Week in Review: May 2, 2021

Provided by Hannah News Service

CENSUS

The U.S. Census Bureau Monday said Ohio will be one of seven states to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, while six states are set to gain seats. Monday was the first release of data by the Census Bureau from the 2020 count, which included the population counts used for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Block-level data, which is used by states to draw the district lines, will be released on Thursday, Sept. 30. Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said that as of April 1, 2020, the U.S. had a population of 331,449,281 million, an increase of 7.4% from the 2010 Census. However, he said that rate was lower than the previous growth rate from 2000 to 2010 of 9.7%, and the second lowest growth rate in U.S. history, trailing only 1930-1940.

CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Mike DeWine announced during his Tuesday briefing fully vaccinated Ohioans will no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. DeWine said the policy change should be particularly helpful for high school students involved in extracurricular activities like sports. Currently, those 16 and 17 years old can get vaccinated, and DeWine said about 21 percent, over one in five, of that group have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Further, he said thinks it "won't be too long" until those 12 years of age and older will be eligible for the vaccine.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) launched a dashboard Monday to provide county-level data on COVID test positivity rates, ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said. The dashboard map displays counties in varying shades of blue based on the positivity rate, including a special lighter shade in counties where data might be skewed because fewer than 20 tests were administered in a given week, Vanderhoff said. Downloadable CSV files of weekly county-level data are also available.

ECONOMY

Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for six projects expected to create 622 new jobs and retain 449 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $29 million in new payroll and spur more than $99 million in investments across Ohio.

ELECTIONS 2021

Gov. Mike DeWine Monday announced a special election timetable for filling the 15th Congressional District seat after U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) resigns next month to become head of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The schedule is similar to the special election schedule to fill former U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge's (D-Warrensville Heights) seat after she became the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with the special election primary and general election both taking place on the same dates. Declaration of candidacy for the Stivers seat is due on Monday, May 17 with the Special Election Congressional Primary on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The actual election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Two more members of the General Assembly have launched campaigns for the Stivers' 15th Congressional District: Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) joined Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) and Fairfield County Commissioner Jeff Fix in seeking the Republican nomination.

ELECTIONS 2022

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren) made his bid for the U.S. Senate official Monday, becoming the first Democrat in the race. Ryan had been exploring a possible run for the seat since U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced he would not seek re-election. Ryan released a 3-minute video launching his bid with a pro-worker and jobs message as he toured Youngstown with his son, Brady.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

The Senate voted unanimously to pass rent and utility assistance bill HB167 (Oelslager), sending that bill to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk. The legislation appropriates $465 million in FY21 to DSA to fund its emergency rental assistance program, and $100 million to the Ohio Department of Public Safety for emergency costs related to the pandemic in federal COVID relief dollars.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced 19,694 new businesses filed with his office in March, setting a new monthly record. The previous record was set in July 2020 when 18,659 new businesses filed with the secretary of state's office. The March total is a 47% increase from March 2020.

TECHNOLOGY

The Senate voted unanimously 32-0 to pass broadband expansion bill HB2 (Carfagna-Stewart) on Wednesday, sending the measure back to the House for a concurrence vote. Senate Financial Institutions and Technology Committee Chair Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) spoke in support of the bill on the floor, saying the pandemic has helped everyone understand the need for broadband access across the state.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

For the week ending April 24, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 21,447 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is slightly lower than last week's, when the department reported 22,098. Of the 21,447 initial claims reported this week, about 900 have been flagged for potential fraud, according to ODJFS.