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Latest Government News From Ohio
Week in Review
Friday, September 23, 2016
While the new process for commercial drone users to attain certification has made legal use of the devices “less onerous,” a number of issues still likely need to be addressed by state and local governments, Ohio State University (OSU) professor Peggy Hall said Wednesday. Hall, who directs OSU Extension’s agricultural and resource law program, told attendees of the Farm Science Review in London that the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new rule on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) went into effect on Aug. 29, and is an improvement on the old process. The rule was announced in June.
The Capitol Steps, a Washington, D.C., based comedy troupe, will perform Friday, Oct. 14, at the JoAnn Davidson Theatre in the Riffe Center, as part of the 40th anniversary celebration for the Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC). The group, which began as a group of U.S. Senate staffers, blends musical and political comedy. They will present a show based on songs from their current album, “What to Expect When You’re Electing.”
Secretary of State Jon Husted said this week that 8,495 new entities filed to do business in Ohio during August 2016. That is an increase of 983 new entities compared with August of 2015.
Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) filed suit in U.S. District Court Thursday against the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center (MCJDC), alleging violations of multiple federal laws including the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI) of 1986.
The University of Toledo (UT) hosted its 13th annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference this week on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 22 and 23, in the Student Union on the university’s main campus.
The legal fallout from former Deputy Treasurer Amer Ahmad’s accomplice in the Ohio Treasurer of State investment scandal has now eclipsed the $200,000 mark as the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection this week awarded another $34,000 in restitution to six former clients of former lobbyist Mohammed Noure Alo, suspended from the practice of law in 2015 following his conviction for accepting $123,000 in kickbacks.
The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission (OCSC) voted Thursday to eliminate mandatory bind-over of minors to adult court in cases of murder, aggravated robbery, rape and other violent crimes. Juvenile judges will instead have full judicial discretion over all transfers to adult court for children ages 14-17, should the General Assembly enact recommendations of the sentencing commission. Currently ineligible for referral to appellate court, bind-over orders also would trigger full appeal rights while the lower court finding is stayed.
Ohio, along with Massachusetts and Philadelphia, has been selected to participate in a national one-year program that utilizes art to revitalize communities. The Ohio Community Development Corporation Association (Ohio CDC) and Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation will partner together for the Creative Placemaking Immersion Program, funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC) on Wednesday heard from individuals who represented all three disciplines enumerated within its moniker. The Ohio Aerospace Institute’s (OAI) Jeff Rolf, the Ohio Aviation Association’s (OAA) Greg Heaton, and William DeFries of COPP Integrated Systems addressed OAATC members, and comments from each included some aspect of the theme of unity.
Ohio’s unemployment rate fell slightly in August, but the number of jobs also fell by 2,000, a factor one analyst attributed to a shrinking workforce. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced that Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in August, down from 4.8 percent in July.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) should resubmit its sponsor rating rules with a higher cost estimate after completing a planned review of the overall rating process, the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) office told the department. CSI issued its recommendations Monday after the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) voted to send the rules for sponsor ratings back to CSI last month. Sponsors had complained ODE underestimated the costs of compliance and was setting unreasonable implementation deadlines, among other concerns.
Following last week’s courtroom hearings, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is asking the judge in its lawsuit against the state to issue partial summary judgement declaring its 2003 contract with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to be “valid and enforceable.” Per ECOT’s motion, filed Monday, such a judgment would bar ODE from using log-in times and durations as part of its review of ECOT’s attendance, a key matter in the legal dispute.
Battelle for Kids announced that Karen Garza, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, will be its new president and CEO. Her hiring, effective Jan. 1, follows founding Executive Director Jim Mahoney’s decision earlier this year to become executive director emeritus.
A changing state report card that saw lower marks overall after a shift in testing vendors has at least one feature consistent with previous years, school managements group say — a strong link between poverty and performance. Economist and researcher Howard Fleeter performed his initial analysis of the latest report card for the Ohio Education Policy Institute (OEPI) and the trio of school leadership organizations — Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) and Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO).
The Joint Education Oversight Committee took up school transportation issues Thursday as its first substantive policy focus, hearing from experts in the area about funding challenges and the need for state assistance to help replace districts’ aging bus fleets. The committee, just organized earlier this year following its creation in HB64 (R. Smith), has identified transportation as an early priority.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Chillicothe High School’s Dustin Weaver as Teacher of the Year on Thursday. The English teacher’s methods are so strong that all new teachers at the school are required to observe his classes, according to ODE. “Dedicated to continually improving, Weaver has invited the entire school staff to critique his videotaped lessons as they all work together to hone their teaching skills,” the department said.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a rally in Toledo Wednesday at the Stranahan Theater.
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson announced his Ohio campaign leadership: Ryan Holstine of Pickerington will serve as state director; Helen Gilson of West Chester and Dan Hines of Salem will serve as regional coordinators; Kirsten Pomales of Cleveland Heights will serve as volunteer coordinator; and Adam Dell of Columbus will serve as events coordinator.
Secretary of State Jon Husted joined business and local leaders Monday to urge corporations and nonprofit organizations to join a state program to help recruit 35,000 poll workers before Election Day.
Secretary of State Jon Husted said this week that as of last Friday, Sept. 16, an estimated 524,631 Ohio voters had requested an absentee ballot from county boards of elections, including 11,713 from military and overseas voters.
The ACLU of Ohio Tuesday announced the launch of a voter webpage for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This new voting resource helps deaf voters find answers to common voting questions, including registration, appropriate forms of identification, and where and how to cast a ballot in November’s general election.
Kathy Miller, the chair of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in Mahoning County, resigned from her volunteer position Thursday after comments she made to The Guardian that racism did not exist before President Barack Obama was elected went viral.
Endorsements made over the week include the following:
- The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of Ohio endorsed Bill Johnson for the 6th Congressional District and Roy Rich, a retired Cleveland police officer, for the 7th Congressional District.
- Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio endorsed the following candidates for the Ohio General Assembly: House District 2 – Brittany Bowman; House District 3 – Kelly Wicks; House District 6 – Phillip Robinson; House District 15 – Nicholas Celebrezze; House District 17 – Adam Miller; House District 19 – Michael Johnston; House District 19 – Ryan Koch; House District 21 – Lee Schreiner; House District 23 – Kristopher Keller; House District 24 – Joe Otis; House District 27 – Jessica Miranda; House District 31- Brigid Kelly; House District 32 – Catherine Ingram; House District 36 – Bobby McDowall; House District 37 – Casey Weinstein; House District 38 – Judith Lynn Lee; House District 41 – James Calhoun; House District 43 – David Sparks; House District 49 – Thomas West; House District 50 – John Juergensen; House District 53 – Suzi Rubin; House District 61 – Rick Walker; House District 62 – Samuel Ronan; House District 67 – Janet Breneman; House District 69 – Frank Zona; House District 71 – Joseph Begeny; House District 73 – Brian Housh; House District 76 – Terri McIntee; House District 77 – Bradley Nicodemus; House District 79 – Alex Wendt; House District 83 – Mary Harshfield; House District 86 – Scott Crider; House District 94 – Sarah Grace; Senate District 2 – Kirk Halliday; Senate District 10 – Matthew Kirk; Senate District 16 – Cathy Johnson; Senate District 18 – Wiley Runnestrand; and Senate District 28 – Vernon Sykes.
- The Ohio State Medical Association Political Action Committee endorsed Rob Portman for U.S. Senate.
- The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund (OEC Action Fund) endorsed Randy Gardner for Ohio Senate.
Ohio ranks second nationally in its potential to reduce emissions through technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to power (WHP), according to a report from the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency (AIE).
A new plan by Senate Public Utilities Committee Chairman Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) will end the energy “freeze” of 130-SB310 (Balderson) in December rather than extend it three years, should his legislation clear the lame duck session. Substitute language drafted for SB320 (Seitz) will instead make the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards of 127-SB221 (Schuler) aspirational “goals” that will then become mandatory in 2020 — if the General Assembly did nothing before then to once again change that target.
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ohio’s U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy on Thursday for the release of a report estimating the effects of hydraulic fracturing and increased oil and natural gas production in Ohio and the U.S.
Ohio will appeal a county judge’s ruling that ordered the state to relinquish a Central Ohio wetlands property to a developer because it had breached a land exchange contract. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) confirmed its intention to appeal Tuesday but withheld further comment, citing the ongoing legal dispute. Environmental advocates who’d pressed for the appeal celebrated the decision.
Legislation aiming to improve water quality by reducing lead exposure and addressing harmful algal blooms (HABs) has passed the U.S. Senate. The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives, which has been considering a narrower WRDA bill, according to the Great Lakes Commission.
The state of Ohio has added its name to a lawsuit filed against a new federal rule increasing the threshold when employers are required to pay overtime to their salaried workers, with 21 states claiming that such a mandate constitutes federal overreach. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt are the lead plaintiffs in the suit filed Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in an Eastern Texas U.S. District Court.
Ohio officially added Thomas Edison as the state’s second statue representative with an unveiling ceremony Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Edison’s bronze statue depicting him holding the electric light bulb replaces that of former Ohio Gov. William Allen, who was removed because of his pro-slavery background. Each state has two statues in the hall, with Ohio’s second being a likeness of President James Garfield.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission renewed the Hollywood Toledo Casino’s license for another three years during its Wednesday meeting, the third renewal of the four casinos. The commission had previously renewed the operating licenses for JACK Cleveland Casino and Hollywood Columbus, with JACK Cincinnati due to come up for its renewal next year.
Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) is leaving the Ohio House on Oct. 2 and will join the Ohio Chamber of Commerce as the new director of tax and economic policy to succeed the retiring Dan Navin.
Senate President Keith Faber’s (R-Celina) office announced five of six Senate sessions scheduled to take place before the November election have been cancelled. The Senate will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, but is cancelling other sessions scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27, Thursday, Sept. 29, and Tuesday-Thursday, Oct. 4-6.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) announced Thursday new appointments to House committee leadership positions for the remainder of the 131st General Assembly. Rosenberger appointed Rep. Bill Blessing III (R-Cincinnati) as chair of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee and Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) as vice chair; and Rep. Marilyn Slaby as vice chair of the Education Committee.
Gov. John Kasich urged an embrace of free trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership when he traveled to Washington, D.C., on Friday to join President Barack Obama in support of the controversial deal opposed by both major party presidential contenders.
Gov. John Kasich’s campaign put out a statement Sunday evening after the chairman of the National Republican Committee said on a Sunday talk show that the party might not support any presidential candidate in the future who did not get behind nominee Donald Trump this year. “[Kasich] will not be bullied by a Kenosha political operative that is unable to stand up for core principles or beliefs. In fact, Reince [Priebus] should be thanking the governor for standing for an inclusive, conservative vision that can actually win a national election and improve our country,” the statement said in part.
Gov. John Kasich’s ordered flags lowered to half-staff in Lorain County on Wednesday and statewide on Thursday in honor of Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez, who died in the line of duty last week after being struck by a vehicle along I-90.
The governor made the following appointments during the week:
- Kristine M. Burdick of Wadsworth (Medina County) to the Ohio Real Estate Commission for a term beginning Sept. 15, 2016, and ending June 30, 2020.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) Friday confirmed the state’s first positive case of equine West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2016. Testing on samples taken from a seven-year-old standardbred horse in Tuscarawas County confirmed the positive WNV diagnosis, ODAg said, and the animal was euthanized after exhibiting significant clinical signs.
Representatives of intellectual disabilities services providers are calling for congressional action to address potential workforce issues resulting from new federal rules, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rules.
Contributors to a juvenile mental health forum Wednesday agreed that public schools and other institutions have become more willing to tackle mental illness head-on as the suicide rate has risen dramatically in the last nine years. Panel members at the Columbus Metropolitan Club acknowledged, however, that reimbursement rates for private mental health care and therefore available practitioners have not kept pace with social needs.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is expanding by half the number of counties participating in its Addiction Treatment Program (ATP), available to Ohioans enrolled in a certified drug court and eligible for medication-assisted treatment.
The Kasich administration’s proposed behavioral health redesign would cause layoffs and reduce services across the state, providers told the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) Thursday. Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Tracy Plouck and Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director John McCarthy joined six provider representatives to discuss the redesign, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017. Providers said they backed the redesign effort generally, but were concerned about a number of issues they said would have a significant negative effect on their businesses and patients.
The Obama administration unveiled new data through its College Scorecard initiative this week, the first annual update to the program for making higher education decisions since it was revamped a year ago. This latest update makes public more than 1,700 data points for more than 7,000 institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded nearly $225,000 to the University of Toledo to explore a sustainable way to treat drinking water supplies under threat of harmful algal blooms.
College access and financial aid groups joined the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) on Monday to announce more help for students affected by the recent shutdown of ITT Tech.
Kent State University announced that Wendy Turner will become the new executive director and general manager of WKSU, the university’s NPR-affiliated public broadcasting radio station.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) said this week that more than 52,000 Ohio high school students took college classes through the College Credit Plus program in the 2015-16 academic year. The program allows high school students to take classes for college credit while still in high school. ODHE said students taking the classes during the 2015-16 academic year, the first full year of the program, saved more than $110 million in college tuition. The agency said students from public, private, and in-home schools all took advantage of the program.
A divided Supreme Court of Ohio ruled this week that a member of the bar can be brought up on ethics charges even if a certified grievance committee has previously dismissed a complaint based on the same allegations.
Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division was honored Thursday with the Ohio State Bar Association’s (OSBA) 2016 Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence at the Ohio Judicial Conference Annual Meeting in Columbus. OSBA also announced the winner of this year’s Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee Innovative Court Practices Award. The Delaware County Probate/Juvenile Court was honored for its Girls’ Craft Group project, now known as GIRLS (Gaining Invaluable Relationships & Learning coping Skills).
Lance T. Mason, former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge and member of the Ohio House and Senate, will go before the Board of Professional Conduct after serving nine months in prison for felonious assault and domestic violence against his wife.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger has received the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) Founders’ Award for “significant contributions” to the ideals and development of law-related education. Created in 2002, the Founders’ Award is OCLRE’s highest honor. Past recipients include members of the judiciary, among them the late Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and former Justice Robert R. Cupp, as well as Ohio educators, law enforcement officials and attorneys.
The County Auditors Association of Ohio (CAAO) said a sweep of Ohio gas pumps over Labor Day Weekend by more than 60 county auditors found five illegal credit card skimming devices.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday adopted an amendment to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct clarifying the ethical responsibilities of lawyers under the state’s new medical marijuana law. “A lawyer may counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted under Sub. HB523 (Huffman) of the 131st General Assembly authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and any state statutes, rules, orders, or other provisions implementing the act. In these circumstances, the lawyer shall advise the client regarding related federal law,” it states.
Auditor Dave Yost released another report finding substantial overpayments to a Medicaid provider who lacked needed documentation and employed staff ineligible to render services. P.E. Miller and Associates Inc., a Franklin County company, was overpaid about $573,000 and owes the state $38,839 in interest on top of that, for a total liability of $612,023, Yost’s office said.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and TourismOhio have announced their intention to help people find the best locations to view the changing colors in the state throughout the fall color season.
Public and private pensions provide $6 billion-plus every year in income to Ohio retirees, supporting 137,000 jobs and $20 billion in economic output, according to a new study from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).
Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is joining Squire Patton Boggs, the firm’s chairman and global CEO Mark Ruehlmann announced Tuesday. This comes not quite a year after Boehner resigned from Congress in September 2015.
Some state agencies are warning that the risk of colliding with deer may be on the rise for Ohio drivers. The Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) this week highlighted recent deer-vehicle collision statistics in light of insurance company State Farm’s annual deer claims study. State Farm estimates a driver’s potential of hitting a large animal (deer, elk or moose) nationwide is up 3 percent in the 2015-16 period than was reported in 2014-15, reviewing claims data from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State Jon Husted Wednesday announced new online services through his office’s Ohio Business Central, a program that was launched in 2013. Six new forms have been added to the online system. Husted said the addition of the forms means than 90 percent of business filings can be received by his office through the secretary of state’s website.
Three state agencies made improper overtime payments to exempt employees, Inspector General Randall Meyer’s office said Tuesday. Investigators found improper payments at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and later launched a broader review of cabinet agencies that uncovered improper payments at the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) and Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS).
Ohio earned an A grade from the Center for Digital Government for its information technology modernization efforts, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) announced Monday. The grade recognizes outcomes of the administration’s “IT Optimization” initiative, focused on centralizing IT services across government.
Motorists driving three-wheeled autocycles no longer need a motorcycle endorsement to do so. With HB429 (Antani-Reineke) taking effect, autocycle operators need only a conventional driver license to legally hit the road.
The federal government’s role in regulating automobiles will expand as highly automated vehicles (HAVs) become more common, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The USDOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday issued their federal automated vehicles policy, which includes vehicle performance guidance for HAVs and a model state policy.
The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) followed the reintroduction of sub-metering legislation with a formal request this week for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to hold public hearings on the controversial practice of reselling condominium and rental unit electricity at higher-than market prices.
FirstEnergy says ambitious energy efficiency targets now before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) are a good deal for customers, but the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) argues that ratepayers will be forced to pay the electric utility excessive profits if the plan goes through. The company is asking PUCO to approve the proposal soon.
Women had nearly 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio in 2015, a 1 percent drop from the previous year and a continuation of the overall downward trend this millennium, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The annual agency report, “Induced Abortions in Ohio,” says Ohio residents accounted for 19,765 of the 20,976 abortions performed in 2015, or 94.2 percent.
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) on Monday authorized the acquisition of hardware, software and professional services needed to implement and use a new workforce management system to cut down on paperwork. The commission estimates the Kronos system will cost nearly $419,000 plus reimbursable expenses and $25,000 a year for annual maintenance.
Round five of the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program will open to employer applications on Monday, Sept. 26, the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) announced Thursday. DSA said thousands of Ohio employees have already advanced their careers through the program, and more are now eligible in high-demand fields such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, automotive manufacturing, automotive technicians, bio-health, corporate headquarters, energy, financial services, food processing, information technology and services, polymers and chemicals, logistics, and research and development.
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