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News Recap - Week Ending April 13, 2024

We understand you're busy, so here's a recap of a few stories you might have missed this week!

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Ohio House Committee Passes Bill Restricting Transgender Access to School Bathrooms

The Ohio House of Representatives' Higher Education Committee recently approved the "Protect All Students Act," a controversial bill that prohibits transgender individuals from using school restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. Passed with a 10-5 vote strictly along party lines, House Bill 183 extends its reach from kindergarten through higher education across both public and private institutions in Ohio. Despite its name, the bill specifically targets bathroom use and mandates the redesignation of currently gender-neutral facilities into distinctly male or female spaces. The decision has sparked considerable opposition, with critics like Ranking Member Joe Miller (D-Lorain) arguing that it strips local educational authorities of their decision-making powers and compromises safe and equitable access for all students. The bill is set to be debated in the next full Ohio House session on April 24, with potential further discussion in the Ohio Senate should it pass.


Read more from The Buckeye Flame


Potential Ballot Hurdle for Biden in Ohio Amid 2024 Election Preparations

President Joe Biden's placement on Ohio's 2024 general election ballot could be at risk unless the Democratic National Committee adjusts its schedule or the Ohio state legislature amends existing laws. This issue arises from a scheduling conflict where the Democratic National Convention, set to start on August 19, follows the state's deadline of August 7 for certifying presidential candidates. In a letter, Paul Disantis, the chief legal counsel for Ohio's Secretary of State, outlined the need for either an earlier Democratic convention or legislative action by May 9, 2024, to accommodate an exception to this requirement. The Ohio Democratic Party and Biden's campaign are both aware of the issue, expressing confidence that Biden will secure his spot on the ballot in all states despite this challenge.


Read more from CNN


Ohio Set to Accelerate Recreational Marijuana Sales Ahead of Schedule

Following the approval of Issue 2 by Ohio voters, adults over 21 can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of concentrates, but until now, there hasn't been a legal way to purchase it. Originally projected for the fall, the start of licensed recreational marijuana sales in Ohio may now occur as early as June, much sooner than anticipated. State Representative Jamie Callender, Chair of the Joint Committee On Agency Rule Review, announced that medical marijuana dispensaries could be dual-licensed to sell recreational cannabis by mid-June. The regulatory plans are expected to be approved in a committee meeting on May 13, with applications for dual licensing available by June 7. This fast-tracked timeline aims to launch legal recreational marijuana sales before the July 4th holiday, leveraging existing medical dispensaries to expedite the rollout under the new guidelines set by Issue 2.


Read more from Ohio Capital Journal


Biden Administration Sets Stringent National Limits on PFAS in Drinking Water

The Biden administration has finalized a landmark rule to impose strict limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water, marking the first national regulation of these toxic substances. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aims to reduce the permissible levels of certain PFAS—known for their persistence in the environment—to the lowest detectable limits. This initiative is projected to diminish PFAS exposure for over 100 million Americans, potentially averting thousands of related illnesses, including various cancers. Despite the projected $1.5 billion annual cost, health advocates support the stringent measures, while water utilities express concerns over the financial burdens of upgrading treatment systems, especially in smaller communities. This significant regulatory step is expected to make drinking water safer, aligning with the administration's health priorities and prompting a swift overhaul of community water systems nationwide. Legal challenges and debates over implementation costs are anticipated as the rule takes effect.


Read more from The Associated Press


Biden Administration Continues Student Debt Relief, Cancelling $7.4 Billion as Elections Approach

The Biden administration has announced a significant new round of student debt cancellation, totaling $7.4 billion for 277,000 borrowers, as part of its ongoing debt relief efforts. This latest initiative, announced close to Election Day, highlights the administration's commitment to easing the financial burden of education. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the transformative potential of accessible higher education. The bulk of the forgiveness will benefit participants in the new Saving on a Valuable Education (Save) plan, which offers more favorable repayment conditions compared to traditional plans. Additionally, some borrowers who have been repaying for over two decades will see their loans forgiven due to a temporary waiver in income-driven repayment rules. Despite facing lawsuits challenging these plans, the administration maintains that they are well within legal bounds. Critics argue these measures are costly and unfair to taxpayers who did not pursue higher education or have already repaid their loans. Amidst these controversies, the administration also faces scrutiny over issues with the federal student aid application process.


Read more from The Washington Post


New York Judge Denies Trump's Request to Delay Hush Money Trial

A New York judge has dismissed former President Donald Trump's request to postpone his upcoming hush money trial, citing that the extensive pretrial media coverage does not warrant a delay. Judge Juan Merchan emphasized that jury selection will proceed as scheduled on Monday, marking Trump's first criminal trial. Despite Trump's legal team arguing that a fair trial in Manhattan is currently unattainable due to biased public perception fueled by media, the judge refuted these claims, suggesting that an impartial jury can still be formed through standard selection processes. The Manhattan District Attorney's office criticized Trump’s approach as contradictory, as he has also been actively engaging in public commentary that could influence potential jurors. Trump faces 34 charges related to falsifying business records linked to a payment intended to silence porn actress Stormy Daniels about an alleged affair during the 2016 election campaign. Trump has consistently denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Read more from The Hill


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