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Latest Government News From Ohio

Week in Review

Friday, October 11, 2019

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 164.8 million Americans over the age of 12 were “past month recreational substance users” in 2018, amounting to 60.2 percent of all survey respondents. “Substance use” included the use of alcohol and tobacco, as well as illicit drugs and recreational use of prescription drugs. That 164.8 million individuals included 139.8 million people who drank alcohol, 58.8 million people who used a tobacco product, and 31.9 million people who used an illicit drug. The most commonly used illicit drug was marijuana, with 27.7 million Americans reporting past month use, and the second most common was prescription pain killer misuse, with 2.9 million Americans reporting past month misuse.

BALLOT ISSUES

The ballot campaign to halt energy subsidies in HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) mounted a legal broadside against Ohio’s referendum process in federal court, accusing the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio General Assembly of violating U.S. constitutional guarantees on the right to freedom of speech and association, freedom to petition the government for redress, and “the fundamental right to vote.” Committee members for Ohioans against Corporate Bailouts, which opposes statewide subsidies for FirstEnergy nuclear plants, filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose in U.S. District Court Monday. They say referendum requirements in the Ohio Constitution and Revised Code run afoul of federal protections by requiring campaign workers to publicly register with the secretary of state’s office and secure approval of their referendum summary from the attorney general’s office before circulating petitions, thereby delaying signature gathering and exposing workers to “harassment, assault and bribery.”

FY20-21 BUDGET

The state brought in $37.3 million more in tax revenue during September than it had estimated, or about 2 percent over, according to preliminary figures released by the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). The state is now nearly $71.4 million over estimates after the first quarter. The increase was despite the non-auto sales and use tax being under estimates by 0.9 percent, or $6.9 million below estimates. The auto sales and use tax was $2.4 million above estimates, and both combined were $4.5 million below estimates.

CENSUS

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) indicate that 10 Ohio counties have “flipped,” so that they now are home to more adults over the age of 65 than children under the age of 18. Belmont County was the first Ohio county to flip in 2015, followed by Erie County in 2016, and Ottawa, Trumbull, Mahoning, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble Counties following in 2017. Now 2018 ACS data show that Lake and Columbiana counties have joined the group.

ECONOMY

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Ohio’s forecasted August 2019 annualized employment growth rate is 1.12 percent. The following Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) are also predicted to grow: the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman MSA at 0.22 percent; the Cleveland-Elyria MSA at 0.83 percent; the Dayton MSA at 0.85 percent; the Akron MSA at 0.90 percent; the Toledo MSA at 1.05 percent; the Canton-Massillon MSA at 1.41 percent; the Cincinnati MSA at 1.57 percent; and the Columbus MSA at 1.96 percent.

EDUCATION

Citing her passion to lift up her students and nurture a love of learning, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria surprised students and staff at Norwood Middle School by announcing Leila Kubesch’s selection as Ohio’s 2020 “Teacher of the Year.”

The Youngstown City Schools Board of Education moved one step closer to replacing its elected members with mayoral appointees with Thursday’s first meeting of the state panel that will recommend a slate of candidates for the positions. The Superintendent’s Nominating Panel, created as part of the academic distress law enacted in 2015 via 131-HB70 (Brenner-Driehaus), was to compile and submit to the city mayor at least 10 potential appointees for five appointed slots on a new board of education.

ELECTIONS 2020

Betsy Rader, a Geauga County attorney who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year, announced she will run for the Democratic nomination for the Ohio Senate in 2020. She is seeking the 18th Ohio Senate District seat that is currently held by Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon), who is term limited. Rader ran for the 14th Congressional District in 2018 but lost to U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Novelty).

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The nation added 136,000 new jobs in September, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, and the national unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent to 3.5 percent. BLS said the last time the unemployment rate was this low was December 1969, when it was also 3.5 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported little change in the number of job openings in August, closing at 7.1 million and a rate of 4.4 percent. Levels for nondurable goods manufacturing dropped by 49,000 and information by 47,000. There was also a decrease in job openings in the Midwest, with the rate going from the June and July level of 4.8 percent down to 4.3 percent.

ENERGY

The Ohio Senate will follow passage and signing of energy subsidy bill HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) with a policy focus on electric reliability as part of its “comprehensive” energy overhaul, said Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Chairman Steve Wilson (R-Maineville). It will not address a submetering debate that has confronted capital-area lawmakers and that prompted renewed legislation Tuesday from Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester).

ENVIRONMENT

About 34 percent of Ohio’s 219 bird species are vulnerable to climate change across seasons, according to a new report from the National Audubon Society. “A rapidly changing climate could lead to population declines and local extinctions if species are not able to adapt. In addition, the reshuffling of bird communities at a continental scale will bring together species that previously lived in isolation, leading to novel, unpredictable interactions. Disruptions in food and nesting resources further compound vulnerabilities to climate change,” says an Ohio-specific brief from the full report, “Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink.”

GAMING/GAMBLING

A total of 11 entities have applied to receive fantasy contest operator licenses, Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) spokesperson Jessica Franks told Hannah News. Fantasy sports companies currently operating in the state under 132-HB132 (Dever-McColley) were required to submit license applications by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 3.

A sports governing body such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or Major League Baseball (MLB) would be allowed to formally ask the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) to prohibit or restrict gambling on a particular type of sporting event under an amendment to HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly) accepted by the House Finance Committee Tuesday without objection. The amendment would also allow sports leagues to formally request that the OLC prohibit or restrict certain types of wagers.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R-Glenford) announced Monday afternoon that Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens had been selected to succeed former Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) in the 93rd House District seat. He was sworn in on Thursday, Oct. 10. That district includes Gallia and Jackson counties, most of Lawrence County and part of Vinton County.

Cindy Abrams, a member of Harrison City Council and a former Cincinnati police officer, was sworn into office, replacing Rep. Louis Blessing III (R-Cincinnati) in the 29th House District. Blessing has moved to the Ohio Senate.

The Senate welcomed former Rep. Louis Blessing III (R-Cincinnati) to its ranks on Wednesday, filling the vacancy created with the retirement of former Sen. Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati).

The Senate Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would require hospitals to disclose the costs of procedures in advance. Similar language had been included by the Senate in HB166 (Oelslager), the biennial budget, but was vetoed by Gov. Mike DeWine. Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) said his SB97 would require hospitals to provide good faith cost estimates for procedures at least seven days in advance of the procedures. He noted that hospitals would be the only entity required to give these estimates. This bill, according to Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), has less strict guidelines than the budget version and provides a little more flexibility while getting consumers more information.

The Senate also unanimously passed legislation that will recognize Feb. 11, 2020 as “James ‘Buster’ Douglas 42:1 Odds Day,” marking the 30th anniversary of when Douglas, an Ohio native, defeated boxing champion Mike Tyson despite the odds being 42 to one against Douglas winning. Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) said SCR4 (Hottinger) will also serve as an opportunity to honor the success of anyone who overcomes long odds every day. Douglas himself was in the chamber for the vote and was recognized by the Senate.

The Senate unanimously adopted SB76 (Lehner-Maharath) designating the first week of May as “Tardive Dyskinesia Awareness Week,” which sponsor Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said is a rare disorder that features repetitive, involuntary jerking movements. Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) said the disorder can be difficult to diagnose, especially because a patient might not be aware of the symptoms.

The Senate concurred in House amendments to SB52 (Gavarone), which creates the civilian cyber security reserve forces, among other cybersecurity measures. It now goes to the governor for his signature.

Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) has been appointed chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced Wednesday. She replaces Lou Terhar, who recently retired. Roegner previously served as vice chair of the committee. In addition, Obhof appointed Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) to the Senate Finance Committee.

Mounting rare opposition for his office, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told senators Wednesday the pre-trial mental health exemption for capital murder defendants in HB136 (Hillyer) would “stand Western jurisprudence on its head” and further mire a legal process “so deep that it is nearly impenetrable.” Yost joined the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (OPAA) and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office for opponent testimony on a bill that passed the House by a bipartisan margin of 4-to-1 and has since prompted Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) to remark, “maybe we need to rethink current law.”

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) Wednesday appeared before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee to give sponsor testimony on his SR376, a resolution that urges Congress to adopt the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, also known as USMCA. The agreement negotiated between the Trump administration and the two neighboring countries was signed by President Donald Trump and the leaders of Canada and Mexico in November 2018, and has already been ratified by Mexico’s Senate.

At Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee, opponents of a proposal to place photographs on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit cards said the measure would cost the state far more to implement than it would save in deterred fraud, and said federal regulations would render the effort ineffective. Because federal law mandates that any family member in a household receiving SNAP benefits can use the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card with the correct Personal Identification Number (PIN), opponents said placing a photograph on the EBT card would only confuse retailers and would not serve to prevent existing methods of fraud.

Thursday’s House session saw the passage of two bills and the seating of two new members. Jason Stephens, the former Lawrence County auditor, was sworn-in to replace Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) in the 93rd House District, while Cindy Abrams, a member of the Harrison City Council and a former Cincinnati police officer, was seated in the 29th House District, replacing now Sen. Louis Blessing III (R-Cincinnati). Both bills on the calendar were unanimously passed. They included the tax omnibus bill, SB26 (Kunze), and SB24 (Wilson) to create the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Task Force.

The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) was pressed for a policy commitment Wednesday on whether the office has statutory authority to inspect county jails along with state prisons, a question following Gov. Mike DeWine’s move last spring expanding the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (DRC) Bureau of Adult Detention. After the introduction of Travis Ricketts, former policy staffer to House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), as deputy director and a brief agency update from Executive Director Charlie Adams, Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) repeated her question from last May on CIIC’s potential oversight of jails, including the troubled Cuyahoga County Corrections Center.

The House State and Local Government Committee held discussions on a number of state licenses Wednesday, hearing from representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Common Sense Initiative (CSI).

In other action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB209 (Carruthers-Kick) which abolishes the estate by dower; the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out HB293 (Cross), an overpass designation, and HB303 (Romanchuk) and HB334 (Hillyer), both highway naming bills; the

Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee reported out SB150 (Maharath) which designates the first week of May as “Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week” and SB59 (Antonio) which deals with naloxone dispensing without a prescription; and the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out SB58 (Gavarone) which addresses nonviolent criminals with mental illness.

GOVERNOR

Appointments made during the week include the following:

- Richard B. Birt of Greenville (Darke County) reappointed to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning June 29, 2019 and ending June 28, 2024.

- Edward C. Spiker of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning Oct. 4, 2019 and ending June 28, 2024.

- Michael B. Gardner of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County) to the Reclamation Commission for a term beginning Oct. 4, 2019 and ending June 28, 2022.

- Timothy D. Cassady of Mechanicsburg (Champaign County) to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission for a term beginning Oct. 4, 2019 and ending July 1, 2023.

GUNS

Gov. Mike DeWine backed off his previous call for “red flag” gun seizures and universal background checks Monday in favor of a revised legislative proposal to be sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). DeWine said the draft bill, which would rein in private gun sales to the wrong people and expand existing “pink slip” mental health interventions to “chronic alcoholics” and drug dependent persons, reflects two months’ discussions with legislators and gun rights activists, though Dolan said no other lawmaker had seen the legislation. DeWine appeared at the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) with Dolan, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown to announce the policy proposal.

Reactions to Gov. Mike DeWine and Sen. Matt Dolan’s (R-Chagrin Falls) tamed-down gun legislation ranged from hopeful to doubtful. Leaders of Ohio’s legislative minority joined Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and state and national stakeholder groups in releasing statements along with the response from Ohioans for Gun Safety’s ballot campaign.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) told reporters after the Wednesday House session that House Republicans have concerns about legislation proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted earlier this week, especially penalties that gun sellers might face if they don’t perform a background check. Householder pointed to HB354 (Plummer-Swearingen) as the starting point for the House’s exploration of the issue.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Starting Oct. 9, county Family and Children First Councils are taking applications from families with children with multiple needs for direct financial aid to cover costs associated with their children’s care. Specifically, these funds are to help with the unmet needs of children served through multiple social services systems, including those at risk of being relinquished and those who have already been taken into children services custody. Assistance to “multi-system youth” had been one of the major policy areas to surface during the hearings on the FY20-21 budget. As a result, a total of $8 million is available this year to support families in need — part of the total of $31 million now available to address these children’s needs. The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) are working together on the programs.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Ohio State University (OSU) launched the public phase of its “Time and Change: The Ohio State Campaign” on Friday. “Time and Change” has a financial goal of $4.5 billion — the largest in Ohio State’s history. The campaign focuses on three core areas: student success, discovery and healthy vibrant communities. University, academic, medical center and volunteer leaders have been working together on campaign planning for the last four years. The quiet phase of the campaign began Oct. 1, 2016. Nearly 500,000 donors have contributed over $1.7 billion so far. “Time and Change” strives to engage 1 million supporters.

Ohio University (OU) suspended all chapter operations for Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters until further notice on Thursday. The decision came from Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones, after the university received hazing allegations that encompassed seven IFC chapters. Two chapters, ACACIA and Alpha Epsilon Pi, have been placed on “cease and desist” from Community Standards and Student Responsibility (CSSR). OU plans to send notices of investigation and cease and desist letters from CSSR to the other five chapters in the next few days, as well as release their names.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will deliver the commencement address for fall Ohio State University graduates, the university announced Tuesday. Approximately 3,600 students will receive degrees during the commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 15 in the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

IMMIGRATION

While President Donald Trump has signed an executive order making it easier for states and localities to reject refugees, Ohio will continue to accept people facing religious and political persecution, the press secretary for Gov. Mike DeWine told Hannah News. The Trump administration had also announced a plan to admit only 18,000 refugees during this federal fiscal year. At the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. was admitting about 110,000 refugees annually, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

INSURANCE

A free service provided by the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) helps Ohio residents uncover millions of dollars in life insurance funds they are rightfully due. ODI’s missing life insurance policy and annuity contract search service, launched in 2009 as one of the first such services in the country, has matched 2,043 individuals to beneficiary funds from a policy of a deceased Ohio resident. Beneficiaries have received a total of $11.4 million through the service, the department reports. To initiate a search request, members of the deceased person’s immediate family, executors or legal representatives should visit the consumers section at www.insurance.ohio.gov .

JUDICIAL

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday denied Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s request to halt or delay the October trial against opioid manufacturers in Cleveland until the state’s complaint goes to trial.

The appeals court held that the writ of mandamus that the state had sought was a “drastic and extraordinary remedy reserved for really extraordinary causes.” It went on to say that, “to obtain the writ here, Ohio must have no other adequate means to obtain the relief it desires and show that its right to issuance of the writ is clear and indisputable.” The trial on this massive lawsuit which has consolidated litigation brought on behalf of more than 2,000 local governments is due to begin Monday, Oct. 21.

The Ohio Second District Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit filed by a number of news organizations seeking the release of the school records of Dayton shooter Connor Betts, saying the groups did not show that the school district has a clear legal duty to release those records.

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear its first major abortion case since the retirement of former Justice Anthony Kennedy after granting certiorari in June Medical Services LLC v. Gee on Friday. The justices will decide whether the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was correct in upholding Louisiana’s law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Abortion rights advocates are arguing that the law conflicts with the precedent set in 2016′s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Monday vacated a lower court’s ruling declaring Ohio’s congressional map unconstitutional and sent the case back to district court in light of its previous ruling declaring partisan gerrymandering out of bounds for the federal judiciary. SCOTUS had ruled 5-4 in Rucho v. Common Cause in June that partisan gerrymandering isn’t an issue for federal courts, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing that it is a political problem, not a legal one. The ruling came after a panel of U.S. District Court judges ruled that Ohio’s map was unconstitutional as part of a challenge in Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute v. Kasich. The Court on Monday vacated the A. Phillip Randolph Institute ruling and remanded it back to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio “for further consideration” in light of the Rucho ruling, which threw out lawsuits against maps in Maryland and North Carolina.

The Ohio Supreme Court opened a public comment period Tuesday on proposed changes to the Rules of Superintendence that would require all persons wishing to become adult guardians to sign an affidavit “affirming the applicant has no pending criminal charges [and] has not been convicted of [or] pleaded guilty or no contest to any criminal offense, and [to] notify the court within 72 hours of any change in the information in the affidavit.” Applicants to probate courts would have to file the affidavit whether or not they are licensed Ohio attorneys, who otherwise do not require a background check to prove they have no criminal convictions. Rule 66.05(A) allows a court to accept certificates of good standing with attorneys’ disciplinary history from the Supreme Court in place of a background check. The comment deadline is Friday, Nov. 8.

The Supreme Court of Ohio indefinitely suspended the law license of former 10th District Appeals Court Judge Timothy Horton Thursday for multiple rule violations while on the bench. Former state Disciplinary Counsel Scott Drexel had accused Horton of false campaign finance reporting, misuse of county staff and “inappropriate sexual conduct,” misdemeanors to which he had previously pleaded guilty.

Beginning in 2020, all statewide courts using mediation must adopt Ohio’s Uniform Mediation Act by local rule, identify cases eligible for mediation and address confidentiality, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced. Ohio has 254 courts using mediation in all courts and case types. The 5th District Court of Appeals recently added mediation in its 15 counties, and jurisdictions are increasingly using mediation in abuse, neglect and dependency cases.

LIBRARIES

Library system leaders in two of Ohio’s large cities and an architect who works with them discussed Wednesday how they’ve redesigned their buildings and changed the way they use them to meet the needs of their users and encourage social cohesion. Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinksi, Dayton Metro Library Executive Director Tim Kambitsch and architect Jonathan Moody of the firm Moody Nolan addressed the topic at a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum moderated by Ohio library Council Executive Director Michelle Francis. Both the Dayton and Columbus systems have embarked on major renovations and replacements of their facilities in recent years.

LOBBYISTS

The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) said Tuesday that Jane Neal, the senior vice president of Cambridge-based AMG Vanadium, has been elected to serve as chairman of OMA by the association’s board of directors. Neal succeeds Scott Balogh, president and CEO of Mar-Bal Inc., following his two years in the organization’s top position. Balogh remains on the OMA board as immediate past chair. Billy Vickers, president and CEO of MAI-GLA, is first vice-chair.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

Over the past week, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) awarded certificates of operation to five Verdant Creations medical marijuana dispensaries across the state and to ZenLEAF Canton. There are now 36 dispensaries operating under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.

Ohio voters have a realistic chance to see a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot in 2020, according to experts speaking at the Ohio State Bar Association’s (OSBA) Cannabis Law Conference.

“It’s less now a partisan issue, and much more a turnout issue. With respect to medical marijuana, a state like Florida in 2016 voted for Donald Trump and passed their medical marijuana initiative with over 70 percent of the vote. That’s a pretty conservative outcome in that election in Florida, and yet they still had overwhelming support for cannabis reform,” said Thomas Haren, a Frantz Ward LLP attorney with a practice that focuses on marijuana law and policy.

MILITARY AFFAIRS

Opening the fourth annual Ohio Defense Forum Monday, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) said the first two such events were an effort to show that they could bring industry and defense leaders together and the third, in 2018, worked to show how things had already grown since then. They currently face an “incredible opportunity” for the state, Turner said, with the Ohio congressional delegation taking part in those efforts. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke in person while U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a video message, and U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) also moderated a panel of Ohio base leaders.

While Monday marked the 18th anniversary of ongoing U.S. operations in Afghanistan, the day’s Ohio Defense Forum session saw prominent state military leaders discuss how the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is adjusting to compete with Russia and China and how future war may be waged in five domains – land, air, sea, space and cyberspace. In a keynote address, Ohio Adjutant General John Harris said the U.S. homeland may not go unaffected as a potential conflict would involve efforts to disrupt communications from the onset to limit the American military response. He added that the competition is not limited to military capabilities but includes economic and diplomatic power.

The Ohio Military Facilities Commission (OMFC) approved a recommendation for sunsetting the commission Thursday, as its duties are largely being absorbed by Gov. Mike DeWine’s aerospace and defense advisor Joseph Zeis. The OMFC had been created by the 2015 operating budget, 131-HB64 (R. Smith). Chairman Mark Wagoner said he was proud of the commission’s work and that it represented the first time state General Revenue Funds were spent in conjunction with defense assets, and that was “historic.” The OMFC had received no further appropriations or applications.

 NATURAL RESOURCES

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz designated the Cuyahoga River Water Trail as Ohio’s 13th state water trail, the department announced. The trail’s designation coincides with the 50th anniversary of the last burning of the river, ODNR said. Cuyahoga River Water Trail Partners — a grassroots collaboration of more than 25 organizations, agencies, and communities — worked to develop the trail, which spans the entire length of the river.

As Ohioans and visitors to the Buckeye State seek glimpses of the leaves changing to red, yellow and orange this autumn, ODNR plans to help people find the best locations to enjoy the state’s seasonal colors. This fall, the ODNR Division of Forestry is expecting color to peak in the northern third of Ohio the fourth week of October, the fifth week of October for the central third, and the first week of November for the southern third. The current forecast, along with informational videos, is available at www.fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov.

The recently-dedicated Andreoff Wildlife Area, located in Hardin County, will add more than 700 acres of public land in Northwest Ohio, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The wildlife area provides opportunities for people to hunt, trap and view wildlife, ODNR said.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

LeadingAge Ohio announced its members that received a total of 23 organizations statewide from among its over 400 members received a gold, silver, or bronze “Employer of Choice” designation in this third year of the program. All recipients were recognized during LeadingAge Ohio’s recent 2019 Annual Conference and Trade Show.

PEOPLE

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) announced its chief of planning, Melanie Drerup, recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Learning Environments, which works to improve education by influencing how environments for student learning are planned, designed, created, equipped and maintained. The award is the most distinguished professional recognition the group bestows, and OFCC said Drerup is only the fourth woman to earn it since its inception in 1967.

J.C. Benton recently joined the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission as communications manager. He takes over for Rick Savors, who is retiring at the end of the year.

TimkenSteel announced Wednesday that Ward J. “Tim” Timken Jr. has stepped down as chief executive officer and president and as chairman of the TimkenSteel Board of Directors. The Board of Directors has appointed Terry L. Dunlap as the company’s interim chief executive officer and president. John P. Reilly, the current lead director of the Board of Directors, will assume the role of chairman of the board. Timken is the husband of Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) is encouraging Ohioans to stay in “preparedness mode” during a national earthquake drill. Organized by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill will take place Thursday, Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Andrew Hanauer, founder and director of the One America Movement and the director of Faith-Based Partnerships at Repair the World focused on the effects of political polarization and the way AmeriCorps strengthens communities in his keynote speech at the AmeriCorps 25th anniversary event hosted on Tuesday in the Riffe Center. Hanauer said polarization is an increasing problem across the country, and organizations like AmeriCorps help strengthen communities and undercut divisiveness by bringing people from different backgrounds together to serve. He said service makes people grow together and builds the “connective tissue” of communities.

TAXATION

The House turned a measure to give teachers a tax break on school supply purchases into a tax omnibus and budget cleanup measure, backtracking on a previous move to bar lobbyists and lawyers from collecting a small business deduction and adding a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products. The measure, SB26 (Kunze), cleared the House Finance Committee Thursday morning before passing the full House by a vote of 90-0 Thursday afternoon.

TECHNOLOGY

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has been promoting the new TechCred program around Ohio in recent days, and he recently stopped in Columbus at the Tech Elevator center, which provides 14-week training in software development for individuals and classes of current employees, including groups from JPMorgan Chase (JPMC). The TechCred program was launched Sept. 25 at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

While air shows in Ohio, such as the premier Dayton show, give the public an opportunity to see military and civilian flight demonstration groups, the Paris and Farnborough air shows in France and Great Britain are major industry trade exhibitions — and JobsOhio has built a consistent presence at both in recent years. Glenn Richardson, managing director of JobsOhio’s advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation division, recently discussed the importance of that presence with Hannah News. The Paris Air Show is held in odd-numbered years, while the Farnborough show is in even-numbered years.

The Transportation Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) Thursday approved a draft list of 20 projects after lawmakers raised the gasoline tax to increase transportation funding earlier this year. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) said the projects will cost nearly $398 million and will be focused on improving roadway capacity and reducing congestion. The projects were chosen out of 27 applications requesting nearly $925 million for development or construction funding.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced it had approved $6.6 million in school safety and security grants since July 1, saying it was a “strong start” for the grant program. Schools can receive up to $40,000 to purchase equipment to substantially improve safety and security and reduce the potential for injuries at a 3:1 match ratio. The program is aligned with Gov. Mike DeWine’s recently unveiled STRONG Ohio plan.


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