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 remains in recess during final weeks before election day on November 6th and is expected to return mid-November for a lame-duck session. Meanwhile, the gubernatorial candidates participated in three debates and polls are showing the candidates are nearly tied. This gubernatorial race has already attracted the most money in state history – a combined $38.1 million.
G2G attended some roundtable events and talked with both Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray and their campaign over the past few weeks. DeWine opposes Issue 1, which would make low-level, non-violent drug offenses misdemeanors because this will open Ohio to drug dealers and could result in loss of even more lives in the opioid crisis. DeWine has also talked about his support for children and efforts to address the opioid crisis.
Cordray supports Issue 1 because this amendment will divert addicts from prison, which are already severely overpopulated, allowing them to get the treatment they need by reinvesting those dollars into rehabilitation options. Cordray also talked about wanting to improve the workforce by bridging the skills gap through affordable education and improved vocational schools. Both candidates indicate they will continue JobsOhio and Third Frontier in some form.
Baldwin Wallace University released new polling on the eve of early voting that says DeWine continues to hold a narrow lead over Cordray, 40 percent to 37 percent, which is within the margin of error. Separate polls this summer had Cordray up two points and another one released last week by Ipsos/Reuters and NBC News/Marist College had DeWine up by one percentage point and tied, respectively.
Debates & Key Focus Areas
Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray faced off in three debates in September and October. The debates took place in Dayton, Marietta, and Cleveland respectively. The following topics of interest were addressed during the debates:
Drug Trafficking and Issue 1
Cordray promises to crack down on drug traffickers and put them away for long sentences but also recognizes that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem adding we have to have money for community treatment programs. DeWine, in response, pointed to his record of closing pill mills and prosecuting traffickers. DeWine opposes Issue 1 believing it will open Ohio to drug dealers. Cordray supports Issue 1 believing we need to focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
In the second debate, Cordray’s opening remarks stated he wants to focus on health care. He claimed DeWine is not going after drug companies and middle men who have been price gouging consumers as Ohio is among the worst in the nation for health care costs. DeWine pushed back stating he has always been in favor of protecting people with preexisting conditions and that he supports Medicaid expansion with reasonable work requirements. He would also look into establishing a high-risk pool which would help subsidize insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. Cordray responded by referring to DeWine’s previous attempt to block Obamacare.
DeWine has not made specific commitments for local-government funding but stated he would not do what Cordray has done and “promise them everything.” Like DeWine, Cordray said he would increase funding for early-childhood education but also wants to increase funding for job training, public transportation, and broadband internet access. He claims he can do all of this without raising taxes but while raising paychecks, a claim DeWine does not believe is possible.
DeWine would oppose right-to-work and instead focus on other challenges such as closing the skills gaps. Cordray stated DeWine would be open for a ballot initiative to let voters decide, something Cordray said he would strongly oppose.
LEADERSHIP BATTLE IN THE LEGISLATURE
G2G has been meeting with both Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and potential future Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) as well as the Finance Chairmen and other members of the leadership team. They believe the Republican caucus will fare well in the election and are looking forward to tackling new issues with a new governor. G2G is well-positioned to work with new legislature but expects many new faces due to term limits so will continue to track and build relationships.
Candidates Speak on High-Tech Workforce Development
Richard Cordray and Jon Husted spoke at the VentureOhio annual awards dinner stating high-tech workforce development is common ground for both campaigns. DeWine wants to reduce the capital gains tax rate for investing in designated areas of the state similar to the federal opportunity zones. He also promotes creating “micro-degrees” which would retrain workers for in-demand jobs like, robotics maintenance, in as little as three weeks. He also supports changing state law to give researchers at public universities ownership of intellectual property developed on the job. Cordray also emphasized training for computer science and tech jobs as well as his commitment to diversity and inclusion, statewide broadband internet, and infrastructure investment.
DeWine-Husted have unveiled a plan they call “InnovateOhio” which would use private-public partnerships to make Ohio a national leader in new technology. If elected, this plan would be spearheaded by Husted and a team of technology entrepreneurs. The candidates believe working with the best minds will solve major policy issues and spur economic development which could make Ohio the most “entrepreneurial friendly state in the Midwest” and competitive with Silicon Valley as a center for technology start-ups.
The Ohio Third Frontier Commission neared the $1B mark in total grants under currently approved bond funding with the award of $4.5M in grants split roughly between the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge (OOTC) and the Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF) Program. With these awards, Third Frontier has $184,480,541 remaining from $1.14B in bond proceeds.
The second in OOTC’s three-stage process, the Challenge Phase, examined four criteria to combat drug abuse and addiction through new technology applications: diagnose, prevent, connect, and protect. Third Frontier awarded 12 prizes of $200,000 each from the more than 50 applications submitted for the most promising technology-based advancements. The commission approved another $2.1 million for 10 TVSF projects.
To date, top-funded TVSF research institutions are:
- Case Western Reserve University ($1.625M)
- Ohio State University ($1.6M to the University, but $3.2M in partnering with startups)
- Cleveland Clinic Foundation ($1.425M)
- University Hospitals ($1.025M)
- University of Akron ($1.025M)
- BWC Pilot Program
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is launching a pilot program to help employers in Montgomery, Ross, and Scioto counties hire and retain workers in recovery from addiction to opioids and other substances. The start date for this program is October 15th, but changes may happen. BWC will provide $5M over two years for employers participating in the program and will partner with county alcohol, drug addiction and mental health (ADAMH) boards. The boards will identify eligible employers and employees, dispersing funds and managing results. Each ADAMH board will receive a lump sum on a quarterly basis, with employers paying expenses up front and applying for reimbursement. These funds will cover costs for “pre-employment, random, and reasonable suspicion” drug testing, training for managers and supervisors, and a forum for “second-chance” employers to share success stories that encourage others to hire workers in recovery.
Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) introduced SB327 which would create a new force in the Ohio National Guard to ward off cyberattacks against local governments, election systems, and community partners. The National Guard has been at the forefront of cyber security training for years. The reserve, made up of civilians in the cybersecurity industry, would receive $450,000 in initial funding under the bill, which LaRose hopes will pass before the end of the 132nd General Assembly, but has had no hearings as the Senate remains in recess.
Ohio certified 71 more doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients bringing the total number of certified doctors to 293. To recommend medical marijuana, patients must have one of 21 qualifying medical conditions including: cancer, traumatic brain injury, fibromyalgia, and epilepsy or other seizure disorders. The Ohio Pharmacy Board (OPB) has awarded licenses for marijuana dispensaries and has held a town hall for those licensees regarding how to achieve certificates of operation. Four field agents that have been hired will be responsible for assessing the state’s 36 dispensaries. Additionally, OPB is in the process of licensing dispensary employees and incorporating their information into a statewide e-license system. The question of when medical marijuana will be available remains unanswered.
Greater Cleveland Partnership Chairman’s Forum
G2G attended the Greater Cleveland Partnership Chairman’s Forum which featured GCP Chairman Scott Chaikin and GCP CEO Joe Roman discussing the biggest issues impacting businesses today. Topics included: business expansion, connecting workforce to companies, workforce mobility, innovation economy, Blockland, diversity and inclusion, public policy agenda, tax study, and air service. Regarding business expansion, GCP has set a goal of reaching out to 1,000 companies per year and work with them directly on business expansion opportunities. The companies selected will be those viewed as being most ripe for business growth. Also discussed was the Workforce Connect program which brings together several organizations from across the region and aims to address gaps by bringing Northeast Ohio’s network of workforce resources into one place. While several industries will be targeted by Workforce Connect, the region’s manufacturing sector will be first industry to be addressed by Workforce Connect. Additionally, GCP is engaging with member companies to find which public policy initiatives are most important to them as they create an agenda moving forward.
Smart Columbus has a goal of 300 public fleet electric vehicles (EVs) by 2020. Currently, more than 150 electric vehicles are replacing gasoline-powered cars in Central Ohio government fleets. The city of Columbus has had 93 vehicles delivered and City Council approved 32 more. The city has pledged to add 200 EVs, each with its own charging station, for code enforcers, janitorial workers, and police and fire administrators. The total for all 300 vehicles is $900,000 which will be funded through the $10M Paul G. Allen Philanthropies fund that came with the Smart City Challenge win. Also, under the Allen fund to encourage EV adoption, Smart Columbus has purchased electric bikes for city police and awarded grants to developers to add charging stations to apartment complexes. The Columbus Partnership is coordinating efforts to get EVs in corporate fleets and champion them to employees.
Ohio’s 3rd Senate District
On paper, the 3rd Senate District is the Democrats’ best chance to flip a Republican seat this November, but their preferred candidate did not get enough signatures to be on the ballot. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee, on behalf of Rep. Anne Gonzales, is running ads shining the spotlight on Democratic candidate, Tina Maharath’s background, including a bankruptcy, a lawsuit and a fatal accident involving a bicyclist when she was 16 years old. Maharath is the only Democratic legislative candidate in the county not endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party. The county party endorsed a write-in candidate in the May primary, but Maharath won with 70 percent of the vote.
Ohio’s 1st Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot and rival Aftab Pureval announced Thursday they have agreed to three televised debates on October 16, 24, and 30. Polls for the race range from a toss-up to a 63 percent chance of Pureval winning. The district is evenly divided between those who think Trump is doing a good job as president. Chabot has emphasized that he sometimes agrees and sometimes disagrees with Trump, while Pureval has campaigned against the president. Questions have been raised about why Pureval spent $30,000 this year from his clerk of courts campaign fund. Attorneys for Pureval’s campaign said it’s legal to spend on local and federal races simultaneously. The Ohio Elections Commission voted 6-1 to proceed with an investigation. A hearing is set for Oct. 11 to consider a motion to dismiss filed by Pureval’s campaign. The commission could decide whether there’s a violation at its Nov. 1 meeting.
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.