COLUMBUS — The governor made a couple of impromptu appearances at events in Columbus, the Republican head of the Ohio House offered comments before a lawmaker panel and the Ohio House and Senate were both in session, passing a handful of bills.
Here are 10 things that happened around the Statehouse this week:
1. Kasich Comments: Gov. John Kasich stopped by a developmental disabilities awareness and advocacy day in the Statehouse Atrium, promising continued support from his administration for disabled residents and their families.
“You are important to us,” he said. “You bring about a certain light that no one else can shine. At the same time, you’ve changed families and loved ones to have an appreciation of life and to reach out to people. That’s changing the world.”
He added, “This is too often a community that has been ignored. You have been a priority over the last few years, and you will remain a high priority.”
2. Rosenberger in Committee: House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) spoke before the chamber’s Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, thanking members for their involvement and explaining the importance of the new panel.
“I do believe that this committee… will do some very important work and actually yield positive results,” he said. “Federalism and Interstate Relations will focus on a range of subjects but primarily will be based on addressing legislation dealing with the relationship between the federal government and the state government. And I do believe strongly in upholding the protection of states rights and state sovereignty, so the committee will provide a watchful eye on how changes in federal regulations can impact Ohio families and businesses… as time progresses.”
3. Budget Watch: The Ohio House continues its work on the biennial operating budget, with various finance subcommittees and other committees considering different portions of the larger legislation.
Those sessions have made for packed confines in Statehouse hearing rooms. For example, about 30 people provided testimony to the House’s Ways and Means Committee, many of them voicing concerns about the governor’s proposal to increase tax rates on cigarettes, other tobacco and vaping products.
It was standing room only in the main committee hearing room, with a bunch of other people trying to track the discussion in another hearing room.
4. Other Bills: The Ohio House and Senate moved a handful of bills, including HB 11 (routine legislation to align Ohio tax code with federal changes), HB 59 (would designate Oct. 7 as Moses Fleetwood Walker Day, in honor of pro baseball’s first black player) and SB 18 (would designate Sept. 12 as Jesse Owens Day, in honor of the gold medal-winning Olympian).
5. Back to the Governor: Kasich’s office announced a lottery for State of the State tickets, with the speech set for April 4 in Sandusky.
According to the governor’s office, 50 or so tickets will be handed out to lucky winners. The theater has a capacity of a little less than 1,500.
You can apply for up to two tickets online at governor.ohio.gov.
6. Ouch: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a central Ohio school district “has no clear legal right to relief” and the state tax commissioner “has no clear legal duty to act” in a case involving a levy renewal that was left off the ballot in some affected areas.
The levy in question was OK’d by voters in Delaware County in 2015 and was to provide funding (about $7 million projected in 2017) for a multi-county joint career center, according to documents.
Voters in Delaware County approved the renewal by a margin of 10,644 votes.
But elections officials neglected to place the issue on the ballot in affected precincts in surrounding counties. Meaning 1,026 registered voters did not get to cast ballots on the issue.
School officials said there were enough votes favor of the renewal, regardless of the balloting error. Tax officials, however, said that state law doesn’t give them the authority to move forward with collections.
Justices agreed with the tax commissioner, ruling, “because no proper certification of the multi-county election has been presented to the tax commissioner demonstrating that the tax is ‘authorized to be levied,’ the tax commissioner does not have a clear legal duty to apply reduction factors and calculate tax rates for this levy.’”
7. Jamming: The Ohio State Fair announced its entertainment lineup for this summer’s event.
The list includes country stars Alabama and Rascal Flatts, rocker George Thorogood, a cappella jammers Pentatonix and the KIDZ Bop Kids: Best Tour Ever.
More information is posted online at ohiostatefair.com.
8. Vandalism: Vandals defaced a synagogue in Lorain, drawing public condemnation from state Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain).
“I was shocked and dismayed to hear of the recent act of vandalism against Agudath B’nai Israel in Lorain,” he said in a released statement. “These disgusting, hateful and ignorant actions are not in any way reflective of our community’s values.”
He added, “This type of senseless anti-Semitism should rightfully be condemned by all reasonable, thinking people, and I do so today. I am disgusted, and frankly embarrassed, that this has come to our town — but I am heartened by the outpouring of support for ABI by the vast majority of the Lorain community.”
9. Truth in Advertising: The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct issued a coupe of advisory opinions dealing with the legal community, including one that noted, “Lawyers may not use statements such as ‘There’s no charge unless we win your case’ or ‘No fee without recovery’ if the lawyer intends to recover litigation costs and expenses from the client. If a lawyer intends to recover advanced costs and expenses of litigation from the client, a disclaimer is required in the advertisement that explains the client’s obligations for repayment.”
10. Campaign Watch: Several candidates announced their intentions for the 2018 campaign, including former Congresswoman Betty Sutton and former Wayne County Commissioner Dave Kiefer as Democratic candidates for governor and state Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) for state treasurer.
Among other plans, the latter said he supports the online checkbook established by incumbent Republican Josh Mandel, which allows the public to see how agencies are spending taxpayer money.
“Josh Mandel has done a terrific job of making this office relevant,” Sprague said. “We are absolutely supportive of his transparency initiative that’s made the state of Ohio No. 1 in terms of government transparency. We’re looking forward to adding to that program and continuing that when we’re in office.”
(Sprague likely will have competition in the Republican primary for that office, with Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo seriously considering a run.)
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.