Race Widens for Ohio U.S. Senate Seat

 

There is a multi-candidate GOP primary battle for next years U.S. Senate nomination to replace exiting GOP U.S. Senator Rob Portman.

 

Republican State Senator Matt Dolan has announced his candidacy for the open U.S. Senate seat. 56-year-old Dolan is a member of the family who owns the Cleveland Indians. He will face former state treasurer Josh Mandel, former state GOP chair Jane Timken, author J.D. Vance and business owners Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons.

 

Democrats who are seeking their party's nomination for Portman's seat are 10-year U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of suburban Warren, and Attorney Morgan Harper, a progressive from Columbus.

 

Challenges Filed to Ohio Statehouse Maps

 

Three lawsuits have been filed in the Ohio Supreme Court over the state's four-year General Assembly redistricting maps.

 

The first lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Ohio, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, alleges the new maps violate a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2015 and failed in meeting requirements to not favor or disfavor a political party. The second lawsuit was filed by the National Redistricting Action Fund, an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The third lawsuit was filed by the Ohio Organization Collaborative, CAIR-Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council and several individuals, claiming the maps dilute the voting power of those that tend to support Democratic candidates.

 

Discovery is a major point of contention between the parties in the three law-suits tied to the maps adopted along party lines.

 

The Ohio General Assembly missed the initial deadline of September 30th for Congressional redistricting. The Redistricting Commission now has until the end of October to adopt a 10-year map with support of both minority members. Unlike the state legislative redistricting process, the Commission has no ability to pass a partisan four-year map if it lacks Democratic support. Should the Commission fail, map-making duties will return to lawmakers with a November 30th deadline. The General Assembly can then pass a 10-year map with support from three-fifths of both chambers and one-third of Democrats or a four-year map by a simple majority under stricter rules.

 

Current members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission include: House Speaker Bob Cupp, Governor Mike DeWine, State Auditor Keith Faber, Senate President Matt Huffman, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Representative Emilia Sykes and Senator Vernon Sykes.

 

Grant Program Announced to Combat Violent Crime in Ohio

 

A new program through the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program will go toward law enforcement agencies across the state. $4 million in funding will be made available to combat violent crimes. The monies can be used to create, implement or expand crime reduction initiatives.

 

Total funding of $8 million for the program was included in the state's two-year operating budget.

 

Several cities have identified gang related incidences that they believe are responsible for a lot of the violent crimes this year. The new funding will allow cities to invest more in neighborhood safety programs and the hiring of additional officers to help curb the surge in violent crimes through prevention and intervention.

 

Ohio House Anti-Vaccine Mandate Bill

 

After a failed effort to fast-track a full House Vote on HB 435, an anti-vaccine bill, Speaker Cupp announced that the bill needed more time and requested that the bill go back to committee for additional hearings. The right of individuals to decline the COVID-19 vaccine vs the right of businesses to require the vaccine as a condition of employment are at the center of debate over this legislation.

 

Most businesses and health care organizations oppose the bill that would allow public and private sector employees to seek exemptions from employer mandated coronavirus vaccines.

 

The bill includes several exemptions from employer mandates, including employees who show proof of COVID-19 antibodies, religious convictions and the showing of a risk of having a negative medical reaction to the vaccine.

 

Recent studies have shown that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective at close to 90% after two does at preventing COID-19.

 

Phase II: Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)

 

Phase II of the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program could be delayed at least 12-18 months until a new FCC broadband map is completed.

 

The $11.2 billion remaining in the second phase of the RDOF fund will not happen until the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) finalizes a more accurate and granular broadband map to guide the next round of eligibility.

 

RDOF provides an opportunity to expand access to fixed broadband and voice service to unserved homes and small businesses across rural America.

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