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Week in Review: June 26, 2022

Written on Jun 26, 2022

CORONAVIRUS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the green light Saturday to allowing children over six months old to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, expanding eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children. The CDC's recommendation was the final piece needed in the process to approve vaccines for children six months to 5 years old. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) had authorized the vaccines for children under 5 years of age last Friday. President Joe Biden said the expanded vaccine eligibility marks a "monumental step forward" in the nation's fight against the virus.

Specifically, children six months to 5 years old are eligible to receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, whichever is available. The CDC said the COVID-19 vaccines have "undergone -- and will continue to undergo -- the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history." Parents and caregivers can reach out to their doctor, nurse, local pharmacy, or health department, or visit www.vaccines.gov to see where vaccines for children are available.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced recently that $100 million was available in the second round of the Transformational Mixed-Used Development Program. The first-round results were announced in March. The program provides credits for major efforts to help finance new construction and improve vacant buildings. The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) is now accepting FY23 project applications with a deadline of 4 p.m. on Friday, July 8.

ECONOMY

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that Ohio added 4,800 jobs in May as the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, down from 4.0% in April. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in May was 226,000, down from 233,000 in April. The number of unemployed has decreased by 86,000 in the past 12 months from 312,000. The May unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 5.4% in May 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate for May 2022 was 3.6%, unchanged from April 2022 and down from 5.8% in May 2021.

ELECTIONS 2022

Hannah News this week published its updated list of candidates running for the General Assembly in the Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 primary election. The primary was ordered by a federal court in response to delays in adopting a new redistricting plan after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down multiple plans adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. This August primary uses districts created under the third plan adopted by the commission. The updated list was compiled using data from the secretary of state's office and boards of elections and is subject to change due to ongoing litigation, including a lawsuit before the Ohio Supreme Court where multiple candidates are asking to be put on the ballot because of a dispute over the filing deadline. District numbers on the list may differ from current district numbers due to the redistricting process. The list includes the incumbents under the current district number they represent. Additionally, a list of candidates along with their filing addresses in an Excel spreadsheet format is also posted on the front page of www.hannah.com.

Ohio's county boards of elections began distributing primary election ballots Friday to active-duty military and overseas voters, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced, thus officially opening Ohio's second primary election this year, this one on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The deadline for Ohioans to register to vote is Tuesday, July 5 and early voting begins Wednesday, July 6. Ohio voters will find the following races on their Aug. 2 primary ballot:

- Ohio House of Representatives.

- Ohio Senate.

- Democrat State Central Committee.

- Republican State Central Committee.

- Local issues and measures impacting their communities.

ENERGY/UTILITIES

The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) and the Office of Ohio's Consumers' Counsel (OCC) are calling for a full investigation of elective power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio customers this week. Deliberate "load shedding" seeks to prevent worse damage to the grid, but OMA is questioning AEP's use of billions of dollars in electric distribution and transmission charges that are supposed to ensure system reliability. The Ohio House Minority Caucus also called from an investigation as did Gov. Mike DeWine as they seek the answer to a number of questions such as when the 13-state regional transmission organization (RTO) encompassing Ohio, PJM Interconnection, first request load-shedding, and when AEP complied. And why were customers, including cities, hospitals and other institutions, not notified in advance of planned power outages due to grid strain?

FEDERAL

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said excess profits taxes are needed in response to inflation in general and high gas prices during a press call Thursday, with the revenues used to pay rebates to the American people. He added that industry influence on Congress makes that unlikely, however. "I don't think anybody's doing enough -- Republicans or Democrats -- when it comes to fighting inflation," Brown said, adding that a number of industries have "profiteered" during the pandemic. Brown told reporters he supported President Joe Biden's proposal for a three-month federal gas tax holiday as long as the savings went to motorists rather than oil companies. The excess profits tax would be an even stronger option, he continued, and the U.S. also needs to rebuild its supply chains. Inflation is a global issue and worse in other countries, he said, so it is not a result of the American Rescue Plan Act.

HOUSING/URBAN REVITALIZATION

The DeWine administration Wednesday awarded $39.87 million in tax credits for 29 projects around the state under Ohio's Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. This will rehabilitate 38 buildings in 19 communities and 16 counties. The funds will be distributed by the Ohio Department of Development (DOD). The funding assists private developers with rehabilitation of historic buildings in downtown areas and neighborhoods. Many of them are vacant and generate little economic activity, according to the department, but the work will lead to further investment and interest in adjacent property. The tax credits will not be issued until construction is complete and all program requirements are verified. The projects are expected to leverage a total of approximately $564 million in private investment.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

The primary kicked off Friday, June 17, the same day as various members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission filed their responses to petitioners in the three lawsuits over legislative maps -- League of Women Voters of Ohio, et al., Bria Bennett, et al., and Ohio Organizing Collaborative, et al. -- about why the commissioners not only failed to comply with the Court's May 25 order to redraw the legislative maps but also ignored the Court by filing nothing and regarding whether they should be required to appear before the Court in person. Responses filed by the end of the workday were from LaRose, Auditor of State Keith Faber, Republican legislative members Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and Democratic legislative members Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington).

SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced recently that 14,596 new business filings were filed in May 2022, a 27% decrease from May 2021 and a 14% decrease from the same point in 2020. LaRose said inflation continues as a major factor stifling small business optimism nationwide. He cited a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) that showed that inflation was the single most important problem facing their business. In a separate study conducted by NFIB Ohio, inflation was ranked as the issue most concerning to Ohio small business owners by 49 percent of respondents.

TAXATION

Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that his administration estimates it would lose $587 million in state revenue available for road projects in Ohio should it suspend the gas tax for three months as President Joe Biden suggested this week. Biden on Wednesday proposed suspending the federal gas tax until September in order to alleviate pressures of high gas prices in Americans, and suggested states also do the same for their own gas taxes. Currently, Americans pay 18.4 cents per gallon for the federal gas tax and 24.4 cents for diesel. In Ohio, motorists pay an additional 38.5 cents for the gas tax and 47 cents for diesel.

This feature was provided by Hannah New Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations Staff.