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Week in Review: July 24, 2022

Written on Jul 22, 2022

CORONAVIRUS

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday reported 26,610 new COVID-19 cases over the week, up from 24,465 for the previous seven days. Hospitalization numbers rose from 550 to 690, while ICU admissions had a marginal increase from 39 to 40. ODH reported 22 deaths, down from 39. Since the pandemic began, ODH has reported 2,918,366 COVID-19 cases, 120,890 hospitalizations, 13,862 ICU admissions and 38,981 deaths. The Ohio Hospital Association lists 1,166 current hospital patients who tested positive and 147 ICU patients. At the national level, President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday. In a video, Biden said he has received two vaccination doses and two booster shots. His symptoms are "mild" and he continues to work. The Biden administration also released a letter from the White House physician saying Biden has been recommended to use Paxlovid as a treatment.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Ohio fell to 15th in a recent CNBC ranking of "Top States for Business in 2022," after being ranked 10th in 2021 and 2019. Due to the pandemic, CNBC did not conduct rankings in 2020, and Ohio was 15th in 2018 as well. During the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's workforce summit Thursday, President Steve Stivers said the Ohio Chamber is "focusing on what policy changes it would take to move us to number one [in the CNBC rankings] and then starting to enact those."

ELECTIONS 2022

The state overall and 66 individual counties have recruited enough poll workers to surpass minimum requirements, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office. As of Monday, 27,371 Ohioans had signed up to serve as poll workers for the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary/special election, compared to the minimum of 24,653. Sixty-six counties had met their specific minimums, LaRose's office said. In case of emergencies, LaRose's office has set a goal of 28,353 poll workers, or 115 percent of the minimum.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday that 72,970 absentee ballots have been requested by-mail or in-person for the state legislative and executive committee races on the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary, and that 29,702 votes have been cast statewide in those same races. Data were collected by the Ohio Secretary of State's Office via an informal survey of Ohio's 88 county boards of elections. The information includes data reported by the county boards from the start of early voting on Monday, July 11 through the end of early voting hours on Friday, July 15.

FEDERAL

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and 47 other senators sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, urging the agency to process all COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications received prior to the agency's May 6, 2022 deadline. The program has provided loans to nearly four million small businesses during the pandemic, according to a release from Brown's office, and was "an essential source of capital," particularly for businesses that could not obtain needed credit from other lenders.

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

In another 4-3 split ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated the second set of congressional district boundaries adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission earlier this year, ordering lawmakers to produce a new one within 30 days. Under Article XIX of the Ohio Constitution, if lawmakers don't act to respond to the invalidation of the map, the Ohio Redistricting Commission would then have another 30 days to draw a new map. The ruling does not appear to affect the coming November contests. "We hold that the March 2 plan unduly favors the Republican Party and disfavors the Democratic Party in violation of Article XIX, Section 1(C)(3)(a)," states the per curiam majority opinion. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justices Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart joined the opinion, while Justice Jennifer Brunner filed a concurrence. Justices Sharon Kennedy, R. Patrick DeWine and Patrick Fischer dissented in two opinions, one signed by Kennedy and DeWine, the other by Fischer.

TAXATION

Ohio's back-to-school sales tax holiday will take place soon, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT). Established in law for the first weekend in August, this year's holiday will start at 12 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5 and end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

Ohio and Kentucky transportation officials announced Friday a revised design for the new Brent Spence companion bridge across the Ohio River that will take up less space and exclusively carry interstate traffic, leaving local traffic on the existing span. The initial design approved in 2012 showed the bridge taking up nearly 25 acres and spanning almost 150 feet in width, while the new design would cover 14 acres and 84 feet of width.

WORKFORCE

An Ohio Chamber of Commerce summit Thursday focused on the current workforce challenges and how the state government is working to address them through programs such as TechCred and the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). Speakers and panelists included Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik, Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner, with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted giving short remarks by video. In opening the summit, Ohio Chamber President Steve Stivers said the "number one" issue raised by its member businesses is "finding and keeping the workforce." While Ohio has a low cost of living and high quality of life, there are areas for it to improve on workforce, including K-12 and higher education, more work-based learning and retaining more graduates after college.

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