Week in Review
Friday, May 20, 2016
Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Eklund (R-Chardon) took the case for opiate bill SB319 (Eklund) on the road Friday to alert constituents about the problem of health care providers and pharmacy technicians who handle large amounts of painkillers and other prescription drugs with no regulation. Eklund joined Deputy Director Andrea Boxill of the Governor’s Opiate Action Team and President Kilee Yarosh of the Ohio State Pharmacy Board (OSBP) in Lake County in a joint press conference to expand on the ongoing prescription drug problem and the professional settings where “leakage” persists.
The Kasich administration launched a targeted campaign to raise awareness about the signs of a drug overdose and to urge family members and friends of people who use drugs to obtain the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone to administer while waiting on first-responders to arrive. This campaign, a collaboration between the Ohio departments of health (ODH) and mental health and addiction services (OhioMHAS), focuses on the 15 counties that accounted for 80 percent of Ohio’s fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2014.
Annie Glenn, wife of former Ohio U.S. Sen. and astronaut John Glenn, and former Ohio Rep. E.J. Thomas head the 2016 class of inductees into the Ohio Department of Aging’s (ODA) Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. This group of 10 joins the more than 450 individuals who have been honored for their contributions to their communities and the state since the Hall of Fame was established in 1977. Others in the 2016 class are Al Abrams of Findlay (posthumous); Sister Jerome Corcoran of Canfield; John Eicher of Oxford; Michael Jackson of Tipp City; Yung-Chen Lu of Columbus; Caroline Luhta of Concord Township; Sandra Ogle of Rockbridge; and Gloria Renda of Steubenville.
Ohio Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine Thursday announced a settlement with a Virginia-based professional solicitor that conducted phone and mail solicitations in Ohio on behalf of charities. Under an assurance of discontinuance, Public Interest Communications Inc., of Falls Church, VA, agreed to pay $50,000 to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and to comply with Ohio’s Charitable Organizations Act.
As debate rages about states’ legislative efforts to regulate restroom use by transgender people, the federal government is telling schools that students are protected by law from discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) issued a joint guidance letter Friday telling schools about Title IX regulations prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs and activities by agencies receiving federal funding.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is offering a new $65 million grant pool for charter school management organizations to replicate or expand high-quality schools serving low-income families. The federal education agency says it expects to award 10 to 20 grants in the Charter Schools Program Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools Competition.
The Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, announced its membership has re-elected Becky Higgins as president and Scott DiMauro as vice president, giving both a second three-year term.
The House Education Committee continued its evaluation Tuesday of the value-added measurement for gauging student progress by hearing testimony from representatives of SAS, the analytics company that performs Ohio’s value-added calculations. In interested party testimony on HB524 (Cupp-R. Smith), SAS’ John White and Nadja Young explained the mechanics of the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) that Ohio uses to measure academic progress at the classroom, building and district level.
Two suburban Central Ohio lawmakers presented their proposal Tuesday to challenge the basis of the “Win-Win” agreement that now governs boundaries between Columbus schools and several of its neighboring districts. Reps. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) told the House Education Committee the agreement is unfair to suburban districts who must pay Columbus in order to protect their territory, and creates uncertainty for families who face the prospect of having their school district change when Win-Win comes up for renegotiation every six years.
A U.S. District Court found the state’s blind voters lack the same rights as other Ohio voters when it comes to casting an absentee ballot by mail, but did not order the state to make changes ahead of the 2016 election. Three blind residents filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted in December, claiming that Ohio’s current absentee ballot system violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and asking the court to force Husted to offer a private and independent method of absentee voting and a voter services website that affords blind voters the same information and transactions as other voters.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) campaign said this week that it has reserved $15 million in advertising to run through the November election. The campaign said it is the first Senate campaign in the nation to reserve time. The campaign said it will place more than $14 million in statewide television airtime and $1 million in YouTube ads through Google’s advertising network.
Gov. John Kasich gave his first interview since suspending his presidential campaign to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying he’s not interested in being a vice presidential or third-party candidate. He said he is undecided about endorsing presumed GOP nominee Donald Trump, saying he’ll wait to see if Trump can become more positive and unifying.
More than three times as many Democrats requested a Republican ballot in the March primary as Republicans requested Democratic ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio said Thursday that it has sent a letter to Cleveland officials threatening a lawsuit over the city’s delay of approval of event permits for the Republican National Convention in July.
Endorsements made over the week include the following:
- The Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC endorsed Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer for Ohio Supreme Court justice and Maureen O’Connor for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice.
Gov. John Kasich reaffirmed his opposition Monday to a permanent “freeze” of alternative energy standards, as proposed by HB554 (Amstutz), though interested parties managing over $16 billion in assets offered him no quarter on the shorter, three-year freeze extension of SB320 (Seitz). A consortium of investment professionals and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) sent a two-page letter Monday requesting the governor’s “strong opposition to efforts to extend the freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.”
An amended version of wind farm setback legislation accepted Wednesday creates the Ohio Wind Corridor in the Northwest portion of the state, and now gives the Ohio Power Siting Board authority to create alternative minimum setbacks for wind farms in that region in efforts to return setbacks to their original distance. The House Public Utilities Committee accepted a substitute version of HB190 (Burkley-Brown), which Rep. Scott Ryan (R-Newark) offered and explained would establish the Ohio Wind Corridor in the Northwest and North Central area of the state “where wind energy has been proven to be commercially viable and project development is already active.”
Ohio EPA awarded $561,707 in grant funding to 42 local governments to support local litter cleanup events and tire amnesty programs. Local governments use these funds to support litter collection activities, develop education programming or create opportunities for residents to properly dispose of scrap tires through tire amnesty collection events. All local cleanup efforts involve the work of volunteers and take place on public property.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new standards to cut methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air emissions from the oil and gas sector.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker recognized the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA), Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and four Ohio businesses Monday with the President’s “E” Award for excellence in exports.
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Columbus Wednesday to tout new federal rules for paying overtime to salaried employees, bringing mixed reactions from Ohio leaders and stakeholders.
President Barack Obama Wednesday nominated Carole Schwartz Rendon to serve as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. She succeeds Steven Dettelbach, who resigned the position earlier this year.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission continued its work as the Cleveland and Cincinnati casinos transition to a new name and a new managing group.
Tuesday’s Senate session included passage of HB305 (Schuring), which moves new non-teaching employees at the University of Akron from the School Employees Retirement System to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System; HB317 (Maag), to allow parents to institute a freeze on their children’s credit reports; HB431 (Sheehy-Patterson), to designate Feb. 17 as “Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day”; SB231 (Lehner), to create the “Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies” license plate; SB257 (Seitz-Skindell), to create the presumption of validity of recorded real property instruments; SB311 (Patton), requiring the Ohio Department of Health to prepare a flu vaccine information sheet pertaining to older adults; and SB312 (Jones), designating May 1 as “Fanconi Anemia Awareness Day.”
Wednesday’s Senate session included passage of HB5 (Kunze-Koehler), to allow the auditor to conduct business case studies of state agencies and local governments; SR358 (LaRose), which recognizes and encourages the use of the National Association of Chemical Distributors’ Responsible Distribution Program; HB166 (Green), a county auditor cleanup bill; HB187 (Ginter), which allows first responders to treat and stabilize animals; HB219 (Barnes), which designates January as “Thyroid Health Awareness Month”; HB240 (Huffman-T. Johnson), which updates laws on county coroners; HB303 (Dever-McColley), which creates the D.O.L.LA.R. Deed program as a mechanism to help those facing foreclosure to stay in their homes; HB352 (T. Johnson), which designates April as “Osteopathic Medicine Recognition Month”; and SB273 (Bacon), which addresses corporate governance disclosure requirements.
Wednesday’s House session included passage of HB447 (Schuring-Slesnick), regarding penalties for killing a police dog; HB130 (Hagan-Duffey), regarding local government data; SB213 (Jordan-Tavares), regarding cosmetology; HCR29 (Hills), which expresses opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan; HB63 (Pelanda-Grossman), regarding child abuse and neglect reporting; HB172 (Barnes), regarding criminal records; HB334 (Buchy), to exempt nonprofit gym membership sales from sales tax; HB341 (Young-Sweeney), regarding towing; HB388 (Scherer), regarding OVI offenses and ignition interlocks; HB421 (LaTourette), to allow pharmacists to administer certain injection drugs; HB423 (Perales), regarding military service records; HB432 (Cupp-Rezabek), to revise laws on decedent’s estates; HB435 (McClain), regarding revenue obligations; HB438 (Patterson), to designate the week prior to the week of Thanksgiving as “Ohio Public Education Appreciation Week”; HB449 (Romanchuk-Amstutz), to designate Feb. 3 as “Charles Follis Day”; HB455 (Patterson-Roegner), to allow establishment of boarding school zones; HB490 (Terhar-Johnson), to designate Jan. 31 as “Omphalocele Awareness Day”; SB188 (Seitz-Tavares), to designate April as “Genocide Awareness Month”; and SB215 (Hughes-LaRose), granting civil immunity for forcing entry to car to remove a child or animal; and concurred with Senate amendments to HB37 (Duffey-Stinziano), regarding alcohol permits and beer alcohol by volume.
Leadership on the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee signaled a willingness Wednesday to consider one or more rollbacks to anti-divestment legislation supporting Israel, but the head of Ohio Jewish Communities said several proposed amendments as written are a likely non-starter with coalition members supporting HB476 (Schuring).
Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) this week introduced HB569 to expand the scope of the ethnic intimidation law and include specified crimes committed based on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity along with disability, ethnicity and gender. This legislation also renames the offense of “ethnic intimidation” to “bias-motivated crime.”
In other legislative action, House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee reported out HB444 (Blessing), regarding D liquor permit holders providing samples; House Judiciary Committee reported out SB171 (Seitz), to enact the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act; SB204 (Seitz), regarding license suspensions; HB347 (McColley-Brinkman), regarding civil asset forfeiture; SB97 (Hughes-LaRose), regarding prison terms for crimes with firearms specifications; HB362 (Stinziano-Kunze), regarding strangulation offenses; and SCR21 (Bacon), to urge the federal government to name Columbus the winner for the Smart City Challenge; House Local Government Committee reported out HB378 (Hambley-Rezabek), regarding traffic violations; Senate State and Local Government Committee reported out HB158 (Dever-Howse), to change references to “mentally retarded person” to “person with an intellectual disability”; and HCR26 (Sears-Dovilla), regarding the Military BratPin; House Health and Aging Committee reported out HB470 (Schuring), regarding palliative care; HB285 (Sprague), to allow partial prescription refills; SB225 (Bacon), to designate the first day in June as “Hypoparathyroidism Awareness Day”; and HB533 (Sprague), to designate May as “Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month”; Senate Civil Justice Committee reported out HB387 (Terhar-Dever), regarding small claims court; and SB308 (Coley), regarding child support laws; Senate Criminal Justice Committee reported out HB300 (Baker-Manning), regarding driver’s license suspensions; HB123 (Johnson-Cupp), regarding alibi defense notifications; and SB238 (LaRose), to restrict supplies of fentanyl; and Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported out SB287 (Hite), regarding diabetes prevention; HB291 (Yuko), to designate September as “Pain Awareness Month”; and HB434 (Baker), to designate March as “Fibromuscular Dysplasia Awareness Month.”
Gov. John Kasich signed the $2.6 billion capital appropriations budget on Tuesday. SB310 (Oelslager) which contains funding for community projects, corrections, education, and green space, among other projects.
Other bills signed by the governor include the following:
- HB151 (Anielski), which expands the offenses of menacing by stalking and telecommunications harassment and prohibits a person from knowingly causing another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm or mental distress to a family or household member of the other person.
- HB243 (Schaffer), which makes changes governing the architects board and the landscape architects board regarding continuing education requirements.
- SB75 (Jones-Peterson), which limits the authority of a board of county commissioners or board of township trustees to prohibit agritourism through zoning, applies current agricultural use valuation to land used for agritourism for property tax purposes, and establishes immunity in a civil action for agritourism providers.
The governor made the following appointments during the week:
- Ferzan M. Ahmed of Powell (Delaware County) to the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors for a term beginning May 13, 2016 and ending Sept. 24, 2016.
- Chief Scott M. Reinbolt of Blanchester (Clinton County) to the Ohio Private Investigation and Security Services Commission for a term beginning May 16, 2016 and ending Dec. 31, 2020.
- Lydia A. Lancaster of Columbus (Franklin County) as the student member of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 16, 2016 and ending May 13, 2018.
- Jessica L. Bumgardner of Scio (Harrison County) reappointed to the Belmont College Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 17, 2016, and ending May 12, 2019.
- Shawn M. Riley of Gates Mills (Cuyahoga County) to the Kent State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 19, 2016 and ending May 16, 2025.
- Elizabeth B. McCormick of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Ohio Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission for a term beginning May 19, 2016 and ending Dec. 3, 2017.
- David H. Coy of Poland (Mahoning County) to the Eastern Gateway Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning May 19, 2016 and ending Oct. 16, 2018.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
All members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus on Monday sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Medicaid to express their “strong opposition” to the Healthy Ohio Program, because they said “it will limit access to health care.” Specifically, the letter asked that a federal waiver needed to establish the Healthy Ohio Program be rejected by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Monday was the final day the department accepted comments on the proposed program.
Sens. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) Wednesday gave what Jones characterized as “informal” testimony on their SB332, legislation that enacts most of the recommendations of the Commission on Infant Mortality, before Jones’ Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Local health commissioners told Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials during a subcommittee Thursday that cash-strapped local health departments will not have the ability to become accredited under the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) as required by 130-HB59 (Amstutz).
Kent State University announced that it selected Shay Davis Little to serve as vice president for student affairs. Formerly serving in an interim capacity in that role, Little began serving as the permanent vice president on Saturday, May 14.
Outside lawyers’ use of official letterhead from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in debt collection does not violate federal law on fair collection practices, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court overturned the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the case of Hazel Meadows and Pamela Gillie, who had received collections letters sent by attorneys Mark Sheriff and Eric Jones in their capacity as outside counsel for Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Ohio is joining the rest of the country in observing National Drug Court Month and its 2016 theme, “Criminal Justice Reform in Action.” Coordinated by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the annual observance recognizes the more than 2,900 such courts in the U.S. serving roughly 150,000 individuals each year. Since 1989, about 1.4 million offenders have graduated from drug courts, according to NADCP, which says they are considered the foundation of criminal justice reform and the most effective strategy to reduce substance abuse, crime and repeat offenses.
“With great caution and restraint,” the Supreme Court of Ohio overturned a lower court order directing the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) to return 10 — now 14 — wild animals to an exotic animal farm in Massillon by Thursday. The Court found Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione “patently and unambiguously lacks jurisdiction” to insert himself into the dispute over state permitting rules.
A Senate committee made several changes Wednesday to medical marijuana legalization proposal HB523 (Huffman), moving regulatory power to the Board of Pharmacy, narrowing the pain diagnoses that could qualify a patient for marijuana use, and ensuring that involvement with medical marijuana cannot be the sole grounds for denying a concealed-carry handgun license, among other provisions of a new substitute bill.
Ryan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, gave an overview of the administration’s proposed workforce development and education reforms to the higher education mid-biennium review bill Tuesday during a meeting of the House finance subcommittee. Burgess described an amendment to HB474 (Brown) that would expand education options in Ohio beyond the General Education Development (GED) certificate to include at least two other high school equivalency exams, while capping the state subsidy for first-time GED test takers at $80 per student.
The Senate introduced SB333 (Hite) on Wednesday, a mid-biennium review proposal on water and environmental quality intended to supplement related proposals in HB512 (Ginter).
Career-tech and private schools brought concerns and recommendations about College Credit Plus (CCP) to a House subcommittee considering the higher education mid-biennium review proposal Thursday, while university faculty voiced skepticism about the administration’s proposals to lower college costs with competency-based programs and more degree offerings through community colleges. Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), chairman of the House Finance Higher Education Subcommittee, said it’s possible the panel will have one more hearing next week on HB474 before the summer break. He urged members and interested parties to draft and circulate possible amendments during the summer months, rather than waiting until the fall, when he hopes to move the bill fairly quickly.
Ohio hunters checked 17,793 wild turkeys during the combined 2016 spring wild turkey hunting season and youth wild turkey hunting season, April 16-May 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
The Ohio Society of Association Executives (OSAE) recently announced that Jarrod A. Clabaugh, chief communications officer of Clemons & Associates Inc., an association management company headquartered in Baltimore, MD, was selected as the organization’s newest executive director. Clabaugh, who had previously served on the organization’s board of directors, is assuming the office following the unexpected death of Shane Yates, who had been the organization’s executive director since 2012.
One year after they graduate, women with doctorates in science and engineering fields earn 31 percent less than do men, according to a new study using previously unavailable data. The pay gap dropped to 11 percent when researchers took into account that women tended to graduate with degrees in fields that generally pay less than fields in which men got their degrees. The rest of the pay gap disappeared when the researchers controlled for whether women were married and had children.
The newest Feeding America “Map the Meal Gap” report, released recently, illustrates the challenge that many Ohioans face in affording adequate, nutritious food the group says. Nationally, the report found that 15.4 percent of all individuals were food insecure in 2014, meaning they lacked access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life. In Ohio, that rate was higher at 16.8 percent and essentially unchanged from the 2013 rate when it was 16.9 percent.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) announced $400,000 in grants Monday to 20 law enforcement agencies in an effort to strengthen community-police relations. Awards of up to $30,000 support programs including community-policing initiatives, training, juvenile-mentoring programs, education and awareness tools, and evidence-based policing strategies.
The House Local Government Committee unanimously tabled an amendment to pending police body camera legislation that would have allowed police officers to review their own camera’s footage of an event before preparing a report or answering questions about what was recorded.
The Sunset Review Committee continued its work Tuesday, hearing testimony from seven more boards, councils and agencies.
Thursday’s Grace Commission featured a spirited debate between Republican members and Research Director Zach Schiller of Policy Matters Ohio, who called for “a more prosperous, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio.”
The proposed transferability of the film tax credits in HB475 (Schuring) was the focus of opponent testimony Tuesday by Policy Matters Ohio’s (PMO) Wendy Patton before the House Finance Committee. Explaining that that means the credits could actually be used to offset tax liabilities in Ohio that “have nothing to do with film production,” Patton said transferability of the refundable credits makes “the program less efficient and less transparent.”
American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio is moving forward with plans to develop 500 megawatts (MW) of wind energy and 400 MW of solar power under in its recently modified power purchase agreement (PPA). It is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reconsider parts of the agreement unrelated to the nine aging coal plants and associated subsidies, including AEP ownership of up to half of new wind and solar projects in Ohio. The utility issued a request for information (RFI) Friday to solicit partners in a future request for proposal (RFP) on individual wind installations producing at least 20 MW and totaling 500 MW statewide.
The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus hosted former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis for a lunch forum at the Ohio Democratic Party, and she told the crowd that she sees similarities in what Ohio and Texas have been doing in the abortion debate. Ohio recently passed HB294 (Patmon-Conditt), which stripped funds from Planned Parenthood clinics for non-abortion services. It was a move Texas had made years earlier.
Gov. John Kasich Tuesday announced that Sarah Morrison will be the new administrator and CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, removing the interim tag from her current title. Morrison has been serving as interim administrator and CEO since former Administrator Steve Buehrer stepped down from the post in mid-April.
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