Week in Review
Friday, September 16, 2016
Columbus paramedics and firefighters are using naloxone to revive overdose victims at least six times per shift. Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) Monday said that number was recently given to him anecdotally by fire personnel. Lawmakers are hoping a new law that took effect on Tuesday will help save more lives. HB110 (Hill) includes language that gives limited immunity to someone who is with another that overdoses that calls 9-1-1. Hughes was joined by Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) on Monday to tout the benefits of the bill.
The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) announced the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio nomination process opened Monday, Sept. 12. The deadline to complete a nomination is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the formation of a new Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) task force Friday to combat human trafficking in the Mahoning Valley.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine opened the eighth annual Take Action Video Contest Monday, allowing Ohio high school students to win up to $2,500 in college scholarships by producing and submitting a 60-second video warning Ohioans about one of the following topics: imposter scams, cyber-security privacy and safety, and the importance of checking one’s credit report.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s high-speed pursuit task force amended its draft recommendations Wednesday as members continue work on final guidelines for discretionary police chase policies to be determined at the local level.
The proposed Drug Price Relief Act may be headed back to the ballot after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit by supporters and ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted to accept supplemental signatures filed as part of the initiative statute process.
A Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge sided with the state prison system Wednesday in dismissing a union challenge by the Ohio Civil Service Association to the dismantling of prison farm operations, saying the matter was out of his jurisdiction.
The General Assembly is looking to pass major changes to Ohio’s drug possession and trafficking laws in the lame duck session to address the ongoing opioid crisis, the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee said Thursday. Draft recommendations would strengthen sentencing for possession of large quantities of drugs — with the presumption of actual trafficking — while softening penalties for minor possession.
Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) representatives argued Monday that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) cannot use login duration information to determine funding levels for online charter schools. During a preliminary injunction hearing, ECOT attorney Marion Little told Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Jenifer French that a recently developed ODE full time equivalency (FTE) review handbook is inconsistent with a previously signed funding agreement between ECOT and the state. Douglas Cole, special counsel for ODE, said ECOT could not prove any student logged in for more than 10 minutes and did not make a serious effort to combat truancy. “ECOT is claiming it is entitled to a money tree that never stops growing and never stops bearing fruit,” Cole said.
The State Board of Education’s Executive Committee debated but took no action Monday on a proposal to wade into the public debate over federal policies for transgender students’ use of sex-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms. The board’s Achievement Committee also voted Monday to bump up the testing cut score for students to be promoted under the third grade reading guarantee, setting up a full board vote in October.
Superintendent Paolo DeMaria presented the State Board of Education with broad-brush plans Monday for how the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) could answer the state budget office’s request for FY17-18 funding scenarios reflecting both flat spending and a 10-percent cut.
The State Board of Education’s Standards and Graduation Requirements Committee approved new honors diploma rules Tuesday after deliberations over revisions to previous versions. The rules will come before the full board in October. The latest changes include a requirement of two units of world language to earn the Career-Tech Honors Diploma, instead of the three that had been proposed.
Ohio learned Wednesday it can finally start spending the tens of millions of dollars in charter school funding it won a year ago, but only with federal education officials and an independent monitor watching closely over its shoulder. The U.S. Department of Education told Ohio Superintendent Paolo DeMaria in a letter that the state’s grant will be released but considered “high-risk.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) responded to the U.S. Department of Education’s charter school grant announcement, pointing out he and other members of Ohio’s congressional delegation proposed similar oversight restrictions to the department via an October letter that encouraged grant funds to only go to high-performing charters.
Three prominent voices in Ohio’s recent charter school debates joined the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday for a discussion on HB2 (Dovilla-Roegner), e-school accountability and other hot topics. Auditor of State Dave Yost, Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Fordham Institute’s Chad Aldis weighed in on the recent lawsuit between the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), among other topics.
Ohio released its annual report cards for districts and schools Thursday, showing an expected drop in the marks as the state moves to a new testing system that is supposed to be more rigorous. The 2015-2016 assessment results arrive, however, in the middle of the statutory “safe harbor” lawmakers created in recognition of the testing shift, meaning many possible consequences of low performance are suspended.
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which is Ohio’s largest online charter school and is currently locked in a legal battle with the Ohio Department of Education, criticized annual school report cards as emblematic of the agency’s dysfunction.
Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said Thursday she wants to include a prohibition on suspending or expelling children younger than 9 years old from school as part of a truancy overhaul now pending in her committee.
Ohio Department of Health Director Richard Hodges and State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria presented Thursday during a Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) forum about the link between health and education in creating better outcomes for students. “Health and education are mutual,” Hodges said. “Healthy children are better positioned to learn.”
The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday rejected a request from the Ohio Democratic Party to stay a lower court ruling that upheld the repeal of “Golden Week,” the overlap period between the end of voter registration and the beginning of absentee voting that was eliminated by lawmakers as part of 130-SB238 (LaRose).
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that gave a mixed result to voting legislation adopted in the 130th General Assembly, reversing a lower court’s decision regarding some new requirements involving absentee voting, while agreeing with the court’s block on a provision requiring accurate information on absentee ballot envelopes. In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court upheld some sections of 130-SB205 (Coley) and 130-SB216 (Seitz), while striking down the precise requirement on absentee envelopes.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has built on his lead over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland in the latest Quinnipiac Poll, going to an 11-point lead and, for the first time in the campaign, breaking 51 percent.
The Ohio Republican Party State Central and Executive Committee Friday named the 18 individuals who will cast the state’s Electoral College votes for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should he win Ohio in November.
In the two competitive races for Ohio Supreme Court, First District Appeals Court Judge Pat DeWine has almost $1 million going into the last two months of the campaign, and fellow Republican First District Appeals Court Judge Pat Fischer also holds a large fundraising advantage.
As the Unemployment Compensation Reform Joint Committee prepared for its second meeting on Thursday, interest group Policy Matters Ohio rolled out a proposed fix for Ohio’s system that calls for a small tax on Ohio workers and increased taxes on employers to help make the system solvent by 2025.
One of the co-chairmen of the Unemployment Compensation Reform Joint Committee Thursday said lawmakers are planning to pass an unemployment compensation reform package when they return after the election in November.
The Ohio Supreme Court decided 14 cases related to oil and gas rights on Thursday, leading with an opinion finding the 1989 version of the Dormant Mineral Act (DMA) did not automatically transfer rights to surface owners.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer’s request to stay the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ (PSI) contempt action against him. The classified advertising company, which has been linked to sex trafficking, must now turn over all documents under subpoena by the subcommittee, according to PSI Chairman U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). He said it is the first time in 20 years that the U.S. Senate has enforced a subpoena in court.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) led members of the Ohio Democratic delegation to Congress in calling for national recognition of the John P. Parker House in Ripley, an important stop on the Underground Railroad.
The state Controlling Board approved all items on its agenda Monday, though not without some pointed questioning by Sens. Bill Coley (R-Middletown) and Tom Sawyer (D-Akron).
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) entertained no questions or comments during its Monday meeting as it cleared the rules on its agenda including several pertaining to home and community-based services waivers and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA).
Three Democratic lawmakers Wednesday said they will be introducing a resolution calling for a constitutional convention to eliminate First Amendment protections for corporate personhood and abolish the notion that money is free speech.
Gov. John Kasich ordered Friday that all flags in Ohio be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, Sept. 11, to mark Patriot Day and honor the memory of those lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
Gov. John Kasich issued emergency rules Monday to ensure cosmetology students don’t lose ground in their educational progress under a new licensing scheme.
The governor made the following appointments during the week:
- Hollie A. Kozak of Willoughby (Lake County) to the Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainers Board for a term beginning Sept. 9, 2016, and ending Aug. 27, 2019.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told the state Friday it won’t approve a waiver for the “Healthy Ohio” proposal, a controversial idea that its supporters said would encourage preventive medicine but that foes argued would place financial barriers to care in front of needy Ohioans. The Kasich administration said in response that it would seek to revisit its own proposal to institute premiums in Ohio Medicaid.
A new campaign is aiming to reduce Ohio’s sepsis mortality rate by 30 percent by the end of 2018. The goal of the Ohio Hospital Association’s (OHA) Signs of Sepsis (SOS) initiative is to increase early recognition of the serious medical condition, which affects more than 34,000 Ohioans a year and killed 7,478 people in the state in 2015, OHA President and CEO Mike Abrams said during an event Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also serves as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI), Thursday testified before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee concerning “Ohio’s experience related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — specifically in regard to premium changes, market shifts and other trends since 2013.”
Presiding and administrative judges could serve longer terms in office under a rule change released for comment Monday by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Ohio’s top government litigator on Tuesday highlighted a handful of cases noteworthy, among other reasons, for their common reference to the state of Texas. The Lone Star State is at the middle of a number of benchmark decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015-2016 session surveyed by state Solicitor General Eric Murphy in his annual address to the Federalist Society.
The Supreme Court of Ohio announced technology grants Wednesday to 13 juvenile courts funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Court Improvement Program (CIP). “The money will help remove barriers and provide ‘a more efficient and effective administration of justice’ for children and families involved in the child welfare system,” the Court said.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor placed the opioid crisis and its legal ramifications at the top of the agenda in her sixth State of the Judiciary speech Thursday. She said Ohio and West Virginia’s claim to the nation’s worst heroin fatality rates makes the drug epidemic of critical importance not only to medical professionals, policymakers and parents, but also to courtrooms large and small across the state.
A county official accused of rifling community drop boxes for unused prescription drugs will go before a three-member commission that was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday. The special commission is charged with considering Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer’s possible suspension from office.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious of dead or dying ash trees that may be present in Ohio’s forests and landscapes.
Hunters will get their first chance of the year to pursue white-tailed deer when archery season opens on Saturday, Sept. 24, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said Monday. Deer hunters will find the hunting regulations similar to last year, and county bag limits and antlerless permit use remain unchanged from last year. Overall, deer populations are slightly higher than last year, and the statewide deer harvest could increase 5 to 10 percent.
The online database of state and local government spending officially added data from Ohio’s five pension funds starting Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Mandel announced.
Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) Director David Daniels has appointed Mark Bruce as communications director and Dustin Calhoun as chief legal counsel, the department announced Friday.
Former Superintendent of Columbus City Schools Joseph L. Davis died Thursday, Sept. 8, in Columbus. He was 89.
Scott Neely has joined the Children’s Hunger Alliance as director of government affairs, the organization said Tuesday.
The rate of poverty among Ohioans dropped a point from 2014 to 2015, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest figures also show median household income rising 3.5 percent, to $51,705. In addition, the child poverty rate dropped from 22.9 percent to 21.3 percent.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said Trooper Kenneth Velez died Thursday after being struck by a vehicle while outside of his cruiser along I-90. Velez, 48, had been member of the patrol since 1989 and was assigned to the Cleveland Post.
SECRETARY OF STATE
A program allowing victims of domestic violence and other crimes to shield their personal information from public records when registering to vote was launched by Secretary of State Jon Husted after HB359 (Duffey-Gonzales) went into effect.
Submissions are being accepted for the 2016 LEGO Design Challenge, sponsored by the Ohio Statehouse, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Ohio History Connection and the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington. This year’s challenge theme honors the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) is asking customers to help modernize the road’s toll collection system by filling out a survey.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) has been awarded a $600,000 Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), ORDC Executive Director Matt Dietrich said Wednesday.
American Electric Power (AEP) Co. unloaded four generating plants Wednesday, most of them located in Ohio, and most of them powered by natural gas. The move by Ohio’s leading electric utility signaled that challenges in the generation market stem not only from aging, inefficient coal plants, but from a much larger contraction in the wholesale electric industry.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) launched the rulemaking process Wednesday for a permanent rule to enforce Gov. John Kasich’s August executive order creating an oil and gas emergency notification system in Ohio. The commission also approved its annual winter reconnect order to ensure Ohioans electricity and natural gas for seasonal heating between Oct. 17, 2016, and April 14, 2017.
A dozen agencies serving Ohio veterans will share in a total of about $300 million in federal funding announced recently to provide housing support services and prevent homelessness for former service members.
House and Senate leaders and the governor received the results of two months’ of deliberation on the new state identification card for veterans mandated by HB173 (Anielski-Terhar) on Monday. The Veteran ID Material and Design Standards Committee wrapped up work with a final vote on the contents and design of the card and a formal letter of submission to the governor and General Assembly.
Attorney General Mike DeWine Monday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortion in Ohio and classified it as aggravated murder, saying proponents of the measure did not collect enough signatures.
Attorney General Mike DeWine has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision allowing Toledo’s last abortion clinic to remain open. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) attempted to force Capital Care to close after the clinic failed to obtain a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, as it was contracted with a facility in Michigan. Sixth District Judge Arlene Singer ruled the restrictions placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.
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