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Week in Review: July 11, 2021

Written on Jul 9, 2021

Provided by Hannah News Service


Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday announced that his administration is awarding $2 million in grants to 27 existing local drug task forces to disrupt the drug trade and promote substance abuse awareness, prevention and recovery. The grants are being distributed through the RecoveryOhio Law Enforcement Fund and will be used to intensify efforts to identify high-level drug traffickers, dismantle large drug trafficking organizations, interrupt the flow of money and drugs from Mexican cartels, and prevent the sale of illegal narcotics to those suffering from substance abuse disorder.


Ohio notched double-digit increases over projections for major tax categories in June, adding $367.6 million in excess revenue to end FY21 $1.54 billion ahead of estimates. The personal income tax beat forecasts by the greatest amount in June, coming in 26.7% or $227 million over estimates to reach $1.08 billion, versus $853.9 million expected. For the fiscal year, collections were $435.5 million or 4.5% over estimates, reaching $10.2 billion. Sales taxes beat forecasts by 13.9% or $135 million in June to reach $1.1 billion versus $972 million expected, with the non-auto sales tax up 11.8% of $98.3 million and the auto sales tax up 26.6 percent or $36.6 million. For FY21 as a whole, sales taxes exceeded forecasts by 9 percent or roughly $1 billion, reaching $12.2 billion versus $11.2 billion expected.


Ohio voters are expected to continue getting an absentee ballot request form in the mail for the 2022 election cycle thanks to language included in HB110 (Oelslager), the FY22-23 biennial budget now signed into law. That language "authorizes the Controlling Board, upon request of the secretary of state, to approve cash and appropriation transfers from the Controlling Board Emergency Purposes/Contingencies Fund to the Absent Voter's Ballot Mailing Fund to be used by the secretary of state to pay the costs of printing and mailing unsolicited applications for absent voters' ballots in the 2022 general election."


The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation released a report Tuesday on "Opportunities for Ohio in a Post-COVID Economy" that includes highlights of a recent discussion with Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik, JobsOhio Director for North American Business Development Charlie Rowell and Heartland Forward Chief Research Officer Dave Shideler.


Tuesday marked the registration deadline and Wednesday the start of early voting for Ohio's two special congressional elections this year. Tuesday, Aug. 3 will be the primary election for both the 15th and 11th District races. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Warrensville Heights) resigned to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, leaving the 11th District vacant, while U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) resigned to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, leaving the 15th District vacant. The general election for both seats will be Tuesday, Nov. 2.


The nation saw an increase of 850,000 jobs in June though the national unemployment rate saw a slight rise from 5.8% in May to 5.9 percent in June as job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, professional and business services, retail trade and other services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said Friday. BLS said the 9.5 million unemployed persons in June was little changed from May, and down considerably from a year ago as the nation emerges from lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the week ending July 3, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 10,900 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is slightly higher than the previous week, when the department reported 10,473 jobless claims. Ohioans filed 173,803 continued traditional unemployment claims last week, which was 7,313 fewer than the previous week, ODJFS said.


Congress overstepped its bounds with a provision in a federal COVID response law that bars states from using billions in relief funding to "directly or indirectly offset" tax cuts, a U.S. district court judge ruled recently in a case filed by Attorney General Dave Yost. The federal American Rescue Plan Act provided hundreds of billions of dollars to states to deal with the effects of the pandemic, with more than $5 billion coming to Ohio. The law placed numerous restrictions on use of the funding, including the so-called "tax mandate." Yost sued over that provision in March, arguing it violated state sovereignty.

The Tax Expenditure Review Committee, dormant since the 132nd General Assembly, is no more, following lawmakers' adoption in the budget of Senate-proposed language to eliminate it. The General Assembly created the committee in 2016 via 131-HB9 (Boose), and it met for the first time in 2018. The committee of six lawmakers and the tax commissioner was assigned to review tax expenditures on a rolling basis such that each one was reviewed at least every eight years.


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is in the "final stages" of a web application for unemployment compensation (UC) claimants who were overpaid through no fault of their own to seek a waiver on returning the money, ODFJS Director Matt Damschroder announced Thursday. He added that ODJFS will, "in the coming days," notify claimants in both traditional UC and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance  programs by email and regular mail on how to apply for the waivers.