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Week in Review: Nov. 20, 2022

Written on Nov 20, 2022

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Google has given Attorney General Dave Yost its word that it will no longer conceal location-tracking technology from consumers and will instead provide pop-up disclosures and instructions on disabling these features. Monday's agreement includes a $13.4 million settlement payment to the state of Ohio. Most of the legal "assurance of voluntary compliance" signed by Google recently and approved by the attorney general is good for only five years, however. Yost also has agreed not to publicize company admissions included in its annual compliance reports unless he receives a public records request and the company does not take legal action to enforce the confidentiality agreement.

ELECTIONS

Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) Thursday announced a proposed change to the Ohio Constitution that would require proposed constitutional amendments put before voters through the citizen initiative process to get at least 60 percent of the vote in order to be adopted. LaRose said that the Constitution has become "a tool of special interests" that he said "seek to permanently change our form of government to their liking and into their own self-interest." Under the proposal, any constitutional issue brought to the ballot through the initiated process requiring the collection of voter signatures in order to qualify would need to hit the 60 percent threshold to pass. Constitutional amendments proposed to the ballot by the state Legislature would still only need a simple majority, as would initiated statutes brought by the public. LaRose said other states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Wyoming, have 60 percent thresholds.

ELECTIONS 2022

The following are the results for a number of local levies on the Nov. 8 ballot: 87 of 120 or 73 percent of local school levies were approved; 85 percent of parks and recreation levies passed; 18 of 19 library levies passed; all 19 senior services levies passed; all seven of the children’s services levies passed; and all five of the mental health levies passed.

GAMING/GAMBLING

Revenues at Ohio's four casinos were slightly higher in October 2022 than the same month last year, according to data from the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Casinos raked in $83.1 million in October 2022, up from $81 million in October 2021. However, the state's seven racinos saw a slight drop in revenue in October 2022 when compared to October 2021, the Ohio Lottery Commission said in its video lottery terminal revenue report. Racinos pulled in $109.1 million in October 2022, down from $111.8 million in October 2021.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus on Tuesday unanimously elected Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) to once again serve as president of the Senate for the 135th General Assembly. First elected to the Senate in 2016, Huffman was re-elected in 2020 to his second term. He has served as Senate president during the 134th General Assembly, and prior to that he was majority floor leader. Huffman previously served four terms in the House, culminating in his election as speaker pro tempore. Other leadership members for the 135th General Assembly elected by the caucus include Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) as president pro tempore, Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) as majority floor leader and Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) as majority whip.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Democratic Caucus elected Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) as Senate minority leader for the 135th General Assembly. Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), who currently serves as assistant minority whip, was elected assistant minority leader. Sen.-Elect Kent Smith (D-Euclid) was selected to serve as minority whip. Completing the 135th General Assembly minority leadership team is Sen.-Elect Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), who will serve as assistant minority whip.

Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) will be the next House speaker after a 90-minute closed-door meeting Wednesday evening held by members of the 135th General Assembly Republican Caucus. Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) will serve as speaker pro-tempore; Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) will serve as majority floor leader; Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) will serve as assistant majority floor leader; Rep. Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) will serve as majority whip; and Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) will serve as assistant majority whip. The 36-year-old Merrin, a realtor and real estate investor, is entering his final term in the Ohio House after he was re-elected in the Nov. 8 election. Plummer and Stephens do not face term limits until after the 136th General Assembly. House Democrats expect to hold their leadership election after Thanksgiving.

Both Sen.-elect Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Rep.-elect Elgin Rogers (D-Toledo) started their new jobs early Wednesday when Hicks-Hudson was elected to serve out the unexpired term of Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), who retired from the Legislature on Oct. 31. In turn, Rogers was elected to fill Hicks-Hudson’s seat in the House.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said, beginning after Thanksgiving, his chamber plans hearing abortion law changes that would clarify the existing heartbeat statute. He said Sens. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) are working on "tightening up the definitions regarding health of the mother, things like that, addressing a lot of the medical questions that the medical community has raised." Huffman also said the legislation will include foster care, adoption and crisis pregnancy center provisions. The caucus also will discuss whether to move on further limitations to abortion, Huffman said.

The House Democratic Caucus Tuesday held a press conference to outline their priorities for the lame duck session, saying they are willing to work with Republicans on bipartisan legislation to help working families, but will oppose any efforts to use the end of the session to "fight cultural war issues." House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said there is bipartisan legislation they can pass to address rising costs, keep families and communities safe, and continue to cement Ohio as a top manufacturing hub for the technologies of the future. She also noted that there are "billions" left over in federal COVID relief funding waiting to be spent, and said it should be spent on programs that improve career opportunities as well as elevate services for caregivers, mental health and addiction support services.

Odds of an earlier break in legislative activity in December increased this week when both the House and Senate added an additional voting session for Tuesday, Dec. 13, while converting planned sessions for Wednesday, Dec. 21 into if-needed sessions. Each chamber has five voting sessions left for 2022, not counting the if-needed sessions.

WORKFORCE

Monday's meeting of the Governor's Executive Workforce Board included a focus on how Ohio can better attract high school students who don't go on to college so they enter high-paying careers. That will also be a priority for the board's Young Workers Committee, which is slated to hold its first meeting Thursday. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted told Hannah News the committee was formed because Ohio has around 50,000 students each year who leave high school but don't go to college and lack a "dedicated career path." Those students could help solve a lot of current workforce challenges but are "falling through the cracks," he continued, and the state should do a better job of connecting with them in high school and providing information on good-paying careers.

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