Week in Review > Week in Review 1-29-24

Posted by on January 29th, 2024

BALLOT ISSUES

Attorney General Dave Yost Thursday rejected the petition summary for a proposed amendment that would enshrine certain voting procedures in the Ohio Constitution, taking issue with the proposed title “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights.” Yost had previously rejected the petition language for the amendment — which would set forth the qualifications for Ohioans to vote and establish that voting is a fundamental right as well as putting certain voting procedures in the constitution — saying the submission contained misstatements and omissions. In rejecting the petition for the second time Thursday, Yost said the title “does not fairly or accurately summarize or describe the actual content of the proposed amendment.” “In the past, this office has not always rigorously evaluated whether the title fairly or truthfully summarized a given proposed amendment. But recent authority from the Ohio Supreme Court has confirmed that the title for a ballot initiative is material to voters,” the attorney general wrote in the rejection letter.

Citizens Not Politicians, the group behind a proposed redistricting reform constitutional amendment, this week released an open letter from 67 business leaders in support of the effort. Those signing the letter include Jeni Britton, founder and chief creative officer, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams; Edward B. Foley, Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law and director of election law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; Thomas Hoaglin, former chairman and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Incorporated; Gale V. King, former executive vice president and chief administrative and human resource officer, Nationwide Insurance Company and chair of the Executive Leadership Council; Nancy Kramer, chief evangelist, IBM Consulting Americas and founder and chairman and former CEO of Resource/Ammirati; John E. Pepper, former chairman and CEO of the Procter & Gamble Company and former non-executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company; and Charles (Chuck) Horowitz Ratner, director of the Max Collaborative and former board chair and CEO of Forest City Enterprises.

CHILDREN/FAMILIES

The Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) announced Thursday the launch of a new shared practice model aimed at elevating family healing. The new model is called Practice in Action Together (PACT) and is being implemented as a model for county children services agencies to build relationships between caseworkers and families. PACT’s mission is to elevate healing and build relationships through a behavior-driven approach to practice aimed at equity for families, workers and communities.

ECONOMY

Ohio’s unemployment rate increased to 3.7 percent in December, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), rising from 3.6 percent in November. The state’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 7,000 over the month. ODFJS said the state’s employment, which went from a revised 5,654,100 in November to 5,661,100 in December, marks the highest payroll employment reported since the series started in 1990. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in December was 214,000, up from 212,000 in November. However, the number of unemployed has decreased by 22,000 in the past 12 months from 236,000. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 3.7 percent, unchanged from November and up from 3.5 percent in December 2022.

Ohio is one of 23 states that experienced a record low unemployment rate at some point during 2023, according to Heather Boushey, chief economist of President Joe Biden’s Invest in America Cabinet and member of the Council of Economic Advisers. “As of December, the unemployment rate in Ohio was 3.7 percent, and the 12-month change in payroll employment was 1.9 percent. And that’s a pretty nice, robust number there. It’s certainly not the very highest, but it’s a good indication that job gains are happening across the state,” Boushey told Hannah News during a phone interview. Boushey said Ohio is an extremely important part of Biden’s overall plan to invest in technology and clean energy, pointing specifically to investments in computer chip facilities and clean hydrogen.

The Center for Community Solutions (CCS) has compiled county-by-county level data examining social, economic, and health indicators of women across Ohio. The “Status of Women 2023” report includes information on everything from high school graduation rates, voter registrations, and insurance coverage to wage gaps, family structures and more. While the data reveal female students graduate from high school in greater numbers and women across the state hold more bachelor’s degrees than men, a persistent wage gap exists in every sector and county in Ohio, and women are more likely to be in poverty than men.

The national economy is “entering 2024 with momentum,” Owens Corning economics department leader Mason Pierce said during the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s economic outlook event this week. According to a survey of the Ohio Chamber’s Economic Advisory Council and Blue Chip Economic Indicators, the consensus is that the country is heading for a “soft landing,” and will likely avoid a recession. Attendees of the event also heard from Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks, who touted Ohio’s performance recovering from the pandemic.

EDUCATION

The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced Friday that summer programs will be available to help teachers in Appalachian Ohio with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and to offer students opportunities in STEM and entrepreneurship. They are being offered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and applications can be submitted between now and Friday, Feb. 2. The Appalachian STEM Academy is a research program for students in middle and high school, as well as high school teachers. Students collaborate with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on science, math and computer science technology research projects. The teachers develop STEM-related curriculum with expert science practitioners. There will be two middle school STEM academy sessions, running from Saturday-Friday, July 6-12 and Saturday-Friday, July 13-19. The high school STEM Academy will be from July 6-19. More information, including how to apply, is available at http://tinyurl.com/ypaszd6c.

Dublin City Schools was recognized by a national retail organization and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted for their partnership to improve high school students’ understanding of the workplace and career skills, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants announced. The 2024 RISE Up Partner of the Year award was presented in New York City in recognition of the school district’s success with the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation’s RISE Up training and credentialing program. The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants said it has worked to expand the RISE Up program across the state.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) asked a judge to stay discovery in a lawsuit filed by caucus rivals over control of campaign funds. Stephens said Judge Mark Serrott of Franklin County Common Pleas Court should first have a chance to rule on his motion to dismiss. Discovery should also wait because Serrott asked the parties to try to mediate their claims, with a meeting on that set for Friday, Feb. 2.

House Democrats Tuesday announced the election of Rep. Michele Grim (D-Toledo) as the new minority assistant whip. This follows the resignation of former Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) from the Ohio House earlier this month to become the Summit County Clerk of Courts.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) turned Tuesday to the 10th District Court of Appeals in his bid to quash a subpoena issued for him in the lawsuit over the constitutionality of Ohio’s EdChoice program. Several school districts and resident families are suing the state over the voucher program, claiming it violates provisions of the Ohio Constitution requiring a “common” school system and prohibiting the control of education funding by religious sects. As part of the litigation, plaintiffs sought to depose Huffman, a longstanding supporter of school vouchers.

The Senate finalized Wednesday lawmakers’ override of two vetoes by Gov. Mike DeWine. The Senate voted 24-8 to override DeWine’s veto of HB68 (Click), which restricts gender-affirming health care for minors and bans transgender women and girls from participating in women’s and girls’ school sports. Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) joined all Democrats in opposing the override. The upper chamber also voted 24-8 to override the governor’s line-item veto of HB33’s (Edwards) language prohibiting local regulations of tobacco and alternative nicotine products. Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) joined all Democrats in voting against the override.

Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine joined with students visiting the state capitol to perform science experiments in the Statehouse Atrium Wednesday as part of Youth Discovery Day, one of a number of events at the Statehouse celebrating the unveiling of the “Ohioans in Space” artwork commissioned by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and the Ohio Capitol Foundation.

HIGHER EDUCATION

The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced Tuesday companies can now apply to be part of its College Technology Internship Program in the summer of 2024. Under the program, the Ohio Third Frontier helps tech companies and other businesses with a technology need in hiring diverse talent and will pay two-thirds of each intern’s salary up to $7,500. Companies can hire up to 10 interns per round and be reimbursed up to $75,000. The application window for companies will close on Monday, Feb. 12. For more information, go to http://tinyurl.com/5c7zyt2w .

Kent State University has launched four new cannabis-related certificate programs aimed at preparing students for the emerging industry. Registration for the programs is open now, and the first classes began this month with the next starting date for classes set for Monday, March 4. Kent State “Lifelong Learning’s” cannabis certificate programs are open to the public to enroll and focus on four areas — business, health care, compliance and agriculture. Green Flower, a cannabis education and training company, has partnered with the university to launch the programs. The programs were developed by industry leaders and professionals in each discipline, the university said, and instructors are selected by Green Flower based on their educational and industry expertise. Each certificate program costs $2,950. Students can enroll directly at https://cannabiseducation.kent.edu .

The University of Toledo’s (UT) newly created Institute of Constitutional Thought and Leadership Wednesday hosted a conversation with two legal scholars about former president Donald Trump’s eligibility to again hold public office. The institute is one of five “intellectual diversity” centers lawmakers established in the biennial budget, HB33 (Edwards). The conversation, which featured Mark Graber, a law professor at the University of Maryland, and Kurt Lash, a law professor at the University of Richmond, was the first event of the new center. The following week, the institute will co-host a discussion about the Ohio Constitution with Ohio Supreme Court Justices Melody Stewart and Patrick DeWine. That event, presented in partnership with the UT College of Law, begins at noon Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The Ohio State University (OSU) Department of Athletics reported a record-setting $279.5 million in revenue in FY23, the university announced Tuesday. That total is an 11 percent increase from FY22’s record $251.6 million, OSU said in a news release.

Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Mike Duffey Wednesday discussed some of the major obstacles in front of colleges and universities as they deal with financial hardships and a fraught political climate. The new chancellor appeared before the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee, where members who were present unanimously voted in favor of his appointment. The full Senate approved Duffey as the new ODHE chancellor later that day during Wednesday’s session.

MENTAL HEALTH

Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio State University (OSU) President Ted Carter and others Friday announced the launch of a statewide research initiative to determine the root causes of mental illness and substance abuse issues. The study will last at least a decade, but DeWine said the goal is for research to continue for decades more, following thousands of Ohioans and generations of families for a closer look at the biological, psychological, and social factors that underlie behavioral health issues. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine is leading the research project, known as the State of Ohio Adversity and Resilience (SOAR) study, with a $20 million grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), funding that was provided in the most recent state operating budget, HB33 (Edwards).

PUBLIC SAFETY

AMBER Alerts sent in Ohio will now be able to include more information about emergency situations, the Ohio State Highway Patrol announced Thursday. The Ohio AMBER Alert Advisory Committee has announced that Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) sent to enabled mobile devices are now able to receive messages of up to 360 characters, up from the 90-character text messages the system previously used. The committee says that increased technology by both wireless carriers and wireless device manufacturers have enabled the change.

TAXATION

Ohio would phase out its income tax entirely and eliminate the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) as well under plans announced Tuesday. Reps. Adam Mathews (R-Lebanon) and Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek) and Sens. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and George Lang (R-West Chester) said at a Statehouse press conference they’re introducing two variations on the plan, reflective of their call to put the end goal in sight but tailor the specifics to changing economic conditions.

Schools, libraries, counties, townships and other local jurisdictions are arguing against legislation ending their ability to seek replacement levies. Under HB344 (Mathews-Hall), political subdivisions could no longer seek replacement levies, which extend an existing levy at its original millage rate, as opposed to a renewal levy, which extends a levy at its effective millage rate, meaning after the application of reduction factors. The prohibition would take effect in October of this year.

Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine joined with students visiting the state capitol to perform science experiments in the Statehouse Atrium Wednesday as part of Youth Discovery Day, one of a number of events at the Statehouse celebrating the unveiling of the “Ohioans in Space” artwork commissioned by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and the Ohio Capitol Foundation.

Posted by on January 29th, 2024

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