Federal and local COVID-19 updates

United States President Joe Biden announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement applicable to private sector employers who employ 100 or more employees on September 9, 2021. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule requiring employers of 100 or more employees to ensure all employees are either fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test result on a weekly basis. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) after the rule is finalized.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther signed an executive order requiring face masks in any indoor space accessible to the public on September 10, 2021. Buildings owned by the state or federal government or a religious entity are exempted. City Council followed by enacting an ordinance on September 13, 2021, codifying the executive order. The ordinance applies to all individuals over the age of three.

For more, read the full article.

General News

Ohio 11th and 15th congressional district special primary election results

Ohioans in the 11th and 15th congressional districts participated in special primary elections for two congressional vacancies on Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

In the 15th congressional district, which was vacated by Congressman Steve Stivers when he assumed the role of CEO for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Mike Carey, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, prevailed over a crowded ten-person field in the Republican primary that included several sitting state lawmakers. In the Democratic primary, State Rep. Allison Russo won easily. The 15th congressional district includes parts of Athens, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Hocking, Madison, Morgan, Perry, Pickaway, Ross and Vinton counties. Congressman Stivers last won reelection in the district with 63.4 percent of the vote.

The 11th congressional district Democratic primary garnered national attention, portrayed as a battle between the Democratic Party establishment and the progressive wing of the party. The race featured endorsements from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and many prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, the battle lines were much more nuanced when viewed through the lens of local party politics. Cuyahoga County Councilmember and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair, Shontel Brown, defeated former State Senator Nina Turner. The district, which includes parts of Cuyahoga and Summit counties, is heavily democratic and previously held by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge. Councilmember Brown faces Republican Laverne Gorn in the November 2, 2021 special general election.

Election Law, General News

H.B. 110 FY 2022-2023 biennium budget overview and review of first half of 2021

The Ohio General Assembly recently completed an exhaustive and comprehensive first half of 2021. The legislature tackled the state’s two-year operating budget, COVID-19 relief funding, residential broadband expansion, reforms to the Ohio Power Siting Board for wind and solar projects, and much more. Below is an overview of the major policy and funding provisions of the state’s operating budget and a brief summary of impactful standalone legislation, as well as a brief preview of lawmakers’ expected agenda in the fall. For more, read the full article

General News

Ohio House Bill 2 signed into law

Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio House Bill (H.B.) 2 into law on Monday, May 17, 2021. H.B. 2 was drafted similarly to H.B. 13 from the last general assembly. H.B. 2 creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The grant program will be housed under the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA), which is likely to become the Ohio Department of Development again under H.B. 110, the budget bill. DSA will receive and review applications for program grants and send completed applications to the Broadband Expansion Program Authority. The Authority will consist of the Director of Development Services (DSA Director) and the Director of InnovateOhio or their designees, along with three appointed members, to serve four-year terms with reappointments permitted, with the Speaker of the House, the Senate President and the Governor making one appointment each. For more, read the full article.

Ethics, General News

Ohio’s COVID-19 health order to be removed June 2

On May 12, 2021, Governor Mike DeWine addressed Ohioans regarding Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders, stating that with the vaccine as a weapon to combat COVID-19, he is confident that it is time to rescind Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders. Therefore, the Department of Health will rescind all COVID-19 related health orders on June 2, 2021, except those relating to congregate living centers and nursing homes. The delay will allow individuals to get vaccinated before the health orders are removed. For more, read the full article.  

General News

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

Did you receive the wrong absentee ballot? Here’s what you should do

The Franklin County Board of Elections announced that 49,669 voters in the county received the wrong absentee ballots. Election officials are saying that a setting on the machine that stuffs absentee ballots into mailing envelopes was mistakenly changed. The Board of Elections is still investigating the incident, but officials believe the mistake was inadvertent. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose directed the Board of Elections to mail correct ballots to voters with a letter explaining the error. Franklin County’s Elections Director Ed Leonard said new ballots will be mailed out within three days. The County Board of Elections also stated a list of affected voters will be posted on their website. For more, read the full article

Election Law
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