Over the line: A top Ohio gambling regulator this week threatened to ban anyone who threatens athletes for ruining their bets after the University of Dayton’s men’s basketball coach complained about the recent legalization of sports betting earlier this week. As Andrew Tobias reports, Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler during a commission meeting this week invoked the commission’s broad authority to ban people found to act to the detriment of the state’s gambling program. He was reacting to comments from University of Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant, who following a game earlier this week complained about the effects of newly legal sports betting, and suggested members of his team were threatened for losing the game.
The next witness: Two men who pleaded guilty to participating in a massive public corruption scheme that has ensnared Ohio’s former House speaker will testify against him at a trial set to begin on Monday. Jake Zuckerman reports that Jeff Longstreth, former adviser and strategist for ex-Speaker Larry Householder, and Juan Cespedes, a former lobbyist, are among the witnesses prosecutors will call in Householder’s trial. Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges are on trial for their roles in a cash-for-legislation scandal that prosecutors have called the biggest public corruption scheme in state history.
Gas gauge: With gas-tax revenues expected to plummet in the coming decades thanks to more fuel-efficient vehicles, the Ohio Department of Transportation is studying what to do about the problem in the long term. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, three of the top options being considered include raising the gas tax, increasing registration fees, or dropping the gas tax altogether in favor of taxing motorists based on the number of miles they drive.
Default option: Thursday marked the start of the first high-stakes showdown between Republicans who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives this month and Democrats who control the White House and U.S. Senate as the federal government reached the $31.4 trillion debt limit that Congress set for the nation in late 2021, writes Sabrina Eaton. Although the White House wants an unconditional increase, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Ohio Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are not about to rubber stamp it. First, they want budget cut negotiations with the White House.
Pot shop: The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy on Thursday cleared a new medical marijuana dispensary to open for business. The board gave a certificate of operation to Uplift, located at 101 Mercy Blvd., Mount Orab, about 40 miles east of Cincinnati. Shortly after the Ohio medical marijuana program first became operational in 2019, there were about 55 dispensaries open throughout the state. The board conducted research and determined more dispensaries were needed. In May, it offered about 70 businesses provisional licenses, which meant they could build out dispensary space. Once the dispensaries meet state requirements, such as cameras and other security provisions, the board grants them a certificate of operation.
Curtin call: Mike Curtin, the former Columbus Dispatch assistant publisher and Democratic ex-state lawmaker, told reporters on Thursday that a proposal to raise the voter-approval threshold for state constitutional amendments could have an unintended consequence. Curtin, making similar points as he did in an op-ed last week, said it could jeopardize future bond issuances, which historically have funded things like affordable housing. He said he’s making the case to business groups that they should oppose the measure if it advances – an outcome that currently seems unlikely given the election of state Rep. Jason Stephens as House speaker.
Back to business: The Ohio House will hold its first session of January on Tuesday to “adopt procedural resolutions,” Stephens announced on Thursday. The date had been a subject of some mystery, given the turmoil surrounding the recent House leadership vote.
Show me the money: U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio on Thursday joined a group of Republican U.S. Congress members, including U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson of Miami County, in a letter asking the White House Office of Management and Budget to expand a congressionally mandated report on the amount of security assistance the United States has sent to Ukraine by providing comprehensive information on how funds were used. “The American people deserve to know the extent to which they are underwriting our government’s endeavors in eastern Europe,” said a statement from Vance. “I do not intend to sit back and allow the Biden Administration to keep this information under wraps.”
Minority business: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was in Cleveland Wednesday to tour a local minority-owned supply chain business, LEFCO Worthington, and hold a roundtable with Cleveland area minority business owners on how her department is helping expand opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs through the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) recently announced Capital Readiness Program. “Grant competitions like the MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program are an invaluable resource for reaching underserved entrepreneurs where they are and helping them to achieve economic success,” said a statement from U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown of Warrensville Heights, who attended the event with U.S. Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron. Both are Democrats.
Identification crisis: Some county recorders in Ohio are complaining that a new voter identification law adopted in the final hours of the state legislature’s previous session will exclude ID cards they provide to veterans. Elected county recorders in at least Franklin and Montgomery counties said county-issued veteran IDs are excluded by the new law. Thomas Gnau of the Dayton Daily News reports that Republican backers of the change point to a provision allowing for voters to obtain a free state ID.
Question: This Ohio village was settled in 1790 after a group of European refugees were swindled into believing they had purchased land there. What is the town, and what is the name of the fraudulent company?
Email your response to [email protected].The first correct respondent will be mentioned in next week’s newsletter.
Thanks to everyone who responded to last week’s trivia question:
Malabar Farm State Park in Richland County is a working farm that includes natural trails, a lookout atop Mt. Jeez, and the preserved home of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and conservationist. Can you name the author? (Bonus: What was the title of the book for which the author was awarded the Pulitzer?)
Last week’s answer: Louis Bromfield was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and would eventually “become one of America’s first proponents of sustainable agriculture and conservation,” according to the Malabar Farm Foundation. He won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize in in the novel category for his book “Early Autumn.”
John Kaminski of Highland Heights was the first reader to provide Bromfield’s name. And Matt Whitehead, senior vice president of Governmental Policy Group, was the first to provide the bonus answer, the name of the prize-winning book.
Sarah Benzing is returning as U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s chief of staff after leaving the office in early 2022 to serve as executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure division. Brown’s current communications director and acting chief of staff, Trudy Perkins, will retire on Feb. 21.
Friday, 1/20: Rob Secaur, former Ohio Republican Party executive director/2022 campaign manager for Jane Timken’s U.S. Senate campaign
Saturday, 1/21: Randall Routt, former policy adviser to Ohio Senate Democrats; Erik Yassenoff, 2018 Republican Ohio House nominee
Sunday, 1/22: Former U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot; state Sen. Catherine Ingram
“Just another example of the government intentionally changing my words, ascribing comments to me that I never said, & altering/lying about facts to try to fit their false narrative. This will all be over soon, and we will finally get the truth out. Many apologies coming my way.”
Matt Borges, a former Ohio Republican Party chairman who’s been charged in the federal House Bill 6 corruption probe, in a Twitter post on Thursday. He was describing a disagreement between prosecutors and his attorneys over what was said in a recorded conversation, for the purposes of a transcript that the government plans to submit as evidence in the case. Jury selection for the trial begins today.
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.