Week in Review > Week in Review 05-28-2021

Posted by on May 28th, 2021

FY22-23 BUDGET

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters this week that his chamber plans to unveil its version of the operating budget on Tuesday, June 1. After a substitute version of HB110 (Oelslager) is accepted in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, an omnibus amendment will be considered at the end of the week. The chamber then plans to pass HB110 during its session on Thursday, June 10.

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday announced the phasing out of the Public Health Advisory System (PHAS) — which classified counties based on COVID-19 levels, ODH Director Stephanie McCloud told reporters. The system had been updated weekly, with the latest information published on Thursday, May 20. McCloud said ODH will work to continue providing cases-per-100,000 data at the county level, and that it could revive the PHAS or a similar system if necessary. The county metrics of total cases and daily case trends in the state’s general COVID-19 dashboard will also be maintained going forward, she told Hannah News.

Nearly one in four Americans surveyed in a new poll by Quinnipiac University said they don’t plan to get vaccinated, while close to half said they don’t plan on having their children get vaccinated. Specifically, of those surveyed, 23 percent said they don’t plan to get vaccinated, while 72 percent said they plan to or have already been vaccinated. In an April Quinnipiac survey, 27 percent said they didn’t plan to get vaccinated, while 68 percent said they would or had already been vaccinated.

EDUCATION

At the inaugural meeting of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Task Force on Best Practice Models for Black Students, members heard a presentation on current data surrounding the academic performance of Black students and the non-academic factors influencing that. State Board of Education (SBOE) President Laura Kohler said the committee will work through the historical context that has led to where the state is today, including segregation and other factors, but she called the current data indisputable.

Newly introduced legislation from Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) would bar schools from teaching or requiring training for staff on a variety of topics related to race, sex, gender, social affairs of policy advocacy, a proposal he says is necessary to combat “critical race theory.” The bill, HB322, would add three new sections of law including the first which bars requiring teachers of courses in history, civics, U.S. government and politics, social studies or “similar subject areas” from being required to “discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs.” The second new section lists 11 topics on which state agencies and schools may not “teach, instruct, or train any administrator, teacher, staff member or employee to adopt or believe.” The third section states no teacher can be required by the state or a school district “to affirm a belief in the systemic nature of racism, or like ideas, or in the multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities, or like ideas, against the teacher’s sincerely held religious or philosophical convictions.”

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) this week released a draft plan for the use of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding coming to the state for schools, inviting public comment through Tuesday, June 1. The department asked that comments be directed to ESSA@education.ohio.gov . The 95-page draft plan is posted at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Reset-and-Restart . Ohio is slated for $4.47 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding, and at least 90 percent of that must go to local education agencies.

The latest state effort to expand broadband service will connect nearly 20,000 students with telehealth services, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Wednesday during an event at Zanesville High School. The “Muskingum Valley ESC’s School-Based Telemental Health in Appalachian Ohio Project” will include 15 school districts across six Appalachian counties — Coshocton, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry and Tuscarawas — as well as giving four districts in that region the ability to access telemedicine supports for students with acute illness or chronic conditions through remote access to pediatricians and other providers. The project will be funded through a $1.15 million InnovateOhio appropriation. It is a collaborative effort that also includes BroadbandOhio and the Appalachian Children’s Coalition.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Proponents of HB248 (Gross) to ban vaccine mandates testified in the House Health Committee Tuesday, with the committee hearing in-person testimony from medical professionals who advocated for bodily autonomy, as well as parents of children who had adverse reactions to vaccines. In total, 149 proponents submitted either written or in-person testimony. Meanwhile, 62 associations including the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators formed the new Ohio Vaccine Coalition in opposition to the bill.

Then, on Wednesday, members of the Senate Health Committee debated SB169 (Brenner), a similar bill to ban vaccine mandates. Democrats said it goes against public health objectives and the bill’s sponsor argued that it protects personal liberty. It would additionally ban requirements to disclose one’s vaccination status. The Senate bill differs from its House counterpart, HB248 (Gross), in that SB169 only applies to COVID-19 vaccines, and the bill would also prohibit discrimination against individuals based on whether or not they have been vaccinated. A substitute bill was accepted at the hearing to insert the discrimination provisions following an objection from Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).

Ohio schools will soon have access to $787 million in federal emergency relief funding after the Senate unanimously voted to pass HB170 (Bird-Richardson) on Wednesday. The House later concurred with Senate amendments to the bill, sending HB170 to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) said the bill includes funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.

Posted by on May 28th, 2021

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