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Ohio House Democrats walk out on 'clean-energy' bill hearing

By Jeremy Pelzer • May 20, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Dems fightin’ words: As Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder looks for enough votes to pass House Bill 6, which would kill the state’s green-energy mandates in favor of ratepayer-funded “clean-energy credits” to power generators, House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Nino Vitale isn’t doing the speaker any favors with Democrats. As cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer writes, the five Dems on Vitale’s committee left a Wednesday hearing for more than an hour after Vitale refused them time to question a witness from TimkenSteel.

In other HB6 news: On a party-line vote, the committee adopted another round of GOP-authored changes to the bill, including language that appears to more explicitly allow coal and other fossil-fuel plants to get “clean-energy credits” if they reduce pollutants.

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Court battle begins: The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Ohio abortion providers over the “heartbeat” bill, which is supposed to go into effect July 11, cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock writes. The plaintiffs want a judge to temporarily block the law, then ultimately throw it out for being unconstitutional. Abortion opponents hope the case gets to the U.S. Supreme Court and the now more conservative court reverses Roe v. Wade.

Speaker of the ($330,000) house: Former Ohio House speaker Cliff Rosenberger bought a $330,000 house in Warren County after he resigned last year, reports Laura Bischoff of the Dayton Daily News. Rosenberger, whose relationship with the payday lending industry is the focus of an FBI investigation, reported on his financial disclosure statement that “he had no sources of income in 2018 other than the legislative post that he quit in April and less than $1,000 in interest from a bank account,” Bischoff writes.

Coming soon: Gov. Mike DeWine says he expects the state’s prisons agency to unveil a new lethal-injection method in the “next several weeks," according to Ohio Public Media’s Karen Kasler. While the governor has delayed executions on hold until the state can find a new lethal-injection cocktail, the Ohio Supreme Court this week scheduled a July 2024 execution date for Youngstown murderer Scott Group.

Payroll problems: A federal suit filed this week says that employees of a hemp manufacturing company owned by a man who promised to bring 650 jobs into Cleveland’s impoverished Glenville neighborhood have not been paid. Cleveland.com’s Eric Heisig has details of the dispute.

China tariffs: In a Wednesday conference call with reporters, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio faulted President Donald Trump for failing to “show a strategy” or work with U.S. allies like Europe, Japan and Canada as he imposes tariffs on China. Brown called tariffs “a temporary tool to get to a long term policy.” While he said that Trump “hasn’t done this in the best way,” Brown said he’s “still hopeful that it gets us to an agreement.”

Hoping for the green light: Brown also told reporters he’s pushing for a prompt vote by the full U.S. Senate on Cleveland industrialist Ed Crawford’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Brown said that he and Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman have urged Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to move forward with the nomination.

Park repairs: Portman joined a bipartisan group of Senate and House members at a Wednesday press conference to push legislation to make nearly $12 billion worth of long-delayed repairs at National Park Service facilities. Portman noted that the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has leakage in its visitor center and a bridge that’s falling apart.

Police training: Brown teamed up with Rocky River Republican U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez Wednesday to introduce a bill that would provide $15 million to train police on how to interact with individuals with mental health issues. The goal of the bill, introduced during National Police Week with endorsements from the sheriffs of Medina and Wayne counties, is to reduce deaths and injuries from incidents where mental health plays a role.

Something not to look forward to: “Lake Erie’s 2019 annual harmful algal bloom is predicted to be more severe than last year, thanks to heavy April rains,” cleveland.com’s Laura Johnston reports.

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from the May 13, 2019 ethics disclosure statement of state Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat from Mentor-on-the-Lake:

1. Besides his $65,584 legislative salary, in 2018 Rogers earned $50,000 to $99,999 for serving as executive director of the Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation.

2. In 2018, he held stock in KeyCorp, ExxonMobile, General Mills, General Motors and Procter & Gamble. Each of those companies paid him a dividend of less than $1,000 last year.

3. Besides his home, Rogers owns properties in Mentor-on-the-Lake and in nearby Concord Township. In 2018, he was paid rent from these properties totaling $11,000 to $34,998.

4. At some point last year, Rogers had more than $1,000 left to pay off on a law-school loan. Rogers earned his law degree in 2002 from Cleveland State University and a master of laws degree in 2013 from the University of Alabama School of Law.

5. The Ohio House reimbursed him $6,854 in 2018 for mileage between his home and Columbus.

On The Move

Glen Cobb is the new chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Watercraft. Cobb previously served as a deputy director for ODNR.

Yianni Varonis, a former spokesman for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in Ohio, is now working as communications director for Democratic U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, according to Agri-Pulse.

Straight From The Source

“Tax levels are simply not the be-all and end-all of business investment or prosperity. Otherwise, why would high-tax California be the home of businesses that Cleveland dreams of?”

- Zach Schiller, research director of Policy Matters Ohio, arguing in an op-ed on cleveland.com that income tax cuts have not translated to a major improvement in Ohio’s economy.

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