Tracked House Bills – July 2020

News from the Statehouse:

House Speaker Arrested, Charged with Federal Bribery and Related Offenses

On July 21, the FBI raided the home of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Later during the day, law enforcement arrested Speaker Householder and four other individuals in connection with a $60 million bribery case related to H.B. 6, legislation that subsidized Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.  Speaker Householder had returned to the House in 2016 following a stint in the early 2000s when he also served as Speaker.  His earlier departure coincided with another FBI investigation stemming from e-mails and related to funneling of campaign contributions.  No charges were ever filed in that case.

The other four individuals arrested are Neil Clark, founder of Grant Street Consultants, a prominent lobbying firm in Columbus; former Ohio Republican Party chair and consultant Matthew Borges; Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group in Columbus; and Jeffrey Longstreth, adviser to Householder.  They were released from custody afterward, with travel restrictions and prohibitions on contact with others involved in the case.  All face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Tracked Senate Bills – July 2020

COVID-19 Update:

Mask Requirements:

With COVID cases on the rise, on July 22 Governor DeWine announced that beginning on Thursday, July 23, at 6:00 p.m., a statewide mask mandate will go into effect for citizens living in all 88 Ohio counties.  All individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when:

At an indoor location that is not a residence
Outdoors, but unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members
Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, such as a taxi, a car service, or a private car used for ride-sharing.

Tracked House Bills – June 2020

Federal News:

Unemployment Numbers Improve: As reflected in numbers released Friday June 5, the U.S. economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May as some states reopened.  The   unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent from April’s number of 14.7 percent. The positive news was complicated by the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it had misclassified data in May, as it had in April and March. Without the error, the unemployment rate in April would have been higher at 19.7 percent, and May’s rate would have been 16.3 percent. 

HEROES Act: On May 15, the House approved a fifth aid bill dubbed the “HEROES Act” (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act) that would authorize additional COVID assistance totaling $3 Trillion.  The bill is now under consideration by the Senate.  It includes another round of direct cash payments to individuals, extends unemployment benefits to the end of January, adds hazard pay for front-line workers and includes aid to state and local governments. It also expands virus-testing efforts and contact tracing and treatment.  The bill also includes some changes to programs that were approved in the CARES Act, including an expansion of the IRS payment program.  In addition, the plan sets aside $3.6 billion to protect federal elections, $25 billion to support the U.S. Postal Service, $100 billion for low-income rent support, $75 billion for a homeowner assistance fund and $100 million for the Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs.  It also would expand funding for small-business loans, enhance an employee-retention tax credit program and boost worker protections.

Tracked Senate Bills – June 2020

State News:

ODJFS Employment and Training Grant: Lt. Governor Husted announced June 11 that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will receive an $8.5 million federal Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant to help reemploy individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help employers rebuild their workforces. ODJFS will work with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to facilitate the grant program through local OhioMeansJobs centers and will distribute the funding to Ohio’s local workforce areas. ODJFS will also provide outreach to employers and services to individuals who were laid off, either permanently or temporarily, as a result of the pandemic.

Tracked House Bills – May 2020

Federal News:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program Available:  The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced May 13 that Ohioans can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers than the traditional unemployment program. Those who believe they may be eligible should visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov and click the button that says “Click Here to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.” Individuals who pre-registered for the program received an email earlier this week with instructions for how to complete their applications. To read the release on PUA, click here.

Possible Future Aid:  On May 15, the House approved a fifth aid bill dubbed the “HEROES Act” (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act) that would authorize additional COVID assistance totaling $3 Trillion.  The measure is unlikely to progress, however, as it is not supported by many Republican lawmakers.  The bill includes another round of direct cash payments to individuals, extends unemployment benefits to the end of January, adds hazard pay for front-line workers and includes aid to state and local governments. It also expands virus-testing efforts and contact tracing and treatment.  The bill also includes some changes to programs that were approved in the CARES Act, including an expansion of the IRS payment program.  In addition, the plan sets aside $3.6 billion to protect federal elections, $25 billion to support the U.S. Postal Service, $100 billion for low-income rent support, $75 billion for a homeowner assistance fund and $100 million for the Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs.  It also would expand funding for small-business loans, enhance an employee-retention tax credit program and boost worker protections.