AG Dave Yost is doing the right thing on HB6, so why not House Speaker Bob Cupp? This Week in the CLE

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is doing the right thing on the corrupt House Bill 6, so why isn’t House Speaker Bob Cupp?

We’re talking about Yost’s push to hold Energy Harbor and FirstEnergy accountable on the need for a $1.3 billion nuclear bailout on This Week in the CLE.

Listen online here.

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Here are the questions we’re answering today:

What is Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s latest step to bring transparency and honesty to the move to repeal HB6, the corrupt bill adopted by the Ohio legislature to make us all pay $1.3 billion to bail out what were then FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants? Yost is urging state lawmakers to have Energy Harbor and FirstEnergy Corp. representatives testify before legislative committees and disclose whether the plants actually need the money.

Do we know anything more about the police officer who gave the finger Tuesday night to protesters who were demonstrating against, you guessed it, police abuse? Shaker Heights is investigating a police officer who flipped off a group of protesters demonstrating outside the presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday. Adam Ferrise reports the Shaker officer was working in Cleveland as part of the presidential debate detail.

What laws might be getting broken by the people flashing political messages on the side of Terminal Tower? The city prosecutor’s office offered three sections of law that it believes prohibit the light display: a city law related to posting signs or other types of messages on private property without consent, a city law related to criminal mischief, and a state law related to political communications.

How bad were the television ratings for the wrestling match that purported to be a presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday night? Despite speculation the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden could draw Super Bowl-like television ratings, the debate drew about 73.1 million Americans.

As expected, an appellate court slapped down a lower court’s order that the state accept online absentee ballot applications. What was the reasoning? The 10th District Court of Appeals said they agreed that state law doesn’t prohibit elections officials from accepting applications for absentee ballots via email or fax, but that the Ohio Democratic Party didn’t demonstrate a “right” under the law to “unlimited methods for delivery of their applications.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is going to sign the prohibition on plastic bags even though he is against it. How does that work? DeWine

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New Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp lays out his agenda: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

Measuring Cupp: Jeremy Pelzer has a profile of Bob Cupp, the quiet but experienced new Ohio House speaker. Included is what’s on Cupp’s priority list through the end of the year (potentially repealing House Bill 6, passing a long-sought education-funding reform bill) and what’s not (Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun-reform package).

Mail time: More than 1 million Ohioans have requested absentee ballots by mail, a figure that’s already approaching the total 1.2 million mail-in votes cast for the November 2016 election, Andrew Tobias reports. Six counties — Athens, Lucas, Portage, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne, have already exceeded their 2016 totals. Five more counties, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Sandusky and Wood, were at 90% or more of their 2016 totals.

Return to sender: In his capacity as top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan on Tuesday sent its Democratic chairman, Jerry Nadler of New York, a letter seeking a hearing “to examine the civil unrest caused by left-wing violent extremists in Democrat-run cities.” The letter he sent with several other Judiciary Committee Republicans also accused Nadler of minimizing “the violence in Democrat-run cities, calling the radical leftist group Antifa an ‘imaginary thing’ and Antifa violence a ‘myth that’s only being spread in Washington, D.C.’”

SWAT arrest: Columbus Police SWAT and the U.S. Marshals showed up to Assistant House Minority Leader Kristin Boggs’ property Wednesday to arrest her nanny for obstruction and the nanny’s boyfriend for the killing of a man in May. Boggs said she hired the childcare provider in the spring to help when the pandemic hit, Laura Hancock reports.

Coronavirus relief: As far as Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is concerned, a coronavirus relief bill that Republicans plan to bring up for a Senate vote on Thursday is dead in the water because it would replace a $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement that expired in July with a $300 weekly payment that expires in December, reports Sabrina Eaton. Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman told reporters he’ll back the package even though it doesn’t contain everything on his wish list.

Wednesday numbers: The state tallied 973 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths on Wednesday, Hancock reports. The total of new cases was less than the 21-day rolling average, though deaths were higher.

Shifting concerns: Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof said Tuesday he’s “frustrated” by how Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus goals have shifted since March. “I think the administration has now shifted to trying to get to zero infections across the state, which is unattainable,” Obhof told Medina County commissioners, according to Carl Hunnell of the Richland Source. The Medina Republican also said while “it’s probably a pretty good idea to wear a mask,” he personally doesn’t “believe any level of government has the ability to tell you to do that.”

Bets are on: Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos set an August record with $172 million in gambling revenue. This marks the fourth monthly record this year – every month the gambling houses have been open

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Here’s what Bob Cupp intends to do — and not do — as Ohio House speaker

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Effective lawmakers have to master two different – and, sometimes, contradictory – skill sets: politics and policymaking. Bob Cupp, the new Ohio House speaker, is inclined toward the latter.

Cupp, though hardly a household name, has been a part of Ohio government longer than other lawmakers have been alive. Quiet and deliberative, he’s a former Ohio Senate majority leader and Ohio Supreme Court justice.

But now the lawyer from Lima faces the biggest challenge of his career: putting back in order a discombobulated House reeling from not only two speakers resigning amid scandal in two years, but also internal division both between parties and within Cupp’s own House Republican caucus (which chose Cupp as speaker by a margin of one vote).

In spite of all this, Cupp has his sights set on some big-ticket agenda items – from dealing with the scandal-drenched House Bill 6 nuclear bailout law (exactly how is up in the air) to fixing Ohio’s perennially unconstitutional school-funding system.

Oh, and he only has three months left in the middle of election season to get his agenda done before he’ll have to convince his colleagues to elect him speaker for a full term.

Even two months ago, no one, Cupp included, imagined that he would be in this position. But that was before then-Speaker Larry Householder was federally indicted and accused of overseeing a $60 million bribery scheme to get HB6 passed. Nine days later, the GOP-led House voted Cupp in as speaker.

“It’s not anything I wanted to do,” Cupp said in an interview. “My focus was just going to work on public policy. But with this situation occurring as it did, I thought that I could offer something to solve the problem with the House and restore it to credibility.”

Cupp is widely considered an ethical politician whose leadership is unlikely to run afoul of the law.

State Rep. Jason Stephens, a Lawrence County Republican who nominated Cupp for speaker on the House floor, said he pictures Cupp as “just a big oak tree standing out in the field.

“When the winds blow, the limbs may blow a little bit, but that tree isn’t moving as far as, you know, principles and that sort of thing,” Stephens said.

“I would never be concerned about Bob Cupp’s ethics. Ever,” said Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who served alongside Cupp on the Ohio Supreme Court for six years.

But Cupp is no longer a justice (he was unseated in 2012 by Democrat Bill O’Neill, who won despite spending just $4,000 on his campaign).

“All of the qualities we like in a judge can sometimes be a weakness in a leader of a legislative branch,” said Mark Weaver, a longtime Republican political consultant who managed Cupp’s 2012 Supreme Court campaign.

“Meaning, if you’re not the first person that gets noticed in a room, some people take that as a sign of weakness,” Weaver continued. “Bob Cupp is more of an introvert than an extrovert. In a rowdy

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