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Week in Review: Jan. 22, 2023

Written on Jan 22, 2023

BALLOT ISSUES

If a requirement for constitutional issues to get 60% of the vote to pass had been in place over the past 40 years, state bond issues paying for infrastructure, housing, and former Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier program would not have passed, according to former Rep. Mike Curtin. Curtin, who is a retired Columbus Dispatch editor, highlighted the impact the resolution formerly known as 134-HJR6 (Stewart) would have had on bond issues at a Thursday news conference. Sponsor Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) has resubmitted the proposal but it has not officially been introduced in resolution form. Curtin said over the many decades bond issues have been put before voters, they have been an indispensable way to pay for state projects, especially because of debt limits in the Ohio Constitution. He said given the historic skepticism of Ohio voters to new debt, getting one approved is already a tall task, requiring bipartisan agreement, cooperation between the business and labor communities, and no organized opposition.

FY22-23 BUDGET

Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday announced Ohio's Rainy Day Fund (RDF) has reached a balance never seen before in the fund's history with a cash balance of nearly $3.5 billion. The Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) transferred $727 million into the fund to reach the historic number. The fund, which is a reserve balance set aside to protect the state budget from cyclical changes in revenues and expenses that may occur during poor economic times, is capped at 8.5 percent of General Revenue Fund revenues. The transfer into the fund made Tuesday was authorized by the General Assembly in 134-HB45 (West-Roemer).

MARIJUANA/HEMP

The Senate General Government Committee won't waste any time moving medical marijuana program expansion bill SB9 (S. Huffman-Schuring), Chair Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) said Tuesday. "This is a subject I know really well. ... We're going to be very efficient with this committee, and we will move very rapidly. So if there are concerns by the greater public, you should reach out to your office probably sooner than later," Rulli said. SB9 is similar to 134-SB261 (S. Huffman), which passed the Senate but stalled in the House. Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) told Hannah News that the main difference between SB9 and 134-SB261 is the addition of a Medical Marijuana Oversight Commission to oversee the Division of Marijuana Control in the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC).

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) awarded the 62nd dispensary certificate of operation under the MMCP. OBP issued the operating license to Uplift, located at 101 Mercy Blvd. in Mount Orab.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The state of Ohio still ranks near the bottom of the U.S. for new unemployment claims, according to financial advisory website WalletHub. Ohio ranked 43 in states where jobless claims decreased the most week-over-week, with "1" being the best and "51" being the worst. Tennessee ranked 1, while Kentucky ranked 51. Michigan ranked the highest among Ohio's neighbors at 11, followed by Pennsylvania (25), Indiana (33) and West Virginia (34).

WORKFORCE

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Friday the state's Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership will be supported with $12 million in grant funding as it seeks to implement a workforce training strategy. That includes $9 million in QUEST funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to create regional nodes using the JobsOhio six-region map of the state, providing local communities with resources. Husted added that more details will be made available when the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) posts an RFP on March 1 to select lead entities in the regions. The remaining $3 million comes through the U.S. Economic Development Administration's (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge program and will support partnership operations in 2024, including $300,000 for equipment helping new programs.

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