Advocacy update August 16, 2022

Advocacy update August 16, 2022

Advocacy update August 16, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection
Inflation Reduction Act passes with historic climate provisions

President Biden is scheduled to sign landmark legislation Aug. 16 which provides incentives for climate solutions at every level: household choices on appliances and cars, agricultural practices, and business investments in green technology.  An Aug. 10 story in the Ohio Capital Journal outlines opportunities for Ohio.

Funding from the bi-partisan infrastructure bill can also be used to foster environmental justice and resilience to climate change

The City of Cincinnati, for example, is building that goal into its applications for infrastructure dollars. If you live in Cincinnati, you can help shape the new Cincinnati Green Plan in neighborhood and focus groups now under way on many topics including Education, Buildings, Food, and Mobility.  See the schedule here.

I’m working to find out how the grant programs under both the Infrastructure and Inflation Reduction Act will be developed. I want to learn about the opportunities for public input, particularly ways we can advocate for new career pipelines for hard-hit areas like Appalachian Ohio or former sites of heavy industry.  If you would like to help research this process and get the word of new opportunities out to our communities, please contact me. I’m working with faith-based groups to raise awareness and build partnerships to make sure the two laws accomplish lasting good in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development in our state.

Through the Infrastructure Act, plans are already well underway to improve broadband access across Ohio through a combination of new federal funding under the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and negotiations between the Biden Administration and providers. “Nearly 40% of American households qualify for the ACP and it could result in more than 1.4 million Ohio households gaining access to affordable broadband, lowering their monthly bill or reducing their broadband cost to zero,”writes Innovation Ohio in a July 23 report. “According to the Census Bureau, over 1.2 million Ohio households lack a dedicated high speed internet connection to the home, the majority of which are low-income. This new program from the Biden administration could go a long way toward erasing digital access gaps and extending the many benefits of broadband access to more residents, and provides an easier path for communities to serve the needs of residents than the costly buildout of government-owned networks.” This Policy Matters Ohio blog on paid apprenticeships offers another way policies under the new federal laws could promote well-paid, sustainable careers.

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes a three-year extension on the increased Affordable Care Act subsidies passed during the pandemic. This reduces the monthly cost of insurance premiums for 13 million people, and allows the federal government to start negotiating the price of expensive drugs on behalf of Medicare patients, while capping the Medicare patients’ out of pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year.  The Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits and grants will be paid for by a 15% minimum tax on large businesses, lower Medicare drug costs, and equipping the IRS to reduce tax evasion.

Documents released through bribery case connect Governor, Lieutenant Governor to First Energy on bill at heart of corruption case

Episcopalians and many other people of faith have been pleading with Ohio legislators to repeal HB 6, the 2019 energy bill that killed Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standards and instituted nuclear and coal plant subsidies at the expense of ratepayers. HB 6 passed through a $60 in bribes by First Energy, leading to a huge federal criminal case. The nuclear subsidies have been repealed, but the coal subsidies are still being paid at an annual cost of $85 million to Ohio ratepayers. HB 351 to repeal the coal subsidies is stalled in committee. The Ohio Capital Journal published a lengthy story Aug. 15 documenting many communications and meetings that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. John Husted had with First Energy executives, while then-House Speaker Larry Householder pushed the Legislature (a number of whose members’ campaigns the bribes supported) to pass HB 6.

The Ohio Capitol Journal article documents how, despite warnings from environmental groups and one of his own former staffers, DeWine appointed the First Energy-endorsed candidate Sam Randazzo to head the state’s Public Utilities Commission. First Energy later admitted paying Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe as well as $60 million to a nonprofit controlled by Householder.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and longtime community advocate. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com