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October 31, 2021

Ohio Legislative Update

Last Updated: October 31, 2021

Ohio Elections

All eyes are on Cleveland as the city will elect a new mayor for the first time in 16 years on Tuesday. Nonprofit leader Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley will vie to be mayor of Cleveland replacing Mayor Frank Jackson, who has held the position since 2006. Bibb leads Kelley by 9 points in the latest poll conducted by Baldwin Wallace University but 40% of respondents are still undecided. Only 16% of the city’s registered voters turned out for the primary meaning that small margin could easily shift in either direction on Election Day. Tuesday will also see a special election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District for the seat Marcia Fudge vacated to become Housing and Urban Development secretary. Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, the winner of a contentious August Democratic primary, faces Republican Laverne Gore. Brown is expected to be the winner of the race.

In Columbus, Democratic State Representative Allison Russo was able to barely outraise Republican Mike Carey in the latest spending period for the 15th Congressional District race, even as Carey capitalized on support from the GOP to boost his campaign. The district, however, leans Republican by 9 points and Trump won the district by 14 points in 2020. Carey is leading Russo by 11 points in recent polls.

Ohio Legislature

The legislature hopes to tackle several issues before the end of the year. As the Ohio Redistricting Commission is expected to miss Sunday's deadline for drawing Congressional maps and approving a 10-year map the process will kick back to the Legislature. They will have until November 30th to approve a full plan and can do so on a simple majority vote, though those maps would then last only four years. To pass a 10-year map, it would need a vote of 60% of all members and 33% of Democrats, which is very unlikely.

Bills on vaccine mandates have stood front and center since the legislature returned last month. HB248, a measure from Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) that would institute broader restrictions on vaccination mandates, beyond just those for COVID-19, moved quickly through committee and was expected to be on the House floor last month. The bill was then kicked back to committee for many hours of public testimony, mostly in opposition. Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) ordered House Health Committee Chairman Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) reverse course on plans to vote the bill out of committee. The bill has had no movement since he ordered the committee and vote be canceled.

Looking forward, the 2022 mid-biennium budget review bill and the state’s Capital Budget, which funds bricks and mortar projects, is already a topic of discussion. Deadlines to submit projects to local economic development chambers are as early as this week. If you have a project that may qualify for the Capital Budget and have any questions, please let us know.