Reviewing Some Of 2016's Biggest Issues That Remain Unresolved
2016 was a tough year for Gov. John Kasich, who spent the first four months of it running for president before becoming the last candidate to drop out in May. And state lawmakers were mostly absent from the Statehouse for the year, since the entire Ohio House and half the Senate was on the ballot. So they came back and wrapped up the 131st General Assembly a few weeks ago, with a marathon lame duck session that saw dozens of bills pass among the more than a thousand measures that were proposed in the last two years. One of those that was approved dealt with the unemployment compensation fund, which is how the state pays benefits to jobless workers. In September, two experts in this area talked about the plan as it stood then, and about what they wanted to see for a final solution. Greg Lawson is a policy analyst for the conservative Buckeye Institute, which describes itself as a free-market think tank. Amy Hanauer is the executive director of the progressive leaning research group Policy Matters Ohio.
Another controversial piece of legislation that passed expands the rights of concealed carry weapon permit holders to bring their guns into what supporters called “victim zones” – most notably, daycares and college campuses. In February, two experts shared their thoughts. Gerard Valentino is a co-founder of the Buckeye Firearms Association. Jennifer Thorne is the executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
One issue that remained unresolved at the end of 2016 is the battle between the Ohio Department of Education and the state’s largest online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, better known as ECOT. Since early this year, ODE has tried to perform an attendance audit to gauge how much instruction time each of ECOT’s estimated 15,000 students has received. Just days before the audit was set to begin, ECOT filed a lawsuit against ODE, claiming the state’s new audit standards were in violation of its longstanding contract with ODE. In August, Andy Chow sat down with Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat of Boardman, and Neil Clark, longtime lobbyist and consultant for ECOT.
And finally, 2016 was the year that Ohio joined the list of states that permits medical marijuana. But it’s been a very slow start since the law took effect on September 8. Some communities were taking advantage by passing measures to ban medical marijuana businesses – and to welcome them, as happened in one central Ohio community. In August, Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reported on that.