Week in Review > Week In Review 11-27-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on November 27th, 2023
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Friday rejected the latest petition summary for a “Protecting Ohioans’ Constitutional Rights” amendment to repeal constitutional immunities and defenses in cases alleging a civil rights violation by government actors. It is the seventh time the proposal was rejected, with the last rejection occurring in August.
The DeWine administration announced Monday the opening of applications for the latest round of child care stabilization grants, as well as new child care rates that will take effect early next year. Starting in February, the state will increase base reimbursement rates for publicly funded child care to the 35th percentile of a market rate survey conducted in 2022, up from 25 percent, a first step toward a goal of reaching 50 percent by the end of next year and achieving compliance with federal regulations. The Office of Child Care at the federal Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, wrote letters to states in April notifying them they were considered out of compliance with equal access regulations if their rates were below 50 percent of market rates. The Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA) is hosting online applications for the fourth round of stabilization grants at its website, http://occrra.org. The $200 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding can be used for operating costs, workforce recruitment and retention, expanding access or mental health and wellbeing of students and employees.
Seasonal retail spending in Ohio is expected to increase by 0.7 percent over 2022 to approximately $32.2 billion, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants (OCRM) and University of Cincinnati (UC) Economics Center announced Monday as part of their forecast for this year’s October through December period. The forecast, first started in 2010, looks at spending in “relevant” retail sectors, excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, gas stations, food services, and arts and entertainment. The 2022 forecast projected a 3.4 percent increase to nearly $32 billion. This marks the 11th consecutive year of forecasted growth as well.
The incoming permanent director of the new Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), Steve Dackin, could begin as soon as early December, according to the agency’s interim Director Jessica Voltolini. Voltolini and other senior officials at the agency Tuesday held the department’s first public meeting under changes enacted in the state budget, HB33 (Edwards), discussing the transition, future meetings, and providing a budget implementation update, among other topics. Dackin will officially begin as director of the department pending confirmation by the Ohio Senate. Voltolini said a Senate hearing is tentatively expected in the first week of December.
Ohio’s unemployment rate increased to 3.6 percent in October, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), rising from 3.4 percent in September. However, the state’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 7,700 over the month. ODFJS said the state’s employment, which went from a revised 5,648,200 in September to 5,655,900 in October, marks the highest payroll employment reported since the series started in 1990.
Attorney General Dave Yost announced the creation of a school of good governance Monday for new and aspiring public officials that is named after the nation’s founding statesman. He says the Mt. Vernon Project’s School of Public Service is premised on the conviction that a public servant is a surrogate for the governed and service is not an opportunity for self-promotion. Yost rolled out the 70-minute series of six videos on topics ranging from government finance to ethics during a virtual press conference in which he thanked Mt. Vernon Mayor Matthew Starr for helping him forge the idea over the recent summer.
The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board of Trustees voted Friday to put Executive Director Bill Neville on leave, with media reports indicating an anonymous letter from STRS staff alleged a pattern of harassment and threats of violence by Neville. Lynn Hoover, deputy executive director of finance, will serve as acting executive director. Attorney General Dave Yost appointed outside counsel to investigate the allegations.
In a short meeting held Monday, the Ohio Ballot Board certified as one issue the proposed constitutional amendment that would create a citizens commission to draw the state’s legislative and congressional lines. Backers of the proposed Citizens Not Politicians amendment, which would create a 15-member commission with a ban on politicians serving on the panel, recently started over in their process after clearing the attorney general review of the petition summary and the Ballot Board before, saying they had discovered a typographical error in the summary language.
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) directors approved two rule amendments proposed by its Medical Services and Safety Committee Friday covering the five-year rule review of its Public Employee Risk Reduction Program (PERRP) and additional changes to administrative language governing the state insurance fund’s Safety Intervention Grant Program. PERRP provides 600,000 state, county and local government employees oversight and assistance similar to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which covers private employers.
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