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On The Go: News from Greater Ohio Policy Center

November 18, 2020
Election 2020: Changes Come to the Statehouse for 134th General Assembly

Ohioans went the polls in record numbers on November 3, casting ballots not only in the presidential election, but for all 99 members of the Ohio House of Representatives and for 16 of 33 members of the Ohio Senate. 

These new lawmakers will constitute the members of the 134th Ohio General Assembly, which will take office on January 4, 2021 and will represent the people of Ohio in the state legislature for the next two years. 

In the Ohio House of Representatives, Republicans were able to defend all but one of the existing seats that they hold currently in the chamber, while expanding the map and picking-off two incumbent House Democrats and two open-seats in Northeast and Southeast Ohio, an area of the state that has turned decidedly red over the past three election cycles. 

Only one incumbent House Republican, Rep. Dave Greenspan of Cuyahoga County, lost his race for re-election. Democrats Rep. Gil Blair of Trumbull County and Rep. Randi Clites of Portage County, were also defeated in their races for re-election. 

The net-impact of the election results will see 64 Republicans in the next General Assembly in the Ohio House, an increase of three seats over the current session. 35 Democrats will serve in the next session, a decrease of 3 from the current General Assembly. 

It is expected that Rep. Robert Cupp (R-Lima) will return as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives for the next session. A leadership vote is expected to occur before the end of November in the House GOP Caucus. 

In the Ohio Senate, Republicans mirrored the results of their House counterparts, where they have been able to retain all members in open seats while picking-up one seat held by a Democrat who was seeking a second term from the Mahoning Valley in Northeastern Ohio. 

Sen. Sean O'Brien from Trumbull County was defeated in his bid for re-election, providing Republicans a current majority of 24 seats to 8 seats for Senate Democrats. One race currently remains too close to call. In Franklin County, Republican Stephanie Kunze holds a 41 vote lead over her opponent, Crystal Lett. While absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted, it is likely that the race will head to a recount given how close the race stands at the moment. Should Sen. Kunze maintain her lead and be re-elected, Senate Republicans will have the largest majority either party has held in the Senate since the current make-up of 33 Senate Districts came into force in 1967. Should Ms. Lett prevail in the campaign, the Senate will remain status-quo, with 24 Republicans and 9 Democrats. 

Senate Republicans have already elected their new leadership slate for the 134th General Assembly. Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) was elected to serve as the next President of the Ohio Senate, succeeding Sen. Larry Obhof (R-Medina) who was term limited this year. Sen. Huffman was just re-elected to his second term last week, so it is expected that he will serve as President for the next four years. 

Huffman will be joined in the Senate leadership by Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) as President Pro-Tempore, Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) as Majority Floor Leader, and Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) as Majority Whip. 

GOPC Helps Montgomery Co. Land Bank Chart its 3-Year Strategic Direction

From July through October 2020, Montgomery County Land Reutilization Corporation (the Land Bank) undertook a strategic planning process to chart its path forward for the next three years. The Land Bank is nearly a decade old and hired its first professional director almost seven years ago. Montgomery County’s Land Bank was one of the first in Ohio to handle commercial and industrial properties. It has developed a suite of programs to effectively stabilize residential neighborhoods, return properties to productive use, and generate new market opportunities throughout Montgomery County.

With increased capacity and a new cohort of board members, 2020 was an appropriate time for the Land Bank to take a step back, reflect on past successes and future goals, and chart a strategic direction for its next chapter. The Land Bank hired GOPC to assist with a planning process as a strategic planning facilitator. 

While working in collaboration with the Land Bank’s Executive Director, Mike Grauwelman, GOPC used proven methodologies, qualified personnel, and a highly responsive approach to deliver a guide for the Land Bank’s next three years. The strategic planning report included new, concise mission and vision statements reflective of why the Land Bank exists, what it does, and what it hopes to achieve in the future.

To learn more about the Land Bank and its plans for the future, visit: www.mclandbank.com

State Allocates $50 Million for Rent, Mortgage, Utility Assistance; FAQ on Program
The Greater Ohio Policy Center proudly worked with a broad coalition of nonprofit and private partners to encourage state policymakers to create an Emergency Rent Assistance program.  This has been a top policy priority for GOPC since early May 2020.
The Ohio DSA provides information on its website about the home relief grant. 
On October 23, 2020, Governor DeWine and leaders from the Ohio Senate and Ohio House announced the creation of a $50 million emergency rent, mortgage, and utility assistance program for Ohioans financially impacted by COVID.
Here is the Development Services Agency’s information about the program, including information on how to locally apply for support.  GOPC has also developed a FAQ.
Have you seen our #GOPC Threads?
Every Thursday at noon, GOPC posts a Twitter thread about a smart growth or revitalization topic. You can read our #GOPCThread on twitter or on our blog

In case you missed it, here are some our our recent threads. 
November 12: Ohio Community Spotlight on Zanesville, Ohio

November 5: Information & FAQs related to the state rental & mortgage assistance program

October 29: Spooky Streets and the threats they pose to communities across Ohio 

October 22: Ohio Community Spotlight on Ashtabula, Ohio 

October 15: Guest Thread on the CDCs eviction moratorium & the need for rent assistance programs. 
New Documentary "The Place That Makes Us" Now Available for Steaming Through NYC Film Festival
The work and team of our friends at Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) along with other Youngstown residents are featured in a documentary film titled "The Place That Makes Us" that is premiering online now through November 19 at the DOC NYC film festival. Please purchase a ticket and help spread the word. YNDC will receive a contribution from the festival based on the number of ticket sales.
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