Week in Review > Week In Review 7-8-24

Posted by on July 05th, 2024

BALLOT ISSUES

A group seeking to put redistricting in the hands of a 15-member citizens group Monday submitted its signatures ahead of the deadline to make the November ballot. Citizens Not Politicians said it submitted 731,306 signatures to the secretary of state’s office. They need to have 413,487 valid signatures, or 10 percent of the total votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election, in order to be on the ballot. The group said it submitted 810 boxes of signatures collected from all 88 counties, and collected at least 5 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 57 counties, well above the 44 county requirement. It said the submission was the “third most” signatures any citizen-led group submitted in more than 110 years and since more restrictive rules went into effect in 2018.

FY25-26 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

Gov. Mike DeWine, joined by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and others, signed capital budget HB2 (Cutrona-Upchurch) Friday, saying it invests in the future of the state. DeWine praised the work of the General Assembly, noting that all three capital budgets and all three operating budgets he has signed as governor were passed overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis. DeWine broke down funding in the $4.2 billion capital bill, saying the bill provides lifelines of support for mental health care. He highlighted the new mental health facility in the Miami Valley, which he said will bring much needed help to the region after Twin Valley Behavioral Health was closed 16 years ago. Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), appearing on behalf of Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), said the Senate had focused its work in the capital budget on significant increases to mental health services. She also highlighted other projects including libraries, police and fire facilities, and a wastewater system plant in Wayne County. The budget also funds VFW facilities that were in need of emergency roof repairs. Also speaking was House Finance Chair Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), who said that HB2 includes about 100 unique projects around the state. Every legislator had a project in their district, if not multiple projects. He also pointed to the jobs that will be created to renovate and build the projects in the capital budget.

EDUCATION

The State Board of Education (SBOE) saved more money on operations and booked more licensure fee revenue than anticipated in the just-closed fiscal year, enabling it to take more time in deciding how to close its substantial FY25 budget shortfall, Superintendent Paul Craft told Hannah News Tuesday. Craft said after getting final numbers for FY24 and having “really productive discussions” with the DeWine administration, he no longer feels the need to ask board members to make major budget decisions at their Monday meeting. His comments mark a change from Monday, when board leaders learned they would not make next week’s Controlling Board agenda. Lawmakers left town for the summer last week without approving the board’s request for additional money. The House voted for a $4.6 million funding infusion, but the Senate failed to concur, with Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) indicating at the time Controlling Board action could take care of the problem but also suggesting the board look at its expenses. The governor’s office subsequently said a licensure fee increase would be a “non-starter” but also that the board would need to live within its means.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Five voting sessions. That’s what the Senate plans for the remainder of 2024, all of them in the lame duck period between the November election and the end of the year. The Senate clerk’s office released its second half schedule Friday, outlining plans for committee meetings Tuesdays and sessions Wednesdays from the week after the November election to the week before Christmas, skipping Thanksgiving week. Specifically, sessions will take place Wednesday, Nov. 13; Wednesday, Nov. 20; Wednesday, Dec. 4; Wednesday, Dec. 11; and Wednesday, Dec. 18. The House has yet to release its second half schedule

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) announced several committee membership changes Friday, mostly related to Sen. Al Cutrona’s (R-Canfield) recent appointment to take now-U.S. Rep. Michael Rulli’s (R-Salem) old seat. The changes also reflect reshuffling of a few vice chair positions. Cutrona was appointed as vice chair of the Senate Community Revitalization Committee and member of the Senate Small Business and Economic Opportunity Committee, Senate Transportation Committee and Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee.

Following through on his vow to challenge a court ruling that wrested away control of caucus campaign funds, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) officially filed an appeal of the trial court ruling that gave rival House Republicans control of the Ohio House Republican Alliance (OHRA). Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Serrott recently issued a ruling that handed control of the OHRA Legislative Campaign Fund (LCF) to Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and other lawmakers who challenged Stephens’ control of the campaign account. The dispute stems from Stephens’ surprise ascendance to the speakership via an alliance with House Democrats, which sidelined Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova), who’d won an internal caucus vote for leadership of the House.

GOVERNOR

Gov. Mike DeWine will sign single-sex bathroom bill SB104 (Cirino) if it reaches his desk as currently written, the governor told reporters on Friday. “I’ve looked at the particular language in this bill …. As it stands now, I would sign the bill,” DeWine told reporters during a press conference on the capital budget. SB104 was originally focused on the College Credit Plus Program, but the House inserted language from HB183 (Bird-Lear) into the bill near the end of the last session before summer break on Wednesday, June 26. The bill prohibits public and private K-12 schools from allowing a “member of the female biological sex to use a student restroom, locker room, changing room or shower room that has been designated by the school for the exclusive use of the male biological sex.” Likewise, it bans a “member of the male biological sex” from using such facilities “designated by the school for the exclusive use of the female biological sex.”

The following judicial appointment was made during the week:

Kelly Linger has been appointed to the Columbiana County Municipal Court. Linger, of East Liverpool, will assume office on Tuesday, July 23. She will be taking the seat formerly held by Judge Katelyn Dickey, who resigned upon being appointed to the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals. Linger will serve the remainder of the unfinished term and will need to run for election in November 2025 to retain the seat. In 2001, Linger graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She received her juris doctor from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2006.

private rooms more accessible in a way that’s ultimately a win for everyone.”

MENTAL HEALTH

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) announced Friday it suspended admissions at a youth residential treatment facility in Youngstown, Youth Intensive Services (YIS), which was recently the subject of a highly critical report by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) that alleged abuse, dangerous restraint techniques and other hazards.

PENSIONS

Three of 11 seats on the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board of Trustees will have new occupants in the coming months following two departures and the looming term expiration for one member who battled the governor’s office for the right to keep his seat. Dale Price, a representative of active teachers, was due to leave the board near summer’s end but retired from his teaching job June 1, making him ineligible to continue serving in a seat designated for active teachers. Price had declined to run for re-election and would otherwise have left the board at the end of August. Members recently removed him as chair, elevating Rudy Fichtenbaum in his place. Michelle Flanigan, a Brunswick Schools teacher, won the election to succeed Price and will take office in September. Steven Foreman, also a representative of active teachers, resigned after the June board meeting, also citing retirement, according to STRS.

Posted by on July 05th, 2024

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