Week in Review
Friday, April 21, 2016
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a major expansion of his START (Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma) program in southern and Appalachian Ohio Tuesday to provide increased support for children who have suffered abuse or neglect from parental opioid abuse. Now serving 18 counties, START will provide an additional $1 million for specialized victim services including trauma counseling for minors and recovery resources for their parents.
Former Rep. Tim Derickson has been appointed assistant director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg), the agency announced Monday. Derickson had been serving as executive director of the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. He took that position in August 2016. Derickson started his new job on Monday, according ODAg Communications Director Mark Bruce. He is taking over for Howard Wise, who retired.
Declines in farm income and farmland values will likely lead to an increase in the number of farmers who are delinquent on their loans, according to a pair of Ohio State University (OSU) agricultural economists. While the current farm bankruptcy rate is low — two per 10,000 farms nationally — that rate has gone up slightly in recent years and likely will continue to do so, said Ani Katchova and Robert Dinterman, both from the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday the Montgomery County arrest of four suspected drug traffickers believed to be “high-level” members of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. The Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission’s Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force seized approximately 20 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, 20 pounds of marijuana and approximately $120,000 in cash. The drugs have a street value of roughly $2 million.
Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced that his office is now accepting applications for its Teen Ambassador Board for the 2017-2018 academic year. The Ohio Attorney General’s Teen Ambassador Board is open to high school juniors and seniors from public, private, home, charter and online schools in Ohio. The mission of the board is to provide Ohio’s future leaders with an inside look at Ohio law and government.
AUDITOR OF STATE
State auditors recently outlined $6 million in savings recommendations to help the Parma City School District in Cuyahoga County alleviate its financial stress. The performance audit released by Auditor of State Dave Yost Friday proposes 18 ways to reverse the district’s growing deficit, including staffing reductions and changes to the ways it funds extracurricular activities. The district has already begun implementing several cost-saving measures in line with the performance audit recommendations, Yost noted in a release.
Auditor of State Dave Yost announced Monday that he has approved the selection of Bellaire Local School District in Belmont County to receive the first shared services feasibility study conducted by his office. Local governments and state agencies can apply for a shared services feasibility studies through the auditor’s office, under provisions enacted as part of 131-HB5 and effective Sept. 14, 2016. Unlike financial audits, these studies are voluntary, and entities can choose to opt out if they are included in another government’s application.
As House Republicans prepare to unveil their proposed changes on HB49 (R. Smith), the biennial budget, next week, the chairman of the House Higher Education Subcommittee said he has recommended a few changes to the textbook provisions as well as to the one allowing students at two-year institutions to earn bachelor’s degrees. Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) said it is ultimately up to leadership on what ends up in the final product, but as the chairman of the higher education subcommittee, he said he has submitted a number of amendments addressing various provisions.
The Senate Finance Committee, as its four subcommittees gear up for their hearings on the proposed FY18-19 budget, Thursday released the list of state agencies each of the subcommittees will hear.
Organizations interested in FY18 funding from Ohio’s federal charter school grant have until May 1 to submit notice of their intent to apply, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Friday. The grants are meant to support planning, program design and initial implementation of new, high-quality charter schools.
Ohio State University this week released a new nationwide study that found children are better readers at a younger age than in the recent past, but also that there are still gaps, especially in more advanced reading skills. The study found that children entering first grade in 2013 had significantly better reading skills than similar students just 12 years earlier.
Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s (ECOT) legal team wants one of three judges hearing its lawsuit against the state removed from the case because of comments he made in oral arguments. ECOT attorney Marion Little filed an affidavit of disqualification Tuesday against 10th District Appeals Judge Gary Tyack, citing Tyack’s mention of ECOT founder William Lager’s political donations, among other comments, as evidence of bias.
The state panel assigned to recommend revisions and possible cutbacks in testing heard Tuesday about some Ohio districts’ use of an assessment inventory to do that on the local level. The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments, formed by Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and led by Deputy Superintendent John Richard, also discussed testing requirements for identifying gifted students and heard about new legislation that would make major changes to academic standards and testing.
Reps. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati) recently announced new legislation that would eliminate the Common Core in Ohio, state-based evaluation systems and state-mandated end-of-course examinations. HB181, dubbed by the sponsors as the “Student and Teacher Liberty Act,” eliminates the Common Core state standards and the associated tests; state required end-of-course examinations; the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System; and the Ohio Principal Evaluation System. The sponsors said the elimination of the evaluation systems would allow each district to create its own evaluations for teachers and principals.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is adding top level staff under Secretary Betsy DeVos, including the appointment of a Maryland charter school founder and advocate to oversee K-12 education. USDOE announced in a statement this week that Jason Botel was appointed deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, and acting assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education.
State policymakers have a lot to learn from the world’s leading education systems, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “Most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to succeed in the 21st century economy,” NCSL Policy Associate Madeleine Webster told the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) on Thursday.
While the 2018 election is more than a year and a half away, fundraising for the U.S. Senate race is in full swing. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. He has about $5 million on hand. Brown had raised about $1.35 million during the first quarter of 2011, ahead of his 2012 re-election. Treasurer Josh Mandel, Brown’s 2012 opponent who is seeking a re-match in 2018, announced he raised nearly $1.5 million into his “Team Josh” and related committees. Mandel’s cash on hand is $2.4 million. U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Columbus), who is considering a U.S. Senate run, reported raising nearly $1.4 million in the first quarter. Tiberi reported $6.3 million cash on hand.
Preston Maddock has joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) re-election campaign as communications director. Maddock most recently served as communications director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and before that, as press secretary for Alison Lundergan Grimes in her unsuccessful 2014 bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The still-young administration of Donald Trump was one of many federal issues discussed Thursday at a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) panel featuring U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) and Pat Tiberi (R-Columbus). The panel titled “The First 100 Days” and moderated by WOSU’s Mike Thompson, began with a discussion on the Trump administration and moved onto a wider range of topics, including immigration, redistricting and education, among others.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission Wednesday unanimously approved new rules that would set into place testing for skilled games to be licensed in Ohio. The commission was given statutory authority by the General Assembly to oversee skilled games as the commission tries to prevent illegal gambling from popping up around the state.
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) will commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the repose of President Abraham Lincoln in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda on Friday, April 28. The 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery A, a group of Civil War re-enactors, will provide an honor guard for the replica of Lincoln’s casket from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
After two years away from the Statehouse, Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) says, in an interview with Hannah News, he has returned to represent Ohio’s 12th Senate District with increased focus on policies that he feels affect his constituents where they are, in their local communities.
Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) no longer faces removal from office for a March incident in which he was found passed out at a McDonald’s drive-through with a loaded handgun in his car’s center armrest. A Butler County grand jury Tuesday indicted Retherford on misdemeanor drunken driving charges but declined to indict on a felony weapons charge, conviction on which would have triggered his ejection from office.
Members of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) and the Ohio Township Association (OTA) celebrated Earth Day Tuesday by planting a sourwood tree and placing a bench near the northeast corner of Capitol Square.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) said Wednesday he’s resigning leadership, effective next week, to focus on his candidacy for Ohio governor in 2018. The Senate Democratic Caucus elected Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) to replace Schiavoni. Later in the week, the Senate changed committee assignments to reflect the change.
Hannah News interview series for freshman legislators featured Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), who places priority on education issues as a former longtime member of the Cincinnati school board.
Gov. John Kasich will participate in a town hall hosted by CNN that will be held at 10 p.m. on Monday, April 24, the network announced. The town hall will be moderated by Anderson Cooper and will focus on President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, CNN said. Kasich will also talk about his new book, “Two Paths, America Divided or United.”
Gov. John Kasich announced the appointment of Eric K. Nagel of Wauseon (Fulton County) to serve as a judge on the Fulton County Court, Western District. Nagel will assume the bench on April 28, 2017. He must run in November 2018 to retain the seat for the full term commencing Jan. 1, 2019. Nagel is replacing Judge Jeffrey L. Robinson who has been elected to the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas.
The governor made the following appointments during the week:
- Thomas R. Winters of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Racing Commission for a term beginning April 14, 2017 and ending March 31, 2021.
As a new batch of Choose Ohio First Scholars from across the state were honored Monday at the Statehouse, Chancellor John Carey said the Kasich administration is committed to keeping the program going. The program gives scholarships to Ohio colleges and universities to recruit Ohio residents as undergraduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
The Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) adult education program is taking on a new name, announced Monday at a news conference with speakers from a range of roles. The former ODHE Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) program will now be named “Aspire” as part of a rebranding effort that drew on responses from program participants, some of whom immigrated to the United States and were learning English as their second language as well.
Carrie Haughawout, who joined the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) in 2011, has been appointed deputy director of the department, ODI Director Jillian Froment announced Monday. The appointment was effective April 17. Froment, who had held the deputy director position prior to her appointment as director by Gov. John Kasich on April 1, praised Haughawout’s previous ODI service as an assistant director of policy and product coordination.
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct issued advisory opinions Friday addressing attorney advertising and representation of clients by a former magistrate. In Advisory Opinion 2017-3, the board provides guidance for lawyers who desire to use unsolicited emails as a form of advertising to attract new clients, and Opinion 2017-3 further advises that a lawyer may use third-party services to send the emails, as long as the lawyer maintains responsibility for the actions of the service and the content of the emails. In its second opinion Friday, the Board of Professional Conduct considered the ability of a former magistrate, now practicing law, to represent a domestic relations client — post-decree — in a matter originally heard by the magistrate.
The fatal shooting of a black couple following a high-speed chase involving more than 100 police officers and 137 bullet rounds now goes before the East Cleveland Municipal Court, which the Supreme Court of Ohio last Thursday granted authority to hear dereliction of duty charges against five Cleveland Police Department supervisors.
The Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Friday filed its proposed processor rules with the Common Sense Initiative (CSI). According to DOC’s filing, the department determined it was not in the best interest of the Medical Marijuana Control Program to increase the number of processor licenses or create an Ohio residency requirement, both of which were requested during the public comment period.
The medical marijuana cultivator rules written by the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on Monday, despite warnings from advocates that the licensure rules exceed the department’s rulemaking authority.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer and other state officials have been sued by 52 Ohio farmers in federal court. The complaint — which concerns the state’s actions following flooding from the Grand Lake St. Mary’s spillway that began in 1997 — was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio late Thursday, April 13, according to a news release from the farmers’ legal counsel at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP.
Ohio’s annual wild turkey season will open soon, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. New for the 2017 season, the state has been divided into two zones for spring turkey hunting: a south zone, which opens to hunters on Monday, April 24, and a northeast zone, which opens to hunters on Monday, May 1. The youth wild turkey season will occur on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, according to ODNR.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) appeal of a half-million-dollar damage award against the agency and its director, James Zehringer, who the Court previously found in contempt for failing to complete eminent domain actions in order to compensate landowners near Grand Lake St. Marys for years of flooding.
Recently Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler released the state’s new guidelines for eating fish caught from Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams, reflecting notable improvements in the waters of the state. Among the improvements from fish data collected last summer, the “do not eat” advisories were removed for the Ottawa River (Toledo) for all species and replaced with less strict recommendations — “a sign of improved conditions,” he said in a release.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said Monday that it had approved federal grant funding for 37 projects statewide for fire departments and fire associations serving small communities across Ohio. Out of Ohio’s nearly 1,300 fire departments statewide, approximately 900 are classified as rural, with populations under 10,000, and these departments are primarily staffed by volunteers.
The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board of Trustees voted Thursday to stop any further cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) after July, a move meant to shore up long-term finances and comply with state requirements for a plan to reduce liabilities. On a motion from board Chairman Robert Stein, a retired teacher, the board approved suspending the COLA, with provisions to review the feasibility of reinstituting them no later than the time of STRS’ next five-year experience study.
Robyn F. Chatman became the first African American president of the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), the group announced Friday. Chatman, a Cincinnati family medicine doctor, was sworn-in during the association’s annual business meeting in March. She is the first African-American president in the OSMA’s 169-year history and fourth female leader.
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) announced Tuesday that it has hired Janice Welsheimer as its director of educational programs. Welsheimer will provide leadership and direction for OABA’s educational programs, including workshops, seminars and conferences. In her new role, she’ll also serve as the executive director of the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser program and the Ohio coordinator for the Nutrients for Life Foundation.
More than 10,000 bicycle helmets will be distributed this year as part of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (Ohio AAP) “Put a Lid on It! Bike Helmet Safety Awareness” campaign. It is held in conjunction with “Bike Helmet Safety Awareness Month,” which will be observed during May 2017.
A provider of police body cameras is offering a free, one-year trial of its product to every law enforcement agency in the country, including Ohio. Axon, formerly known as TASER International, rolled out the program this month. The company said it also will provide related hardware, software, data storage, training and product support to every participating police department.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Friday that 12,827 new entities filed to do business in Ohio during March 2017, an increase of 2,349 when compared to the same month in 2016. Husted said the latest numbers make March 2017 the best month for new business formation in Ohio’s history.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ohio Department of Administrative Services Director Robert Blair Friday honored 23 employees from four state agencies with the Governor’s Award for Employee Excellence in recognition of extraordinary public service. Of the 23 honorees, 12 were from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), nine from the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and one each from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The awards were presented in the State Room of the Ohio Statehouse.
Policy Matters Ohio Friday proposed 10 tax reforms that it says, if included in the upcoming state budget, could benefit Ohioans and stimulate the economy. The suggestions follow news this week that the administration is planning to trim its revenue forecasts for the next biennium by $400 million each year.
The Ohio Turnpike Commission approved four resolutions during its Monday meeting relating to contracts for improvements along the toll road. The resolutions included hiring Civil Coatings and Construction Inc. to repaint bridges in Williams and Fulton counties. The contract is worth $1.1 million. The resolution also approves Greenman-Pedersen Inc. to oversee the project.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) on Thursday announced the appointment of Rep. Jonathan Dever (R-Cincinnati) to the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC).
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) launched its 2017 discussion on grid modernization Tuesday with an overview of the technological and interactive landscape that — should prognostications from public and private energy leaders hold true — will determine the future of electric distribution in Ohio and the U.S.
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