Week in review - 06/21/2019

Week in review - 06/21/2019

FY20-21 BUDGET

A new watershed management program, new high school diploma requirements, new regulatory authority over pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), regulatory rollbacks for government agencies in general, a later presidential primary election, and additional money to prevent custody relinquishment were among dozens of final changes the Senate Finance Committee made to the budget bill, HB166 (Oelslager) Wednesday night before passing it unanimously. On Thursday, for the first time since Gov. Ted Strickland's first year in office, the full Senate unanimously passed the budget bill, sending it back to the House, which promptly rejected the Senate changes to set up a conference committee next week. Senators speaking during Thursday's floor debate generally struck the same tone, pointing out things they don't like in the bill but also saying that the good parts of the bill outweigh the bad. They thanked senators from across the aisle for working with them, and said overall the bill sends a clear message of the chamber's priorities.


A mother whose late son's good grades and athletic feats concealed struggles that led him to take his own life, a veteran whose friends confide in her their suicidal thoughts, and a man whose schizo-affective disorder led him to jump off a parking garage were among those calling Friday for senators to reverse course on a budget amendment reducing planned mental health funding in a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Senate changes to HB166 (Oelslager) unveiled Tuesday eliminate $36 million Gov. Mike DeWine proposed for K-12 prevention education and a multi-media prevention, treatment and stigma reduction campaign. The Senate substitute bill did preserve $5 million proposed for mental health first aid and de-escalation training in the Statewide Treatment and Prevention dedicated purpose fund. Testimony on this issue continued Monday.


Executive and legislative budget packages take meaningful steps on policies helpful to children but fall short in a few key areas, advocates said Thursday as the Senate was passing its version of HB166 (Oelsager). Members of the Ohio Children's Budget Coalition said lawmakers could do more to help children and their families through assistance to local governments and organizations for census preparation, conversion of the state's earned income tax credit (EITC) to partial refundability, and restoration of Senate cuts to home visiting programs.


EDUCATION

If members of the State Board of Education vote to expand the number of hours and the types of activities for which they can be paid, none of them can take advantage of it until new terms commence, Attorney General Dave Yost's office said in a formal opinion released Friday. The board's Executive Committee voted earlier this year on a proposal to increase the number of hours of work members can seek reimbursement for, in order to compensate them for time they spend on constituent service and meeting preparation. Members can now receive compensation for time spent at board meetings; speaking on education panels; on professional development; visiting schools; and engaging or informing the public on board business.


Issues concerning measures on the state report card and the types of assessments used by the state remained at the forefront of discussions Monday at the second meeting of a State Board of Education workgroup on dropout prevention and recovery (DRP) schools.


GAMING/GAMBLING

Recently-conducted research by the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) reinforces the argument that the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) is the right agency to oversee sports gambling in the state, rather than the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) told Hannah News Tuesday. Another advantage HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly) has over SB111 (Eklund-O'Brien) is that the "handle" wouldn't be subject to the 25 percent federal excise tax under his bill, Greenspan said.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY

In other action, the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported out HB123 (G. Holmes-G. Manning) which deals with school security and youth suicide awarene