0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
State Sen. Bill Seitz says he’s working
on a bill that would cap how much utilities can spend on energy
efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and
by German Lopez
State senator pushing new bill is on group’s board of directors
State Sen. Bill Seitz says he’s working on a bill that
would cap how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and solar power. But the proposal isn’t completely unique to Ohio, which is just one of many states
in which national conservative groups are working to weaken state energy
Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, told Gongwer
that his bill will keep requirements for utilities to provide 25
percent of their electricity from alternative sources and reduce
customers’ consumption by 22 percent by 2025. But the other measures will likely weaken renewable energy and efficiency standards set by Ohio’s Clean Energy Law in 2008.The bill is presumably the result of Seitz’s review of Ohio’s energy rules, which the state senator announced earlier in the year. FirstEnergy, an Akron-based utility company, says the review is necessary because the regulations impose too many costs. But there’s another major group involved: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Seitz is on the board of directors of ALEC,
a conservative group that’s gone from state to state to push legislation
that typically favors corporate interests. Some state officials, including Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, reportedly attended ALEC’s 40th annual meeting in Chicago Aug. 7-9.
Just a couple weeks after that meeting, Seitz announced he still intends to rework Ohio’s energy standards.
ALEC previously teamed up
with the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that gets much of its funding from oil
companies, to write the standard for legislation that pulls back state
energy rules. Many of the effort’s backers, particularly at the
Heartland Institute, deny man-made global warming, even though scientists are 95 percent certain climate change is influenced by human actions.
ALEC’s efforts have so far failed in every state in which legislation has been proposed, as shown in this map from ThinkProgress:
But Ohio may be the first state to buck that trend if
Seitz insists on pushing his review.A report from advocacy group Environment Ohio found the current energy standards, which require Ohio utility companies get 12.5 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, have successfully spurred clean
energy projects all around the state, particularly in Cincinnati. One local example: The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2011 installed solar panels in its parking lot that will generate enough electricity to meet 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs and reduce pollution associated with global warming by 1,775 tons annually, according to the report.But the standards are written in a way that favors in-state sources, which was supposed to ensure that at least half of the renewable energy development spurred by the Clean Energy Law happened in Ohio. A June 2013 ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that the in-state preference is an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause.Seitz will introduce his bill in the next two weeks.
by German Lopez
Ohio could weaken energy rules, CPS struggles in new report cards, pension group advances
National conservative groups have brought their concerted effort to weaken state energy standards to Ohio.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, who’s on the board of directors of the conservative American
Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), says he will introduce a bill
within two weeks that would cap how much utilities can spend on energy
efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and
solar power. ALEC and the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank
backed in part by oil companies and global-warming deniers, have teamed
up to undo energy standards in different states, but so far the groups’
efforts have failed. Seitz’s proposal would weaken Ohio’s Clean Energy
Law, which environmentalists and other green energy advocates say have
revitalized wind, solar and other renewable projects around the state.
Cincinnati Public Schools got six F’s, one D and two C’s
in the 2012-2013 school report card released yesterday by the Ohio
Department of Education (ODE). The scores come with a big caveat: The
school district is still being investigated for scrubbing data,
which could be favorably skewing results for CPS. This is the first
year ODE is using its A-F grading system, which is much more stringent
than the previous system — to the point that no school district earned
straight A’s this year, according to StateImpact Ohio.
Cincinnati for Pension Reform, the group behind the
controversial pension amendment that will appear on the ballot this
November, officially registered with the state.
The group isn’t disclosing how much money it’s raised so far. The tea
party-backed amendment would privatize the city’s pension system, a
pooled fund that’s managed by an independent board, so future city
employees — excluding cops and firefighters, who use a different system —
contribute to and manage individual 401k-style accounts. City officials
and unions say the amendment will raise costs for the city and hurt
gains for employees. Tea party supporters say it’s needed to deal with
Cincinnati’s rising pension costs. CityBeat covered the pension amendment and the national groups who may be helping fund its campaign in further detail here.
Ohio’s oil and gas boom has apparently failed to create all the jobs
state officials previously promised. “Total employment growth has been
much less robust than sales activity in Ohio's shale country,” claims
the Ohio Utica Shale Gas Monitor, which is produced quarterly by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. CityBeat covered Ohio’s oil and gas boom in further detail here.
A company that received a tax credit through JobsOhio two years ago is moving some executives and operations from Ohio to Chicago.
Rittal Corp. has not received the tax credit yet, but it intends to
uphold its tax agreement through other operations. JobsOhio is a
privatized development agency established by Gov. John Kasich and
Republican legislators to replace the Ohio Department of Development.
Kasich and allies argue its privatized, secretive nature allow it to
more quickly establish job-creating development deals, but Democratic
opponents argue the agency is too difficult to hold accountable.
CityBeat commentary on JobsOhio: “Gov. Kasich’s Bias Toward Secrecy.”
Ohio has received more than $383 million as part of the
national mortgage settlement, which has helped more than 10,000 Ohioans,
according to the state attorney general’s office. The payout, which is paid by banks as part of a settlement reached with states and the federal government, is meant to provide
some relief to Americans who were impacted by the housing and economic
crisis of 2008.
Enrollment at Ohio colleges, including the University of Cincinnati, is continuing its steady rise.
A campaign supported by AAA, local school officials and police is attempting to reduce the amount of car accidents involving school children. The “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign aims to give drivers a few tips for navigating roads filled with children going to school.
Local startup incubator Hamilton County Business Center was granted $250,000 by the state to help develop tech companies. Cincinnati recently gained national recognition for its tech boom in Entrepreneur and CNBC, with Entrepreneur calling the city “an unexpected hub for tech startups.”
Cincinnati-based Macy’s will pay a civil penalty to settle accusations that it engaged in unfair documentation practices against immigrant employees.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is charging Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank for allegedly discriminating against a couple with disabilities.
The bank and others reportedly required unnecessary medical
documentation from the couple when the two attempted to refinance their
home mortgage with a Federal Housing Administration loan.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble paid its CEO $2 million during his first five and a half weeks back on the job.
Popular Science: “Forget Tweeting, Meet The Birds Who Blog.”
by German Lopez
Streetcar meeting today, Ohio Senate to modify energy law, state is no 'economic miracle'
City Hall will be hosting a meeting on the streetcar project at 6
p.m. today to figure out what the project’s options are now that it has a $17.4 million budget gap. The meeting was called by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls after City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. explained in a memo that the project has a budget gap because construction bids came in
$26 million to $43 million over budget.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who chairs the the Senate Public Utilities Committee, says he wants to “modify,” not repeal, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law
to have more clear-cut compliance standards. Environmentalists say
they’re concerned Seitz will use the review as a front to
water the law down, especially since electricity giant FirstEnergy is pushing
against the law’s energy efficiency standards. CityBeat wrote more about the conflict between environmentalists and FirstEnergy here.
It’s one issue Ohio’s leading liberal and conservative think tanks apparently agree on: Ohio is not the “economic miracle”
often touted by Gov. John Kasich. In the past year, job numbers for the
state have been particularly weak, with public sector losses nearly
making up for very weak private sector gains. The right-leaning Buckeye
Institute for Public Policy Solutions says a complicated tax system is
largely to blame for the stagnant job growth, while the left-leaning
Policy Matters Ohio is mostly focusing on governments’ budget austerity.
A student allegedly shot himself
in front of classmates at LaSalle High School today. Police say he is
currently at a hospital, and there are currently no reports of anyone
else being shot. As of 10:30 a.m., the situation was still developing.After misleading media reports sent the public into a furor, Mayor Mark Mallory agreed to rescind salary raises
that were part of his office’s deficit-reducing budget plan. The plan
gave the mayor’s top aides raises to make up for an increased workload following staff reductions. Even with the raises, the plan
reduced the deficit by $33,000 during the mayor’s remaining time in
office — a fact originally omitted by The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Music Hall’s facelift is not happening just yet,
even though approvals from City Council and the Music Hall
Revitalization Company have already paved the way for Cincinnati Center
City Development Corporation (3CDC) to begin renovations. As project
manager, 3CDC will take four to six months to develop a budget, review
designs and go over the legal and financial work necessary to start the
project.Hamilton County is currently tracking to be $1.5 million over budget this year — a budget hole the Board of Commissioners hopes to plug by using the rainy day fund.
One section of the Ohio House budget bill would allow charter schools to enroll out-of-state students and charge them tuition. The policy could involve online schools, which were previously found to have poor results in a CityBeat report.
The relaxed rules potentially add more controversy to a budget plan that’s
already mired in criticism for defunding Planned Parenthood and forgoing
the Medicaid expansion, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.Ohio gas prices are starting 9 cents down this week.
Bad news: The largest HIV vaccine study was shut down after patients contracted the AIDS virus more often than those who didn’t take it.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Cincinnati Republican Bill Seitz in an interview with The Wall Street Journal compared Ohio’s energy efficiency laws to former Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan. CINCINNATI -1
by German Lopez
Seitz compares energy efficiency to Stalin, Music Hall lease coming, casino revenues today
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, compared Ohio’s energy efficiency laws
to former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan. Seitz is
leading the charge on a review of the state’s energy efficiency and
renewable energy standards, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
The review has been supported by Akron-based First Energy, an energy
company that has long opposed Ohio’s energy efficiency standards. But
environmental groups say they’re worried the review will water down a
law that has brought clean energy and jobs to the state.
Cincinnati is poised to approve
a lease of Music Hall that will allow renovations to move
forward. The plan would lease the Music Hall for 75 years to carry out
renovations that will likely cost between $50 million and $100 million,
with the city contributing about $10 million. CityBeat covered the plan when it was first announced here.
In the midst of Cincinnati’s heated budget battle, the
Ohio Casino Control Commission will release its monthly revenue estimates for
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino today. City officials estimated that about
$9 million to $11 million will be available at a City Council meeting
Thursday — seemingly the only point of agreement in a testy exchange over the city’s budget
that left city leaders with no consensus on local
budget woes. Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley and others have
proposed using casino revenue to help balance the city’s budget without
layoffs, but Cranley’s $21 million estimate has drawn criticism for being unrealistic.
The Ohio House is likely to propose alternatives
to Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan this week. State legislators have
criticized Kasich’s plan for favoring the wealthy, raising taxes for
many Ohioans and expanding Medicaid with the use of federal funds. CityBeat covered the governor’s plan in further detail here.
National parks around Ohio are cutting hours and hiring
because of sequestration, a series of across-the-board budget cuts that
began March 1 after congressional inaction. The cuts have forced the
James A. Garfield National Historic Site at Mentor, Ohio, to close on
Sundays, which means about 30,000 tourists will be unable to visit this
year, according to Todd Arrington, chief of
interpretation and education at the park.
Ohio’s rural speed limit is being changed to 70 mph, and signs will soon reflect that.
Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain’s only female prime minister, died at age 87.
A fusion rocket could shoot people to Mars in 30 days.
by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 09:08 AM | Permalink
In this week's Big Picture column, there is an item that Matt Distel — long active on the local contemporary art scene and current executive director of Northside's Visionaries + Voices center for artists with disabilities — had been named adjunct curator of contemporary art at Cincinnati Art Museum. Today comes the announcement he will leave V+V to be exhibitions director at The Carnegie in Covington, effective in June. He replaces Bill Seitz, who announced his retirement last month. His adjunct position at the art museum will continue. “Matt is the perfect person to build upon the successes we’ve had in the galleries and we are honored to have him join our team,” said Katie Brass, Carnegie executive director, in a press release. “His personality, his connection to local artists, and background all make him the ideal candidate to run the Carnegie Galleries and to grow programming.” In that same release, Distel said, “To be part of the legacy the Carnegie has for supporting local and regional artists, it’s very exciting. The Carnegie is one of the premier arts organizations in the region and Bill [Seitz] has established a great framework for me to continue to build an exhibition program that plays a compelling role in the arts community.”
Artist Pam Kravetz and crew put the icing on the cake at 'The Art of Food'
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 27, 2013
For The Art of Food, Kravetz is the “marshmallow, glue and
sugar-coated sweetness” at the center of “Let Them Eat Cake (on the
Cakewalk),” a fashion show of 11 delectable looks from 15 artists
working with several layers of DAAP students, beauty experts, bakers and
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
An Ohio policy research group is
criticizing a local state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.”
by German Lopez
Local state senator proposes bill to limit payments to illegal immigrants
An Ohio policy research group is taking offense to a local
state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.” If passed, S.B. 323, proposed in
April by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, would require workers to prove their
legal status to work before receiving workers’ compensation, but
Innovation Ohio says the bill reaches too far to solve a problem that
might not even exist.
The bill was the topic of discussion at a Senate
Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee hearing on Nov. 27. At the
hearing, supporters argued the bill would stop compensating illegal
workers who aren’t supposed to be in Ohio to begin with. But opponents
argue that the details in the bill add too many extra problems.
In fact, the bill might be going after a problem that
doesn’t even exist. At an earlier hearing, Seitz, a Republican, said the state does not
collect data on the immigration status of workers receiving
compensation. To Brian Hoffman of Innovation Ohio, this means there’s no
way to know if the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has ever
compensated a single undocumented worker. “It just seems curious that
this bill is being introduced and has gotten three hearings when there’s
no proof that it’s actually even an issue,” he says.
Hoffman is also worried that the bill is imposing a new
regulatory burden on BWC without providing additional funds. In his
view, the state agency is essentially being told to do more without
additional resources to prepare or train regulators. Considering how
complicated the immigration issue can get, this makes Hoffman doubt the
agency will be able to properly carry out the new regulations.
From a broader perspective, the bill imposes regulatory hurdles on all injured workers just so they can get compensation they're entitled to under state law. “Talk about kicking someone when they’re down,” Hoffman says.
But the burden could hit Hispanics even harder and lead to
more discrimination in the workplace. After all, when employers are
clearing legal statuses, who are they more likely to question, someone with a
name like “Dexter Morgan” or someone with a name like “Angel Batista”?
In Hoffman’s view, the state should leave immigration
issues to the federal government and worry about more pressing issues:
“Why is the state legislature even wasting its time on the issue? There
are plenty of really good ideas to bring jobs back to Ohio. Why aren’t
they focused on those?”
The bill is still in committee, but it’s been the subject
of multiple hearings. It’s unlikely the Ohio Senate will take it up in
what’s left of the lame-duck session, but it could come back in the next
CityBeat was unable to reach Seitz for comment
despite repeated attempts through phone and email, in addition to a scheduled
interview that was canceled. This story will be updated if comment becomes available.