Week in Review > Week in Review 03-12-2021Posted by Kevin Miller on March 12th, 2021
The state’s revenues continue to exceed estimates with February’s coming in $182.9 million or 10.6 percent over estimates, the Office of Budget of Management (OBM) announced Friday in releasing the preliminary February figures. OBM Director Kimberly Murnieks commented that, “As our February revenues illustrate, Ohio’s solid start to our year of recovery continues. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining while vaccine roll-out ramps up. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to control the pandemic because, as the past year has clearly demonstrated, our economic growth is directly tied to beating COVID.”
The House approved legislation giving more legislative oversight to state health orders Wednesday and the Senate quickly concurred, sending the bill to Gov. Mike DeWine, who affirmed Thursday his plans to veto it. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he would schedule a veto override vote on SB22 (McColley-Johnson) at the next session after DeWine’s veto, and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) expressed confidence he had the votes in his chamber despite being short during Wednesday’s vote, noting several absent members who support the bill and an override. Ahead of Wednesday’s votes, the House State and Local Government Committee accepted a substitute version of the bill incorporating elements of a similar House Bill, HB90 (Wiggam-Edwards). DeWine said Thursday he’s not sure lawmakers fully contemplated the consequences of recently passed legislation to check executive health powers and reiterated his intention to veto it, though he said there’s still discussion to be had on changes that could satisfy their desire for more oversight.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday the loosening of various COVID protocols and looked forward to a summer of “full ballparks,” but declined to predict when Ohio will hit his threshold for lifting all health orders and said an all-comers vaccination policy is not imminent. With the expansion Thursday of vaccine eligibility to those age 50 and up, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while speaking via video from a public health clinic in his hometown of Montpelier. “The needle in the arm is a lot more pleasant than the swab in the nose,” Husted said. County fairs can plan for relatively normal operations, long-term care facilities can offer freer visitation with residents, students have more freedom and can participate in spring sports, and new guidelines are on the way for festivals, parades, graduation ceremonies and proms, DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on Monday debuted a complement to its strategic plan for student learning and development, a report on how to improve experiences and outcomes for students with disabilities. “Each Child Means Each Child” — a title referencing the overarching strategic plan, “Each Child Our Future” — sets out a vision with three main facets:
– Get to the problem early.
– Building educator and system capacity.
– Educate for living a good life.
Reps. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) and Adam Bird (R-Cincinnati) said their HB67 needs the Senate to reinsert an emergency clause which was stripped out by the House, or else the bill will go into effect in June — too late to have an impact, they told the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee Monday. The bill would cancel all state tests for the upcoming 2021-22 school year except the American Government state test for high schoolers and a number of state tests that are federally required: English language arts exams for grades three through high school, math exams for grades three through high school, and science exams for grades five, eight and high school. The sponsors initially sought exemptions from the federally required tests as well, but the U.S. Department of Education did not grant those waivers.
Opponents of HB123 (Fraizer-Cross) told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday that they thought the bill would disrupt the balance between incentivizing development and providing needed educational resources as a result of its changes to community reinvestment area (CRA) provisions. Katie Johnson, appearing on behalf of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, acknowledged the role of CRAs and other economic development tools but said they must be “implemented carefully” to protect school districts and their students. She was joined by Kevin Miller of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) and Will Schwartz of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA).
Reps. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Phil Robinson (D-Solon) announced Wednesday legislation to improve the school report card system, saying in a release that HB200 shifts the system from “flawed metrics and punitive measures” to “a document that schools, parents and communities can understand and use to properly assist when making improvements to a school.”
The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Financial Institutions announced Wednesday that it had begun accepting applications for FY22 financial literacy grants, which total $75,000 and are awarded to organizations that provide virtual programs on the knowledge and skills needed to make responsible financial decisions.
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