Ohio Legislative Update for September 2018

September 4, 2018

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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.

Contributor-LPowell

Here is an update on what is happening in the Capitol and around the state.

As always, please let us know any questions.

OVERVIEW

With the House and Senate both in recess for the foreseeable future, all attention is being drawn to the upcoming General Election on November 6th. A photo finish win for State Senator Troy Balderson in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District has Republicans and Democrats anxious for the November election. Republicans believe they will hold on to their supermajority while Democrats believe the “Blue Wave” is coming to Ohio.

This Legislative Update will focus heavily on the upcoming elections, candidate views, and related political updates.

G2G AT MAJOR EVENTS

G2G regularly attends events with elected officials and other subject matter experts of interest. Some highlights include:

Ohio Republican Party Dinner

G2G attended the Ohio Republican Party Dinner on August 24th at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. President Trump headlined the event speaking of his support for the slate of Ohio statewide candidates. Other speakers included: Attorney General Mike DeWine running for Governor, Secretary of State Jon Husted running for Lt. Governor, Sen. Rob Portman, Cong. Jim Renacci running for U.S. Senate, Auditor Dave Yost, State Sen. Frank LaRose running for Secretary of State, State Rep. Keith Faber running for State Auditor and Robert Sprague running for State Treasurer.

G2G spoke with: Senator Kris Jordan (R-Powell), Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Cong. Jim Renacci, Cong. Bob Latta, Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), Rep. Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hill), Cong. Steve Stivers, Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Montville Township). Most seemed hopeful about this fall’s elections. We noticed many state legislators chose not to attend this event, demonstrating the mixed feelings within the party in working with Trump.

Ohio Opioid Solution Summit

G2G attended a half day policy summit on the opioid epidemic. Mark Schweitzer from the Fourth District Federal Reserve Bank opened the event by pointing out in Northeast Ohio 50-75 people have prescriptions for opioids for every 100 people and in Southwest Ohio the number is 100-125 people for every 100 people. As the prescriptions increase, the labor force decreases. A Federal Reserve survey notes the opioid epidemic has an effect on 50% of businesses, not always employees, but their families. As you know, the opioid crisis is causing significant economic harm on human capital and labor markets as well as state and local finances.

During this summit, panels of county and state officials examined what is currently being done for the epidemic. The state panel included Reps. Scott Ryan (R-Granville), Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), and Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green). The group discussed changes in the last operating and capital budgets to address the issue as well as other legislation. Some of the changes in the last budget include: $180M to address the epidemic including funds for kinship care, public service funding, $5M for jails, and $2M for coroner’s offices to do toxicity screenings. Additionally, a significant stride was the Drug Abuse Response Team Program which is a grant program for counties to collaborate with different entities. The summit concluded with representatives from the Cordray and DeWine campaigns to share platforms for addressing the epidemic. Cordray’s plan includes: declaring a state of emergency, preserving Medicaid expansion to allow access to treatment and eliminating barriers to treatment. DeWine has a similar multifaceted approach but will have a strong focus on the impact of children.

Greater Cleveland Partnership BlockLand Cleveland Forum

G2G attended a Greater Cleveland Partnership forum regarding the BlockLand Cleveland initiative, which is driven by a number of leaders in the business and civic communities of Northeast Ohio. The vision is to make Northeast Ohio a significant center of blockchain technology, which some view as the next generation of internet technology and gearing it toward business and government applications.  Bernie Moreno, a business leader in Cleveland whose Bernie Moreno Companies owns eight car dealerships from Ohio to Florida, is driving the vision and initiative, which will kick-off with a conference in Cleveland called “Solutions: Breaking Down Blockchain,” December 1-4 at the Huntington Convention Center.  For background, blockchain is an online ledger system, technology that allows information to be distributed securely but not copied. A key attraction for government and business is that it will remove the need for an intermediary, potentially saving business and government significant funding and creating efficiencies. It was announced at this forum that Cleveland small businesses and nonprofits will now have free access to the research and data from the Blockchain Research Institute in Toronto, which is studying over 80 projects using blockchain tech in different areas. State Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) supports Moreno’s BlockLand efforts and inserted into SB 220, a cybersecurity bill, an amendment that would allow smart contracts using blockchain technology to carry the weight of a signature.

CANDIDATE RUNDOWN

Federal Races

Bold denotes incumbent

* denotes likely to win

Race Republican Democrat
US Senate Cong. Jim Renacci US Senator Sherrod Brown*
1st Congressional District Cong. Steve Chabot (toss-up) Aftab Pureval, Hamilton County Court Clerk
2nd Congressional District Cong. Brad Wenstrup* Jill Schiller
3rd Congressional District Jim Burgess Cong. Joyce Beatty*
4th Congressional District Cong. Jim Jordan* Janet Garrett
5th Congressional District Cong. Bob Latta* John Michael Galbraith
6th Congressional District Cong. Bill Johnson* Shawna Roberts
7th Congressional District Cong. Bob Gibbs* Ken Harbaugh
8th Congressional District Cong. Warren Davidson* Vanessa Enoch
9th Congressional District Steve Kraus Cong. Marcy Kaptur*
10th Congressional District Cong. Michael Turner* Theresa Gasper
11th Congressional District Beverly Goldstein Cong. Marcia Fudge*
12th Congressional District Cong. Troy Balderson* (sworn in after winning special election) Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor
13th Congressional District Christopher DePizzo Cong. Tim Ryan*
14th Congressional District Cong. David Joyce* Betsy Rader
15th Congressional District Cong. Steve Stivers* Rick Neal
16th Congressional District Anthony Gonzalez* Susan Moran Palmer

 

Statewide Races – most are considered toss-ups

 

Race Republican Democrat
Governor/ Lt. Governor Attorney General Mike DeWine/Secretary of State Jon Husted Former Director of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray/ Former Congresswoman Betty Sutton
Attorney General Auditor Dave Yost Steven Dettelbach
Secretary of State State Senator Frank LaRose State Representative Kathleen Clyde
Treasurer State Representative Robert Sprague Rob Richardson
Auditor State Representative Keith Faber Former Congressman Zack Space

 

POLITICS

Major Endorsements

Unsurprisingly, former President Barack Obama has endorsed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray. Obama’s list of preferred Ohio Democrats also includes auditor nominee Zack Space, who as a congressman voted against the Affordable Care Act.

Mike DeWine picked up endorsements from the National Federation of Independent Businesses-Ohio, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Debates

Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Jim Renacci will have three debates in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus before the November election. The times and dates have yet to be determined and Renacci’s campaign hopes to add at least one additional debate.

Zach Space, Democratic nominee for Ohio auditor, has been calling for five debates. Keith Faber, Republican nominee, said he will debate but the campaign has still not agreed to how many debates or when.

ON THE BALLOT

Kidney Dialysis

A measure to cap kidney dialysis costs will not appear on the November ballot after the Ohio Supreme Court determined individuals collecting signatures for the issue didn’t fill out the necessary forms. The Ohio Renal Association, who opposed the measure, challenged the petitions turned in by the Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment Committee. The Ohio Renal Association claimed that individuals managing paid signature gatherers did not fill out and submit a required disclosure form before they supervised signature collection. The association claimed 145 part-petitions had been filled out before the managers submitted the proper forms. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed and invalidated the entire petition.

Issue 1

The gubernatorial candidates have openly disagreed on Issue 1 which would reduce low-level felonies for drug use and possession to first-degree misdemeanors and lead to the potential release of those now imprisoned for some drug crimes. DeWine stated he opposes a constitutional amendment though he agrees there are legitimate issues regarding penalties for some drug offenders. DeWine believes the issue should receive examination for potential changes by the General Assembly disagreeing with notion of the issue being written into the Ohio Constitution. Cordray strongly supports the measure, saying he would work for its passage to divert addicts from expensive prisons to affordable treatment, leaving them without felony records and a chance at jobs and a future. He stated DeWine’s preference to hand the matter off to lawmakers has been tried and nothing has happened to address the issue.

BUSINESS

Opportunity Zone Tax Credits

At the end of August, State Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) introduced HB 727 which would authorize an income tax credit for investments in Ohio Opportunity Zones. Because it is late in the General Assembly, the bill’s chance of passage is slim, but it is likely it will be re-introduced in 2019 when Schuring is elected to the other chamber.

JobsOhio

It looks likely that JobsOhio, which was created by Governor Kasich, will survive 2019 regardless of the new governor. Both candidates issued statements indicating that they intend to keep the business attraction organization. The new governor, however, will get to choose the new leader and five of the nine board seats when they expire in July 2019. John Minor is the current president and chief investment officer. He began in July 2012.

Third Frontier

A report released by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation Inc. recommends asking voters to renew the Third Frontier bond program, expand the reach of its regional programs and revive state-level support of venture capital, including a technology investment tax credit and a state-backed “fund of funds” to draw in VC firms.

Funding sources could include the $225 million left in Third Frontier, a portion of JobsOhio’s income from state liquor proceeds and some of the state’s $150 million annual federal workforce development funds. The report recommends a fund of funds, in which the state of Ohio invests money and becomes a limited partner in a larger VC firm, in exchange for that firm seeking Ohio portfolio companies. It also calls for restoring a tax credit for investing in technology companies. The state has had both of those programs before, but the legislature allowed them to expire. The Ohio Capital Fund, created with $150 million in bonds, has had to dip into state tax credits to repay bonds of late, but is hoping for investment returns. The Ohio Technology Investment Tax Credit expired in 2012.

HEALTH

Gubernatorial Candidates on Medicaid

Democrat Richard Cordray unveiled his health care plan for the state. Cordray’s proposals included: preserving the Medicaid expansion, refocusing Medicaid resources on preventive care, investing in prenatal services, increasing vaccinations and immunizations for children, blood pressure screenings and regular checkups for all adults, smoking cessation efforts, and expanding the health care workforce and telehealth options. The goals Cordray outlined included incentives for health care professionals to serve in underserved areas and ensuring primary care coverage for all adults. Cordray also said he wanted to investigate the causes of increasing drug prices in the state and transform the Department of Insurance to be more of a watchdog for consumers.

This plan came on the heels of Republican candidate Mike DeWine’s announcement that he favors keeping Medicaid expansion in Ohio, though with new work requirements on many recipients. DeWine stated his plan would seek to require healthy adults who are covered under Medicaid expansion to work at least 20 hours per week or enroll in job training or a drug treatment program. He also proposed other ways to lower the costs of Medicaid expansion, including having managed-care plans offer wellness programs and to have a more transparent drug-bidding process for pharmacy benefit managers, which run drug plans for insurers and employer-based plans.

NORTHEAST OHIO

15th House District – New Candidate

Rep. Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma), who ran unopposed in the May Democratic primary, announced that he would not run for re-election for personal reasons. His replacement was selected by Democratic committee members from within his district. Councilman Jeff Crossman, an attorney with a Cleveland real-estate firm, very likely will represent Ohio’s 15th House District. The reliably Democratic district includes Parma and Brooklyn Heights, as well part of southwestern Cleveland. Crossman, who had Celebrezze’s backing, won the committee member vote by a 40-8 margin.

CENTRAL OHIO

12th Congressional District Special Election

Ohio’s only special election took place on August 7th pitting Republican State Senator Troy Balderson against Democrat Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor. The special election was to replace former Congressman Pat Tiberi who resigned in early 2018. While O’Connor won Franklin County, with 65 percent of the vote, Balderson won every other county. The race came down to Delaware County where Balderson won by about 4,900 votes. Following a count of all ballots, Balderson was announced the winner by just 1,680 votes, less than 1percent. Trump won the 12th congressional district by 11 points and Tiberi by more than 35 points in 2016. Balderson and O’Connor will face off again in November for a full term.

SOUTHERN OHIO

1st Congressional District

The 1st Congressional District remains a toss-up in the race between incumbent Steve Chabot, who has held the seat since 1994 (aside from two years), and Hamilton County Court Clerk Aftab Pureval.  Pureval’s strong fundraising totals have also raised his profile among national experts. Pureval has raised $1.5 million in six months, according to the Federal Election Commission reports. Chabot in that time has raised $950,000.

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.