Calfee Report on Ohio Government: Your Monthly Update from the Statehouse
Redistricting reform proposal included on November ballot
After failing to collect the required valid signatures in their first effort, Secretary of State Jon Husted certified that the Voters First supplemental submission included enough signatures to qualify its redistricting reform amendment for the November ballot. In total, the group collected 406,514 signatures – more than the 385,253 needed to qualify for the ballot.
The Voters First amendment would create a 12-member citizens’ commission responsible for drawing new congressional and state legislative district lines. It would comprise an equal number of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters. New lines would be drawn in 2014 and after every decennial census. Among the effort’s supporters is We Are Ohio, the group formed last year to repeal Senate Bill 5’s collective bargaining reform measures.
The amendment has drawn fire from Republicans, including Husted himself. Protect Your Vote Ohio, the group formed to fight the amendment, released a statement saying that the amendment creates a citizen commission that is unaccountable to taxpayers and their elected representatives, has “unusual and arbitrary eligibility rules” and permanently installs an untested process into the state Constitution. Supporters of the amendment responded that Protect Your Vote Ohio simply represents the interests whose grip on power would be loosened with passage of the amendment.
The Voters First amendment is one of two issues that will appear on the November 6 ballot. Efforts such as those to legalize medical marijuana, secure funding for clean energy and to ban dog auctions failed to turn in any signatures by the deadline for this fall’s ballot. The other issue facing voters is the question of whether Ohio should hold a constitutional convention to revise the Ohio Constitution. The issue is required to appear on the ballot every 20 years.
State Superintendent Heffner resigns
Following an Ohio Inspector General report citing ethics law violations, Stan Heffner resigned from his position as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The investigation found that Heffner had subverted state government operations by promoting legislation benefiting a private corporation that had made him a lucrative job offer and by requiring Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff to perform “substantial” work on state time in support of his job transfer. Heffner gave testimony before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee during last year’s biennial budget debate in support of funding and provisions designed to increase the amount of competency testing of teachers in Ohio’s educational system, which could have potentially resulted in increased revenue to the corporation seeking to hire Heffner.
While Heffner originally stated his intention to stay on in his position, he soon thereafter submitted a letter to the State Board of Education announcing his retirement effective Friday, August 10. Deputy Superintendent Michael Sawyers will take over as interim state superintendent until the board identifies a permanent replacement. State Board President Debe Terhar said, regarding the timeline for the search for Heffner’s replacement, “There are so many things right now on our plate with education in Ohio that we need to take a measured approach to our search for superintendent. It should not be a rushed search. Whatever time it takes, it takes. If it takes a year, it takes a year.” The board plans to meet in a special session on August 20 to regroup and discuss next steps.
First casino tax money flows to local governments
During the second quarter of the this year, the first in which two of the state’s new casinos were open, $19.76 million was collected from the 33 percent tax on casino revenue. Most of the casino tax money goes to local governments and schools, based on a formula set in the 2009 voter-approved constitutional amendment authorizing construction of four casinos. The state is required to distribute the money within a month of each quarter’s closing, except for school district distributions, which happen twice per year, in January and August.
Per the Constitution, 51 percent of the taxes collected go to county governments in proportion to their population. For the second quarter, that adds up to about $10 million. Counties containing a city with a population of 80,000 or more must split the money with that municipal government. School districts get 34 percent of the revenue, which tallies to $6.7 million for the quarter. Casino host cities receive 5 percent of collections. Cleveland will get $648,431.33 for the second quarter, while Toledo will get $339,575.30. The Casino Control Commission, the Ohio State Racing Commission and funds established for law enforcement training and gambling addiction also receive part of the revenues.
The Ohio Lottery Commission also reported that FY 2012 was a record year, with traditional sales reaching $2.73 billion, a figure that does not include sales at video lottery terminals, the first of which went live in early June. The Lottery Commission said on its website that sales were $133 million higher than FY 2011’s, and enabled a $771 million transfer to the Lottery Profits Education Fund.
For more information, including Legislator contacts and Committee schedule, visit: www.legislature.state.oh.us
Peter J. Comodeca advises and guides clients on matters of federal government contract and agency regulations while also serving as chair of the firm’s Construction practice group. He offers in-depth analysis with respect to dispute resolution of such matters, one example being the representation of a contractor with regard to construction renovations of the United States Supreme Court building. Pete has successfully filed and defended bid protests in Ohio and before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and he has represented clients in numerous matters involving United States export and import law.
Pete regularly assists clients in federal customs matters related to import classification and export compliance regarding licensing and ITAR issues. He also represents clients in regulatory matters before federal administrative law judges regarding FAA, CBP, and labor matters.
Pete serves as a trustee for the Bay Village Foundation and is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section and the National Contract Management Association. He speaks and writes regularly on federal government and construction matters. He has degrees from the United States Military Academy, Harvard Law School and The Judge Advocate General’s School.
The Government Relations Team
Calfee’s comprehensive Government team consists of lobbyists who are also attorneys that have held top positions in government and business. From a former President of the Ohio Senate, member of Congress, Mayor of Cincinnati, and Director of the Ohio EPA, our collective backgrounds enable us to help clients communicate and work effectively with all levels of government – on both sides of the political aisle.
This alert is provided by Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP for education and information purposes only. This alert is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects. The resolution of legal issues depends upon the specific facts of a particular situation and the laws involved. This alert may be considered advertising under applicable laws.