Apr 10, 2024 - News

DeWine focuses on Ohio kids in State of the State

Photo illustration of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's not a state budget year, but Gov. Mike DeWine came equipped to his annual State of the State address Wednesday with plenty of requests for lawmakers and leaders across Ohio.

Why it matters: His policy ideas involve issues such as education, social media and access to health care that would have implications for all Ohioans.

The big picture: As in previous years, DeWine's speech focused primarily on families.

  • "All of our dreams and all of our goals — really, our vision for the future — ultimately depends on them," he said of Ohio's children.

Zoom in: Here are his specific requests.

📚 Reading lessons: Colleges and universities should align their teacher training to the "science of reading," a newer learning method that emphasizes vocabulary and phonics.

ğŸŽ“ Career readiness: Lawmakers should pass legislation to require career planning before students can graduate high school.

  • The Ohio Department of Higher Education should track how many university graduates get jobs related to their degrees to better inform prospective students.

📱 Down with smartphones: Students should be prohibited from using smartphones during the school day.

🧒 Social media restrictions: Ohio banned social media use for kids under 16 without parental consent, but enforcement is on hold while online platforms challenge the ban.

  • At issue is the apparent gray area regarding which sites are included.
  • DeWine says lawmakers should craft another bill that can withstand constitutional challenges.

🚬 Up in smoke:

  • Lawmakers should ban the sale of delta-8 hemp products to children and limit public exposure to marijuana smoke.
  • DeWine again emphasized his desire for a statewide ban on flavored tobacco, but the Statehouse just overrode his veto of legislation that prevents local governments from issuing bans.

🍼 "Family Connects": This pilot program in 11 counties would offer in-home nurse visits for new parents to provide help and safe-sleep tips.

  • DeWine plans to seek funding next year for a statewide rollout.

🏥 Care in schools: K-12 buildings should consider partnering with a local hospital or health care center to create a school-based clinic.

The other side: In a speech rebuttal, Democratic leaders focused their criticism away from the governor and toward Republican colleagues.

  • Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio of Lakewood condemned an "unproductive" Legislature and said the public voted to legalize marijuana and abortion, which showed how "out-of-step the majority Republicans are in our state government with everyday Ohioans."
  • "The reality is that rigged, one-party rule and Republican infighting seem to have no end in sight here in Ohio's General Assembly," House Minority Leader Allison Russo of Columbus added.

Between the lines: DeWine's speech came as his administration is still facing questions about its connections to the H.B. 6 corruption scandal. The governor is not accused of illegal wrongdoing.

  • Sam Randazzo, a former public utilities chairman appointed by DeWine, recently died by suicide amid criminal allegations he accepted bribe money from FirstEnergy to help secure a legislative bailout package.
  • On Wednesday, reporters uncovered that FirstEnergy gave a $1 million "dark money" contribution in 2017 in support of Jon Husted's campaign for governor before he became DeWine's running mate.
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