News and Analysis
Democrats File Lawsuit over Statehouse Districts
This week, statehouse Democrats filed a suit with the Ohio Supreme Court to invalidate the new district boundaries.
The lawsuit says that GOP map-makers violated Article 11 of the state constitution, which requires that legislative districts be compact and contiguous and that local units of government such as counties, townships, cities and villages not be spilt unnecessarily.
The Ohio Supreme Court acted swiftly to publish a hearing schedule before the March primary.
U.S. Manufacturing Ending the Year on a High(ish) Note
According to the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME): “Market reporting outlets from Bloomberg to the Wall Street Journal have covered the recent Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Manufacturing Report on Business that said economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November for the 28th consecutive month and the overall economy grew for the 30th month in a row.”
AME reported that the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reached the 52.7-percent mark, which represents a 1.9-percentage point hike from October’s reading of 50.8 percent, according to Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. Per AME, a reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.
Finally, AME cited the December 5 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) story, “Factory Orders Decline,” which it said offered a more mixed view of manufacturing. The WSJ led with U.S. factory orders falling a second straight month during October, suggesting that “manufacturers were having difficulty gaining ground amid a soft economy.”
One Ohio Primary, Finally
The House and Senate this week, finally, were able to get the votes necessary to pass a congressional redistricing bill that’ll stick for the next ten years. That enabled establishment of a single primary date. The primary election will be held on March 6 next year, making Ohio voters relevant in the campaign to elect the Republican opponent to President Obama.
How did the votes come together? Here’s a Statehouse view from the Plain Dealer:
“Democrats had been circulating petitions in an attempt to overturn the original congressional map with an initiative on the November 2012 ballot. But they were forced into using just volunteers to collect signatures instead of hired circulators when funding never materialized.
So what changed? For one, Republicans were ready to force Democrats to vote on the primary unification bill without the map as part of the deal–essentially daring them to be the roadblock to eliminating $15 million in costs from two primaries.
But House Democratic members were also unsure whether Ohio Democratic Party chief Chris Redfern could gather the signatures needed to force the first map to the November 2012 ballot, which helped make the decision to fold their hand easier, one lawmaker said.
“It’s to bail the Republicans out of having two primaries and to bail Chris Redfern out,” said one Democratic House member who asked to remain anonymous. “That’s what is going on today.”
See the map in this story from the Columbus Dispatch.
Manufacturers Hear Opinions about Election’s Effects
Speaking to the OMA Government Affairs Committee both as a legislator and as an OMA Connections Partner from Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) lamented the “chaotic” path our congressional redistricting has taken and predicted that it would not have been challenged by referendum had supporters not overreached so severely on Senate Bill 5. Commenting on the passage of Issue 3, the constitutional amendment to prohibit an individual insurance mandate, Senator Seitz cautioned about unintended consequences, including private workers’ compensation, that could result from the poor drafting of the amendment to Ohio’s constitution.
Matt Borges of OMA Connections Partner Roetzel & Andress told the committee that the overwhelming defeat of Issue 2 has emboldened labor groups in the Buckeye State. He speculated that the trend will have a “chilling effect” on progress in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system and other areas of public policy.
OMA General Counsel Kurt Tunnell of Bricker & Eckler highlighted the financial strains felt by local governments, which may intensify in the wake of the defeat of Issue 2. Kurt also pointed to DevelopOhio.com as a tool for tracking state economic development news, including opportunities stemming from Shale, Oil and Gas.
“The panel of trusted advisors offered informational and entertaining insights on how recent trends will impact the public policy environment as we head into the heated presidential election year,” said Jeff Fritz of DuPont. Fritz assumed leadership of the Government Affairs Committee, taking over from Caroline Ramsey of Honda of America Manufacturing. Thank you, Caroline, for your leadership of the committee over the last three years.
Click to view committee meeting materials.
Two Accountability Measures Before Congress
According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Congress will soon consider two important pieces of legislation that are intended to provide regulatory certainty and reduce costs imposed on business.
The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 3010) would improve federal policies by using sound regulatory principles, ensuring rules are supported by strong and credible evidence and inflicting the least burden possible while still achieving Congressional intent.
In addition, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527) would reduce the regulatory cost imposed on small manufacturers by closing loopholes in a 30-year old law, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, that requires agencies to thoughtfully consider the impact of their rules on small entities.
NAM urges manufacturers to send a message directly to your member of Congress. For more information, contact Rosario Palmieri, NAM Vice President, Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Policy at (202) 637-3177.
Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Projected To Outpace U.S. Average
Team Northeast Ohio (Team NEO) released its quarterly Cleveland Plus Economic Review this week with a focus on the region’s manufacturing sector. By 2015, Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing economic output is expected to outpace the national average by 10 percent. Emerging sectors such as specialty chemicals and fabricated metal manufacturing are driving the growth.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorialized on the findings and spotlighted recent investments by OMA members Republic Steel in Lorain and Chrysler in Toledo.
New Director of ODNR is a Familiar Face
Governor John Kasich appointed Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer as director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on Tuesday. OMA members had an opportunity to dialogue with Director Zehringer over the summer. ODNR is the lead agency for many of the regulations and policies impacting shale gas; its website has an abundance of information on shale gas.
Reject New Lawsuits!
The OMA and other business organizations told members of a Senate panel this week to reject Senate Bill 143, which would create a new state form of lawsuits known as qui tam actions. The legislation is supported by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as a tool to root out fraud against the government.
“While we do not condone any form of fraud against the government, the creation of a new category of whistleblower lawsuits is not the answer,” says the OMA’s Ryan Augsburger. “If the False Claims Act were to become law, new frivolous lawsuits against businesses would increase.”
Speaking on behalf of the OMA and the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice, attorney Jonathan Diesenhaus told members that a state false claims law was unnecessary since a federal provision already applies in Ohio. His presentation included a table that depicts diminished recovery for the state if the legislation were to be enacted.
After voters demolished Senate Bill 5 by resoundingly rejecting Issue 2, Statehouse attention turned to the future. While Democrats celebrated, Republicans expressed introspection.
The governor said he’d take a “deep breath” and reflect. Senate President Tom Niehaus (R – New Richmond) said his focus is to “digest the results” of the election. Speaker Bill Batchelder (R – Medina) said “we have not intention at this time of doing anything about any of those issues.”
Suggesting strategic missteps in a failure to engage citizens in the development of the bill, the speaker said, “When a fellow falls down the stairs, the next time he’ll turn on the light.”
General Assembly Acts to Revise Congressional Districts (Again)
The House Rules Committee this week convened to consider HB369, which would revise the maps of congressional districts. Republicans and Democrats appear to be making little headway in agreement on the revised congressional boundaries.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima), said in an interview with Gongwer News: “The two sides would have to come to an agreement by next week to allow enough time for presidential and congressional candidates to collect signatures ahead of the December 7 deadline to file petitions for the March primary because the bill would eliminate the June primary that Republicans created last month to buy more time to resolve the impasse (HB318).”