Ohio’s draft plan for reopening schools

By Jeremy Pelzer - cleveland.com

Rumblings from inside the rotunda at 1 Capitol Square in Columbus:

Back to school: A draft Ohio plan for schools to re-open this fall while still dealing with coronavirus envisions requiring teachers and students to wear masks and limiting classroom sizes, among other extensive safety provisions, cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias reports. Tobias obtained the draft plan, developed by state officials and education groups, that detail state re-opening guidelines, with most decisions left up to local school districts.

It’s my party: A newly-released study of how often members of Congress work across party lines on legislation rated Ohio Republican Rob Portman as the fourth most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate during 2019, and Champaign County GOP Rep. Jim Jordan fourth from the bottom of the 437 House of Representatives members it examined, cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton writes.

Jim Jordan: Jordan didn’t ask a single question of the online panel of health care experts assembled to testify at Wednesday’s debut meeting of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Eaton reports, instead spending his time criticizing the committee.

Viral mindfulness: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is bringing his mindfulness message to the coronavirus pandemic, encouraging those stuck at home to start meditating or doing breathing exercises five minutes each day to reduce anxiety, writes A.B. Stoddard of RealClearPolitics. “Suffering comes from the level of certainty you want to have and that really doesn’t exist,” Ryan told the publication. “It moves the ground you think you’re standing on and it’s amplified because it’s hitting everyone at the same time.”

Going the distance: Ohio House Democrats, not convinced that a new configuration of seating for Wednesday’s session kept them at least 6-feet apart from their colleagues, complained about the setup — especially since most GOP members chose not to wear face masks. State Rep. Tavia Galonski of Akron filed an online complaint with Franklin County Public Health. At the end of session, state Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland asked Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to share with the members why he made the changes. “Alright, very good,” Householder responded. Later he defended the new setup. Masks aren’t a requirement, he said. In sessions before Wednesday, dozens of members were in committee rooms and he is concerned about technology issues. “It was good to have everyone here. And I think it was really safe here.”

Two paths: Ex-Gov. John Kasich, in a USA Today op-ed, urged the U.S. to “look abroad” for hints about how to safely reopen amid the coronavirus crisis. The piece, co-written by ex-Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire, mentions ideas such as time periods between loosening social distancing measures and reopening sectors of the economy first that have a low outbreak risk. The two former governors also said the federal government should provide more support to the states, including money to increase contact tracing.

Betting windows: Ohio’s casino and racino industry, shuttered since mid-March, is down $229 million over where revenue was through the first four months last year, Exner reports. This is the money kept by the 11 casinos and racinos after paying out winnings. So a different way to look at things is that customers are now up $229 million over the same point last year.

Target acquired: The Ohio Democratic Party is out with digital ads targeting five GOP incumbents up for re-election, criticizing them for their vote to limit Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s ability to issue lasting state orders. Facebook ads will appear in the districts for state Reps. Tom Brinkman, Haraz Ghanbari, Kris Jordan, Laura Lanese and D.J. Swearingen.

Super duper: Kate Schroder, the Democrat challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot in Cincinnati, is getting a boost from former South Bend, Indiana Mayor and presidential aspirant Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg’s Super PAC, Win the Era, which is focused on supporting younger politicians, backed Schroder in its first round of endorsements.

Last call: Chief Justice O’Connor announced Wednesday that bar exams for recent law school graduates will be delayed until Sept. 9-10 due to public health concerns surrounding COVID 19. The previous dates were July 28-29. Cleveland.com’s Robert Higgs has the story.

Doing their part: With state tax revenue plummeting and big budget cuts coming, Ohio’s statewide officials are voluntarily finding ways to trim spending in their offices. The Columbus Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow reports spending cuts of $4.6 from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, $426,000 from Treasurer Robert Sprague’s office, and $144,600 from Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office. State Auditor Keith Faber is still working with state budget officials to make cuts.

By Jeremy Pelzer


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