Week in Review - 06/05/2020

Week in Review - 06/05/2020

CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday afternoon that Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton had signed two additional public health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. One continues the prohibition on mass gatherings of more than 10 people through July 1 and spells out a variety of sector specific protocols and restrictions. The other rescinds an April 13 order that had barred liquor sales to out-of-state residents in some Eastern Ohio border counties, issued in reaction to Pennsylvanians who were crossing the border after that state's liquor stores were closed in the pandemic.


Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton signed a new order Saturday, May 30 per the administration's plan to allow child care facilities to reopen Sunday, albeit under restrictions that change how they operate as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Child care facilities were ordered closed for more than two months, save those granted new pandemic licenses to care for children of health care and other essential workers.


Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday cleared the way for entertainment facilities to open Wednesday, June 10, including zoos and indoor movie theaters, after nearly three months of shutdowns due to concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. Other facilities allowed to reopen on June 10 include aquariums, art galleries, country clubs, ice skating rinks, indoor family entertainment centers, indoor sports facilities, laser tag facilities, museums, outdoor playgrounds, public recreation centers, roller skating rinks, social clubs and trampoline parks. However, amusements parks including Kings Island and Cedar Point cannot yet open.


EDUCATION

State officials "fully intend" to have students back in classrooms at the start of the next academic year, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday during the coronavirus update, and have "no intention" of delaying locally-set start dates barring an unexpected development. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is working with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and local districts to develop guidelines for reopening schools, according to DeWine and ODH Director Amy Acton, while taking into account the differing needs of each area.


Schools that are losing funding due to the closure or devaluation of power plants in their districts should receive relief from the General Assembly, Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) said Wednesday. "We broached the idea of this legislation when multiple school districts within the 14th Senate District experienced significant local revenue losses from power plants that saw major decreases in their property value," Johnson told the Senate Finance Committee during sponsor testimony on SB313. The committee also heard proponent testimony from a number of school representatives.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Thirteen members of the House GOP caucus wrote a letter Monday to Gov. Mike DeWine asking that he lift his administration's COVID-19 public health orders immediately. "Ohio smashed the curve long ago. Mission accomplished! The original projections were terribly off the mark and overestimated the statistical impact of the coronavirus by a wide margin. The metrics following the virus indicate that the peak of this crisis is far behind us. It's blatantly clear that the virus is most aggressively attacking the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions. Approximately 70 percent of all of Ohio's deaths related to the virus are people who lived in long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Being 11 weeks into this we definitely know how to behave around the virus and we know who needs the most protection from it," they wrote.


The House backed off its bid for a narrower capital reapproprations budget that would have excluded some previously approved higher education, state park and cultural institutions projects Wednesday, folding the broader version into SB310 (Dolan), a vehicle to distribute federal money for coronavirus expenses to local governments. The House Finance Committee unanimously passed SB310 after adopting several amendments, one of which Co-Chairman Scott Oeslslager (R-North Canton) described as "the full reappropriations bill." Another of the amendments grants Gov. Mike DeWine's request to allow for a pay freeze and freeze on step advancements for non-union state workers.