Week in Review > Week In Review 11-6-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on November 06th, 2023
Members of Ohio’s Attendance Taskforce Friday released their recommendations for how state leaders and education officials can improve school attendance amid a significant increase in chronic absenteeism that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, Interim State Superintendent Chris Woolard and others highlighted the state’s new approach to addressing absenteeism during an event at the Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls. Husted and others signaled a need to move away from punitive measures for enforcing attendance and instead focus on prevention and positive approaches. The education department defines chronic absence as a student missing 10 percent or more of school hours. In the 2022-2023 school year, Ohio’s chronic absence rate was 26.8 percent, meaning more than 615,000 students in the state were considered chronically absent.
The Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group heard updates from law enforcement officials during its Monday meeting, as well as presentations from three bus manufacturers on the safety features they include on their vehicles. Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Andy Wilson, who chairs the group, opened by noting Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Interim Director Jessica Voltolini had joined. The school bus representatives were Chad Duncan of Navistar, Albert Burleigh of Blue Bird and Ricky Stanley of Thomas Built Buses. Features they described to the group include improved lighting; full view cameras; improved parking systems; electronic stability control; collision avoidance technology; and pedestrian detection systems.
The state is asking a Franklin County judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging new literacy curriculum standards set in the operating budget, HB33 (Edwards). The Reading Recovery Council of North America recently filed the lawsuit, challenging elements of the budget that ban “three-cueing” instruction, defined as “any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax and visual cues.” The litigation alleges the law overstepped the authority of the State Board of Education to set education policy, is unconstitutionally vague and violates the constitution’s single-subject rule. The case is assigned to Judge Karen Phipps of Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the same judge presiding in a challenge to the budget’s K-12 governance reforms, which stripped the State Board of Education of most of its powers.
With college and professional football in full swing, Ohio’s sports betting operators are seeing significant increases in total gross receipts (handle) and taxable revenue, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC). Sports gambling handle for September was $690.4 million, up from $378.8 million in August. Taxable revenue from sports betting in September was $81.8 million, up from $40.8 million in August. DraftKings (associated with Hollywood Toledo Casino) reported the highest handle among Ohio sportsbooks, with $261.3 million in September. The company reported $28.5 million in taxable revenue.
Just three confirmed voting sessions remain on the calendar for the Ohio Senate for 2023 after schedule changes announced Wednesday. The clerk’s office announced cancellation of sessions set for Wednesday, Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 29, but the addition of an if-needed session for Tuesday, Dec. 12. The changes leave session dates scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 15, Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Wednesday, Dec. 13. The House schedule for the rest of 2023 includes sessions Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, plus if-needed sessions Nov. 29, Tuesday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 12.
House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) Tuesday discussed Issue 1 and Issue 2 following the House Rules and Reference Committee. The speaker also spoke with reporters about Gov. Mike DeWine’s call to pass a mental health “red flag” law, and legislation to lower the cost of tickets at high school sports events, among other topics.
While many Ohioans may view politics as nasty and divisive, millennial members of the General Assembly say they’re working to change that perception. Reps. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown), Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus), Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) and Nick Santucci (R-Warren) joined WOSU’s Anna Staver for a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) “Millennial Voices in Ohio Politics” forum on Wednesday. “We have four representatives here, and we’re not yelling at each other. We’re not complaining. We’re not arguing. This is democracy, in a lot of ways,” Hall said. “We disagree on some issues, and that’s perfectly fine, but it’s about getting together and showing people that this can work,” he continued. “There are so many issues we face, there are so many bills that we vote on in a bipartisan basis. There’s always a false notion that Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats hate Republicans — both of their ideas suck, and I want to vote for somebody else. But in the Statehouse, it’s not like that.”
In other legislative action, the House State and Local Government Committee reported out HCR7 (Creech-Peterson), which calls on Congress to make daylight saving time permanent; the House Transportation Committee reported out highway naming bills HB268 (Schmidt) and HB293 (Hoops); the House Higher Education Committee reported out HB242 (A. Miller-Stein), which establishes the Armed Forces Reserve Component Scholarship Program; and the House Insurance Committee reported out HB141 (LaRe-Blasdel), which deals with occupational and physical therapists and chiropractors.
Gov. Mike DeWine reinforced calls to pass mental health “red flag” legislation Monday following Maine’s gun massacre and warned the president’s border policies could further exacerbate Ohio’s gang violence and fentanyl crisis. DeWine addressed the capital-area 2023 Ohio Corrections and Law Enforcement Security Threat Group Conference, which he noted was the first forum on criminal investigation and detention in two decades. “We are compartmentalized. One group does not talk to another,” he said, noting what often happens with convicted and suspected felons in Ohio. “We do not always follow that person with information.” The result, said DeWine, is violent gang activity perpetrated by a relatively small number of offenders — what he called his administration’s “number one focus” in public safety.
Members of the House Higher Education Committee Wednesday accepted a sub bill for higher education reform bill SB83 (Cirino) that removes a provision prohibiting university faculty from striking and adds other flexibilities, though Democrats on the committee said the legislation still threatens collective bargaining rights. Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), who appeared at the hearing to discuss the changes, said he still strongly supports the provisions barring faculty and college employees from striking but agreed to remove it at the request of House members. “I stand firmly behind the idea … that students’ instruction should not be put in jeopardy because of labor negotiations,” he said.
After the University of Cincinnati (UC) and former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced plans earlier this year to form a new academic center committed to finding bipartisan common ground and achieving policy solutions, the school officially opened the Portman Center for Policy Solutions late last month.
“I view this center as a way to encourage young people to engage in public service that focuses on civility, bipartisanship, and finding common ground,” Portman said in a statement.
A recently released poll by Ohio Northern University’s (ONU) Institute for Civics and Public Policy (ICAPP) shows voters supporting Issue 1 and a general support for legalized marijuana, though the way Issue 1 is worded on the ballot may play a factor on how voters cast their ballots. The web-based poll was conducted among 668 registered voters in Ohio from Monday, Oct. 16 through Thursday, Oct. 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent. It questioned respondents on Issue 1, the reproductive and abortion rights amendment, and their attitudes about abortion. While it did not directly ask respondents how they would vote on Issue 2, the recreational marijuana legalization initiated statute, they were asked about their attitudes on marijuana and surrounding policy.
The ONU poll also took an early look at the 2024 presidential and U.S. Senate races. It found that former President Donald Trump is still the clear favorite among Ohio Republicans, and he leads a hypothetical re-match with President Joe Biden in the Buckeye State in the General Election. Among Republican voters, 64 percent want Trump as the nominee, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trailing with 10 percent and Ohio native Vivek Ramaswamy at 9 percent. Just 6 percent said they would likely support another candidate if he is the nominee and only 5 percent said they would not support Trump if he was convicted of a felony. In a rematch of the 2020 election, Trump beats Biden 45 percent to 40 percent in Ohio, with 10 percent undecided.
A new Quinnipiac Poll Wednesday showed little has changed from other recent election polls in the 2024 presidential primary and general election races, despite a month that included war between Israel and Hamas, rising global tensions, another U.S. mass shooting, and a civil trial for former President Donald Trump beginning. According to the poll, Trump leads the Republican primary field with 64 percent among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, while President Joe Biden is earning 77 percent among Democratic and Democratic leaning voters. In a hypothetical rematch of the 2020 general election, Biden receives 47 percent among registered voters, while Trump receives 46 percent, virtually unchanged from Quinnipiac’s August and September national polls. When independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is added, Biden receives 39 percent, Trump receives 36 percent, and Kennedy earns 22 percent. Adding independent Cornel West to make it a four-way matchup, Biden gets 36 percent, Trump has 35 percent, Kennedy receives 19 percent support, and West earns 6 percent.
Saying two legislative members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission are offering nothing new and are only asking the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss challenges to the maps drawn by the commission because they now believe the Court will be favorable to their position, plaintiffs in the three redistricting cases asked the Court to deny the motions filed earlier this month by Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester). LaRe and McColley asked the Court to dismiss the three cases and vacate its previous orders striking down previous plans, arguing that the Court had initially lacked and still lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims raised in the complaints. The plaintiffs, however, said the Court has already heard those arguments and rejected them. As the plaintiffs in the League of Women Voters [LWV] of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Commission stated in their opposition filing Monday, the arguments by the lawmakers “spark an acute sense of deja vu.”
The Citizens Not Politicians (CNP) coalition submitted a revised version of its anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday, CNP spokesperson Chris Davey said in an email. The group took the action because it found a typographical error in the AG-approved summary language of the amendment.
Charter Communications, also known as Spectrum, announced Wednesday it will invest nearly $500 million to improve the speed of existing Internet networks in Ohio and nearly $750 million to bring broadband service to around 140,000 unserved homes and small businesses in 16 counties. Charter’s Director of Public Relations Mike Hogan told Hannah News the majority of the 140,000 locations are in rural Ohio, particularly Southern and Appalachian regions.
Gov. Mike DeWine declared November Hire-A-Veteran Month Thursday to encourage Ohio employers to consider veterans when hiring for open positions. DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst in making the declaration. “If you’re an employer looking to build your workforce, we hope you’ll consider hiring veterans,” Damschroder said. “Veterans are loyal, dependable, and they’re great at working on a team. They bring tremendous strengths and skills to any organization.” With nearly 700,000 veterans and service members, Ohio has the fifth largest such population in the U.S.
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