Latest News

Week in Review: April 7, 2024

Written on Apr 7, 2024

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that he has initiated several federal and state disaster aid mechanisms that could bring financial relief to Ohioans affected by severe weather last month. The action comes after a damage assessment conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the 11-county area affected by tornadoes that occurred in March. According to the governor's office, DeWine Friday directed his cabinet agencies to develop a plan for state-level financial relief programs for individuals and businesses that can be implemented jointly with the Ohio General Assembly to get affected Ohioans assistance while the requested federal programs are being evaluated by the Biden administration. DeWine has spoken with Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and will work with the General Assembly on pursuing the relief in the coming days, the governor's office said.

However, while his administration sought a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declaration, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday they have been told by FEMA that it is not expected to be issued, though that is "not definitive." The final decision will be made by White House officials, and so his administration is still advocating for it.


Gov. Mike DeWine's administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for 11 projects expected to create 1,025 new jobs and retain 567 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought by JobsOhio and its regional partners. The projects are expected to collectively result in more than $65 million in new payroll and spur $523 million in investments across Ohio.


William Curlis, a long-time campaign treasurer for Republican candidates, was charged in federal court Thursday with wire fraud, with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio's office accusing him of stealing nearly $1 million in campaign funds. Curlis, 76, was charged by a bill of information that was filed Thursday. The U.S. attorney also filed a plea document with the court, which it said will be considered at a future plea hearing. Curlis has served as a campaign treasurer for more than 100 local, state, and federal candidates based in Ohio, as well as multiple political action committees. A number of candidates, including Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hillard), former Franklin County Engineer Cornell Robertson and former Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, had filed complaints against Curlis with the Ohio Elections Commission of inaccurate reports and misappropriation of money. The commission referred the case for prosecution last month. The federal case filed Thursday accuses Curlis of defrauding candidates of approximately $995,231 of campaign funds. He allegedly wrote checks from the bank accounts of certain candidates and on political action committee to himself for personal use. The complaint also alleges that he transferred funds between campaign accounts without candidates' knowledge to conceal the deceit.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) re-election campaign announced Wednesday that it will be reporting over $12 million raised in the first quarter of 2024. Monday, April 15 is the deadline for federal candidates to report their fundraising totals for the first three months of the year.

The following endorsement was made over the week:

- U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) re-election campaign announced the endorsement of Communications Workers of America.


House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) Tuesday told reporters the Ohio House won't amend the adult-use recreational marijuana program before the June deadline for the state to release licensing applications. "Getting a consensus on what that action will be in the House is probably not going to happen," he said. "I think there's been a lot of discussion and talk, you know, within the House, within the Republican Caucus frankly, and getting those to where we have a consensus of saying 'this is what needs to be different than what the people passed' -- there's just not that consensus right now," he said.

With Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) signaling his interest in running for House speaker in the 136th General Assembly, Stephens told reporters, "I think it is really interesting that we have ... nine months almost left in this GA -- the House has been working really hard. We have done a lot of really good things -- and I think it would be, frankly ... better if the Senate president would pay attention to running the Senate instead of trying to run the House."

Former Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss, the second African American woman to ever serve in that role, died on Tuesday at the age of 82. Her passing was mourned by former colleagues, including current Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), who called her a "trailblazer and mentor to many," noting that her volunteering with Prentiss' campaign for state school board was her first foray into politics.


Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters Wednesday he sees "no appetite" for changing term limits among the public, a topic raised by Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) recently. Both legislative leaders said they thought changes should be considered. DeWine further said he would not be getting involved in the matter of who is House speaker for the 136th General Assembly but that he believed important legislation still needs to and can be passed. That includes the capital budget and items he will detail in a week's time although he declined to offer a preview of his State of the State topics. DeWine reiterated his belief that the "most pressing" topic regarding marijuana is intoxicating hemp being available to minors when it is "dangerous to their health." Changing a few sentences of Ohio law would solve the problem, DeWine continued, and he said it should be passed unanimously.

Judicial appointment made during the week includes the following:

DeWine announced that he has appointed Katelyn Dickey to the 7th District Court of Appeals. Dickey, of Lisbon, will assume office on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, and will be taking the seat formerly held by Judge David D'Apolito, who resigned at the beginning of the year. She will serve the remainder of the unfinished term and will need to run for election in November to retain the seat. Most recently, Dickey served as a Columbiana County municipal court judge. She has spent most of her law career working in Columbiana County, where she was a staff attorney for the court of common pleas, a court of common pleas magistrate, and an assistant county prosecutor. After graduating from law school, she began teaching business law at the Salem Campus of Kent State University.


In a seminal case implicating Ohioans' basic constitutional rights, the Supreme Court of Ohio is set to decide whether the right to counsel in the state's founding document is superior to Sixth Amendment guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. It will be the first time the Court has addressed this specific argument for state sovereignty and follows the arrest and interrogation of a Hamilton County man questioned without the assistance of his attorney appointed immediately prior at arraignment. The high court accepted State v. Morris on March 5 over the objections of Democratic Justices Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart. Justice Patrick Fischer recused, while his Republican colleague, Justice Joe Deters, has declined to withdraw despite being Hamilton County prosecutor at the time of Isaiah Morris' arrest in May 2022. The Court will decide whether the Ohio Constitution in fact provides greater attorney guarantees than the U.S. Constitution; whether the latter's Sixth Amendment requires an actual indictment before triggering the right; and what it means to "clearly" and "unambiguously" invoke the right to counsel under the Fifth Amendment.

Republican Geauga County juvenile-probate Judge Tim Grendell, a former state legislator, resumes disciplinary hearings before the Board of Professional Conduct this month after the three-member panel hearing his case proceeded with the March 29 hearing despite the inavailability of certain witnesses on Good Friday. The panel, which includes attorney Peggy Schmitz of Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston (chair), attorney Frank Woodside of Dinsmore & Shohl and Judge Rocky Coss of Highland County Common Pleas Court, dismissed one charge in February alleging that Grendell had accused a mother of using the COVID-19 "panic-ademic" to withhold her children from their father. His disciplinary case resumes Tuesday-Thursday, April 23-25.


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

Related Upcoming Events