12.2.2 gongwer news service (ohio 2011 network enhancements release)


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12.2.2 gongwer news service (ohio 2011 network enhancements release)

  1. 1. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 1 of 14 Volume #81, Report #22 -- Thursday, February 2, 2012 Attorneys, Advocates Speak Against Bill To Deduct Rental Debt From Tax Returns Housing advocates and attorneys on Thursday railed against legislation that would allow money for unpaid rent to be deducted from tenant tax returns to pay landlords who have obtained a court order. The bill (SB 172 ) gives the state unprecedented authority and does not balance the needs of tenants to seek legal recourse against landlords for breach of contract, witnesses said. The legislation would authorize a landlord with a judgment order against a current or former tenant for breach of residential rental agreement to sue the state to recover funds from an income tax return if the person does not have sufficient assets for payment, according to the Legislative Service Commission. Sponsor Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), who chairs the Senate Ways & Means & Economic Development Committee that is hearing the bill, said changes are possible to address concerns. "It doesnt have to be a one-way bill," Sen. Schaffer said in an interview. "No matter who it is, if its an aggrieved party who doesnt have a whole lot of assets to fall back on - whether youre a tenant or a landlord - Im all for helping them out." Paul Wilkins, chief litigation attorney for Student Legal Services Inc. at the Ohio State University, told the committee that the bill would establish powers to "make the state a debt collector for a private entity." He told the committee it may seem that garnishing refunds for child, spousal or medical support is similar to what is being proposed, but those situations require ongoing state oversight. The bill favors landlords over tenants, which flies in the face of the Ohio Landlords and Tenants Act, which was enacted in 1974 to balance interests of those parties, Mr. Wilkins said. Meanwhile, tenants would have no recourse under the bill to seek garnishments of tax returns for repairs that are not completed or in the case of other issues, Mr. Wilkins said. Sen. Schaffer said he understands Mr. Wilkins concerns about the bill but told him that it is aimed at tenants who are "clearly in the wrong." He said most landlords he has consulted allow rent to be past due for multiple months before taking action. Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) asked if provisions allowing tenants to seek a remedy for repairs not made in a timely manner or other issues could make the bill supportable for Mr. Wilkins. Ms. Tavares said she has had a number of constituents complain about problems with rental properties and landlords. She referred to an incident in which problems arising from an uninhabitable residence contributed to tenant deaths. Mr. Wilkins responded by saying it would improve the legislation, but when large corporations own properties they typically do not have large tax returns. Mr. Wilkins said the companies do not have large cash on hand; instead they quickly transfer funds to shareholders, which makes collection more difficult.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  2. 2. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 2 of 14 Mr. Wilkins said Michigan is the only other state that puts the onus on government to collect private debts. In questioning Mr. Wilkins, Sen. Schaffer said many landlords are independent investors with limited resources, a point he emphasized after the meeting. "That owner either has to take it out of his retirement, take it out of his current paycheck somewhere else, or the tenants got to make it up," he said. "They sign a lease, they agree to pay x-number of dollars a month. Thats a contract." Joe Maskovyak, an attorney for the Ohio Poverty Law Center, said research by his organization shows while more than 40 states have "tax intercepts" for debt collections, they do them for reasons other than assisting private creditors. Commonly, state and local governments will collect monies as will courts and child-support agencies. However, child-support enforcement plays a positive role in society by ensuring children receive necessary care, Mr. Maskovyak said. There is also a financial benefit to the state in these cases by keeping families off tax-funded service programs. Mr. Maskovyak also said tenants are frequently at a disadvantage in court proceedings because many times they lack adequate legal counsel. He added that additional hearings in Franklin County would further burden that court system by requiring an "unfunded mandate" with such requirements. Also, if landlords are afforded the ability to seek debt collections through the tax code, others such as banks, merchants, doctors and lawyers could seek similar legislation. Mr. Maskovyak said in his view "no tinkering or amendment" could fix the bills flaws but hed prefer if tenants would have the same rights as landlords under the bill. Responding to a question from Sen. Schaffer, Mr. Maskovyak said some tenants, depending on their income, can get free legal assistance from certain organizations. Michael Piepsny, executive director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization, called the proposal "unnecessary and egregious" in a time when Ohioans face difficult economic times and 30% rent their homes. He said the economic downfall has affected all classes of people, and that "seizing the little relief that a household may gain through a tax refund check is reprehensible." "In making these assertions, I am in no way arguing that these families deserve a free pass and the debt owed to the landlord should be forgiven," he said. "A landlord with a judgment already has the tools to collect from a former tenant." "In Ohio, a landlord has the legal option to work with the local clerk of courts to garnish the tenants wages once the tenant has the means to pay what he (or) she owes." Mr. Piepsny told Sen. Tavares that through his organizations work it has been determined 90% of evictions are because of nonpayment of rent and that 10-15% of landlords encounter trouble collecting past rent. He said he believes issues relating to tenants inability to get back security deposits is a bigger dilemma. There is no group like CTO in Columbus, and other organizations such as the Urban League are trying to provide assistance to tenants in certain cases, Sen. Tavares said, adding she would be interested in looking at ways to go after "bad actors" who are involved in actions such as not returning deposits for valid reasons. Kalen Craig, housing preservation coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said Ohio faced 15 straight years of record foreclosures from 1994 to 2010, adding that tenants have become the "backbone of many communities" as 3.5 million Ohioans rent their homes. "Like many in this distressed economy, many are living paycheck to paycheck and it is not in the state of Ohios best interest to stigmatize renter households," he said. "Renting is the new normal and we need to be cognizant of the significant shift nationwide from home ownership to rental housing."file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  3. 3. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 3 of 14 Mr. Craig also expressed concern about how an influx of cases could backlog actions in the Ohio Department of Taxation and the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, which would have exclusive jurisdiction to hear lawsuits under the bill. "We dont wish to excuse or deny the responsibility of renter households to pay their rent or default judgments in a timely fashion as required by their lease, but just as we dont believe that all landlords are slumlords, we dont believe all tenants are deadbeats looking to game the system, certainly not to the extent that would justify passage of this bill." After discussions with Democrats on the committee, Mr. Schaffer said "if they can come up with a mechanism for tenants as well to go back on bad landlords ... that break the contract, I would certainly entertain that." Warren Brasch, compliance counsel for Asset Acceptance LLC, submitted written testimony favoring the bill. He wrote the company agrees with the bills "laudable objective of helping judgment landlords who are unable to collect upon judgments" but believes the states interests in promoting commerce would be advanced by expanding the scope to "benefit all classes of judgment creditors." Rep. Slaby, Commissioner Centolella On List Of PUCO Finalists Four Ohioans - including a current state lawmaker and a sitting commissioner - emerged Thursday as finalists for an upcoming appointment to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The PUCOs Nominating Council suggested that Gov. John Kasich choose between Commissioner Paul Centolella, Rep. Lynn Slaby (R-Copley), PUCO staffer Beth Trombold and former state Rep. Michael Verich when he appoints the next commissioner. They got the nod over five others who also secured interviews for the job. Mr. Kasich has 30 days to choose and appoint a successor from the list. The governor can also ask the Nominating Council to provide a new list of candidates. Mr. Centolellas five-year term on the commission ends in April. Before moving to the PUCO, he was a senior economist at a Fortune 500 firm and spent a decade at the Ohio Consumers Counsel. Mr. Slaby was Summit Countys prosecutor and was a judge on the 9th District Court of Appeals for 14 years. Ms. Trombold is the commissions director of economic development and public affairs, and was the PUCOs director of public affairs and legislative affairs from 2000-2011. Mr. Verich was elected to serve nine terms in the Ohio House, and was a member of the State Employment Relations Board for 12 years. Vectren Auction: Separately, the commission approved the results of Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohios auction, which produced a retail price adjustment that is 30 cents less than the current rate. The auction, managed by World Energy Solutions, sets the rates for Vectren customers from April 1 through March 31, 2013. The commission said Vectren customers can purchase their services from a competitive provider, join a governmental aggregation group or stay with the standard offer that the auction produced. Policy Group Says Raise Taxes On Oil And Gas Drilling, Hire Ohioansfile://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  4. 4. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 4 of 14 Policymakers should raise taxes on the oil and gas industry, do more to protect landowners, and offer incentives for drillers to hire Ohioans to extract petroleum from the states deep shale formations, a progressive think tank said Thursday. Innovation Ohios report said the states oil and natural gas reserves could be worth more than a half a trillion dollars and called on Gov. John Kasich and the legislature to ensure that the bounty gets distributed equitably. "The economic benefits should be shared fairly with all Ohioans, not transferred out of state or allowed to flow down a one-way street in the direction of big oil," IO President Janetta King said during a news conference at the groups office in Columbus. A review of reserve estimates from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and industry sources indicates that "an all-out shale boom" in Ohio could yield $86 billion in natural gas revenue for developers over the next 20 years, she said. Projections for oil are much higher, between $130 billion and $550 billion. However, the current severance tax rate is the second lowest in the country, the group said. Ohios rate of $0.20 per barrel of oil and $0.03 per million cubic foot of natural gas, an effective rate of 0.66%, is considerably lower than tax rates in more than 25 other states. IO spokesman Dale Butland said equalizing the rates to those of Texas would generate nearly $2.5 billion from natural gas extraction over the next decade and between $5.9 and $25.3 billion from oil. The report also recommends applying the severance tax to natural gas liquids, such as propane and butane - a concept for which Gov. Kasich has already expressed support. However, the governor has warned that raising taxes too much on the industry could hamper development of Ohios Utica Shale. Mr. Butland dismissed the notion that implementing a "modest tax" would drive oil and gas companies out of Ohio. "I find it not credible that the oil and gas industry will walk away and leave on the table tens of billions of dollars of revenue and profit simply because theyd be asked to pay the same rate of taxation that theyre already paying in Texas," he said. Mr. Butland said the additional revenue could replace some of the funding that school districts and local governments lost in the biennial budget (HB 153 ). IO also called for a policy to encourage drillers to hire Ohioans - another issue that mirrors Gov. Kasichs frequent refrain that he doesnt want "foreigners" like Texans, Pennsylvanians, and West Virginians working on Ohio wellheads. Mr. Butland said policymakers should go beyond rhetoric and implement a "Hire Ohio" policy that offers tax breaks for companies hiring a certain percentage of Ohioans or grant incentives for training and hiring in-state workers. While there was some similarity among drilling issues that the left-leaning policy group and Republican Gov. Kasich have identified, the governors spokesman indicated the administration would not be taking advice from IO, which includes several staffers for former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Asked for comment, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in an email: "Whats troubling is that this organization hides its donors from the public. What are they afraid of? Whats the secret agenda of those who paid for this study? Its hard to take ideas seriously from people who are so obsessed with secrecy." The IO report also recommends creating a "landowner bill of rights," which would authorize the attorney general to ensure that property owners who sell their mineral rights dont get cheated or misled about hazardous chemicals, pollution in their water supply, despoiled acreage and other potential problems. Although drillers must disclose to the state which chemicals they use for hydraulic fracturing, they are not required to make the information available to the public, Ms. King said.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  5. 5. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 5 of 14 The report does not address potential environmental hazards related to fracking because IO believes its obvious that the practice should stop if public health and safety cannot be protected, she said. ProgressOhio: Later in the day, ProgressOhio another left-leaning policy group, took IO to task for skipping over environmental concerns related to fracking. "ProgressOhio believes first and foremost the health and safety of Ohioans should take precedence over any discussion of revenue generated from fracking," Executive Director Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. "While the aim of generating more revenue for our local communities is valid, we believe that Ohio should be examining and eliminating some of the over $7 billion in tax loopholes and expenditures, including tax breaks for private jets, that leaders on all parts of the political spectrum agree are wasteful and ineffective," he added. "Until we can have a moratorium in place and the science proves our communities are safe, the environment is unharmed and earthquake ramifications are understood, talking about splitting up the spoils of fracking money is premature." Farmers Union: Meanwhile, the Ohio Farmers Union approved a temporary moratorium on fracking Thursday that the group described as a "common sense, middle ground" approach to the divisive issue. During a recent convention, members called for ODNR to stop issuing permits for fracking new wells until the U.S Environmental Protection Agency issues a preliminary report due later this year. The moratorium supported by some Democrats and environmental groups would halt the practice until the final study results due in 2014. "Were not asking for much - the report is due by the end of this year. Our members who own family farms would like a bit more objective information. Wed like to hear what EPA has to say," Ron Sylvester, OFUs director of external relations said in a statement. Gardner Pitches Lake Erie Marshall Plan; Study Recommends Action To Address Asian Carp Rep. Randy Gardner recently sounded the alarm over the growing algae problem in Lake Erie and urged policymakers to take action to protect the environment and the economy surrounding the lake. Rep. Gardner (R-Bowling Green), a former history teacher, said Ohio should pursue a "Marshall Plan for Lake Erie" to restore the lake and combat the widespread algae problem. "The potential magnitude of this crisis cannot be understated," he said in a letter to Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders. "We must engage in this fight with a sense of urgency equal to the value Lake Erie holds for Ohio and America." Rep. Gardner, who co-hosted a legislative hearing on the health of Lake Erie with Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) in December, said legislation may be necessary, in addition to spending federal and state funds to reduce phosphorus levels and nutrient loading that help contribute to the explosion of algal blooms in the lake. While some environmental groups tend to focus on agricultural runoff as a key issue, Rep. Gardner noted that municipal waste problems and violations at waste plants in Detroit also contribute to the problem. The Republican said the solution must include stakeholders representing agriculture, wildlife advocates, local government, legislators, the travel and tourism industry, small business owners, and state agencies. "Im not sure there is any challenge facing Ohio that can yield greater bipartisan teamwork than protecting and healing Lake Erie," he said. "It will take our best efforts to be successful."file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  6. 6. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 6 of 14 Asian Carp: In other developments, environmentalists lauded a study released this week that said an effective separation between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins was possible and should be implemented. Environmental groups said the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative study supports their goal of separating the two basins to prevent the further spread of invasive species, such as Asian carp. "This study shows that the separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins can be a win-win for Chicago and Ohio. Lake Eries prized sportfish, Ohio jobs and $10 billion in economic revenue to Ohio from travel and tourism is all at risk from an Asian carp invasion," said Kristy Meyer, director of agricultural and clean water programs for the Ohio Environmental Council. "Ohios congressional members need to work with leadership to ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expedite its plan so our children and grandchildren can enjoy the lakes as we do today," she added. The coalition of environmental groups said the study focuses the Great Lakes region on a long-term permanent solution, rather than the current "stopgap measures" that will ultimately fail to stop the Asian carp from spreading into the Great Lakes. For several years, environmentalists have called for separating the artificially conjoined Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Lawmakers Hear How Learning Will Unfold In A Digitally Driven Future Members of a House panel conversed with students, educators and technology experts Wednesday evening about the future of education in a time of ever-changing digital options. The House Education Committee spent more than two hours during its regular meeting to hear presentations in recognition of Digital Learning Day. Todays students can potentially access a variety of technology-driven approaches to their education. Among the options are e-schools that eliminate a brick-and-mortar setting and allow learners to manage their own studies at home over the Internet. Blended learning environments are also becoming popular options that entail students in a classroom setting receiving instruction from a remotely located teacher and engaging in other activities on digital devices, according to testimony before the committee. Public school students can also expand their course options by taking specific classes over the Internet, witnesses said. Lisa Duty, director of external affairs for KnowledgeWorks, said "mounting evidence" shows this approach to learning can improve student outcomes by increasing opportunities for personalized learning, constructive and individualized feedback, adaptation of experience, rich support and intervention and extended learning time at a customized pace. "The digital learning of 2012 recognizes that devices, connectivity, quality content and instructional tools are enablers of learning performance, and great educators are key to student success no matter the option," she said. "High-quality, customizable digital learning options should be the rule rather than the exception." Four Ohio students shared with lawmakers their experiences with digital learning. Hamilton Ingwerson, a 15-year-old enrolled in the e-school Electronic Classrooms of Tomorrow, said she is able to finish work in advance and get extra rest or take days off. She also does not have to worry about bullies or cliques. "I have a direct link to my teachers, who always remember my name, for help all day - not just after class. And there is heavy interaction between students, especially in our classes known as WebEx seminars," Ms. Ingwerson said.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  7. 7. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 7 of 14 Jordan Randolph, a student in Winton Woods High Schools Academy of Global Studies, said his program is project-based learning and technology-centered communication and research. The goal of the program is for students to gain a global perspective to apply to real-world problems. Drew Lovejoy, who attends Ohio Connections Academy, said he enrolled in an e-school because he is a competitive Irish dancer, ranked No. 1 in the world. "E-schooling allows me the opportunity and flexibility to train, practice and travel while still receiving an excellent education," he said. Faith Washington, a senior at Reynoldsburg High School, said she is taking an online Chinese language class. "I have been able to focus in on my learning experiences, discipline my prioritizing, and expand my social abilities in new ways," she said. Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights) asked the students whether their increased online presence has resulted in cyber-bullying. Ms. Ingwerson said the students she meets through her online classes "wouldnt dare" to bully each other as they all have had similar real-world experiences in that regard and are all highly focused on their education. Ms. Washington said she has experienced some online tormenting but it has only served to make her a stronger person. Tom Vander Ark, founder of gettingsmart.com, in his presentation asked the panel to make education funding weighted based on rigor and to make the money mobile, in that it would follow students to their place of learning. He also asked them to "promote and pilot" innovation. Answering Rep. Tom Derickson (R-Oxford), Mr. Vander Ark recommended lawmakers not legislate the hours during which it is best for students to learn, both those in traditional schools and those taking online classes. Rep. Craig Newbold (R-Columbiana) asked what challenges the state should be preparing teachers for with this new arena of teaching and learning. The witness said a different staffing model is needed. Teachers will work in teams and have different duties. Some teachers will work remotely for districts that cannot recruit strong educators in certain subjects, such as those in Appalachian Ohio. Responding to Rep. Nan Baker (R-Westlake), Mr. Vander Ark said adapting teachers to the technology will require a generational shift as the 22-year-old educators just getting started will enter with the technology savviness necessary to work with ever-changing technology. Valerie Dortch, of Columbus, said her disabled son attends an e-school and has been able to avoid the torment he experienced in public school. Cathy Bryan, of Beavercreek, said her son has an auditory disability and has advanced in an e-school. From the educators perspective, Jessica Hussey, a teacher at Ohio Connections Academy, said she is able to impact students and parents on a deeper level via her e-school role. Jennifer Easley, teacher at the Academy of Global Studies at Winton Woods High School, said her program prepares students for the technology they will face at the college level. Responding to questions from legislators, Ms. Hussey said she is able to monitor her students activities online and regularly has phone conversations with them. If a student is not keeping up with assignments, she can recommend he or she be removed from the program. Nicole Luthy, director of the Ohio Resource Center, said online education allows students to take the most advanced and rigorous courses even if they are not offered at the home school. She said the challenge is changing how individuals think about educating children. Kate Harkin, executive director of eTech Ohio, said todays learners have an expectation that their educational experience will include a variety of tools that engage them.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  8. 8. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 8 of 14 Answering Rep. Baker, Ms. Harkin said a challenge in this approach is student access to diversity. In the online world, individuals can join groups and interact with people who are just like them and they therefore are not being exposed to different people and developing the emotional intelligence necessary to interact with people in the real world. Portman Calls For Pro-Growth Policies, Response To Growing Debt In Light Of Economic Forecast U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Terrace Park) said Thursday the latest federal budget and economic outlook report has painted a "bleak" picture for the next decade. The Congressional Budget Offices semiannual report offers nonpartisan projections for fiscal years 2012-2022 that Mr. Portman said are concerning. "They predicted that unemployment will be higher later this year than it is now. They predicted it will be even higher next year getting up to over 9%, and this concerns me greatly," he said during a conference call with reporters. "I think we have yet to address the fundamental problems that we face in terms of the deficit, and that is one reason were seeing this very weak recovery and these dire projections for our future economy. They also said that even if you assume that some of the Bush tax cuts ... did not continue, that were going to see huge new debt over the next 10 years." In addition to a baseline scenario that assumes current law remains unchanged, the CBO also offers an alternative scenario that makes predictions in line with current tax and spending policies. The latter outlook shows deficits would average 5.4% of the gross domestic product over the 2013-22 period compared to 1.5% in the baseline projection, according to the report. "Debt held by the public would climb to 94% of GDP in 2022, the highest figure since just after World War II," according to the CBO. Sen. Portman said the alternative outlook, which is the realistic projection, shows $8 trillion to $10 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years. Sen. Portman "The sequestration is not the answer to what has to be done," he said about scheduled across-the-board cuts. "The huge deficits that were running - another trillion dollar deficit, the fourth in a row we just had last fiscal year - and these projections of huge debt increases over time have a negative impact on the economy and so we need to do two things: One, pro-growth policies to get the economy moving again, but we also have to address Washingtons ever-increasing debt." The Republican said he sees hope, however, in the nations energy potential. "The most exciting immediate growth opportunity we have is to more aggressively develop domestic sources of energy," he said. "If we can develop our natural gas and oil resources in this country more aggressively we will be able to have an impact on not just gas prices and the economy but pretty directly unemployment because it will result in a better economy but also more direct jobs in developing those resources." Ohio stands to specifically benefit on this front through new shale gas lines and the Marcellus and Utica shale, Mr. Portman said. He also touched on, however, the recent earthquakes in Youngstown linked to deep injection wells in the area. As a result the state has put injection permits on hold. Sen. Portman said research must be conducted on this "very serious matter." "I think we need to now do the seismic investigation and see what the situation is," he said. "I also think we shouldnt overreact because as you know there has been about a 50- or 60- year history of hydraulicfile://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  9. 9. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 9 of 14 fracking, and horizontal drilling is something that has been done successfully in the past without these problems. "So I think we need to deal with the problem in the Youngstown area in a responsible way and that means shutting down these disposal wells and doing the research." Politics Notebook: High Court Candidates Agree To Be Clean; Legislators Get Voicemail; Lawmaker Shakes Off Job Hazard Most Ohio Supreme Court candidates have agreed to sign a "clean campaign" pact proposed by the Ohio State Bar Association, the group announced Thursday. OSBA said six of the seven candidates for the three seats up for election this year agreed to "take personal responsibility for the content of advertisements or statements they or their authorized committees issue." The agreement also asks candidates "to publicly disavow ads from other sources that impugn the integrity of the judicial system or the integrity of a candidate for Supreme Court, or that erode the publics trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary by verbally or visually attempting to lead voters to believe that a candidate will decide in a predetermined manner." The three incumbents - Justice Yvette McGee Brown, Justice Robert R. Cupp and Justice Terrence ODonnell - were joined by judges Sharon Kennedy, Robert Price and Fanon Rucker in signing the agreement, OSBA announced. Former Judge William ONeill elected not to participate, saying in a statement released by the bar group, which also included comments from the other candidates, that the pledge didnt go far enough and should include the refusal of campaign contributions from "lawyers and parties who will appear before the Court." Maxine Thomas, chair of the OSBAs Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee, said of the clean campaign promise, "Credentials, judicial temperament and experience should be the focus of the races for Supreme Court. "This agreement goes a long way toward helping the candidates, and hopefully those independent committees seeking to influence the outcome of the election, to focus on credentials and experience." OSBA President Carol Seubert Marx said the groups goal is "to encourage campaigns for seats on the states highest court to focus on qualities that make candidates good judges, and that demonstrate the dignity and respect the office deserves." Legislators On Call: Ohio citizens take note: Now whenever the mood strikes, regardless of the time, you can give state lawmakers a piece of your mind - even if you have to just leave a message at the sound of the beep. The Legislative Service Commission recently installed a 24-hour answering machine voicemail service linked to the agencys toll-free number, which previously was shut down after working hours. Constituents may now leave messages for their representatives after normal work hours at 1-800-282- 0253 and leave their name, phone number, full mailing address and message so the agency can forward the information to the appropriate office. LSC staff will still answer calls made between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. "This more functional system shows our desire to build a stronger representative House," Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) said. "I am very pleased by this new feature and hope that it will help many Ohioans who, in the past, were unable to get in touch with their state representative." Hazards Of The Job: For people who think legislators have it easy: Get a grip. Just not on Sen. Thomas Patton. Not for a while at least.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  10. 10. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 10 of 14 Thats because the Strongsville Republican has developed an ailment akin to Nintendinitis, but his wrist injury doesnt stem from playing video games. He said he injured himself reaching out to constituents - literally. Sen. Patton on Wednesday was sporting a wrist brace that he said was necessary to prevent further injury from one of the rigors of his job: handshaking. The Senate majority floor leader said his case of "politicians wrist" was a small price to pay for the honor to serve Ohioans, and that the minor setback wont keep him from glad-handing in some fashion. He is working on perfecting the "fist bump" as an alternative to shaking hands, Sen. Patton said. Ohio Business: Health Care Investment Ranked; OSU, Bank Form Partnership; Casino Plans Hiring; Big Lots; AT&T Midwest healthcare companies brought in $810 million in new investments last year, covering 178 companies, according to a report released this week. According to the BioEnterprise Midwest Health Care Venture Investment Report, the 2011 totals are up 10% from the previous year but remain below the peak reached in 2007. Ohio held the second-highest investment rank in the study with $178 million. Minnesota was first at $223 million. "As in other regions of the country, overall health care venture activity has increased slightly but remains below historical highs," Baiju R. Shah, the president and CEO of the Cleveland-based BioEnterprise, said in a release. Huntington Bank: A $125 million partnership will make the Columbus-based financial institution the Ohio State Universitys official consumer bank for the next 15 years, according to an announcement issued Thursday. Under the agreement, OSU will receive $25 million from Huntington, which it will use for academic scholarships and educational programming. The bank also is committing to $100 million in dedicated community lending and investments to support economic development in Columbus University District and Near East Side. The deal includes revenue sharing, allowing additional funds for the university to invest in core academics in the future. The agreement gives Huntington exclusive access to directly offer tailored products and services to more than 600,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni. Casino Jobs: Interviews got underway this week to hire 700 people for work at the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. An invitation-only hiring event at Quicken Loans Arena began Wednesday and will continue through Friday, according to a release from Rock Gaming LLC. The casinos recruiting team plans to meet with nearly 3,300 people to select employees for security, administration, guest services, cage, retail and facility personnel, according to Rock. Horseshoe Cleveland has committed to hiring at least 90% of its workforce from northeast Ohio. For most positions, selected candidates will receive job offers at the event. Big Lots: Sales for U.S. operations in the fourth quarter of the companys 2011 fiscal year, which ended Jan. 28, totaled $1,522.9 million, which was up 7.7% from the $1,507.1 million in the final quarter of FY 2010. Comparable store sales for domestic locations open for at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year rose 3.4% in the quarter. The results exceeded predictions for increases in comparable store sales of 1-2%, Big Lots reported. "Im pleased with our fourth quarter sales results and the improving trends we have experienced throughout the year," Chairman, CEO and President Steve Fishman said. "For the all-important holidayfile://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  11. 11. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 11 of 14 selling season, we believe our strategy was very well executed and our decision to be aggressive in certain key categories was successful." AT&T: The communications company announced on Thursday that it has invested more than $1.4 billion in Ohio networks from 2009-2011 while focusing on mobile broadband coverage and overall performance. AT&T said it made more than 1,500 wireless network upgrades in key categories in 2011, including activating more than 60 new cell sites or towers, deploying faster fiber-optic connections to more than 725 sites, adding capacity or an extra layer of frequency to cell sites and updating nearly 200 cell sites for faster mobile broadband speeds. "Our goal is to deliver a network experience that mobilizes everything for customers. The ongoing investment were making in Ohio is designed to increase coverage and reliability, and to provide advanced services to our customers," said Larry Evans, vice president and general manager, AT&T Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Agency Briefs: State Extends Low-Weight Birth Initiative To SE Ohio; Medicaid Audit Lists Findings; Drug Raid Targets Circleville; DOC, EMS, OHP, CSRAB Governor John Kasichs Office of Health Transformation on Thursday announced additional funding to "coordinate care and improve health outcomes for high-risk mothers and children in southeast Ohio." The administration said it would invest $350,000 to replicate the Community Pathways Model, implemented successfully in Richland County, Cincinnati and Toledo, in the Appalachian region of Southeast Ohio. The program, which aims to reduce low-weight births in targeted populations, will be implemented through a partnership between Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children and Nationwide Childrens Hospitals Partners for Kids. "This initiative fits perfectly with the Governors objectives to improve care coordination for vulnerable Ohioans and to pay for value, not volume, in health care," OHT Director Greg Moody said in a release. "I am especially excited that the Community Pathways Model has demonstrated success in reducing low-birth-weight babies, an issue that is very important to the governor." OHT spokesman Eric Poklar said the money for the program comes from federal bonus funds granted to the state for its childrens health performance. State Auditor: Dave Yost said Thursday that a Miami County-based private duty nurse improperly charged Medicaid for unauthorized hours and owes the state more than $82,000 in returned payments and interest. Mr. Yost said the compliance audit of James T. Delver, LPN, found nearly $70,000 in payments that were deemed improper even though the nurse had been warned previously about the billings by his Medicaid case manager. "When you are told not to do something, and you do it anyway, you are abusing a privilege," Auditor Yost said in a release. "Providers are responsible for knowing which patients are subject to Medicaid rules for doctor approval and proper standards of care." The findings against Mr. Delver totaled $68,529.32 and the interest is $13,893.62, the auditor reported. Interest continues to accrue at the rate of $15.02 a day from the audits release date. The audit covered the period of July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2009, during which he received $223,133.69 in Medicaid reimbursements for 961 services, the state said. Attorney General: Mike DeWine said Thursday that a drug raid in Circleville dubbed "Operation Rollin Stone" entailed 25 arrest warrants and seven search warrants.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  12. 12. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 12 of 14 "This investigation began with the Ohio Attorney Generals Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Circleville Police Department," Mr. DeWine said in a release. "Ten months later, we have real results. Eighty percent of the drugs involved with these suspected drug dealers were prescription pain killers being sold out of peoples homes, inside their businesses, and on the streets." "We appreciate this collaborative effort, which took months but netted big results," Circleville Police Chief Wayne Gray said. "Circleville is a safer place today." Other law enforcement agencies involved in the sting were: the AGs Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, the Pickaway County Sheriffs Office and the Pickaway County Prosecutors Office. The AGs office posted details of the operation, including the homes raided and suspects charged, on its website. Department of Commerce: The agency announced Wednesday that an agreed preliminary and permanent injunction has been obtained between the Division of Securities and Wayne T. Essex and his Dayton-area companies. The injunction prohibits Mr. Essex and his companies from selling or offering to sell securities in violation of the Ohio Securities Act and without prior approval from the court. Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Wiseman signed the injunction. Attorney James Swaim was appointed by the judge to serve as receiver while working to recover Mr. Essexs business assets for distribution as approved by the court, ODC said in a release. The securities division initiated the action based on allegations Mr. Essex bilked investors who purchased $1.1 million in fraudulent investments from July 2010 to November 2011. Emergency Medical Services: Grant applications for emergency medical service agencies are now available, according to the Department of Public Safetys Division of EMS. Training for funding priorities 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 must be completed by using hard copies of applications, according to DPS. Grants for training and equipment applications (funding priority 1) may use hard copies or online. The electronic applications require all applicants to have a username and password. Users who already have a password must use their drivers license as the username. Applications are due by 5 p.m. April 2. "Many EMS agencies have taken advantage of previous grant opportunities and benefited from additional training and equipment, which allowed them to raise the level of care in their communities," Division of EMS Executive Director Jeffrey Leaming said in a release. "The resources are available, so we encourage agencies to apply." Natural Resources: ODNR is offering a chance for people to learn and ask questions at a boating education course Feb. 25. The one-day course will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the agencys headquarters, located at 2045 Morse Road, Building E. The course covers a variety of boating topics, including navigation rules of the road, safety, navigational signage and more. Nearly 14,000 Ohioans completed an approved boating safety education course last year. State law requires anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to be able to prove theyve completed an approved course. The fee for the course is $5. Highway Patrol: Maj. Paul Pride received promotion to lieutenant colonel Wednesday by Patrol Superintendent Col John Born. The promotion took place during a ceremony at the Patrols academy. Mr. Pride will transfer from his current assignment as commander of the Office of Special Operations to serve in the Office of the Superintendent. He joined the Patrol in 1989 as a member of the 118th Academy Class. He began his career with an assignment to the Marietta Post, where he received the Patrol Superintendents Citation of Merit Award in 1990.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  13. 13. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 13 of 14 Statehouse Events: Black History Month will be celebrated throughout February at the Statehouse, with a variety of events scheduled to mark the occasion. A free, historical performance will be Tuesday at noon, and special tours of the George Washington Williams Room will also take place. In addition, the 2012 Rosa Parks Childrens Art Exhibit will be on display in the Statehouse Map Room throughout the month. The exhibition will highlight colorful artwork created by elementary school students from Columbus. Living history programs will be presented each Tuesday at noon during the month in the Museum Gallery on the ground floor. Visitors will meet first-person interpreters who portray African Americans who are prominent figures in U.S. history. Each 45-minute vignette will focus on African-American history as part of Black History Month at the Statehouse. Attorney Generals Opinion No. 2012-003. Requested by Gallia County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins. SYLLABUS: Under 10A Ohio Admin. Code 4123:1-21-02(P)(3) (2010-2011 Supplement), a physician or licensed health care professional uses his education, experience, and professional judgment to determine whether a fire fighter shall be medically certified to use respiratory protection equipment. This determination is made by evaluating a fire fighters health and physical condition by means of a medical examination of the fire fighter or the fire fighters responses to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration questionnaire found in 29 C.F.R. 1910.134, Appendix C (2011). Governors Appointment Savings and Loan Association and Savings Bank Board: Robert T. Lameier of Cincinnati for a term beginning 2/1/2012 and ending 1/31/2015. Supplemental Agency Calendar Tuesday, February 7 Construction Industry Licensing Board, Division of Industrial Compliance & Labor, 6606 Tussing Road, OCILB Conference Room, Reynoldsburg, 10 a.m. (Electrical Section) Thursday, February 9 Board of Building Appeals, Ohio Department of Transportation, District Three Office, Conference Room, 906 Clark Avenue, Ashland, 8:30 a.m. Ballot Board, Senate Finance Hearing Rm., Senate Bldg., Columbus, 10:30 a.m. Supplemental Event Planner Wednesday, March 28 Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and Buckeye Association of School Administrators legislative conference reception, Capital Club, 41 S. High St., Columbus, 4:30 p.m.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012
  14. 14. Gongwer Ohio Report No. 22, 2/2/2012 Page 14 of 14 17 S. High St., Suite 630 Columbus Ohio 43215 Phone: 614−221−1992 | Fax: 614−221−7844 | Email: gongwer@gongwer-oh.com Alan Miller, President | Scott Miller, Vice President | Kent Cahlander, Editor | Marcus Roth, Rachel Buccicone, Travis Minnear Kayla Strayer, Staff Writers Click the after a bill number to create a saved search and email alert for that bill. © 2012, Gongwer News Service, Inc. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher is in violation of the federal Copyright Law (17 USC 101 et seq.) as is retransmission by facsimile or any other electronic means, including electronic mail.file://C:Usershh956kAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesConte... 2/8/2012