With the General Assembly expected to begin debate on the FY24-25 transportation budget shortly, Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) released its recommendations focusing on two programs. First, GOPC said lawmakers should invest at least $75 million per year in public transportation, or $150 million over the biennium. The group noted that the current transportation budget relies on a combination of General Revenue Funds (GRF) and federal highway "flex funding" to get a net allocation of $70 million for public transit agencies. However, a requirement that local agencies provide matching funds to draw down federal funds means the funding is inaccessible to small, rural systems, GOPC said, so it is recommending that instead of using "flex funding” lawmakers should favor 100 percent GRF spending. The group is also asking lawmakers to match Ohio's $5 million in federal funding for the "Safe Routes to Schools" Program with $5 million from the GRF for a total of $10 million per year. GOPC said the program is popular and oversubscribed and protects the lives of children.
Democrat Tamie Wilson of Delaware announced Wednesday that she will seek the Democratic nomination to run for the 4th Congressional District in 2024, potentially setting up a rematch with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana). Jordan defeated Wilson in November with 69 percent of the vote.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio's unemployment was 4.2% in December, unchanged from November's rate, as the state added 1,900 jobs over the month. ODFJS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in December was 244,000, up from 243,000 in November. The number of unemployed has decreased by 12,000 in the past 12 months from 256,000. The U.S. unemployment rate for December 2022 was 3.5%, down from 3.6% in November 2022, and down from 3.9% in December 2021.
A lobbying income reporting provision of Rep. Derek Merrin's (R-Maumee) proposed ethics reform bill could be problematic, according to Ohio Lobbying Association (OLA) President Josh Sanders. Part of the ethics reform bill would require all lobbying income to be reported and sourced directly to clients. "While we have not yet seen any details of the legislation, it is greatly concerning to hear part of the proposed legislation is to force private companies to reveal the terms of private contracts, which does little to improve ethics laws governing policymakers," Sanders said in a statement.
Stephens announced committee chairs on Monday, choosing Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) to lead the House Finance Committee. Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) will be vice chair. Chairing the seven House Finance subcommittees are the following:
- House Finance Subcommittee on Agriculture, Development and Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Don Jones (RFreeport).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, chaired by Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, chaired by Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Infrastructure and American Rescue Plan, chaired by Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Public Safety, chaired by Rep. Kevin Miller (R-Newark).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation, chaired by Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).
House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) released the committee assignments for her members on Thursday, with a number of freshmen getting spots as ranking members on various committees. Rep. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland) will again serve as the ranking member for the House Finance Committee. Ranking minority members on the subcommittees include the following:
- House Finance Subcommittee on Agriculture, Development and Natural Resources – Rep. Dan Troy (D-Willowick).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services – Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education – Rep. Dontavious Jarrells (D-Columbus).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Infrastructure and American Rescue Plan – Skindell.
- House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education – Rep. Dani Isaacsohn (D-Cincinnati).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Public Safety – Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus).
- House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation – Rep. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood).
A change to House rules this session means subcommittee members do not have to be members of the full House Finance Committee.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Thursday announced a plan to remove "duplicative, outdated and unnecessary regulations" from the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC), reducing its size by one-third. Husted said the proposal will eliminate more than five million words covering over 20,000 pages in the OAC, and gave examples of sections to be removed. They include Ohio Lottery Commission regulations on games that are no longer played; Ohio Department of Higher Education copies of university policies that are already published on each institution's website; and word-for-word replication of national building and fire code standards that can be rewritten to only identify differences between Ohio and other states. The review process was augmented by using an artificial intelligence (AI) tool. The DeWine administration is also adding a re-introduction of "Innovate the Code" provisions from the 134th General Assembly to the forthcoming budget. That language was previously offered in 134-SB279 (Wilson) and 134-HB524 (T. Hall).
Intel said in a release Monday that it had been approximately one year since the company announced it would invest an initial $20 billion to build two semiconductor chip factories in New Albany. As part of that anniversary, Intel said the site will be named "Ohio One." "The name is a nod to the state's long and storied history in manufacturing and its track record of producing firsts," Intel explained. The company also released a one-year anniversary video. In it, Vice President and Ohio General Manager Jim Evers discusses that Intel picked Ohio for its government cooperation and sources of talent. He added he believes Intel has lived up to its commitment to be a "great neighbor" so far.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that 2022 saw the second-highest number of business filings since his office began tracking the data. According to the secretary of state's office, there were 179,636 new business filings in 2022, down 18,374 filings from the all-time record-setting year in 2021. December 2022 saw 13,012 new business filings, 496 more filings than December 2021.
Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks and Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Director Kathleen Madden were both reelected to their positions as chair and vice chair respectively of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Thursday. OFCC oversees school facility programs and capital projects for state agencies and higher education institutions. Both Murnieks and Madden were reelected by a unanimous vote. Murnieks told Hannah News the agency is still experiencing some supply chain issues from the pandemic but has been successful with moving projects forward and continues to do "tremendous work" for students and schools across Ohio.
Patricia Harris will be the next commissioner of the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT), Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday. Harris currently serves as chief operating officer of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). If the nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Harris will replace Jeff McClain, who retired as ODT commissioner in 2022.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is researching alternative ways to pay for road and bridge maintenance in the state and has launched a website seeking public input on the issue. According to the website, www.OhioRoadFunding.com , the state needs to look at how it currently pays for bridges and highways because the current method which draws mostly from proceeds of the state's gas tax is not sustainable "More Ohioans are driving high-mileage gas vehicles or hybrid or electric vehicles, which has welcomed environmental benefits but decreases the amount of gas being purchase," ODOT states on the website, adding that it is "evaluating a variety of funding options to replace the fuel tax and stabilize transportation revenues in Ohio well into the future." ODOT said the information it collects through its research effort will be put together in a report that will be sent to the General Assembly in late spring of this year. It will ultimately be up to lawmakers to create any new funding option.
A total of $15 million in grants is being offered by the state Workforce Safety Innovation Center (WSIC), the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) announced Thursday. The grants can be used for the research and development of personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal protective technology (PPT) to enhance workplace safety, BWC said. Utilizing data from BWC claims, workforce safety innovation grants focus on new ideas that help reduce the frequency and severity of on-the-job injuries. The grant is administered with a goal of accelerating the process for innovations from proof-of-concept to the marketplace.
This feature was provided by Hannah New Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations Staff.