Insights & analysis

Ohio legislative update

12/23/2020
Listen to G2G's Discussion with State Legislators & OBM Director on the Ohio State Budget & Beyond
Overview

Before 2020 ends, we wanted to send a final, brief legislative update. The 133rd General Assembly came to a close swiftly with a mostly quiet Lame Duck session but some important bills ranging from rare disease to step therapy passed and were signed into law. Also, G2G hosted a live discussion on the upcoming Ohio Budget from which we gleaned valuable insights, including a heads up on capital projects and upcoming operating budget issues. Finally, Senators Brown and Portman teamed up to announce new funding for Ohio. Please see below for updates.

STATE BUDGET
G2G Hosted Live Discussion with State Legislators & OBM Director

G2G hosted a live discussion with Ohio Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks, Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), and House Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) in early December. Dolan shared that capital projects will be in the capital budget that was delayed since April when COVID surges hit the state. The panel stressed the need to limit spending in the FY22-23 state operating budget and advised advocates to include both the House and Senate as well as the administration in conversations about funding initiatives. They also said to be prepared to talk about coronavirus, how dealing with it, and how will deliver services post-COVID. Dolan and Boggs urged advocates to convince board members and/or persons who have benefitted from services to speak directly with lawmakers, as it is most meaningful.

Dolan said the first priority for the budget will be addressing the pandemic and ensuring that the budget is balanced at the end of FY21. Boggs added they will likely have to fight hard to continue the $700M in wraparound social services for students the governor launched in the previous budget cycle. Murnieks said DeWine has been clear that he is committed to wraparound services for students, and those programs will be funded in some form in the administration’s budget recommendation.

The panel also discussed education and specifically, HB305, the “Cupp-Patterson Plan,” a K-12 school funding overhaul, which passed the House in late November with broad bipartisan support. Dolan believes the bill is promising but likely lacks the clarity and urgency necessary to pass the Senate during lame duck, stating there is a good foundation to work from but there are tweaks that need to be made.

Boggs noted the COVID-19-induced recession has been different from recent recessions as more women have lost jobs than men. The greatest number of job loss is in home health care workers, service industry, teachers, nurses while in previous recessions it is typically construction, manufacturing and financial institution jobs that are lost. She added it is important to think about how we get women back to work and that question cannot be answered without addressing childcare, which will be a key issue for her caucus.

OHIO LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS AND LEADERS
133rd General Assembly by the Numbers

As the lawmakers near the end of the 133rd General Assembly, the following is a roundup of how much legislation has been introduced and signed this session.

805 - House bills introduced as of Monday, Dec. 14
42 - House bills signed by Gov. Mike DeWine
389 - Senate bills introduced in the 133rd General Assembly as of Monday, Dec. 14
17 - Senate bills signed by Gov. Mike DeWine134th General Assembly Leadership

House Majority:

Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) Speaker  
Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) Speaker Pro Tempore
Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) Majority Floor Leader
Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) Assistant Majority Floor Leader
Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) Majority Whip
Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) Assistant Majority Whip

House Minority:

Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) House Minority Leader
Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) Assistant Minority Leader
Rep Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) Minority Whip
Rep Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) Assistant Minority Whip
Phil Robinson (D-Solon) Caucus Chair      

Sentate Majority:

Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) Senate President
Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) President Pro Tempore
Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) Majority Floor Leader
Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) Majority Whip

Sentate Minority:

Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) Minority Leader
Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) Assistant Minority Leader  
Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) Minority Whip
Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester) Assistant Minority Whip

Capital Budget

SB310 was originally introduced as a vehicle to distribute federal coronavirus relief dollars but became the $2.1 billion capital appropriations bill, as decided in Conference Committee. The legislature typically approves a capital budget every two years, funding improvements to public services and facilities across the state. The capital budget is typically passed in the spring, but it was delayed this year due to the pandemic. Some highlights of the bill include:

  • $305M for local school construction
  • $452M for public colleges and universities
  • $18M for improving the security and efficiency of public agency websites and the MARCS first responder communications system
  • More than $171M for economic development and cultural projects of local and regional importance to boost growth and opportunities in communities across the state
  • $95.6M for critical health and human services funding for mental health and addiction treatment facilities in communities across the state
  • $280.7M for renovations of state and local prisons
health
Limiting Ohio’s Department of Health

DeWine vetoed SB 311 (McColley-Roegner) which would have placed limits on the authority of the state health director in issuing certain health orders as well as given the General Assembly more oversight on those orders. DeWine said Ohio has strong laws that provide public health experts with the ability to respond to a public health crisis and protect Ohioans from highly contagious, infectious diseases. Term-limited Senate President Obhof (R-Medina) originally stated his chamber would immediately vote to override the veto and has the votes to do so because he was concerned about decriminalizing the health orders and noted that current law doesn't give the administration different levels of penalties to use, including civil penalties. However, he did not call that vote and stated his hope to work with the administration. Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Cupp supported SB 311 but Democrats did not and agreed with DeWine’s veto. In the end, the veto was not overridden by legislators and will not be signed into law.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The first COVID-19 vaccinations were administered in Ohio. Shipments of 975 doses were first delivered to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus and UC Health in Cincinnati. Several healthcare workers and personnel who are routinely involved with the care of COVID-19 patients immediately received vaccinations. Vaccine shipments were also delivered to 10 other hospitals that were selected based on geography, population, and access to ultra-cold storage capacity:

  • Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital, Lucas County
  • Cleveland Clinic, Cuyahoga County
  • Metro Health Medical Center, Cuyahoga County
  • Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center, Clark County
  • OhioHealth Riverside Hospital, Franklin County
  • Aultman Hospital, Stark County
  • OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Athens County
  • Genesis Hospital, Muskingum County

In other vaccine news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has invited Ohio to participate in an early scaled launch of vaccinations in nursing homes. DeWine also announced that Ohio will launch a new COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard in the coming days which will list the number of people vaccinated in Ohio and be sortable by demographic and by county.

Rare Disease Advisory Council

After sailing through the legislature, Governor DeWine signed into law HB 412, which was introduced by Reps. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) and Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) to create a Rare Disease Advisory Council. There are 7,000 rare diseases affecting one in 10 Americans or 30 million individuals nationwide, and 90% of those conditions have no treatment options and for those that do, the costs of rare condition medications have risen 54% in the last four years. The Rare Disease Advisory Council will help address the unique challenges rare disease patients face by providing a forum to analyze the needs of this community and make recommendations on how to improve public policy. The membership will be composed of medical researchers, physicians, nurses, patients, lawmakers and state officials. The council will be charged with recommending ways to assist families dealing with a rare disease, opportunities for research and ways to collaborate with others around the state dealing with rare diseases including the families, health care facilities and government agencies, among others. G2G is monitoring the selection of council members closely and knew Clites well. BioOhio was actively involved in advancing this bill and although Clites lost re-election, she is expected to stay active on rare disease issues.

Drug Pricing Study Panel

The Prescription Drug Transparency and Affordability Council, a study committee created to examine drug pricing, voted on recommendations to for its initial report including the following:

  • Consider a single prescription drug purchasing plan for public employers in Ohio
  • Consider a reverse auction process for drug purchases
  • Consider establishing a single drug formulary across state entities
  • Find additional ways for consumers and employers to benefit
  • Consider health equity when developing prescription drug policy
  • Require clarity and accountability in contract terms with pharmacy benefit managers
Step Therapy

The Step Therapy bill, SB 252, renamed Stephanie’s law after Rep. Hackett’s former aide who succumbed to a 5-year battle with cancer also became law. Hackett worked with Rep. Craig to push through this legislation over the past few years and finally succeeded with broad support. It prohibits "fail first" coverage, commonly referred to as step therapy, of drugs used to treat stage four advanced metastatic cancer. G2G and BioOhio were active in this effort over the past four years.

innovation
Ohio Third Frontier

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission approved $900,000 for new medical technology and other innovative products, including $500,000 awarded to Ohio State University from Third Frontier’s Technology Validation and Start-up Fund. The fund is focused on Ohio institutions of higher education and other nonprofit research institutions, to help demonstrate that technology is commercially viable through activities such as testing and prototyping. The ultimate goal is to license the technology to companies, according to the commission's release. The following were awarded funds:

  • Advanced Vascular, located in Toledo, was awarded $150,000 for development and commercialization of a biocompatible silicone dressing to allow oxygen delivery in the treatment of chronic wounds, particularly in diabetic patients.
  • Enlighten Mobility, located in Columbus, also received $150,000 for the development and commercialization of a technology to detect neuromotor abnormalities in babies. The technology consists of an incubator mat and software system that collects and analyzes three-dimensional motion data.
  • ResCon Technologies, located in Columbus, was awarded $100,000 for the development and commercialization of hardware, firmware and software solutions to advance small Unmanned Aerial Systems.
DataOhio Portal

Husted announced that 200 unique datasets and more than 100 interactive visualizations will be available through an online portal, DataOhio, that just launched. The goal is to have data from all state agencies on the platform, which will serve as a centralized repository. The data will not just be for use by the executive branch, but also lawmakers, reporters and the general public. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), the Department of Youth Services (DYS), and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) already have data on the site. The website can be found at data.ohio.gov.

DriveOhio

Ohio is uniquely positioned with DriveOhio to lead in automotive and transportation innovation. In a recent webinar, DriveOhio emphasized that Ohio is well-placed to lead the future of advanced air mobility technology, including unmanned aerial systems. This includes increased connectivity as well as autonomous and electric aerial vehicles. Few states can boast Ohio’s assets in the field which include the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center in Springfield operated by DriveOhio, SkyVision assets providing beyond-line-of-sight drone testing, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and NASA facilities. While note mentioned, it should be noted Ohio also has two hyperloop teams working hard to bring this transportation to NE and central Ohio in the coming years.

Also, advanced air mobility is “enabling technology” for new use cases such as optionally-piloted aircraft and aircraft with a level of autonomy, as well as VTOL- capable aircraft. Those can be useful for a range of areas including short-range transportation, agriculture and emergency response. Such technology could reduce the level of ground-based transportation and could be used for ridesharing and providing access from rural to urban areas. Ohio also stands out by connecting ground transportation to those efforts and is working to set up “remote towers” at airports to facilitate larger and more complex operations as well as support of the new advanced air mobility technology.

Ebikes and Scooters

The Senate passed HB 295, which was introduced by Rep. James Hoops (R- Napoleon), to establish requirements governing low-speed micromobility devices and enable localities to authorize these kinds of transportation. This follows Cleveland’s pilot program for ebikes and scooters that was launched in 2019. G2G was actively engaged in both efforts.

FEDERAL FUNDING FOR OHIO
Brown-Portman Announced Funding

Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman recently gave details on the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that just passed Congress. Key provisions to support Ohio’s military installations include:

  • $1.4 billion in funding to upgrade 89 Abrams tanks, sustaining the rate of production of the upgraded Abrams tanks Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima.
  • $1.1 billion for upgrading Stryker Vehicles at the JSMC.
  • $532.8 million to produce 72 Stryker chassis to support the Army’s Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) program.
  • $23.5 million in funding for a hydrant fuel system for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
  • $35 million for an Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to help make NASIC more energy efficient.
  • $15 million for the construction of a new Guard Readiness Center at the Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.
  • Requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the surge capacity of defense industrial base manufacturers compared to that of adversaries. Portman said this assessment would highlight the capabilities of large and small Ohio businesses to support the federal government's production needs.
  • Enabling National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to receive name-bearing gifts of real property.
  • Requiring DoD to study partnering with existing government facilities, like NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, to perform research and testing on hypersonic devices.
  • Enhancing lease protections for Gold Star Families.
  • $12.7 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to Ohio health care systems as well as to help with COVID-19 treatments, testing, and other protective measures.
  • FEMA awarded these grants from replenished funds accessible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The following two health care systems received funds:

  • $6,015,314.75 to Ohio State University (Columbus campus).
  • $6,696,593.23 to Premier Health.

More updates