With lawmakers wanting more information and a cancelled floor session sapping urgency, the House Education Committee backed off plans Wednesday to vote on a broad school deregulation measure, though members did agree to several changes. In addition to adopting 11 amendments to SB216 (Huffman), the committee also previewed possible changes to HB591, Rep. Mike Duffey's (R-Worthington) proposal to overhaul state report cards.
Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) gave sponsor testimony before the Senate Education Committee on her SB289 which provides schools additional tools to respond to threatened acts of violence on their premises. She said parents, school officials, and students are becoming "increasingly frustrated" with students who make verbal and social media threats that close schools.
According to a study from education think tank Child Trends, homogenous black middle and high schools (more than 75 percent black students) are more likely than homogenous white middle and high schools (more than 75 percent white students) to have full-time, in-school security personnel. Child Trends analyzed recently released data from the 2015-2016 federal Civil Rights Data Collection to determine that 54.1 percent of homogenous black middle and high schools had at least one school-based law enforcement officer or security officer on campus, compared to 32.5 percent of homogenous white middle and high schools.
The U.S. Department of Education's (USDOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced recently the launch of a new technical assistance initiative to assist schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges, and universities in making their websites and online programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The Controlling Board Monday approved the use of state funds to send an unsolicited absentee ballot application to every registered voter of Ohio on behalf of Secretary of State Jon Husted, though one member said he has concern over whether that mailing could be used to bolster Husted's campaign for lieutenant governor.
U.S. and Ohio unemployment rates continued to trend down in April, falling to 3.9 and 4.3 percent respectively, but the gap between the nation and the Buckeye State's rates increased by 0.1 percentage points. Ohio's unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in March, while the U.S. rate was at 4.1 percent. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported the state unemployment rate decreased by 0.8 percent and 43,000 jobs compared to April 2017, while the U.S. unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percent over the 12-month period.
Six leading statewide business organizations issued a public letter Tuesday calling on the House Republican Caucus to "set aside differences and preferences and focus on the needs of our great state" by promptly selecting a House Speaker to serve the remainder of the 132nd General Assembly. The letter was signed by leaders of the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio, Ohio Business Roundtable, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and Ohio Manufacturers' Association. Former U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, now the president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, was among the signers.
Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) led his chamber through a slate of legislation in unanimous fashion Wednesday. In comments following session, he sought to distance members from the House leadership crisis. The Senate passed a number of bills with no debate, including: charter school enrollment and funding accountability in HB21 (Hambley), 31-0 and school district-education service center (ESC) affiliation in HB438 (Hambley-Kick). HB 21 also included an amendment approved in the Senate Education Committee to exempt school construction projects from installing storm shelters if financing was arranged by September 15, 2019.
In other action, the House Education and Career Readiness Committee reported out HB540 which deals with teacher evaluations; HB108 (Hagan-McColley), "The Informed Student Document Act"; HB428 (Ginter-LaTourette), the "Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2018"; and HB502 (Anielski) which deals with educator in-service training on youth suicide.