The House and Senate returned to the Statehouse for the fall and are expected to remain in session until mid-December when they will break for the holidays. Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have outlined their legislative priorities for the remainder of the year and are mostly non-controversial. Meanwhile, redistricting in time for the next election remains controversial as maps were just approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission that are likely to be challenged in court before being implemented. G2G continues to meet with legislators and members of the DeWine administration, which is gearing up for the capital budget. This fall is the key time to organize nonprofit requests for capital projects, so let us know if we can help.
State of Ohio
Department of Higher Education
The Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education (ODHE), Randy Gardner will retire at the end of 2023. Chancellor Gardner has served as the leader of ODHE since January 2019. He also served as a state representative and state senator and notably held the majority floor leader position in the Senate from 2017-2019. Following Chancellor Gardner’s announcement, Governor DeWine nominated the Senior Vice Chancellor of ODHE, Mike Duffey, to replace Chancellor Gardner. Prior to his current role, which he has held since January 2019, Duffey served in the Ohio House of eight years where he chaired the Higher Education and Workforce Committee.
Governor DeWine attended the monthly meeting of the OneOhio Recovery Board and shared he will not seek to influence their decisions. OneOhio Recovery Foundation was created by Governor DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost to manage the majority of proceeds for settlements with drug manufacturers and distributors over their role in the opioid crisis. DeWine stressed the ability of the board to bring in experts in the field to guide the foundation’s work. He also stated the board should not feel locked in when making financial decisions, such as whether to set aside money for a long-term endowment and how much. DeWine believes OneOhio should consider what state and local subdivisions are less likely to take action on and see how OneOhio can potentially explore those endeavors. Funding research was one of the major examples DeWine cited as a possible avenue for OneOhio.
House and Senate Priorities
House and Senate leadership have announced their legislative priorities for the remainder of the year as they return to the statehouse. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), and House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) each outlined what they would like to see the legislature pass and address before 2024.
- President Huffman
- SB 9 — Allows physicians to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.
- SB 153 — To temporarily modify the method for valuing farmland.
- Speaker Stephens
- Possibly altering the law legalizing recreational marijuana if approved by voters in November.
- Capital budget and investments via the newly created All Ohio Future Fund.
- Addressing rising property taxes.
- Leader Antonio
- SB 100 — Abolish the death penalty.
- Leader Russo
- HB 161 — Eliminate spousal exceptions for certain sex offenses.
- Pushing for more funding for childcare.
- Property tax relief.
- Energy efficiency.
Business & Tech
American Rescue Plan Act
Ohio has appropriated the entire $5.4 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding with the final $445 million being appropriated in the state operating budget. ARPA was signed into law in March of 2021 to help provide states with resources to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal government. The breakdown of the final $445 million in ARPA funding from the operating budget includes:
- Healthy Aging Grants to Counties — $40 million
- Water and Sewer Quality Program — $124 million
- Career-Technical Construction Program — $200 million
- Greater Cleveland Foodbank — $10 million
- Public Health Laboratory — $6 million
- Behavioral Health Monitoring Treatment — $5 million
- Pediatric Behavioral Health — $50 million
- County and Independent Fairs Grant — $10 million
Outside of the final $445 million in funding outlined in the operating budget, additional funding of the $5.4 billion continues to be dispersed gradually to multiple areas via Ohio counties, cities, municipalities, and townships. A few of the areas that have received a significant amount of ARPA funding are community revitalization, public safety, healthcare, unemployment compensation, and food assistance.
Broadband Workforce Training
Governor DeWine announced Goodwill Columbus will offer free broadband job training at its new facility in Columbus. Goodwill Columbus is partnering with The Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio to provide this training. Participants in the Broadband Infrastructure Training Program will learn about the fundamentals of broadband and receive assistance with digital literacy and academic skills. Graduates could then seek industry recognized credentials to become cabling or fiber optic technicians. This training will help meet the estimated 32,000 additional workers needed to enhance the infrastructure needed to achieve the goal of the BroadbandOhio effort to bridge the digital divide for all Ohioans.
Manufacturing Sector Job Creation
Joby Aviation Inc. has announced plans to construct an electric air taxi manufacturing facility at the Dayton International Airport. Joby Aviation is an American company that develops electric aircraft to operate as an air taxi service. This facility, set to begin operating in 2025, will create 2,000 new jobs in the region with a total payroll of $140 million. Joby Aviation Inc. is planning on investing a minimum of $447.5 million in a 140-acre site and intends on producing up to 500 aircraft per year. As constriction on the facility will take place in 2024, the Ohio Department of Development is considering a job creation tax credit estimated at $93 million for Joby Aviation Inc., while JobsOhio is considering a $110 million grant for talent acquisition support.
Microelectronics Innovation Hub
Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and JobsOhio have announced the Midwest Microelectronics Consortium (MMEC) was awarded regional hub designation and $24.3 million for FY 23 through the Microelectronics Commons program, which is backed by the $2 billion in federal CHIPS Science Act funding. MMEC is a multi-state, regional initiative led by Ohio and dedicated to advancing the research and production of crucial microelectronics for the defense industry. The MMEC comprises over 65 public, private, and nonprofit entities. This technology hub will connect the Midwest’s academic institutions, corporate personnel, and government partners to unlock transformative microelectronics capabilities. This announcement places Ohio, as a part of the MMEC, as one of the eight regional hubs nationwide.
House Bill 235
More changes could be made to the State Board of Education (BOE) as a current House bill would shrink the panel and revise the way members are elected. HB 235, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula), would phase out gubernatorial appointees on the board, align the panel's districts with the state's 15 congressional districts, and make elections for board of education seats partisan races. This comes after SB 1, which renames the Ohio Department of Education as the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), passed as a provision in the state operating budget. SB1 reduces the role the 19 members of the State BOE will have and places the governor in charge of education policy in the state through the cabinet-level position by allowing the governor to select the head of DEW. HB 235 would require the BOE to hold a monthly meeting on any proposed regulatory changes with an opportunity for public testimony despite budget provisions shifting K-12 rulemaking authority from the board to DEW staff. HB235 had its first hearing of sponsor testimony in the House Primary and Secondary Committee on September 12th. G2G is monitoring the progress of HB 235, though there are currently no future hearings for the bill scheduled.
State Board of Education
Due to the changes in SB 1, seven members of the State Board of Education (BOE) have filed a lawsuit to stop those changes from occurring. The lawsuit alleges state legislators violated the Ohio Constitution by transferring the BOE’s responsibilities to the new director appointed by the governor. Currently, the partially elected BOE chooses a state superintendent who guides the development of Ohio’s academic standards. The lawsuit claims it goes against the Ohio Constitution by removing the mostly citizen-elected, constitutionally created BOE of its responsibilities and gives the governor too much power. The lawsuit also says the overhaul strips parents and communities of their voice by weakening the power of the board members they elect.
DEW Transition Freeze
A Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge has extended a temporary restraining order that blocks the K-12 governance powers from the BOE to the governor’s cabinet. This comes as members of the BOE sued, as they alleged that the transition of power violates the Ohio Constitution. Governor DeWine has stated that although he’s following the court order, the freezing of the DEW transition halts the search for a DEW director, so he must step in to ensure basic functionality of the department until the freeze is lifted. The judge in the case has also asked both parties within the lawsuit to file briefs on whether or not the Office of the Attorney General (AG) should be disqualified from representing any party in the case. The judge has ordered that the AG’s office must stop working on all matters relating to the case until a decision has been made regarding their future involvement.
November 7th Voting Information
As the November 7th election approaches, there are several requirements that Ohioans must keep in mind in order to vote.
- Polls will open from 6:30AM-7:30PM on November 7th. Polling locations can be found here.
- Utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, birth certificates, and social security cards are not acceptable forms of ID.
- A list of acceptable ID requirements can be found here.
- Early voting started on October 11th.
- Early voting locations can be found here.
- The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31st.
- Request an absentee ballot here.
- Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 6th.
Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services
Governor DeWine has announced a $90 million award from the American Rescue Plan Act aimed to strengthen mental health and addiction crisis services throughout the state. A total of 37 regional projects will receive funding through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The award will fund a mix of capital improvement projects and infrastructure project and address locally identified gaps in care such as short-term residential beds, behavioral health urgent care, mobile crisis response teams, and facility/IT improvements.
Senate Select Committee on Housing
The Senate Select Committee on Housing had their first hearing at the end of August. This committee, chaired by Sen. Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester), focuses on how Ohio can encourage homeownership and learn about the hardships Ohioans face to obtain housing. The hearing included testimony from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Homes on the Hill Community Development Corporation, Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association, Ohio Housing Council, and Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. Witnesses providing testimony told the committee that between 2016 and 2022, Ohio rent rose by more than 50% and nearly 708,000 Ohioans spend over half their income on rent. Additionally, Ohio’s homeownership rate has fallen from a high of 70% in 2020 to 64% in 2022, the first time on record it was below the national rate of 66%.
The Department of Health (ODH) is bringing a Cincinnati-based organization, which seeks to reduce Black infant deaths, to eight more communities across Ohio. The organization, Queens Village, is a community initiative that works with Black women to create safe, healthy neighborhoods that are conducive to raising children. To accomplish this, Queen Village provides a space where Black mothers are supported by their peers, process trauma, and collaborate with one another to boost health outcomes within their communities. ODH is planning to expand the Queens Village model to the following counties: Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Stark, and Summit. Queens Village already operates in Hamilton County and ODH also hopes to add Lorain County to its expansions in the future. Those ten counties accounted for 87% of Ohio’s Black infant deaths in 2021 and 58% of total infant deaths that same year. Overall, Black babies die at nearly three times the rate of White babies in Ohio.
REDISTRICTING & POLITICS
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has approved new House and Senate legislative maps. The new maps, called the “Unified Bipartisan Redistricting Plan” by Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), received a unanimous vote of approval after its fourth and final opportunity for public comment. State Auditor Keith Faber stated the revised Senate map features 23 districts in favor of Republicans, three of which are considered toss-ups, and ten that favor Democrats, with only one of those seats considered a toss-up. Meanwhile, the House map includes 61 districts that favor Republicans, three of which are toss-ups, and 38 districts that favor Democrats, with eight of those considered toss-ups. The maps now await approval from the Ohio Supreme Court, though it is possible that the maps could once again be challenged.
Congressional Speaker of the House Race
Following the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) from his position as speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the race for speakership is currently between Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH-04) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA-01). Rep. Jordan, who has served Ohio’s 4th congressional district since 2007 and is the current House Judiciary Chair, has received overwhelming support from the Ohio GOP delegation, though notable absences of support include Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02) and Rep. Dave Joyce (D-OH-14). Although former President Donald Trump has endorsed Rep. Jordan for the speaker position, both Rep. Jordan and Rep. Scalise are addressing House Republicans on why they should be the preferred choice for their party. To become speaker of the House, a candidate must receive 217 votes from House members, or a simple majority. With 221 House Republicans and 212 House Democrats, a clear favorite in this race has yet to be decided. Should Rep. Jordan win the speaker race, that would make him the fourth Ohioan to have achieved the highest position with the U.S. House. Additionally, Rep. Jordan would be the second speaker from Ohio in the past decade, following Rep. John Boehner, who served as speaker from 2013-2015.