Week in Review > Week in Review 11-20-2020Posted by Kevin Miller on November 20th, 2020
A new system developed at Ohio State University (OSU) is being used to give schools and public health officials an early warning sign of potential COVID-19 outbreaks, the university said in a release. Health information from schools and districts is entered into a system called the COVID-19 Analytics and Targeted Surveillance System (CATS). School district staff and the local public health department monitor the system, watching for signs of coronavirus outbreaks.
Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday announced a three-week curfew for all residents instead of the anticipated closing of certain businesses such as restaurants and gyms. The curfew, which will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., begins Thursday, Nov. 19 and will run for three weeks. At the end of that time, DeWine said he will see where the state stands in regard to the spread of COVID-19 to determine what else might be done.
Ohio hospitals are dangerously close to being forced to ration health care like Italy did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials said Thursday. “We are on the doorstep of that,” Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Medical Director Bruce Vanderhoff said during Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefing, responding to a reporter’s question.
The House mainly along party lines Thursday voted to send legislation that would allow the General Assembly to overturn orders issued by the director of the Ohio Department of Health and to put other limits on the orders, setting up a showdown with Gov. Mike DeWine, who is strongly opposed to the bill. He said again Thursday that he will veto it. Thursday’s debate saw Republicans arguing that SB311 (Roegner-McColley) provides proper checks and balances on the executive branch, while Democrats called it irresponsible legislation that will hamper the state’s ability to respond quickly to an out-of-control pandemic.
Local school officials again pressed a House committee Tuesday to advance the Cupp-Patterson school funding proposal with many of the working group members who helped to draft it presenting on the facets addressing special education, gifted education, transportation, choice programs and other elements. They also addressed how Ohio can cover the plan’s price tag. Dozens of witnesses delivered or submitted in writing remarks to the House Finance Committee in favor of HB305 (Cupp-Patterson), recently revised to address concerns raised since its introduction last year and now paired with a Senate companion, SB376 (Lehner-Sykes).
The Senate voted Wednesday and the House voted Thursday on the resolution to a yearlong impasse over how to address a looming expansion in the number of schools where students are eligible for EdChoice vouchers, opting for new criteria that consider both poverty and school performance, while also including an incremental bump to the income threshold for the EdChoice expansion program. The new criteria were added Wednesday to SB89 (M. Huffman), a career technical education omnibus, during a conference committee meeting. The conference committee approved its report along party lines.
The Senate Finance Committee gave a first hearing to the Senate version of HB305 (Cupp-Patterson), the school funding overhaul seeking to replace the state’s current public school funding structure which has been ruled unconstitutional. Providing invited proponent testimony on SB376 (Sykes-Lehner) Wednesday were former members of the Cupp-Patterson workgroup who designed the plan, as well as the sponsors of the bill. Bill sponsor Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) described the current state of Ohio’s school funding as “unpredictable, indecipherable, confusing, but most of all, inadequate and unequitable.”
House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) was unanimously re-elected to serve as speaker for the 134th General Assembly, the House Republican Caucus announced Wednesday. The caucus also announced that Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) will serve as speaker pro tempore; Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) will serve as majority floor leader; Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) will serve as assistant majority floor leader; Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) will serve as majority whip; and Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) will serve as assistant majority whip.
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