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Week in Review: April 3, 2022

Written on Apr 1, 2022

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for eight projects expected to create 1,884 new jobs and retain 838 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $129 million in new payroll and spur more than $1 billion in investments across Ohio.

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 3,103 new COVID-19 cases for the March 25-31 period, down from 3,668 during March 18-24. Hospitalizations rose from 193 to 297, and ICU admissions increased from 18 to 19. ODH also reported 249 deaths, up from 185. ODH has been reporting weekly COVID numbers on Thursdays rather than daily since March 17. Total numbers include 2.67 million cases, 113,869 hospitalizations, 13,384 ICU admissions and 38,042 deaths since the pandemic started two years ago.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Friday that Ohio's unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%in February, down from 4.3% in January. Ohio's nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 6,700 over the month, from a revised 5,432,700 in January to 5,439,400 in February. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in February was 242,000, down from 246,000 in January. This number has decreased by 91,000 in the past 12 months from 333,000; the unemployment rate in February 2021 was 5.8%. The U.S. unemployment rate for February was 3.8%, down from 4.0% in January, and down from 6.2% in February 2021.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

The Senate Wednesday unanimously sent the capital reappropriations bill to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. HB597 (Oelslager) reappropriates $2 billion in capital projects for FY23-24. Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said that because of when the General Assembly passed the last capital budget as well as issues from the pandemic, a number of projects were not finished. He said HB597 needs to be in place by July 1 so the projects are not disrupted which means it must be passed by April 1. The bill does not include any new money.

POLLS/STUDIES

A poll released Thursday, March 24 by Quinnipiac University finds Americans under the age of 50 are more likely to see cryptocurrencies as a dominant economic force in the long term. Overall, the poll of 1,936 U.S. adults nationwide found 43 percent think cryptocurrencies will become a dominant economic force long-term, while 35% think they are a short-term trend, and 22% had no opinion. More than half of 18- to 29-year-olds and 30- to 49-year-olds see better long-term prospects for cryptocurrencies, while 40% of 50- to 64-year-olds see it as a long-term, dominant economic force, and only 21% of those 65 years of age and over.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

With the deadline for the Ohio Redistricting Commission to pass a new General Assembly map fast approaching Monday evening, majority Republicans on the commission gave up on finishing maps worked on over the previous five days by independent mapmakers hired by the commission and instead chose to pass a new version of the third redistricting plan rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court just 10 days earlier. The new map passed the commission by a vote of four to three, with Auditor Keith Faber again joining the Democratic members of the commission in opposing it. According to House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), two competitive Democratic House districts and one competitive Senate district from the previous plan became safer in the new version. The commission's actions came two days ahead of a federal court hearing on a lawsuit filed by activists seeking to get the court to order the use of a map rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court for the Tuesday, May 3 primary -- the same map tweaked by the commission on Monday. The move to adopt a "fail safe" plan came from Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) who argued that as of early Monday evening, the commission had not seen a complete Ohio Senate plan and an Ohio House plan that they could verify is constitutional.

A day after the Ohio Redistricting Commission amended a previous General Assembly plan struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court and passed it, plaintiffs in the lawsuits that challenged the previous plans asked the Court to order the members of the commission to explain why they shouldn't be held in contempt for passing a plan the plaintiffs said goes against the Court's wishes. The Court asked respondents to file their responses to the motions by 9 a.m. on Monday, April 4.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court consolidated separate lawsuits challenging the commission's most recent congressional redistricting plan and set a hearing schedule that puts it out past the current May 3 primary. The plaintiffs in Bria Bennett v. Ohio Redistricting Commission filed the show cause motion Tuesday, with the plaintiffs in Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission filing a separate motion in support of the Bennett plaintiffs.

The General Assembly primary election is still in the hands of Ohio state government officials -- for now.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks appeared before the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee Tuesday to update the members on the federal infrastructure law, to request a couple of law changes to make Ohio's use of those funds possible, and to discuss the impact should Sen. Steve Huffman's (R-Lima) SB277 -- the gas tax rollback -- pass. He said there were a number of caveats around the federal money including that, although it includes $550 billion in new federal spending over the next five years, only the money for the current fiscal year has been appropriated. In addition, he said the funds come with "a lot of strings and carveouts." For Ohio that means while the state is due to receive more than $11 billion over the five years, "a decent portion of that is already spoken for ...." He went on to mention the funding targeted for bridge repair and replacement including the Cincinnati Brent-Spence Bridge, as well as the new electric vehicle charging infrastructure and "unprecedented" amounts targeted to public transit and airports.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

For the week ending March 26, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 16,156 initial traditional unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is higher than the previous week, when the state reported 12,599 jobless claims. The eight-week average for traditional unemployment claims is 12,103, according to ODJFS.

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