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Latest Government News From Ohio

Week in Review

Friday, November 16, 2018

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE
A new release of data from the 2018 Ohio Health Issues Poll (OHIP) found that 45 percent of Ohio adults ages 18 to 29 have tried e-cigarettes, with usage among adults ages 30 to 45 also substantial. The release comes as federal regulators examine ways to lessen the rates of electronic cigarette use and vaping.
ATTORNEY GENERAL
Ohio Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine stopped short of offering a motive Tuesday following the arrest of four members of the Wagner family for 2016′s mass slayings in Pike County, though he said custody over a five-year-old child is at least one factor in the case. The AG joined Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in Waverly to announce the arrests of George “Billy” Wagner III, 47; his wife, Angela Wagner, 48; their son, George Wagner IV, 27; and son Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, all of whom have been the subject of investigators’ interest in the past. Each has been indicted eight on charges of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications for the murders of seven Rhoden family members and the fiancee of one.
Attorney General and Gov.-elect Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy has received two grants totaling $280,000 to train law enforcement to identify impaired drivers and investigate traffic collisions, among other topics.
AUDITOR OF STATE
Former Auditors of State Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Betty Montgomery are serving as co-chairs of Auditor-elect Keith Faber’s Transition Team with Matt Dole serving as director of the team. The team has also launched a website, FaberTransition.com.
BUSINESS/CORPORATE
Opportunity zones created by the 2017 federal tax bill represent great potential for Ohio, but the state must take steps to elevate itself over other states to fully benefit from venture capital investments, business leaders said in a Tuesday forum organized by Montrose Development Advisors (MDA). A lead speaker at the discussion, held at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, was Ohio Business Roundtable President Pat Tiberi, who played a key role in creating the opportunity zones when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
The House Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday considered legislation seeking to reduce the prison population, lessen racial disparities in the criminal justice system and immunize people from drug paraphernalia offenses under certain circumstances. Sponsor testimony was heard on HB555 (West-Sykes), HB645 (Howse) and HB614 (West) a week after Issue 1 went down in flames. That proposed constitutional amendment would have reformed low-level drug sentencing, expanded earned credits for inmates and changed probation orders.
Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) introduced her sponsored HB719 to the House State and Local Government Committee Thursday morning, explaining that it would require the attorney general’s office to create and maintain a statewide tracking system for the processing of sexual assault examination kits.
Also testifying was Karen Huey, assistant superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), who said current Attorney General and Gov.-elect Mike DeWine offered his full support of the bill.
EDUCATION
Lawmakers are very likely to extend graduation flexibility to the high school classes of 2019 and 2020 during the lame duck session this year, Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) told local education officials Tuesday at the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Capital Conference in Columbus. Outside the meeting room, Lehner told Hannah News her conversations with leadership and colleagues revealed widespread agreement on the need to act, but she said a two-year extension is likely as much as schools will get, not the three-year transition period called for in the state board’s proposal.
Schools around the country are all thinking through how best to protect their students in the wake of several mass shootings in recent years, ranging from the more recent shootings in Parkland, FL to the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012. Attorneys with Ohio firm Ennis Britton Co. discussed how that conversation applies to Ohio and its laws in a presentation entitled “Threat Assessment and Response: A Fresh Look at School Safety” at the Ohio School Board Association’s (OSBA) Capital Conference on Monday.
School funding expert Howard Fleeter highlighted key issues for the upcoming deliberations on the FY20-21 budget, analyzed possible causes of a recent decline in school levies and talked about his participation in bipartisan discussions on developing a new school funding formula during a session Tuesday at the OSBA Capital Conference. Fleeter said he hasn’t heard as much talk from Gov.-elect Mike DeWine on income tax reductions as from outgoing Gov. John Kasich, who focused on such cuts consistently since launching his campaign for the 2010 gubernatorial race. Meanwhile, the next Legislature and incoming administration will face high demand for additional spending in K-12 and early education, children’s services and other public policy areas.
Representatives of local boards of education across the state voted at their conference this week to support legislation expanding mental health and addiction services and school safety resources. The OSBA General Assembly adopted a new plank in its platform on that topic, urging additional access to school safety infrastructure, school resource officers, training for school staff to improve coordination with safety forces and funding to support those activities.
Superintendent Paolo DeMaria briefed local school board members on the basics of the state’s new strategic plan for education and heard from them on positive developments and challenges in their districts Monday at the OSBA Capital Conference in Columbus.
Delegates from school boards around the state chose Lee Schreiner, member of the South-Western City Schools Board of Education, to serve as the OSBA 2019 president-elect. Schreiner will take over as president in 2020, following current president-elect John Halkias, who will become president on Jan. 1, 2019.
In a final meeting to review its draft recommendations, the Career-Technical Planning District Report Card Workgroup decided to present multiple options on measurement of career-tech students’ academic achievement, based on differing opinions of how to shift those measurements. Chris Woolard, top accountability official at the Ohio Department of Education, said he hopes to see action on the recommendations in the near future by the State Board of Education’s Accountability and Continuous Improvement Committee and the full board itself, as some changes are targeted toward the current year report card, creating a time crunch for implementation.
School districts and their associated schools collect a variety of different data in order to improve their own practices and strategies, as well as for accountability purposes. Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff were on-hand Friday at a meeting of the State Board of Education’s “How We Use Data” Impact Team to answer board members’ lingering questions related to how those data are used by regional teams to inform educational approaches, how schools are measuring their own internal climate and how those data are used to inform the Ohio Improvement Process.
House Democrats on the Education and Career Readiness Committee Tuesday criticized a bill that would require public education on gestation and the rights of unborn children, questioning the legislation’s intent. Rep. Niraj Antani was forthright in referring to HB619 as “pro-life” legislation while providing sponsor testimony Tuesday. The bill would require schools to provide “accurate, scientifically verifiable information concerning the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational intervals,” as developed by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the State Board of Education.
The State Board of Education discussed its process Wednesday for electing new leadership in January and the possibility of moving that meeting date to avoid conflict with the inauguration of Gov.-elect Mike DeWine.
State Board of Education members on Thursday officially recommended the proposal of a graduation workgroup that spent months devising new diploma requirements focused less on standardized testing. Meanwhile, Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff told board members that lawmakers are finally ready to act on their request to extend temporary graduation flexibility to two upcoming classes. The board also accelerated its consideration of report card reforms, asking President Tess Elshoff to grant emergency consideration of the matter so members could vote on a formal position in hopes of prompting legislative action of the lame duck session. Both the graduation and report card proposals require statutory changes from the General Assembly.
Convening for the first time on the day that their report was originally due to be released, the Joint Committee on E-School Funding gathered at the Statehouse Thursday to hear testimony from the Legislative Service Commission (LSC), Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Ohio Auditor of State’s Office on the complex history and function behind online school funding in Ohio.
Performance by charter school sponsors on state ratings slipped slightly this year, and the annual report showed a continued thinning of the herd among sponsors. The number of sponsors rated in 2017-2018 as effective — the second highest of four ratings tiers — went to 21 organizations, the same as for the 2016-2017 ratings. But no sponsor was rated exemplary, whereas three earned that designation last year. Findlay City School and Zanesville City Schools, formerly rated exemplary, were deemed effective this year, while Tri-Rivers Schools slipped two rungs to an ineffective rating.
ELECTIONS 2018
While voters may have cast their ballots and winners have already been declared in most races based on unofficial results from the Nov. 6 election, the results themselves won’t become official until Tuesday, Nov. 27. According to the secretary of state’s office, boards of elections may begin their official canvass on the 11th day following Election Day — which this year is Saturday, Nov. 17. Canvasses must be completed no later than the 21st day following Election Day — Tuesday, Nov. 27. A county-by-county breakdown of outstanding absentee ballots, provisional ballots cast and overall ballots cast is available by going to the unofficial results website, https://vote.ohio.gov, and clicking on the
ELECTIONS 2020
Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has been the subject of much speculation regarding the 2020 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, after he easily won re-election in a year when most fellow statewide Democrats were routed. Based on the mounting interest, Brown is now open to the idea despite saying previously he wasn’t interested, he told Ohio newspapers.
ENERGY
State officials and experts reviewed the energy and environment policies of the Kasich administration and looked to the future Thursday, Nov. 8 at an Impact Ohio conference panel.
A group of Paulding County farmers and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC) filed a lawsuit in the Paulding County Court of Common Pleas against the state of Ohio, alleging that the General Assembly violated the state constitution when it passed an increase in wind turbine setbacks in 2014. The plaintiffs assert that the amendment to 130-HB483 (Amstutz) violated the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule because it was unrelated to the rest of the bill, which was a mid-biennium review (MBR) bill dealing with operation of state programs.
The state can take nine steps to create 20,000 jobs and capture $25 billion in investment over the next five years, according to a new report from Ohio corporations and research institutions. “Powering Ohio: A Path Forward for Energy and Transportation Transformation” is the second in a series issued by Synapse Energy Economics, following the May release of “Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment.”
ENVIRONMENT
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded Ryba Marine Construction Company a $425,000 contract to restore the ecosystem within the Stanford Run Watershed near Peninsula, OH. An upgraded culvert will be installed to allow Stanford Run to flow under the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, allowing the tributary to reconnect to the Cuyahoga River, USACE said.
FEDERAL
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) did not succeed in taking over as the leader of his caucus, as U.S. House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected minority leader in the next Congress. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) is reportedly considering making a run at U.S. House speaker against U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the current minority leader and former speaker.
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) Friday announced her support for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as speaker in the 116th Congress. Pelosi, the former speaker, is considered the frontrunner for the position as Democrats took over the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE
Both legislative chambers voted Wednesday to override Gov. John Kasich’s veto of SB221 (Uecker), which gives the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) further oversight power over administrative policymaking. The Senate debated the issue for nearly a half hour before voting 24-8 to override the veto, while the House quickly voted 69-22 without any discussion.
Sen. Larry Obhof (R-Medina) returns as Senate president for the 133rd General Assembly, which convenes in January, after he was re-elected to the post by fellow Republican senators on Wednesday. The caucus also re-elected Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) as president pro tem and Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) as majority floor leader. Joining leadership is Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) as majority whip.
The Ohio House Wednesday passed legislation that would remove an individual’s duty to retreat in a self-defense situation after a debate that saw House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) cut the mic of Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) as she accused him of refusing to talk about the role of race in the bill. The exchange between the two came near the end of the debate on HB228 (LaTourette-Johnson) as Howse spoke about the effect the bill will have in African American communities around the state. She then began citing the racial makeup of various districts, including the districts of the sponsors and of Smith and citing them by name. Smith interrupted Howse and asked her to focus on the bill and to not name other legislators, but Howse continued to press her point, leading Smith to declare her out of order. The legislation passed 64-26.
In other Wednesday floor action, the House passed HB167 (Edwards) making naltrexone and other medication-assisted treatment more readily available unanimously; HB598 (West-Green) addressing tax-forfeited land for sale by a vote of 75-7; HB147 (Hambley), making changes to humane society law 82-2; unanimously adopting HCR21 (Schaffer) urging Congress to enact the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act; and unanimously concurring with the Senate amendments to HB259 (Brinkman) addressing electric bicycles.
On Thursday, the Ohio House, mainly on party lines, passed the latest iteration of the heartbeat bill, which bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected that may occur as early as six weeks. Should the Senate follow suit, the passage of HB258 (Hagan-Hood) could set up another showdown with Gov. John Kasich, who vetoed a similar bill at the end of the 131st General Assembly. Thursday’s vote of 59 to 35 was not a veto-proof majority, but a number of members were absent.
In other Thursday action, the Ohio House passed HB40 (Dever-Greenspan), requiring the state treasurer to establish the Ohio State Government Expenditure Database; HB504 (Pelanda), which creates the Ohio Interior Design Examiners Board to certify and regulate interior designers; HB523 (Lanese-Perales), which establishes animal abuse reporting requirements and requires the U.S. Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program be notified when a person serving in the military is investigated for child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, among other provisions; and SB223 (LaRose) which prohibits the installation of unsafe used tires on certain motor vehicles.
Democrats officially selected and seated Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) to replace her father, former Rep. Martin Sweeney (D-Cleveland), during session on Wednesday. Martin Sweeney gave up his seat to run for the Ohio Senate, losing to Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) in the primary. He then resigned from the House in early October. His daughter ran for the seat and won election to it on Nov. 6.
Speaker of the House Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) said he does not know when there will be a leadership vote in the House GOP caucus and that it is up to Rep. Jim Butler (R-Dayton) to call the vote as the caucus dean.
Legislation closing loopholes in Ohio’s Anti-Pyramid Sales Act is on its way to Gov. John Kasich’s desk after the Senate voted 32-0 in favor of HB329 (Pelanda) on Wednesday. The Senate also voted 32-0 to pass SB243 (Dolan), which eliminates Medicaid copay requirements for individuals with severe developmental disabilities or severe mental illness whose only source of income is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); SCR18 (Yuko), which urges Congress to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act and adopt an international symbol of access that includes a dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement; and HB202 (Thompson-Lanese), which designates the first Saturday of May as “Veterans Suicide Awareness Day.”
The Tax Expenditure Review Committee approved a report in its final meeting of the 132nd General Assembly, though Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) voted against approval and other members including Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) said they weren’t fully satisfied either. The Buckeye Institute and Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) both said they did not consider the committee’s work done.
Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) made the rare appearance as a legislative sponsor Tuesday to propose the revocation of a core statute allowing courts to divine the “intention of the Legislature” when faced with purportedly “ambiguous” language in the Ohio Revised Code. The Supreme Court of Ohio must resort to such interpretation often enough, though Obhof insisted he had not introduced SB307 in response to any particular ruling or collection of rulings.
Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) put a legislative face on step therapy reform bills, SB56 (Lehner-Tavares) and HB72 (T. Johnson-Antonio), at a Tuesday news conference by detailing his own experience a year ago with “an uncomfortable diagnosis” and not being able to get his doctor’s initially prescribed medication. He said after being forced to use the “step 1″ medication, seeing no effect on the tumor and, in fact, getting worse and losing weight, he went on to “Step 2″ and immediately saw improvement.
While all the proposed rules on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review’s (JCARR) agenda were cleared without testimony, agency representatives were subjected to another round of the “Bucket of Invalidation” on Thursday. JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said 513 rules had missed their five-year review requirement as of Nov. 1. He said agencies were notified six months ago that they would once again encounter the bucket. Many of the agencies blamed the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) for holding up rules for months or in some cases more than a year. Some said they were held up by law changes or lack of progress with stakeholders.
In an interview with Hannah News, outgoing Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) said he’s hanging up his gloves, at least for now. The former Senate minority leader, appointed to the chamber in late 2008 to replace John Boccieri when he was elected to Congress, will be forced out due to term limits later this year. He will be replaced in Ohio’s 33rd Senate District by Republican business executive Michael Rulli. As for what’s next, he said running for Congress is a possibility, especially if U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) decides to run for a different office in the future. It’s also possible that he could return to the General Assembly, he said.
House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) Friday released a copy of a letter he sent to Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, applauding DeWine’s comments committing to working with both sides of the aisle and outlining three policy points Strahorn said the General Assembly can work on in lame duck session to give DeWine’s administration a head-start. Among those are HB57 (Boccieri-Ramos) which requires the use of American steel in public construction projects and HB630 (Galonski) extends the alternative graduation pathways for 2019-20.
In other legislative action, the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out HB581 (Miller-Boggs) which creates special license plates, HB639 (Dean) and HB690 (Ingram) which name highways; the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out HB309 (Gonzales-Rezabek) which addresses blindness in guardianship and adoption decisions; and the House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee reported out HB558 (R. McClain) which exempts disable vets from dog registration fees.
GOVERNOR
Gov. John Kasich appointed Jay Nixon of Mount Vernon (Knox County) to serve as a judge on the Knox County Juvenile/Probate Court for the unexpired term ending Feb. 8, 2021. Nixon will assume office on Monday, Nov. 19, and must run in the November 2020 election to retain the seat for the full term commencing Feb. 9, 2021. Nixon is replacing Judge Jennifer LeAnn Springer, who retired.
Appointments made during the week include the following:
- Timothy V. Kyger of Gallipolis (Gallia County) to the State Dental Board for a term beginning Nov. 9, 2018 and ending April 6, 2020.
- Jerry Sue Thornton of Moreland Hills (Cuyahoga County) to the JobsOhio Board of Directors for a term beginning Nov. 9, 2018 and ending July 5, 2019.
- John A. Lyall of Powell (Delaware County) to the Industrial Commission Nominating Council for a term beginning Nov. 9, 2018 and ending Oct. 20, 2022.
- Elena Foulis of Powell (Franklin County) has been appointed to the Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs for a term beginning Nov. 9, 2018 and ending Oct. 7, 2020.
- Timothy S. Schmalenberger of Hilliard (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Board of Landscape Architect Examiners for a term beginning Nov. 10, 2018 and ending Nov. 9, 2023.
- Thomas E. Allenstein of Lewis Center (Delaware County), Herbert de la Porte of Elyria (Lorain County), Susan E. Kearns of Salem (Columbiana County), Mark N. Resanovich of Uniontown (Summit County) and George B. Snyder of Kinsman (Trumbull County) reappointed to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services for terms beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Nov. 12, 2021.
- Ruda L. Jenkins of Hamilton (Butler County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services for a term beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Nov. 12, 2021.
- Camille R. Quinn of Columbus (Franklin County) and Christina Shoemaker of Westerville (Franklin County) to the Governor’s Council on Juvenile Justice for terms beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Oct. 31, 2020.
- Barry J. Alexin of Westerville (Franklin County) to the Ohio Reclamation Forfeiture Fund Advisory Board for a term beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Jan. 10, 2019.
- Rita L. Russell of Toledo (Lucas County) to the Owens Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Sept. 21, 2024.
- Richard L. George of Hudson (Summit County) to the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services for a term beginning Nov. 13, 2018 and ending Nov. 12, 2021.
- Rev. Adetokunbo A. Adelekan of Centerville (Montgomery County) to the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism for a term beginning Nov. 14, 2018 and ending April 21, 2019.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
A new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) examining America’s obesity problem found that Ohio has the sixth-highest obesity rate in the nation, and if current trends persist, half of today’s children nationwide will be obese by age 35. Ohio posted an average 18.6 percent obesity rate between 2016 and 2017.
HIGHER EDUCATION
Witnesses told a House committee Tuesday that a bill protecting free speech on college campuses is needed because many Ohio universities are putting up roadblocks for students, faculty and staff who want to put up displays or invite controversial speakers, and that those roadblocks clearly violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Among the witnesses testifying as a proponent on HB758 (Antani-Brenner) was noted conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, a former editor-in-chief at Brietbart.
The faculty union at Wright State University (WSU) Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to reject the report of a fact finder assigned to provide recommendations in the ongoing contract negotiations between the university and its faculty, leaving the door open for a possible faculty strike.
Mary Parker will join Kent State University (KSU) as the university’s first vice president for enrollment management beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Her duties will include strengthening the institution’s student recruitment across all eight of its campuses.
Wright State University (WSU) President Cheryl Schrader will join a national advisory group aimed at eliminating barriers women face in engineering higher education, the university announced. The Engineering Deans Gender Equity (EDGE) Initiative of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) is funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation with the goal of attracting and advancing diverse women faculty and an equitable academic engineering culture.
Bowling Green State University (BGSU) recently announced the hiring of Joe Whitehead to serve as the university’s next provost and senior vice president for academic affairs beginning Jan. 22, 2019. Whitehead is currently a professor of physics at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT) and senior advisor for research with the University of North Carolina System.
Despite many renovations to improve safety and security at the site, Ohio State University temporarily drained the historic Mirror Lake on its Columbus campus ahead of the Buckeyes’ match-up against football rivals the University of Michigan Wolverines on Nov. 24. In 2015, a student died during the annual “jump” at Mirror Lake, which traditionally saw hundreds of students jump into the lake ahead of games against Michigan. Such jumps are now banned and were followed up with a major renovation beginning in late 2016, ending this past August.
JUDICIAL
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine is not required to recuse himself from all cases involving the office of his father, Attorney General Mike DeWine, a special judicial panel ruled Friday. Though the elder DeWine is on his way out of the attorney general’s office at year’s end, the ruling has continued relevance because he is now the governor-elect. Patrick DeWine’s motion for summary judgement was granted and the complaint against him dismissed unanimously by the panel, consisting of Fairfield Municipal Judge Joyce Campbell, Mercer County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Ingraham and Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Michael Krumholtz.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor announced a special commission of three retired judges Wednesday to consider the suspension of Put-In-Bay Mayor Bernard McCann from public office. McCann was indicted last month on public corruption charges including two counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony, and four counts of conflict of interest, a first-degree misdemeanor. The indictment followed a larger corruption probe into Put-In-Bay leading to additional charges against three other persons, including two more members of the McCann family.
MARIJUANA
About 9 percent of marijuana users become dependent on the drug, and that statistic will hold whether it is consumed legally or illegally, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Mark Hurst said. Speaking to attendees of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities Medical Marijuana Symposium in Columbus, Hurst said dependence rates increase to around 17 percent when the user begins using cannabis in their teen years.
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved anti-seizure medication that contains cannabidiol (CBD) is legal outside the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy clarified Friday.
MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM
Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) Chairman Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) told Hannah News Thursday that he believes the “band” between the lower and upper estimates for Medicaid growth in the 2020-21 biennium to be “reasonable.” Those ranges, which include a legislatively passed increase in nursing home reimbursement that will come in at 2.8 percent for the next biennium, are a 2.9 percent increase at the lower end to a 4.5 percent increase at the upper end in the projected growth in the “per member per month” (PMPM) cost for Medicaid recipients over the next two fiscal years. This is based on the projected PMPM cost of $657 to $675 in FY20 and $677 to $707 in FY21.
PEOPLE
Rob Moore Tuesday launched Scioto Analysis, a new policy analysis firm based in Columbus. According to Moore, “Scioto Analysis is committed to providing policymakers and policy influencers with evidence-based analysis of public policy problems.” He was previously a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State-elect Frank LaRose Friday announced that he has enlisted former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson to serve as co-chairs of his transition team. In addition to the co-chairs, LaRose said Merle Madrid will direct the day-to-day operations of the transition in a volunteer capacity. LaRose’s campaign also announced the launch of www.LaRoseTransition.com, which will include updates on the transition, information about inaugural activities and information on applying for jobs in LaRose’s administration.
TREASURER OF STATE
Ohio Treasurer-elect Robert Sprague’s transition team is seeking applicants for positions in the treasurer’s office. Those interested should submit resumes through the following email address: Resumes@RobertSpragueTransition.com. Questions may be directed to Jody Foltyn at Jody@RobertSpragueTransition.com.
UTILITIES
The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) said Wednesday that Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Asim Haque’s commitment to return every “dime” of federal corporate tax relief to utility customers could be muted by nearly $600 million in new FirstEnergy charges under a proposed settlement of its tax refund with PUCO staff.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is expanding on workplace safety programs to offer $4 million in grants over the next two years toward school safety and security, the bureau announced Thursday. The funds come from BWC’s $1.5 billion rebate, and will provide 3-to-1 matching grants up to $40,000 to licensed public and private pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational facilities. BWC consulted with Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Homeland Security’s Center for P-20 Safety & Security on the project.

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