Latest News

Week in Review: May 29, 2022

Written on May 27, 2022

BALLOT ISSUES

The Ohio House Wednesday adopted a resolution that would put before Ohio voters a constitutional amendment barring noncitizens from voting in local elections. Noncitizens are already barred by state and federal law from voting in those respective elections, but proponents of HJR4 (Edwards-Seitz) have said a constitutional amendment is needed after the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) opined that

it could be allowed for local elections in home rule municipalities. The move also comes after the village of Yellow Springs tried to allow noncitizens to vote in its elections before Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered the Greene County Board of Elections to reject those registrations. HJR4 passed 68 to 28, with Democratic Reps. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Dan Troy (D-Willowick), Michael O'Brien (D-Warren), and Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) voting in favor with all of the Republican members present.

Ohio voters are closer to deciding in November whether courts are required to consider public safety when determining cash bail amounts. Both chambers of the General Assembly on Wednesday reached the three-fifths majority on their respective resolutions required to place the cash bail constitutional amendment on the ballot. The Senate voted 24-6 to adopt SJR5 (Gavarone) and the House voted 63-33 to adopt HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen). The resolutions now head to the opposite chambers, with one of them expected to adopt the measure next week to put it on the November ballot.

FY23-24 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

Consideration of the FY23-24 capital appropriations proposal kicked off Tuesday in the General Assembly as Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks testified in the finance committees of both houses. Murnieks provided an overview of the proposal, although the actual legislation is not yet available. Placeholder bills have been introduced in both houses -- SB343 (Dolan) and HB687 (Oelslager). Murnieks indicated discussions were continuing between the administration and Legislature in areas such the state's tax structure, the scope and amount of the community projects portion of the proposal and funding for jails. Murnieks said the proposal totals $3.3 billion, with $2.7 billion of that in GRF-backed debt funding and another $594 million coming from non-GRF backed bonds and other sources, include approximately $300 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. She assured the committees that the state remains "well under the constitutional five percent limitation on debt service as a percent of revenue" with the sale of bonds anticipated to support this capital proposal. She told Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) that it stands at 3.6 percent now.

CENSUS

The U.S. Census Bureau said recently in its Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) that Ohio was one of eight states believed to have received net overcounts during the 2020 census, along with Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Utah. Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were estimated to have net undercounts. The Census count for Ohio was rounded to 11.5 million, and the estimate is that it was overcounted by 1.49 percent -- the percentage closest to zero for any of the states that were over- or undercounted. Other percentages included Delaware, +5.45; Hawaii, +6.79; Massachusetts, +2.24; Minnesota, +3.84; New York, +3.44; Rhode Island, +5.05; Utah, +2.59; Arkansas, -5.04; Florida, -3.48; Illinois, -1.97; Mississippi, -4.11; Tennessee, -4.78; and Texas, -1.92.

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 19,546 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days ending Thursday, compared to 19,536 the week before. The week-over-week difference of 10 cases is a marked change from May 19, when the number of cases rose from 15,970 in the prior period. There were 506 new hospitalizations and 30 ICU admissions, compared to 473 and 32 on May 19 and 353 and 36 on May 12. The number of reported deaths fell from 40 to 38 for the week. In total, ODH has reported 2.76 million cases, 116,813 hospitalizations, 13,596 ICU admissions and 38,628 deaths. According to the Ohio Hospital Association, there were currently 685 hospital patients and 79 ICU patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 640 and 79 on May 19.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for six projects set to create 1,281 new jobs and retain 747 jobs statewide. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $91.7 million in new payroll and spur more than $185 million in investments across Ohio.

Intel announced Thursday that Gilbane Building Company had been selected to manage early excavation work for its two chip factories, with McDaniel's Construction Corp., Inc. (MCCI), Northstar Contracting Inc. and GTSA Construction Consulting serving as partners. The project is expected to involve 7,000 construction jobs in Central Ohio, along with tens of thousands in indirect and support jobs.

ECONOMY

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that Ohio added 9,500 jobs in April as the unemployment rate fell to 4.0% from 4.1% in March. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in April was 233,000, down from 237,000 in March. The number of unemployed has decreased by 88,000 in the past 12 months from 321,000. The April unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.6% in April 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for April 2022 was 3.6%, unchanged from March 2022, and down from 6% in April 2021.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) Monday announced that Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) was named Ranking Member on the House Civil Justice Committee.

The House also informally passed HB607 (LaRe-Swearingen), which would put into state law that public safety is a factor in considering bail, and concurred unanimously on Senate amendments to HB321 (Kick-B. Young) making changes to Ohio's auction laws, thus sending this bill on to the governor for his signature.

After session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told reporters that the General Assembly is planning to provide $20 million from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to pay for the second primary election, which is expected to occur on Tuesday, Aug. 2. "We'll have a couple of bills next week -- the capital budget, and then a second bill that will have some other spending items in it, and one of those is to pay for the Aug. 2 primary," Huffman said. Huffman said lawmakers aren't planning on making any other changes to the General Assembly primary election process for 2022.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

In a ruling Wednesday the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated for the fifth time the General Assembly map adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission and ordered the commission to produce another map by the morning of Friday, June 3. Practical considerations about administering the 2022 election do not override constitutional mandates, the ruling stated. "Neither the current election deadlines, the General Assembly's inability or unwillingness to alter those deadlines, nor the question whether the map would be a viable option for use in the 2022 election cycle prevented the commission from adopting a new, constitutional district plan," the 4-3 ruling states. Justices, however, denied requests from the plaintiffs to find members of the commission in contempt of court.

A day after the Ohio Supreme Court for the fifth time struck down a General Assembly redistricting commission map, Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) sent a letter to his colleagues on the Ohio Redistricting Commission asking for a meeting. Meanwhile, Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma), the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General, said he has filed a criminal complaint against the Republican members of the commission for dereliction of duty.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

Ohio and Kentucky officials said Tuesday that they officially submitted a joint application to the federal government that requests nearly $2 billion in federal funding to fix the Brent Spence Bridge and improve the corridor that runs through Northern Kentucky and the city of Cincinnati. According to Gov. Mike DeWine's office, Ohio and Kentucky are seeking $1.66 billion in federal grant funding through the Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant. The grant request represents approximately 60 percent of the $2.77 billion project cost. Each state will also allocate significant state and other federal dollars toward the project. The states will split the cost of the new bridge 50/50, and each state will be responsible for the needed work on its side of the border.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

Gov. Mike DeWine's authority to set state policy on unemployment compensation went before the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday. Hanging in the balance is a sizeable chunk of $300 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated for last year's final round of $300 weekly payments to unemployed Ohioans. The governor announced a halt to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program in Ohio last spring after businesses blamed continued payments for the depleted workforce. "As Ohio emerged from the pandemic, employers across the state struggled to fill job openings. Gov. DeWine identified a governmental policy that contributed to this worker shortage: the unemployed, for over a year, had been receiving hundreds of extra dollars a week through ... the CARES Act," Attorney General Dave Yost states in his January brief. Following the state's FPUC termination on June 26, 2021, former Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann sued the DeWine administration for blocking Ohioans' access to the final months of the $300 payments.

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