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Week in Review: April 24, 2022

Written on Apr 24, 2022

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday reported 6,890 new COVID-19 cases for the week, up from 4,808 during April 8-14. Hospitalizations also rose from 317 to 428, while weekly ICU admissions dropped from 29 to 19 and deaths fell from 100 to 94. According to the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), there are currently 311 total hospital patients with COVID-19 and 47 ICU patients, compared to 314 hospital patients and 38 ICU patients on April 14.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Friday that Ohio added 18,300 jobs in March 2022 as the unemployment rate fell to 4.1% from 4.2% in February. ODFJS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in March was 237,000, down from 242,000 in February. The number of unemployed has decreased by 90,000 in the past 12 months from 327,000. The March unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.7% in March 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for March 2022 was 3.6%, down from 3.8% in February 2022, and down from 6% in March 2021.

GOVERNOR

Bills signed by the governor during the week include the following:

HB95 (Manchester-Lightbody) To temporarily allow income tax credits for beginning farmers who participate in a financial management program and for businesses that sell or rent agricultural land, livestock, facilities, or equipment to beginning farmers; to modify the law governing certain tax increment financing arrangements; to alter the types of vehicles that may be purchased at a motor vehicle show; and to permit, for a limited time, the abatement of unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest for certain municipal property.

HB126 (Merrin) To require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners.

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS

Home sales fell nearly 5% in March compared to a year earlier, but the average sales price was up by double digits, according to Ohio Realtors. The association pointed out that the lower sales still exceeded comparable pre-pandemic figures. Sales of 11,832 homes marked a 4.8% decline from the 12,429 homes sold in March 2021, while the average price increased by 11.1%, from $222,421 to $247,123.

LOBBYISTS

Ohio's ethics panel for judges and attorneys has issued new guidance for lobbyists and other members of the bar who wish to contact government officers directly on behalf of their clients. The Board of Professional Conduct, which supports Ohio Supreme Court oversight of the legal field, addresses lobbyists and other lawyers' immediate interactions with public officials, their employees or their agents, rather than with government officials' legal advisors, in Advisory Opinion 2022-03. The board says lawyers are generally barred from direct communication with a government officer or employee who consults with or directs counsel to the office on a legal matter involving the private attorney; who may "obligate the government" on such matters; or whose actions or omissions may be imputed to the government office.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

Earlier in the week, Secretary of State Frank LaRose blasted the most recent majority opinion of the Ohio Supreme Court striking down the fourth set of General Assembly maps drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, particularly taking aim at a suggestion that the state could hold a primary for General Assembly candidates later in August or in September. The majority's per curiam opinion of the Court had been issued Thursday, April 14. LaRose said that statement in the opinion, signed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justices Jennifer Brunner and Melody Stewart, "indicates a shocking and clear ignorance of Ohio law." He particularly singled out Brunner, a former Ohio secretary of state, without naming her, saying that despite Brunner's experiences in the chief elections official role, "the majority did not consider the fact that each state's election system is unique, or that Ohio's elections have their own statutory requirements, and because of these requirements it would require a violation of Ohio law for any primary to be held after Aug. 2. In fact, the filing deadline for nominating petitions for nonpartisan races in the General Election, as set in Ohio law, is Aug. 8, 2022. To be clear, any primary held after Aug. 2 would directly conflict with the statutorily required deadlines of the General Election," the secretary of state's office said.

Also responding to the Court's suggestion of a later primary than Aug. 2 was Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) President Brian Sleeth. He said Monday that the state cannot delay the General Assembly primary election to a date later than Tuesday, Aug. 2. "Ohio simply must hold its second primary election on Aug. 2 if we are to successfully navigate the rest of 2022. Aug. 2 is the key to both a successful second primary and a successful general election in Ohio," Sleeth said.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a letter to the General Assembly Tuesday, continuing to criticize the majority of the Ohio Supreme Court that struck down the latest General Assembly redistricting map and telling lawmakers that any date for state legislative primaries beyond Tuesday Aug. 2 overlaps statutory timelines in Ohio law. Specifically, LaRose said any date beyond Aug. 2 "overlaps the 90-day statutory timeline for the Nov. 8 general election. You can't begin to prepare for the general election when the outcome of the primary election has not yet been certified."

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