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.
Here is an update on what is happening in the Capitol and around the state. As always, please let us know any questions.
The legislature’s plan to recess by June 30th has been pushed back significantly in the midst of controversial bills and the recent Speaker change. The House has now added a July 24th session day. This session is specifically to concur on the HB 123 (Koehler R-Springfield and Ashford D-Toledo), the payday lending restriction bill. Even with bipartisan sponsorship, the bill passed the Senate with a 21-9 vote on party lines. The House will also appoint J. Todd Smith as the new 43rd District representative. Smith won the Republican primary in the race to replace former Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton). Rezabek chose to run for Montgomery County juvenile judge rather than seek re-election. Kasich appointed Rezabek to that office earlier this month after the incumbent, Judge Nick Kuntz, passed away.
The state’s Rainy Day Fund (RDF) now sits nearly at its statutory maximum of $2.7 billion after a deposit of $657.5 million from the FY18 surplus. The RDF is the state’s “savings account” and is known as the Budget Stabilization Fund. Republicans believe this shows balanced, conservative, and fiscally responsible spending following the $1.1 billion budget gap last year while Democrats argue large cuts in health and human services to pay for this fund ultimately hurts the state far more.
G2G AT MAJOR EVENTS
G2G actively engages in events with elected officials and other subject matter experts of interest to our clients. Some highlights include:
Senate President Larry Obhof – Cleveland
G2G talked to Senate President Larry Obhof last month when he was in Cleveland. He was proud to share that 150 bills passed the Ohio Senate, 90% of which with bipartisan support. He is determined to make sure the state prospers regardless of party and politics. There is $400 million surplus today despite a $1 billion shortfall two years ago. There has been an 11% tax revenue increase because 50,000 Ohioans are paying into the system today as opposed to a few years ago.
He also discussed opioids, sharing that SB 66 sponsored by Senator Eklund (R-Munson Township) addresses prison and opioids and will likely pass this year. In Ohio, there is a 20% recidivism rate for criminals. This is impressive when compared to the 47% rate nationally. SB 1 sponsored by Senator LaRose(R-Hudson) will also pass soon and would stop fentanyl from being sold in Ohio. He shared that 80% of the heroin in Ohio comes from one town in Mexico. Obhof urges talks with Congress to clean up this area in a multi-faceted approach to the opioid epidemic. He also discussed human trafficking in depth as Ohio in the 4th worst state in the nation. There have been many bills passed to address this one in particular that would increase penalties for those managing these operations. Most recently, the Senate passed a bill authored by Senator Stephanie Kunze to help victims get back on their feet after being freed with drug treatment, clothing, job training, etc. Finally, he shared that broadband access remains a key issue. Speaker Ryan introduced a bill regarding broadband access. Because of his position, some think it will pass quickly. Ryan is working with the governor on this because the bill would have $100 million cut from Third Frontier, which would be a huge hit to the program.
Governor John Kasich – Columbus
Governor Kasich spoke of his accomplishments, citing the recent Rainy Day Fund increase and the times he used his veto power to do what was right for Ohioans. Kasich has spent a lot of time on national TV recently speaking out on many issues. While he supports Trump on some issues, such as nominating Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and also some of his regulation decisions, he is against separating families at the border. Kasich is against leaving NATO as we have kept the peace for 70 years and he does not know what will replace it. He also has concerns about the trade war as Ohioans will pay more for products that are not as good because of lack of competition. Kasich is not sure what is next for him. He shared he is concerned he will lose his voice if he does not run again citing this is an important time to be speaking up on issues. He hopes to continue to use his voice for the betterment of our state and country.
Hyperloop: Transforming Transport hosted by Columbus Metropolitan Club
This panel discussion featured: Dan Katz, Director of Global Public Policy & North American Projects, Virgin Hyperloop One, Ferzan Ahmed Vice President, AECOM, Jolene Molitoris former Director, Ohio Department of Transportation, and Thea Walsh, Director of Transportation Systems & Funding, MORPC.
In the fall of 2016, MORPC applied for a global challenge and were one of 10 globally (4 in the US) chosen out of 2,600 applications for the hyperloop project. The hyperloop is seen as a radical transportation enhancement that would allow people in metro areas, like Columbus, to be able to get to mega regions, like Chicago, very quickly. It would additionally likely take on a big role in cargo movement, significantly improving highway congestion in Columbus from trucks moving cargo. Hyperloop uses maglev technology and up to 750 mph at a very low pressure using individual pods that could be ordered on something like an Uber app. The goal is to use cargo movement to offset the cost for individuals wanting to use the service. MORPC aims to make the system affordable for consumers. MORPC also said there will be a ½ km piece test track built soon, and the next step will be to build a track between Rickenbacker and John Glenn International Airport. The feasibility study should be done in 9 months and the starter segment will begin construction around 2020 with service in the early 2020’s. When asked about funding, MORPC stated it has started with in-kind donations of services by businesses at free or reduced prices. The big numbers for an actual track are unknown until the feasibility study is done but when that happens they will look to capital companies and local government funding.
The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative evaluated Chicago Hub connections throughout the Midwest. The highest ridership to Chicago was Minneapolis, followed by Cleveland, Detroit and Cincinnati. Columbus was not included in the evaluation because of the low travel demand between Columbus and Chicago.
Governing Magazine has moved its rating of the Ohio governor’s race from “leans Republican” to “tossup,” citing Democrat Richard Cordray’s lead in recent polls and voter distaste for President Donald Trump that could impact AG DeWine’s chances of winning.
Four Democratic Congressional Challengers Outraise Incumbents
Four Democrats reported higher fundraising totals for the second quarter of the year, though the incumbents still had more money in the bank. In District 1, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) reported raising $339,290 and has nearly $1.6 million on hand. Democrat Aftab Pureval reported raising $823,662 and has $1.3 million on hand. In District 7, U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) reported $168,232 in contributions and has $1.47 million on hand. Democrat Ken Harbaugh reported $534,003 in contributions and has $977,160 on hand. In District 10, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) reported $243,702 in contributions and $710,652 on hand. Democrat Theresa Gasper reported $254,691 in contributions $187,109 on hand. In District 15, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) reported $484,242 in contributions and $2.4 million on hand. Democrat Rick Neal reported $496,308 in contributions and has $503,151 on hand.
On the Ballot
Voters will likely see a ballot issue that would set new standards for dialysis treatment and cap what for-profit clinics can charge after a group submitted more than 475,000 signatures for the initiative. Also submitted was a proposed amendment that would reduce penalties for individuals convicted of nonviolent drug and drug paraphernalia possession crimes and direct the cost savings to addiction treatment and crime victim programs. Supporters of the “Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment” submitted more than 730,000 signatures in hopes of making the November ballot. The secretary of state’s office has until July 24th to certify that each proposed amendment collected at least 305,591 valid signatures.
Also, the Libertarian Party of Ohio filed petitions and were approved to regain Ohio “minor-party” status for the first time since the 2014 election. Libertarians now need their gubernatorial candidate, Travis Irvine, to get at least 3% of the vote to keep state recognition for the 2020 election.
County elections officials will begin identifying individuals who haven’t voted since before the May 2016 primary. They will be subject to removal if they fail to vote or respond to a mailed notice during the next four years. No voters will be purged because of this process until after the November 2022 election. To address this, Husted unveiled a project that would allow voters to check whether they’re at risk for removal. A searchable database, built by Cleveland.com data analysis editor Rich Exner, contains 1.9 million names of people flagged for removal.
For only $7.75 per library per day, all Ohio public library card holders will soon have free, unlimited access to LinkedIn’s library of workforce development resources at Lynda.com. The Ohio Library Council (OLC) formally announced the agreement stating it is a “gamechanger” to help under- and unemployed people around the state. The partnership between LinkedIn, OLC and the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) will be the nation’s first such arrangement between LinkedIn and a state library system. Ohio also has the country’s highest per capita card use, and Ohio libraries return $5 for every $1 spent. Lynda.com offers thousands of video tutorials on a range of professions and other workforce topics that can run from a few minutes to 22 hours. It also offers resources for both small businesses and veterans to help them transition into either the civilian workforce or subsequent education. Access to the Lynda.com library will only require a public library card. The state will pay $710,000 per year as part of a three-year commitment.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Innovations
The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) awarded $6.3 million to four teams in support of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research and development). Funding was awarded under OFRN’s Sustaining Ohio’s Aeronautical Readiness and Innovation in the Next Generation (SOARING) initiative, OFRN’s third round of R&D funding.
The four awarded projects are:
- Autonomous/ Remote Piloted “Air Uber” System, led by Persistent Surveillance Systems in Dayton, Ohio.
- Regional Unmanned Traffic Management System led by University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- UAV Detect-and-Avoid Sensor Fusion, led by Ghostwave Inc. in Columbus, Ohio.
- Brushless Doubly-Fed Machine (BDFM) and Drive System led by The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Kasich signed an executive order permitting the emergency filing of Medicaid rules allowing behavioral health providers with certain criminal convictions to continue working after July 1st noting some behavioral practitioners with past convictions would be unable to meet enrollment requirements for the Ohio Department of Medicaid under last January’s behavioral health redesign without emergency intervention.
The Controlling Board gave its approval for the Ohio Department of Medicaid to transfer more than $310 million into the Health and Human Services Fund, a move that was specified in the biennial budget. The request is designed for the agency to draw $750 million in federal funds that had been already appropriated and will fund the Medicaid program. Per the Office of Budget and Management, the $310 million is coming from three separate funds and a “non-insignificant” portion of the money is coming from a fund that receives drug rebates. Medicaid Director Barbara Sears said the state collected $1.85 billion in rebates and had $3.66 billion in expenditures in its prescription drug program in 2017.
New Executive Director
Ryan Puente is the new executive director of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. The 28-year-old is the son of former Plain Dealer reporter Mark Puente and is president of the Cuyahoga County Young Democrats. He replaces Helen Sheehan, who served as interim executive director since January.
Hamilton County Republicans submitted 37,000 signatures to stop the sales tax increase approved by the Democratic county commissioners in June. If 23,600 of the signatures on the petitions are valid, the 0.2% sales tax increase won’t go into effect as scheduled in October. It will instead go on the November ballot to be approved by voters. The two Democratic county commissioners, Todd Portune and Denise Driehaus, approved the sales tax increase to address a projected $28 million budget shortfall for next year.
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.