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Week in Review: May 28, 2023

Written on May 28, 2023


Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters Wednesday he plans to vote yes on State Issue 1 in August, saying that arguments made by the business community show the concern that "outside forces" can spend a large sum of money to influence Ohio's Constitution. "The better process is frankly through the legislative process," he continued. "This just creates a higher burden in regard to changing the constitution. If you look at the burden that exists to change the U.S. Constitution, for example, you'll find ... it is a process that certainly calls for a few hoops to go through." The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Ohio Restaurant Association, and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association voiced their support for the measure earlier in May.

The executive committee of the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) unanimously voted to endorse the "No in August" campaign to oppose Issue 1 -- a constitutional amendment that would raise the threshold for passing future constitutional amendments -- as well as detailed other plans for stopping the ballot initiative during an emergency meeting Thursday evening.

Protect Our Constitution Tuesday was announced as the coalition that will back Issue 1 on the Tuesday, Aug. 8 special election ballot. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and House Majority Whip Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) are the co-chairs. The group said it will have a presence in all 88 counties in the coming weeks and will be releasing endorsements, volunteer opportunities and other materials on its campaign website at and social media pages. It will spread the message that voting for the proposal, which would raise the threshold for passage of future constitutional amendments to 60 percent, will "make it harder for out-of-state special interests to buy their way into our state's founding document."

Issue 1 opposition group One Person One Vote filed a second lawsuit Tuesday over the proposed constitutional amendment, challenging the Ohio Ballot Board over ballot language approved last week. The group, along with Ohio voters Jeniece Brock, Brent Edwards and Christopher Tavenor, argue in the lawsuit that the ballot language and title adopted by the board violate legal standards established by the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Constitution as well as Ohio Supreme Court precedent. The lawsuit seeks an order that the Ballot Board reconvene and adopt language that properly describes the amendment, or in the alternative, adopt the full text of SJR2 (McColley-Gavarone) as the ballot language, and that Secretary of State Frank LaRose adopt a ballot title that properly and lawfully describes the amendment. The lawsuit argues that, "apparently not confident that the amendment's submission at an illegal, low-turnout special election will be enough to get it over the line," LaRose and the Ballot Board "adopted ballot language and a ballot title calculated to mislead voters about what the amendment does."

Election statutes cannot override powers conferred to lawmakers in the Ohio Constitution, the attorney general's office argued this week in defense of plans for an Aug. 8 special election on raising the threshold for future constitutional amendments to pass. After trying and failing to pass a bill authorizing a summer special election for voters to consider the new amendment process outlined in SJR2 (Gavarone-McColley), lawmakers decided that specifying the election date in SJR2 itself would suffice. The campaign group One Person One Vote, formed to oppose passage of the issue, quickly filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that recent changes to election law forbid special elections except to consider funding issues for local jurisdictions in fiscal distress. Lawmakers mostly did away with special elections in 134-HB458 (Hall), which also instituted a photo ID requirement among other election law changes.


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday that the state unemployment rate decreased to 3.7% in April, down from 3.8% in March. This marks the lowest rate since 1976, when unemployment data was first reported. The state added 18,100 jobs over the month. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in April was 211,000, down from 218,000 in March. The number of unemployed has decreased by 12,000 in the past 12 months from 223,000. The April unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.2% from 3.9% in April 2022. The U.S. unemployment rate for April 2023 was 3.4%, down from 3.5% in March 2023, and down from 3.6% in April 2022.


Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Monday announced new features to designed to offer a faster and more streamlined approach for connecting jobs seekers and employers in the state. The new features are meant to improve the customer experience on the site. The following are among the changes:

- User Focused Dashboards - All three user types -- job seeker, employer, and student -- will have centralized dashboards to give up-to-date reports on their status. These dashboards will include tasks like uploading resumes, applying for jobs, creating career plans as well as summaries showing scholarships saved or submitted job applications. It will also show available tools and resources tailored to the user's specific needs.

- Tasks and Alerts - This feature "builds a foundation for a return engagement and customized messaging." This includes applying for jobs and uploading resumes. This integration is meant to highlight the tasks needed to be completed, while efficiently searching for jobs.

- Single Sign On using OH|ID - With the integration of OH|ID, OhioMeansJobs users will now have access to a wider range of resources, connecting them instantly with multiple state agencies. Staffing agencies and third-party recruiters now can use one account to toggle among multiple employers. Previously they had to manage multiple accounts; the system will automatically save people's information as they are setting up their accounts.

- User Tutorial - When a new user logs in, there is a guided walk-through of website capabilities and all the available tools.


The mayors of New Albany, Gahanna and Johnstown discussed what they are doing to prepare for Intel's semiconductor production at a recent Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) forum, including how they expect to meet housing, infrastructure and education needs resulting from the influx of new residents. New Albany Mayor Sloan Spalding and Johnstown Mayor Donald Barnard both pointed out when their cities attained that status by reaching over 5,000 residents. Johnstown did so around 18 months ago, while New Albany did in 2010 and has almost tripled in residents since then. Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin also said her city has seen "significant growth" in the past two years and that growth is not slowing down, in large part because of the development north of the city. Regarding how their constituents have responded to Intel, they each described a mix of excitement and concerns about the coming changes and how quickly they will occur. Spalding said it is important they be as transparent as possible, including updates on road work and the Intel site construction itself. Jadwin added that they are working to celebrate the past, honor the present and plan for the future in Gahanna.


A bipartisan marijuana legalization bill has been introduced in the House. Reps. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Casey Weinstein (D-Akron) announced Monday that their legislation, HB168, would legalize the use of cannabis by adults age 21 and older. The Ohio Adult Use Act would allow for the cultivation, purchase and possession of cannabis by Ohioans over the age of 21 and allows for the expungement of conviction records for previous cultivation and possession offenses. The bill would implement a 10% sales tax on adult-use cannabis products. The tax revenue would be distributed in part to supporting K-12 education, communities that host dispensaries, combatting chemical dependence and illegal drug trafficking, and the state General Revenue Fund (GRF).


Secretary of State (SOS) Frank LaRose announced recently that there were 14,765 new business filings in April 2023, down nearly 5% year over year. Despite the decline, business filings remain modestly ahead of the previous year's pace by 762 filings, reflecting 66,646 total new businesses filed in Ohio so far in 2023. According to LaRose, who cited the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), April marked the lowest small business optimism in a decade, with inflation and workforce challenges as their top concerns. He said the decrease comes amid growing concerns nationally about economic conditions, including rising interest rates and the stability of the banking industry.


Facing predictions of average property value increases in excess of 30 or 40% in many counties, several Republican lawmakers outlined their plans Wednesday to give county auditors more say in the reappraisal process and to use multi-year averaging to smooth out big fluctuations, in hopes of blunting any property tax increases. The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) said it's willing to consider their proposals but is obligated to ensure the valuation process meets certain standards. Reps. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown) and Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) introduced HB187 Wednesday, and Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) said he's submitting the same language as a budget amendment as the Senate deliberates on HB33 (Edwards). The bill would require using a three-year average for re-evaluating property values, and mandate that the ODT consult with county auditors on the reappraisal process. Sponsors said they want to put the change into effect for tax year 2023, and Rep. Bill Roemer (R-Richfield), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, promised hearings in the near future.


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) posted a $538 million investment gain year-to-date in FY23, just missing expected returns by 1 percent, following a nearly billion-dollar loss for FY22 this same time last year. The agency, which receives no General Revenue Funds (GRF) and survives on insurance premiums and investment returns, also has achieved better-than-expected operating revenues year-over-over and fewer operating expenses than projected. As of May 1, operating revenues are back near levels this time in 2020. BWC's net position has rebounded from lows of $7 billion on Dec. 31, 2022 to $7.6 billion on May 1.


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