Statehouse News - Week in Review 


Week in Review
Friday, Aug. 4, 2017








The Ohio Attorney General's Office announced more than $2.7 million in grant funding Wednesday to law enforcement agencies across the state for drug use prevention education programs in public schools. A total of 130 sheriffs' offices and police departments will receive a portion of the $2,742,649 in Drug Use Prevention Grant funds, led by the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, with $114,856.80; Franklin County Sheriff's Office, $114,568.60; Butler County Sheriff's Office, $87,329.48; Summit County Sheriff's Office, $77,324; and Medina County Sheriff's Office, $77,265.68.








While the national fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains in flux, Ohio officials announced Monday that they had found one or more insurers to cover 19 of the 20 counties previously projected to have no ACA exchange option in 2018. Officials are still working to find an insurer for Paulding County before the federal contract deadline in late September, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) said.




U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said he was "disappointed" that the U.S. Senate failed recently to come to an agreement after a lengthy voting session on various proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Portman said that it was "necessary to deal with the unsustainable status quo."








Heavy rain, extensive flooding and ponding have taken a toll on commodity fields across the state, leaving some growers facing diseased crops, dead plants and potential yield loss, according to Ohio State University (OSU) agronomists. Depending on the growth stage of corn crops stuck in waterlogged soils, some growers could experience a yield loss of more than 10 percent in corn crops that experienced as few as two days of flooding, said Alexander Lindsey, assistant professor of horticulture and crop science at OSU's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).








State defense lawyers have been in contact with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) following the death of a student on an Ohio State Fair amusement ride, Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday. Speaking to reporters at the fair, DeWine said he could not discuss specific communications with the department, and would not speculate on the level of liability the state faces as a result of the ride malfunction. It is unclear if the state would be immune from legal liability under the "recreational user" statute in Ohio Revised Code Sections 1533.18 and 1533.181.








The pharmaceutical industry is outspending supporters of a measure meant to lower drug prices by more than four to one. Supporters of a victim's rights ballot issue also filed campaign finance reports Monday. Groups campaigning on both issues largely got all their money from one donor apiece.




According to a press release from the groups supporting the issue including the League of Women Voters, the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio ballot issue campaign has garnered over 100,000 signatures in the first month of petitioning. The campaign attributes its success thus far to "grassroots volunteer enthusiasm."








The MLK Commission has opened nominations for Ohio's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. awards for 2018, which marks the 50th anniversary of his death. The awards honor Ohioans and organizations that carry on the legacy of Dr. King. They will be presented at the 2018 Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration, scheduled for Jan. 11, 2018, at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus. The theme of the celebration is MLK50: Legacy of Love in Pursuit of Justice. Nominations are due at the commission by Sept. 30. More information and nomination forms can be obtained at or by contacting Bobbi Bell-Bartholomew of the DAS Equal Opportunity Division at 614-466-8380 or








The governor's office announced more than $37 million in sales tax exemptions and Job Creation Tax Credits Monday for central Ohio's new data firm, Sidecat LLC. It's part of $47.8 million in total tax abatements recommended by JobsOhio and approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. Including Sidecat, the 11 projects are expected to generate 894 new jobs and retain another 1,048.








Already losing $2.5 million per month to make up for past overpayments, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) will see an additional 12 percent of its state funding put in escrow, reflecting its own statements about dropping enrollment and the state's concerns about its ability to substantiate its student headcount. And that might not be the end of it, based on the state's assessment of ECOT's most recent enrollment review. Ohio Department of Education (ODE) budget chief Aaron Rausch informed ECOT of the decision in a letter Monday, and Superintendent Paolo DeMaria likewise informed Auditor Dave Yost, who had recently urged withholding funding, in another letter the same day. The reduction starts with the school's August payment.




A recent study from a University of Connecticut researcher finds positive effects on college attainment from policies like Ohio's that administer and pay for college entrance exams for all high school students. Ohio's policy dates to 2014 and first took effect for the class of 2018, all of whom took either the ACT or SAT -- districts chose which one -- this past spring.




Schools will face new requirements this fall for how to intervene when students miss too much school, and the Ohio Department of Education recently released a guidance and frequently-asked-questions document to help schools with the change. The 2017-2018 academic year is the first in which local boards of education must address changes enacted in 131-HB410 (Hayes-Rezabek): a ban on using suspension or expulsion as punishment for absenteeism, and a requirement to form intervention teams to identify and seek to address the causes of students' excessive absences.




With recent action by the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education picked up sponsorship of two more charter schools for the first time since state law changed to penalize low-rated sponsors with loss of their authority to oversee schools. Virtual Community School and A+ Arts Academy will be sponsored by ODE at least for the 2017-2018 academic year, after the board voted to deny their bid to change sponsors from Reynoldsburg City Schools to St. Aloysius Orphanage.




Personal finance blog WalletHub, which ranks states and cities along a range of categories, said Monday that Ohio is 23rd in the nation among the 50 states and District of Columbia for school system rankings. The study was based on "21 key measures" and broken down into two main subcategories as well, with Ohio 22nd in school quality and 24th in school safety.




In response to schools' desires for their report cards to showcase information beyond state achievement measures, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is asking districts to set up district profile webpages that can be linked on the report card website.








Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted Monday filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v. A Philip Randolph Institute, et al. Last September, a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, which, according to Husted, would effectively end Ohio's long-standing process of maintaining accurate voter rolls as required by the state's constitution, the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), and the Help America Vote Act (2002).




Later, the ACLU of Ohio and Demos, which had brought the original suit, responded, reiterating their position that Ohio's Supplemental Process is illegal and "targets voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual cancellation of their registrations -- even if they have not moved and are still fully eligible to vote."








Campaign war chests for Republicans in the General Assembly again overshadowed those of Democrats for the first six months of 2017, according to semi-annual filings with the secretary of state's office. Some Republican candidates also put up big numbers in the gubernatorial primary, among other statewide candidate filings submitted Monday. In filings for the governor's race, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) all reported sitting on more than $4 million, after Renacci tapped his personal wealth to vault forward in the money race by writing himself a $4 million check. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is a distant fourth after raising about $639,000 and spending $202,000; she has about $436,000 on hand.




Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) announced his candidacy Monday for the 16th congressional seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who will be vacating the seat in a run for the Republican nomination for Ohio governor. Patton will face fellow State Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) in the primary battle for the reliably Republican district.




Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland banker challenging Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, added experienced talent to his team Thursday. Chris Schrimpf, former senior communications adviser to Gov. John Kasich's 2016 presidential campaign, will be Gibbons' communications adviser. He is joined on the Gibbons campaign by political adviser Matt Willis, formerly director of outreach for Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.




Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) has announced his candidacy for Ohio's 15th Senate District. The seat is currently held by Senate Assistant Minority Leader Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), who is term limited.








As Ohio continues to recover from the 2007-09 recession, labor force participation continues to drop, a panel told participants during a forum on health and wealth sponsored by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO). The forum, which was organized to explore state policy options to improve health outcomes and health equity, heard from Hannah Halbert of the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio and Rea Hederman Jr. of the conservative Buckeye Institute on the state of the economy. Both serve as policy analysts on the economy for their respective organizations.








A recent report from the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group paints a positive picture for Ohio's future in renewable energy production and storage, claiming advances will lead to a "clean energy revolution" in the state. The report, entitled "Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress toward a Clean Energy Future," shows that Ohio, along with other states, is improving in the areas of wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles.




Ohio ranks sixth nationally for the number of petrochemical jobs and dollars contributed to the state's economy in 2015, the most recent year of reporting for the American Petroleum Institute (API). Over a quarter million jobs were supported by Ohio's oil and gas industry, which added $38 billion to the state's economy, including $14.7 billion in wages.








The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) "may be getting close to" signing a consensual order with Rover Pipeline LLC that would require the company to pay a fine and continue its efforts to mitigate damage caused by their environmental law violations, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said Tuesday. Earlier this month, the agency issued unilateral orders against Rover and asked Attorney General Mike DeWine to pursue civil penalties.








Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean is coming to Columbus, Cleveland and Akron next month for the seminar "From Nixon's Watergate to Trump's White House: Lessons Learned." Hosted by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), the presentation with Thompson Hine partner and presidential historian James Robenalt will provide a "unique" look at legal ethics and executive power.








U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) detailed his newly introduced legislation, the "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act," in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. He said it aims to empower victims of sex trafficking to pursue legal options against their offenders and to hold accountable websites like, which he's alleged knowingly facilitated sex trafficking. The legislation was developed by Portman and U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO) as a result of the Senate's two-year investigation into criminal human trafficking. The Senate recently approved legislation to provide the documents and findings of that committee to the U.S. Department of Justice.




Calling it a "winnable war," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined new steps the federal government will take regarding the opioid crisis during a meeting with law enforcement officials and families affected by the crisis Wednesday. Other speakers included Deputy Chief Timothy Becker of the Columbus Division of Police, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Ben Glassman. The event was held at the Columbus Police Academy, but drew attendees from around the state.








For the second year in a row, Ohio's "Be the 95%" campaign regarding responsible gambling was recognized by the National Conference on Problem Gambling. This year, during its 2017 national conference in Portland, OR, the statewide campaign received the Website and the Public Awareness Award.








Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) says she'll be looking for a Republican co-sponsor when she reintroduces the Fair and Acceptable Income Required (FAIR) Act in the 132nd General Assembly. She announced her intentions to restart legislation promoting equal pay for women at a Black Women's Equal Pay Day roundtable discussion co-chaired by Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and joined by Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) and former Rep. Kevin Boyce, now a Franklin County commissioner. Former Rep. Mike Stinziano, now a Columbus councilman, also attended.








Appointments made during the week include the following:


- William W. Patmon III of New Albany (Franklin County) reappointed to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for a term beginning July 29, 2017 and ending July 28, 2022.


- Suzanne Call Cryst of Chesterland (Geauga County), Tanya R. Gure of Dublin (Franklin County), Elizabeth A. Kowalczyk of Worthington (Franklin County), Ainsley M. Malone of New Albany (Franklin County), Jay M. Mirtallo of Delaware (Delaware County), Anita J. Meehan of Cuyahoga Falls (Summit County), Brian C. Polzner of Columbus (Franklin County) and Randall H. Schimmoeller of Perrysburg (Wood County) to the Malnutrition Prevention Commission for terms beginning July 28, 2017 and ending March 20, 2018.


- Scott H. Neely of Westerville (Franklin County) and Ann M. Ream of Canton (Stark County) reappointed to the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood for terms beginning July 31, 2017 and ending July 30, 2019.


- Alice C. Stephens of North Canton (Stark County) reappointed to the Stark State College of Technology Board of Trustees for a term beginning Aug. 2, 2017, and ending Aug. 1, 2020.


- James Brady of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County), Angela M. Mingo of New Albany (Franklin County), and Sean A. Whalen of Powell (Delaware County) reappointed to the State Lottery Commission for terms beginning Aug. 2, 2017, and ending Aug. 1, 2020.


- Pauline Zarrieff of Canal Winchester (Franklin County) to the Malnutrition Prevention Commission for a term beginning Aug. 2, 2017, and ending March 20, 2018.


- Lori M. Gillett of Westerville (Delaware County) and Deborah L. Saunders of Gallipolis (Gallia County) appointed to the Governor's Executive Workforce Board for terms beginning Aug. 3, 2017, and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.








A new report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) indicates that, while Ohio shows significant progress in some areas, the state government can do more to limit the preventable causes of cancer. The "How Do You Measure Up?" report shows that the state excels in the areas of smoke-free laws, access to Medicaid and Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation treatment. However, it indicates the state is falling short in the areas of indoor tanning bed restrictions, breast and cervical cancer detection and tobacco use prevention funding.




A recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center shows changing trends in child health and well-being, as well as growing diversity in childbirth in Ohio and nationwide. Examining how childbirth trends have shifted between 1990 and 2015, data show increasing diversity. In 2015, 46 percent of children born were children of color, up from 36 percent in 1990; 23 percent were born to foreign-born mothers, up from 16 percent in 1990; and 40 percent were born to unmarried women, up from 28 percent in 1990.








The Cleveland State University (CSU) Board of Trustees selected the national consulting and search firm Wheless Partners to manage its search for the school's next president. In addition, CSU also announced the appointment of members to the Presidential Search Committee.








The level of free legal services in Ohio remained flat in 2016, while attorney contributions to legal aid programs were down by more than 14 percent. The $10.3 million in pro bono counsel reported last year was unchanged from 2015, when the number of participating attorneys and hours provided were also virtually identical to 2016's. The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation's (OLAF) annual report to the Supreme Court of Ohio reflects those attorneys who actually responded to the foundation's questionnaire. Of the more than 42,000 attorneys on active registration in the state, only 10 percent chose to report on pro bono hours.




The Ohio Supreme Court announced the adoption of two rule packages Monday affecting terms in office for presiding and administrative judges and registration and appointment requirements for magistrates.




A total of 997 recent law school graduates applied to take the July 2017 Ohio Bar Examination last week at the Greater Columbus Convention Center while 936 actually sat for it, according to the Ohio Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions.




The state of Ohio says the decision of the 8th District Court of Appeals to release convicted rapist/murderer Anthony Apanovitch after 31 years on Death Row -- on minimal bond and without house arrest -- is a ruling "drowned in error at every level." Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, speaking in support of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty's case against Apanovitch, argues that "evidence of his guilt had actually gotten stronger since his conviction." The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted the state's appeal of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court's decision to grant Apanovitch, 61, a new trial and release him from prison on a $100,000 bond.








The final rule sets for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on Monday. Items included Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) rules on processors and testing laboratories; Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) rules on dispensaries, patients, caregivers, forms and methods; and State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) rules for physicians. According to 131-HB523 (Huffman), the rules are required to be adopted by Friday, Sept. 8. The program must be fully operational by Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.








A 20-person Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) crew has been dispatched to Lolo National Forest in Montana to assist with fighting the Burdette Fire, according to the department.




The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced Thursday that it's holding a lottery for more than 270 permits to construct blinds to hunt ducks and geese at select Ohio state parks this waterfowl hunting season. All but one of the drawings will be held the morning of Saturday, Aug. 19, at 16 state parks. Portage Lakes State Park will hold its lottery on Thursday, Aug. 15. At all parks, applications will be taken locally, with the lottery drawings following registration.








Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) announced the hiring of Jamieson Weaver as the organization's new director of communications. Weaver is a recent graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania where she majored in political science and French. She has interned at ORTL the last two summers. Katie Franklin, who has held the director of communications position since 2014, will become director of marketing.








Author J.D. Vance and Job and Family Services Director Cynthia Dungey discussed their rise out of poverty and ways to help others do the same during a Wednesday forum at the Columbus Metropolitan Club. Vance, writer of the best-selling "Hillbilly Elegy," recently moved back to Ohio after working in venture capital and has started a nonprofit, Our Ohio Renewal, focused on solutions to poverty. He spent part of his childhood in Middletown. Vance is regularly mentioned as a future political candidate, but he told moderator Andy Chow of Ohio Public Radio that while he values public service he's focused elsewhere at the moment.








A total of 20 law enforcement agencies and community organizations will receive up to $40,000 each in the second round of community-police relations funding from the Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). Total grants of more than a half million dollars will assist initiatives to improve relationships between communities and law enforcement agencies serving them.




A fraudulent website is attempting to steal money from Ohioans seeking unclaimed funds, the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Division of Unclaimed Funds announced Wednesday.








Secretary of State Jon Husted was among the statewide officials and gubernatorial candidates touring the fair this year. He visited Friday and said he stopped to say a prayer at the site where one high school student died and several others were injured when a fair ride malfunctioned on opening night.




Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced August as "STEMM in Ohio" Month. Throughout the month, his Ohio Business Profile program will highlight Ohio companies that are currently seeking talent in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM). By 2018, Ohio is estimated to have nearly 274,000 jobs in the STEMM disciplines. However, the growth in these jobs is outpacing the qualified workforce needed to fill them, Husted noted.








Shoppers can buy clothing and supplies for the return to school tax-free this weekend, when Ohio will have its third, three-day sales tax holiday. The holiday, stretching from 12 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, allows purchases free of sales tax for clothing items costing $75 or less, school supplies at $20 or less and school instructional materials at $20 or less.








Trucking companies and other fleet operators are making great strides in the number of fuel options and efficiency upgrades available to them, though all-electric tractor trailers and fully driverless semis may be further off than some people imagine. That was the takeaway Wednesday at the Midwest Green Fleets Forum & Expo, where Director Giorgio Rizonni of the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research joined the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) director of vehicle technologies, Michael Berube, and three other experts for a discussion on "Clean and Smart Mobility." Clean Fuels Ohio Executive Director Sam Spofforth moderated the panel.








The Ohio Treasurer's Office announced Thursday that Seth Metcalf, deputy treasurer and executive counsel, is departing the office on effective Friday, Aug. 18 to found a strategic consulting firm. Chief Financial Officer Walter Myers will oversee the day-to-day execution of the operational departments of the treasurer's office, including accounting, debt management, information technology, internal audit, investments, revenue management, STABLE accounts and trust operations. In addition, Chief Project Manager and Senior Counsel Joseph Aquillino will become executive counsel.








As part of its focus on distributed energy resources (DER), the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) PowerForward conference concluded with a look at storage capacity needed to maximize the effectiveness of micro-grids.




As consumers are increasingly generating power within their own homes, energy utilities and distributors are analyzing how these new practices affect the larger energy grid. Chris Villarreal, president of Plugged In Strategies, provided an overview of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' (NARUC) Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) manual at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) PowerForward conference, with the underlying message that this change can benefit utilities and regulators as much as consumers.




The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued orders Wednesday for a pair of troubled energy companies, approving an emergency surcharge on customers of the bankrupt Youngstown Thermal LLC and a time extension on the transfer of assets of Ohio Rural Natural Gas (ORNG).








U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) detailed legislation passed by the U.S. Senate Tuesday that would expand GI Bill benefits and eligibility for veterans. The bill would eliminate the requirement that veterans use their GI Bill educational benefits within 15 years of their service, expand GI Bill benefits for military reservists and increase GI Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.








Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator Sarah Morrison said Friday that the Kasich administration is negotiating a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with stakeholders in which it will agree not to transfer money from the bureau to bolster the state's bottom line, as it was authorized to do in the new biennial budget bill. Business and labor groups are strongly opposed to the transfer authority, warning it sets a bad precedent and might be unconstitutional.






The Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation launched Ohio's Workforce Success Measures Dashboard, a new interactive tool to allow Ohio's policymakers to measure the success of Ohio's largest workforce development programs. Policymakers and Ohioans alike can use the new Workforce Success Measures Dashboard to see statewide, county and provider level data on the number of Ohioans completing workforce transformation programs. The dashboard allows program administrators and policymakers to evaluate program performance and identify best practices by measuring four common goals including employment, skills, wages and value to business.






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