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What will Derek Merrin be like as Ohio’s new House speaker?: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

There’s something about Merrin: Many people around Capitol Square were surprised last week when Ohio House Republicans voted for state Rep. Derek Merrin to become House speaker next session. Jeremy Pelzer has more on Merrin’s background and why the selection of the Toledo-area Republican could make the GOP-dominated legislature even more conservative.

Record keeper: Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur, 76, will become the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress after winning reelection this year in a new district drawn to favor Republicans. Sabrina Eaton reports that the Toledo Democrat was first elected in 1982, about 65 years after women first began serving in Congress and at a time when more women were moving into the workforce.

Clear as mud: On Wednesday, the state – which is defending Gov. Mike DeWine’s halting $300 a week in pandemic unemployment payments in 2021 – asked the Ohio Supreme Court to clarify a decision made the day before. The court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal as moot in a case challenging DeWine’s decision, but it wasn’t clear who prevailed, as the state and an attorney representing defendants both claimed victory. The jobless Ohioans have argued that DeWine didn’t have the authority to reject the money from Congress, and the state believes the governor was legally allowed to do so.

Insurance info: Since Nov. 1, 57,660 Ohioans have selected insurance plans on HealthCare.Gov, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This number is both people renewing coverage from last year and new people selecting plans. The insurance exchange was created in the Affordable Care Act, and is available for self-employed workers and other people who don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance or government plans such as Medicare. Enrollment continues through Jan. 15, but if people want coverage starting Jan. 1, they need to enroll by Dec. 15. Last year, a record high 259,999 Ohioans enrolled in private plans through the exchange.

Moving quickly: Columbus City Council is aiming to vote next month on measures to prohibit ordinary citizens from possessing large-caliber ammunition magazines, ban “straw man” gun sales (where people legally buy guns for those who can’t), and require safe storage of firearms when minors could be in danger of accessing them, according to Cole Behrens of the Columbus Dispatch. The proposed rules come in response to a court order that the city says freezes state laws banning cities from passing their own gun-control ordinances. Several Columbus residents and gun-violence survivors spoke in favor of the gun legislation during Tuesday’s city council meeting; council members also received some written testimony from opponents.

Legal liability: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Wednesday that a physician’s employer cannot be held liable if the physician themselves cannot be held liable, per Court News Ohio. The ruling was in the case of a Montgomery County chiropractic practice where, a patient alleged, her breast implant was ruptured during a visit. The patient sued the doctor and the practice, but the case was dismissed against the doctor, who had moved to Florida, when he could not timely be served with the complaint. The court also dismissed the case against the practice, but the patient appealed the decision, which eventually made its way to the state supreme court.

Gravy train? Cincinnati city officials are looking to sell the Cincinnati Southern Railway, the nation’s only city-owned interstate railroad, to Norfolk Southern for $1.6 billion. As WCPO-TV’s Felicia Jordan reports, the money would be put into an investment fund, with annual revenue being used to maintain infrastructure. The sale of the 337-mile-long railroad can’t go through until city voters approve it (it’s likely to be on the ballot in November 2023), federal regulators clear the sale, and state law is changed to allow the money to be used for things other than paying off debts.

Holiday break: Ohio Capitol Letter will take a breather for the Thanksgiving holiday. We won’t publish a newsletter on Friday, Nov. 25, or on Monday, Nov. 28. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from the Aug. 15, 2022, financial disclosure form filed by state Rep.-elect Melanie Miller, an Ashland Republican:

1. Miller is executive director of the Ashland Pregnancy Care Center, a crisis pregnancy center.

2. Miller also serves on the board of directors for America’s Hope, the advisory board for The Salvation Army Kroc Center, the board of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, and as secretary for the Ashland County Ministerial Association.

3. Her only listed investment in 2021 was a retirement account with Charles Schwab.

4. At some point last year, she owed at least $1,000 to Union Home Mortgage, TJX Rewards credit card, Huntington Bank, American Express, PayPal, Bank of America, and BMW Bank of America.

5. Miller did not list owning any real estate (candidates are not required to list their personal residence or property used for personal recreation).


Thursday 11/24: Allen Trimble, Ohio’s 8th and 10th governor (1783-1870)

Friday 11/25: Ex-state Rep. Marlene Anielski; Sam Creech, policy adviser and project manager, InnovateOhio; Rachel Ehresman, an executive assistant in Gov. Mike DeWine’s office; Rob Richardson, 2018 Democratic nominee for state treasurer; Myers Y. Cooper, Ohio’s 51st governor (1873-1958)

Saturday 11/26: Ex-state Rep. Heather Bishoff; Ex-Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof

Sunday 11/27: Taylor Van Kirk, communications director for U.S. Senator-elect J.D. Vance’s 2022 campaign; Ex-state Sen. Joe Uecker; Dan Williamson, senior vice president, Paul Werth Associates

Monday 11/28: George Christy, legislative aide to state Rep. Brian Baldridge; Liz Connolly, Ohio Senate Republicans’ deputy chief of staff; Ex-state Rep. Jonathan Dever; Kylynne Johnson, policy and public affairs liaison, Ohio Board of Pharmacy; Christina Polesovsky, associate director of API-Ohio

Straight From The Source

“Happy Thanksgiving. No politics at the table.”

– The Capitol Letter team

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. If you do not already subscribe, you can sign up here to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

Read More: What will Derek Merrin be like as Ohio’s new House speaker?: Capitol Letter

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