Week in Review > Week in Review 03-05-2021Posted by Kevin Miller on March 05th, 2021
All of the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) coronavirus-related public health orders will be removed when the state begins to see 50 cases per 100,000 population for two weeks, Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a statewide address Thursday evening. “I am often asked, ‘Mike, when is this going to end? When can we lift the health orders?’ I’ve consulted Dr. Vanderhoff, our department of health’s medical director, and a number of epidemiologists as well as other health experts, and they tell me that now, with the vaccine, we can set realistic goals,” DeWine said, indicating the goal of 50 cases per 100,000 population is reasonable.
Vaccination eligibility expanded to two new sets of groups effective Thursday, March 4, according to an announcement from Gov. Mike DeWine earlier in the week. Phase 1C includes those with certain medical conditions or in several professions, while Phase 2 includes all those ages 60 to 64. In total, he said there are around 246,000 eligible Ohioans in Phase 1C and 695,000 in Phase 2.
House and Senate Republicans mounted another run at Gov. Mike DeWine’s year-old emergency health order Wednesday when executive override SB22 (Johnson-McColley) hit the lower chamber and COVID-19 amnesty bill HB127 (Merrin) saw its first hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee. Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) and Sens. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) presented committee members with sponsor testimony on their respective bills, which target the governor’s COVID-19 orders in very different ways but pose a similar rebuke of DeWine’s exercise of power.
Several representatives of charter and private schools offered critiques of the Cupp-Patterson school funding proposal to a House subcommittee Tuesday, while hundreds of school districts sent regional representatives to deliver a message of support for the new funding plan. The House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee continued to take testimony on HB1 (Callender-Sweeney), which includes a school funding plan House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) helped to write and hopes to pass in the near future by incorporating it into the biennial budget bill before it moves to the Senate.
Nearly three years after losing its challenge in the Ohio Supreme Court to how the state determined its enrollment and funding levels, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) was back before justices Tuesday in another dispute, asserting its right to appeal the State Board of Education’s decision to claw back tens of millions of dollars in per-student funding. ECOT attorney Marion Little said the online charter school had to pursue multiple legal avenues for relief because the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) positions on the matter changed by the day. Erik Clark, special counsel for ODE, said the school was trying to get multiple bites at the apple despite a lack of appeal rights spelled out in law.
A testing cancellation bill short-circuited by federal decisions passed the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee Wednesday after revisions that call for high schoolers to be able to use course grades rather than test scores for graduation, later testing windows and a waiver of accountability requirements, among others. The legislation, HB67 (Koehler-Bird), originally called for cancellation of state academic assessments, as was done last spring when the pandemic sparked a statewide closing of schools. But the U.S. Department of Education said recently it would not accept state waiver requests for blanket cancellation of testing, instead offering more limited waivers of accountability requirements and other laws. Then the House on Thursday sent this bill on to Senate, though Democratic opposition prevented it from moving forward with an emergency clause.
The sponsor of legislation to arm classroom teachers with concealed carry licenses (CCW) says he’s open to all reasonable ideas to bolster school safety against active shooters, including House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Jeff LaRe’s (R-Canal Winchester) observation Thursday that Ohio requires 20 hours of gun training for armed security guards versus eight hours for CCW — both far less than what the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) mandates for certified law enforcement officers. The 134th General Assembly’s youngest member, Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown), delivered sponsor testimony on a modified version of former Sen. Bill Coley’s 133-SB317, with support from Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and three other House Republicans to date.
Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) Thursday announced two new pieces of legislation seeking to allow state and local health orders to be terminated by legislative bodies, including one that would go directly to voters to bypass Gov. Mike DeWine’s objections. The former speaker said the bills, which have not been officially introduced, will bring more accountability and oversight to government.
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