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August 08, 2022

Ohio Legislative Update

Last Updated: August 08, 2022

OVERVIEW

Ohio held its second primary on Tuesday, August 2nd for State Senate and House seats as well as State Central Committee. The legislature remains on recess until after the November 8th General Election. While it is mostly quiet on Capitol Square, the election is keeping the Ohio Legislature and Administration quite busy. G2G has been tracking, engaging in, and attending events for several Ohio races. From the senate campaign of Congressman Tim Ryan v. J.D. Vance to the re-election campaigns of Reps. Dave Joyce, Shontel Brown, Marcy Kaptur and Steve Chabot to the state level campaigns of Governor DeWine as well as state legislators in tricky redrawn districts, G2G has gone to numerous events and pounded the pavement. The common theme throughout is no one is taking anything for granted with the November 8th elections. See G2G's full report on Ohio politics including detailed election results, social services, and state funding below.

August 2nd Primary

Turn Out
Just 631,000 Ohioans cast ballots for the August 2nd primary election. This is the lowest turnout in the state’s history and the only time the state has seen fewer than 1 million votes cast in a statewide primary since at least the 1960s. The low turnout is the result of the decision to not postpone the May primary, amid redistricting delays and a lengthy court battle, instead waiting for a federal court to order a second, Aug. 2nd primary for state legislative races.

House Primary Results
Three incumbent House Representatives lost their primary on August 2nd — Reps. Mark Fraizer (R-Newark), Shawn Stevens (R-Sunbury), and Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) — but there were many other notable races for both the House and Senate. It is important to note the district numbers being used for this primary are reflective of the new districts which will be used for at 2023-2024 until the state draws new maps for beyond 2024. These numbers may be different than the current House district numbers.

House District 68 —Thaddeus Claggett, a civil engineer and construction contractor, defeated current Rep. Mark Fraizer in a rematch of the 2020 GOP primary. Claggett won 58%-42%. No Democrat has filed for this seat.

House District 61 —Beth Lear, vice president of government affairs for Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio, defeated current Rep. Shawn Stevens. Stevens was appointed to his seat earlier this year by House Republicans after former Rep. Rick Carfagna resigned to join the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Lear won with more than 58% of the vote. Lear will face Democratic candidate and LEAD Ohio Deputy Director Louise Valentine, who previously ran for the 19th Senate District seat in 2018 and lost to Sen. Andrew Brenner.

House District 16— In the only primary between two incumbents, Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney defeated Rep. Monique Smith with more than 56% of the vote. Sweeney will face Republican Michael Lamb in the fall. The 16th House District is on the west side of Cuyahoga County and includes Bay Village, Berea, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Township, and Westlake.

House District 3 — In the crowded Democratic primary for the 3rd House District in Columbus, attorney Ismail Mohamed has a slight lead of just 37 votes over Kelly Harrop, former aide to Rep. Kristin Boggs. Other contenders were all 20-plus points behind the two leading candidates. Yet to be counted are provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots which will finalize the winner.

House District 24 ¬— Former Cincinnati-area Rep. Dale Mallory was unsuccessful in his bid to return to the Legislature, overwhelmingly losing the Democratic nomination in the 24th District to Dani Isaacsohn, a community organizer who received more than 82% of the vote.

House District 27 — In a race that is expected to be competitive this fall, nurse researcher Rachel Baker clinched the Democratic nomination 62%-38% over tech entrepreneur Gavi Begtrup. Jenn Giroux, owner of a religious items store, won the Republican primary with about 48% of the vote. The 27th House District includes parts of Loveland, Symmes Township, Indian Hill, Terrace Park, Anderson Township, Newtown, Mt Lookout, Hyde Park, East Walnut Hills, Avondale, Evanston

House District 43 —Toledo City Councilwoman Michele Grim received more than 72% of the vote over pharmacy technician Daniel Ortiz in the Democratic primary. Small business owner Wendi Hendricks bested nursing home worker Kristi Kille in the GOP primary with about 66% of the vote.

House District 64 — In the district currently held by Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Warren) who faces term limits, Vincent Peterson II, a constituent liaison for Congressman Tim Ryan, won the Democratic nomination over Bria Bennett with 68% of the vote. He will face Republican Nick Santucci in the fall.

House District 59 — In the district currently held by Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) who also faces term limits, Youngstown City Councilmember Lauren McNally led the four-way primary with more than 55.5% of the vote

Senate Primary Results
Senate District 13 — Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) easily defeated State Board of Education member Kirsten Hill for the GOP nomination with more than 67% of the vote. Manning was the only Senate incumbent facing a serious challenge.

Senate District 21 — Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) easily bested former Rep. John Barnes Jr. for the Democratic nomination. The seat is currently held by Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) which he must vacate due to term limits. Smith received about 61% of the vote.

Senate District 17 —Rep. Shane Wilkin won the Republican nomination over Thomas Hwang, who previously ran in the special election for the 15th Congressional District, ultimately won by Mike Carey. Wilkin received more than 78% of the vote. The seat is currently held by Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) is who is term-limited.

Senate District 19 — Nonprofit executive Heather Swiger defeated Chrissie Hinshaw 68%-32% in the Democratic primary and will face Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) in the fall.

Elections Challenges
Rep. Shayla Davis (D-Cleveland) is taking an unusual path as she attempts to remain a State Representative next term. Davis missed filing deadlines earlier this year to appear on the August 2nd ballot. She did, however, meet the deadline to file as a political independent for the heavily Democratic 18th Ohio House District. She may face a candidate challenge to her independent status ahead of an Aug. 28 deadline. If she makes it through, she will face Democrat Darnell Brewer in the November election. Similarly, Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) plans to challenge the nominating petitions, independent status and residency of Jennifer Donnelly, his independent challenger for the General election.

Fundraising
Republicans continue to outraise Democrats in the state. Gov. DeWine expanded his fundraising lead for this year’s re-election campaign. DeWine reported raising $2.5 million between June 11th and Aug. 3rd. Nan Whaley, a former Dayton mayor, raised nearly $1.1 million between June 11th and July 31st. Republican candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court raised twice as much in June and July as their Democratic challengers. Justice Sharon Kennedy, who is running for chief justice, and fellow Republican Justices Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer raised over $854,000 combined, compared to the $421,000 raised in total by Democrats -- Justice Jennifer Brunner, who is also vying for chief justice, and state appeals court justices Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison.

State Funds

ARPA Funding
Ohio has more than $2 billion remaining from their federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. With approval from state lawmakers, DeWine already has approved spending roughly half of the $5.4 billion but any new ideas DeWine might have likely won’t get approved until November, when the state legislature is back in session. Smaller requests might go through the state Controlling Board, a spending panel that includes state legislators.

Some of the examples of what Ohio’s previously spent ARPA money will go to:

  • More than $1.4 billion to pay back an advance Ohio received in 2020 from the federal government to help keep the state’s unemployment compensation fund solvent.
  • $500 million for economic development projects in 32 Eastern Ohio counties considered to be part of Appalachia. The DeWine administration will award the money in grants in response to specific proposals, favoring projects that focus on revitalizing downtown areas, promoting on revitalizing downtown areas, workforce training and improving community health.
  • $250 million for water and sewer infrastructure projects.
  • $250 million for public safety agencies -- $175 million in grants for local law enforcement, with relatively few restrictions on how it can be spent, and another $75 million for wellness programs for first responders.
  • $100 million in local school safety grants, included in the state capital budget DeWine signed earlier this week.
  • $85 million to help train students to work in psychiatric and other behavioral healthcare centers
  • $18 million in payments to in-state meat processors.
  • $4 million for the Ohio Expositions Commission, the agency that plans the annual state fair in Columbus.
    DeWine said possible uses could include even more funding for water/sewer infrastructure and broadband internet expansion in underserved areas. Advocacy groups have offered many suggestions on how to spend the remaining funds but, because the federal funds are one-time money, the state wants to be sure where the money goes doesn’t create a future budget hole.

Workforce
The state of Ohio and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) will receive $23.5 million over three years as part of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge program. The program is meant to strengthen workforce partnerships that lead to well-paying jobs. Ohio’s proposal was one of 32 to receive funding. It highlighted partnerships on initiatives, partner support, and more than $100 million in leveraged funds from entities including the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT), Ohio Department of Development, JobsOhio, Ohio MEP, Ohio Department of Higher Education, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and others.

While the Good Jobs Challenge grant will mainly focus on upskilling Ohioans for jobs in the manufacturing industry, strengthening this sector will only help strengthen Ohio’s economy and the rest of our workforce. Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state in terms of jobs, and it is a national leader in emerging technologies. Manufacturers statewide have an extreme demand for skilled workers, which is what the state intends to address with this EDA investment.

The OMA has established a statewide network of industry sector partnerships (ISPs) in recent years, and each will receive up to $930,000 as part of the grant. ISP employer members have indicated demand for over 25,000 hires in the next five years in jobs paying at least $17.60 an hour. In addition to focusing on skilled manufacturing, the funding will also support Ohio’s Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership, as that industry is expected to create over 107,000 jobs this decade. The grant also prioritizes Ohio’s 32 Appalachian communities, the eight largest urban counties and under-represented groups in the manufacturing workforce. OWT and OMA will also bring together a statewide task force of key industry leaders to identify hiring and skill needs in electric vehicle manufacturing and the related supply chain as part of the initiative.

Tax Collection
Tax collections generated nearly $180 million more than expected in June, bringing Ohio’s revenue surplus to more than $2.7 billion at the close of FY22 on June 30, according to data from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). The state collected $28.1 billion in taxes through the fiscal year, compared to expectations of $25.4 billion, a difference of nearly 11%.
Compared to FY21, tax collections for FY22 were $1.7 billion or 6.4% higher; collections for June were $37.5 million or 1.4% ahead of same month in FY21.

Gas Tax
Gov. DeWine said his administration estimates it would lose $587 million in state revenue available for road projects in Ohio should it suspend the gas tax for three months as President Joe Biden suggested. Biden proposed suspending the federal gas tax until September in order to alleviate pressures of high gas prices in Americans, and suggested states also do the same for their own gas taxes. The governor said that additionally, the loss of the revenue would delay multiple projects, and that delay would cost the state anywhere from $35 million to $73 million more in additional costs due to inflation. Currently, Americans pay 18.4 cents per gallon for the federal gas tax and 24.4 cents for diesel. In Ohio, motorists pay an additional 38.5 cents for the gas tax and 47 cents for diesel.

Social Services

Student Services
Ohio Department of Education continues to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to support students experiencing homelessness. The bulk of the money the department is using to provide resources to homeless youth is from the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief -- Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Fund. Ohio received about $30 million of these dollars – roughly 75% has gone directly to districts and the other 25% is being used in state activities. Some of the dollars will be used to promote awareness of homeless youth and the rights to which they are entitled. Additionally, some funding will go to partners to provide training and more resources to districts.

In Ohio, 20,922 students experienced homelessness during the 2020-2021 school year. Under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, school districts are required to provide certain services to students experiencing homelessness. The act also includes a subgrant that allowed ODE to award grants to 13 districts, mostly in urban areas, who reported having at least 45 homeless youth.
On June 30, federal COVID-19 waivers that gave districts extra flexibility to serve all students free meals came to an end. President Joe Biden recently signed the federal Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022 into law giving districts some additional flexibility in the 2022-23 school year as they transition back to a paid system. The state is also trying to ease the transition for parents. The department has hosted over 30 webinars for districts about food resources.

9-8-8 Suicide Prevention Hotline
On Saturday, July 16th, Ohio officially launched the 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention Hotline Ohioans experiencing suicidal crisis, mental health or addiction-related distress will now call 9-8-8, a three-digit number to access free, 24/7, confidential support for themselves or loved ones.

In 2020, Congress designated the new 9-8-8 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (NSPL) network of more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country. The service was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets the nation’s growing suicide and mental health related crisis care needs. The existing 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) launched in 2005 and will remain active following the transition to 9-8-8, as will local helplines and hotlines, keeping important safety nets in place. The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 9-8-8. The 9-8-8 dialing code will also be available nationwide for text or chat (English only).