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47 ohio communities and counting are blocking recreational marijuana businesses before legal sales start
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47 Ohio communities – and counting – are blocking recreational marijuana businesses before legal sales start:

Rotunda Rumblings Piping up: Forty-seven Ohio communities – and counting – have passed moratoriums banning recreational marijuana businesses within their boundaries, Laura Hancock reports. New research out of OSU shows that most of these communities didn’t allow medical marijuana businesses, either. The recreational law that state voters passed in November sets up a process for local governments to block a business that wins a marijuana license if the community doesn’t want weed. It also sets up a referendum process for the public to veto city hall. Mask off: The first attempt by police to charge pro-Palestinian protesters under a 19th-century state law that makes it a felony to commit any crime while wearing a mask has failed. Andrew Tobias writes that a grand jury in Hamilton County on Monday ignored the felony charge filed by Xavier University police against two protesters arrested outside a university graduation venue last Saturday. Why? A spokesperson said it’s because the law requires the crime to be committed by three people wearing white masks, while the protesters were two people wearing blue masks. Attorney General Dave Yost, who floated the idea of using the little-known law last week, said he thinks prosecutors made the right decision. The two protesters still face misdemeanor trespassing charges. Lunch money: A new federal program will help provide breakfast and lunch to low-income children while they’re out of school this summer. Jeremy Pelzer writes that the Summer EBT program, which is set to launch in Ohio and 35 other states this year, offers one-time payments of $120 to lower-income families with children ages 6 to 18. The idea is to help these families buy groceries in June, July and August, when schools don’t offer free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch. Earlier this month, the Ohio Controlling Board approved more than $102 million in federal money this fiscal year alone for Summer EBT benefits, plus another $3.5 million in administrative costs that will be covered by the state government. Unfun mandates: Ohio’s U.S. Senators want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bear Ohio communities’ financial constraints in mind while deciding how they should comply with Clean Water Act-mandated improvements to infrastructure like sewage and stormwater management systems, Sabrina Eaton reports. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and JD Vance, a Cincinnati Republican, on Tuesday sent a letter asking the EPA office that oversees Ohio to “engage with communities to take a holistic approach in calculating an area’s financial capacity for CWA compliance as Ohio communities work to fulfill their unfunded federal mandate under the Act.” Contraception rights: Three Ohio Democratic Congress members held a Tuesday press conference to call on Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives to approve “Right to Contraception” legislation that they support. The legislation – which passed the House of Representatives largely along party lines in 2022 when Democrats controlled the chamber – was introduced after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that overturned its Roe v. Wade abortion precedent. It would establish a right in federal law for individuals to access contraception and related information. “Why are they not putting people over politics and doing the right thing and making sure that their constituents have the right to contraception?” asked U.S. Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron, who participated in the press conference with U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus and U.S. Rep. Greg Landsman of Cincinnati. Not enough: Sen. Brown on Tuesday responded to the Biden administration’s announcement that it is maintaining or increasing 301 tariffs on products coming from China by saying he’d like it to go further and include a ban on Chinese electric vehicles. “While tariffs are needed to level the playing field for American workers, they are not enough to stop a flood of Chinese-government-subsidized products on their own,” said a statement from Brown. “That’s why the administration must ban Chinese electric vehicles and use every possible tool to stop China’s cheating.” Free advice: Former Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich on Monday urged President Joe Biden to use surrogates to get his message to the people instead of doing it himself. “He’s not a good communicator,” Kasich told CNBC. “He’s doing very poorly … When you watch some of those interviews, it’s almost cringe worthy. I don’t like to say that about our president.” Kasich, who endorsed Biden in the last election, said the interviews end up emphasizing Biden’ age. Nursing shortage: U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a South Russell Republican who co-chairs the Congressional Nursing Caucus, recently teamed up with Michigan Democrat Haley Stevens to introduce the “Stop Nurse Shortages Act.” It would create a $10 million yearly grant program to help nursing schools create, expand or support accelerated nursing degree programs. “At a time when our country faces a nursing workforce shortage, legislators on both sides of the aisle must come together,” said a statement from Joyce. “If we don’t, America’s patient population will pay the price.” Lobbying Lineup Five organizations that are lobbying on the bipartisan-sponsored House Bill 261, which would allow emergency medical workers in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to receive benefits under special pension benefits reserved for public safety officers who don’t qualify for one of the state’s other retirement systems. The employer and employee contribution rates for this benefit are higher, which could mean more money in retirement. The bill is being considered in a House committee. 1. City of Cleveland 2. County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio 3. Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association 4. Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association 5. Ohio Department of Commerce Birthdays Brentin Ungar, legislative aide to state Rep. Jim Thomas Straight From The Source You either speak with a Trump voice or you’re vaporized. In the Democratic Party, everybody gets a voice. You don’t always get your way, but you get a voice.” Chris Gibbs, a former Shelby County Republican Party chairman who recently was elected chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, in an interview with the New York Times. The article profiles Gibbs’ political journal and his efforts to revive Democrats’ moribund political status in rural areas. Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. Subscribe to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

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