State News

Jan 31, 2023 | Advocacy

Jennifer Price
President & CEO, OEDA 

The start of the 135th General Assembly was marked with uncertainty and turmoil after Rep. Jason Stephens secured the Ohio House speakership after a single vote, toppling Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Twp.).  Though Rep. Stephens was immediately sworn in by former speaker Bob Cupp, Stephens’ authority and power being questioned after the election created major divides among House Republicans.

Rep. Stephens secured the post by gaining more support from Democrats than his own party.  Stephens received support from 54 members; 32 of them being Democrats and only 22 being Republicans.  Though Stephens ultimately won the speakership; Rep. Derek Merrin had significantly more support within his own party.  Merrin was backed by 43 Republicans and was also tentatively chosen for the job by caucus members shortly after the general election. 

Nearly a month later, the majority caucus remains divided with Merrin telling the press the “House isn’t functioning well right now,” in reference to the fallout over the speaker vote.  The interest in the drama playing out in the Ohio House is heightened because of the uncertainty and its potential impact on key pieces of legislation.  A majority of the GOP legislators elected Merrin as the official leader of the House Republican Caucus, a post usually held by the Speaker.  Merrin will also control the caucus’ campaign arm, putting him in control of campaign spending rather than Speaker Stephens. 

What all this means to the legislative process remains to be seen. With Governor DeWine set to release his FY 2024-2025 on January 31, the House majority caucus will need to come together very soon.  Normally the House would take up the budget bill immediately after the Governor releases his “blue book.”  The bill cannot move to the Senate until the House passes the legislation.  Under the Ohio Constitution, the General Assembly must complete its work and the governor must sign the budget bill before midnight on June 30.

Louis Dreyfus Company Announces Record Breaking Project in Wyandot County

Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, announced plans for its state-of-the-art soybean processing facility to be located in Wyandot County, Ohio.  The project will bolster the region’s economic growth in the critical food and agriculture sector.  LDC’s facility will be located just outside of the City of Upper Sandusky; it’s first location in the State of Ohio.

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Mapping a Pathway to Successfully Access New All Ohio Future Fund Opportunities

The Ohio General Assembly, in its budget bill (HB33) approved July 3, 2023, authorized up to $750 million in state budget resources to the All Ohio Future Fund (R.C. 126.62). The fund is to be used for infrastructure to compete for — and win – more sizeable economic development projects such as the Amazon, Honda-LG, and Intel megaprojects that Ohio landed in recent years.

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Wilmington DRIVE Program Makes Strategic Acquisition

The Wilmington DRIVE (Downtown Revitalization Investment Vibrancy Effort) Program, adopted a year ago, with the goal of enhancing and accelerating Wilmington’s downtown revitalization and encouraging creative mix-use development, made its first strategic acquisition, closing on the Masonic Lodge Site (28 W. Main St.) on September 29, 2023.

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