John Kasich's big win on Medicaid: Ohio Politics Roundup – cleveland.com

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Medicaid expansion will continue in Ohio without a freeze on enrollment, a big victory for Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s advocated extensively for the program’s expansion. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Ohio later this month. And Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman is hard to read on health care reform — we break down his vague positions.

Read more in today’s Ohio Politics Roundup.

Medicaid stays: “Ohio’s Medicaid expansion will continue without a freeze on enrollment,” cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt writes. “The Ohio House on Thursday rejected 11 of Gov. John Kasich’s budget vetoes but did not take a vote to reinstate a proposed freeze on Medicaid expansion enrollment. The House’s inaction on the freeze was seen as a big win for Kasich, who has made the expansion a policy hallmark of his tenure.

“But legislators knocked down nine other Medicaid-related vetoes, citing a need to assert legislative authority over the executive branch for several votes,” Borchardt writes. “In a statement, Kasich said the overrides threaten health care access for vulnerable Ohioans and budget stability going forward. He urged the Senate, which canceled its session date next week, against following in the House’s footsteps.”

Read more reaction from Kasich and his administration here.

Pence in Ohio: Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Buckeye State this month for the Ohio Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner.

Pence will speak at the Republicans’ state dinner in Columbus, Ohio GOP spokesman Blaine Kelly said. The ticketed event is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on July 22 at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University, I write in my report.

What does he want? It’s hard to say what Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman wants from the GOP health care reform.

“Health care, and specifically the proposed Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposals, is dogging the second-term Ohio Republican unlike any other bill he has had to vote on. Taken at his word, the Ohio Republican is hard to read so far,” cleveland.com reporter Stephen Koff writes.

“I am committed to creating a better health care system that lowers the cost of coverage, provides access to quality care, and protects the most vulnerable in our society,” Portman recently said in a statement.

“That could sum up the sentiments of every Republican who wants to gut Obamacare — and of every Democrat who wants to keep it,” Koff writes. “Portman rejected the recent Senate health care bill hours after it was scrapped. Yet his criticism of recent House and Senate health care bills has been opaque, leaving Republican leaders to wonder if Portman could be persuaded as a swing vote to join their side — and liberals to worry Portman actually yearns to get rid of Obamacare, if only he could walk that gangplank and not get wet. There is no Portman health care bill; there are merely Portman preferences, and they are open to interpretation.”

This is what we know: Portman has outlined some of his opinions on health care — however vague they may be.

“He says he wants lower spending and better health care. He wants fewer government edicts, except when they’re needed,” Koff writes. “He wants lower premiums and fewer taxes, but adequate revenues and certainty so insurers stick around. He wants more freedom of choice for businesses and consumers, but a guarantee consumers can get preexisting conditions covered and low-income Ohioans can get care.”

Uninvited guests: Protesters who want the senator to oppose the GOP health care plan occupied Portman’s downtown Cincinnati office late Thursday afternoon and refused to leave, writes Jason Williams of the Cincinnati Enquirer. 

Gun owners relieved: President Donald Trump’s election “came as a relief to many gun owners in conservative Greene County, home to a number of rural towns and suburban sprawl around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. While Trump has only been in office several months, there’s a feeling among gun-rights supporters that they have dodged a bullet,” cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer writes from Greene County in the latest installment of cleveland.com’s Ohio Matters series. “Trump’s presidency hasn’t been the only win for gun-rights supporters. Ohio lawmakers have made a number of recent moves to loosen the state’s gun-control laws, and are currently looking at additional changes.”

…And one of those moves: The Ohio House on Thursday moved to ease restrictions on concealed carry license holders.

The House passed a measure that would allow license holders to avoid punishment if they entered a gun-free zone, such as a school, with a weapon, cleveland.com reporter Laura Hancock writes.

“The bill approved Thursday has protections against habitual offenders, said its sponsor, Rep. John Becker, a Republican from Union Township. If someone returns to a gun-free business or other location within 30 days, they face 30 days behind bars and a $250 fine,” Hancock writes. “That’s a lighter sentence than the current law, in which people caught with concealed weapons in most government buildings face a fifth-degree felony charge that carries up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.”

The bill will head to the Ohio Senate for consideration, after summer recess.

Delayed: Transgender people who want to enlist in the United States military will have to wait, cleveland.com reporter Sabrina Eaton writes.

President Trump’s defense secretary Jim Mattis delayed the full implementation of an Obama-era military policy that would have allowed transgender people to join the armed forces. Mattis pushed back the policy’s implementation until at least Jan. 1.

Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Mattis would “use that time to assess how to put the policy into effect, and examine how it might affect ‘the readiness and lethality of our forces,'” Eaton writes.

The Trump-administration shift won’t affect transgender people currently serving in the military, according to the Military Times. The policy was introduced by Obama’s defense secretary last year, and so far has allowed transgender troops to start to formally change their gender identification in Pentagon records.

Ryan fires back: Mattis’ decision to push back the policy’s implementation didn’t sit will with Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, of the Niles area.

“Since President Obama repealed the antiquated and discriminatory requirement for these patriots to serve in silence, we have only seen positive impacts on the strength of our Armed Forces and their readiness to protect our country,” said a statement from Ryan. “As a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, I know we can do this. I know we are doing this. I know we must do this.”

Bill beefs up environmental regulation: “An Ohio Senate bill awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature would give the state EPA more power to regulate dredging in Lake Erie and landfills throughout the state,” cleveland.com reporter Jane Morice writes. “Senate Bill 2 revises environmental protection laws, putting a spotlight on Northern Ohio issues. It passed through the assembly on June 22, and Kasich is expected to sign it this week. The Port of Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Partnership – the state’s largest chamber of commerce – support the bill.”

Sutton scores: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton earned an endorsement from the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council.

In an emailed statement, David J. Wondolowski, executive secretary and business manager of the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council, said Sutton’s “dedication to workers and their families proves that she is the most qualified and best candidate for governor on either side of the aisle.”

Hired: “Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth four-year term, has hired Wayne Clarke, a political consultant from the Washington, D.C. area, to run his campaign,” cleveland.com columnist Mark Naymik writes.

Clarke was introduced to campaign staff on Saturday, and will work from Cleveland.

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