The Legislative Update is brought to us by Liz Powell, Esq., MPH, Founder of G2G. Liz is an attorney with 20 years government experience, including as Legislative Director on Capitol Hill. She leads a team of bipartisan professionals that has raised over $50M, run advocacy campaigns and shaped CMS reimbursement for clients.

OVERVIEW

Session and committees are back in full swing at the Ohio Statehouse. Capital Budget discussions have started at the state and local level. G2G has met with a number of senior staff in the Governor’s Office, House, and Senate regarding the Capital Budget to gain insights on the process. At this time, the timeline is still unknown but those interested in submitting capital budget community projects should be working with their local chambers of commerce as deadlines for submission are looming. Additionally, organizations should be working with legislative delegations to educate them on capital project needs.  Details on this and more below.

ATTENDED EVENTS

Impact Ohio Dayton Regional Conference

Impact Ohio has been holding regional events with key government officials, business leaders, and community members to discuss issues important to the region. G2G attended the Dayton conference which focused on Third Frontier, cybersecurity, and economic development. Below are some quick takeaways.

  • Cybersecurity: A powerful panel of speakers including COL Joe Zeis, Senior Policy Advisor for Aerospace and Defense, Office of Governor Mike DeWine, focused strongly on how to protect small businesses, smaller cities/municipalities, and even individuals from a cyber-attack giving advice on best passwords, systems to use, and making sure to constantly patch and update your devices, software, email, etc.
  • InnovateOhio: Lt. Governor Jon Husted kicked off the event talking about InnovateOhio, which will be focusing on commercialization of IP, broadband access, applying technology on regulatory rule, and, generally, the need to be able to impact outcomes with information, going beyond technology. He said they want to make sure that they are doing projects people care about at InnovateOhio, with tangible outcomes, not just ones that “sound cool.”
  • Third Frontier: This topic came up many times. Husted said, being that Third Frontier was not easy to pass the first time, he knows there will be challenges this time. They want to focus on access to capital and venture capital knowing that the Midwest lags behind the coasts in these areas. In a panel, individuals leading Dayton in economic development stated we need to see leadership, access to capital, talent, and diversity as a focus, most of which G2G has been talking to Leadership about for over a year.
  • Small Business: Secretary of State Frank LaRose spoke on small business in Ohio. We have had a record-breaking year in small businesses created in Ohio. In March alone, 14,000 small businesses were created! The office is also focusing on making sure businesses that are minority, women, or veteran owned are being recognized and connected to recourses to help them grow.

Overall, very interesting topics and lively discussions. We had the opportunity to speak with: Lt. Gov. Husted, Secretary of State LaRose, Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), COL Joe Zeis, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, and Former Gov. Bob Taft. We will also attend the November 7th Southeast Ohio event, taking place in Athens, which will focus on topics of importance to the region.

STATEHOUSE UPDATES

Capital Budget

Work on the FY21-22 Capital Budget has begun as regional chambers of commerce have opened their application submission processes. Additionally, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management released their capital budget guidance to state agencies. Gaining funding from the state Capital Budget for community projects is a highly competitive process and funds only bricks and mortar projects, no programming.  The budget language is generally agreed-to before introduction in the February 2020 timeframe, therefore, the time to influence the process is now.

Capital Budget review deadlines for regional chambers of commerce:

  • Columbus Chamber of Commerce: Friday, November 1, 2019
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP): Friday, November 1, 2019
  • Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber: Friday, November 1, 2019
  • Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce: Monday, November 4, 2019
  • Toledo Regional Chamber: Friday, November 22, 2019

Appointments and Resignations

Multiple members of the General Assembly have recently resigned, and new members have been appointed:

  • Former Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) resigned in October to take the position as President of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens (R-Kittsville) has been selected to fill Rep. Smith’s vacancy.
  • Sen. Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati) announced his retirement in September citing medical reasons. Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) has been selected to fill this vacancy. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison), a member of Harrison City Council and former Cincinnati police officer, has been selected to replace Rep. Blessing in the House.
  • Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) resigned in September to take a position with ODOT. Former Ohio House Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) was selected as Uecker’s replacement.
  • Sen. Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) resigned in August to take a job in the private sector. Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) has been selected to fill Hill’s vacancy. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) has been selected to fill Rep. Schaffer’s vacancy.

HEALTH

Drug Treatment Waiver

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved Ohio’s waiver request to expand treatment options under Medicaid for substance use disorder (SUD). Governor DeWine’s Administration requested the waiver to expand inpatient and residential treatment access as part of a continuum of services for SUD. Federal regulations on Medicaid managed care that limit use of such treatment settings otherwise would have prevented this expansion, according to Ohio’s waiver request.  The five-year waiver will seek to improve people’s adherence to treatment and reduce visits to emergency rooms and inpatient hospitals.

Lead Abatement

More than $44 million in grants has been awarded to cities and counties in Ohio to identify and eliminate lead paint in residential areas. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes provided the funding. The funding is broken down as follows:

  • Akron: $4.6 million
  • Canton: $3.3 million
  • Cleveland: $9.7 million
  • Columbus: $5.6 million
  • Cuyahoga County: $5.6 million
  • Erie County: $3.8 million
  • Lima: $2 million
  • Mahoning County: $4.6 million
  • Summit County: $5.6 million

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Following a number of severe illnesses caused by vaping, DeWine is exploring if he has the authority to ban flavored e-cigarettes. The administration believes flavored e-cigarettes, which are said to be more attractive to youth, are undoing the work that has been done to keep young Ohioans from becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine. Those efforts include the new state law, which took effect October 17th, that raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. In addition to this potential ban, the Ohio Department of Health said it will target youth and parents with $4 million in new initiatives to prevent and reduce vaping. The new initiatives include development and promotion of resources that can be used to help educate youth and community members about the dangers of vaping, as well as actions to curb vaping.

Drug Trials

Four major drug companies reached an agreement with Cuyahoga and Summit counties worth $260 million, hours before the nation’s first federal opioid trial was set to commence in Cleveland. Under the agreement, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health will pay a combined $215 million and Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay $20 million in cash between now and 2021. Teva will also donate $25 million in Suboxone. Walgreens did not reach an agreement and is set to be included in a second trial, that may take place next, against larger companies such as Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid.

Additionally, Yost joined other state and federal officials in announcing a $103 million settlement with Avanir Pharmaceuticals over allegations it paid kickbacks to medical professionals and used off-label marketing tactics to illegally promote its flagship drug, Nuedexta. As part of the five-state settlement, $7 million will be earmarked for Medicaid programs in response to allegations that improper marketing of Neudexta triggered false claims to government health care programs. California, Georgia, New York, Texas and Ohio were included in this settlement.

Opioid Abuse Study

In January, emergency departments at Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati will start seeking DNA samples from patients in the hopes of learning more about the links between a person’s genetic markers and their risk of opioid addiction. The study will seek patients, arriving in the emergency room because of overdoses, using opioids for chronic pain, and some with no history of opioid use. The UC and OSU emergency departments were chosen for the study because they have the infrastructure to support such research and have the potential to capture a diverse group of patients for the study. The study hopes to recruit up to 1,500 patients over 12 to 18 months. The attorney general’s office will support the study with $1.6 million in lawsuit settlement proceeds. Cheek swab DNA samples will be analyzed to determine the presence of 180 genetic markers thought to be associated with opioid addiction. Yost announced this initiative and a new task force investigating addiction prevention techniques and strategies to focus more on prevention.

BUSINESS

TechCred

Ohio’s TechCred Program, launched on October 1st, gives businesses the chance to upskill current and future employees to help them qualify for a better job in today’s tech-infused economy. Businesses who submit successful applications will be reimbursed, up to $2,000 per credential, when current or prospective employees complete technology-focused training. Local education providers such as community colleges and career-tech schools are familiar with this program and are available to help design eligible solutions for companies.

Ohio companies interested in investing in their current or prospective employees by connecting them with technology-focused credentials can apply at techcred.ohio.gov. According to program guidelines, employers may receive up to $30,000 per funding round. Businesses of all sizes are eligible. The application period for interested employers ends October 31, 2019.

InnovateOhio

Husted recently announced the launch of the Ohio IP Promise, an initiative to make Ohio universities more attractive to innovators and entrepreneurs. The Ohio IP Promise brings together the state’s higher education institutions to provide a unified process for commercialization to ensure that students and faculty have a clear path to commercialization of their research in Ohio. The DeWine Administration has promised a streamlined, statewide standard for the ownership of intellectual property, with the guiding philosophy that research and invention done on the campuses of Ohio’s universities should be the property of the inventor, not the institution. The Ohio IP Promise, however, establishes a uniform set of guiding principles so researchers know exactly how they can take charge of their work and make it available to the public.

ELECTIONS

Early Voting

Early in-person voting for this November’s election began October 8th. Voters can also request absentee ballots and send those in by mail or deliver them in person to their Boards of Election. This being an odd-year election, voters mostly are deciding on local tax and charter issues, and local candidates. In-person voting is on weekdays through the day before the Nov. 5 election, plus the weekend before the election.

Stay connected for more updates here on our blog, at G2G’s website and on twitter – @G2GConsulting and @BioOhio

G2G (Government to Growth Consulting), LLC is a consulting firm specializing in assisting businesses and non-profit organizations. G2G provides comprehensive consultation in the fields of government affairs, economic development, grant writing, public relations, and event planning. G2G also has extensive experience in the areas of lobbying, advocacy, fundraising and grassroots organizing.