Ohio’s next biennial budget and how to advocate
Governor DeWine’s State of the State address tonight will include his budget proposals on mental health, children’s services, education, and affordable housing. Here’s a link to the recording of the Rev. Nick Bates’ webinar on how to advocate on the state budget. The passcode is @@@8Sc0j Bates, a Lutheran deacon and executive director of Hunger Network in Ohio, is a lawyer, budget expert, and leader in interfaith social justice advocacy at the Ohio Statehouse. Note – it takes a few seconds for the recording to begin.
Householder trial and the ongoing costs of HB 6 to Ohio ratepayers
The federal racketeering trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder began last week before US District Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati, but was put on hold because of bad weather and a juror’s testing positive for Covid. An excellent update Jan. 31 from the Ohio Capitol Journal says that conviction will depend on the prosecution convincing the jury that Householder performed an official act in exchange for massive bribes totaling $61 million from FirstEnergy and other utilities. The Supreme Court threw out a major public corruption conviction in a Virginia case six years ago saying that actions by the convicted official did not meet the test of being an official act. The General Assembly passed HB 6 in 2019, following dark money contributions Householder channeled to help allies get elected and to become Speaker.
The Ohio Capital Journal posts updates on this case at its public corruption link, including a story by Morgan Trau “Ohioans continue paying for House Bill 6 Scandal as Householder’s corruption trial presses on.” Trau reports the Ohio Consumer Council’s analysis that ratepayers are being billed at least $150 million a year for subsidies for two obsolete coal-fired plants. These subsidies were added to HB 6 to win the support of investor-owned utilities. Trau also cites a Jan. 17 Washington Post story on how dark money powered the passage of Ohio’s 2022 HB 507 to designate natural gas as “green energy” and allow drilling leases on state lands to bypass the usual public review needed to get a permit.
Health Policy Institute of Ohio report and Feb. 16 webinar on air pollution and health
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has just published a policy brief on Outdoor Air Pollution and Health reporting our status as the 46th worst US state for outdoor air pollution. They cite HB 6 and SB 52 as factors because these bills artificially prop up fossil fuels and hamper the expansion of renewable energy. The report cites fossil fuels as a source of the state’s high exposure to fine particulates, contributing to the state’s poor maternal and child health, rates of lung and heart cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Fine particulate exposure is especially high in Central and Western Ohio, with exposures in Hamilton County the highest.
HPIO notes research that this kind of pollution may increase risk of cognitive impairment such as dementia HPIO recommends restoring the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards, killed by HB 6. It also lists effective local policy actions, including a shout-out to Cincinnati. HPIO is giving a webinar on Outdoor Air Pollution and recommended policy changes, on Feb. 16 from 1-1:30 pm. Register here.
DACA recipients and those eligible wait as cases drag on in federal courts
The Ohio Capitol Journal published a sobering overview of the slow progress of DACA suits in federal courts, with a Supreme Court ruling unlikely before the summer of 2024. The article spotlights the pain of two 20-year old twins, both in college, who filed their applications a day apart to prevent confusion. One sister was approved, allowing her to work legally in the US. The other’s case is on hold following the decision by US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas which stopped the government from accepting new applications while lawsuits challenging the DACA program wend through the higher courts. This story will help inform your prayer and advocacy.
Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a longtime community advocate and member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org