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House Bill 6 referendum fight heats up fast: Capitol Letter

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 9/13/2019 By Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com

Rotunda Rumblings

Going nuclear: Veterans of Ohio state issue campaigns say they’ve never seen anything like the pre-emptive fight to block a repeal of House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout bill, from making the ballot. Cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias talked to them — and those on both sides of the issue — in an effort to explain what might be going on here.

Impeachment inquiry: Over objections from Republicans including Ohioans Jim Jordan and Steve Chabot, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved procedures for investigating whether to impeach President Donald Trump, reports cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton. Chabot described the proceedings as “a charade,” while Jordan said the public would be better served if the committee probed what he called false accusations against Trump.

Take flight: Have you signed up yet for The Flyover? It’s a free weekday newsletter that highlights the important news and issues from the heartland states that will play a crucial role in the 2020 election: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Here’s how to sign up.

Covering their bases: Sherwin-Williams is looking for a new headquarters, the Cleveland-based paint manufacturer announced Thursday. The company said in a press release it’s considering “multiple potential sites” including those in Cleveland, elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, and — perhaps ominously — “several other states.” Any move wouldn’t take place until 2023.

Other job news: General Motors is considering building a new truck-engine plant in Dayton, Tom Gnau reports for the Dayton Daily News. GM spokesman Dan Flores told Gnau the new plant could open in late 2020, employing more than 100 people. GM is working with the state of Ohio on an incentives package, and the Montgomery County commission is expected to vote Tuesday on local incentives.

The verdict is in: Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor told about 500 state judges Thursday that she supports reducing the use of cash bail, which is a proposal before the judiciary. She also supports a criminal justice bill in the Ohio House that would offer more people treatment if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crime, cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock reports.

Hamming it up: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had a colorful quote Thursday about a federal judge’s to allow all 33,000 U.S. counties and cities to negotiate a mass settlement with opioid companies. Per cleveland.com’s Eric Heisig, Yost said the ruling is “fundamentally flawed because it binds people to buy a pig in a poke.”

Smoother sailing: The state review process for a planned Lake Erie wind farm off the coast of Cleveland resumed Thursday after a developer behind the project paid an outstanding $150,000 bill. Per Tobias, an administrative law judge ordered the Ohio Power Siting Board’s review to resume after the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation paid the outstanding Aug. 12 bill.

Early win: A federal judge on Thursday gave an early victory to a lawsuit seeking to force Ohio to allow people to change their gender on their birth certificate, Tobias writes. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson Judge ruled the case, filed in 2018 by the ACLU of Ohio and Lambda Legal on behalf of four transgender Ohio natives, had enough merit to proceed to trial, denying a motion from state officials seeking to dismiss it.

Waterloo: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scrapping a controversial Obama-era clean water policy that critics said would inordinately extend federal oversight over small bodies of water like ditches on private property, Eaton writes. Environmental groups including the Great Lakes Coalition said the move will jeopardize public health, while business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and Republican Politicians like Holmes County GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs praised the decision.

Schools get grades: Six of the top 10 schools in the state are from Cuyahoga County, according to Performance Index scores from the new Ohio school report cards released Thursday. They include No. 1 Solon and No. 2 Rocky River. But there’s a lot more to the report cards than the one measure. Check out Rich Exner’s database at cleveland.com to find details for each Ohio school district, the buildings within each district, and the charter schools across Ohio. Or see the Performance Index rankings, 1 to 608.

Bad driving: Concerned by reports that Amazon.com imposes unfair delivery standards on contracted drivers that create unsafe working conditions, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio on Thursday urged the company’s CEO and Chairman Jeff Bezos to “cease business with contractors that violate labor laws and to promote standards that protect its drivers and ensure public safety,” Eaton writes. Brown teamed up with fellow Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on a letter that criticized the company for “repeated disregard for workers’ rights and consumer safety.”

To the moon and back: Ohio’s U.S. senators on Thursday formally introduced legislation to rename NASA’s Plum Brook test facility near Sandusky after astronaut Neil Armstrong, an Ohio native. Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown announced their desire to rename the facility before this summer’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, where Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

The unlucky 13: The Ohio Department of Health announced Thursday afternoon that the number of likely vaping-linked lung illnesses sending people to the hospital is now 13. Additionally, public health officials are looking at whether another 14 illnesses are tied to e-cigarettes, too, Hancock reports.

Speech speech speech: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will speak at 1 p.m. today at the NAACP’s annual state convention in Toledo.

IG finding: The Ohio Inspector General’s Office announced Thursday that an agency investigation found an Ohio Department of Natural Resources employee falsified his father’s signature to bid in a state auction. The employee, Jason Love, had the winning bid, buying a motor boat for $168.16. The agency said it had referred the case to the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.

Try, try again: A former challenger to Ohio U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is challenging Democratic state Sen. Sean O’Brien. David Skolnik reports for the Warren Tribune-Chronicle that Chris DePizzo of Cuyahoga Falls has filed paperwork to run for the Trumbull County Democrat’s senate seat, which conceivably could be a pickup opportunity for Republicans in the politically shifting Mahoning Valley.

Playing favorites: A PAC chaired by Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan is backing a former state representative in an Illinois congressional primary. As Rick Pearson reports for the Chicago Tribune, the House Freedom Fund is backing former state Rep. Jeanne Ives over former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti for the Republican nomination to challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten.

CREW complaint: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Washington-D-C. based campaign-finance watchdog group, on Thursday asked the IRS to investigate a dark-money group that operated in Ohio during the 2018 election cycle. The complaint names Prosperity Alliance, which spent $475,000 attacking candidates aligned with House Speaker Larry Householder, who at the time was waging a heated battle for the speaker’s job. “The group likely violated its tax-exempt status by making politics its primary activity and also failed to properly disclose its political spending on its tax forms,” CREW wrote in a news release.

Buckeye Brain Tease

Question: Colemine Records, a Cincinnati-area soul/funk record label, recently reissued a 1968 album called “On the Rise.” The album was an outgrowth of a talent search and community building movement called Operation Step-Up, which occurred shortly after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and riots in the Queen City. The album’s singer is the mother of a former state lawmaker from Cincinnati. Name the mother and daughter.Email your response to capitolletter@cleveland.com. The first correct respondent will be mentioned in next week’s newsletter. Thanks for responding to last week’s trivia question:What literary genre was author Zane Grey of Zanesville popular for?

Last week’s answer: Western Zane Grey lived from 1872 to 1939. His first book, “Betty Zane,” drew inspiration from the stories he had heard about frontier Ohio when he was growing up, according to Ohio History Connection. He wrote 90 books over the course of his life, most of which were westerns.Capitol Letter reader Graham Lescallette, of Columbus, was the first to send in the correct answer. Thanks to everyone who submitted responses!

On The Move

The Ohio State Bar Association gave Retired Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine its highest honor, the Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence, Thursday at the Ohio Judicial Conference annual meeting in Columbus.

Birthdays

Friday, 9/13: Jim Rhodes, Ohio’s 61st and 63rd governor (1909-2001)

Saturday, 9/14: Cory Ventresca, legislative aide to state Rep. Casey Weinstein

Sunday, 9/15: State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus; ex-state Rep. Michael Ashford; Ex-President William Howard Taft (1857-1930)

Straight From The Source

”I’ve got the biggest fight of my life ahead of me."

- Longtime Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, according to WCPO. Portune, a Democrat who’s spend more than 30 years holding elected office in Cincinnati, announced Thursday the cancer he’s been fighting has spread, and said he won’t run for re-election in 2020.

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.

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