COLUMBUS — It was a relatively quiet week around the Ohio Statehouse, with many officials preparing to attend or protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. But there were still a few things that happened in and around Capitol Square.
Here are 10 of them:
1. In D.C.: Gov. John Kasich participated in several private events in Washington, D.C., on the day before the inauguration.
His list of stops included a talk with Republican Sen. John McCain about security issues, a Senate roundtable on health care reform and Medicaid, and a House roundtable on energy issues.
Kasich also planned to attend a National Governor’s Association breakfast event prior to the inauguration.
All of the sessions were closed to the press.
2. Repeal/Replace: That’s not to say that the governor has kept secret his concerns about an outright repeal of outgoing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
In fact, He and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor outlined those concerns in a six-page letter to congressional leaders, urging lawmakers to develop an Obamacare replacement before repealing the law.
They wrote, “We support the House Better Way plan to replace the individual mandate and guaranteed issue with continuous coverage protections, relax the individual market age rating requirements, allow dependents up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plan, expand health savings accounts and contribution limits and set an upper limit on the amount of employer-paid premiums eligible for the existing federal tax break at a level that ensures job-based coverage continues unchanged for most health insurance plans.”
They added, “… If Congress chooses to repeal now then later replace, the individual market could deteriorate if budget-related provisions are repealed while non-budgetary provisions remain because there would be no funding to support the system in transition.”
3. And on Medicaid: Kasich is also concerned about services being provided to needy Ohioans through Medicaid and the potential impact on them if Obamacare is repealed outright.
The governor and Taylor wrote, “We strongly recommend states be granted the flexibility to retain the adult Medicaid coverage expansion and federal matching percentage. However, if changes are required, then we recommend rolling back rather than repealing the expansion. For example, Congress could reduce the income eligibility limit to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.”
They concluded the letters, “Based on our hands-on experience with these programs, we recommend Congress quickly repeal and replace the [Affordable Care Act] in a single package and then move on to address the underlying market dynamics that are driving up the cost of care.”
4. State Budget: On the state front, the governor continues to prepare to rollout of his biennial budget proposal. The administration, via the governor’s Twitter account, posted a photo of Kasich, cabinet members and senators talking about the two-year spending plan.
The executive budget will be released before the end of the month.
5. Executive Order: Earlier in the week, Kasich signed an executive order implementing an “enhanced payment rate” to reimburse nursing facilities for the higher costs associated with caring for people who are dependent on ventilators. The move implemented a rule on an emergency basis to allow quicker implementation of the changes.
6. New Businesses: Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted announced the formation of 105,009 new businesses last year, a record result and up from 97,746 in 2015.
The results were up more than 30 percent since 2010 and marked the seventh consecutive record year of business filings, according to Husted’s office.
7. Coal: Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine joined attorneys general from more than a dozen states in challenging a federal stream protection rules, implemented by outgoing President Barack Obama.
The group, in a federal lawsuit, says the rule “would subject long wall mining to unrealistic standards, ignore local geology and prohibit many mining activities already regulated by states.”
DeWine added in a released statement, “This overreaching, last gasp Obama Administration regulation goes far beyond what the law permits. It exceeds the power Congress has given to federal regulators and ignores the authority given to the states. It would have a disastrous effect on Ohio coal miners, their families and their communities.”
8. Taxes: The Ohio Department of Taxation announced the official start of the filing season.
Starting Monday, you can submit your 2016 state income tax returns. The state filing deadline is April 18.
9. Motorcycles: The Ohio Department of Public Safety announced the opening of registrations for the state’s Motorcycle Rider Education Program.
There’s a 16-hour basic rider skills course and an eight-hour refresher. The courses cost $50 and are offered from March through November.
Online registration and other details are online at www.motorcycle.ohio.gov.
10. Sign of the Times: Public safety officials also released an online Mall Active Shooter Tabletop Exercise Toolkit, “a self-contained, ready-to-go toolkit to help protect Ohioans while they ship.”
The package is aimed at private security guards, officers and other local officials who want to prepare for responding to active shooter situations.