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Week in Review: Dec. 4, 2022

Written on Dec 4, 2022

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA)

Ohio failed to show it was likely to suffer any funding clawbacks of COVID relief funds under a federal policy meant to prevent states from using the money to fund tax cuts, federal appeals judges ruled recently in overturning a lower court ruling. When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) at the outset of the Biden administration, it included a provision preventing states from using money in the bill to offset revenue losses from tax cuts or credits. Attorney General Dave Yost sued over that provision and won an injunction against enforcement of the provision from U.S. District Court Judge Doug Cole, who wrote that lack of clarity in the tax mandate violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent requiring the federal government to state any conditions placed on the acceptance of federal funds "unambiguously." The U.S. Treasury Department appealed the District Court ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Friday issued a ruling reversing the earlier decision. The ruling notes that the treasury later developed a rule "disavowing Ohio's interpretation of the offset provision and explaining that it would not enforce the provision as if it barred tax cuts per se," meaning Ohio could not demonstrate a "justiciable controversy" for the court to resolve.

BALLOT ISSUES

A proposal to increase the threshold to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments now also applies to constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly. A substitute version of HJR6 (Stewart), accepted on Thursday by the House Government Oversight Committee, would require all proposed constitutional amendments to receive 60 percent of the vote to be adopted into the Ohio Constitution. The previous version of the resolution only applied to citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) announced the resolution with Secretary of State Frank LaRose in mid-November.

Earlier in the week, voting rights groups and veterans of ballot issue campaigns said that more than 140 organizations are prepared to fight changes to the initiated constitutional amendment process and expect many more to sign on to the effort. Speakers from the League of Women Voters, Ohio Organizing Collaborative and other groups argued at a Statehouse press conference that the proposal, HJR6 (Stewart) is undemocratic and also unfair, because at that point, it gave lawmakers a different set of rules for passage than voters. Similar proposals in other states have failed recently, they said.

ECONOMY

A recent report by personal finance site WalletHub calculated the maximum holiday budget for 558 U.S. cities, including nine in Ohio. The rankings were developed based on income, age, a debt-to-income ratio, and how monthly income and overall savings compared to expenses. The top five cities were Newton, MA at $4,233; Palo Alto, CA at $3,920; Flower Mound, TX at $3,531; Milpitas, CA at $3,480; and Bellevue, WA at $3,401. In Ohio, Columbus led at $1,154 and ranked 227th overall.

ELECTIONS 2022

The Franklin County Board of Elections Tuesday afternoon certified the results of the Nov. 8 General Election, giving Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) the win over Republican Ronald Beach IV, with the race headed to a recount. The vote differential currently stands at 145 votes, or 0.4%, with the half percentage point triggering an automatic recount.

GAMING/GAMBLING

The Ohio Casino Control Commission is preparing for a month-long inspection and licensing blitz ahead of the Jan. 1, 2023 universal start date for sports betting. Both type A (mobile) and type B (brick-and-mortar) sports gaming proprietors must be ready for system and equipment verification by Friday, Dec. 2.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

There are 317,018 patients registered in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy in its October MMCP patient and caregiver numbers update. Of registered patients, 19,532 are military veterans, 20,784 are classified as "indigent" and 1,209 have a terminal illness.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council (UCMIC) Thursday approved an updated draft of its report and recognized the work of outgoing Reps. Mark Fraizer (R-Newark) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) in their last council meeting. Fraizer, who serves as co-chair, said the council has worked for around 22 months to learn lessons from the pandemic in regard to unemployment compensation (UC) and provide a "working document" about them. SB302 (Hackett-Reineke), which passed the Senate Wednesday, would ensure the UCMIC doesn't have a sunset clause so it can continue during the 135th General Assembly. The new draft of the report modifies its legislative response section, Fraizer said, including goals for SB302 and companion bill HB568 (Fraizer-Merrin), as well as updated graphs and information on fraud. The data included a finding that through August 2022, overpayments in Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) included $4.8 billion in PUA non-fraud, $1 billion in PUA fraud, $831 million in UI non-fraud and $104 million in UI fraud. That data continues to change.

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