DeWine, lawmakers brace for showdown over health orders: Capitol Letter


take two: A deadlock between the Republican-controlled legislature and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine has been sparked, following a vote on Wednesday. By Andrew Tobias and Jeremy Pelzer, the House approved his version of Senate Bill 22, which would limit DeWine’s ability to issue health orders, and the Senate then quickly approved the House changes. DeWine vetoed similar legislation in December and pledged to do so again. House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate Speaker Matt Huffman both said they had enough votes to override any vetoes.

Power play: The House also voted to approve Bill 128, which would eliminate nuclear subsidies in Bill 6, among other provisions contained in the Tainted Energy Bill, Tobias reports. The Senate previously passed two bills seeking to delete separate aspects of the bill. House and Senate leaders will now have to decide how to move forward with dismantling the bill.

Hot plug: During a floor debate on HB128 on Wednesday, State Rep. Bill Seitz said it was “wrong to insinuate” House corruption had anything to do with HB6’s passage, despite a political nonprofit and others pleading guilty to helping funnel $60 million in FirstEnergy bribery money to pass the bill. By Tobias, Seitz said no one who has pleaded guilty so far is a member of the House. Seitz also suggested that a delay in the racketeering case against former House Speaker Larry Householder means federal authorities “are not as certain of the charges.” Vipal Patel, the acting U.S. attorney handling the case, said: “To be specific, a grand jury has indicted, not insinuated, a RICO conspiracy alleging a bribery scheme related to HB 6.”

While looking closer : The Ohio Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to extend one of its audits of FirstEnergy Corp. to investigate questionable costs paid by the utility, including $4 million paid to a company associated with former PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo. As Pelzer reportsif the audit finds that taxpayers’ money was wrongly used to pay the costs, the PUCO could order refunds to customers.

lady secretary: The US Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Marcia Fudge as President Joe Biden’s housing and urban development secretary in a vote of 66 to 34, Sabrina Eaton writes. Fudge resigned from his congressional position and was sworn in as the nation’s 18th secretary of HUD that afternoon. The Warrensville Heights Democrat will be the first woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years and the second black woman in history to lead the department.

Geraldo on the loose: Longtime journalist and conservative commentator Geraldo Rivera plans to throw his name on the GOP slate to succeed retired Republican Senator Rob Portman, Seth Richardson Reporting. Rivera, who lives in Shaker Heights, said he believes he can campaign to bridge the gap in the Republican Party from former President Donald Trump while also attracting new voters.

One shot at a time: Registration for the Cleveland mass vaccination site will begin Thursday morning, Laura Hancock Reporting. In addition, providers are expected to open registrations for people aged 50 to 59 by Thursday morning – the first day they are eligible for the shot – if they haven’t already.

Coming soon: The state has announced mass “pop-up” or temporary coronavirus vaccination clinics for next week in Columbus and Cincinnati in which 50,000 doses will be administered, Hancock Reports. In the meantime, coronavirus cases have increased Wednesday by 1868.

End of travel advisories: The Ohio Department of Health will no longer issue weekly domestic travel advisories indicating states with a coronavirus test positivity rate of 15% or higher. State health officials did not immediately explain why they ended the weekly advisories, which they had issued since last summer, Pelzer writes.

Collin’s Law: A renewed version of ‘Collins’ Law’ was introduced on Wednesday, following the death of a Bowling Green State University student in an alleged hazing incident last week. The law would define hazing more precisely and create a category of “aggravated hazing”, which would be a crime, Emily Bamforth Reporting.

Plant growth: The number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio may soon increase. Hancock writes that the 60 dispensary cap may soon be lifted as thousands of patients and caregivers continue to register and make purchases each month.

Rule violation: The Ohio Senate sent a measure to the House on Wednesday that would require every state agency to cut regulations contained in its rules by 30% by 2025. Senate Bill 9 also prohibits agencies from adopting new regulations that would increase the percentage of restrictions in their agency rules. Democratic critics said the 30% figure is arbitrary, will cause extra work for agencies and could ultimately make Ohio less safe.

Sitting this one: Reverend Jawanza Colvin, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, announced Wednesday he would not run for the 11th congressional district. The move is likely a sigh of relief for the already crowded field, with Colvin highly respected in the religious and activist community.

Forum or against them: Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus hold a candidates’ forum for the district on March 24. The event is the second of its kind after the Jewish Democratic Council of America forum last week. You can sign up to view the CCPC forum here.

child care: Ohio will create a statewide support system for child and adolescent behavioral services work, Bamforth Reports. The “center” will work to expand access to government services through telehealth, provide worker training and support initiatives like OhioRISE and the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act.

Room to grow: Liz Skalka at the Toledo Blade took a closer look to the plans of new Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik to improve GOP election results in urban areas. Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chair Lisa Stickan told him that former President Donald Trump improved his 2016 margins in the county by performing better in suburbs like Parma and Brook Park.

Stimulus Tax Breaks: Expect the federal tax relief on unemployment benefits included in the latest stimulus bill to extend to Ohio income taxes as well, reports Rich Exner. The provision makes up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 tax-exempt, but does not cover unemployment benefits received this year. Exner has this covered and other pandemic-related federal, state, and local tax issues in his weekly personal finance column, That’s Rich!

Donation dispute: The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus disputes a line on a campaign finance report by State Rep. Nino Vitale that claims he donated $2,000 to the Urbana Republican — who is white but claimed he had the darker skin than many black legislators. The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees the filing of campaign finance reports, is looking into the matter, Laura Bischoff reporting from the Dayton Daily News.

Five groups that lobbied the last legislative session House Bill 78, which would have relaxed the requirements for the government to pay prevailing wages on projects. Current wage rules ensure that workers on major government construction projects receive at least the average wage of nearby workers in similar jobs. The bill did not become law. This year, a similar payroll was introduced, although lobbyists are not required to disclose their work until May. State lobbying forms do not require people to disclose whether they are for or against a bill.

1. Ohio Associate Builders and Contractors

2. Associated General Contractors of Ohio

3.Caterpillar Inc.

4. Ohio Labor District Council

5. Ohio Conference of Plasterers and Cement Masons

State Senator Michael Rulli

“um.. @jerryspringer??”

Mike Thompson, WOSU News Director, commenting on the news that Geraldo Rivera is considering a Republican bid for the US Senate. Springer, also a television personality with Ohio roots, has often been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for statewide office.

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