Ohio School Districts Ready for Lawsuit Against Newly Expanded School Choice Law

Girl standing up in the middle of classroom

Ohio school districts are about ready to pull the trigger on a lawsuit against the state over the expansion of Ohio’s school choice voucher program.

The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding is an association of over 500 Ohio school districts. Through its sister organization Vouchers Hurt Ohio, it has reportedly retained the law firm of Walter Haverfield, though the firm has not yet filed a legal challenge.

The coalition opposes Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship program. That program currently provides vouchers to students who reside in school districts that meet certain conditions of poor academic performance and also to students in families whose income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

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More Than $300M Available to Ohio Small Businesses

Mike DeWine OH Small Businesses

Government money that established grants for small businesses in Ohio has doubled since June and remains available, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

DeWine initially established the grant program in June with $155 million in federal relief dollars. The fund doubled to $310 million at the beginning of July after DeWine signed the state’s new budget, which included the additional money approved by the General Assembly.

The money is meant to help small- and medium-sized businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New Poll Spells Bad News for Progressives in High-Profile Ohio Special Election

Shontel Brown and Nina Turner

Nina Turner and Shontel Brown, the two leading Democrats vying to fill a House seat that includes Cleveland, are tied with 33% support, a new poll shows.

The Aug. 3 special election will likely determine who will succeed Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge, who resigned the seat after getting confirmed in March. Though Turner, a close ally of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, entered the race as an overwhelming favorite, Democrats seeking a moderate alternative have lined up behind Brown in recent weeks.

Brown has been endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus and other high-profile members of the Democratic establishment, while Turner has the support of the “Squad” and other progressives.

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Ohio Communities Gain Control of Wind, Solar Projects

Three wind turbines

Local communities in Ohio got a little more power regarding renewable energy projects after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that addresses wind and solar projects.

DeWine made Senate Bill 52 law and gave power to county boards on whether to allow or prevent certification of wind and solar projects. The legislation also establishes decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities.

“One of the most important things we can do as state legislators is to listen to the input of our fellow constituents,” Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, said Monday after DeWine signed the bill. “I can confidently tell you that Ohioans within Seneca County vehemently spoke out against a wind project being built within their communities – Senate Bill 52 being signed into law solidifies their right to local control over these types of projects.”

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New Vaccine Incentive Program Coming for Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine and vaccines

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to double down on an incentive program to encourage more Ohioans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as cases are on the rise in the Buckeye State.

Speaking to reporters at a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of a highway project in Columbus, DeWine said he expects to announce a new program soon in an effort boost the state’s vaccination percentage, which ranks as one of the lowest in the nation.

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Newly Introduced Ohio House Bill Would Give Ohioans Data Privacy Rights

Two Ohio legislators put forward a bill Monday that would protect data rights for Ohioans.

In House Bill 376, introduced by State Reps. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) and Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.), it would “establish data rights for Ohioans while requiring businesses to adhere to specified data standards,” according to the Ohio House of Representatives press release.

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Ohio May Forgive Overpaid, Fraudulent Unemployment Payments

Woman on computer

Ohioans victimized by unemployment fraud or were overpaid unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic could be off the hook for repaying those funds, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder said late last week if a waiver is approved, claimants will not have to repay money previously labelled as an overpayment and also could receive benefits that have been withheld because of an overpayment status.

Claimants should be notified soon of how to apply for a waiver and processing could begin later in the summer, Damschroder said.

“We understand the hardships that overpayments caused during what is already a very stressful time.” Damschroder said. “Our unemployment program is in a much better position than it was a year ago.”

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Ohio Abortion Clinic Threw Dismembered Baby in Dumpster, Pro-Life Group Claims

Ohio Abortion Clinic

A pro-life group has accused an Ohio abortion facility of throwing a dismembered, aborted baby away in a dumpster.

Ohio Right to Life said Wednesday it found the remains of an aborted baby at about 17 weeks gestation discarded in dumpster behind Ohio Women’s Center (NEOWC) abortion clinic. The clinic, which has not responded to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation, denied that it improperly disposed of fetal remains.

“Ohio Right to Life is heartbroken and appalled by the abortion industry’s utter disregard for human life,” Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a statement. “This child suffered doubly at the hands of the abortion industry: first, by being subjected to a brutal death by dismemberment and second by the degradation of his or her broken body being dumped into the trash like garbage.”

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Ohio Orders FirstEnergy to Return $27.5M to Customers

View of Columbus, Ohio, cityscape

FirstEnergy customers in Ohio will see nearly $30 million in refunds on their electric bills after the Public Utility of Commission of Ohio ordered the money returned.

The PUCO ordered implementation of the recently passed and signed House Bill 128, which was one of the many bills introduced this year in the Ohio General Assembly aimed at tackling the House Bill 6 scandal that led to the indictment and eventual removal from office of former House Speaker Larry Householder.

The bill, which became effective June 30, dealt with “decoupling,” which Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has referred to as designed to allow FirstEnergy to overcharge customers.

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Study: Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery Failed to Increase Rates

Giving away millions of federal tax dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships did nothing to improve Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a recent study concluded.

Those results have Democratic leaders saying the state needs to do more to address vaccine hesitancy and deal with what they call root causes of Ohio’s stagnant vaccination rate.

The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded reports that the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program increased rates failed to factor in vaccinations expanded to ages 12-15.

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Congressional Black Caucus Endorses Hillary Clinton’s Pick for Ohio Special Election

Shontel Brown of Ohio

The Congressional Black Caucus’s political arm waded into the Democratic Primary for an Ohio special election Wednesday, endorsing Hillary Clinton’s preferred candidate, Politico reported.

The CBC Political Action Committee put their support behind Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair, who already has the backing of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, according to Politico.

“She is no stranger to adversity and has spent her career fighting for Ohioans. Shontel Brown worked alongside community leaders to install public wifi hotspots in the Greater Cleveland area in order to improve access to broadband, helping to close the digital divide,” CBC PAC executive director Yolonda Addison said in a statement released Wednesday.

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More Ohio Farmers Will Get Paid to Help Keep Lake Erie Clean

More Ohio farmers can be paid by the state to implement measurers officials say help protect Lake Erie as 10 more counties have been added to the H2Ohio program, which received a $120 million boost in the recently signed state budget.

The program, which offers funding to farmers who use proven conservation practices that limit agricultural phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, now includes 24 northwest Ohio counties. Officials said phosphorus runoff is the primary factor behind algal blooms in Lake Erie.

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Ohio Ranks Low in Actual Independence

Ohio State flag

Celebrating Independence Day means a little more for some states than others, at least in terms of being independent and self-sufficient.

A report from personal finance website WalletHub showed which states were the most-self-sufficient, and Ohio ranked 36th in where Americans are the most self-reliant despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

To determine the ranking, WalletHub compared five sources of dependency: consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. Those categories were broken down into 39 key indicators.

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State, National Groups Applaud Ohio School-Choice Expansion

Young girl sitting at a desk, writing

School groups throughout Ohio and around the nation have praised the recently signed Ohio state budget that expands education choice opportunities for parents and students.

The budget, signed late Wednesday night by Gov. Mike DeWine, increased the state’s voucher system, created a new tax-credit scholarship program and established the state’s first education savings accounts.

“Governor Mike DeWine has signed a budget that expands existing school choice options and creates Ohio’s first-ever education savings account program helping parents afford desperately-needed resources and giving them the flexibility necessary to improve their children’s educational outcomes,” said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy. “These bold reforms are some of the most significant that Ohio’s families have seen in a decade.”

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Ohio Wins Injunction over Biden Administration’s ‘Tax Mandate’

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Three weeks after a federal judge said Ohio could move ahead with a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s plan to tie federal funding to a state’s agreement to not cut taxes, the same court granted Ohio a permanent injunction to stop the practice.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio stopped the regulation that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said unconstitutionally restricted the state’s power to cut taxes, Yost announced Friday.

“The Biden administration reached too far, seized too much and got its hand slapped,” Yost said. “This is a monumental win for the preservation of the U.S. Constitution – the separation of powers is real, and it exists for a reason.”

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Ohio Representative: Expanding Definition of Obstruction of Justice Helps Police

A bill Ohio Republicans call an effort to protect law enforcement and Democrats said limits protest quickly went from committee passage to House passage on nearly a party line vote.

Sub House Bill 22 expands the state’s definition of obstruction of justice to include failure to follow a lawful order, throwing objects and inhibiting or depriving a law enforcement officer of control over a detainee.

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EXCLUSIVE STAR NEWS NETWORK INTERVIEW WITH 45TH PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AT OHIO RALLY: ‘There’s No More Important Issue Than the 2020 Election’

WELLINGTON, Ohio – The 45th President of the United States Donald Trump told The Star News Network in an exclusive interview after a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on Saturday, “There’s no more important issue than the 2020 election.”

“People ask about the 2022 and 2024 elections, but we can’t wait until then,” Trump said, referring to policies and decisions by the Biden administration he said is leading to the destruction of the country.

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On the Ground in Ohio: 24 Hours Ahead of President Trump’s First Rally Since Leaving the White House

Donald Trump

WELLINGTON, Ohio – Former President Donald Trump will be delivering remarks at his first post-presidential rally Saturday, June 26 at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland.

About 24 hours prior to the 7 p.m. start of the rally on Saturday, Wellington with its many Victorian-style homes and historic structures on the square was relatively bustling for a village of about 5,000 people.

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Ohio Group Joins Another Legal Battle to Stop Eviction Ban

Eviction Notice for Nonpayment document with a wooden judge gavel

A Columbus-based think tank recently joined a Tennessee lawsuit calling for the end of the federal government’s eviction moratorium, saying the government lacks authority to rewrite private rental agreements.

The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief in Tiger Lily v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which currently sits before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. A U.S. district court ruled in favor of landlords, saying the law does not authorize the eviction moratorium.

“The Buckeye Institute is asking the court of appeals to affirm the district court’s decision that Congress did not give Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the authority to rewrite millions of private rental agreements across the country,” Jay Carson, senior litigator at the Buckeye Institute said. “Further, while the CDC’s intentions in imposing the moratorium may have been good, the repercussions are that small landlords face difficulties paying their mortgages, taxes and for the upkeep on their properties, which studies show lead many to exit the market, leaving fewer housing options available.”

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Ohio Senate Approves Legalized Sports Betting

Cleveland Browns football defense

Sports bettors in Ohio are a step closer to being able to stay in state to place a wager after the Ohio Senate passed a bill legalizing sports betting and e-bingo.

If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, Senate Bill 176 brings Ohio in line with neighboring Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania by allowing sports bets through retail or online sportsbooks.

The legislation passed Wednesday with a 30-2 vote.

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Ohio Reaches Record Settlement with Publicly Traded Pharmaceutical Company for Alleged Overpayment of Services

Dave Yost

Centene Corp (CC) reached a record settlement agreement Monday with Ohio for its alleged overbilling of the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) for its pharmaceutical services.

America’s largest Medicaid managed care organization agreed to pay $88.3 million to Ohio after Dave Yost, the state’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit in March, according to a Yost press release.

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Ohio Republicans at Odds Over Householder Ouster

Larry Householder

The Ohio House’s first bipartisan public move to try to expel indicted former Speaker of the House Larry Householder highlighted the divide among Republicans after Householder’s reelection following federal charges of racketeering, bribery and money laundering.

House Resolution 69 received its first hearing in front of the House Rules and Reference Committee, which is chaired by current House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima. Cupp consistently has said Householder, R-Glendale, should resign.

“Representative Householder is under indictment for selling legislation, and Ohioans cannot fathom how he remains in a position to continue to introduce legislation under those circumstances,” Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, testified Thursday. “Virtually everyone associated with this scandal lost their jobs a long time ago. The only person who has not lost their job is the only person indicted for being the mastermind of the whole scandal.”

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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Ohio Teacher’s Union Lawsuit

An Ohio teacher who said she was required to join the teachers union will not be able to plead her case in the front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court refused this week to hear Jade Thompson’s appeal of her lawsuit, which called for an immediate end to laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union’s exclusive representation.

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Ohio Holidays Could Pack More Punch with Fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky

It may not come in time for the Fourth of July, but Ohioans could add some excitement to certain celebrations if a bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio Senate eventually clears the House and gets signed into law.

Senate Bill 113 would allow people to have consumer-grade fireworks in the state and set them off on certain days and holidays.

Ohioans would be allowed to set off fireworks on New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4 and 5, along with the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend; Diwali; and New Year’s eve. Local communities, however, can eliminate any of those days or ban the practice entirely.

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Ohio Colleges, Universities Oppose Senate’s Higher Ed Reform

woman in cap and gown

What some are calling one of the most significant pieces of higher education reform in years in Ohio is also drawing opposition from state colleges and universities.

The Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee held its fourth hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 135, which bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, said was a bold plan to enhance higher education and workforce development.

Cirino’s plan addresses student debt, allows more low-cost higher education options that include the state’s community colleges and requires high schools to inform students of career options that require associate degrees or certificates, rather than only four-year degree options.

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Two Ohio Lawmakers Want State to Call for Convention of States

Rep. Riordan McClain

Two Ohio lawmakers plan to introduce a resolution next week calling for a convention of states to address the size of the federal government.  

State Reps. Riordan McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, and Craig Riedel, R-Defiance, said they plan to introduce the resolution, which would create a convention that could discuss the topics of “limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, term limits for Congress and other government officials, and fiscal restraints for the federal government.”

“The size and scope of the federal government have long been unsustainable, and we have waited long enough for Congress to fix itself,” McClain said.

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Ohio Democrats Walk out on Voting Bill Debate

Close up of mail in ballot

A bill that would eliminate early voting in Ohio the day before an election and stop the mailing of absentee ballots 10 days before Election Day got its first hearing in the Ohio, and it came with controversy.

Democratic lawmakers walked out of the House Government Oversight Committee on Thursday after they say committee Chair Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, threatened to cut off debate.

“What we saw today was unsettling – Republicans unwilling to engage in civil discourse on their bill that would silence the voices of Ohioans by rolling back the right to vote,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron. “If Republicans are unwilling to hear the people out, Democrats are going to take this issue to the people.”

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Both Ohio Chambers Introduce Bi-Partisan Bills Trying to Reform Cash Bail in Ohio

Bi-partisan bills in both the Ohio state House and Senate introduced this week seek to reform the way the cash bail system works in the Buckeye State.

The dual legislation pieces, Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 315, would replace the current cash bail system with a new one determined by a person’s ability to pay the bail.

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Ohio Legislature Keeps Pressure on Michigan to Keep Pipeline Open

Ohio state Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester

Ohio lawmakers continue to pressure Michigan’s governor to keep open a pipeline that affects more than 20,000 Ohio jobs and nearly $14 billion in state economic activity.

Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, who testified before the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this week, said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to make poor decisions at a time when energy security remains in question after a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline that continues to leave the Southeast with gasoline shortages and higher prices.

Baldridge also testified recently before Michigan’s Senate Energy Committee and met with the state’s Senate leadership in response to Ohio Resolution 13, which urges Michigan to keep the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline operating.

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Business Fairness Act Would Allow Ohio Businesses to Stay Open During Emergencies

Mike DeWine

Ohio businesses would be able to continue to operate during a public health emergency if a bill passed by the Ohio House clears the Senate and is signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

House Bill 215 would require businesses to comply with safety standards from government orders or regulations to stay open, but it does provide an avenue to keep businesses up in running in times of emergency.

“Small business owners had their worlds turned upside down when they were forced to shut down last year,” Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said. “Getting this bill signed into law will send a strong message that Ohio will remain open for business and keep our economy moving forward.”

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