Week in Review > Week In Review 7-10-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on July 10th, 2023
Attorney General (AG) Dave Yost is now accepting applications from high school juniors and seniors for the Teen Ambassador Board, described as an “immersive experience” offering firsthand knowledge of Ohio law and government. Yost says the board seeks to cultivate future leaders by introducing teens to the challenges and opportunities of governance and allowing them to refine leadership skills while preparing for a possible career in public service. All students who will be seniors in the upcoming academic year are eligible to apply at tinyurl.com/y99x8r5n. The application deadline is Friday, July 21.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted recounted the enactment of their priorities through the new FY24-25 budget bill at a news conference on Wednesday, while DeWine offered more explanation on why he made some of his 44 line-item vetoes in HB33 (Edwards). He also forecast near-term announcements on leadership for the new Department of Children and Youth (DCY) and the renamed and reformed Department of Education and Workforce (DEW). DeWine said he had set up transition teams to guide implementation of both departments. DeWine declined to say whether he thinks transfer of most education policy authority to a cabinet position from the State Board of Education should lead to changes of the board’s structure. The 19-person board has 11 members elected to represent districts of more than one million people apiece, plus eight gubernatorial appointees. “I’m going to pass on that. I think we have to see how this thing plays out. They certainly still have functions, and I don’t see an immediate need to do anything about that,” DeWine said. He also said to expect the announcement of a DCY director “shortly.”
Before taking press questions, DeWine and Husted spent more than half an hour outlining how the final version aligned to the goals they laid out in the beginning — reforms to nursing home oversight and quality incentives, greater emphasis and resources for literacy instruction aligned to the “science of reading,” investment in the build-out of a community mental health system, policies to encourage more housing development, and funding for economic development, among many other provisions.
DeWine late Monday night signed HB33 (Edwards), the FY24-25 operating budget, vetoing a total of 44 items in the process. The signing occurred at the very end of the three-day interim budget enacted by the Legislature to give time both for enrolling the final version of the budget and for the governor to review what was passed in the now over 6,000-page budget. Two years ago, the governor vetoed only 14 items.
The Legislature concluded its work on the budget on Friday, June 30 just ahead of the start of FY24, thus necessitating the enactment of a three-day interim budget – which was included in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation budget bill, HB31 (Edwards). The conference committee on HB33 did not meet until Friday afternoon but then worked through nearly 900 items of difference. The committee approved the report along party lines. Both chambers then approved the HB33 conference committee report with the Senate passing it along party lines 25-6. The House vote of 67-30 was not entirely along party lines with Reps. Rachel Baker (D-Cincinnati), Sean Brennan (D-Parma), Richard Dell’Aquila (D-Seven Hills), Michele Grim (D-Toledo), Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Dan Troy (D-Willowick), and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) voting in favor. Reps. Bill Dean (R-Xenia), Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville), Beth Lear (R-Galena), Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Minerva), Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), and Bernard Willis (R-Springfield) voted against it.
IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET
With the breadth of issues debated and the compressed timeline for consideration, biennial budgets typically include a variety of study panels and task forces for lawmakers to learn more about a program or policy. The latest budget is no exception. Among topics the study groups will tackle are pain management for individuals prescribed opioids for long periods of time; Medicaid costs; court-appointed advocates; economically disadvantaged students; minority contracting; and gambling.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) reported that the FY24-25 operating budget includes a new program to provide $200 million in one-time funding for capital improvements to support career technical education. The program is available to not only joint vocational schools but also comprehensive career technical schools and career technical compacts. It was also noted that the budget bill extends the window in which school districts can pass a levy. With the removal of August special elections, she said the number of opportunities for schools to pass a levy was reduced from three to two.
In addition to accepting the conference committee report on biennial budget HB33 (Edwards) and accepting Senate amendments to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget HB31 (Edwards), the House Friday passed legislation requiring employers to provide pay statements to employees and modifying the homestead exemption for families of disabled veterans. Both HB106 (Jarrells-Lipps), the Pay Stub Protection Act, and SB43 (Brenner), addressing the homestead exemption, passed unanimously.
After session, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) told reporters that it was time to move on from 133-HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) after the sentencing of former Speaker Larry Householder, despite the move by some House members to try to repeal subsidies for two coal plants that were in the legislation. Stephens said that over the last two sessions, every piece of HB6 had been re-vetted and addressed by the Legislature. “This issue is over from a legislative standpoint,” he said. “We have decided it and to bring it up — it’s no accident that it’s happening this week — it is nothing but political theater.”
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday highlighted his department’s new Health Workforce Initiative during an event at Lincoln-West School of Science and Health in Cleveland. The goal of the HHS Health Workforce Initiative is to support, strengthen, and grow the health workforce by leveraging programs across the department, including through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) workforce training, scholarship, loan repayment and well-being programs. The department’s initiative is focused on federal investments to support individuals across health workforce disciplines, including physicians, nurses, dentists, behavioral health care providers, community health workers, peer support specialists and many others who dedicate their careers to improving the nation’s health and wellbeing.
The Ohio Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission (OHGMEC) this week announced $100,000 in grants as part of its inaugural round of funding to support Holocaust and genocide education throughout the state. Created by the 133rd General Assembly, OHGMEC is charged with gathering and disseminating Holocaust and genocide educational resources and promoting awareness of issues relating to the Holocaust and genocide while advising state government officials on these relevant issues. OHGMEC administers the grants in partnership with Ohio Humanities, a nonprofit organization that shares stories “to spark conversations and inspire ideas.” Eligible grant applicants were not-for-profit, educational, or governmental organizations in Ohio, who provided matching funds for all project proposals.
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