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Week in Review: Nov. 6, 2022

Written on Nov 6, 2022

AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY

Ohio businesses can now begin applying for $100 million in federal funding for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Monday. DriveOhio, a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation, has begun accepting proposals from companies to install and operate EV charging stations in Ohio. Funding proposals must align with Ohio's EV infrastructure deployment plan, which requires that charging stations support at least four direct current fast chargers with at least 150 kilowatts per port. Currently, Ohio has 13 charging stations that meet these requirements, and plans to add 30 more locations by 2025.

BALLOT ISSUES

Attorney General Dave Yost Friday approved the petition summary for a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2028. Under the proposed "Raise the Wage Ohio" amendment, the state minimum wage that was effective Jan. 1, 2007, would be raised to $10.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2025. After 2025, the amendment would increase the state minimum wage rate in equal increments annually for three years until it reaches $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2028. The minimum wage would continue to increase annually to reflect inflation, but the adjusted annual increases from 2025-2028 would be replaced by fixed dollar amounts, before the inflation adjusted wage increases would begin again on Jan. 1, 2029. The issue now heads to the Ohio Ballot Board on Monday, Nov. 7, which must determine if the proposal contains one or more proposed constitutional amendments.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) both announced Monday that five community development entities in Ohio will receive $230 million through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, helping attract private investment for their work. The Ohio Community Development Fund in Columbus will receive $60 million; three entities -- the Dayton Region New Market Fund, Northeast Ohio Development Fund in Cleveland and Uptown Consortium in Cincinnati -- will each receive $45 million; and the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund will receive $35 million. Ohio groups previously received $215 million in 2021, according to Brown's office.

ELECTIONS 2022

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Tuesday that requests for early in-person and absentee ballots now total 1,243,505, a 2.6 percent increase over the same point in the 2018 gubernatorial statewide election. As a part of that total, 265,062 Ohioans have voted early in-person, and 978,443 have requested an absentee ballot by mail. Among Ohioans who requested to vote absentee, 56.5 percent have already returned their ballot, an increase from 53.9 percent at the same point in the last gubernatorial election. Overall, 817,644 Ohioans have already cast their ballot, up from 736,464 in 2018. A breakdown by county can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/4tyxjbbu.

INTEL

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority Monday approved assistance for Honda's electric vehicle (EV) project and two other projects, while also updating the percentage rate for Intel's assistance from 3.101% to 3.99%. The term for Intel's assistance remains 30 years, and the estimated value has increased from $475 million to $557.8 million, according to the Ohio Department of Development (DOD). The plan to update the rate had been announced by DOD after the September TCA meeting when the lower rate had been incorrectly approved.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission this week said it has seen an increase in the number of travelers, vehicle miles traveled and E-ZPass use on the Ohio Turnpike through nine months of 2022. According to the commission, the combined number of passenger cars and commercial trucks that traveled on the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike from January through September 2022 was 37,534,377, an increase of 1.5% compared to the same nine-month period a year ago. Passenger cars (27,725,141) were up 1.3%, and commercial trucks (9,809,236) were up 2%.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The state of Ohio is near the middle of the pack when it comes to new weekly unemployment claims, according to financial advisory website WalletHub. Ohio ranked 23rd in states where jobless claims decreased the most week-over-week, with "1" being the best and "51" being the worst. Kentucky ranked 1, while Oregon ranked 51. West Virginia was 6, Michigan was 22, Pennsylvania was 27 and Indiana was 47. Ohio ranked 33rd in jobless claims per 100,000 people in the labor force, with "1" having the fewest claims and "51" having the most claims. Virginia ranked 1, while Alaska ranked 51. Kentucky was 9, West Virginia was 21, Indiana was 34, Michigan was 36 and Pennsylvania was 41.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

While the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's (BWC) net position has fallen from $9.2 billion in September 2021 to $6.3 billion in September 2022, the State Insurance Fund is still near the top of the BWC Board's simple funding ratio "safe range," according to BWC Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kevin Giangola. After Friday's BWC Board meeting, Giangola told reporters that market losses were the cause of the year-over-year decrease. "We're like any other institutional investor. We're experiencing the same market influences that everyone else does. I think ours are probably more moderated because we have to take less risk than some of the other institutional investors, like a pension fund might. But we're experiencing the things that are happening in the market," he said. However, Giangola said the BWC's position is strong because of its healthy simple funding ratio.

The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center received a $1.5 million workforce safety innovation grant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). BWC's Workforce Safety Innovation Center (WSIC) provided the grant for the research and development of new personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal protective technology (PPT) for Ohio workers employed in various fields including first responders, manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors requiring additional protection while on the job, according to BWC.

WORKFORCE

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced results of September's TechCred round Thursday, while November application periods for that program and the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP) have opened and will run through Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 3 p.m. The 16th round in September saw 348 employers approved for funding that will help 4,135 Ohioans earn tech-focused credentials. Manufacturing had the most applicants among industry types. In total, 2,066 employers have been approved for funding to support 52,767 credentials.

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