Week in Review > Week In Review 7-1-24

Posted by on July 01st, 2024

EDUCATION

Licensure fee increases for teachers are “a non-starter” for Gov. Mike DeWine, but the administration isn’t necessarily on board with a funding transfer for the State Board of Education and believes the board can do more to trim spending. Lawmakers left town Wednesday night without acting on the board’s request for additional funding to stave off staff cuts or licensure fee increases. The House tacked $4.6 million for the board onto SB117 (Cirino-McColley) and passed it, but the Senate did not call a concurrence vote on the changes before adjourning. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said Wednesday a Controlling Board request could take care of the board’s immediate funding needs but also raised questions about the board’s expenses. DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney emphasized that latter point Thursday.

Ahead of a trial now scheduled for November, all parties in the lawsuit over the constitutionality of the EdChoice program this month asked Judge Jaiza Page of Franklin County Common Pleas Court to grant summary judgment in their favor. The Vouchers Hurt Ohio school district coalition, along with some resident families of districts, sued more than two years ago to challenge the voucher program, arguing it violates the Legislature’s constitutional obligation to provide a “common” school system, and the constitutional prohibition on giving control of education funds to religious sects. The state stepped up to defend the case, arguing the voucher issue was litigated years ago, and families whose children attend private schools using EdChoice scholarships successfully petitioned Page to join the case as intervening defendants. In their motion, the plaintiff districts write EdChoice is far different today than at its inception two decades ago, when it gave “modest school choice options to children in low-income neighborhoods,” instead having “transformed Ohio’s 600-plus private schools into a system of state-subsidized institutions, shielded from public scrutiny yet annually funded to the tune of three-quarters of a billion taxpayer dollars.” The plaintiffs’ motion details funding woes at districts and contrasts that with substantial funding increases for EdChoice, which lawmakers opened to all families (though in diminished amounts for high earners) in the most recent operating budget, HB33 (Edwards). Many districts, the motion states, receive less per-student funding from the state than EdChoice provides, and do not receive higher funding amounts based on whether a student is in K-8 or high school, as EdChoice does.

Litigation over the constitutionality of Ohio’s new K-12 governance structure is heading to an appeals court. State Board of Education member Michelle Newman, former member Christina Collins and Toledo’s school board filed notice of appeal Friday, taking their case to the 10th District Court of Appeals after Judge Karen Phipps of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court dismissed their lawsuit at the state’s request. The State Board of Education lost most of its authority under the most recent operating budget, HB33 (Edwards), which transferred most power over K-12 schools to the renamed Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), led by a gubernatorial appointee. The board kept oversight of teacher licensure and professional discipline and school district territory transfers.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

While saying that serving in the General Assembly has been a learning process and it is frustrating at times, it’s still not as difficult as his other job, Rep. Jack Daniels (R-New Franklin) told Hannah News in an interview. “A tough day here is better than an easy day in trucking, without a doubt,” Daniels said. “The challenges here — yeah it’s angering when you see something that obviously should have happened not happen, and you know that it’s not for a legitimate reason, that’s frustrating. But it’s not difficult. It’s all something you can get past.”

One office within Ohio State University (OSU) and another state entity that has been replaced by a legislative standing committee were requested to be eliminated Tuesday at a meeting of the Joint Sunset Review Committee. In written testimony submitted to the committee, Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport), chair of the House Aviation and Aerospace Committee, requested the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC) be sunset in light of the creation of the standing committee he chairs. Holmes said his committee fills the same roles as OAATC, but with added legislative authorities that reside in standing committees, and that the continued existence of both committees would be redundant. OSU College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard said in submitted testimony to the committee that the Engineering Experiment Station Advisory Committee established in the Ohio Revised Code has been replaced by the university department she leads.

Bills Clearing Both Chambers on Wednesday, Head to Governor for His Signature

– HB2 (Upchurch-Cutrona), which appropriates a total of $3.5 billion for capital appropriations and reappropriations and the $700 million One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund.

– HB47 (Brown-Bird), which requires automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools and recreation centers.

– HB56 (Plummer-White), which addresses penalties for fleeing police, stunt driving and street takeovers.

– HB147 (Fowler Arthur-A. Miller), which the Senate Education Committee turned into an education omnibus addressing miscalculations of school funding, remote services for Peterson and Autism scholarship recipients, school athlete transfers in cases of bullying and other provisions.

– HB214 (Holmes), a bill on school staff speech policies that picked up amendments related to accommodations for students’ religious beliefs.

– HB251 (Pavliga), a highway naming bill that picked up changes to the beneficiary organization for proceeds from the ALS Awareness License plate.

– HB301 (Swearingen), a bill on nonprofit law that became something of a justice system omnibus, including an amendment allowing faster appeals of court orders that restrict enforcement of state law.

– HB466 (Schmidt-Brennan), regarding written agreements for real estate brokers.

– SB28 (Roegner), which enters Ohio into the Physician Assistant Licensure Compact and makes other changes.

– SB29 (S. Huffman), which deals with education records and student data privacy.

– SB40 (Roegner) which enters Ohio into the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact and addresses limitations imposed by health insurers on dental care services.

– SB94 (Brenner-Landis) which deals with a wide variety of issues including mortgage, judicial practices and towing as well as the CAMPUS Act [HB606 (Pizzulli-Jarrells)].

– SB98 (Rulli), an identity theft bill that received numerous changes including having SB242 (O’Brien) amended into it.

– SB144 (Romanchuk), which deals with immunizations by pharmacists, adult day care programs, competency evaluation programs and other items.

– SB156 (Reineke-Hackett), which revises the law regarding wild, scenic and recreational rivers, as well as the boating law.

– SB168 (Reynolds), to implement various primary, secondary and higher education reforms and to transfer GRF dollars to the High School Financial Literacy Fund, among other provisions.

Bills Passed by House Wednesday

– HB24 (White), to require health insurance and Medicaid coverage of biomarker testing. It passed 76-17.

– HB79 (Seitz-Sweeney) which permits electric distribution utilities to establish energy efficiency and demand reduction portfolios. It passed 50-46.

– HB87 (Demetriou-Santucci), which requires the state and political subdivisions to buy U.S. flags made in the U.S. It passed 92-1.

– HB308 (Stein-Brennan), to define nuclear energy as “green energy.” It passed 87-10.

– HB315 (Seitz), the township law omnibus customarily passed in most General Assemblies. It passed 93-0.

– HB328 (Roemer-Plummer), which addresses the increase in catalytic converter thefts with increased penalties on buying and selling stolen converters and increased reporting requirements. It passed 93-2.

– HB349 (Barhorst-Jones), which creates loan and tax incentives for natural gas pipelines in “EnergizeOhio” zones. It passed 63-33.

– HB366 (Ghanbari), which targets organized retail crime by creating a new task force, an information-sharing platform and enhanced penalties. It passed 69-24.

– HB370 (Edwards), which requires ODOT to do more to maintain state routes running through small communities. It passed 96-0.

– HB390 (Brown-Swearingen), which addresses excess funds from foreclosure sales. It passed 90-0.

– HB397 (Hoops-Baker), which is meant to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia through public health outreach. It passed 93-0.

– HB399 (Brown-Lampton), which is meant to incentivize organ donation with changes to tax credits for donors and creation of credits for employers who offer paid leave to donors. It passed 80-10.

– HB452 (White-Baker) which deals with increased penalties for assaulting health care workers. It passed 71-20.

– HB496 (Hoops), cleanup legislation for laws related to county auditors, including a requirement for auditors to notify treasurers of staff changes. “Being a former county auditor, I never did that, so I was breaking the law,” said Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon), the sponsor. It passed 93-0.

– HB497 (Stewart-Klopfenstein), a county government omnibus that supporters said would streamline local government operations. It passed 87-0.

– HB531 (Lear-Lorenz), which creates the crime of sexual extortion. It passed 96-0.

– HB599 (Brennan-Swearingen), to establish the walleye as the official state fish. It passed 93-4.

– HCR14 (Patton-Skindell), to urge Congress to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It passed 97-0.

– HR469 (Stein-Robb Blasdell), to urge the U.S. EPA to withdraw proposed regulations on greenhouse gasses from natural gas- and coal-fired generating plants by a vote of 69-28.

– SB28 (Roegner), to enter into the Physician Assistant Licensure Compact and remove residency restrictions on limited veterinary licenses, among other provisions. It passed 93-2.

– SB29 (S. Huffman), to protect student data privacy. It passed 95-1.

– SB104 (Cirino) introduce to improve the College Credit Plus program and amended on the House floor to insert HB183 (Bird-Lear), which would require single-sex restrooms and locker rooms. It passed 60-31.

– SB112 (Rulli) to enact the Ohio Childhood Safety Act for increased security in school doors. It passed 96-2.

– SB117 (Cirino-McColley) to establish the Prenatal-to-Five Early Childhood to Post-Secondary Regional Partnerships Program and to transfer $4.66 million in GRF to the State Board of Education Licensure Fund. It passed 85-12.

– SB156 (Reineke-Hackett) to transfer administration of the Wild, Scenic and Recreational River Program from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Parks and Watercraft to the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves; to ensure the program does not affect private property rights adjacent to a designated watercourse; and to establish April as Power Boat Safety Month. It passed 96-1.

– SB175 (Lang) to make various changes to the insurance industry and professional employer organizations (PEO) and to exempt certain administrative rules from the Common Sense Initiative’s regulatory reforms, among other provisions. It passed 96-1.

– SB214 (Kunze) to allow persons convicted of certain misdemeanor and felony violations, though not soliciting or prostitution, to expunge those records where they resulted from their having been human trafficking victims. It passed 97-1.

– SB225 (Roegner) to designate Sept. 22 as Veterans Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day. It passed 95-0.

House Failed to Concur with Senate Amendments

– HB49 (Ferguson-Barhorst). The House failed to concur with Senate changes to this hospital pricing disclosure measure by a vote of 2-92.

Bills that Passed the Senate Wednesday

– HB179 (Mathews-Stewart) relative to vicarious liability in tort actions, by a unanimous vote.

– HB226 (Robb Blasdel-Jarrells) to permit waterworks companies to bear the costs for replacing certain customer-owned water service lines, by a unanimous vote.

– HB253 (Upchurch-Holmes), a memorial highway naming bill, by a unanimous vote.

– SB60 (Gavarone) which creates a new licensure for certified mental health assistants, by a vote of 20-11.

– SB130 (Wilson) to amend the law regarding notaries public, to make changes to the Ohio Revised Limited Liability Company Act, and to make changes to fees charged by the Ohio Secretary of State by a vote of 30-1.

– SB157 (Lang), addressing debt suppression products, extended wear and use waivers, motor vehicle ancillary product protection contracts, and vehicle protection agreements, by a vote of 30-1.

– SB173 (Gavarone-DeMora), which exempts home addresses of full-time election workers from public records law by a vote of 30-1.

– SB196 (Roegner), expanding advance practice registered nurse authority, by a vote of 30-1.

– SB211 (Roegner), to enter Ohio into the Dietician Licensure Compact, by a vote of 30-1.

– SB226 (Johnson) to extend the law that prohibits certain governments, businesses, and individuals from acquiring agricultural land to certain other property, by a vote of 30-1.

– SB234 (Gavarone), designating May as “Food Allergy Awareness Month,” by a unanimous vote.

– SB155 (Romanchuk), which repeals HB23 (Edwards) language requiring the construction of an interchange off I-71 at Boston Road in Brunswick, instead calling for a traffic study. It passed 30-1.

– SB257 (Chavez-Johnson) to make active duty members of the uniformed services eligible to participate in the homeownership savings linked deposit program, by a unanimous vote.

– SR155 (Gavarone) to express support for consumer choice in the automotive marketplace and against government-preferred vehicle technology mandates, by a vote of 23-7, with all Democrats voting against the resolution.

In other legislative action, the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee reported out SB154 (Roegner), which includes the Space Force in military definitions, and SCR9 (Schaffer), regarding prompt services to veterans/military personnel; the House Aviation and Aerospace Committee reported out HB477 (Willis) to revise the Aeronautics Law; the House Economic and Workforce Development Committee reported out HB517 (Santucci-Lampton) to expand the homeownership savings linked deposit program to active duty military members; the House Families and Aging Committee reported out HB465 (Carruthers), regarding resident room monitoring; the House Government Oversight Committee reported out HR369 (Demetriou-Santucci), which addresses the sovereignty of Cyprus; the House Health Provider Services Committee reported out HB102 (Young-John), which provides for the licensing of advanced practice respiratory therapists; the House Higher Education Committee reported out HB572 (White), dealing with teacher preparation for dealing with mental/behavioral health issues; the House State and Local Government Committee reported out HB599 (Brennan-Swearingen), which makes the walleye the official state fish; and the House Transportation Committee reported out highway and bridge designation bills SB114 (Schaffer), SB145 (Schaffer); HB458 (Hoops), HB487 (Pizzulli), HB620 (Klopfenstein); HB621 (Klopfenstein), and HB482 (K. Miller); and HB239 (Fowler Arthur-Dean) dealing with replica motor vehicles.

GOVERNOR

The governor signed the following bills, all of which become effective in 90 days.:

– SB56, sponsored by Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), enters Ohio into the Interstate Massage Compact (IMpact).

– SB81, sponsored by Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), authorizes certain advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to sign documents related to psychiatric inpatients; revises the law governing the Board of Nursing’s monitoring of impaired practitioners; and modifies the law governing insurance navigators and amends the version of the section that is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 30, 2024, to continue the changes to that section on and after that date.

– HB50, sponsored by Reps. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), creates a mechanism by which an individual who is subject to a collateral sanction for housing may obtain a certificate of qualification for housing that may provide relief from certain bars on housing; extends the Home Construction Service Suppliers Act to repairs, improvements, remodels, or renovations of existing structures; and modifies the application procedure for the residential development property tax exemption.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), sponsor of higher education overhaul bill SB83, told reporters Wednesday he was declining to negotiate with Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) over the summer on moving that bill forward and will instead wait for a “favorable” environment either in lame duck or the 136th General Assembly. He confirmed that could include if current Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) becomes the next Speaker.

The Ursuline College Board of Trustees selected David King as the college’s 18th president, effective July 1, 2024. He succeeds Sister Christine De Vinne, who announced last August that she would retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. King currently serves as the executive director of business relations and executive in residence for Eastern University’s College of Business and Leadership. King previously served for more than 10 years as the president of Malone University in North Canton, stepping down in 2022.

Union Institute & University, which opened in Cincinnati in 1964 and has recently operated mostly online, will close effective Sunday, June 30, according to multiple media reports. The university’s Board of Trustees decided to dissolve the university last week after it voluntarily resigned its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, according to WVXU Cincinnati. The embattled school had faced a number of financial issues over the past several years, including a nearly $4.3 million fine from the U.S. Department of Education over misuse of funds after school leadership admitted to using student loan refunds to pay a small number of full-time employees; in addition, several employees filed lawsuits against the school over unpaid wages — leading to a settlement in one case while another is pending in federal court, WVXU reported. Union Institute was also evicted from its headquarters in Walnut Hills over unpaid rent.

JUDICIAL

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted now lead a who’s who list of prospective witnesses in the corruption trial of former FirstEnergy executives. Indicted former Senior V.P. of External Affairs Michael Dowling recently identified “any and all individuals included on the state’s witness list” along with additional names as persons who could be called in the bribery probe of 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) and other legislation benefiting FirstEnergy. Prominent among those names are DeWine, Husted, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairwoman Jenifer French, Commissioners Daniel Conway and Larry Friedeman, former Chairman Asim Haque, past Commissioners M. Beth Trombold and Howard Petricoff, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) Maureen Willis, former FirstEnergy CEO Steven Strah and assorted officers and directors, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell, and former House Speaker Robert Cupp, who previously sat on the Supreme Court. The attorney for the company’s onetime senior vice president said in a filing Tuesday, June 18, “It is impossible for Mr. Dowling to know who the state or a co-defendant will actually call at trial … because the subject matter and scope of this case will be impacted by this court’s rulings on pretrial motions.”

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Senate Select Committee on Housing Tuesday heard a presentation on local zoning from Bradley Bodenmiller, director of the Logan-Union-Champaign (LUC) Regional Planning Commission. He also took questions from Chair Michele Reynolds (R-Columbus) on what the Legislature should and should not do regarding that topic. Bodenmiller’s presentation included the history of the LUC, including former Gov. James Rhodes’ work to establish an auto research facility and attract Honda to the state. In regard to commission duties, he said state law requires recommendations on township zoning changes. LUC also offers comprehensive planning; technical support and training; and model zoning text and mapping. Its staff are not attorneys, engineers or surveyors, Bodenmiller continued. He also gave a technical description of zoning and construction processes using a real-world development example. That included providing connections for emergency services and woodland preservation. It was also important to coordinate planning between nearby projects, Bodenmiller added.

MENTAL HEALTH

High school and college students would see the 9-8-8 crisis hotline listed on their IDs, planners and online education portals under a proposal from Rep. Andrea White (R-Kettering). The House Behavioral Health Committee heard Tuesday from White and other advocates for HB571. White cited sobering statistics on suicidal ideation and attempts at suicide among youth in Ohio and across the U.S. “The most staggering statistic of all is one youth age 10-24 dies by suicide every 34 hours in the state of Ohio,” White said. White said lawmakers had made significant strides to support operation of the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline but said more awareness of the resource is needed.

PENSIONS

The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board Friday voted not to approve performance-based incentives (PBI), aka bonuses, for eligible investment staff, though the board could return to the issue later. After a heated debate in which some members argued PBIs are needed to retain top talent, a motion to approve a recommendation from the Investment Committee, which met Thursday, that the board approve the FY25 PBI program for eligible investment associates ultimately failed. Last August, the STRS Board significantly trimmed the program, making fewer employees eligible for bonuses, reducing the maximum amount for bonuses, and making payouts smaller in years when there’s no budget for benefit increases.

Attorney General Dave Yost’s office is asking the judge hearing his lawsuit against two State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) trustees to quash a deposition sought by one of them, Wade Steen, or set limits on it. Yost filed Friday for a protective order from Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Karen Phipps in response to deposition notices from Steen, arguing he’s trying to find out his office’s legal theories underlying the case and burden his office by creating grounds for multiple future depositions. Yost filed suit recently against Steen and STRS Chair Rudy Fichtenbaum, alleging they’d breached their fiduciary duty to the system. Both have objected strongly to the allegations. Steen recently rejoined the board after appellate judges ruled Gov. Mike DeWine had wrongly removed him. Fichtenbaum was hit with the lawsuit the same day fellow trustees booted trustee Dale Price as chair and elevated him to the role.

POLITICS

Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) was enjoined Friday from using the Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA) Legislative Campaign Fund (LCF) under a preliminary injunction by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Mark Serrott. The injunction was part of a lawsuit brought by Reps. Derek Merrin (R-Maumee), Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and Ron Ferguson (RWinterville). Under the injunction — which Stephens plans to appeal — Stephens and co-defendants Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and OHRA Treasurer J. Matthew Yuskewich are not able to make any expenditures or transfers to or from LCF bank accounts during the pendency of the case. They also cannot operate the LCF “in any manner” including by issuing statements purported to be from it during the case. The order is effective immediately, and Serrott said it would be effective until the matter is terminated. The case has a current trial date of Oct. 21. Serrott said the plaintiffs had established “by clear and convincing evidence” they were entitled to the injunction.

 

Posted by on July 01st, 2024

Looking for a new job? A better job? Join the workforce in the area!

You have come to the right place for what you need to know about available jobs, our fantastic local employers, and our great community!