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Week in Review: Dec. 5, 2021

Written on Dec 3, 2021

ATTORNEY GENERAL

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost warned consumers about the potential for illegal robocallers to pose as a legitimate business such as Amazon, Apple or PayPal in an effort to steal personal information and money. Yost explained scammers typically call at random and suggest, under the guise of wanting to help remedy a situation, that a large purchase has been charged to a person's credit card. "Legitimate companies don't do business this way, so just hang up," Yost said in a statement. "These impostors want to get you on the line and cause panic so you cough up personal information. My hope is that you will answer by ending the call."

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

Saying that nearly half of restaurant operators reported less sales in October than two years ago, the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) urged Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Almost 7,000 Ohio restaurants are eligible and awaiting RRF money, and the National Restaurant Association has requested the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to "get the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) process moving." The national group also voiced its disappointment that the U.S. House passed the Build Back Better Act without RRF replenishment. ORA also reminded restaurants that the Ohio Department of Development's Food and Beverage Establishment Grant still has $120.6 million available, with $79.4 million already distributed.

CORONAVIRUS

Ohio's COVID-19 cases continued to increase over the week as numbers approached the peak last seen in mid-September.

A federal judge based in Kentucky Tuesday granted a temporary injunction against the Biden administration preventing a federal mandate requiring federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022 from taking effect. In a 29-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove said the Biden administration had overstepped the authority given to it by Congress to issue the mandate. The injunction blocks the mandate from applying to federal contractors in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The DeWine administration says there's no sign yet of an Omicron variant outbreak of COVID-19 in Ohio following confirmation this week of at least one case in California. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said Thursday the best known defense against any form of the virus is still vaccination, though lab-created monoclonal antibodies have shown some promise for patients at risk of serious infection.

ECONOMY

For the week ending Nov. 27, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 7,519 initial traditional unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is slightly higher than the previous week, when the state reported 7,218 traditional jobless claims. Ohioans filed 32,134 continued traditional unemployment claims last week, which was 8,265 fewer than the previous week, according to ODJFS. The total number of traditional claims filed from Nov. 21 to Nov. 27 was 39,653. The eight-week average of new jobless claims is 8,213. The eight-week average of continued jobless claims is 42,102. According to data provided by ODJFS, the state's weekly jobless claims are slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

ELECTIONS 2022

Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) announced Tuesday that she is running for the 9th Congressional District, which was redrawn by lawmakers to include all or part of Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams and Wood counties. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo). The new 9th District leans Republican, according to various redistricting analysis platforms.

Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) said Tuesday that she is running for re-election in the 27th Ohio Senate District next year.

Former Rep. Al Landis (R-Dover) announced this week that he will be running for the 31st Ohio Senate District in 2022. The seat is currently held by Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark), who is term-limited. Landis, currently a Tuscarawas County commissioner, served in the Ohio House from 2010-2018 until term limits prevented him from running for re-election.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

An initiated statute to legalize marijuana for adults aged 21 and older will likely make it to the General Assembly before the end of 2021, Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesperson Tom Haren told Hannah News on Wednesday. Haren said he expects the campaign will have collected the necessary 132,887 valid signatures by the end of November or early December, putting the measure on track to be validated by elections officials and transmitted to the Legislature by the end of the year.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

A second lawsuit challenging Ohio's new congressional redistricting plan that was passed by the General Assembly as SB258 (McColley) and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine was filed Tuesday evening by the League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWVO), the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and eight Ohio Democratic voters. The lawsuit, like the one filed by the National Redistricting Action Fund, argues the map violates Article XIX, Section 1 (C)(3)(a) of the Ohio Constitution, which states a plan passed by the General Assembly along party lines must not "unduly" favor or disfavor, a political party, "but the enacted plan does just that." The lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiffs by the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP.

WORKFORCE

Career-technical education students who complete certification programs earn an average of $12,323 more than those with only a high school diploma or equivalent five years after starting a program, a gap that increases to $18,221 after 20 years, according to new research on the economic effects of career-technical education. The Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents commissioned the study from the University of Cincinnati's Alpaugh Family Economics Centers. It looked at the benefits to adult students at Ohio technical centers and the economic effects of operations and capital spending at career centers, serving high school students. The study finds the increased earnings works out to a 2,000-plus percent return-on-investment on the cost of a career-technical investment after 20 years.

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