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Week in Review: Jan. 17, 2021

Written on Jan 15, 2021
Provided by the Hannah News Service


AGRICULTURE

The 2021 Ag-LINK application period is now open, Treasurer Robert Sprague announced Wednesday. The program is intended to help Ohio farmers and agribusinesses finance the up-front costs of this year's growing season. The application period will remain open through Friday, March 19, according to the Ohio Treasurer's Office.

FY22-23 BUDGET

As Gov. Mike DeWine and his staff put the finishing touches on the administration's proposed FY22-23 budget which is due to the Legislature by Monday, Feb. 1, the nonprofit policy research institute Policy Matters Ohio announced its state budget priorities Thursday in a new report, "A budget for everyone." The report identifies short- and long-term priorities addressing six main areas: getting people through the health and economic crisis; expanding opportunity and ensuring Ohioans meet their basic needs; protecting working people both on the job and if they are laid off; expanding health care and restoring Ohio's public health system; strengthening the foundation of Ohio's communities with resources for K-12 education reform, higher education, caring for seniors and more; and making government more accountable and transparent.

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

The application window for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) re-opened Monday at 9 a.m., though the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) said there is an initial limit to only community financial institutions (CFIs) in order to "promote access to capital." The First Draw loan window for CFIs opens Monday, while the window for Second Draw PPP Loans opens Wednesday. The program will open to all participating lenders shortly afterward, the SBA said. This PPP round involves up to $284 billion that can be used for job retention and certain other expenses through March 31. Certain existing PPP borrowers can apply for the Second Draw loans as well, if they have less than 300 employees and can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

CORONAVIRUS

Scientists at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine announced that they have discovered a new variant of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. While the new variant carries a mutation identical to the U.K. strain, "it likely arose in a virus strain already present in the United States," they said. The researchers also report the evolution of another U.S. strain that acquired three other gene mutations not previously seen together in SARS-CoV2.

As Ohioans age 80 and older become eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations next week, the Ohio Department of Health will launch a new online tool to assist residents in finding a provider that has been allotted vaccines, Gov. Mike DeWine said during his biweekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

The coronavirus.ohio.gov tool, which became available on Friday, Jan. 15, is searchable by zip code and county, but it will not be updated in real-time, the governor said. Those eligible to receive a vaccine should consult local resources to determine up-to-date vaccine availability. Ohioans can find additional information about providers administering vaccines by calling their local health department or visiting their local health department website.

Roughly 800 Ohio health providers will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals age 80 and older next week, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday. The governor said there are about 420,000 Ohioans in that age range, and the state is expecting about 100,000 vaccines to be delivered next week. The eligibility timeline for non-80-plus-year-old individuals in Phase 1B is as follows:

- During the week of Monday, Jan. 25, vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those age 75 and up. Vaccinations will also be available to those with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders.

- During the week of Monday, Feb. 1, vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those age 70 and older.

- During the week of Monday, Feb. 8, vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those age 65 and up.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Development Services Agency announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement with General Motors (GM) on the company's $12 million investment in the Mahoning Valley. The community investment is a requirement of the settlement for GM's repayment of its Job Creation and Retention Tax Credit incentives, along with a $28 million refund to the state.

ELECTIONS

Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that his office will offer an online portal for local candidates and campaigns to file their finance reports electronically.

TAXATION

The General Assembly should pass legislation allowing municipalities -- until March 2023 -- to continue collecting income taxes from employees who are not physically working in the taxing jurisdiction of their employer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC). Gov. Mike DeWine should also create a task force to study how the pandemic has affected the municipal income tax system, GOPC Senior Manager of Special Projects Erica Spaid Patras said during GOPC's webinar laying out the organization's 2021 public policy platform.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has begun sending out some of the $300 unemployment benefit payments provided under the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, ODJFS spokesperson Tom Betti told Hannah News on Thursday. The additional $300 weekly benefit under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is down from the $600 benefit provided under the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act last year. The $300 benefit will be available for those who were unemployed between Dec. 27, 2020 and the week ending Saturday, March 13.

For the week ending Jan. 9, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 37,309 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That number is higher than what was reported last week, which was 29,709. According to a news release from ODJFS, the total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 43 weeks (2,135,163) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last five years.

WORKFORCE

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, in his role as director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, announced Tuesday that 12 workforce partnerships will receive funding through the Industry Sector Partnership Grant. The program helps ensure Ohioans can enter the workforce and meet the needs of job creators and the local economy. The grants total $2.5 million and are being focused on partnerships located throughout Ohio across multiple in-demand industry sectors, including health care, information technology, manufacturing, construction and transportation.