Just doob it: Ohio could soon double the number of medicinal marijuana dispensaries. Laura Hancock reports that the Ohio Board of Pharmacy gave the go-ahead for 70 provisional licenses for new medical marijuana dispensaries in the state Monday afternoon, including six more in Cuyahoga County. A provisional license means the business owners must build the space in compliance with state medical marijuana laws and regulations. After the buildout, the staff at the Board of Pharmacy inspects the business. If the business passes, the board gives it a certificate of operation, and the dispensary can open its doors. Supporters say the expanded number of dispensaries could help lower prices and provide access to people living in communities that don’t have them.
We are VRBO: A bill that would block local governments from restricting Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term rentals is making progress in the Ohio Statehouse. Per Andrew Tobias, House Bill 563 cleared a House committee last week after drawing opposition from townships cities and villages, including Geneva-on-the-Lake, the Ashtabula County community where Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur rents her home through Airbnb. The bill’s supporters include Airbnb itself, business groups and free-market conservative groups.
Recovery cash: The board of a new non-profit tasked with spending at least $440 million in opioid settlement money met for the first time Monday. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the 29-member OneOhio Recovery Foundation Board, set up under an agreement between state and local officials, is made up of state representatives, local government leaders, addiction treatment experts, and others from around the state. It’s too early to tell how they intend to distribute the money, or how long it will take for them to make such decisions.
Civil war: Even though Democrats could lose their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year, primaries between moderate and progressive candidates are drawing record cash, Politico reports. It cites the battle between Ohio’s Shontel Brown and Nina Turner as an example. “The outside spending has zoomed past the approximately $30 million spent in each of 2018 and 2020, much of it focused on safely blue seats, where different wings of the Democratic Party are battling to elect primary winners likely to go to Congress — and stay there for years,” the publication writes.
Immigration situation: Lansana Gottor, a 26-year-old permanent U.S. resident living in Columbus, faces deportation to Sierra Leone for unknowingly casting an illegal vote in the 2016 primary election. The news comes even though immigration priorities set by President Joe Biden to address a backlog of cases requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to focus on people deemed threats to national security, public safety or border security, writes the Dispatch’s Yilun Cheng.
Travel expenses: Ohio women living in 85 of the state’s 88 counties will have to drive 191 to 339 miles to get a legal abortion if the legislature outlaws in in the state, writes the Dispatch’s Max Filby. Ohio State University researchers found Ohio women may have to spend $198 or more to drive to the nearest abortion provider. Since non-white women have the most abortions, racial disparities in health care will increase.
The elitist: Despite making a whole brand out of bemoaning elites, Republican J.D. Vance owes his political career to them, the New York Times’ Marc Tracy writes. That’s particularly true of liberals in the publishing and Hollywood industries, which gave rise to Vance through his book-turned-film “Hillbilly Elegy,” perhaps not realizing Vance would capitalize on that newfound fame and renounce his old views to become an ardent Donald Trump supporter.
Powering down: The scandal-ridden (and suddenly premium cable TV comedy show-famous) FirstEnergy is set to bid farewell to six board members as part of a settlement related to the HB6 scandal. Laura A. Bischoff and Jessie Balmert write for the Akron Beacon Journal that Michael J. Anderson, Julia Johnson, Don Misheff, Thomas Mitchell, Christopher Pappas and Luis Reyes won’t stand for reelection at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today. The move is part of a legal agreement reached in a shareholder lawsuit accusing board members of blocking shareholders’ repeated attempts to shine some light on FirstEnergy’s political spending (which is the subject of a federal criminal investigation).
Five things we learned from the March 24 ethics disclosure of state Rep. Jason Stephens, a Lawrence County Republican who may run for Ohio House speaker for next year.
1. He earned $10,000 to $24,999 each as an agent from two insurance companies, and $1,000 to $9,999 in rental property income. His legislative income last year was $75,965, according to checkbook.ohio.gov
2. For investments, Stephens owns real estate, stock in one of his insurance companies, a mutual fund, stock in Silver Star Fuel Inc., where he is a vice president, an IRA and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
3. He received meals and beverages of over $100 last year from the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee and Ohio Insurance Agents Association, which he listed as dinners at Nosh on High in Columbus and Due Amici in downtown Columbus.
4. He has insurance and concealed carry licenses issued by the state of Ohio.
5. He received $4,218 in mileage for driving between the Ohio House and his home, $2,740 in lodging for staying in Columbus and $271 in travel expenses from the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee
On the Move
Amy Riegel has been named executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio effective June 1, according to a release. Riegel most recently served as the senior director of housing for CareSource, Ohio’s largest Medicaid managed-care plan. She succeeds Bill Faith, who is retiring from COHHIO this summer.
Megan Ryser, legislative aide to state Rep. Cindy Abrams
Straight From The Source
“Generation Now sounds like a failed 90s boy band whose members are all now spokesmen for different cryptocurrency companies.”
-John Oliver, commenting on the House Bill 6 corruption scandal, in a piece about the political power and lack of accountability electric utilities have across the U.S., at the expense of customers and the environment.
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