Ohio Judge: Health Dept Director Has No Authority to Issue Mask, Distancing and Other Orders

Ashland, Ohio – An Ohio judge ruled that the Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) does not have the authority to issue mask mandates, social distancing or other types of mandates since Ohio law does not give the agency such stated or implied authority.

Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Ron Forsthoefel wrote that the ODH only has ultimate authority in matters of isolation and quarantine – matters the legislature defined in Senate Bill22, the law enacted when the General Assembly overrode Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill last month.

The case Forsthoefel judged involved Cattlemans Restaurant and the Ashland County Health Department – the latter which issued a cease and desist order against the restaurant for an alleged violation of the COVID-related Dine Safe Order.

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Former ODH Director Acton Will Not Run for U.S. Senate in 2022

Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton released a statement Tuesday revealing that she will not seek the 2022 Ohio Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

“It has been a tremendous honor to be asked to consider a run for the U.S. Senate. Like many of you, I have a profound reverence for the office, and for those who have answered the calling to public service,” wrote Acton

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Ohio Secretary of State Has Serious Concerns About H.R. 1

While Congress continues to push toward voting law changes and efforts to federalize elections, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose continues to speak out in trying to protect states’ authority.

LaRose and the Ohio General Assembly were among the first a month ago to call attention to House Resolution 1, which LaRose said is a federal takeover of state-run elections.

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Ohio Consolidates COVID Restrictions

Gov. Mike DeWine COVID press briefing

During the Monday COVID briefing Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Stephanie McCloud would release a consolidated order to simplify state-imposed COVID restrictions.

The “order does consolidate several orders and transfers important items we want to focus on into one order,” said McCloud. The crux of the order will be “the mask, staying in smaller groups, distancing from others, sanitizing.”

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DeWine Signs Partial Repeal of Ohio’s Controversial Nuclear Power Bailout

Nuclear power plant

A little more than eight months after the billion-dollar government bailout of the state’s nuclear energy industry led the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Gov. Mike DeWine officially put it to rest.

DeWine signed House Bill 128 into law late Wednesday. It repeals the nuclear provisions of the infamous House Bill 6.

Gone is the bailout for the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. Also eliminated was the ability for FirstEnergy to have its revenue levels relatively the same even during years when energy consumption decreases. HB 128 directed refunds of money already collected under the guarantee.

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Ohio ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Takes Effect Tuesday

State Senator Tim Schaffer

Senate Bill 175, which removes the duty to retreat in the event of a physical attack against a person or residence, will go into effect Tuesday. 

“For purposes of determining the potential liability of a person in a tort action related to the person’s use of force alleged to be in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the person’s residence, the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence,” the text of the bill says. 

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Law Enforcement Agencies Meeting Ohio’s New Minimum Standards

More than 500 agencies in Ohio have adopted the state’s new law enforcement minimum standards to be state certified, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.

Ohio changed its standards after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last spring and the subsequent protests.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s 2021 Law Enforcement Certification Report showed 529 Ohio agencies have adopted fully the primary standards, which include new ones created last year. Eleven agencies are in the process of adopting and being certified.

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Parents of Bowling Green Student Call for State and Federal Legislation to End Hazing After Son’s Death

Rodney Rogers of Bowling Green State University

The parents of a Bowling Green State University (BGSU) suggested that state and federal lawmakers should tackle the issue of hazing after their son, a fraternity member at the school, tragically died during an alleged hazing ritual.

Stone Foltz, who was pledging to become a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, died on March 4. His parents released the following statement:

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DeWine Signs $8.3B, Two-Year Ohio Transportation Budget

Highway with cars

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine praised the $8.3 billion state transportation budget he signed into law despite it missing the increased vehicle fees and massive cuts for public transportation he proposed.

The two-year budget, House Bill 74, provides money for road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as other transportation priorities established by the committees in the House and Senate, along with DeWine.

“The budget ensures that we can continue to maintain and invest in Ohio’s roadways,” DeWine said Wednesday. “Ohio’s transportation system continues to be a critical part of our economy, moving materials and people safely across our state. This budget advances our commitment to invest in state and locally-maintained roadways.”

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Planned Parenthood Sues Ohio over Telehealth Abortion Law

A pro-abortion group is taking the state of Ohio to court over a law that limits telehealth abortions, according to Thursday reports. 

“Planned Parenthood Federation of America and two of its Ohio affiliates on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health and prosecutors in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties to stop enforcement of a state ban on telemedicine abortion that was signed into law earlier this year,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. 

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Hollywood Goes to Bat Against Ohio Constitutional Carry Bill

george takei sulu

A Hollywood actor and internet activist has vowed to fight against Ohio’s HB 227, a constitutional carry bill that would allow residents of the state to exercise their Second Amendment rights more freely. 

“House Bill 227 in Ohio would ‘allow a licensee to carry concealed all deadly weapons that would otherwise be legal to possess, remove the requirement of a licensed gun owner to ‘promptly’ notify police of a gun in their car and allow anyone 21 and older to carry a concealed deadly weapon without a license,’” Goerge Takei said on his Facebook page. 

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Ohio to Pay Google $1.4M to Help Identify Unemployment Fraud

Gov. Mike DeWine

Ohio continues to add resources to a public-private partnership to combat unemployment fraud, which the state says has cost taxpayers more than $200 million, and the newest additions are a pair of big names.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced recently a new agreement between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Google to conduct data analytics on all outstanding claims. The state will pay the tech company $1.4 million to use Google Analytics to help discover fraud.

“This is one of the first things the private sector group told me when they came in is drilling down on this data and doing it in a very sophisticated way,” DeWine said.

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Ohio Priest Compares Jesus to George Floyd During Holy Week

It is Holy Week in the Catholic Church, the most sacred time of the year for that religion, and one Jesuit priest at Xavier University is using it to weaponize Jesus on behalf of progressive politics.

“Jesus Christ and Derek Chauvin are on trial this week. If the justice system lets Derek Chauvin walk free, then we will have chosen Barabbas over Christ once again,” Jesuit Regent David Inczauskis said on Twitter. 

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Reps. Jordan, McClintock Ask DHS for Communications Between Biden, Trump Administrations About Border Policy

U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) have sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas asking him to release communications about the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations in regard to immigration policy. 

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Akron Man Wants Fentanyl Declared a Weapon of Mass Destruction

An Akron man whose son died of an overdose in 2015 is on a crusade to take fentanyl, a ultra-lethal drug manufactured mostly in China and by Mexican cartels, off the streets for good.

Motivated by his son’s tragic death, James Rauh founded an organization called Families Against Fentanyl, which is taking a unique approach to fighting the manufacture and import of that drug. 

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Commentary: Based on School COVID Testing, Ohio College Students Are at Low Risk

College students have had a new test to pass this school year; in fact it’s a test most have been required to pass more than once: the COVID-19 test. 

When school resumed in the Fall of 2020, every higher educational institution across the United States established their individual COVID protocol plans. The 3rd largest University in the nation, The Ohio State University, jumped right in with an aggressive testing model.

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Six Ohio High School Teachers Won’t Face Charges After ‘Offensive’ Discussion of Student

Ohio Teachers caught on camera

Six high school teachers have been placed on leave, but will not face criminal charges, after a video of the two of those teachers surfaced in which they discussed the physical appearance of one of their students. 

“Rocky River police decided not to pursue charges against members of Rocky River High School staff placed on administrative leave after video surfaced on them talking about a student ‘in an inappropriate manner,'” Cleveland.com said. 

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Ohio State to Hire 50 Professors Focused on Social and Racial Justice

Ohio State President Kristina Johnson

Ohio State University recently announced it plans to hire 50 faculty members focused on addressing social equity and racial disparities.

The news comes as an economics professor and higher education watchdog calculated that the public university currently employs 150 diversity officials at a cost of $12 million annually.

In a 2021 state of the university address, President Kristina Johnson stated last month that she was encouraged by the Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities to hire 150 new faculty within a new initiative called RAISE, which stands for race, inclusion and social equity.

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DeWine Announces U.S. Atty Who Secured Indictments in $60 Million Bribery Case Has New Job with State of Ohio

David DeVillers is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio who secured an indictment against then-Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder and four others in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme.

While Mike DeWine was Attorney General in 2018, he awarded DeVillers the Mark Losey Distinguished Law Enforcement Service Award.

This week the Republican Governor announced DeVillers will be joining a public-private partnership between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and a select group of talent on loan from a few of Ohio’s largest businesses.

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Ohio House Sends Message to Michigan Governor to Keep Pipeline Open

The Ohio House has sent a message to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to abandon her plan to force a company to close a pipeline that could threaten Ohio energy supplies and jobs.

Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 in Ingham County Court demanding Enbridge Inc. cease Line 5 operations by May. The easement has been in place since 1953.

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Ohio Legislature Passes Transportation Budget with Additional Allocations

The Ohio Senate approved more than $8 billion it hopes will spur both economic development and job growth while tackling the state’s transportation needs over the next two years.

The state’s proposed transportation budget passed the Senate unanimously Thursday with some adjustments made by the Senate, including additional money for public transportation, local road projects and emergency road repair. It also requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to reopen currently decommissioned weigh stations to serve as overnight parking areas for commercial truckers.

“This transportation budget makes critical investments in Ohio’s communities and local infrastructure,” said Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. “I am confident House Bill 74 will improve roads and infrastructure that Ohioans use every day and will enhance Ohio’s economy and promote job growth.”

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What Senate Bill 22 Does and Does Not Do

Wednesday the Ohio General Assembly (GA) did something that doesn’t often happen – the Republican supermajority delivered veto override votes in both chambers to undo what a Governor from their own party did just one day earlier.

Senate Bill 22 (SB22) is a law that establishes legislative oversight of emergency, standing and special orders issued by state leaders and agencies – giving the General Assembly the power to rescind orders with a concurrent resolution (a simple majority vote of both the House and the Senate) instead of passing a law that requires the Governor’s approval.

Below is a simple list of what the new law does and doesn’t do.

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Ohio Tax Law Will be in Line with Federal Rules

A wide spectrum of Ohioans could catch a break when it comes to state taxes after the Ohio House passed a bill Wednesday that brings state tax rules in line with federal rules.

The bill, which already passed the Senate and now awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature, increases the child and dependent care credit, provides tax breaks for student loan payments and eliminates taxes on the first $10,200 in unemployment compensation.

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Four Republican Lawmakers Stand with Democrats in Attempt to Uphold Governor’s Shutdown Power

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four lawmakers – State Senators Matt Dolan (R-Cuyahoga) and Stephanie Kunze (R-Dublin), and State Representatives Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) and Andrea White (R-Kettering) – were the sole Republicans that did not cast a vote to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a measure that limits his authority to issue orders during an emergency.

Senate Bill 22 (SB22) is aimed at rebalancing power by giving the Ohio Legislature oversight of government rules and orders. Chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) was the point man in the lower chamber on the legislation, which passed overwhelmingly earlier this month.

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Republican Lawmakers Override DeWine Just One Day After SB22 Veto

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just one day following Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of Senate Bill 22 (SB 22) – legislation aimed at rebalancing power by giving the Ohio Legislature oversight of government rules and orders – the Senate and House both took up the bill and both chambers voted to override the veto.

SB22 will become law in 90 days.

The Senate was first and voted 23-10.  Minutes later the House began floor debate and then voted to override 62-37.

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Biden Touts American Rescue Plan, Affordable Care Act at the Ohio State University

biden-ohio_840x480

As President Joe Biden made his first visit to Ohio since taking office Tuesday, he was criticized for what one policy group called unnecessary spending. 

Biden, in Columbus to tout his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recently passed American Rescue Plan, visited the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University late Tuesday afternoon.

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ODH Data Generally Accurate, But Could Use Improvement Publicly, State Auditor Says

Although the Ohio Department of Health published mostly accurate coronavirus data over the past year of the pandemic, the department could have done better with the specificity of that data and disseminating it to the state’s residents, according to an audit by the Ohio Auditor of the State released this week. 

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Ohio Lawmakers Want Easier Access to Ballot Drop Boxes

Two Democratic Ohio lawmakers want state voters to have more access to voter drop boxes throughout the state, and they say Secretary of State Frank LaRose can make voting more convenient for Ohioans.

Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, and Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, want the state to require multiple ballot drop boxes per county based on geography and population. They say current law allows multiple boxes, despite LaRose’s decision to restrict them to one per county.

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DeWine Will Veto Bill Tuesday that Limits his Unchecked Power, State Senator Says They Will Override Wednesday

COLUMBUS, Ohio – During a Monday COVID briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine said he will veto Senate Bill 22 (SB22) on Tuesday – a proposed law that provides scope and duration to government power during public health emergencies.  After the veto, the bill would then go where it originated, the Ohio Senate. There it could be brought to a veto-override vote.

Ohio Senator Andrew Brenner (R-District 19) told The Ohio Star he believes the upper chamber will consider and override the bill as early as Wednesday – an override would require 20 “yes” votes. It passed the Senate 25-8 the first time.

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Ohio Law Signed Last Week Provides Relief for Students, Waives Certain Requirements

Gov. Mike DeWine signed a law last week that modifies student requirements to provide relief for end-of-year assessments for Ohio students.

The law, which aims at providing students with relief during the pandemic, will apply for a single school year. It was co-sponsored by state Reps. Adam Bird (R-66-New Richmond) and Kyle Koehler (R-79-Springfield).

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Ohio Lieutenant Governor Says Federal ‘Tax Mandate’ Could Harm Job Creation

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says restrictions in the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan will limit economic development and job growth in the state.

Husted, responding to a federal lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost that asks for the plan’s “Tax Mandate” be stopped, said the restrictions could affect the state’s ability to attract jobs with tax credits and other means.

“The precedent Congress is attempting to set here is that anytime the federal government sends money to state and or local governments, they could add strings to control the tax policies of all 50 states. This is both arrogant and unconstitutional,” Husted said in a statement. “At a practical level, this could affect economic competitiveness of the state attempting to attract jobs with job creation tax credits or other tax-based economic incentives.”

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Ohio State Offers Prize Incentives for COVID-19 Testing at Branch Campus

LIMA, Ohio – The Ohio State University-Lima is recruiting students to voluntarily submit COVID tests by entering them into a raffle for prizes each time a student tests.

“The more often you test, the better odds to win!”  That is the statement sent to Ohio State University-Lima Students March 17 when the Spring COVID-19 testing protocols were announced.

Airpod Pros, a MacBook, gift cards, and more prizes are promised in a raffle style drawing, as well as a free Ohio State shirt the first time a student tests.

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Ohio Senate Bill Would Ban Transgender Student Athletes from Women’s Sports

An Ohio state Senator introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports at state K-12 schools and universities.

Senate Bill 132, sponsored by Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, would require schools to separate student athletics by sex, not gender. The legislation would apply to public schools as well as public and private colleges and universities.

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Ohio AG Responds to Criticism of American Rescue Plan Lawsuit

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost continues to receive support and criticism from groups throughout Ohio a day after announcing a lawsuit challenging requirements in the federal American Rescue Plan.

Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit progressive think tank, called Yost’s decision to seek an injunction to stop the state’s obligation to not cut taxes if it accepts more than $5 billion off base.

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Ohio Lobbyist Charged in $60 Million Scheme Commits Suicide, Friend Speaks Out

Last July, Neil Clark was arrested by FBI agents after a federal grand jury indicted him along with corporate entity Generation Now, then-Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, and political operatives Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth. Monday, Clark was found dead in Florida.

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Ohio’s Joe Blystone Determined to Take on Establishment in Bid for Governor

In February, Franklin County farmer Joe Blystone announced his GOP candidacy for Governor of the State of Ohio.

Like South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem, Blystone is a rancher and small business owner who believes in medical freedom and opposed mandatory mask orders during Ohio’s COVID response. Unlike Noem, his bid for governor is his first political contest.

Blystone has given himself the moniker “Constitutional Republican” and calls himself “a man of the people who don’t have a voice anymore.”

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J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy Author and Early Never Trumper, Likely Candidate for Ohio GOP U.S. Senate Nomination

J.D. Vance is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2022 U.S. Senate in Ohio.

“All signs point to J.D. launching a run in the coming months,” a source told the Washington Times.
In a video sent to The Star, Vance appears to be the first high-profile candidate who will not position himself as a Trump Republican – if his views from 2016 and 2017 remain.

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Clevelander Mike Gibbons Announces Statewide Listening Tour in Potential Preparation for Run at U.S. Senate

Monday morning Cleveland businessman and 2018 U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons announced a statewide tour during which he will listen to what Ohio voters have to say as he considers a run for office in 2022.

“This listening tour will allow me the opportunity to meet directly with the voters who understand that we can’t afford to send another politician or party insider to Washington. We need to send someone with a business background, who will fight for working-class Ohioans, who’s unafraid to stand up to his own party and who will always tell the truth,” said Gibbons.

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Geraldo Rivera Expresses Interest in Ohio U.S. Senate Seat, Reverses Course within 36 Hours

Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera tweeted from Siesta Keys, Florida last week, “Pondering running for retiring @senrobportman seat in United States Senate. #GoBuckeyes.”

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Commentary: After a Year DeWine Sets Goal to Lift COVID Restrictions but It’s Based on Inaccurate Tests

When Governor Mike DeWine announced March 4 that Ohio’s COVID related restrictions would be lifted based on a specific case rate, it didn’t take long to get people talking.

The announcement came on the same day that Connecticut set a date to lift capacity requirements on most businesses and organizations.  Two days prior, Texas and Mississippi had announced an ending plan to mask mandates, as well as opening businesses without capacity restrictions. And the Friday after DeWine’s announcement, West Virginia and Arizona declared they are reopening all businesses. 

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Ohio’s Professional Sports Teams Want Piece of Gaming Action

Ohio’s professional sports teams want a piece of sports gambling in the state when and if it ever comes.

Testifying this week before The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, Cincinnati Reds Chief Financial Officer Doug Healy told lawmakers professional sports organizations recognize the potential benefits of sports gaming.

“It is imperative that Ohio’s sports betting market include access to both mobile and retail sportsbooks for Ohio’s professional teams so that, as the content creators, we share in both the risks and the benefits, just like the casinos,” said Healy, who also said he was speaking on behalf of the Cleveland Indians.

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