Week in Review > Week in Review 5-13-24

Posted by on May 10th, 2024

FY24-25 BUDGET

Higher than expected refund totals drove a $154.8 million shortfall in income tax collections compared to estimates for April, making up the bulk of an overall $224.4 million or 8.4 percent miss in tax revenues versus forecasts, according to preliminary data from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Fiscal year-to-date tax revenues are now off by $446 million or nearly 2 percent, driven almost entirely by the personal income tax, which is 5.5 percent or $453.9 million below estimates. Tax collections for the first 10 months of FY24 reached $22.75 billion versus expectations of $23.2 billion.

FY25-26 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

The Ohio Department of Development’s (DOD) capital budget request, one of two dozen released to Hannah News in response to a public records request, includes $5 million for clean coal research and development and $2.1 million for service station cleanup across the FY25-26 biennium. Both amounts would be decreases from FY23-24 appropriations. The clean coal line-item previously received $3.07 million in FY21-22 and $12.28 million in FY23-24 while the service station cleanup line-item had $9.03 million in FY21-22 and $8.84 million in FY23-24. DOD also said it requests $5 million for clean coal research in both FY27-28 and FY29-30. “A focus of the FY25-26 capital budget will be to leverage these programs in a way that creates positive economic impacts in our communities, including the creation of new jobs, increased affordable housing, and more sustainable use of raw materials,” DOD said in its introductory narrative.

Ohio’s main program for supporting local school construction and renovation projects would get another $600 million in the upcoming capital biennium under the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s request for FY25-26. The $600 million request matches what the House and Senate have included in dueling capital appropriations measures, HB2 (Cutrona-Upchurch) and HB27 (Matthew-J. Thomas). OFCC estimates it could authorize construction projects at 13 additional districts with the requested funding, assuming a state share of costs in the 45 percent to 50 percent range and an average project cost of $100 million.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) needs an additional $8 million to build its new Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL), ODAg Director Brian Baldridge said in his agency’s capital budget request. Baldridge said the funding will supplement the nearly $72 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding provided in 134-HB687 (Oelslager) to design and construct the new laboratory. ODAg broke ground on the new lab in November 2023. “Since that time, inflation, scarcity in the supply chain, and strong local demand for construction trades have resulted in significant cost increases,” Baldridge said. “These increases have been addressed by implementing a 5,000 square foot reduction in building size and seeking this funding — which will complete construction, provide instrumentation, furnishings, IT systems, and demolition of the old structure.” Baldridge noted that the lab is the only full-service, all-species veterinary diagnostic laboratory in the state.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) needs $191 million over the next two years for improvements to state park facilities, according to a copy of the agency’s capital budget request. The department is seeking $72 million for restrooms, shelter houses and small projects across the state, which are intended to serve day use visitors and overnight campers. ODNR also seeks $31 million for marina and boating access improvements at the following five state parks: Catawba Island, East Harbor, Mary Jane Thurston, North Bass Island and Shawnee. Additionally, the department is seeking $30 million for campground electrical upgrades, new shower houses and full services sites, “which are in high demand.” ODNR wants $17 million for cabin renovations at Maumee Bay and Mohican state parks, as well as design and assessment services at Lake Hope, Pike Lake and Tar Hollow state parks.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board’s (CSRAB) FY25-26 capital budget request seeks about $14.6 million for Statehouse repairs and improvements. The FY25-26 request is a reduction from the agency’s FY23-24 appropriation, which also included money for Capitol Square security and improvements to the Statehouse audio system. Nearly $11 million of CSRAB’s FY25-26 request is for ongoing replacement of mechanical equipment.

Replacement of the Ashtabula County Ohio State Highway Patrol post building and a new helicopter for the patrol are among the top priorities for the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) in its nearly $29.5 million capital budget request. In a letter to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) included with the agency’s request, ODPS Director Andrew Wilson said the request “will ensure the continued service of the nine divisions of the Department of Public Safety while protecting the investments of the past to include our main headquarters at the Shipley Building, the state Emergency Operations Center, and Ohio State Highway Patrol posts located around the state.” ODPS is looking for capital funds to purchase a new helicopter for use by the patrol, “which will be utilized as a resource for our federal, state and local agency partners upon request.” Wilson stated that the purchase, estimated in the request at $16.5 million, would replace a 25-year-old aircraft “that is no longer capable of safely performing at the level required to conduct rescues or other key missions.”

The capital request from the Ohio History Connection (OHC) represents what OHC Executive Director and CEO Megan Wood calls a bold vision, coming at a critical moment for the organization. OHC’s total capital budget request comes in at $103,286,000 for FY25-26, a substantial increase from the $21,600,093 appropriated for FY23-24. The top priority listed in OHC’s request to the Office of Budget and Management is $13,000,000 for the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in FY25-26 after it was named a World Heritage Site last year. The site had not received any capital appropriations for FY23-24. The requested funding would fund the baseline documentation of the World Heritage Sites managed by OHC to record the status of the properties at the time of inscription and serve as the basis for site management planning. OHC’s request says the project would be divided into three separate scopes of work: baseline documentation and planning; building and site improvements and visitor amenities; and coordinated interpretation, signage and exhibits.

The capital budget request for Ohio Deaf and Blind Education Services (ODBES) for FY25-26 mainly requests funding for building renovations, with additional consideration for the renovation of facilities for extracurricular activities including sports and band. In total, the capital budget request for FY25-26 for ODBES comes in at $9,897,000. From that total, just over $3 million is for the conversion of the facility’s former elementary school into an early learning center. In the letter attached to the capital request, ODBES Superintendent Lou Maynus says, “Improving employment and college and career readiness is our ultimate (and long term) goal in meeting the needs of deaf, blind, deafblind, visually impaired, and hard of hearing students.” Other major considerations in the FY25-26 capital request for ODBES include $1,727,000 for renovation of the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB) auditorium and $1,538,000 for OSSB gym renovation. Requests of $700,000 and $400,000 were made for FY25-26 for soccer field renovation and a band practice field, respectively.

The Ohio Adjutant General’s Department requested a total of $106.7 million in the capital budget, with its readiness centers and armories being a major spending category. That money would include $28.8 million from the state and $77.9 million in matching federal funds in the Army National Guard Facilities Program. The department has conducted an extensive review of each readiness center and armory in Ohio based on their condition, adequacy of space and whether they are part of the future facility outlay. Under that approach, the previous biennium saw modernization and renovation of centers in Middletown, Newark and Stow. For FY25-26, the request seeks $21.6 million for continued renovation of centers in Kettering, Lebanon, Lorain, Akron-Hawkins, Brook Park and two facilities at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base.

The Ohio Expositions Commission submitted a relatively modest funding request for consideration as part of the capital budget but has more than $160 million worth of projects in mind for future capital biennia. The commission is asking for $10 million for FY25-26 — $9.5 million for facility improvements, and $500,000 for emergency renovations and equipment replacement. The $9.5 million funding pool would go toward better lighting, wayfinding and fencing across the fairgrounds. The smaller, $500,000 request is for “minor but immediate building renovations” and replacement of aging or obsolete equipment.

CHILDREN/FAMILIES

Members of the Controlling Board on Monday unanimously approved $236 million in FY24-25 for a new federal program to ensure low-income children have access to food while school is out. The newly-authorized Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (S-EBT) program starts in Summer 2024. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ (ODJFS) request to increase appropriation authority for that program — as well as all requests on the agenda — were approved during Monday’s meeting.

EDUCATION

At the same time as schools combat alarmingly high chronic absenteeism rates, school discipline practices that remove students from the classroom like suspensions and expulsions are also on the rise, according to a recent report by Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) – Ohio. The “2024 State of School Discipline in Ohio” report says that school discipline “cannot be separated” from the state’s high rates of chronic absenteeism and argues that “exclusionary” discipline practices, which it defines as those that remove students from the classroom, contribute to the “community-to-prison pipeline.”

Instructors and students in teacher preparation programs Tuesday asked the Senate Education Committee to reverse budget bill changes that collapsed teacher licensure grade bands from three to two, arguing they ignore the realities of child development, dilute content knowledge and could worsen teacher shortages. Tuesday’s committee meeting included proponent testimony on SB219 (Ingram), which would reinstate the preK-5, 4-9 and 7-12 licensure bands, which were converted into K-8 and 6-12 bands under HB33 (Edwards).

Schools have gone to the ballot more than 18,000 times since Ohio’s main policy for controlling property tax increases took effect in the 1970s, averaging out to hundreds of levies per year, but residential millage rates have grown just about a tenth of a percent per year over that time, economist and education finance expert Howard Fleeter told lawmakers studying the property tax system Wednesday. “It’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. …,” Fleeter told the Joint Committee on Property Tax Review and Reform. “We are largely running in place.” Fleeter, who’s been involved in Ohio school funding debates since the Voinovich administration, said the property tax controls of HB920 drive trends that make Ohioans vote on school funding issues more than any other states’ residents, though he said the data to prove that assertion is hard to collect.

Staff at the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Thursday provided an overview of potential updates to administrative code rules on school transportation and safety rules as well as updates to the state’s fine arts learning standards. Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rules 3301-83-01 through 3301-83-25 are being updated as part of a routine five-year rules review as well as to address changes in budget bill HB33 (Edwards). Some of the rules are also being updated to align with recommendations from Gov. Mike DeWine’s Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group, which was convened following the August 2023 death of a Northwestern Local School District student who was killed after another vehicle collided with his school bus.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

The House Wednesday sent legislation that would require school districts to adopt a policy limiting cell phone use to Gov. Mike DeWine less than a month after he urged its adoption during his “State of the State” address. HB250 (Miranda-Richardson) originally revised the Military Enlistment diploma seal, but the Senate added a number of other provisions, including the cell phone restriction. Under the provision, each school district is required to create a policy minimizing cell phone use during school hours. It also directs the Department of Education and Workforce to create a model policy that schools can use.

A number of Republicans objected and a vote was taken for session to adjourn after the House did not take up the Senate amendments to HB114 (Humphrey-Seitz), which the Senate had passed earlier in the day after amending it to include an exemption for President Joe Biden to appear on the November ballot while also including provisions of SB215 (Gavarone-McColley) to ban foreign contributions to ballot issue campaigns.

The House said goodbye to former Rep. Jessica Miranda, now the Hamilton County auditor, and sat her replacement, University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor Jodi Whitted, who will serve out the remainder of Miranda’s term while another Democrat, Karen Brownlee, takes Miranda’s place on the ballot. Brownlee was unable to be seated as she does not reside in the current district but rather in the newly drawn District 28.

In other action, the House passed the following bills:

– HB194 (K. Miller) To authorize a contract with a private vendor for the issuance of specialty license plates. Vote 87-3

– HB234 (Williams-Rogers) To prohibit a court imposing a sentence on an offender for a felony or misdemeanor from considering whether the offender who entered an Alford plea shows genuine remorse for the offense. Vote 90-0

– HB264 (Pizzulli-Johnson) To make certain steam-producing facilities waste energy recovery systems for purposes of the state’s energy efficiency laws. Vote 86-4

– HB265 (Wiggam-Hall) To exempt redaction request forms, affidavits, and the records of the work schedules of designated public service workers from disclosure under public records law. Vote 89-0

– HB271 (Mathews-Peterson) To specify that state questions and issues appearing on ballots must be numbered consecutively based on the previous election. Vote 90-0

– HB338 (White-Sweeney) To allow child support orders to be issued, modified, or extended for children over 18 with a disability. Vote 85-4

– HB347 (Jones) To allow an alternative method for certain farmers to verify that certain trailers and vehicles are purchased for agricultural purposes and thus exempt from sales and use tax. Vote 89-0

– HB466 (Schmidt-Brennan) To require a written agency agreement for a licensed broker to represent a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. Vote 88-1

– SB81 (Romanchuk) To authorize certain advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to sign documents related to psychiatric inpatients; to revise the law governing the Board of Nursing’s monitoring of impaired practitioners; and to modify the law governing insurance navigators and to amend the version of section 4723.431 of the Revised Code that is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 30, 2024, to continue the changes to that section on and after that date. Vote 89-1

Formerly incarcerated individuals re-entering society would have an easier time obtaining housing under legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday. The Senate voted 29-1 to pass HB50 (Humphrey), which allows an individual who is subject to collateral sanctions for housing to file a petition for a certificate of qualification for housing (CQH). Sen. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) voted against the bill, and Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) abstained.

In other action, the Senate voted 31-0 to pass SB89 (Roegner), which would enter Ohio into the Cosmetology Licensure Compact.

The Senate voted 27-4 to adopt SR296 (Reineke-McColley), which urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to withdraw its proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Other bills passed by the Senate on Wednesday included the following:

– HB114 (Humphrey-Seitz), which addresses the presidential election and campaign finance laws. The bill passed 24-7.

– SB94 (Brenner-Landis), which addresses various laws on mortgages, towing and judicial practices. The bill passed 30-1, with Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) voting against it.

– SB145 (Schaffer), which designates a portion of Refugee Road in Fairfield County as the “Cpl. David A. Johnston Memorial Highway.” The bill passed 31-0.

– SB175 (Lang), which addresses insurance regulations and taxes. The bill passed 31-0.

– SB179 (Kunze), which creates the “Hilliard Davidson Wildcats” license plate. The bill passed 31-0.

– SB195 (Manning), which establishes the Ohio Ireland Trade Commission. The bill passed 31-0.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) announced over the weekend new chairs for committees where he previously removed the chairs for reportedly supporting primary opponents of sitting caucus members. The shuffling filled five of the six chairmanships that were opened after Stephens had removed House Agriculture Chair Rep. Rodney Creech (R-Germantown), House Constitutional Resolutions Chair Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), House Energy and Natural Resources Chair Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville), House Primary and Secondary Education Chair Rep. Adam Bird (R-Cincinnati), House Public Health Policy Committee Chair Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), and House State and Local Government Chair Rep. Marilyn John (R-Shelby). Rep. Adam Mathews (R-Lebanon) will now chair the Public Health Policy Committee, giving up his chairmanship of the House Pensions Committee. Stephens said in a memo that the chair and first named member of the Pensions Committee “shall remain vacant until further action is taken by the speaker.” The pensions committee last met on Feb. 6. Similarly, the Constitutional Resolutions Committee also remains without a chair. It last met on May 2, 2023. Other changes to committees include the following:

– Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) was designated chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

– Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown) was removed as chair of House Technology and Innovation and will now chair the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Melanie Miller (R-Ashland) was named the new chair of the House Technology and Innovation Committee.

– Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) was named chair of the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.

– Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) was appointed to the House State and Local Government Committee and designated as its chair.

Stephens said he’d like to explore the idea of bonding authority or other financial instruments to address the periodic requests for large contributions from state coffers for sports venues. Stephens addressed the topic Tuesday after the House Rules and Reference Committee meeting when asked about a reported $600 million dollar request from the Cleveland Browns. “I think there are other ways the state can be helpful, and it’s not just the Browns,” he said. “I would like to see us figure out a way, either through municipal bonds or some sort of bonding authority, of helping professional sports teams stay in our cities, but being creative from a financial standpoint. That doesn’t necessarily mean that taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a stadium in Cleveland, and then everybody else will be wanting a stadium.” The speaker did say sports teams are an important part of Ohio’s culture.

Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), a leader in the House GOP faction at odds with Speaker Stephens, said Tuesday he’s considering an ethics complaint against the speaker following the removal of several committee chairs last week. Stephens yanked six chairmanships, including Plummer’s spot atop the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee, over campaign support given to primary challengers of incumbent Republican lawmakers. Plummer walked into the room where Stephens was addressing reporters after the Rules and Reference Committee meeting Tuesday morning and shared his plans after the speaker left, indicating he also plans to meet with the attorney general.

The Sunset Review Committee fielded one request for abolishment of an advisory panel Tuesday, otherwise hearing testimony from state agencies seeking to reauthorize various small entities throughout state government. Entities up for review Tuesday mostly fell under the aegis of the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and Ohio Department of Development (DOD).

Chair Sen. Louis Blessing (r-Cincinnati) Tuesday gave sponsor testimony on his minimum wage proposal, SB256, before his Senate Ways and Means Committee, where he was greeted with skepticism from his own members despite his raising the specter of the looming November ballot issue on the same issue. Committee Vice Chair Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) commented that the only thing she “likes less than government interfering with housing [referencing her comments earlier on SB244 (Reynolds-Craig)] is government interfering with minimum wage and the free market.” Blessing responded that it is not a question of where “you want things to be. I think it is a comparison of this legislation versus where the ballot initiative is.” He went on to say he is “firmly convinced that if the ballot initiative gets on the ballot, it will pass.”

Reps. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) and Elgin Rogers (D-Toledo) Tuesday detailed their legislation to create a Nursing Student Loan-to-Grant Program as well as set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. HB285 (Ghanbari-Rogers) would appropriate $20 million for the Nursing Student Loan-to-Grant Program, which would be administered through the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). The program would issue loans to nursing students of $3,000 per year for up to four years, for a total of $12,000. If the recipient stayed in Ohio for five years post-graduation, this loan would then convert to a grant, which would not need to be repaid.

Senate Government Oversight Committee Chair Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) commended some witnesses and admonished others during invited testimony on agency efficiencies Wednesday. She said the goal is to “streamline” government and make it more user-friendly through “tangible” reforms, including fewer regulatory burdens and lower fees. After a full slate of legislation, the committee took testimony on occupational licensing from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Accountancy Board of Ohio, Ohio Architects Board and Landscape Architects Board, and Ohio State Cosmetology and Barber Board.

Representatives of victims’ advocacy groups and prosecutors both gave proponent testimony Tuesday to the House Criminal Justice Committee on how HB385 (Richardson-Williams) would greatly expand access to criminal record expungement for human trafficking victims, though some changes were suggested. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that “exiting the life is only the start” and detailed how people who were human trafficking victims can struggle with drug addiction. They often have a criminal record that impedes employment and housing, he said. The requirement for a predicate offense of solicitation leaves out many sex trafficking victims as well as all labor trafficking victims, Yost said. People need an “on ramp to the highway for hope,” he said, and HB385 provides that by removing the predicate requirement while ensuring the expunged offense was a result of trafficking.

The Ohio First Caucus held its first meeting this week, Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) announced. Johnson created the caucus and helped lead the first meeting, according to his office. “The term ‘America First’ does not suggest an isolationist policy, just the opposite. It is a policy that productively engages the world while promoting and protecting our nation’s interests first and foremost,” Johnson said. “By the same token, the Ohio First Caucus seeks to promote our state’s interests with an informed and intelligent understanding of our role in global affairs, especially as we confront declared foreign adversaries who seek to do us harm.”

In other legislative action, the House Behavioral Health Committee reported out HB352 (Baker-Carruthers), which establishes the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Commission; the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB390 (Brown-Swearingen) to revise law around excess funds in foreclosure sales; the House Criminal Justice Committee reported out HB37 (Johnson-K. Miller),dealing with OVI penalties; the House Government Oversight Committee reported out HB331 (Mathews-Young), which addresses village dissolution; HR374 (Demetriou-Patton), which memorializes the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the U.S.; HB430 (Klopfenstein-Rogers), regarding county engineers; and SB92 (McColley-Gavarone), the Biden ballot fix; the House Transportation Committee reported out highway/bridge naming bills HB493 (King), HB494 (King), HB431 (Klopfenstein), HB383 (Fowler Arthur), HB439 (Patton), HB448 (Demetriou) and HB380 (Hillyer-K. Miller); the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out SB176 (Sykes-Romanchuk), which addresses support for disabled adult children; the House Insurance Committee reported out HB160 (Santucci), which deals with dental insurance; the Senate Government Oversight Committee reported out HB158 (Roemer-M. Miller), which revises cosmetologist and barber laws; the Senate Health Committee reported out SB95 (Reynolds), which addresses remote dispensing pharmacy operations; the Senate Transportation Committee reported out license plate bill SB179 (Kunze); and the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee reported out day designation bill SB225 (Roegner).

GOVERNOR

Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s keeping his eye on state tax revenue collections, which lag projections by more than $400 million for FY24 so far, but he isn’t highly concerned yet. “I don’t think anyone’s becoming horribly alarmed, but it’s something we’re certainly watching,” he said. Asked if he thinks the trends are driven by tax policy changes or economic activity, he said it’s probably a combination of both.

The governor sat down with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles Wednesday for a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum to talk about his priorities, a month after giving his “State of the State” address in early April. He touched on a number of additional topics ranging from his relationship with the Legislature to sports teams requesting state money for new facilities. DeWine said that he had made the decision to devote his entire “State of the State” speech to the issue of children, saying that it has been a common theme throughout his political career. He said as he looks to the future, there is nothing more important than childhood education. He said his proposals are not just important to help every child to live up to their full potential, but also coincide with what is best for the entire state.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Gov. Mike DeWine Friday said Ohio State University (OSU) has done a “very, very good job” when it comes to handling the campus protests against the war in Gaza. Speaking to reporters after the Veterans Hall of Fame event in the Statehouse Atrium, DeWine said that he believes Ohio is a “good example” of the way to handle the protests and commended Ohio State President Ted Carter. “They have very well respected the First Amendment. They’ve respected people’s rights to demonstrate. They’ve respected people’s rights to disagree about the issue of what’s going on in the Middle East and what our foreign policy should be,” DeWine said. “But Ohio State has also said that their basic campus rules need to be followed — these rules that they’ve had in place for a long time … I think by having those rules outlined, articulated clearly to demonstrators, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate, but also saying these are the lines we cannot cross.” He said the Ohio State Highway Patrol has assisted and will be available to assist with any demonstrations on other campuses. The units are there to support campus police and are specifically trained to handle “this type of a situation.”

The Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee continued its hearings on the capital budget requests of Ohio’s public universities on Tuesday and Wednesday, hearing from the presidents of Cleveland State University (CSU), the University of Toledo (UT), Ohio State University and Youngstown State. Committee Chair Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) earlier this year had asked public universities to present information on their capital budget requests as well as other cost data, faculty and administration counts, and spending on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) or related subjects.

MENTAL HEALTH

Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare (ABH) this month is hosting a Community Mental Health Expo in celebration of its 150 years providing mental health services in Southeastern Ohio. The public is invited to visit the hospital located at 100 Hospital Drive in Athens on Saturday, May 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The expo will feature speakers, informational displays, a behind-the-scenes tour of the hospital’s treatment mall, food trucks, a patient art show, and more. ABH is one of six regional psychiatric hospitals operated by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). The 92-bed hospital provides psychiatric care to civil and forensic patients from 17 counties, including Adams, Athens, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Scioto, Vinton, and Washington.

PENSIONS

Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday he’s alerted numerous other state officeholders and authorities to “disturbing allegations” sent to him regarding the board of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and expressed his worry about the fact a governance consulting firm recently quit its contract with the pension fund. The STRS board has been closely divided and the system’s executive director, William Neville, is on an extended leave over misconduct allegations, although outside investigators found accusations against him largely unfounded. Voting recently closed on a board seat election to replace Chair Dale Price, who declined to seek re-election, with results expected over the weekend. Meanwhile, the 10th District Court of Appeals recently reinstated STRS board member Wade Steen, whom DeWine had replaced over concerns about meeting attendance and perceived advocacy for certain investment managers. A statutorily required fiduciary audit commissioned by the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) recommended governance updates at STRS, including performance of more work at the committee level. STRS contracted with consulting firm Aon to carry out that work, but the firm reportedly bowed out of the agreement early.

Attorney General Dave Yost said Thursday he’s considering whether to seek removal of State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) trustees over potential violations of fiduciary duty, after DeWine’s office forwarded allegations about board member conduct to him and other state officials. Meanwhile, the Ohio Retirement Study Council also voted Thursday to formally alert other state officials to a governance consultant’s decision to withdraw from doing business with STRS, something the governor called “a huge red flag” this week. DeWine’s office shared a trove of documents with Yost and other state officials and also released them to Hannah News and other journalists. Yost said he’s investigating STRS’ “susceptibility to a hostile takeover by private interests,” which is similar language as contained in an unsigned memo outlining a summary of concerns with STRS leaders that DeWine received and sent along to others.

Posted by on May 10th, 2024

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