Week in Review - 02/23/2018

Week in Review - 02/23/2018

BALLOT ISSUES

The Ohio Ballot Board Tuesday unanimously approved the ballot language for a congressional redistricting reform amendment passed by the General Assembly in SJR5 (Huffman-Sykes) -- now Issue 1 -- for the May ballot. That language states that the proposed amendment would "end the partisan process for drawing congressional districts, and replace it with a process with the goals of promoting bipartisanship, keeping local communities together, and having district boundaries that are more compact." The Ballot Board also unanimously approved the explanation and arguments for and against Issue 1.


FY19-20 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

Ohio's institutions of higher education are heeding the Kasich administration's order that they focus state capital dollars on maintaining what Ohio already has rather than building entirely new facilities, with only two projects seeking funds for new buildings. The state's four-year public universities are asking lawmakers for nearly $300 million in funds for capital projects, while community colleges are requesting $100 million, according to submissions made to the administration late last month. Higher education institutions took a different route for their requests in this budget cycle, with four-year universities and community colleges submitting separate lists instead of having one recommendation coming from a combined panel.


EDUCATION

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow's (ECOT) court-appointed masters were authorized to abandon computer systems left in the field because they said the cost of recovering them and selling them would result in a net loss to the state. During Friday's hearing in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Michael Holbrook also granted a request from interim master Myron Terlecky and assistant master for compliance Richard Kruse to sell equipment in ECOT's warehouse to Cleveland-based IT company MCPc for $85,000, netting the state a recovery of $74,000 when considering about $11,000 in equipment is still under lease from IBM.


The State Board of Education's Accountability and Continuous Improvement committee, along with a handful of external stakeholders, will review the state report card with an eye toward recommending both short- and long-term recommendations. Tess Elshoff, board president, announced the review this week as an alternative to the proposal by board member Lisa Woods to appoint two special committees -- one with members of the public, another with board members and appointees of state and local education officials -- to study the report cards.


House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee Chairman Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) is keeping an open mind regarding legislation consolidating several education-related state agencies into the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA), the representative told reporters following HB512's (Reineke) first hearing on Tuesday.


The House Education Committee plans to take a "comprehensive look" at school safety, according to its chairman, Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell). Brenner said the committee will have hearings on placeholder legislation to gather input from mental health professionals, law enforcement, local school officials and educators on what policies to include in the bill.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

House Finance Committee members raised questions Tuesday about geographic limits and practical limitations for the new OhioCorps mentoring and education proposal, a priority of leadership. Sponsors said the legislation is a work in progress and they're trying to ensure legislative language doesn't impede community effort. Reps. Scott Ryan (R-Newark) and Bill Reineke Jr. (R-Tiffin) provided sponsor testimony on HB508, reiterating its basic aims: to pair Ohio college students with at-risk youth in mentoring relationships, and provide funding to assist both with education expenses.


In other action, the House Education and Career Readiness Committee reported out HB438 (Hambley-Kick) which permits members be added to the board of educational service centers (ESCs).