Gas Tax Increase, Budget Cuts Give Ohio $2 Billion for Road Projects

Ohio Department of Transportation worker

Despite traffic on state highways, roads and bridges decreasing significantly in 2020, the Ohio Department of Transportation expects to spend nearly $2 billion in the next year on nearly 1,000 projects.

Traffic volume fell by 15.5% during the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic limited road travel, ODOT said. More people worked from home. Stay-at-home health orders, capacity limits, business closures and statewide curfews also reigned in optional travel.

Despite the limited driving, which also leads to less fuel consumption and less taxpayer money available, ODOT pointed to a 2019 gas tax increase, along with budget cuts, for staving off what could have billon a $3 billion swing in taxpayer money for the department.

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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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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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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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Commentary: Ohio U.S. Senate Candidate’s Insider Record Clashes with Her Trump-Supporting Rhetoric

The antics of the Democratic Party make it easy to lose sight of other enemies, especially those standing right beside us. The fog of political war conceals not only the foes in the field but also fake allies. Jane Timken’s case is illustrative.

Timken recently announced her plan to run for the Senate in 2022, following incumbent Ohio Republican Rob Portman’s recent decision not to seek reelection. She served as vice chairwoman of the Stark County Republican Party until becoming the first female chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party in 2017. Timken resigned in February when Portman’s retirement presented her with a possible path to the Senate. High-profile praise from a few people in Donald Trump’s orbit has already come her way. 

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

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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 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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21 States Sue Biden Admin for Revoking Keystone XL Permit

A group of red states sued President Biden and members of his administration on Wednesday over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, The Hill reported.

The lawsuit is led by Montana and Texas, and backed by 19 other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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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 Shows Worst Unemployment Recovery in Nation

Ohio had the slowest weekly unemployment claims recovery in the nation last week, based on a new report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

The report compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia over three metrics: changes in claims during the latest week compared with 2019 and 2020 and changes in claims filed from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic versus the previous year.

Based on the data, Ohio ranked 51st out of 51 in recovery over the latest week and 37th since the pandemic began. Ohio ranked behind Colorado, West Virginia, Mississippi and Virginia in weekly recovery.

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Ohio AG Files Lawsuit Against Health Care Giant for Overcharging Medicaid

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost claims in lawsuit filed Thursday a health care giant raised prices for taxpayer-funded care to maximize company profits.

Yost said Ohio sued Centene Corp. in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, alleging its subsidiary, Buckeye Health Plan, used a web of subcontractors for the provision of pharmacy benefits to be able to misrepresent pharmacy costs. That, Yost said, resulted in millions of dollars of overpayments by the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

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Lawmakers Say Legislation Would Curb Ohio Unemployment Fraud

Unemployment line

As legitimate and fraudulent unemployment claims rose over the past year, and with additional federal jobless assistance most likely on the way, Ohio lawmakers have introduced legislation they hope cracks down on system abuse.

If the bill passes and is signed into law, Ohioans would be required to provide proof of identification at a local employment office before state or pandemic unemployment assistances would be paid.

Senate Bill 116 outlines proof as either a driver’s license or any of the two documents required to obtain an Ohio driver’s license that contain the applicants name and address, including a birth certificate, Social Security card and proof of Ohio residency, legal presence or name change.

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Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

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Ohio Ranks First in Nation for Attracting New Business, Report Says

One of the nation’s leading economic development publications ranked Ohio as No. 1 in its state economic and business attraction rankings for bringing more corporate facility projects per capita than any other state.

Ohio also ranked second for total projects.

Site Selection, a corporate real estate economic development magazine, recently announced its rankings as part of its 2020 Governor’s Cup.

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U.S. Attorney Departs, but HB 6 Investigation is Far from Over

The cruel fortunes of politics mean that David M. DeVillers stopped being the top federal law enforcement official for Southern Ohio on Sunday. But the attorney who last July announced the arrest of then-House Speaker Larry Householder, last week said the investigation that led to the arrest isn’t going anywhere. 

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Bill Would Increase Penalties for Crimes Against Ohio First Responders

Ohio police officers, firefighters and other first responders could soon have more protection while doing their jobs if a bill in Ohio Senate aimed at increasing penalties for crimes committed against emergency responders doing their jobs passes.

Senate Bill 16 also allows emergency responders to pursue civil action in certain circumstances, including false complaints made against them.

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Lawmaker Wants to Stop Proposed Increases to Ohio Vehicle Registration Fees

Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed raising registration fees and other vehicle fees to fund the Ohio Highway Patrol, but one state representative thinks it’s the wrong time to increase any fees.

Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland, has introduced amendments that eliminates DeWine’s planned increases from the transportation budget.

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Chances for Ohio Death Penalty Repeal Appear to be Growing

The biggest-ever bipartisan coalition on Thursday announced a renewed effort to repeal the death penalty in Ohio.

State Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, and Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, hosted a virtual press conference to announce that they and three other Republican and four Democratic senators so far have said they will co-sponsor the repeal legislation. The measure also has bipartisan support in the House.

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Ohio School Reverses Instruction Asking Students to Lobby City Council in Support of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Protection Ordinance

An Ohio school has walked back an order requiring teachers to read a script and play a video for students encouraging them to lobby their city council in support of a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity ordinance. 

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Ohio Business Group Says Proposals to Raise State, National Minimum Wage Would be Harmful

While President Joe Biden’s administration continues a push to increase the national minimum wage and an Ohio proposal does the same, a statewide business group says an increase would mean higher prices, reduced hours and job cuts.

Biden’s plan for a $15 national minimum wage continues to be one of the sticking points in negotiations over another COVID-19 relief package. In Ohio, House Bill 69 would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027.

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AG Yost Reaches Nearly $25 Million Settlement with McKinsey for Role in Ohio’s Opioid Crisis

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has agreed to a settlement of nearly $25 million in a case with McKinsey & Co. for the company’s role in fueling and profiting from the opioid crisis in the state. 

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Ohio Democrat Admits Party ‘Can’t Understand’ Working Class Americans

A Democrat member of Congress from Ohio admitted in an interview published Tuesday that her party is out of touch with working class Americans. 

“They just can’t understand,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09) told The Hill. “They can’t understand a family that sticks together because that’s what they have. Their loved ones are what they have, their little town, their home, as humble as it is — that’s what they have. Respect it. It was so insensitive.”

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Cleveland.com Praises DeWine Fundraising ‘Haul,’ Forgets About Campaign Debt

At the end of January, Cleveland.com praised Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) for a “record fundraising haul,” but buried an important part of the story in the process.

“As of Friday, DeWine’s campaign reported having more than $3.6 million in the bank after receiving more than $1.6 million since July 9, 2020, according to a filing with the Ohio secretary of state’s office,” the site said in a January 29 report, which was updated on January 31.

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Two Ohio Representatives Float Bill to Create State Holiday Honoring Trump

Two Ohio state representatives are looking to create a state holiday in honor of former President Donald Trump.

State Reps. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-40-Paris Township) and Jon Cross (R-83-Kenton) plan to introduce a bill that would make June 14, Trump’s birthday, a state holiday known as “President Donald J. Trump Day.”

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