Week in Review > Week In Review 10-23-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on October 22nd, 2023
A new poll released this week by Baldwin Wallace (BW) University shows strong support for both statewide issues on the Tuesday, Nov. 7 ballot. The BW Community Research Institute’s (CRI) Ohio Pulse Poll, which interviewed 750 likely voters between Monday, Oct. 9 and Wednesday, Oct. 11, found 58 percent of respondents favoring passage of reproductive and abortion rights constitutional amendment Issue 1. Support for Issue 1 included 89 percent of Democrats surveyed, 39 percent of Republicans, and 51 percent of independent voters, BW said. Among other demographics, 65 percent of parents, 54 percent of gun owners, and 37 percent of evangelicals support Issue 1. Eight percent of respondents said they were undecided. BW said the opinions on legal abortion access among respondents were similar to its Oct. 2022 poll.
On Issue 2, the initiated statute that would legalize recreational marijuana, 57 percent of respondents support its passage, while 7 percent were undecided. Looking at political affiliation, 66 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Republicans, and 59 percent of independent voters support passage of Issue 2. Seventy percent of parents and 71 percent of respondents ages 18 to 49 support Issue 2, as did 47 percent of self-identified evangelicals and 47 percent of respondents age 50 or older.
Politicians shouldn’t be in charge of deciding whether an individual receives reproductive or abortion care, according to Innovation Ohio President and CEO Desiree Tims, a supporter of Issue 1. Tims participated in an Issue 1 debate hosted by the Ohio Debate Commission and Spectrum News 1. Issue 1. Mehek Cooke, an attorney and spokesperson for the campaign opposing Issue 1, said the proposed constitutional amendment is too “broad” and “extreme” for Ohioans.
Earlier this month, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) launched a television ad to encourage Ohioans to vote in favor of Issue 2, the initiated statute that would legalize recreational marijuana. The group said the ad highlights how many Ohioans are counting on Issue 2’s passing this November and explains the critical benefits that come with regulating and taxing adult-use marijuana.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Director Kara Wente of the Ohio Department of Children and Youth (DCY) announced a new initiative aimed at improving services for children with special needs. The program, called Ohio Promote Resources, Opportunities, and Meaningful Inclusion through Support and Education (PROMISE) will focus specifically on increasing access to quality child care and other support services for children with special needs. Ohio PROMISE will provide a number of different programs both to indicate credentialed child care facilities and to increase access to those facilities.
The State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children (SAPEC) is accepting applications for membership through Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, for the 2024-2025 school year. The panel is seeking members to represent the categories of Parents of Individuals with Disabilities and Individuals with Disabilities. The membership application and additional information on the panel can be found at the education department website at https://tinyurl.com/3du9rvb5. Individuals can also contact Parise Callahan or Karen Johnson at SAPEC@education.ohio.gov for more information.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) increased enforcement during National School Bus Safety Week which ended Friday, Oct. 20. OSHP said school bus violations include passing a stopped school bus, school zone violations and other school bus or school zone-related activity. National School Bus Safety Week is supported by the National Association for Pupil Transportation and reminds motorists, students and school bus drivers of their roles in ensuring children’s safety. This year’s theme is “BEEP! BEEP! School bus safety starts with me.”
The Broadcast Educational Media Commission (BEMC)’s Policy Committee met Monday to review and update its policies and procedures handbook. The committee also briefly discussed HB257 (Hoops-Claggett). Currently in the House Government Oversight Committee, HB257 would allow members of certain public bodies to hold and attend meetings virtually under certain conditions. BEMC Executive Geoffrey Phillips said there is a “general feeling” the Ohio House will pass the bill. The legislation would benefit BEMC by allowing commissioners who must travel to Columbus to attend some meetings virtually. The legislation prohibits a public body from holding a virtual meeting if there is a vote on a “major nonroutine” issue.
The uniform education system of the U.S. stands out from the more pluralistic model of many world democracies, a Johns Hopkins University researcher said Tuesday at a forum sponsored by Ohio organizations that advocate for expanded school choice. This model balances the public policy interests of an engaged and knowledgeable citizenry and the private and family interests of choice and education that incorporates desired values, said Ashley Berner, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. She frequently cited the Netherlands, among others, as an example, noting that nation provides funding and pursues academic accountability for 36 types of schools run by various civic and religious groups. The Fordham Institute and Buckeye Institute sponsored her presentation, which was followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Fordham President Emeritus Chester Finn.
Supporters of legislation to require schools and universities to maintain single-sex restroom and locker room facilities urged a House committee Wednesday to pass the bill in the name of women and girls’ safety and privacy. Dozens of people spoke or submitted written remarks in favor of HB183 (Bird-Lear) during a proponent hearing in the House Higher Education Committee. Several witnesses focused their testimony on a recent case involving the Xenia YMCA. According to testimony and media reports, Rachel Glines, a transgender woman, was charged with but found not guilty of indecent exposure after women complained about Glines’ being naked in the female locker room. Many of the witnesses used Glines’ prior name of Darren. Janell Holloway, a witness in that trial, described for the committee her fear and discomfort at encountering Glines in the locker room.
The state this week sought dismissal of litigation challenging K-12 governance changes to the responsibilities related to the governor and the State Board of Education, arguing that the shift is clearly allowed under the legislative discretion included in the 1953 constitutional amendment creating the board. Former Senate President Larry Obhof, recently appointed as outside counsel to represent Gov. Mike DeWine and the state in the litigation, also asserts the plaintiffs can’t show any particular injury that gives them standing to sue, and argues their legislative procedure claims are also baseless.
A literacy education group whose methods would be barred under reading instruction laws included in the FY24-25 budget filed suit this month to challenge the provisions of HB33 (Edwards). The litigation overlaps the lawsuit challenging K-12 governance changes in the budget bill as well and both lawsuits have been assigned to Judge Karen Phipps. The Reading Recovery Council of North America filed suit over provisions of the bill that bar “three-cueing,” defined as “any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax and visual cues.” The complaint argues that both the prohibited “three-cueing” approach and the endorsed “science of reading” approaches are too vaguely defined to be properly followed.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that he plans to nominate Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Senior Vice Chancellor Mike Duffey to replace ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner when he retires at the end of 2023. “I am pleased that Mike Duffey has agreed to serve as the next leader of the Ohio Department of Higher Education,” DeWine said in a statement. “Mike has the energy, vision and expertise to tackle the variety of issues facing higher education and I am confident that as chancellor, Mike will continue to build on the successes of Chancellor Gardner.” Duffey’s nomination will require Senate confirmation. The DeWine administration announced Gardner’s forthcoming retirement on Thursday.
Personal finance site WalletHub released its rankings of the 40 best colleges and universities in Ohio, as part of an overall list of more than 800 nationally. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) was first in the state and 56th nationally. The report also ranked institutions on subcategories of Student Selectivity; Cost and Financing; Faculty Resources; Campus Safety; Campus Experience; Education Outcomes; and Career Outcomes. These findings were drawn from 30 metrics including student-faculty ratios, graduation rates, post-attendance median salaries, student-loan default rate and the share of former students outearning high school graduates. WalletHub sought to calculate the value of institutions after attendance as part of its report.
Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) announced the hiring of John Stanford as its new executive director. He succeeds Tracy Najera, now vice president of U.S. programs for UNICEF USA. Stanford is a former interim superintendent of Columbus City Schools, where he also held other senior leadership roles. He most recently was superintendent of Allentown School District in Pennsylvania. Stanford also served as education adviser to former Gov. Ted Strickland.
State and federal officials commemorated Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks’ inscription as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)World Heritage Site in a series of open houses around the state over the weekend. Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is the collective name of eight Earthwork sites in Ohio. Three are managed by the Ohio History Connection: Great Circle Earthworks in Heath, Octagon Earthworks in Newark, as well as Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve in Oregonia. Five are managed by the National Park Service: Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Works, and Hopeton Earthworks at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe.
Ahead of the United States’ bicentennial celebration, the America-250 Ohio Commission announced plans to distribute $1 million in grants to nonprofit, education, and local government organizations to celebrate the nation’s 250th anniversary. Buckeye Impact Grants offer up to $50,000 for projects with a statewide, regional or significant local impact to showcase the achievements, struggles, honors, innovations and significance of Ohio since before its founding in 1803 to present day. Projects can include significant exhibitions, regional commemorative activities, digital and documentary media projects or other signature public events. Trillium Local Activity Grants offer up to $5,000 for projects that are more local in scale. Types of projects eligible for Trillium grants may include exhibitions, interpretative panels, local commemorative activities, educational programs or smaller digital and documentary media projects. Eligible parties for grants must be nonprofit organizations registered with the state of Ohio and located in Ohio. The deadline to apply for a grant as part of the fall 2023 cycle is Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The winter cycle will open Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 with applications due Friday, March 1, 2024. For more information on eligibility, project guidance and information on applying for a grant, visit the AM250-Ohio website or RSVP for an informational webinar taking place on Friday, Oct. 20, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Some board members of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) suggested Thursday that the state kick in more money directly rather than putting the weight of increased employer contributions on school districts shoulders. The STRS Board of Trustees heard an overview at its meeting of its actuarial valuation as of the end of FY23, the annual benchmark of how well funded it is and how long it would take to pay down unfunded liabilities. The system’s footing improved slightly, moving from 80.9 percent funded to 81.3 percent funded, and from an amortization period for unfunded liabilities of 11.5 years to 11.2 years. State law calls for pension systems to come up with an improvement plan any time the amortization period exceeds 30 years. Contracted actuarial firm Cheiron performs the calculations for STRS. The latest figures are based on the actuarial value of assets versus their market value, a measure that incorporates asset “smoothing,” incorporating outsize gains or losses into the valuation over a few years to avoid volatility.
Meanwhile, the largest state pension fund, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), also will consider asking lawmakers to boost employer contribution rates as well. OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher presented a proposal to trustees to seek legislative approval to boost maximum employer rates from 14 percent to 18 percent for its general population plan, and from 19.5 percent to 24 percent for its law enforcement and public safety employee population plans. The proposal would also allow 1 percent increases in the maximum every decade if actuaries determine contributions should be higher. The current statutory maximum of 14 percent was set in 1976, and the OPERS board eventually brought the rates up to that maximum in 2008.
A report released recently looking at Ohio’s redistricting process last year labeled it and the result “unmitigated disasters” and gave the state an “F.” The report from Common Cause evaluated each state’s redistricting process after the decennial census, looking at public access, outreach, and education in each state during redistricting based on an analysis of more than 130 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews. For Ohio, the report said Ohio’s hyper-partisanship routinely got “in the way of producing maps reflective of the state’s voting patterns and demographics. Throughout the mapmaking process, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down state legislative maps five times and the congressional map twice because of partisan gerrymandering. Despite this, GOP leaders made few positive changes, instead running out the clock and forcing Ohioans to vote using unfair districts.”
The response filed Monday by Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission with the Ohio Supreme Court argues that the three lawsuits objecting to the latest Ohio House and Senate redistricting plan adopted unanimously by the commission demands that Republicans be “packed and cracked” to meet their proportionality demands. The response was filed by commission members Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) after plaintiffs in three separate lawsuits challenging previous General Assembly redistricting plans filed motions asking leave to file objections to the latest plan adopted last month. McColley and LaRe asked the Ohio Supreme Court to reject the motions, as did Republican commission members Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Auditor Keith Faber, who filed a separate response but referred to the McColley/LaRe filing as the basis for their argument. The response argues that the objectors to the latest plan got the process backwards by focusing solely on the proportionality provision of Section 6B in Article XI in the Ohio Constitution, adding, “Again.”
The DeWine administration announced Monday that a new skills-based search function will help people applying for jobs in state government find positions based on specific experiences, skills and training rather than just academic degrees. The tool was developed in response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s Executive Order 2023-10D, which made the state a “model employer for skills-based hiring practices.” Adoption of this initiative makes Ohio one of the first states to use the skill-based hiring practice for recruiting its own employees, according to the administration.
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