Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants Ohio Supreme Court to toss redistricting suit: Capitol Letter

Sam Fried

Rotunda Rumblings Redistricting dismissal: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked the Ohio Supreme Court to toss a lawsuit filed by a national anti-gerrymandering group over the congressional redistricting maps approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine. Andrew Tobias reports that the National Democratic Redistricting […]

Rotunda Rumblings

Redistricting dismissal: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked the Ohio Supreme Court to toss a lawsuit filed by a national anti-gerrymandering group over the congressional redistricting maps approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine. Andrew Tobias reports that the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, filed the suit shortly after DeWine signed off on the maps. In his motion to dismiss the case, Yost argues the Holder-aligned group failed to construct its case correctly, and improperly sued members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission instead of the General Assembly, which approved the map.

What Omicron?: News of an emerging COVID-19 variant isn’t stopping Ohio lawmakers from once again trying to ban employer-based vaccine mandates. Laura Hancock writes that an Ohio Senate committee scheduled its first hearing this afternoon on House Bill 218, legislation that would forbid schools and employers from requiring vaccines. The House bill, which passed Nov. 18, provides broad exemptions from vaccine requirements, including health, religion and claims of natural immunity.

Vax-2-School: On the opposite end of the dealing-with-COVID-19 spectrum, the Ohio Department of Health announced the first batch of winners of the $10,000 Vax-2-School college scholarships Monday. There will be 150 recipients in all in the coming days, and five people will win $100,000, Hancock reports. The state designed the sweepstakes to encourage younger Ohioans to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Power move: The right-wing lobbying group, The Center for Christian Virtue, bought a chunk of real estate in downtown Columbus. The Columbus Dispatch’s Laura Bischoff writes that the non-profit spent $1.25 million to buy the 15,000 square-foot building at 60 E. Broad Street, which overlooks the Ohio Statehouse. It plans to ask donors to foot the bill for another $3.75 million to renovate the building. CCV’s four decades of waging the culture war includes pushing policy related to critical race theory, private school vouchers and LGBTQ issues.

Hamerchecked: More details emerged about a Lake County commissioner associated with an investigation into an attempted election breach. Cory Shaffer reports that Commissioner John Hamercheck once worked as a radio technician in the county telecommunications department until his 1995 conviction for stealing a power drill from a local hardware store, according to court records. He said at the time that he forgot to pay for the drill and cited a head injury he suffered in a 1989 helicopter crash that also happened while he was working for the county, according to court records. He was convicted of petty theft after a trial in Mentor Municipal Court, but an appeals court later threw out his conviction based on a technicality.

New fed head: Mark S. Meder, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s executive vice president of technology and operations, will become its new first vice president and COO in February. Meder will succeed Gregory L. Stefani, who is retiring, Sean McDonnell reports.

Drug store drugs: After six days of deliberation, a jury last week found CVS, Walmart and Walgreens created a public nuisance in Trumbull and Lake counties by oversupplying opioid pills. John Caniglia reports that the verdict is the nation’s first in the dispensing of prescription painkillers.

Picture this: By next May, all Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers on patrol will be wearing body cameras that automatically start recording when the troopers activate their cars’ lights and sirens. As Pelzer explains, the $15 million effort was one of the police reforms proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine following the George Floyd protests last year.

Another mandate challenge: A few weeks ago, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost challenged the parts of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate dealing with larger employers and federal contractors. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, Yost has now joined another multi-state lawsuit challenging the third part of Biden’s mandate: a requirement that health-care workers must be fully vaccinated by early January.

Keep on truckin’: To help address ongoing supply-chain disruptions, DeWine has revived a pandemic-era order allowing oversized trucks carrying up to 90,000 pounds to drive in Ohio without first getting permission, though the drivers will still have to notify the state after their trips end. As Pelzer writes, DeWine also joined other Republican governors in calling on the Biden administration to take steps they said would improve the transport and distribution of goods, from allowing 18-year-olds to drive trucks across state lines to ending the vaccine mandate.

Computer upgrade: State unemployment officials have rolled out the first part of their new computer system, replacing a system from 2004 that has created a lot of headaches during the spike in jobless claims during the pandemic. The first part of the new system, set to go live Dec. 6, is a new unemployment insurance tax filing system for employers called SOURCE (State of Ohio Unemployment Resource for Claimants and Employers). The most-anticipated upgrade to the state’s unemployment computer system – the part that the public uses to file for unemployment benefits – isn’t expected to be ready until late next year, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Don’t miss a thing: A NASA spacecraft being launched into space to collide with an asteroid as part of a planetary-defense test will include technology developed in part at Cleveland’s Glenn Research Center. As Tobias writes, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test will include flexible solar foils containing higher-efficiency solar cells with roots at the center. The craft also will test a new thruster system that was developed in part by Glenn Center researchers.

Expanding field: Max Miller, the Trump-backed candidate who announced last Friday that he plans to run for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, could face extra Republican competition in the race. As Tobias writes, Shay Hawkins, a local Republican who narrowly lost a 2020 statehouse race, is considering entering the race. Miller had announced plans last year to challenge Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in a district that grants Republicans a 14 percentage-point advantage. But under the new congressional map, the district leans slightly Democratic. Gonzalez has announced he isn’t running for re-election.

More challengers: Two more Republicans have made moves to challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur under the redrawn Toledo-based district that now leans slightly Republican. As Trevor Hubert reports for the Toledo Blade, Sen. Theresa Gavarone of Bowling Green filed federal paperwork on Monday. Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, a media personality and lawyer from Canton, filed paperwork last week. Of note, the story points out that Gesiotto and her husband closed on a $3 million home in North Canton, which is well outside the Northwest Ohio district, the day before Gesiotto filed to run. (Bowling Green is also outside the district, but it’s considerably closer than North Canton.)

Musical chairs: Clarification of Ohio’s 2022 congressional district lines has prompted new candidates to mount campaigns and old candidates to shift their attention to different districts. Listing a Sandusky address, conservative commentator Madison Gesiotto Gilbert filed Federal Election Commission paperwork last week to run as a Republican in the 9th congressional district where Toledo Democrat Marcy Kaptur is incumbent. Independent candidate Youseff Baddar of Toledo filed FEC paperwork Monday to switch to the 9th district after previously campaigning in the 5th congressional district represented by Bowling Green Republican Bob Latta. Republican Jill Eaton Simms of North Canton switched last week from running in the soon-to-be-eliminated congressional district represented by Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan to the 14th congressional district, currently held by Bainbridge Township Republican Rep. Dave Joyce.

Lobbying Lineup

Five groups lobbying on House Bill 69, a Democratic-sponsored bill that would increase Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2027. The bill, introduced Feb. 9, hasn’t had any hearings. State lobbying forms don’t require people to disclose which side of the bill they’re on.

1. Amazon Corp.

2. City of Columbus

3. Marathon Petroleum Corp. and its subsidies and affiliates

4. Ohio Farm Bureau Federation

5. Ohio Housing Council

On The Move

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has been endorsed for re-election by ex-secretary of state and former state treasurer Ken Blackwell, LaRose’s campaign announced Monday.

Ohio Sens. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, and Kenny Yuko, a Richmond Heights Democrat, are the first two recipients of the Jane B. Sheats Community Impact Award, named after the first African American woman in the U.S. to chair a county board of elections. State Rep. Kent Smith, a Euclid Democrat, created the award to recognize selfless efforts and hard work of people who give back to their communities. He said that he received the blessing from Sheats, who is now 89, and her family to name the award after her.


State Sen. Tina Maharath

Straight from the source

“The last time inflation was this high, Michael Jordan was winning championships and Michael Jackson was top of the charts.”

-Josh Mandel, Republican U.S. Senate candidate, discussing inflation on Fox News. The Consumer Price Index rose 6.2% in October, compared to October 2020 – the highest level since 1990.

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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