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Week in Review: May 15, 2022

Written on May 13, 2022

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA)

Ohio Township Association (OTA) Director of Governmental Affairs Marisa Myers fielded a number of questions Wednesday morning from members of House Finance Committee regarding HB377 (Hall-Swearingen), legislation that distributes the second half of the $844 million coming to the state for "non-entitlement units" of local governments. She reminded committee members that last year in HB168 (Fraizer) the Legislature had appropriated the first half of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds set aside for local governments, or $422 million, leaving $422 million to be distributed in this second tranche. She also reminded the committee that ARPA split local governments into two groups: larger jurisdictions that receive funds directly from the federal government and "non-entitlement units [NEUs] of local government." At issue initially was the fact that "non-entitlement units of local government" did not include cities, villages and townships under 50,000 in population. HB168 included those units of local governments in the distribution of the first round of funding; this bill likewise includes them for the second round. The committee reported the bill out at its Thursday hearing.

CORONAVIRUS

In the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) update Thursday, there were 15,970 new cases reported for the week, up from 11,013 for the week ending May 5 and 8,731 in the April 28 update. ODH also reported 353 hospitalizations, up from 296 on May 5 and 313 on April 28, and 36 ICU admissions, up from 27 on May 5 and 26 on April 28. Deaths fell from 68 on April 28 and 65 on May 5 to 57 in Thursday's update.

In total, there have been 2.72 million cases, 115,834 hospitalizations and 13,534 ICU admissions in Ohio.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The tourism industry in Ohio rebounded to its second-best year in 2021, according to TourismOhio, which made the pronouncement Wednesday in conjunction with the 2022 Tourism Day event outside the Statehouse. The industry received $46.9 billion in visitor spending and 219 million visitors into and within the state. The industry supports 411,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs. This represents a major increase from 2020 and neared the record numbers set in 2019 of $48 billion in spending, 226 million visits and 429,000 industry jobs.

ECONOMY

The nation added 428,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April as the national unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said Friday. BLS said the number of unemployed persons was "essentially unchanged" at 5.9 million. These numbers are "little different" from pre-pandemic figures of 3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively. The nonfarm employment is down by 1.2 million from February 2020, however. Unemployment rates for all major worker groups were little changed over the month. This includes adult men (3.5%), adult women (3.2%), teenagers (10.2%), Whites (3.2%), Blacks (5.9%), Asians (3.1%) and Hispanics (4.1%).

ELECTIONS 2022

The Controlling Board Monday approved a request from the Ohio Secretary of State's office that will use $3 million to pay for the cost of printing and mailing absentee voter's ballots for the Nov. 8 general election. Chris Oleveti, representing the secretary of state's office, explained that the request does not affect the primaries but will be for the general election. He said it has been a standard practice for more than a decade for the secretary of state to send out the absentee ballot request forms.

GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohio's casinos and racinos posted strong numbers in April 2022 -- similar to those reported in April 2021.

The state's four casinos took in $92.8 million in April 2022, up slightly from $92.6 million in April 2021. The state's seven racinos pulled in $122.7 million in April 2022, down slightly from $124.5 million in April 2021.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission this week joined the plaintiffs in three redistricting lawsuits calling for their Republican colleagues on the commission to be held in contempt for not adopting a new constitutional General Assembly districting plan per the Court’s orders. In calling for the show cause order, House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) said they do so with “sadness” but see no other reasonable choice to get the commission to comply. The new motion to have the members of the commission show cause was filed Tuesday, just days after the plaintiffs had objected to the commission’s recent adoption of the third rejected plan by the Court in preparation of a federal court order to use that plan for the upcoming General Assembly primary election expected to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The Republican commissioners told the Court in filings that they had no other choice but to readopt the plan for this election only, saying it was the only viable option and that the move should not be seen as an attack on the Court’s previous orders.

UKRAINE

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that 45 helmets, 71 vest carriers and 1,880 pieces of body armor are being donated by Ohio law enforcement agencies to Ukrainian civilian territorial defense personnel. The Fund to Aid Ukraine is a Parma-based nonprofit affiliated with the United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio, a member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.