State Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Reimburse Fines and Expunge Records for Ohio Businesses

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) introduced a bill Wednesday that would both expunge the records of businesses cited for COVID violations and return fines and penalties paid. Upon its introduction, House Bill 127 was assigned to the House State and Local Government Committee on Thursday. HB127…

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In Announcement for U.S. Senate Bid Timken Untangles from Kasich, Binds to Trump

Jane Timken, former chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party (ORP), announced Thursday she will seek the 2022 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently occupied by Republican Rob Portman who announced last month he will retire from federal politics at the end of his current term.

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State of Ohio May Have Paid Fake COVID Claims Well in Excess of $330 Million

Scammers took nearly all of the $330 million in reported improper payments the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services made with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds, Director Kimberly Henderson said earlier this month.  That amount was funneled, in part, through 56,000 fake claims which were identified in December.  There were also overpayments on legitimate claims.

But there may be more fraud – much more – that is not yet reported.

Whether the $330 million is from misappropriation that happened in December alone, or is a pile of results spanning several months, is unknown. Henderson said total losses will likely be pinpointed at the end of February.

“They should be able to pinpoint the amount weekly, or monthly,” said Ohio State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova). He continued, “we need to get checks and balances in place to ensure money isn’t stolen in the first place.”

One Ohio State Senator told The Ohio Star the Director has signaled to him that the amount of money lost in ODJFS processing is likely in the ballpark of $1B. 

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Lifts Curfew and Last Call Order

During his COVID briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the statewide curfew – which had been amended to begin at 11:00 p.m. from its original 10 o’clock start – expired Thursday and that he would not extend the order.

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Josh Mandel Announces Another Ohio Senate Run: ‘Sham Impeachment Has Made My Blood Boil’

The Ohio Star reported last week on the strong possibility of a Josh Mandel run for the U.S. Senate Seat vacated by Republican Rob Portman.

Wednesday morning Mandel confirmed – he’s in.

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Ohio Statewide Curfew and Service Industry Revenue May Lift Thursday

During a COVID briefing last week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced the statewide curfew could be lifted as early as this week if COVID hospitalizations stayed below 2,500 for seven consecutive days.

Over the last week, inpatient beds filled with COVID confirmed and probable patients numbered as follows:

February 2:         2,486

February 3:         2,380

February 4:         2,251

February 5:         2,172

February 6:         2,026

February 7:         1,969

February 8:         2,012

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Amy Acton Quits Columbus Foundation, Possible Move to Gear Up for U.S. Senate Run

Late last week, several media outlets reported Dr. Amy Acton resigned as Director of Human:Kind – a Columbus Foundation project – a move that feeds speculation she is preparing to run for US Senate in 2022. 

This is the third resignation by Acton in less than a year.

The first was when she left the post of Director at the Ohio Department of Health in June in the middle of the COVID pandemic and amidst rising opposition to the state’s COVID policies – mandates one judge called “arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive.”

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Timken Leaves Ohio GOP Chairmanship for Likely Run at U.S. Senate

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jane Timken announced Friday her immediate resignation as Chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party (ORP).  The message came during a spur of the moment meeting of the Ohio Republican Central Committee during which Timken did not say whether she was leaving to pursue a seat in…

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Ohio Speaker Cupp Picks Committee Top Spots Rounding Out Leadership for 134th General Assembly

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As The Ohio Star reported, the House GOP chose Robert R. Cupp (R-Shawnee Twp.) to be the speaker of the house with Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem) serving as speaker pro tempore. The majority leader is Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) with Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) serving as assistant majority leader. Also, Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) will serve as majority whip and Representative Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) will act as assistant majority whip.

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Hillary Clinton Signals Support for a Rep. Tim Ryan Run for U.S. Senate in 2022

U.S. Rep Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) wasted no time expressing his interest in the U.S. Senate seat Republican Rob Portman announced he will not seek again in 2022. On January 25, the day of Portman’s announcement, Ryan said he was “looking seriously at it.”

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Ohio GOP List of Replacements for Sen. Portman Long but Narrowing

Rob Portman’s U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs after the establishment Republican announced he would not run for re-election in 2022. Portman cited gridlock and more time with family as primary reasons driving his decision to step away from federal politics – ending his 33 year career since his first political job as a legal aid to President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

Following the announcement, the Ohio rumor mill swirled with talk about many prospective Republican replacements.

Jim Jordan (R-OH-4) is a strong Trump advocate and member of the House Freedom Caucus who has represented Ohio in D.C. since 2007. His spokesperson said the congressman was honored by the overwhelming support to run for U.S. Senate but is solely focused on representing Ohio’s Fourth District and would not be running.

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Judge Throws Out Cincinnati Teachers Union Lawsuit to Halt In-Person Learning in Cincinnati Public Schools

The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed an injunction in Hamilton County Municipal Court last Friday to stop Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) from conducting in-person learning.

The union, which represents 3,000 teachers, claims classroom learning is unsafe until all teachers have received both rounds of the COVID vaccine.  

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Ohio Ranked 43rd out of 50 in COVID Vaccination Distribution

Ohio is the seventh most populated state in America, but according to CDC COVID data on January 28 the Buckeye State ranked 43RD in vaccine doses distributed per 100,000 people.

Ohio ranked 47th out of 51 (including the District of Columbia) for the number of people who had received a second dose of the COVID mRNA antidote.

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Gov. DeWine Releases First-Round Shot Schedule for Ohio Schools

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Michael DeWine (R) announced on Friday the vaccination schedule for Ohio K-12 schools – public, private and career-tech.

DeWine’s administration identified school personnel required for in-person learning and laid out a four-week schedule for those eligible to receive their first jab containing one of the vaccines the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted authorization for emergency use – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

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New Ohio Senate Bill Would Provide Oversight of Governor and ODH During Public Health Emergencies

State Senators Terry Johnson (R-District 14) and Rob McColley (R-District 1) introduced Senate Bill 22 Tuesday, a proposed law aimed at providing oversight to the emergency declarations made by the governor, as well as the governor’s and health orders that flow from the state of emergency.

SB22 gives the legislature the authority, by passing a joint resolution, to immediately rescind a public health state of emergency declaration, as well as related rules and orders.

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Ohio Gives Tax Assistance to Six Projects, Including One for the Cleveland Clinic Which Has $11.8B in Reserve

The day after Ohio Governor Richard Michael DeWine (R) ordered hundreds of millions in spending cuts  to state government, he and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced six projects set to receive tax assistance approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (OTCA).

The six businesses are Jo-Ann Stores LLC, Kalera Inc., Cross Country Mortgage LLC, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, CBTS Technology Solutions, LLC and High Road Holdings LLC.

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Ohio Moves to 11 p.m. Curfew for Two Weeks

Ohio’s statewide curfew will be extended after COVID-related hospitalizations dipped below 3,500 for the seventh consecutive day on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Ohio Governor Michael DeWine (R) announced that the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) recommended altering the statewide curfew to 11:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. when COVID-related hospitalizations fall below 3,500 for seven consecutive days. Tuesday was the sixth consecutive day, Wednesday the seventh.

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Rob Portman Will Not Seek a Re-Election to the U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) will not seek a third term representing Ohio in Washington. “Today, I am announcing that I have made a decision not to run again in 2022,” said the institutional Republican in a Monday morning press statement.

“This doesn’t mean I’m leaving now – I still have two more years in my term and I intend to use that time to get a lot done.” He said he looks forward to being able to focus all his energy during the remainder of his term on legislation and challenges facing America instead of dividing his efforts to raise money and campaign.

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Ohio State Senate President Matt Huffman Announces Committees for 134th General Assembly

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) announced last week through a released statement the upper chamber’s committee structure and leadership for the 134th General Assembly.

“Every new General Assembly crafts new committees to more closely reflect the pressing issues of the time,” Huffman said in the press release. “I believe it is important to allow Senators to more closely focus on those challenges through fewer committees, giving them more time to research and develop a more expert level of understanding on the issues.”

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Rejects Utility Commission Candidates

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Michael DeWine wrote a letter to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Commission Wednesday telling them to offer new candidates for the vacancy left by the resignation of former PUCO Chairman Samuel Randazzo. DeWine rejected the slate of four finalists screened by…

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Ohio Secretary of State LaRose Deactivates 97,795 Voter Registrations

  Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Wednesday that 97,795 voters were removed from the rolls after Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections identified the abandoned registrations as part of the maintenance process required by Ohio and federal law. “Getting rid of bad voter data from the voter rolls…

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COVID Hospital Utilization Fall but Concerns over Virus Mutations Fuel Ongoing Guidelines

Inpatient hospitalizations due to COVID-19 cases dropped again on Tuesday – brining the overall decrease to 30 percent over the past month, according to the state COVID website.  Despite acknowledging the dip during the Tuesday press briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) shied away from calling it a trend.

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Three Weeks After Christmas, Ohio COVID Hospitalizations Trend Down

January 15 marked three weeks since Christmas – two from New Year’s celebrations. Statewide hospitalizations have trended downward since Christmas and deaths more so, according to the Ohio COVID dashboard.

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Gov. DeWine Quintuples Number of Ohio National Guard Troops Sent to D.C. for Presidential Inauguration

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) authorized 1,000 active Ohio National Guard (ONG) members Friday to assist federal authorities in Washington, D.C.  Earlier in the week DeWine signed an executive order to activate ONG troops – estimating 200 would go to America’s capital city.

“The activation of additional Guard members follows a request from the U.S. National Guard Bureau Thursday evening for extra support,” read a statement released by the Governor’s communications team.

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Ohio Congressman Anthony Gonzalez Discusses Why He Voted to Impeach President Trump

A Buckeye football legend known for “The Catch” against rival Michigan, dropped the ball according to Trump Republicans when he and nine other GOP representatives voted with 222 Democrats in the U.S. House to approve a second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16) released a statement on Wednesday explaining his support of a Democrat initiated impeachment – a single article alleging incitement of insurrection.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Says the Capitol Will be Closed for Four Days Next Week for the Inauguration

Gov. Mike DeWine held a briefing Thursday morning where he announced the Ohio Statehouse and government buildings in Columbus will be closed between January 17 and January 20. Next Wednesday, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president.

Also, the governor signed a proclamation mobilizing hundreds of Ohio National Guard members to be utilized as needed in Columbus and around Ohio. To assist federal authorities in D.C. DeWine, ordered 580 ONG members active earlier in the week.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Signs Two Bills – One Regulating Motor Scooters, Second Modifying Workplace Laws

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed two bills on Tuesday – one establishing requirements for low-speed electronic scooters, the second modifying employment laws.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Activates 580 Members of Ohio National Guard to Keep Peace in D.C. and Columbus

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order Tuesday to activate for duty 580 members of the Ohio National Guard (ONG).

During the COVID press conference, DeWine said he talked with Major General John C. Harris and based on that communication anticipates that 380 of the activated guard will remain in Ohio, while 200 will be sent to Washington, D.C to assist in the January 20 Presidential Inauguration.

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Governor DeWine Signs Multiple Acts into Ohio Law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) endorsed 31 legislative acts last week which now become part of Ohio law.  The list of the bills below comes directly from press releases issued by the Governor’s office.

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Ohio Investigative Unit Stakeout and Issue Summons to Six Ohio Bars and Restaurants Saturday Night

Saturday night the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited six establishments around the state for violating Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders relating to safe dining and staying home after 10:00 p.m.

Citation cases will now go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission – potential penalties include fine, temporary closure, liquor permit suspension and/or revocation.

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Ohio Attorney General Yost Reviews 2020 Progress to End Human Trafficking

  Attorney General Yost outlined the progress his office made during 2020 – reviewing arrests, rescues, prosecutions as well as the education and legislation efforts designed to achieve the goal “where no one is bought or sold in Ohio.” One statewide anti-human trafficking effort – Autumn Hope –netted 109 rescues…

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New Ohio Website Makes Electronic Filing of Campaign Finance Reports More Transparent

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced he fulfilled his pledge to bring more transparency to the Secretary of State’s office.

Unanimously passed at the end of 2020,  Senate Bill 107 (SB107) is an act to “allow certain entities to file campaign finance statements electronically, to require the Secretary of State to make the information in those electronic statements available online.”

The online repository “enhances transparency by allowing campaign finance reports for local candidates and committees to be filed electronically with county boards of elections,” the press release stated.

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Jim Renacci Holds Town Hall Meeting to ‘Plan Ohio’s Future’

Former United States Representative from Ohio’s 16th congressional district, Jim Renacci, held a special town hall meeting on Thursday to “plan Ohio’s future.”

“I want to talk about yesterday,” began Renacci.  “As someone who served in the House, and even though I wasn’t there yesterday, it is a moment I will never forget.”  The former congressman continued by saying people who broke the law weren’t Trump people, Biden supporters, Democrats or Republicans, they were “criminals who broke the law and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

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Ohio Governor DeWine Delivers Update on State Response to COVID

Governor DeWine held a 90-minute briefing during which Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff contributed.

The following information was relayed by the trio during the Tuesday session.

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Gov. DeWine Signs Five Ohio Legislative Acts into Law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a video conference ceremony on Wednesday where he signed five Ohio legislative acts into law.  

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Ohio Secretary LaRose Releases Results County Post-Election Audits

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced Tuesday that county post-election audits are complete.

“In yet another example of unprecedented transparency, LaRose has provided the results of county post-election audits online for the first time,” wrote Maggie Sheehan, the secretary of state’s press secretary, in a statement.

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Ohio Legislature Set to Begin New Year Under Even Stronger Republican Majority

The 2020 General Election added one additional Republican to the Ohio Senate and three additional Republicans to the Ohio House of Representatives.

Republicans now hold a 25-8 majority in the Senate and outnumber Democrats 64-35 in the House.

That increase in Republican lawmakers may spell hope for conservative Ohioans who are still hoping for legislation – for example, Senate Bill 311 – that restricts Governor Mike Dewine’s 11-month restriction reign ranging from the Arnold Classic to the requiring people be in a residence by 10:00 p.m.

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DeWine Backs Down on Stand-Your-Ground Opposition, Signs Ohio Gun Bill into Law

Today, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 175 despite hubbub he may veto the act.

“I have always believed that it is vital that law-abiding citizens have the right to legally protect themselves when confronted with a life-threatening situation. While campaigning for Governor, I expressed my support for removing the ambiguity in Ohio’s self-defense law, and Senate Bill 175 accomplishes this goal. That is why I have signed this bill today.”

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Ohio Speaker Cupp Ignores Rep Keller Request to Take Up House Gun Bill, Instead House Opts for Senate Version of Stand-Your-Ground

Former Ohio State Representative Candice Keller (R-Middletown) attempted to bring two pieces of legislation to the House floor for consideration and vote at the end of a marathon session but was virtually ignored by Ohio Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Shawnee Twp.).

The session began at 11:15 a.m. on December 17 and ran past 1:30 a.m., around the time Representative Keller moved to suspend Ohio House of Representatives Rule 66 – which requires a bill to be placed on the House Calendar at least 24-hours in advance of consideration, unless voted upon by a majority of the House otherwise.

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Federal Court Preliminarily Sides with Nine Ohio Christian Schools Claiming Toledo-Lucas Co. Health Dept Resolution Unconstitutional

The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request made by nine Ohio parochial schools to stop a resolution issued by the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health that shut down in-person learning in the plaintiff schools.

The court issued a temporary order halting the health department from enforcing the resolution in the schools based on the likelihood the order violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Issues Executive Order and Signs Several Bills Including One Bill Requiring Fetal Remains Be Buried or Cremated

This week Governor DeWine added several new laws to the books and required the state to pony up money for grandparents and extended family members raising their related children.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Announces Health Dept Curfew Order Which Contains Several Exceptions

Today Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Stephanie McCloud signed the Director’s Second Amended Order that All Persons Stay at Home During Specified Hours Unless Engaged in Work or Essential Activity.

Sources inside the state government told The Star in November that the original curfew order came as a reaction to significant backlash from Ohioans as information leaked that Governor DeWine was going to push for another shutdown.
One source said, “people in the room when the decision was made agreed that a curfew wouldn’t do anything significant,” but would be an acceptable compromise the DeWine team would accept.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Rescinds Quarantine Guidance for Classrooms and Schools, Not Sports and Extracurriculars

During a COVID briefing on Wednesday Ohio Governor Mike DeWine rescinded the State of Ohio guidance suggesting students quarantine after being in close contact with other COVID-positive students in school and the classroom.

“Today we are changing our guidance,” said DeWine, who continued “I know that there’s been a great deal of pain – students not being able to do things because they are in quarantine. I fully understand that and I’m sorry that happened, but we had to follow the CDC guidance.”

The Governor said the decision was based on an evaluation of Ohio students, a CDC report involving students in Mississippi, and priority the Governor has given to teachers and staff to receive the COVID vaccine.

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Ohio AG Yost Files Brief in Favor of Religious Schools, Says Health Department Orders Unconstitutional

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals backing three Ohio Christian Schools and a community organization who brought a lawsuit against the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.  The department issued an order barring in-person learning for all students in grades 7-12 from December 4 to January 11.

Monclova Christian Academy, Emmanuel Christian, St John’s Jesuit and Citizens for Community Values (CCV) are the plaintiffs.    The Court demanded a response from Toledo-Lucas County Health Department on Tuesday, December 29.

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Fewer COVID Patients in Hospitals, ICUs and on Vents in Almost Every Region in Ohio

  Governor DeWine or Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff spend a portion of press briefings discussing the issue of hospital capacity, often warning Ohioans that if cases continue to climb, hospitals around the state will be overrun and care for other non-COVID patients may be crowded out. Consequently, The…

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Obhof Backs Down from Early Threat to Override Veto on SB311 but Bill May Not Be Dead

It was Tuesday, December 22, the day many in favor of a veto override on Senate Bill 311 (SB311) believed to be the last day for the Ohio Senate to consider and vote on the bill that would restore power to the legislature and check the authority of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and its director to quarantine and isolate healthy people.

A group assembled atop the steps leading into the Senate Chamber.  Senate President Larry Obhof (R-22) stepped into the space between doors just outside the entrance to the Senate Chamber and was peppered with shouts. “Get 311 on the floor!”  “Hold the override vote Obhof!”

The Senate President looked at the citizens and repeated the talking point Ohioans had heard from the Senate for over a week – “the House doesn’t have the votes.”

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American Medical Association Spokesperson Says Claims The Association Rescinded Statement on Hydroxychloroquine Are Misinformation

opioids

Ohio purchased 2 million doses of arguably the most controversial drug being touted as an effective therapy in treating COVID – the spend totaled $602,629.

Consequently, when the rumor that the American Medical Association (AMA) reversed course on their April joint statement warning about the prescription of HCQ, Ohioans took note – especially since a review of clinical studies found that early dispensation of the drug may help keep patients form worsening in their battle with COVID, which would alleviate pressure on hospitals concerned about capacity.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine, Who Owns Pfizer Stock, Has Received $22,700 in Contributions from the Drug Company Since 2018

  Governor DeWine unexpectedly called a press conference on Monday.  It was the day the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Ohio and DeWine called it “historic,” our “hope” and the “beginning of the end” of COVID.  A video of he and First Lady Fran DeWine can be viewed below as the…

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One-on-One with Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro

Last week The Ohio Star reported on the Ohio Education Association (OEA) Position Statement, which called for schools to suspend in-person learning immediately until January 11. The document outlined four steps the union urges government leaders and schools to follow – reset, restart, reprioritize and resource.
OEA President Scott DiMauro accepted the invitation to talk with The Star in a one-on-one interview.
The Star asked questions submitted from Ohioans around the Buckeye State.

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