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DeWine highlights mental health, research and innovation, crisis response in State of the State

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Barbara Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine delivers his State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.

For only the second time as governor, Mike DeWine delivered a State of the State speech - his first address to a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate since 2019. He suggested several proposals and backed a couple of current bills before lawmakers, most of whom liked what they heard. We start with a recap of the speech from Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler then reaction from Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow.

DeWine started the speech with a look beyond Ohio, to thunderous applause.

“Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!”

He then honored the family of former Speaker Bill Batchelder, who died last month. After proclaiming the state of our state is “strong”, DeWine spent a chunk of his nearly-hour-long speech talking about mental health, saying in spite of money put toward programs in schools and in Medicaid, mental illness is on the rise. He said he’ll come to lawmakers for what he called a major, long-term commitment to add to the behavioral health workforce, increasing research and innovation, and funding better crisis response, more treatment services and increased prevention efforts.

“My friends, the system isn’t broken -- it was just never fully built, and it does not exist everywhere in Ohio.... YET! And so, we must build it!”

With the Intel project announced a few weeks ago, DeWine was expected to talk about workforce development. He said he wants more high tech equipment for career centers, community colleges and four year universities. He also wants to create a combined college scholarship and mentorship program….

“So that no child in this state lacks guidance and direction, and so they can have the financial support to continue their education to become career-ready, whether by earning a credential, a certificate, or a degree.”

DeWine said he supports Republican-sponsored bills on distracted driving and on standardizing on-going training for law enforcement. And in front of a Republican-dominated legislature that’s been expanding gun rights, he got applause for pushing a bill cracking down on convicted violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes.

“It’s a small group, but we must target them, and we must remove them from society.”

DeWine also said he’ll be asking lawmakers to reinvest in Ohio’s state parks, though it’s unclear whether he meant in the upcoming capital budget or a separate proposal. After the speech, he and First Lady Fran DeWine planted a Dogwood tree on the south lawn of the Statehouse.

(Andy)

DeWine's State of the State address generated a lot of buzz as lawmakers walked out of the House chambers.

There was a mixed reaction from Democratic representatives who appreciated some of the comments DeWine made, but said he stopped short of addressing serious issues in Ohio.

Democratic Senator Nickie Antonio says, while DeWine mentioned bringing people to Ohio with lower taxes and economic development, he didn't talk about social issues that could attract younger people. To Antonio, that includes the fairness act that makes sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes.

Antonio: "Especially with all of this growth and all this economic development. If we're going to welcome the best and the brightest, we need to pass that bill."

Republican Representative Jay Edwards, of Nelsonville, says he appreciates DeWine's comments on investing in Appalachia. But Edwards urges that it's important to follow through on that goal.

Edwards: "We've got to work real hard on making sure the investments that he's talking about in Appalachia that it's going to the right cause and making sure we can get 50 of our colleagues on board with the aspirations that the governor put forth."

Democratic lawmakers say the number one issue missing from DeWine's State of the State address was the dilemma with redistricting and Ohio's May 3 primary. Democratic Representative Terrence Upchurch says it's a challenge.

Upchurch: "I was shocked that wasn't mentioned. I mean, this process has made it hard for folks like myself that don't know where they're going to be running and when to start campaigning and where they're going to be campaigning."

Lawmakers say they're preparing for the next step which is to see DeWine's goals for the future take the form of legislative proposals.