Posted Friday, February 28, 2014
A bill introduced in Ohio that drew comparison to the controversial so-called “religious freedom” bill that was vetoed in Arizona was withdrawn by its sponsors this week. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week finds that ten years after voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage, a majority of Ohioans support it. That same poll also finds overwhelming support for medical marijuana. The House and Senate have both agreed on a bill to require provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct, but right polling location – also known as “right church, wrong pew” – to be counted. Meanwhile, Democrats are fuming over a directive from Secretary of State Jon Husted setting a schedule for early voting this fall.
Schools and students will have to wait a little longer to find out how many snow days they’re going to have to make up. The lawyers got drilled by the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court this week, as they heard a case that could decide the power of state-level regulations on oil and gas drilling to supersede laws passed by local communities. And three Ohio cities are all being named as possible sites for both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2016.
Gov. John Kasich gave his fourth State of the State speech this week in Medina, and as perhaps is fitting for an election year, it was unlike any other he’s delivered. Much of Gov. John Kasich’s speech touched on inspirational themes of lifting up, looking forward and surviving tough times. Kasich reviewed what he sees as his accomplishments – his tax cuts, the shoring up of the state’s rainy day savings account, the plan to leverage the Ohio Turnpike to raise funds for infrastructure projects, help for people with disabilities, mental illness and drug addiction, and the crackdown on human trafficking. And he also brought up what will likely be a big issue for Democrats in this campaign year – JobsOhio. Kasich also outlined several proposals for this year, including lowering the state income tax, putting 35 million dollars in new tobacco settlement money into programs to help tobacco users quit, promoting vocational education, and finding more opportunities for high school students to take college courses for credit. And he announced a program to connect at-risk high school students with community, business and faith-based leaders, and suggested the legislature spend $10 million from casino licensing fees for it.
But the moment that stood out in this most unusual speech did so for one reason. And it wasn’t a political one. Kasich’s Courage Medals this year honored Amanda Berry, Gina deJesus and Michelle Knight - the women who escaped from a decade of captivity in Ariel Castro’s Cleveland home last May. It was the first time the women had been seen together publicly since their escape.
But while those Democrats lauded the Courage Award recipients, they sounded off about many of the other ideas in the State of the State address. Among those speaking out were House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus), Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown), Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor), Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville).
But Republicans Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) and Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) said they were pleased with the speech.
And also reacting to the speech was Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent this fall, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. Though FitzGerald saw the speech at a watch party in his home community of Lakewood, he recorded a series of short videos as a rebuttal to the speech earlier in the day – before anyone had seen or heard any of the speech. One of those videos focused on education, which was a big part of Kasich’s speech. Another FitzGerald video called out Kasich for the closing of the Ormet aluminum smelting plant in Hannibal along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio, which has led to hundreds of job losses.
The governor’s office says more details from ideas in the State of the State speech will be released in the budget update called the mid-biennium review, which is expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks.
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