Week in Review > Week In Review 5-20-24

Posted by on May 20th, 2024

CHILDREN/FAMILIES

Aligning Ohio regulations to new CDC standards for lead has made hundreds more families eligible for intervention services when testing turns up evidence of lead exposure in blood, Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Mary DiOrio said Friday at a statewide conference on healthy housing. The Ohio Healthy Homes Network, which focuses on indoor environmental quality and lead hazards in particular and is led by former House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, held its annual conference at Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center, where DiOrio was the morning keynote speaker.

Despite the adoption of a sub bill that was meant to address concerns about equal parenting legislation HB14 (Creech-John), advocacy organizations say they still oppose the bill, arguing it puts parental rights before the safety of children. HB14, a reintroduction of 134-HB508 (West-Creech), would encourage divorced or separated parents to work together and require courts to follow a presumption that a substantially equal parenting plan is in the best interest of the child.

EDUCATION

The State Board of Education failed by one vote Monday to approve administrative rules that would implement budget bill changes shortening the period a teacher must hold an alternative resident educator license before applying for a professional license. The alternative resident educator license is an accelerated option for getting to the classroom, described on the board website as popular for people considering a second career in teaching. Under HB33 (Edwards), lawmakers reduced from four years to two the time someone must hold the alternative resident educator license before they are eligible to receive the professional educator license. Board member Katie Hofmann objected to an updated version of the rule to implement the HB33 change, 3302-24-19, when it came up for a vote Monday, and was among seven members voting against adoption of the rule versus six in favor.

State Superintendent Paul Craft Monday said conversations continue on the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) request for a $10 million General Revenue Fund (GRF) transfer to fill an impending budget shortfall. “I don’t have a budget update for you other than to say that a lot of good conversations continue. I still don’t have a bill that I can point to, and I think part of that is just, you know, some of the challenges going on right now on the legislative side,” Craft told SBOE members. “But I still am incredibly confident, and I’m hopeful that next month I’ll have a much more definitive update to give to the board.”

The House Higher Education Committee launched a series of hearings Tuesday on colleges and universities’ implementation of new literacy instruction standards with testimony from policy research and advocacy organizations that urged lawmakers to stay the course they started on with the budget bill. Tuesday’s hearing included testimony from Chad Aldis from the Fordham Institute, Shannon Holston from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ); Casey Sullivan Taylor of ExcelinEd; and David Brobeck, a literacy research professor at the University of Cincinnati Systems Development and Improvement Center, testifying on behalf of the P20 Literacy Collaborative. The committee Wednesday continued hearings on the implementation of new literacy instruction standards with testimony from the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Steve Dackin and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Mike Duffey. After the biennial budget HB33 (Edwards) required districts to shift to science of reading instruction, Dackin assured committee members that implementation is “well underway.”

Praising Ohio lawmakers for quickly addressing cell phone usage in schools after he raised the issue during his “State of the State” address, Gov. Mike DeWine Wednesday signed HB250 (Miranda-Richardson), which requires school districts to come up with a cell phone policy before the 2025-26 school year.

Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) Director Stephen Dackin on Wednesday recommended the appointment of Jeremy Varner as deputy director of the DEW Division of Career-Technical Education and Workforce. Varner would join the department from the Iowa Department of Education, where he served as administrator of the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, according to a news release from DEW. He has more than 15 years of experience in state education, leading the work of student-centered programs to shape secondary and postsecondary career-technical education and adult education policy. He worked to advance career and academic planning opportunities for students, facilitated pathways development, and expanded training programs.

Applications are now being accepted for the second round of grants for Ohio schools to establish or expand career technical education (CTE) programs, following $67.7 million awarded in grants earlier this year. Funding granted through the program helps schools purchase equipment to help better prepare students to be career-ready upon graduation. This round of applications for the CTE Equipment Program is open currently and will close on Friday, June 28 at 5:00 p.m. More information about the grant program can be found at https://tinyurl.com/5y26ax97, and a Request for Application for Round Two of the Career Technical Education Equipment Grant Program can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yzkkrc58.

Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) member schools voted to pass all six proposed revisions to the OHSAA Constitution and Bylaws, OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute announced Thursday.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

In legislative action, House Health Provider Services Committee reported out SB40 (Roegner), to enter the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact; House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB424 (Lear), regarding sales taxes on delivery network services.

GOVERNOR

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office said he’s appointing Jennifer Petrella to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division, to succeed retired Judge Denise Martin Cross.

The governor signed the following bills:

– HB161 ELIMINATE SPOUSAL EXCEPTION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT (MIRANDA J, HILLYER B) To eliminate the spousal exceptions for the offenses of rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition, and importuning and to permit a person to testify against the person’s spouse in a prosecution for any of those offenses.

– HB195 ADAPTIVE MOBILITY DEALER LICENSE (DEMETRIOU S, BRENNAN S) To create an adaptive mobility dealer license.

– HB269 HARPER MEM HWY, ALS AWARENESS (HOLMES A) To update the name of one organization receiving contributions for the “ALS Awareness” license plate and designate a portion of State Route 60 in Muskingum County as the “Sgt Bradley J. Harper USMC Memorial Highway.”

– SB90 ENTER SOCIAL WORKER COMPACT (ROEGNER K) To enter into the Social Work Licensure Compact.

– HB250 MILITARY ENLISTMENT, CELL PHONES IN SCHOOLS, ADOPTION GRANTS (MIRANDA J, RICHARDSON T) To amend Sections 265.550, 307.10, and 307.140 of H.B. 33 of the 135th General Assembly to revise the Military Enlistment diploma seal, regarding the High School Financial Literacy Fund and standards and model curriculum for financial literacy, regarding public school cellular telephone policies, regarding grade band specifications for properly certified or licensed teachers, regarding an educational program for parents of preschool children who are blind or visually impaired, to make changes to the Pupil Transportation Pilot Program, to correct a reference from the State Board of Education to the Director of Education and Workforce, to amend the versions of sections 3301.079 and 3314.03 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2025, to continue the changes on and after that date, and to make an appropriation for the Adoption Grant Program.

HIGHER EDUCATION

After significant cuts to need-based aid in prior administrations, the latest state budget restored funding to the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), the state’s signature need-based aid program for students attending college.

PENSIONS

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Friday recent allegations about conduct of State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) board members shared with him by Gov. Mike DeWine will prompt expansion of an existing investigation his office is conducting into potential campaign finance violations.

Michelle Flanigan, a Brunswick Schools teacher, cruised to victory in the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board of Trustees race to succeed outgoing Chair Dale Price. STRS released results of the election Saturday, showing 22,917 votes for Flanigan versus 3,932 for Streetsboro Schools teacher Sandy Smith Fischer and 72 votes for write-in candidates. Flanigan will join the board Sunday, Sept. 1 for a term that runs through August 2028. Price did not seek re-election.

The State Teachers Retirement System Board of Trustees got a new chair Wednesday who just hours earlier was named in a lawsuit in which Attorney General Dave Yost sought his removal for alleged violations of fiduciary duties. The new chair, Rudy Fichtenbaum, strongly denied accusations against him, as did Wade Steen, another trustee targeted by Yost who was only recently restored to the board after judges determined Gov. Mike DeWine wrongly removed him. Dale Price, who was due to leave the board and chair position later this year after he declined to seek re-election to his seat, was removed by a narrow majority, as was Vice Chair Carol Correthers. In his lawsuit, Yost alleged the two trustees “seek to steer as much as 70 percent of STRS’s current assets (about $65 billion in teacher pension funds) to a shell company that lacks any indicia of legitimacy and has backdoor ties to Steen and Fichtenbaum themselves.” The allegations refer to proposals for the pension fund to invest with QED Management. The case is assigned to Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Karen Phipps. At Thursday’s portion of the meeting, board members voted to keep Executive Director William Neville on leave through June, and have Acting Director Lynn Hoover named chief of staff for the last six months of 2024. The director has been on leave for several months following allegations of misconduct, though outside investigators largely could not corroborate complaints lodged against him anonymously.

TAXATION

Members of the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday debated a proposed elimination of the state’s income tax with proponent Donovan O’Neil, who argued that despite the efforts of the General Assembly to get the state’s number of tax brackets down to two, Ohio will still face barriers compared to other states with no income tax at all. O’Neil, representing Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, said that other states “are moving faster and pursing bolder reforms,” with nine states now with no state income tax, 14 states with a flat income tax and 10 states moving toward zero income taxes.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

The DeWine administration announced Friday, May 10 that the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project has received environmental approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), enabling it to move to design and construction phases.

After significant cuts to need-based aid in prior administrations, the latest state budget restored funding to the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), the state’s signature need-based aid program for students attending college.

Posted by on May 20th, 2024

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