May Updates - written by Belinda Jones
I truly hope all of you are finding your way to continue working, order carryout and take care of your family and friends. We are certainly living in unusual times.
With so many other matters in front of us, the Ohio Primary Election was barely a blip on our minds. Even so, OPARR remains supremely focused on candidates as we will definitely experience a new group of legislators next January. OPARR's relationships with legislators is one of our biggest strengths! Click here to find the primary election results. Overall, it is safe to say in the Ohio House, candidates supported by Speaker Larry Householder pulled off a "win". If you have a candidate that you want us to follow, please let me know!
FIRST MONDAYS CALL
Before giving you other updates, I wanted to remind you that we have instituted a conference call option for the first Monday of the month at 3:30 pm. We appreciate those of you who have participated in the calls the last couple of months. Soon, this call will be available to supporters only, so be sure that you or your company are current with your OPARR dues. One of the major benefits of the call is that we get to hear updates from our member organizations! Rare is the organization of organizations! OPARR's "one voice" history continues and is a great benefit to members.
I wanted to give a loud shout-out to Brian Laurent who has come on board to manage our website and various other important matters. Brian is uniquely qualified for these tasks and we are grateful for his wisom and work. You should know that we are doing many things through our website: https://oparr.net/ Please keep checking on the website and/or communicate with Brian or me for any special questions you may have. Here is Brian's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It truly is hard to believe the massive impact Covid-19 has had on our families and businesses and our state and national economy. It is truly heartbreaking. While many of our members have been able to stay open/working, customer reaction/fears reign heavy. At the same time, there is a loud constituency who believe the Governor and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton have been too far reaching. Whatever your personal or political opinion, we are where we are and we need to keep our eye on the prize: staying healthy - personally and economically.
One of the areas that is new to many of us is the authority granted to local health departments for enforcing the Administration's orders. As mentioned previously, please let us know if you have an aggressive local health department person.
I am in regular communication with the Governor's office, the ODH, ODA and the Development Services Agency (DSA). As such, if you need any clarity, please call me directly.
Meanwhile the Ohio House has really been putting pressure on the DeWine Administration to open the state immediately. In fact, this week, the House passed a bill that included an amendment that would limit emergency powers afforded to ODH Director Amy Acton. The amendment added to SB 1 (a priority bill for the Ohio Senate) would require any health order lasting long than 14 daysto be approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The bill goes back to the Senate for concurrence. In previous interviews, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R; Medina) was "cool" to the idea of using JCARR to limit Dr. Acton's authority. Even so, the republican base is putting pressure on lawmakers to get the Governor to reopen the state. If the Senate passes the bill as is, the bill goes to Gov. DeWine who has already threatened a veto.
ODA PESTICIDE LICENSING
As you know, our pesticide applicator licensing requirements are embedded in the Ohio Revised Code. However, the statute nor the ODA licensing timeline anticipated this unprecedented time of stay-at-home orders, etc… OPARR is in regular communication with ODA on how they may handle the pesticide licensing schedule this calendar year. We have offered to be a resource and we will keep you updated on the pulse of ODA and the state as our talks continue.
While Ohioans are struggling financially, so is the state. State revenues have fallen sharply and our state, unlike the federal government, is required to have a balanced budget. In March, Gov DeWine asked all state agencies to reduce spending by 20% and called for a freeze on new hires. This past week, Gov. DeWine announced further cuts and indicated that the agency and programmatic cuts will amount to $776 million with the largest cuts coming from Medicaid and education. DeWine announced these cuts while declaring that he will avoid tapping the rainy day fund. His rationale? He believes he may need to use the rainy day fund to balance the next biennial operating budget.
A strong ODA means a strong industry so, of course, we are in communication with ODA to see how budget cuts may impact our programs. So far, so good, is what we are hearing from the Division of Plant Health. At the April meeting of the Controlling Board three items were approved at the request of ODA: one item was to pay farmers out of the Indemnity Fund for Vista Grain insolvency; another was to use 4C90 (Feed and Seed) funds to cover internal indirect costs; and finally, there was an item to increase appropriation to use additional federal money from APHIS for the ALB project.
Rest assured we will stay on top of this and keep you posted.