Posts Authored by Rachael N. Mains

Federal Election Commission confirms three new Commissioners; Elects Chair and Vice Chair

Shana M. Broussard, Sean J. Cooksey and Allen Dickerson were sworn in as members of the Federal Election Commission, Friday, December 18, after having been nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate on December 9. On Tuesday, December 22, Broussard was elected by the Commission to serve as Chair, while Dickerson was elected as Vice Chair. The Federal Election Commission now has quorum to conduct business. The Commission lacked quorum for most of 2020. Read the press release.

Election Law, General News

Ohio Ethics Commission issues advisory opinion

On October 2, 2020, the Ohio Ethics Commission issued formal Advisory Opinion No. 2020 – 03, addressing ethics questions about public officials attending ceremonial events. The opinion states that state or local public officials or employees many not solicit, accept or use their position “to secure an invitation to an event of substantial value from any party that is doing or seeking to do business with, interested in matters before, or regulated by his or her public agency.” Officials are also prohibited from accepting compensation (outside of what is allowed by law) for performing official duties or any act in their public capacity.

However, Ohio law does not prohibit a public official or employee from attending a ceremonial event, such as the opening of a new exhibit, ground-breaking or ribbon-cutting, or other similar event, in his or her official capacity where the official or employee is performing a ceremonial or honorary function appropriate to his or her public position. The Commission provides a list of criteria to determine if an event is objectively related to the public official’s or employee’s public position.

The opinion went into effect when it was accepted by the Commission.

Ethics

Ohio Governor DeWine issues three-week statewide curfew

On November 17, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the administration is issuing a statewide curfew that takes effect on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Under the curfew, individuals are to be at home from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. The curfew lasts for 21 days. The Governor previously signaled he was considering closing in-person dining at bars and restaurants as daily case counts crept up over 8,000 per day. For a summary of the state-wide and county-specific orders, read the full article. 

General News

2020 general election update

On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, Ohioans, like the rest of the country, cast ballots in the 2020 general election. Many counties in Ohio and around the country reported record-breaking early voter turnout. Approximately 3.4 million Ohioans voted early by mail and in-person, and an estimated 311,519 absentee and provisional ballots remain outstanding. This early vote played a role in the way in which Ohio was called by most media outlets and continues to delay the results of several key Electoral College states.

Here is Bricker & Eckler’s overview of the preliminary 2020 General Election results and details on races of particular interest.

Election Law

Use of executive session does not create confidentiality

The Ohio Ethics Commission recently issued Advisory Opinion No. 2020-02 outlining prohibitions under the Ohio Ethics Law related to confidential information and executive sessions. The opinion answers whether ORC 102.03(B) prohibits a present or former public official from disclosing information discussed during executive session without appropriate authorization.

The commission found that the use of executive session does not by itself create confidentiality, but that the “application of the Ethics Laws is dependent upon the facts and circumstances of each individual situation.” Matters discussed in executive session that are expressly required to be kept confidential by federal and state laws or regulation would be considered confidential. However, documents that are “public record” and not otherwise exempt under one of the exemptions to the Public Records Act “may still be subject to public disclosure even if the public body appropriately discussed it in executive session.”

Advisory Opinion 2020-02 notes “it would be unreasonable to hold that everything discussed in an executive session is statutorily confidential, absent other provisions of state or federal law expressly making the information confidential.”

Ethics

Governor signs qualified immunity bill for COVID-19 related lawsuits

On September 14, 2020, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606, a measure that provides widespread qualified immunity to Ohio’s healthcare providers and others, including Ohio businesses, for liability related to COVID-19. The new law will become effective on December 13, 2020. H.B. 606 recognizes the difficult decisions health care providers face as they care for patients during the pandemic, and accounts for the impact of the government’s orders on non-emergency medical procedures. It also recognizes the importance of reopening Ohio’s businesses and the business community’s concerns. For a summary of H.B. 606, read the full article

General News

DeWine announces new county-specific mask requirements, general business and social distancing and industry specific orders extended

At his July 7, 2020, press conference, Governor DeWine announced that the administration is taking additional steps to curb the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. Utilizing the public health advisory alert system announced the week prior, DeWine said that the Ohio Department of Health will issue a new mask requirement for counties that reach Level 3 or higher. For more, read the full article.

General News

RestartOhio in full swing

RestartOhio, the state’s reopening plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, is in full swing, and Governor DeWine announced reopening dates for restaurants, bars, hair salons, nail salons and barber shops. In addition, the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate held session on May 6, 2020, and continue to introduce COVID-19-related legislation. Read the full article for some highlights of recent announcements.

General News

Governor DeWine outlines Responsible Restart Ohio plan

On April 27, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine outlined his administration’s plan for a phased reopening of Ohio’s economy. The plan provided protocols that apply to all businesses and industry-specific operating requirements.

(Note that at the time of publication, the authors do not have a copy of any formal Executive Orders or Ohio Department of Health Director’s Orders or associated language formally modifying the April 2 Stay at Home Order.)

Currently, Ohio is under a Stay at Home Order that allows essential businesses and operations to continue operating. The order, initially signed by Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, expires May 1, 2020. Under the updated guidelines provided during the April 27 press conference, different sectors of the economy are scheduled to resume operations, provided they follow additional protocols and guidelines as applicable to the business. For more, read the full article

General News

Governor DeWine looks to reopen Ohio amid COVID-19

On April 16, 2020, Governor DeWine began outlining his expectations for how Ohio may begin to allow nonessential businesses to resume operating when the current stay at home order expires on May 1. Governor DeWine stated he is optimistic that things can slowly reopen after May 1, but he and his team will continue to monitor the data and determine the safest date. The governor and his team have been working with a group of economic advisors, composed of currently-operating businesses, learning best practices for a safe workplace. He said that prior to lifting or easing the order, the administration will develop those guidelines and best practices so Ohio businesses can reopen and be safe for employees and customers. The governor also said that the state won’t risk having another large spike of COVID-19 cases. On April 15, 2020, Governor DeWine mentioned that he has requested the Ohio Hospital Association to work on protocols to allow some elective surgeries to begin again while keeping in mind the need of PPE for medical professionals caring for COVID-19 patients. Read the full story

General News
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