Davidson Confirmed as Next NTIA Chief


Alan Davidson has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). One of his first responsibilities will be to oversee the process of distributing $48.2 billion of the $65 billion that Congress recently allocated for broadband as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Davidson was approved by a vote of 60-31, making him the first permanent head of the agency since May 2019.


The NTIA has begun establishing rules for several grant programs which will be funded through these broadband allocations.


Now with leadership in place for both NTIA with Davidson and the FCC with Jessica Rosenworcel, we can expect a close broadband relationship of working together to close the digital divide over the next few years.


Ohio State Receives $3 Million Grant to Boost Broadband Jobs


Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT), has announced that the State of Ohio has awarded The Ohio State University a $3 million grant from federal Cares Act funding to develop a broadband and 5G workforce curriculum. The $3 million will go to OSU along with a nonprofit telecommunications partner to be selected by the university in the near future.


Broadband expansion has become a priority of Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted. In the last year and a half, Ohio has pledged close to $1.5 billion in state and federal dollars to expand internet access throughout the state.


Ohio State will work with the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, BroadbandOhio, Ohio Department of Higher Education,and other partners around the state to develop a curriculum to prepare students for careers in the broadband industry. The newly developed curriculum is expected to be available to all higher education institutions in Ohio for their individual programs by the 2022-2023 school year.


Ohio Gubernatorial Candidates Announce Running Mates


Two former Democratic mayors seeking the governor's office in this year's election have announced their running mates to join the ticket as a candidate for Lt. Governor.


Dayton's Nan Whaley has tapped Cuyahoga County Council Vice President Cheryl Stephens. Cincinnati's John Cranley selected Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) as his running mate.


Ms. Stephens is CEO of the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation. Prior to that position, she served as the Mayor of Cleveland Heights. She has a masters degree in public education from the University of Dayton. Senator Fedor is a veteran lawmaker, serving two decades in the General Assembly. She served in both the U.S. Air Force and the Ohio Air National Guard.


On the Republican side, former Congressman Jim Renacci and Joe Blystone, a businessman and farmer have announced their bids for governor, joining a primary against current Governor Mike DeWine and running mate Lt. Governor Jon Husted. Renacci has chosen Joe Knopp, a Christian film producer from Springboro, Ohio as his running mate. Joe Blystone has picked Jeremiah Workman, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps from Richmond, Ohio.


Ohio's primary election date is May 3, 2022.


Ohio Supreme Court Sends Redistricting Maps Back to the Drawing Board


It's back to the drawing board for Ohio's Redistricting Commission and the General Assembly. Two days after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state's legislative maps, they did the same thing with the newly drawn Congressional map. In 4-3 decisions, four justices ruled that the maps heavily favored Republicans and violated gerrymandering prohibitions in the Ohio Constitution.


The state legislative maps go back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission with a 10-day response period to adopt new districts. The Congressional map goes back to the General Assembly with a 30-day deadline to redraw the districts.


Governor DeWine Signs Sports Gambling Bill into Law


Sports gambling is now legal in the State of Ohio. Governor DeWine signed HB 29 into law which permits casinos, sports teams, stadium, bars and restaurants to apply for gambling licenses. Cell phone apps that offer sports betting will also be legal. The Ohio Casino Control Commission, which will regulate gambling in Ohio, will permit betters to place wages on professional, college and esports (multi-player video games). The projected start date is January 1, 2023.


The Ohio Legislative Service Commission estimated that spots gambling will produce more than $3.35 billion in revenue per year by the end of the decade. A 10 percent tax on net revenue will be implemented with approximately 98 per cent of that going toward funding public and private K-12 education and the remaining 2 percent going toward gambling trouble assistance.


Biden Administration to Giveaway N95 Masks


As the COVID Omicron variant surges, President Biden has announced that his administration will distribute free N95 masks to pharmacies and health care centers across the United States.The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its mask guidance and announced that cloth masks do not offer as much protection as surgical masks against the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The non-surgical N95 masks are sourced from the governments strategic national stockpile.


The Administration has also begun a program to distribute free at-home COVID tests which can be requested through the website - https://covidtests.gov.

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