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DeWine asked again to roll back state gas tax: Capitol Letter

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 4 days ago Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com
A photo of a gas station sign taken on June 22, 2022 in Westlake, Ohio. © Kris Wernowsky/cleveland.com/TNS A photo of a gas station sign taken on June 22, 2022 in Westlake, Ohio.

Rotunda Rumblings

What a gas: A spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine said the governor is considering a call from Democratic President Joe Biden for states to pause their gas taxes for three months. But as Andrew Tobias writes, DeWine has resisted recent calls from Republican lawmakers to temporarily undo a gas-tax hike he signed into law in 2019. The spokesman said the state’s gas tax, 38.5 cents a gallon for regular gas and 47 cents for diesel, is used to fund roads and bridges, and is just a fraction of the more than $5 a gallon many Ohioans are paying at the pump right now. Democrats, including DeWine’s opponent, Nan Whaley, meanwhile embraced the idea.

Missing Jordan: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Champaign County has been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, but to date, his name hasn’t surfaced in its high-profile public hearings, Sabrina Eaton writes. Members of the committee and its press spokespeople won’t say if or when Jordan’s name will come up in future hearings, though they say they’ll soon decide what to do about members of Congress like Jordan who have defied its subpoenas.

The “The”: Ohio State University now holds a registered trademark on the word “THE.” Sean McDonnell writes that the university settled a 3-year dispute with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over the use of one of the most common words in the English language. OSU originally filed for the trademark in August 2019, but it was denied, partially because fashion company Marc Jacobs was trying to trademark “the” for use on handbags and other items. In 2021 the university and clothing company agreed that both could use “THE” branded products.

Safety citation: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited TimkenSteel after a worker was killed in December having become entangled in a machine. This is the company’s third safety failure in the past five years, and OSHA has placed TimkenSteel on an enforcement program that will result in more inspections, Laura Hancock reports.

Judging the judicial nominee: Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday targeted Columbus attorney Rachel Bloomekatz’s views on gun control and youthful offenders as they questioned her qualifications to become a United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit, Eaton writes Bloomekatz, a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, founded her own law firm in Columbus and serves as an adjunct law professor at Ohio State University. President Joe Biden nominated her last month to replace retiring Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr.

Transit grant: The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $585,000 grant to help the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority improve transit services, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, announced Wednesday. The grant was part of the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program, which provides grants for planning, engineering, or financial plans to improve transit services in areas experiencing long-term economic distress.

A bitter pill: South Russell Republican Rep. Dave Joyce introduced legislation this week that would impose new criminal penalties on makers of fake pill makers. The Stop Pills That Kill Act he introduced with Colorado Republican Ken Buck would ensure that existing penalties for possessing paraphernalia used to make methamphetamine would also apply to possessing paraphernalia to make pills that contain methamphetamine, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. It also would seek a review of sentencing guidelines to increase penalties for knowingly misrepresenting fake pills that contain fentanyl as genuine medications. The deaths of two Ohio State University students who overdosed on counterfeit Adderall pills laced with fentanyl spurred the legislation.

Pink slipped: The Ohio Department of Health fired an employee who said he got in trouble after publishing a newsletter with a notice of a training program for a drug used in abortions. Another employee resigned after the incident. Ohio Capital Journal’s Jack Zuckerman interviewed the fired employee, who said human resources employees accused her of advocacy and said that the topic of abortions was contrary to the Ohio Department of Health’s mission, which she said was news to her.

Sittenfeld trial: Former Cincinnati city councilman PG Sittenfeld’s federal trial on corruption charges has begun. As Kevin Grasha and Sharon Coolidge report for the Cincinnati Enquirer, jurors heard opening arguments from federal prosecutors and Sittenfeld’s defense team on Wednesday. Prosecutors said Sittenfeld, a one-time rising star in state Democratic circles, accepted $40,000 in campaign contributions from what turned out to undercover FBI agents over 18 months in exchange for votes surrounding property in downtown Cincinnati. Sittenfeld’s lawyers, who have denied a quid pro quo, said there was nothing wrong with what he did.

Our bad: Wednesday’s Capitol Letter misstated the Ohio death row inmate whose case was before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. His name is Raymond, not Richard Twyford.

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from the March 31, 2022 financial disclosure of Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican:

1. His sources of income outside of his state salary include a dividend on stock in the Walt Disney Company and OAK Associates, disability payments from the U.S. Veterans Affairs department and a tax refund/director payments from the IRS.

2. He disclosed receiving gifts from 25 sources, including from Youngstown State University, the Cincinnati Reds, the Jewish National Fund, The Strategy Group, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Red Brick Strategies and Freedomworks.

3. He disclosed owing at least $1,000 to six sources: Capitol One Automotive Finance, American Express, Capitol One Visa, Lowes Consumer Credit, Bank of America Visa and American Honda Financial Services.

4. Organizations whose board he serves on include the Great Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America; the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 349 and the National Association of Secretaries of State.

5. He runs an inactive corporation called Frank LaRose Consulting, LLC.

On The Move

The Ohio Laborers’ District Council has endorsed Gov. Mike DeWine for re-election.

The Ohio State Association of Letter Carriers has endorsed Nan Whaley for governor.

The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) and ACTOhio, the Affiliated Construction Trades union, have endorsed Max Miller’s campaign for U.S. Congress.

Birthdays

State Rep. Sara Carruthers

Ben Cech, business development and government relations specialist at The Management council

Maureen Cocoran, Ohio Department of Medicaid Director

Keary McCarthy, executive director of the Ohio Mayors Alliance

Straight From The Source

“This has been a hobbyhorse of theirs. They are obsessed with Ohio, and they want to fund and experiment in the state.”

- An anonymous source quoted by Puck’s Theodore Schleifer describing Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman’s interest in funding Ohio’s U.S. Senate race this year. Thiel is a rising conservative megadonor who gave $15 million to J.D. Vance’s primary campaign, while Hoffman is a liberal megadonor who has taken an interest in Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan.

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. If you do not already subscribe, you can sign up here to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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