Week in Review > Week In Review 6-10-24

Posted by on June 10th, 2024

FY24-25 BUDGET

Tax revenues were back on target in May after a slide over the past several months that turned a $200 million-plus overage into a $400 million-plus shortfall in collections, according to preliminary figures from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Year-to-date underspending, however, far exceeds any revenue shortfalls. May collections were ahead of the month’s estimates by $17.3 million or 0.7 percent, yielding nearly $2.6 billion versus expectations of $2.57 billion. With one month remaining in FY24, tax collections stand at $25.34 billion versus expectations of $25.77 billion, down $429.4 million or 1.7 percent.

DISABILITIES

The Ohio Developmental Disability Council (ODDC) announced recently the availability of federal grant funding for projects that promote systems change, capacity building and advocacy for people with developmental disabilities. The total federal funding available is $216,000 in four project areas centered around outreach and public policy. Grant amounts can range from $26,000 to $100,000, depending on the request. A complete description of each project, known as the State Plan Language, can be found as part of the Notice of Funds Available on www.ddsuite.org. All grant awards are contingent on the availability of federal funds. Applicants must provide cash or in-kind “matching” funds of 33.33 percent in non-poverty areas and 11.11 percent in poverty areas. More information about the available projects and application process can be found at https://tinyurl.com/fzeyzm6y or by calling 800-766-7426.

EDUCATION

Judge Timothy Tepe of Warren County Common Pleas Court issued an injunction recently against the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) in litigation involving a Warren County Educational Service Center (ESC) program for students with complex behavioral health needs, following the recommendation of his magistrate. The dispute stems from a complaint filed with DEW by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), a nonprofit designated by the state to advocate for people with disabilities. DEW responded with corrective action plans for the ESC, but later reconsidered its decisions, prompting DRO to file a new complaint with DEW, alleging it failed to follow its own procedures for this type of dispute and in the process cost students some of the services they’d been awarded under the corrective action plans.

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) held its Summer Celebration of Diverse Readers event over the weekend in East Cleveland to distribute thousands of free books with diverse characters and authors, joined by partner organizations. The event was part of the Read Across America Celebrate a Nation of Diverse Readers Initiative. OEA said it also donated books to the book vending machine program at East Cleveland City Schools.

State-funded family accounts that pay or reimburse for afterschool programs, summer camps, tutors, music lessons and other educational activities can be used for a year longer than originally expected, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) announced this week. Lawmakers used $125 million in federal pandemic aid to create Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) accounts via the FY22-23 biennial budget, 134-HB110 (Oelslager). A federal spending omnibus, 134-HB45 (West-Roemer), later expanded the program, increasing account limits from $500 to $1,000 and increasing the income eligibility threshold from 300 percent of the federal poverty level to 400 percent. The ACE program is closed to new applicants, as enough families have already applied to use up all the funding.

ELECTIONS 2024

Special session legislation delaying the deadline for major political parties to certify their presidential and vice presidential candidates will take effect on Saturday, Aug. 31, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in an advisory to county boards of elections. HB2 (Dobos) delays the certification deadline from Wednesday, Aug. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 1, giving the candidates one day to comply with the law if they choose to use the process under the legislation.

The secretary of state’s office this week published a list of 158,857 people who will have their voter registrations cancelled in several weeks unless they take steps to confirm or update their information. The list is made up of people identified by county boards of elections as those who filled out a national change of address form and are no longer eligible to vote at the prior address, or those flagged for removal because of inactivity. County boards have been directed by LaRose to complete removals by Monday, July 22, but people on the list can have their registration restored to active status if, before that date, they confirm or update their registration or engage in voter activity, such as updating or confirming their address with the county board of elections or BMV or signing a verified candidate or issue petition. Voters can confirm their registration online at www.voteohio.gov, by mail or in person. Those interested can search to see if their name is on the list or download the entire list at https://registrationreadiness.ohiosos.gov/.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Ohio should not call for a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, opponents of HJR3 (McClain-Willis) told the House Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday. “I have been studying both sides of this convention of states issue for three years, and I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that it would be a very dangerous experiment,” Robert Tuttle said. Tuttle criticized the Convention of States (COS) organization, saying proponents of HJR3 are either ignoring the risks or don’t understand what they’re talking about. The states of Delaware, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and New York have recently rescinded their applications for an Article V Convention, Tuttle said, noting New Hampshire is close to rescinding its application.

Opponents of HB451 (Wiggam-King), which sets a refundable remittance fee on money transmissions to people outside the U.S., gave overlapping testimony Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill is known as the WIRED Act, for “Withholding Illegal Revenue Entering Drug Markets.” Similar legislation has been offered at the federal level by U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH). In-person opposition testimony was given by industry representatives Adam Fleisher, counsel for the Money Services Round Table, and Kathy Tomasofsky, executive director of the Money Services Business Association; the Ohio Chamber of Commerce; and religious organizations.

Nearly 120 individuals submitted testimony asking lawmakers to pass a bill that would require public schools to adopt a policy to allow students to be excused from school for “released time” religious instruction. Current law “permits” school districts to authorize released time religious instruction, but under HB445 (Cutrona-Click) districts would be required to adopt a policy allowing students to attend a religious course conducted by a private group off school property during regular school hours. The legislation maintains existing requirements for the policy, including that a student’s parent or guardian provide written consent; that the private company take “complete responsibility for transportation to and from the place of instruction”; that no public dollars are spent on the religious instruction; that the student assumes responsibility for missed schoolwork; and that the company assumes liability for the student.

The House Criminal Justice Committee faced a witness list of four dozen proponents of anti-public cabaret show bill HB245 (King-Williams) Wednesday in the day’s longest hearing. They included a number of elected county and city officials, though only four actually spoke on legislation invoking the U.S. Supreme Court “obscenity” test and existing state laws against sexual content “harmful to juveniles.” House members heard from Gays Against Groomers, Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), Celina Council President Jason King, and a fellow resident of the city. Chapter Leader Jana Warnecke of Gays Against Groomers called HB245 the “gold standard” for legislation protecting children from adult entertainment.

In other legislative action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB178 (Brent-Callender), the CROWN Act; the House Government Oversight Committee reported out HCR14 (Patton-Skindell) which urges Congress to pass the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; the House Health Provider Services Committee reported out HB236 (Lear-M. Miller), the Never Alone Act; the House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB277 (Ray-Brent) which addresses companion animals in rentals; and HB378 (Lorenz-Santucci) which deals with surviving spouses and the homestead exemption; the House Criminal Justice Committee reported out HB289 (Blasdel-Swearingen) which deals with SORN noncompliance; and HCR11 (Klopfenstein-King) which condemns China for its role in the global drug trade; and the House Homeland Security Committee reported out license plate bills HB222 (Schmidt) and HB232 (Callender-Loychik).

GOVERNOR

Gov. Mike DeWine signed both bills passed during the General Assembly’s special session. On Sunday, the governor signed foreign campaign donation ban HB1 (Seitz) and presidential certification deadline delay measure HB2 (Dobos). Both are effective in 90 days. The House passed both bills on Thursday, May 30, and the Senate passed them on Friday, May 31. The governor called the special session on Thursday, May 23. HB1 prohibits foreign nationals — including lawful permanent U.S. residents, also known as “green card” holders — from directly or indirectly contributing to campaigns in Ohio. Under the bill, the attorney general has the exclusive authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the law regarding foreign nationals. The AG is required to investigate any alleged violation of the bill if a written request is submitted to the AG by the governor, secretary of state, General Assembly or Ohio Elections Commission. The AG is also required to investigate any complaint filed by an elector in Ohio. HB2 delays the deadline — from Wednesday Aug. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 1 — for a major political party to certify its presidential and vice presidential candidates to the secretary of state for the 2024 general election. There are 91 days between June 2, when the governor signed the bill, and Sept. 1.

Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters Wednesday he plans to attend the Republican convention in Milwaukee, WI in mid-July although on Tuesday, he has declined to comment on the conviction of presumptive nominee and former President Donald Trump on state charges in New York. Later in the day, asked about the state of the budget in light of the FY24 tax revenue shortfall, which reached $446 million in April, DeWine said he’s not worried about it. Asked about the propriety of sending millions of dollars to county jails following the USA Today investigation finding that at least 219 people died in jails from 2020 to 2023, DeWine said jails need adequate funding to operate correctly.

Appointments made over the week include the following:

– Paula M. O’Reilly of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending May 17, 2033; and Kathryn R. Ware of Findlay (Hancock County) as student member of the board for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending May 17, 2026.

– Sterling A. Williams of Warren (Trumbull County) to the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 14, 2024, and ending April 30, 2033; and Zane A. Perrico of Youngstown (Mahoning County) as a student member for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending April 30, 2026.

– Donald E. Jakeway of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Ohio Expositions Commission for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Dec. 1, 2026.

– Lyda G. Garcia of Hilliard (Franklin County) and Sylvia Sue Zinni of New Albany (Franklin County) to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 15, 2027.

– Joseph S. Hagan of Dublin (Franklin County) to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 31, 2030; and Mark R. Ricketts of Worthington (Franklin County) for a term beginning Sept. 1, 2024, and ending Jan. 31, 2030.

– Marcella Straughter of Dublin (Franklin County), Anthony Moye of Pataskala (Licking County) and Chelsea E. Stinnett of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending March 14, 2027; Shannon Monyak of Olmsted Township (Cuyahoga County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Oct. 26, 2026; Thomas P. Webb of Dayton (Montgomery County) for a term beginning June 2, 2024, and ending June 1, 2027; and Lisa N. Hickman of Westerville (Franklin County) and Suzanne M. Turner of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) reappointed for terms beginning June 2, 2024, and ending June 1, 2027.

– Kyle N. Erdeljac of Dublin (Franklin County) to the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Aug. 21, 2026; and John L. Hinton of Mansfield (Morrow County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Aug. 21, 2025.

– Jon Paul Rion of Yellow Springs (Clark County) to the Ohio Public Defender Commission for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 12, 2025.

– Gary D. Lewis Jr. of Gahanna (Franklin County) to the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Sept. 3, 2025; and George W. Lavender, Jr. of Chillicothe (Ross County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Sept. 3, 2026.

– Gregory D. Nelsen appointed and Carol H. O’Brien of Delaware (Delaware County) reappointed to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Sept. 19, 2026.

– Erin J. Pettegrew of Hilliard (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio AMBER Alert Advisory Committee for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Feb. 6, 2025.

– Matthew A. Phillips of Pemberville (Wood County), Pradeesh M. George of Spring Valley (Greene County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Nov. 12, 2024; and Deana M. Pace of Warren (Trumbull County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Nov. 12, 2025.

– S. Brad Bales of Minerva Park (Franklin County) appointed to the Ohio Board of Motor Vehicle Repair for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 1, 2025; Jason Rhoades of Chillicothe (Ross County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 1, 2027; Dennis E. Booth of Williamsport (Pickaway County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 1, 2026; and Randall Blanchard of Dublin (Delaware County) reappointed for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Jan. 1, 2027.

– Jon D. Harvey of Germantown (Montgomery County) to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors for a term beginning May 9, 2024, and ending June 11, 2027; and Kenneth M. Haffey of Chesterland (Geauga County), Tracie J. Sanchez of Lima (Allen County) and David S. Currier of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed for terms beginning May 9, 2024, and ending June 11, 2027.

– Larry L. Macon Jr. of Sagamore Hills (Summit County) appointed and S. Zaheer Hasan of Waterville (Lucas County), Tina I. Ernst of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) and Avraham L. Goldstein of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Advisory Board of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending May 4, 2025.

– Karen D. Riel of Batavia (Clermont County) to the Credit Union Council for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Sept. 22, 2024; and Jarod N. Bach of Powell (Delaware County) for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Sept. 22, 2026.

– Lisa M. Duty of Reynoldsburg (Franklin County), Margo D. Arnold of Columbus (Franklin County), Julie A. Weagraff of North Royalton (Cuyahoga County) and Mykayla E. Kroeger of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) appointed and Briana K. Lusheck of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending April 21, 2027.

– Brodi J. Conover of Lebanon (Warren County), Susan Ferraro Smith of Westlake (Cuyahoga County) and Katherine R. Fell of Findlay (Hancock County) reappointed to the Ohio Humanities Council for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending Oct. 30, 2026.

– Helen Conger of Euclid (Cuyahoga County) and Lonna McKinley of Xenia (Greene County) to the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board for a term beginning May 31, 2024, and ending March 31, 2027.

– Jeffrey A. Snyder of Oxford (Butler County) and Charles W. DeJonckheere of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) appointed Michael G. Dinneen of Worthington (Franklin County), Alexander T. Boehnke of Columbus (Franklin County) and Jennifer G. Fenderbosch of Avon Lake (Lorain County) reappointed to the Materials Management Advisory Council for terms beginning May 31, 2024, and ending July 1, 2026.

– Jacqueline Johnson-Wilkinson of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission for the Mt. Healthy City School District for a term beginning April 19, 2024, and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Gov. Mike DeWine addressed trustees of Ohio’s 37 public colleges and universities Wednesday, offering his perspective on a range of challenges currently facing higher education institutions. The remarks were part of the 2024 Trustees Conference held by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). He framed the address as thoughts on “the world according to Mike DeWine” and so it covered a range of higher education topics including how career tech, two-year and four-year institutions can work together; the importance of early childhood education and the role of colleges in training future teachers; what can be done to attract students to Ohio colleges and keep them in the state after graduating; and the work trustees can do with data as well as their role in selecting new university presidents. The current challenges include that many are questioning the need for and value of higher education as well as concerns on student debt, DeWine said. He also said trustees must balance an obligation to the institution and the state itself and noted he had been a college trustee after leaving the U.S. Senate.

Ohio State University (OSU) has selected Matthew J. Smith as its next dean and director of Ohio State University at Newark, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Smith currently serves as dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences at Radford University, a public university in Radford, VA, where he is also a professor of communication. In his deanship at Radford, Smith leads the university’s largest college, which includes about 120 full-time faculty and up to 2,200 students. The college includes a school, eight departments, four interdisciplinary programs and Army ROTC. Prior to joining Radford in 2018, Smith held leadership and faculty roles at Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH where he served in various leadership roles including as Department of Communication chair, co-director of communication and business leadership experience, and director of cinema studies.

OSU also announced the selection of Jason Opal as its next dean and director of the Ohio State University Mansfield campus, effective Thursday, Aug. 15. Opal currently serves as associate dean of graduate studies in the Faculty of Arts at McGill University, a public research institution in Canada. He is also a professor in McGill’s Department of History and Classics with 20 years of experience. In his role as associate dean at McGill, Opal is responsible for overseeing graduate programs and improving the student experience. Before joining the dean’s office, Opal chaired the Department of History and Classics, the largest department in the Faculty of Arts. Before joining McGill in 2009, he was an assistant professor at Colby College in Waterville, ME.

Kent State University is expanding its police academy to Twinsburg, OH this fall. Kent State’s Basic Peace Officer Training Academy, designated a STAR Academy by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, offers basic Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) training along with “unique methods” for pursuing a career as a police officer or corrections officer. The Kent State Police Academy offers undergraduate college credit in addition to state accreditation. For more information, visit www.kent.edu/policeacademy or call 330-675-7666. To apply, go to https://tinyurl.com/2tshys8f.

The House Higher Education Committee heard presentations from representatives of three more public universities in Ohio in its series of hearings concerning universities’ implementation of science of reading standards established in HB33 (Edwards). Representatives from Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Central State University (CSU) and Kent State University (KSU) appeared Tuesday before the committee. Then on Wednesday, officials from Ohio State University (OSU) and Youngstown State University (OSU) testified. Karla Zadnik, interim provost at OSU, was joined in testifying by Antoinette Miranda, chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology and a member of the State Board of Education. Chair Tom Young (R-Centerville) quizzed the OSU witnesses on connections to Reading Recovery and use of the disfavored “three-cueing” approach to literacy instruction.

MENTAL HEALTH

Gov. Mike DeWine addressed local behavioral health professionals at a Columbus conference Tuesday, saying while he can use the bully pulpit of the governor’s office to draw attention to mental health and recovery needs, they ultimately deliver the services people need. “I am not the expert in the area of mental health … you are the experts,” he said at the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities’ 2024 Mental Health and Addiction Conference. DeWine said that while areas of disagreement with lawmakers often lead the news, across three budgets he’s gotten “virtually everything I have asked them for” when it comes to mental health services.

Teenagers housed at a Northeast Ohio mental health treatment center were subjected to dangerous restraint techniques, abuse and other hazards, and state regulators haven’t done enough to force improvements at the facility, according to a new report from Disability Rights Ohio (DRO). DRO, the nonprofit designated by the state to advocate for people with disabilities, said it issued the report to draw attention to the situation after concluding the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) would not take the needed actions. But the state agency says it’s still engaged in efforts to address the situation at Youth Intensive Services (YIS).

Everybody needs to care about mental health care and suicide, according to Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. As a fitting finale of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month on the month’s final day, Coder joined a panel of behavioral health care experts at the Cleveland City Club on Friday to discuss how the state of Ohio and the Cleveland area specifically can address issues like mental health care availability and access to lethal means that can impact suicide prevention. Panel moderator Brian Lane, president of the Center for Health Affairs, said that his organization had studied firearm violence in Cuyahoga County, and suicides by firearms accounted for 58 percent of suicide deaths in the county during the time period studied. That number goes even higher for suicide deaths among Black males. He added that 90 percent of suicide attempts by firearms are fatal, whereas that number drops to five percent for suicide attempts by other methods.

The Governor’s Work Group on Competency Restoration and Diversion welcomed two new members Thursday and did a deep dive into Tennessee’s model to keep those with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. The panel added Manager David Edelblute of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Children and Families Section and Thomas Hayes, who brings “lived experience” as a patient of Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Hospital in Columbus. Members then received a virtual presentation from Executive Director Jeff Feix of Tennessee’s Office of Forensic and Juvenile Court Services, Clinical Director Natalie Hanlon of Adult Services at Tennessee Voices, and Criminal Justice Services Director Shara Biggs of the state’s Mental Health Cooperative.

STATE GOVERNMENT

The Controlling Board approved all items on its agenda Monday after two were deferred and one was withdrawn by request of the agency. Eight items were approved without objection after being held for questions. Deferred items included a Columbus State Community College request to release $82,262 for the Student Success Classroom Upgrade project and an Office of Budget and Management request for $103,500 to renew an existing contract with eCivis on use of the company’s software to track federal grant funding opportunities. The withdrawn item was from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and had sought approval for a change of intent amounting to $780,981 with various suppliers to enhance professional licensing systems.

TAXATION

Gov. Mike DeWine Friday announced dates for an expanded sales tax holiday this year, which will last 10 days rather than the 14 that had been proposed by the Legislature in the biennial budget. DeWine used his line-item veto on a provision of HB33 (Edwards) that would have specified the 2024 sales tax holiday would last two weeks, saying it would be too difficult to predict whether the funding lawmakers had provided to offset revenue losses from the holiday is sufficient for a holiday of that length. Lawmakers had passed language expanding the sales tax holiday to items priced at $500 or less starting in 2024 in any year in which at least $60 million in surplus revenue is available after the Rainy Day Fund target is met. The use of surplus revenue replaces the Income Tax Reduction Fund, a disused mechanism for sending surplus revenue back to taxpayers via income tax cuts. The governor’s office said that the 2024 expanded sales tax holiday will take place from midnight on Tuesday, July 30 until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors on Friday approved state agency contribution rates for three new agencies and a commission that were not addressed earlier in 2024. In January 2024, The BWC Board had approved an 8.6 percent contribution rate reduction for state agencies. Some personnel from the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) have transferred to the State Board of Education and Ohio Deaf and Blind Education Services. The contribution rates for all three will be the same — 0.0512. Some personnel from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) transferred to the Ohio Department of Children and Youth (DCY), and additional staffers may transfer to DCY in the future. The rate for DCY will be the same as the rate for ODJFS — 0.0900. The Ohio New African Immigrants Commission, which was formed in 2008, will hire an executive director as its first employee in the upcoming fiscal year. The contribution rate for this commission will be 0.0505.

BWC Administrator/CEO John Logue, BWC Board Chair Chan Cochran and several other members of the board said goodbye to board member Michael Taylor, whose term expires on Tuesday, June 11, making Friday his last board meeting. Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday the appointment of Jon D. Harvey of Germantown to the board.

Posted by on June 10th, 2024

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