Ohio Governor to Deliver Statewide Speech After Pandemic Delay | Ohio News

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS and JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The world has been rocked since March 5, 2019, the only time Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s first term gave a state of the state address.

The veteran politician has twice canceled the speech due to the coronavirus pandemic, but still became the most-watched governor in state history by giving dozens of televised daily press conferences documenting the government’s efforts. ‘Ohio to slow the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, DeWine returns to the Statehouse for the final state of the state address of his first term. His speech comes at a political crossroads as he faces a four-way GOP primary on May 3 amid conservative discontent with the pandemic measures he has taken.

The past two years have been filled with important and defining moments for the Governor’s career:

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DeWine acted quickly in March 2020 before Ohio even had a confirmed case of COVID-19, limiting attendance at a sports festival in Columbus and becoming the first governor to close schools.

Initially praised, the governor was criticized by fellow Republicans who felt he had gone too far. A year ago, GOP lawmakers overturned a DeWine veto for the first time, on legislation weakening the state’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.

Conservative anger has spilled over into the gubernatorial campaign, with DeWine now facing three far-right challenges in the primary. DeWine said he has no regrets about his handling of the pandemic.

“Do something!” Crowds chanted in DeWine during a vigil following the Aug. 4, 2019, Dayton mass shooting that left nine people dead. His subsequent response to combat gun violence did not find traction among GOP lawmakers, despite modest elements that included increasing penalties for felons committing new crimes with guns.

Faced with this rejection, DeWine signed other measures relaxing gun control, such as eliminating the requirement to retreat and ending the requirement for a concealed weapons permit at the start. of the month.

Since that first statehood, DeWine has continued her stance against abortion and signed a number of bills restricting the procedure into law.

These include banning abortions after a detectable heartbeat, requiring fetal remains from surgical abortions to be cremated or buried, and banning the use of telemedicine for medical abortions.

The judges suspended all of these laws pending constitutional challenges.

A federal investigation into a $60 million bribery scheme involving FirstEnergy Corp. and the bailout of two nuclear power plants has been swirling around the edge of the DeWine administration since the summer of 2020.

While none of the people charged in the investigation worked for the governor, Dan McCarthy, DeWine’s top lobbyist, resigned last September after three years on the job. McCarthy is a former FirstEnergy lobbyist who was chairman of one of the black money groups involved in the alleged scheme. McCarthy said his actions were legal, and DeWine’s office said there was no indication that McCarthy was the target of the ongoing investigation.

DeWine has also faced questions about appointing Samuel Randazzo as the state’s top utility regulator, despite warnings from environmentalists and a group of fellow Republicans. Randazzo, who also has not been charged with corruption, resigned after FBI agents raided his home. FirstEnergy, in a settlement with the US Department of Justice, said Randazzo helped draft the 2019 energy bill – signed by DeWine – at the heart of the scandal.

Ohio’s voter-created Redistricting Commission, of which DeWine is a member, failed after three attempts to draw up constitutionally sound legislative maps, according to the state Supreme Court, which rejected them each time.

The May 3 primary is now in doubt as state election chief Frank LaRose — also a commissioner — puts some primary preparations on hold following the Supreme Court’s latest ruling.

DeWine has had successes and failures on the employment front. He has faced heavy conservative criticism for the economic impact of his COVID-19 shutdown orders.

Ohio’s unemployment rate last January was slightly lower than it was when the pandemic hit in March 2020. But the state’s workforce has also shrunk by about 190,000 workers since then. the pandemic, and many businesses are still struggling to find workers.

The governor scored a major victory earlier this year when Intel announced it was investing $20 billion in two semiconductor factories near Columbus. But the state was dealt a blow weeks later when Peloton canceled plans to open its first US factory, which would have employed 2,000 workers in Ohio, due to a dramatic drop in demand for its bikes. and interactive treadmills.

Seewer brought from Toledo. Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.

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