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Week in Review: May 1, 2022

Written on Apr 29, 2022

APPALACHIA

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Thursday announced details of their proposal to make what they called "a long-overdue, comprehensive investment in the Appalachian region of Ohio." The $500 million initiative would support local initiatives to revitalize downtown districts, improve the quality of life, and help rebuild the economies of Ohio's 32 Appalachian counties. It is dubbed "Ohio BUILDS - Small Communities, Big Impact - A Plan for Appalachia." According to DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney, the funding for this program must be appropriated by the General Assembly.

CORONAVIRUS

In a fact sheet released Wednesday, the Biden administration said there is an "urgent need" for Congress to provide funding for the national COVID-19 response, as inaction is leading to fewer vaccines, treatments and tests for the American people and less vaccination worldwide.

Moderna also said Thursday that it will request federal approval for a two-dose child vaccine in the coming weeks, with this covering children from six months to five years old.

In Ohio, COVID-19 cases continued to rise for the seven-day period ending Thursday, going from 6,890 over April 15-21 to 8,731 for April 22-28. However, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said hospitalizations fell from 428 to 314, while ICU admissions rose from 19 to 26. Deaths fell from 94 to 68.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for five projects expected to create 733 new jobs and retain 1,344 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 $58 million in new payroll and spur more than $563 million in investments across Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik all spoke at events around the state Tuesday, announcing distribution of $60 million in the first round of Brownfield Remediation grant funds. The program has a total of $350 million and launched in December 2021. DOD will provide funds for 78 projects in 35 counties as part of the first round, including $54.8 million for 37 clean-up projects and $5.5 million for 41 assessment projects. The program focuses on industrial, commercial and institutional brownfield sites that had been abandoned, idled or underutilized because of the known or potential release of hazardous substances or petroleum.

ECONOMY

Ohio's weekly initial unemployment claims dropped below 10,000 for the first time in weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). For the week ending April 23, ODJFS reported 8,283 jobless claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. The previous week, the department reported 10,884 jobless claims. The week before that it was 13,788, and three weeks ago, it was 17,662.

ELECTIONS 2022

Hannah News published an updated candidate list of races that are on the May 3 primary election ballot. It does not include General Assembly races, which are still subject to court action due to challenges to maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission that were struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court.

With just days to go before Ohio's Tuesday, May 3 primary, the state gained more than a thousand poll workers in the past week, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose. As of Monday, 34,069 Ohioans had signed up to serve as a poll worker in the primary election, meaning Ohio counties are 91.6 percent of the way to reaching the statewide goal, LaRose said. Of that, 25,293 poll workers have completed their training. The minimum number of poll workers needed statewide is 30,295. Also as of Monday, 69 counties have met the minimum number of poll workers needed. In order to ensure a sufficient number of poll workers is available in case of an emergency, LaRose set a goal of 34,846 poll workers statewide, or 115 percent of the minimum.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has announced that 182,496 absentee ballots were requested by mail or in person and that 100,809 votes have been cast statewide through Friday, April 22. More Republican ballots (91,365) have been requested than Democratic ballots (87,693), and 3,438 voters requested nonpartisan ballots. More Republican ballots (25,099) have been cast early in person than Democratic ballots (19,789), and 754 nonpartisan ballots have been cast early in person. More Republican ballots (51,332) have been returned and submitted for counting than Democratic ballots (47,558), and 1,919 nonpartisan ballots have been returned and submitted for counting.

ENERGY

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce joined JobsOhio and Battelle Memorial Institute Thursday to urge the Biden administration to name the Buckeye State one of four Clean Hydrogen Hubs to be funded by $9.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, Ohio Chamber president, joined Battelle CEO Lewis Von Thaer, Managing Director Matt Cybulski of JobsOhio's Energy and Chemicals division, CEO Kirt Conrad of Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) and CEO Angelo Kafantaris of Hyperion Corp., a hydrogen car manufacturer that launched in Columbus 10 years ago and is relocating its headquarters to the capital city after moving to California. The group said Ohio not only has not the shale natural gas for "blue" hydrogen production but also the biomass for renewably driven hydrogen and the generation capacity for "green" H electrolysis. The latter produces no carbon dioxide waste, which otherwise must be sequestered underground, and benefits from low- to zero-carbon electricity as the major input.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Ohio House Democrats Friday opened the application process for individuals seeking to replace Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) in House District 9. The deadline was Friday, April 29. While she had announced her resignation on the House floor on April 6, it did not become official until today, Friday, April 22. She will serve in the Biden administration as the new regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

The two Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission stood outside a locked House Finance Committee Hearing Room Monday calling for Republicans to hold hearings on passing a new General Assembly redistricting map. Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) noted that it was the halfway point between when the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the fourth General Assembly redistricting map and the Friday, May 6 deadline by which the Court ordered the commission to draw a new map. The two Democrats had put out a letter Friday that they said they had sent to their Republican colleagues on the commission calling for them to meet at 10 a.m. Monday.

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber Tuesday echoed his Democratic colleagues on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in calling for a meeting to be scheduled as soon as possible in order to meet the Friday, May 6 deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court. Faber, in a letter to other commission members released Tuesday afternoon by his office, said that scheduling a meeting has been challenging due to Gov. Mike DeWine's COVID-19 diagnosis and other members preparing for the May 3 primary. He noted that the commission has shown the ability to conduct meetings remotely and encouraged that option to be afforded for each meeting moving forward to increase availability and participation of members. He also proposed the commission ask the Ohio Supreme Court to extend the deadline until Friday, May 13, for a new legislative redistricting map; set a firm meeting schedule moving forward, subject to recess, with a virtual option; and deliberate over which redistricting plan will serve as the starting point for the commission's adoption of a plan, including agreeing on a process for commission member to offer formal amendments to any plan adopted subject to amendment, while also providing sufficient time for commission members and the public to review and consider the plan prior to final adoption.

Faber's letter came after the ACLU of Ohio, representing the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, asked the Ohio Supreme Court to order members of the commission to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt for not beginning work on a new redistricting plan after the Court rejected the fourth set of maps drawn by the commission.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission has announced it will invest up to $233 million on toll road modernization, mainline pavement replacement, resurfacing, bridge work and other projects in 2022.

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