New Ohio House bill blends ‘don’t say gay’ with restrictions on racism education: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

Gay bars: A new bill in the Ohio House copies much of Florida’s so-called “don’t-say-gay law,” prohibiting teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3, Laura Hancock reports. Additionally, House Bill 616 bars the teaching of “divisive concepts” about race in history and current events education, since another divisive concept bill is likely dead after a disastrous TV interview a sponsor gave.

Just say no: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio won’t be among the small group of Republicans voting to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the nation’s first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Sabrina Eaton writes. “I believe the job of a Supreme Court Justice is to fairly and impartially apply the law and protect our rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not to advance public policy goals by legislating from the bench,” Portman said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Smell the pork: U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown is taking credit for district project money in a $1.5 trillion spending bill that was actually secured by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Eaton reports. Shontel Brown arrived in Congress after the appropriations process ended and was unable to submit any community project funding requests for the 2022 fiscal year. Her office says her vote for the overall bill helped secure the money. A spokesperson for her Democratic congressional primary rival, Nina Turner, countered that Shontel Brown “secured ZERO dollars.”

Mind meld: Republicans JD Vance and Josh Mandel have similar themes in new campaign ads for their respective U.S. Senate campaigns. Vance’s ad, called “Are You A Racist?” says it’s not racist to support building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, no matter what “they” in the media say. And in his ad, Mandel references his time as a U.S. Marine while saying it’s not racist to oppose critical race theory.

TV Time: Morgan Harper, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, also has launched the first ad of her campaign, which she says is backed with a “six figure” ad buy. The ad starts with details about Harper’s personal and professional background, and emphasizes her support for Medicare for All, a federal $15 minimum wage and expanding the U.S. Supreme Court.

Familiar face: Steve Dettelbach, the former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and 2018 Democratic attorney general candidate, is reportedly in the running for a top job in the Biden Administration. Per Politico’s Laura Barron Lopez and Christopher Cadelago, Dettelbach is getting “serious consideration” to lead the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mr. Bill: The Ohio Redistricting Commission received its final invoice from one of the two outside mapmakers the commission hired to draw maps that Republicans eventually abandoned. Michael McDonald, the University of Florida political scientist nominated by Democrats, billed the state for just more than $40,000, and reported working 13.5 to 17 hours, at a $450 hourly rate, in each of the four days he spent in Ohio developing the maps.

Caliber of the candidates: Even though Gov. Mike DeWine has signed “stand your ground” and permitless conceal-carry bills, the Buckeye Firearms Association isn’t endorsing the Greene County Republican in the 2022 primary as it did ahead of the 2018 primary. The gun-rights group gave DeWine a “B” rating this year, compared to the “A” grade he got in 2018. Buckeye Firearms didn’t endorse anyone in this year’s GOP primary, though ex-U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and ex-state Rep. Ron Hood each received an “A” grade (Columbus-area farmer Joe Blystone didn’t submit a survey). Democratic gubernatorial candidates John Cranley and Nan Whaley, meanwhile, each received an “F.” Among U.S. Senate candidates, Republicans Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken and JD Vance each received an A grade; GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan got a “C.”

Waiting for the plan: Tuesday was the deadline for FirstEnergy to send the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission its analysis about how it intends to calculate and issue customer refunds – including interest – for improperly accounting for part of the roughly $71 million used to lobby for the scandal-drenched House Bill 6, according to a FERC audit issued in February. But under FERC regulations, that analysis won’t be made public, according to FERC spokeswoman Mary O’Driscoll. Rather, the FERC will review the analysis and issue a refund report, which will be public. “The goal is to have the matter resolved and compliance implemented in six months,” O’Driscoll stated in an email.

Know your redistricting case: A federal three-judge panel has scheduled a court hearing on Monday at 9 a.m. to get an update on the ongoing Ohio federal redistricting case. At the hearing, the judges will deal with a request from a group of Youngstown voters who are trying to block Ohio from using the state legislative and congressional maps until the court deals with their racial gerrymandering lawsuit. Meanwhile, voting already has started. The type of hearing the judges set is typically set any time a party requests court intervention through what’s called a temporary restraining order.

Lobbying Lineup

Five groups lobbying on House Bill 420, which would prohibit nurses, doctors, psychologists and other health care professionals from “engaging in” conversion therapy with minors. Conversion therapy attempts to make gay people straight and isn’t supported by the American Psychological Association. Lobbyists don’t have to indicate whether they’re for or against a bill.

1. Ohio Counseling Association

2. University Hospitals Health System

3. Kettering Health

4. Mount Carmel Health System

5. State Medical Board of Ohio


Erin Glossop, senior legislative aide to state Sen. Nickie Antonio

Scott Ryan, Ohio Third Frontier executive director and former state lawmaker

Alaina Shearer, 2020 and 2022 Democratic congressional candidate

Straight From The Source

“We are preparing students for jobs that we don’t know about yet. We are preparing students for jobs that do not even exist.”

-Dr. Jane Wood, president of the private, Mennonite Bluffton University in Northwest Ohio, talking to lawmakers about House Bill 514. The legislation would offer loans and grants to keep college students in Ohio. A lawmaker asked Wood whether students studying liberal arts should be included in the program, and she responded with examples of students with liberal arts backgrounds going into new and emerging fields, such as advertising technology.

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