Week in Review > Week In Review 1-8-24

Posted by on January 08th, 2024

FY25-26 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

The House is starting work on the capital budget much earlier than the Senate, both chambers’ finance chairs told Hannah News. House members are being asked to submit community projects by Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, House Finance Committee Chair Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said Senate proposals are due by Monday, April 8. The operating budget, HB33 (Edwards), included $700 million for a One Time Strategic Community Investments Fund that will be used as part of the capital budget. “It’s kind of a different capital budget with this mega fund, or super duper fund. … We’re getting a ton of questions about it. We’re getting a ton of interest from around the state, which is good,” Edwards said, noting community leaders’ proposals were due to the House by Monday, Dec. 18. Dolan said the Senate’s timeline is also due to the $700 million in community project funding included in HB33.

ECONOMY

Ohio’s minimum wage increased Jan. 1, 2024 to $10.45 per hour for non-tipped employees and $5.25 per hour for tipped employees. The minimum wage applies to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $385,000 per year. The 2023 minimum wage was $10.10 per hour for non-tipped employees and $5.05 per hour for tipped employees. The 2023 Ohio minimum wage applied to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $372,000.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced before the holidays that Ohio’s unemployment rate for November was 3.6 percent, unchanged from October, as the state lost 5,300 jobs over the month. ODJFS said unemployment went from a revised 5,658,600 in October to 5,653,300 in November. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in November was 212,000, up from 207,000 in October. The number of unemployed has decreased by 25,000 in the past 12 months from 237,000. The November unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.5 percent from 4.1 percent in November 2022. The U.S. unemployment rate for November 2023 was 3.7 percent, down from 3.9 percent in October 2023 and up from 3.6 percent in November 2022.

For the second straight year, economist Bill LaFayette is predicting job growth will fall under the national average for Central Ohio, citing workforce and housing issues as potential barriers. LaFayette delivered his annual “Blue Chip Economic Forecast” to the Columbus Metropolitan Club Wednesday, and also participated in a panel discussion with Ben Ayers, a senior economist with Nationwide Insurance, and Joyce Chen, a professor of economics and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State University, which was moderated by Columbus Dispatch business reporter Mark Williams.

EDUCATION

Across a career that spanned the classroom, coaching, principalships and district administration, Steve Dackin says he’s wanted to have a broader impact on student lives. As inaugural director of Ohio’s new K-12 governance hierarchy, he now has the task of aligning efforts to get more children to read proficiently and to be better equipped to decide their futures, among other priorities. “When I was talking to the governor, I said, I don’t need a job. I’m an old guy. But all my life I’ve tried to make a difference, and that’s why I wanted … this opportunity. I wanted to be a difference maker,” Dackin told Hannah News in an interview on his background and his goals as director of the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW). Lawmakers remade the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) into DEW in the biennial budget, HB33 (Edwards), converting it into a cabinet agency reporting to Gov. Mike DeWine rather than to the State Board of Education. The board and state superintendent retain oversight of licensure and discipline for professional educators, but the bulk of other education policy and administrative functions now rest with Dackin.

School districts and families suing the state over the constitutionality of Ohio’s EdChoice program cannot call Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) in for a deposition — at least for now — but may pose questions to him in writing. The coalition Vouchers Hurt Ohio is challenging the program on the grounds that it violates the Ohio Constitution’s requirement for a “common” schools system and the prohibition against giving control of education funding to religious sects. A collection of families whose children use EdChoice vouchers to attend school have intervened to defend the program alongside the state. As part of the lawsuit, plaintiffs sought to depose Huffman, a longtime supporter of vouchers who’s shepherded through expansions of EdChoice as Senate leader. Huffman in turn filed a motion to quash the subpoena, citing the legislative privilege established in Article II, Section 12 of the Ohio Constitution, which holds that lawmakers “shall not be questioned elsewhere” for legislative speech and debate. His attorneys also noted numerous other sources of information on legislative deliberations are available, making it unnecessary to question the Senate president.

GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohioans placed $864.2 million in sports bets in November 2023, the second highest handle since the first month of legal sports gambling. January 2023’s total was $1.1 billion. Sports bettors wagered $746.4 million in October 2023, $690.4 million in September 2023, $378.8 million in August 2023, $331.1 million in July 2023, $362.1 million in June 2023, $446.2 million in May 2023, $520.6 million in April 2023, $737.2 million in March 2023 and $639.1 million in February 2023. Taxable revenue for November 2023 was $68.2 million, down from October 2023’s total of $80.6 million.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

As lawmakers consider an override of Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent veto of transgender care and sports restrictions in HB68 (Click), the House confirmed Tuesday it will convene the tentatively scheduled session set for Wednesday, Jan. 10 session, along with a Tuesday, Jan. 9 House Rules and Reference Committee meeting to set the calendar. In addition to action on next week’s date, the House cancelled the if-needed Wednesday, Jan. 24 session, but confirmed it will convene the if-needed Wednesday, Feb. 7 session.

State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), who represents the 4th Ohio House District, Wednesday announced she will resign her seat in the Ohio House at the end of the day on Tuesday, Jan. 9, saying she intends to move out of state to spend more time with her family. The Ohio House Democratic Caucus is requesting letters of interest from those who seek appointment to represent the 4th Ohio House District and to serve out the remainder of Lightbody’s term, which runs through December 2024. Applicants should email resumes and cover letters to House Democratic Caucus Chief of Staff Jordan Plottner at jordan.plottner@ohiohouse.gov by the close of business on Monday, Jan. 8.

GOVERNOR

Parents — not the government — should decide whether their children should receive gender-affirming care from medical providers, Gov. Mike DeWine said after vetoing HB68 (Click) on Friday. “Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life,” DeWine told reporters. “Parents have looked me in the eye, and have told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead,” he said. “They’ve told me that their child is only alive because of the gender-affirming care that they have received. And youth that have transitioned to a new gender have told me that they are thriving today because of that transition.” The legislation would have restricted gender-affirming care for minors and banned transgender women and girls from participating in women’s and girls’ school sports. The General Assembly passed HB68 earlier in December.

The governor signed the following bills into law on Thursday, Dec. 28. Both become effective in 90 days after signing:

– SB91 (Schaffer) amends sections of the Ohio Revised Code regarding fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds and to prohibit the expenditure of local tax revenues upon a vote of residents or without an appropriation.

– HB201 (Hillyer-Demetriou) prohibits a state agency, county, or township from restricting the sale or use of a motor vehicle based on the energy source used to power the motor vehicle; prohibits a state agency from adopting the California emissions standards for motor vehicles; and changes the requirements for natural gas company infrastructure development riders and economic development projects.

The governor vetoed the following bill:

– HB68 (Click) enacts the Saving Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act regarding gender transition services for minors, and enacts the Save Women’s Sports Act to require schools, state institutions of higher education, and private colleges to designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.

JUDICIAL

The Ohio Supreme Court has been left with the task of determining state mandates for firing public school teachers. At the center of the recent oral argument is the question whether instructors must attend their “formal observation” and whether the answer is controlled by the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES), its interpretation at the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), a local collective bargaining agreement, and/or the Ohio Revised Code “liberally construed” in favor of teachers. The high court considered all those claims in Shawn Jones v. Kent City School District Board of Education, which follows a 20-year veteran of the district before he was placed on a limited contract for 2019-2020, accrued a number of unexcused absences, and was put on an evaluation cycle that ended in his missing the third and final formal observation and calling off sick for three weeks at the 2020 onset of COVID-19 and passage of teacher evaluation changes in 133-HB197 (Powell-Merrin)

TECHNOLOGY/AEROSPACE

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted recently announced students can now enroll in the High School Tech Internship program, which provides them with valuable work experience while helping businesses find needed talent. In 2023, 510 students participated in internships with 141 employers as part of the program. Enrollment requires school districts or individual students to contact their regional intermediary to be connected with a hosting business. The intermediaries include Junior Achievement of Northwestern Ohio; Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) in the northeastern region; the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio; the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) in the western region; the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati; and Building Bridges to Careers located in Southeast Ohio.

Posted by on January 08th, 2024

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