Week in Review > Week In Review 8-21-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on August 21st, 2023
IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET
Changes added in the House version of the budget will shift the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) from having a chair and vice chair to House and Senate co-chairs. The committee will meet at the call of the House co-chair during the first year of a general assembly and at the Senate co-chair’s call during the second year, reflecting the current arrangement of a representative as chair in the first year.
According to JCARR Executive Director Ian Dollenmayer, the change will take effect Tuesday, Oct. 3 since it was not included under the emergency clause. This provision and several others added by the House were maintained in the Senate-passed and final versions of the budget, according to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) comparison document.
Provisions the House added to the state budget, HB33 (Edwards), require public and chartered nonpublic schools to create an individualized seizure action plan for each student with an active seizure disorder diagnosis, reflecting legislation from the 134th General Assembly that passed the House but not the Senate. According to the final budget bill text, the school nurse — or other employee at schools without a nurse — shall create the individualized plan in collaboration with the student’s parents or guardian.
Local governments received their first look at what they may get from the Local Government Fund (LGF) under changes made in budget bill HB33 (Edwards) after the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) released the first estimates of distributions for calendar year 2024 late last month. Thanks to a provision in the executive budget that made it into the final version of HB33, the share of General Revenue Fund (GRF) tax revenue going to the LGF and the Public Library Fund was increased from 1.66 percent to 1.7 percent for both, with the governor’s estimating the additional transfer from the GRF of $12 million of FY24 and $12.6 million in FY25. The final version of the budget also increased the minimum floor for the amount counties can receive. Previously, they would receive the lesser of $750,000 or the amount received in FY13, but the budget raised that to no less than $850,000, though the allocations to other counties will be decreased proportionally.
A few weeks after enactment of universal EdChoice eligibility, Ohio education officials are very busy responding to increased interest in the program. One week in mid-July, phone and email inquiries ran about 700 daily, according to Colleen Grady, senior program officer of education policy and options at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Under the new state budget, HB33 (Edwards), any Ohio family can get an EdChoice scholarship, though the amount will be smaller for families earning in excess of 450 percent of the federal poverty line — $135,000 for a family of four.
The sponsors of a bill indexing the state’s homestead exemption to the rate of inflation that was included in the final version of budget bill HB33 (Edwards) said Wednesday that it likely won’t be the final say on the homestead exemption this session. Reps. Steve Demetriou (R-Chagrin Falls) and Thomas Hall (R-Middletown) held a press conference at the Statehouse Wednesday along with Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass and Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas to laud the passage of the legislation, originally introduced earlier this session as HB57 (Demetriou-Hall) before it was wrapped into the budget.
Demetriou said that as rising inflation continues to affect Ohioans, they want to make sure Ohioans don’t get priced out of their homes by property taxes, especially seniors and disabled veterans.
After several failed attempts in past General Assemblies, lawmakers earlier this summer approved Medicaid coverage for doula services in the FY24-25 state operating budget, among other provisions meant to improve the health of mothers and children. Unlike midwives who provide clinical support, doulas are trained professionals who provide non-medical support through a woman’s pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum period. A doula’s primary role in a medical setting is to serve as an advocate for the mother and family.
State officials, advocates and others joined a Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) forum Thursday to discuss methods and goals for addressing some “upstream” factors driving Ohio’s poor infant mortality rate. HPIO released “Social Drivers for Infant Mortality: Recommendations for Actions and Accountability in Ohio,” which covers the same major topics as the previous report, “A New Approach” – housing, transportation, education, and employment, with the addition of a section on the toll of racism on birth outcomes for Black mothers and babies.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that 299 programs will be receiving nearly $54 million in federal grants through the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program to provide enrichment opportunities for students as they prepare to head back to school. The program creates or expands community learning centers that provide academic enrichment and youth development programs for students who attend predominantly high-poverty and low-performing schools. The governor’s office said quality after-school and summer programming is an important part of Future Forward Ohio, the state’s strategic priorities for helping students recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Several federal departments Thursday announced the launch of a school safety awareness campaign to highlight federal resources and evidence-based practices available at www.schoolsafety.gov. The effort involves the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). As part of the campaign, the administration will release a range of resources, including a video, communications toolkit, and infographics, to help schools learn more about how to improve school safety, access support, and share information about the campaign with others. The campaign features an informational webinar showcasing federal training and technical assistance centers focused on issues related to school safety, school climate and mental health supports.
With a new school year beginning, WalletHub has released its 2023 rankings of the states with the best and worst early education systems. WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) across 12 metrics, including share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program, number of pre-K quality benchmarks met, total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K, income requirements for state pre-K eligibility, and monthly child care co-payment fees as a share of family incomes, among others.
This year’s International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at the University of Toledo (UT) will mark 20 years of the university’s hosting the annual event, which will be held virtually Wednesday, Sept. 20 through Friday, Sept. 22 and feature more than 110 live webinar presentations. Registration is open now through Tuesday, Sept. 12. Individuals can view the full schedule of events and register to attend on the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference website at https://www.traffickingconference.com/.
A recent report by personal finance site WalletHub on student loan debt ranked Ohio as the sixth-worst state nationally, though it was third among neighboring states. The five worst states were Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia and South Dakota. The five best-ranked states were California, Wyoming, New Mexico, Hawaii and Utah. WalletHub also calculated sub-rankings of “Student-Loan Indebtedness” and “Grant and Student Work Opportunities.” Ohio ranked 11th-worst nationally and third among neighboring states for Indebtedness, while it was sixth-worst nationally and second among neighboring states in Opportunities.
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a challenge from two conservative groups to block the Biden administration from cancelling the federal student loan debt for more than 800,000 people who have been making repayments for more than 20 years. The decision will affect 804,000 borrowers who have a total of $39 billion in federal student loans that will be automatically discharged. This includes over 37,000 Ohioans with a total of over $1.7 billion in student loan debt who are eligible for cancellation, according to data from the U.S. Education Department. U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington dismissed the case, saying the groups did not prove they would be harmed by the administration’s latest student debt relief program.
As part of Child Support Awareness Month, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) unveiled a new website featuring the programs and resources the Office of Child Support offers Ohioans.
“Our new website, jfs.ohio.gov/child-support, contains a wealth of information, including a child support calculator and guidance on how to change or end a support order,” said ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder. “You can also download the ODJFS Child Support mobile app, which gives you access to your case information, allows you to make or receive electronic payments, and has other convenient features.” Ohio’s child support program, supervised by ODJFS, serves nearly 675,000 children statewide. More information about Ohio’s child support services can be found online at https://jfs.ohio.gov/child-support/welcome.
A proposed constitutional amendment changing the way the state draws legislative and congressional lines backed by two former members of the Ohio Supreme Court — former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and former Justice Yvette McGee Brown — has been filed with the attorney general’s office with a goal of making the 2024 ballot. Citizens Not Politicians, the group behind the proposed amendment, said it would create a 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of Republican, Democratic and independent citizens who represent broadly different geographic areas and demographics of the state. The amendment would also ban current or former politicians, political party officials, lobbyists, and large political donors from sitting on the commission. It would require fair and impartial districts by making it unconstitutional to draw voting districts that discriminate against or in favor of any political party or individual politician. It also requires the commission to operate under an open and independent process, the group said.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said Tuesday he’s not seen the details of the new redistricting amendment proposal but questioned whether it could enjoy the level of support given to the prior General Assembly redistricting reform amendment. “We did this in 2015, and I don’t know what the percentage was, but well over 70 percent of the voters voted for the proposal. And even though it didn’t come out the way that some folks wanted, it would be hard to get over 70 percent of the people to vote for a new proposal, I think,” Huffman told Hannah News outside a session on the public or privileged nature of legislative records at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) 2023 Legislative Summit. Asked about the core argument of amendment backers that legislators should not be involved in drawing their own district lines, he said, “The question is, are people who are responsible to the public, elected officials, going to be involved in the drawing of lines … The U.S. Constitution says state legislatures control the time, place and manner of elections, and that’s the way we do it, kind of, in Ohio.”
The governor and members of the General Assembly should not be part of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. ‘I don’t think the governor should be on there. I don’t think the legislators should be on there either,” DeWine told reporters outside a meeting of the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board.
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