Week in Review - 05/31/2019

Week in Review - 05/31/2019

EDUCATION

Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found. This "million-word gap" could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at Ohio State University.


Saying a report circulating around Capitol Square is a collection of notes from meetings of "thought leaders" she asked to consider alternatives to the state takeover framework, Sen. Peggy Lehner(R-Kettering) said Wednesday she does not have a full plan in the wings for replacing the academic distress law. Lehner, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said the point of a hearing Wednesday and others planned for coming weeks is to develop such a plan with the input of stakeholders. "I would just encourage everyone to chill on this idea of a plan," she said.


The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday heard extensive testimony from school administrators and education groups asking for inclusion of the "Fair School Funding Plan" in the biennial budget, HB166(Oelslager). Proponents lauded the plan for its itemization of student-teacher and student-staff ratios to determine the cost of educating the "typical" Ohio student, as well as the plan's elimination of the current "cap and guarantee" funding system, which proponents said unfairly skews funding among districts in similar wealth brackets.



ENERGY

The House passed energy policy measure HB6 (Callender-Wilkin) on a 53-43 bipartisan vote Wednesday, with 10 Democrats joining to support it and 17 Republicans dissenting. The House Rules and Reference Committee had reconvened in the morning to add final amendments that impose "anti-windfall" protections on nuclear subsidies; require an annual third-party audit of the program; require FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) or successor owners of the nuclear plants to maintain business operations in Ohio; bar FES from seeking lower property values for the two plants; and grandfather into the clean-air program solar facilities of 50 megawatts (MW) or more that gain Ohio Power Siting Board(OPSB) approval by Saturday, June 1.


 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

In other legislative action, the House Finance Committee reported out SB4 (Rulli-Kunze) to add school construction funding, and the House State and Local Government reported out HB133 (Perales-Weinstein), requiring provision of temporary professional licenses to military members and families who move to Ohio for active duty assignments.


 

PENSIONS

The State Teachers RetirementSystem (STRS) of Ohio lacked the legal basis to freeze annual inflationary increases in pension benefits, two retirees argue in a federal court filing that seeks class action status for more than 100,000 others. Citing a need to shore up long-term finances, STRS Trustees voted in April 2017 to freeze the payment of 2 percent cost-of-living increases to retirees. Trustees included provisions in their resolution to consider resumed payments no later than the next five-year investment experience study.


 

REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday put a lower court ruling ordering Ohio to redraw its congressional district maps by June 14 on hold pending appeal. The Court also stayed a ruling in a Michigan redistricting case as well. A three-judge panel ruled earlier this month that Ohio's congressional maps created as a part of 129-HB369 (Huffman) are an "unconstitutional partisan gerrymander." The judges ordered the state to redraw the maps by Friday, June 14, and refused to delay that decision pending the state's appeal.