Daylight Savings Time
Whether you are ready to change or not, daylight saving time is right around the corner. Beginning at 2:00 a.m., clocks will move ahead an hour in the early morning of March 12. As a result of the time change, there will be more darkness in the early morning, but more evening light as well. The days will keep getting longer between now and June 21, summer solstice and the longest day of the year. Daylight saving time will last until November 5, when the clocks are turned back again. Eighteen states have passed legislation to permanently switch to daylight saving time. Most states, including Ohio, are waiting for Congressional approval. Congress attempted to pass the Sunshine Protection Act in 2021, which would have switched the entire country to permanent daylight saving time, but it failed to pass during the legislative session.
Concealed Carry Law in Ohio
Ohio is a "permitless carry" state as it pertains to handguns. Any Ohioan 21 or older who is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm can carry a concealed handgun. Ohio's constitutional carry laws only apply to handguns. It is still illegal to carry shotguns,rifles and other types of long guns without a permit. Gun owners are not required by law to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) to have a handgun on them or in their car. There is no obligation to disclose upfront that you have a handgun when police stop you, only if you are asked. You have the right to carry outside of Ohio, but you are required to adhere to the laws of the state in which you are traveling. Ohio's carry laws do not prevent businesses from prohibiting firearms within their establishments. It is still illegal to carry concealed weapons in school buildings, courthouse and other types of mandated properties.
Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 4.5% to 4.75%. Their goal is to increase the cost of credit throughout the economy and fight persistent inflation. Federal interest rates are currently at the highest rate since 2007. The federal funds rate sets what banks charge each other for overnight borrowing but it also affects consumer debt products. Stocks immediately fell after the announcement as the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 300 points; however, the market rebounded after there was optimism addressed on the progress against inflation. Markets are hopeful that the terminal rate is close to 4.75% and that the Federal Reserve will start cutting rates later this year after one more increase in March.
Gov. DeWine Delivers State of State
Governor DeWine presented his State-of-State address before a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly. The Governor's $200 billion plus proposal includes some major new spending plans. The budget calls for more money for K-12 education, college tuition assistance, local governments and water quality. He is also asking for hundreds of millions in tax incentives to assist children and boost affordable housing. The budget proposal would spend $103 billion in FY 2024 and another $99.8 billion in FY 2025. According to Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks, the administration is counting on tax receipts to rise, as well as increases in both the state sales and income taxes during the next two years. Under the Governor's plan, about $2.5 billion would go to a newly created "All Ohio Future Fund" which would provide money for large development sites, improvements to career tech education and monies toward innovation hubs around the state. Unfortunately, the Governor's proposal did not include any dollars toward broadband development. The Governor highlighted his support for a statewide Next Generation 911 system for every Ohio county. Director Murnieks presented the Governor's budget to the House Finance Committee where they will spend weeks holding budget hearings before sending the bill to the House floor for a vote. The Ohio Senate will follow a similar process, after which differences in the House and Senate versions of the budget bill will be worked out in a conference committee. The final agreed upon bill then proceeds to Governor DeWine's desk for his signature.
COVID-19 Emergencies to End
President Biden has announced an end to the two COVID-19 emergencies on May 11, 2023. Ending the national emergency and public health emergency would restructure the federal coronavirus response, and treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health which can be managed through agencies normal authorities. Lawmakers around the country have already ended elements of the emergencies, including relief money and are beginning to test the development of vaccines and treatments away from the management of the federal government. More than 1.1 million people in the United States died from COVID since 2020. Since the country has pretty much returned to normal, Congress is expected to act on calling an end to the health emergency. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently working with a panel of outside vaccine experts to propose a once-a-year shot to protect against the COVID virus.
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