Week in Review > Week in Review 04-16-2021Posted by Kevin Miller on April 16th, 2021
The House Finance Committee unveiled its initial version of biennial budget HB110 (Oelslager) Tuesday, wrapping in the school funding plan from HB1 (Callender-Sweeney) and a 2 percent tax cut across the board. It also appropriates $155 million in COVID-19 relief for small businesses and adds more oversight of the executive branch, including the creation of a Joint Legislative Oversight and Review Committee of Federal COVID Relief Aid and the referral of more spending initiatives by state agencies to the Controlling Board for approval.
Meanwhile, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) laid out a tentative hearing schedule that includes a newly formed Senate General Government Budget Committee chaired by Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) as well as sending portions of the budget to standing Senate committees to hear testimony based on specific topics.
The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday began informal hearings on the proposed FY22-23 budget as the panel seeks to get a jump on the process ahead of officially receiving the legislation from the House — something the panel chair, Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), said he expects in the next couple of weeks. Legislators face a June 30 deadline to have the budget in place for the July 1 beginning of FY22.
Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday morning announced a temporary pause in the state’s using the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. The vaccine had been primarily directed to mass vaccination clinics and colleges and universities. On Wednesday, the FDA and CDC reviewed data involving six reported U.S. cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. One of the six died, and all were women between the ages of 18 and 48 with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination. As of April 12, over 6.8 million doses — including 264,311 in Ohio — of the J&J vaccine have been administered. At that time, the two agencies decided the matter warranted further investigation, so the halt in the use of vaccine continues.
Vaccination is key even as Ohio’s number of new COVID-19 cases remain above the 21-day average, coming in at 2,164 new cases on Thursday, with 181 hospitalizations including 31 ICU admissions. This translates to the current statewide average number of cases per 100,000 residents of 200 — a number moving away from DeWine’s target of 50 per 100,000. Asked several times whether he’s given any thought to revising that target, DeWine said he does not believe it to be an unattainable number. The reason? Increased vaccinations. Thursday also saw Franklin County return to the “purple” category on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
The State Board of Education Emerging Issues Committee voted to recommend that the full State Board of Education (SBOE) send a rule to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) that would have the effect of requiring chartered nonpublic schools to offer at least one high school-level course in one of the following subject areas: foreign language, technology, family and consumer sciences or business education.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) narrowly adopted a resolution Tuesday expressing its position on report card reforms as lawmakers in both chambers debate the issue. The board also delayed a proposed vote to endorse a school funding system in line with the main elements of the Cupp-Patterson plan — which House lawmakers rolled into the budget bill that same day — in favor of a deeper review by the board’s Legislative Committee.
The board did vote 10-7 in favor of a resolution on report cards from the Legislative Committee, which met twice last week to review legislative reform proposals in HB200 (Jones-Robinson) and SB145 (Brenner) and evaluate them in the context of the board’s strategic plan.
Legislation that would allow teachers and other school staff members to carry concealed firearms on school grounds was met with heavy opposition on Wednesday. The House Criminal Justice Committee received a total of 133 pieces of written opponent testimony on HB99 (Hall), but only four individuals were allowed to testify in person. Following criticism from at least one of the witnesses for ending the committee hearing at noon, House Criminal Justice Committee Chair Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) issued the following statement: “Due to the time constraints with today’s House Criminal Justice Committee meeting, several witnesses were unable to testify on HB99. Unfortunately, the length of committee meetings are limited. It would not have been fair to witnesses for us to recess for an undetermined length of time for today’s House session. The House Criminal Justice Committee will continue to have hearings on this legislation because it is important for us to hear from community members and interested parties who want to have their opinion heard. I apologize for the inconvenience, but am pleased to note that the House is in the process of working to change the committee schedule to allow for longer committee meetings in the future.”
The House voted unanimously Thursday to approve a legislative package appropriating more than $1 billion to provide assistance for an array of people and organizations harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four bills — HB167 (Oelslager), HB168 (Fraizer-Loychik), HB169 (Cutrona-Swearingen) and HB170 (Richardson-Bird) — appropriate federal relief funding from the CARES Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. After session, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said his chamber would work with the Senate to “promptly” finalize the relief proposals, for which companion bills have already passed the Senate. He suggested they might split the final vehicles among the House and Senate versions.
Specifically, under HB167, $465 million would go to rental and utility assistance for eligible households. Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), bill sponsor and chair of the House Finance Committee, said in most cases the funding would go directly to the landlord or utility provider. In HB168, a variety of organizations are in line for relief, with $4.7 million for local fairs; $3 million for veterans homes; $112 million for child care providers; $10 million for small businesses excluded from previous relief because they’d only been founded in 2020 or later; $20 million for entertainment venues; and $150 for small businesses to compensate for how need outmatched funding in a previous $125 million round of relief. In HB169, bars, restaurants and lodging establishments would get $125 million in assistance. In HB170, the largest of the proposals, lawmakers would provide $857 million to schools, $173 million to the Ohio Department of Health and more than $8 million for the Ohio National Guard.
The only measure to draw substantial opposition was HB126 (Merrin), the latest iteration of Rep. Derek Merrin’s (R-Monclova) push to set new criteria for how local governments can contest property valuations. It passed 62-29
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