Medical Marijuana on the Move; Lawmakers to Consider If "Pay to Play" is Playing Fair

Medical marijuana may be on the move among state lawmakers. Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said after session this week that he is considering a task force that would review medical pot policy in Ohio and come up with ideas on what can be done about it. Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to extend the age for people to receive foster care services to 21 from 18, and a measure allowing restaurants, child care centers, amusement parks, colleges, sports venues and other places keep epinephrine injectors on hand to treat severe allergic reactions from insect stings, food or other causes. This week brought a first committee hearing for a measure that’s been discussed before in one form or another – a proposal to ban the requirement that workers to join or pay dues to a labor organization as a condition of employment. This bill from Rep. Tom Brinkman of Mount Lookout near Cincinnati would affect only people employed by private companies, not public sector workers. An analysis of recent student test results in Ohio shows the continuing role of poverty in the scores from controversial school tests that have now been discontinued. For the first time, visitors will have to walk through metal detectors at each of the three public entrances to the Ohio Statehouse.  And deer gun season is underway in Ohio.

About half of Ohio’s more than 600 school districts are charging fees to students who want to play sports, be in the band or in the school musical or participate in other nonacademic clubs and activities. And those pay-to-participate fees, which families fork over on top of property taxes, school lunch costs, lab and book fees and other money that goes to their kids’ education, can add up. In some districts, that’s meant fewer kids in these fun, team-building but sometimes expensive programs. And in some districts, those fees can be going to plug budget shortfalls in districts’ budgets. Republican Sen. Cliff Hite has heard all about these fees – he’s a former high school football coach, and opposes the fees. He’s been holding hearings on the topic in an effort to put together some legislation dealing with pay to play fees. Damon Asbury is the director of legislative services for the Ohio School Board Association, who hears from school districts around the state about how they make the hard choice of whether to require fees or cut programs.

And this week brought the launch of the holiday season at the Statehouse with the arrival of Santa Claus at the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony.

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