No decision, for now, on fracking state parks in Ohio: Capitol Letter


Rotunda Rumblings

Chill on the drill: The Ohio Oil and Gas Commission has, for now at least, delayed its decision on whether to allow for oil and gas exploration at two state parks and two wildlife areas. Jake Zuckerman reports that while several commissioners signaled a gung-ho attitude toward development, questions about people’s names appearing without permission on pro-fracking public comments have dogged the commission.

Costly campaign: The campaign groups that spent for and against 2023′s original State Issue 1, the failed proposal to make it harder to the amend the state constitution, have filed their final campaign finance reports following the Aug. 8 election. As Andrew Tobias writes, the reports show that the victorious “no” side outspent Issue 1 proponents $20.1 million to $17.5 million, although “yes” groups spent more during the final two weeks before the election, and that funding for both groups overwhelmingly came from out-of-state contributors.

Fast track: A Republican state senator from Geauga County is planning a bill that would pre-empt a Nov. 7 Cleveland charter amendment that would give a citizen’s commission control over a small portion of the city’s budget. As Tobias writes, Sen. Jerry Cirino said his bill would specify that only city councils can control local city funds. He said he’s introducing it in response to concerns raised by local union leaders, and that he thinks it has adequate support to pass in time to pre-empt the November election, which would require a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate.

The Times They Are A-Changin’: Most of the current duties of the Ohio Department of Education will switch to the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) by the first week of October, according to a new document on the Ohio Department of Education’s website. The legislature made the changes, which strip the Ohio State Board of Education of most of its powers and puts them under the governor, in the two-year budget legislators passed in late June. After the initial transfer, DEW has an additional 90 days to complete the transition of powers, which ends in the first week of January. During the transition, Gov. Mike DeWine must name a director of DEW, which will be a cabinet-level position, and the Senate must confirm the appointment. Deputy directors will also be appointed and confirmed. These changes come 70 years after Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment creating an elected State Board of Education to control schools, believing education had become too politicized.

Charged again: Ohio House Rep. Bob Young is accused of placing a tracking device on a family member’s car in July, a move that authorities say violates a protection order stemming from a domestic dispute, according to an affidavit filed Monday in Barberton Municipal Court. reports that the affidavit details the latest charges against Young involving the dispute, which prompted the GOP representative to resign his seat, effective Oct. 2. He originally was charged with assaulting two family members in early July and later attempting to contact one of them, according to police reports. He was picked up earlier this month, when police say he again reached out to one of the people he was barred from contacting because of a restraining order.

Weighing a run: Former GOP state legislator and Stow municipal court clerk Kevin Coughlin, of Bath Township, on Monday confirmed that he’s weighing a run for the 13th district congressional seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron. “I am talking with all the folks you are supposed to be talking to and putting together a potential team,” said Coughlin, who is currently president of Lexington Companies, a management, communications and public policy firm. Coughlin explored seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sherrod Brown in 2012, but withdrew before the primary. Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel ended up getting 45% of the vote against Brown in the general election.

Video attack: U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a South Russell Republican who is tight with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and who sits on the House Ethics Committee, has been sucked into the feud between McCarthy and Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz. Gaetz, who is threatening to call a vote on the House floor to oust McCarthy as speaker. Gaetz posted a video on his YouTube page that attacks Joyce for accepting campaign contributions from political action committees while running audio of a Politico interview where Joyce discussed Gaetz’s efforts to undermine McCarthy. Joyce has attributed Gaetz’ anger with him to an Ethics Committee investigation of Gaetz. Joyce told Politico “the idea that somehow the speaker is responsible for his having an Ethics investigation, I can tell you is completely false.” A Joyce spokesperson declined comment on Gaetz’s video.

Rocket man: U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said on Face the Nation on Sunday he would support sending long range missiles to Ukraine. This puts Turner in company with a handful of Senate Republicans pressing President Joe Biden to send the missiles, which they say would fill a hole in Ukraine’s weaponry.

Get to the chopper: Ohio’s quality of life, manufacturing capacity, and innovation in Aerospace prompted Joby Aviation officials to pick Dayton for a production facility for “flying taxis,” The Dayton Daily News’ Sydney Dawes reports. The company promised about 2,000 jobs to help build its aircraft that it says can travel up to 200 mph, carry a pilot and four passengers, travel up to 100 mph, and make about as much noise as the breeze through the trees.

Adding to the list: The Dayton Daily News has uncovered more Ohioans who say their names were used without their knowing authorization on form letters to the state supporting fracking state parks. Ed Richter and Daniel Susco report that 10 of the 13 Miami Valley residents they reached said they “had no idea why they’re named as writing a letter of support.”

Doctor’s order: The Indiana attorney general sued a hospital system it says violated patient privacy laws after a doctor shared the story of an Ohio girl who crossed state lines to get an abortion. The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court as he again tries to take action against the doctor who publicized the story of the 10-year-old rape victim. The story became a national talking point in the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Full Disclosure

Here are five things we learned from the May 12 financial disclosure statement of state Rep. Jena Powell, an Arcanum Republican.

1. Aside from her legislative salary and several nominal sources, Powell reported rental income from a Mason, Ohio property.

2. Either she or her family does business under Outdoor Investments, Outdoor Investments 2, BHL Group, The Baron Group, Blue Ash Media, and Huntington Outdoor

3. She disclosed 28 different investments, including mutual funds, ETFs, common stock, a money market account and two retirement funds.

4. She disclosed travel reimbursements from the Young Americans for Liberty ($620.96 for airfare and lodging), Students for Life ($789.96 for airfare and lodging), Forge Leadership Network ($500), Live Action ($3,160.77 for airfare and lodging) and Standing for Freedom Center ($156.41)

5. She owed at least $1,000 at some point during the year to Guaranteed Rate (Chase Bank)


Adam Headlee, manager of state government affairs for Clean Fuels Ohio

State Sen. Mark Romanchuk

Straight From The Source

“We’re going to run this committee treating everyone like adults.”

– Rep. Adam Mathews, a Republican who replaced the recently resigned Bob Young as Pensions Committee chairman, speaking to Gongwer news service. Young has been criminally accused of assaulting two family members and pleaded not guilty.

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. Subscribe to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

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