulatory priorities.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) announced Thursday the hiring of experienced anti-human trafficking professional Kelli Cary to head the Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force. Cary returns to Ohio after two years as CEO of AncoraTN (formerly End Slavery Tennessee). Prior to that, she worked with RAHAB Ministries, the Hope & Healing Survivor Resource Center and the Salvation Army in Northeast Ohio. The task force was bolstered last year by a $9 million appropriation in the operating budget HB33 (Edwards) to combat human trafficking. Part of that investment also allowed OCJS to hire Kathy Chen, who works with local human trafficking task forces to disrupt illicit massage businesses, which are often a front for human trafficking operations.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Beyond the lights and sirens, the cruisers used by the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) are hoping to catch glances in another way. OSHP has entered the 11th annual "Best Looking Cruiser" contest sponsored by the American Association of State Troopers (AAST), for which voting is now open. State trooper vehicles from every U.S. state except Hawaii are represented in the contest, and voters interested in choosing their favorite -- OSHP would certainly appreciate a vote -- are able to cast their vote online. Votes for "Best Looking Cruiser" can be made via a SurveyMonkey website at https://tinyurl.com/4757epc3. A drop-down menu at the bottom of the page allows folks to vote for Ohio's cruiser, or a cruiser from another state if you insist. Voting will remain open through Monday, July 29 at 11:59 p.m.

Gov. Mike DeWine cited Cuyahoga County's state-leading crashes involving excessive speed and unbelted occupants in announcing Ohio's first safety corridor, which will lie along eight miles of I-90 in east Cleveland. The administration says the OSHP has determined one third of all traffic accidents since 2021 on the stretch of highway between East 55th and East 260th streets involved seatbelt neglect. The patrol will partner with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and police from Cleveland, Euclid and Bratenahl to operate a "no-tolerance" Speed and Seatbelt Safety Corridor. OSHP says the eight-mile corridor has seen 413 speed-related crashes in the last three years, during which troopers alone have issued 458 speeding citations and 717 seatbelt tickets. Nearly two-thirds of all fatal crashes in Ohio included unbelted motorists, with the patrol saying seatbelt compliance in Cuyahoga County is only 72 percent compared to 84 percent statewide.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety's (ODPS) Ohio Traffic Safety Office is taking a capital-area pilot project statewide to help non-English speakers develop safe driving practices and become licensed with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The student curriculum and "train-the-trainer" program supports English-learner preparation for the BMV's written and operator tests, including requirements for obtaining a driver's license, meanings of traffic signs and signals, and other traffic safety laws. The Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) first introduced driver training resources for non-English speakers at its 2024 Ohio Traffic Safety Summit. It seeks English-proficient members of other language communities to complete the train-the-trainer program so they can help their peers become licensed drivers. Trainer sessions are conducted in English; participants then translate materials for in-person or virtual presentation to their communities.

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION (RNC)

Former President Donald Trump Monday tapped Ohio's junior U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R) to be his vice presidential running mate, potentially becoming the fourth person born in the Buckeye State to hold that office. Trump announced the pick on his Truth Social as the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee began. "After lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of vice president of the United States is Sen. J.D. Vance of the great state of Ohio. J.D. honorably served our country in the Marine Corps, graduated from Ohio State University in two years, summa cum laude, and is a Yale Law School graduate, where he was editor of the Yale Law Journal, and president of the Yale Law Veterans Association. J.D.'s book, Hillbilly Elegy, became a major best seller and movie, as it championed the hardworking men and women of our country. J.D. has had a very successful business career in technology and finance, and now, during the campaign, will be strongly focused on the people he fought so brilliantly for, the American workers and farmers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and far beyond," Trump wrote. "As vice president, J.D. will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our troops, and will do everything he can to help me 'Make America Great Again.' Congratulations to Sen. J.D. Vance, his wife, Usha, who also graduated from Yale Law School, and their three beautiful children."

Vance took his moment in the spotlight Wednesday evening to remember his hometown of Middletown, OH, promising that he will be a vice president "who never forgets where he came from." He was the main event for Wednesday's RNC, speaking for more than half an hour and playing off the crowd's energy during his speech. A former critic of Trump during the former president's 2016 run, Vance praised him often during his speech, first referencing the failed assassination attempt over the weekend against Trump. He said Trump, despite being called a "tyrant," called for national unity and calm right after the attempt on his life." Vance referenced his life story, made famous by his memoir and later film adaptation Hillbilly Elegy, which recounted his mother's fight with addiction and being raised by his grandmother. His mother attended the speech.

Most of Ohio's statewide constitutional officeholders and a number of Ohio lawmakers were among the 79 delegates and 68 alternates who represented the Buckeye State at the RNC this week. Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and wife Tina Husted, Attorney General Dave Yost, Auditor Keith Faber, and Treasurer Robert Sprague and wife Amanda Sprague were among the at-large delegates on a list provided by the secretary of state's office. Other at-large members of the delegation included U.S. Rep. Michael Rulli (R-Salem), recently elected to the 6th Congressional District and 13th Republican congressional nominee and former state lawmaker Kevin Coughlin. Republican U.S. Senate nominee Bernie Moreno served as a delegate for the 7th Congressional District. State lawmakers on the list included Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), Sen. Sandra O'Brien (R-Rome), Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester).

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) announced Wednesday that registration has opened for the free, virtual Medical and Health Symposium it will host from Wednesday, Nov. 13 through Friday, Nov. 15. BWC said the annual event provides thousands of medical and legal professionals with an opportunity to learn, engage and earn continuing education credits. The 2024 symposium will focus on technology in medicine, exploring how that can shape the future for injured workers and medical professionals. The symposium has over 20 types of continuing education credit. More information and registration are available at the event website, https://mhs.digitellinc.com/.