Although school lets out in the beginning of May for the students of Ohio University, the political realm of Ohio continues to make headlines during the summer months. Here are the highlights of what happened while you were away:
1. Cleveland RNC
On July 4, members of the Republican National Committee unanimously voted for Cleveland to be the location for the 2016 Republican National Convention after beating out Dallas, Texas. Columbus is in the running for a front seat in the elections, as Democrats are considering it–along with New York and Philadelphia–for their own national convention.
Ohio is an important swing state during presidential elections–a factor that holds weight with the parties and a major reasons both parties have looked into cities in the state.
2. SB 310
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill in mid-June that freezes energy standards in Ohio for two years — the first in the nation to take such measures. The law changes numerous regulations for electric utility and service companies, including pausing energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements at 2014 levels, while creating a committee to review the costs and benefits of these measures. It also removes a requirement that says at least 50 percent of the “renewable energy resources” must be derived from within Ohio.
Proponents of the bill, including companies like FirstEnergy and Timken, said the regulations were causing companies and customers unnecessary expenses. In contrast, opponents, like the Ohio Manufacturers Association, said the measures will hurt the state’s progress.
3. Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Scandals
Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate running against incumbent John Kasich in this November’s election, was discovered at the beginning of August to have been driving without a license for 10 years. He applied for temporary learner’s permits in 2008, 2010 and 2011, and received his license in 2012, but according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “records suggest from 2002 to 2008 he had no license to drive in Ohio at all.”
4. Common Core Debate
The debate over the Common Core State Standards was re-opened this summer when a bill was introduced into the Ohio House that would prohibit schools from adopting the changes.
The Common Core State Standards went into effect at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year and involve different standardized tests and curricula. According to NPR, critics of the Common Core believe it takes away from local control and eases standards. However, the policy also has firm supporters throughout Ohio, including the Ohio House Education Committee Chair Gerald Stebelton, R-Lancaster.
The bill, HB 597, is currently in the House Rules and Reference Committee and will be reviewed in a hearing on September 4.
5. Toxic Algae Blooms
A toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie near Toledo forced the city and surrounding areas to cut water off from 400,000 people for two days at the beginning of August. These algae blooms have happened in the past and are expected to continue in the future,
The event has sparked discussion amongst politicians over regulations regarding agricultural runoff, such as fertilizer, and reopened the debate as to whether manure should be considered when enforcing these regulations. Two bills in particular have surfaced in the General Assembly: HB 611 and SB 356 both propose stricter regulations on manure application.