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Week in Review: Nov. 14, 2021

Written on Nov 12, 2021

FY22-23 BUDGET

Tax collections exceeded forecasts by almost $127 million or 6.2% in October, as all major sources beat forecasts, according to preliminary figures from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management. Sales tax collections were up $58 million or 5.8%, mostly from a 6.6% or $56.2 million overage in the non-auto sales tax, plus a 1.2%, $1.7 million bump for the auto sales tax. For the fiscal year so far, sales taxes are $58.1 million or 1.4% ahead of estimates.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have the authority to require private businesses to implement COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing requirements, according to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday. Yost and six other attorneys general filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and are asking the court to block implementation of the OSHA rule while the case is litigated. President Joe Biden announced the vaccine/testing mandate for large businesses in September, and OSHA issued the emergency rule on Thursday, Nov. 4. Yost announced a separate lawsuit to block the vaccine/testing rule for federal contractors on Nov. 4.

 

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

Lordstown Motors Corporation and Hon Hai Technology Group, known as Foxconn, announced Wednesday that they had entered a definitive agreement building on their prior agreement in principle. The new Asset Purchase Agreement implements the prior terms. LMC is selling its facility -- excluding certain assets such as the hub motor assembly line and battery module and pack lines -- to Foxconn for $230 million, with a $100 million down payment by Thursday, Nov. 18. Subsequent $50 million payments will be made on Feb. 1, 2022 and no later than April 15, 2022, with the balance of the purchase price paid at closing.

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health reported nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, Nov. 11 at 4,994, following 5,527 on Wednesday and 4,952 on Tuesday. There were also 190 hospitalizations and 17 intensive care unit admissions Thursday. The month has already seen seven days where at least 4,000 new cases were reported, with over 45,000 in total. The state's total number throughout the pandemic is now nearly 1.6 million cases. The latest 21-day averages include 3,763 cases, 176 hospitalizations and 18 ICU admissions.

ECONOMY

The nation added 531,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in October and the national unemployment rate edged down 0.2% to 4.6%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, with job gains occurring in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing sectors. Jobs fell in education. According to BLS, the number of unemployed persons, at 7.4 million, continued to trend down. Both measures are down considerably from their highs at the end of the February-April 2020 recession. However, they remain above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively, in February 2020).

BLS said that among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (4.3%) declined in October. The jobless rates for adult women (4.4%), teenagers (11.9%), Whites (4.0%), Blacks (7.9%), Asians (4.2%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little or no change over the month.

ELECTIONS 2022

Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) announced on social media that he will be running for the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals in 2022. Leland, who is term-limited next year, posted his campaign announcement on Twitter, along with a link to his campaign website.

Conservative activist and attorney Scott Pullins announced that he is exploring a run for the Ohio House next year, eyeing the new 98th District created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. However, that map is currently the subject of litigation. If approved by the Ohio Supreme Court, the 98th District would cover all of Knox County and parts of Morrow and Holmes counties.

FEDERAL

White House officials and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg provided an overview Monday of spending priorities in the infrastructure funding deal approved by Congress over the weekend, noting the substantial sums for roads and bridges are accompanied by money for everything from lead water line replacement to orphan well plugging to cybersecurity response to transit to electric vehicle charging, resiliency in response to climate change and more. Ohio elected officials noted the bill's potential to address the aging Brent Spence Bridge, a major interstate link between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, among other benefits. The deal includes $1.2 trillion in total spending. Both U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) noted inclusion of details from the bipartisan Bridge Investment Act, with $12.5 billion in competitive grants for projects that improve bridge conditions and the safety, efficiency and reliability of moving people and freight.

GOVERNOR

The governor also signed sub HB228 (Roemer) which deals state-administered municipal net profit taxes. HB228 becomes effective in 90 days.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

In filings made in three lawsuits challenging the new Ohio House and Senate maps drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the members of the commission argue that Article XI, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution is "aspirational" and left up to interpretation by the commission. All three lawsuits filed in the Ohio Supreme Court against the maps put Section 6 at the center of their arguments as to why the maps are unconstitutional. The section requires that the commission attempt to draw maps where the statewide proportion of districts correspond closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio. In a filing made by Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), the two argue that the section is not actionable in court. They note the word "attempt" in the section is not defined, nor is it defined anywhere else in Article XI, and point to Court precedent that states if a word is not defined in the Ohio Constitution, courts must imbue the word with its common, ordinary meaning.

The Joint Congressional Redistricting Committee began its work on new congressional maps by scheduling hearings on Wednesday and Friday, even as each chamber continues its own hearings on separate redistricting proposals. Members of the joint committee include Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) as co-chairs, and Sens. Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) and Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron), and Reps. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) and Beth Liston (D-Dublin) as members. The joint committee is hearing all four bills: SB258 (McColley), SB237 (Yuko-Sykes), HB479 (Oelslager) and HB483 (Brown-Galonski). Saying they wanted to address Republican concerns over equal population, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and Sykes presented a new SB237 to the Joint Committee on Redistricting during the committee's first hearing Wednesday even though it had not yet been officially amended by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary of State Frank LaRose Tuesday used the meeting of his Ready for November Task Force to highlight Ohio's audit procedures after elections while calling those audits performed outside of the purview of governmental entities "problematic." With this year's General Election occurring a week ago, LaRose said he wants to use the task force meetings to educate the public not only about how elections officials prepare for the election, but the work they do after the election. He said the weeks after the election are some of the busiest times. He is also using the task force as a platform to highlight how Ohio's elections are secure. The calls for post-election audits have been increasing over the last year.

STATE GOVERNMENT

The Ohio Department of Development earlier this year awarded $35,863,038 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for the rehabilitation of 31 historic buildings, the agency said. Together, the projects are expected to leverage $368 million in private investments in 13 communities, including two communities new to the program: New Lexington and Van Wert.

STUDIES/POLLS

Ohio ranks ninth among the "Most Charitable States for 2022," in a report by the personal finance site WalletHub. The Buckeye State also saw an 11th place ranking in "Volunteering and Service" and 16th in "Charitable Giving." State rankings were developed through "19 key indicators of charitable behavior." The report found Americans donated over $471 billion in 2020, up 5.1 percent from 2019. It also explored the challenges charities faced during the pandemic. The top 10 states included Utah, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado at first through eighth, with Georgia ranked 10th. Ranks for Ohio's other neighbors included Indiana, 31st; Kentucky, 33rd; Michigan, 40th; and West Virginia, 45th.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The Ohio Supreme Court decided 4-2 Tuesday to accept an appeal filed by the state in a case over Gov. Mike DeWine's decision to cut off pandemic-era unemployment compensation supplements earlier than they would have otherwise expired. DeWine in June halted the extra $300 payments to jobless workers under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, heeding calls from business groups who argued they were keeping people out of the workforce. The payments were due to expire in September. Former Attorney General Marc Dann sued on behalf of workers receiving the payments, citing state law that requires the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to seek "all advantages available" from the federal government on unemployment.

For the week ending Nov. 6, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 11,232 initial traditional unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is higher than last week, when the state reported 7,375 traditional jobless claims. Ohioans filed 43,713 continued traditional unemployment claims last week, which was 3,663 more than the previous week, according to ODJFS.

WORKFORCE

Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and JobsOhio President J.P. Nauseef offered an update Monday on the Cleveland Innovation District -- the second of three so far in Ohio -- nine months after it was first announced. The project is expected to generate 20,000 jobs in the next 10 years and create an economic impact of $3 billion. "The Cleveland Innovation District will play an essential role in attracting and retaining STEM graduates who will make Ohio a global leader in developing life-saving research and treatments worldwide," DeWine said.

This feature was provided by Hannah News Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations staff.