This Week in Public Policy: January 4 - 8, 2021

This Week in Public Policy, written by DD Council staff person Paul Jarvis, provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.

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In Ohio

On Monday, January 4, 2021, members of the 134th General Assembly were sworn into office. Following the election of leadership in each chamber, the bodies adopted several resolutions related to normal business operations of the House and Senate. It is expected that committee announcements and assignments will be made in the coming weeks.

On Thursday, January 7th, the Office of Budget and Management announced preliminary tax revenue figures for the month of December, 2020. Once again, the state’s tax revenues came in above expectations for the month and for the fiscal year that started on July 1, 2020. For the month of December, total tax revenues were up $64.2 million, and are up $457.7 million for the first six months of the fiscal year. Compared to the same period last year (before COVID19), the state has brought in 8.8% more tax revenue ($1.032 Billion).

On Thursday, January 7th, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced plans to move forward with vaccinations for individuals eligible in group 1B. This group includes individuals with “severe developmental disabilities.” Beginning on Tuesday, January 19th, individuals age 80 and older will be eligible for the vaccine. The following week, on Monday, January 25th, the severe group will begin receiving vaccinations. The governor has indicated more detail about what makes up the “severe” definition. The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has also developed a plain-language guide that can be used to discuss vaccinations with people with disabilities.

In Washington

On Tuesday, January 5th, 2021, the US House adopted H.Res. 10, appointing certain members to standing committees. Included in this H.Res. is the appointment of Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan to the Committee on the Judiciary. The House also adopted H.Res. 9, which named the chairman of each committee. No Ohio congressman was named as a chair of standing committee.

On Wednesday, January 6th, Congress certified the electoral college vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Xavier Becerra to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Becerra is a former U.S. Congressman and currently Attorney General from the state of California. Becerra began his legal career in 1984 working in a legal services office representing individuals with mental illness.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: January 11 - 15, 2021

In Ohio

No committees have been announced in the House or Senate.

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is seeking public input on their proposed 5-Year Plan on Developmental Disabilities. Anyone can offer public comment on the plan. The Council has created a page on its website that includes plain-language descriptions of the projects in their plan and has links to official plan language for review. Interested parties are invited to comment on all or select parts of the state plan. The deadline to submit comments is Sunday, February 28th, 2021.

In Washington

No pertinent committees have been announced.

Facts That May Only Interest Me: The first US Patent for the training treadmill was issued in 1913. The first consumer treadmill was designed and built by mechanical engineer William Staub after reading a book on aerobics. Treadmills as a general machine, however, have been in use for thousands of years to move water, grind grain, etc. In the early 1800s, treadmills were even used in prisons as a punishment (though these versions were closer to a stairmaster because it involved never-ending climbing). The use of treadmills as a punishment for prisoners was abandoned in the late 19th century because it was considered too cruel. Nearly all treadmill manufacturers have listed an enormous spike in sales of treadmills during 2020.