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Week in review: Jan. 24

Written on Jan 22, 2021

Provided by Hannah News Service

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

The U.S. Small Business Administration fully reopened its portal for first and second Paycheck Protection Program applications on Tuesday, following an initial limit to only community financial institutions in order to "promote access to capital."

CITIES

In an analysis of all 50 state capitals from financial advising website WalletHub, Columbus ranked eighth in the nation based on metrics related to its safety, economy, affordability, schools and the health of its residents. The top three state capitals were Austin, TX, Madison, WI, and Raleigh, NC, while the bottom three were Baton Rouge, LA, Trenton, NJ, and Charleston, WV. While Columbus received a high aggregate score for its consistently above-average marks, other cities had more polarizing stats, such as Boston, MA, which was ranked first in the nation for "quality of life," but 49th in the nation for "affordability," resulting in an aggregate score pinning it at the 37th best state capital.

CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the curfew order -- set to expire on Saturday, Jan. 23 -- will be extended, though the exact details of that have not been released yet. The need to continue the curfew is unfortunate, he said, but necessary due to the current level of COVID-19 spread in the state. He acknowledged the financial difficulties it causes businesses, but said they are not ready for the potential next step of having the curfew begin at 11 p.m. rather than 10 p.m. The new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 is part of the problem, and he said the curfew represents an attempt at compromise -- rather than closing bars and restaurants altogether -- and is based on scientific research. Vaccinations will be the ultimate way out of the situation, he added, but lowered numbers may enable them to loosen restrictions in the future. He also discussed "the power of the mask" to reduce spread in group settings, but that isn't possible in restaurants or bars.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Ohio Development Services Agency recently awarded $26,523,083 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for the rehabilitation of 51 historic buildings. Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $259 million in private investments in 11 communities.

ELECTIONS

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that he has ordered county boards of elections to remove inactive voter registrations from the voter rolls, completing the most recent supplemental process under Ohio law that requires registrations to be removed if a voter does not cast a ballot in at least six years.

LaRose's office said 97,795 voter registrations were removed from registration databases after a four-month process that began in August 2020. The secretary of state's office had originally identified 115,816 registrations that were considered abandoned because of no voter activity for at least six years.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

There are now more than 160,000 patients registered under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP), according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP). A total of 160,228 patients are registered, OBP said in announcing December 2020's updated MMCP patient and caregiver numbers.

SECRETARY OF STATE

According to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, 13,735 new business filings were filed in December with the Ohio Secretary of State Business Services Division. LaRose's office said that with the 2020 numbers now final, Ohioans have created a record 171,073 new business filings surpassing 2019's record of 130,621 new business filings.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will be issuing 1.7 million 1099-G tax forms throughout the month of January pursuant to federal law that requires reporting of unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said on Thursday that 44,000 UC claims have been flagged for potential fraud. However, in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, 796,000 out of 1.4 million were flagged. Persons receiving the 1099-G tax form in the mail stating that they received unemployment benefits in 2020 when, in fact, they did not, should notify ODJFS they believe their identity was stolen via a new online portal at unemployment.ohio.gov, click on the "Report Identity Theft" button, and complete the reporting form.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Tuesday it has begun issuing supplemental weekly $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments to eligible unemployment claimants following a new system programming update. The payments were made possible by the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed on Dec. 27, 2020.

For the week ending Jan. 16, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 42,975 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. That total is higher than the number reported last week, which was 37,309. According to ODJFS, the total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 44 weeks (2,178,138) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last five years.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

The Bureau of Workers' Compensation issued a reminder for Ohio employers to cash the dividend checks mailed in December, saying that checks worth more than $500 million have not been cashed yet. The list of still-active checks includes more than 23,000 employers, the release continued. The total dividend amount was $5 billion to nearly 180,000 private and public employers.