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Rotunda Rumblings

Making history: One Ohio Republican joined Wednesday’s historic U.S. House vote to impeach President Donald Trump a second time: Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River. Sabrina Eaton wraps up the debate, which focused on Trump’s incitement of last week’s U.S. Capitol riot, and explains why Gonzalez joined all of Ohio’s House Democrats in the vote.

Playing defense: Fiery Trump loyalist Jim Jordan of Champaign County led the president’s defense, accusing Democrats of an unending effort to impeach Trump that he said started just 19 minutes into his presidential term. Eaton has a summary of Jordan’s arguments and the pushback he got from Democrats.

Pointed questions: The Ohio Department of Health has developed a protocol for who gets leftover coronavirus vaccine if people don’t show up for their shots. Laura Hancock discovered this and answers to other questions about the vaccine that readers submitted last week.

Local alternative: A more-infectious variant of the coronavirus, similar to one found in the United Kingdom, has been discovered in Ohio, according to Ohio State University researchers. As Julie Washington reports, the question now is whether the variant can be prevented by existing vaccines, though so far there’s no data showing that will affect the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Hospitalizations down: On Wednesday, there were 3,923 hospitalizations of people with the coronavirus, according to the Ohio Department of Health, the first day since Nov. 21 that the number dipped below 4,000. As Hancock reports, the state also reported 6,701 new cases and 79 more deaths.

Nursing home deaths, cases slow: At least 5,265 patients of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Ohio are known to have died of coronavirus, with the addition of 206 deaths in this week’s update. There were as many as 286 deaths reported in a single week in mid-December. And the number of current cases reported is down sharply this week, though still well above early fall levels, Rich Exner reports.

Knowledge is power: John Caniglia lifts the lid on the FirstEnergy-funded dark-money group that sought to undercut Cleveland Public Power, conducting dozens of interviews and sorting through state records, tax filings and campaign finance reports. The group Consumers Against Deceptive Fees has ties to the House Bill 6 scandal, and its story provides “a glimpse into how corporations use nonprofits to shield the movement of political money in Ohio and their widespread influence in the state, something critics fear will be a corrupting factor for years to come.”

Twofer: Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday signed two bills into law — one setting up state regulations for electric scooters, the other reducing the amount of time people have to file lawsuits regarding employment discrimination. Jeremy Pelzer has the details.

It’s a date: The Ohio Senate will begin committee hearings on Jan. 26 and floor sessions on Feb. 3, under the chamber’s 2021 schedule released Wednesday by Senate President Matt Huffman. The schedule lists no session days or committee hearings in July or August (as is customary); the final session day of the year is set for Dec. 15.

Let me explain: Ohio school board member Kirsten Hill issued a statement Wednesday explaining her participation in last week’s protest that preceded the riot at the Capitol. As Emily Bamforth reports, Hill condemned the violence and said her participation consisted of listening to Trump give a speech, walking to the Capitol, waving an American flag and praying at a street corner along the National Mall.

“I am not a terrorist”: That’s what Adam Newbold, a retired Navy SEAL from Lisbon, Ohio, and director of Advanced Training Group Worldwide, a firearms instruction business, told ABC News’ James Gordon Meek and Catherine Sanz after posting a video bragging about breaching the U.S. Capitol. Newbold initially posted a video saying he was “proud” of the terrorist attack, but has since tempered his speech – especially after the FBI began asking him questions.

Unemployment bonus: State officials say supplemental unemployment payments of $300 a week have begun for some people, and others left out because they exhausted their benefits before the new stimulus package became law Dec. 27 could be able to begin filing claims as soon as Friday. Payments will be retroactive, Exner reports. The recent stimulus package extended pandemic-related unemployment programs and tacked on an additional $300 a week for up to 11 weeks.

Check yourself: The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday urged employers to cash the dividend checks mailed to them in December before they go stale after 90 days. Of the $5 billion in checks issued to 180,000 employers, as of Tuesday 23,352 employers had not yet cashed their checks totaling $513.7 million. The BWC said in a release it can reissue checks upon request; any employers who don’t take any action will have the money credited to their account.

Lobbying Lineup

Here are five groups that lobbied on Senate Bill 40, which prohibits universities from blocking controversial speakers on campus, as well as ban the establishment of free speech zones. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the measure into law last month. State lobbying forms don’t require people to disclose which side of the bill they’re on.

1. Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters

2. Ohio News Media Association

3. Ohio Right To Life

4. Columbus City School District

5. Americans For Prosperity

On The Move

Desiree Tims has been named the new president and CEO of Innovation Ohio. Tims, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Rep. Michael Turner’s congressional seat last year, succeeds Janetta King, who founded the left-leaning think tank in 2011.

Birthdays

Duncan McArthur, Ohio’s 11th governor (1772-1839)

Jordan Ohler, vice president, Swing State Strategies

Mike Rowe, Ohio Senate Democrats’ chief of staff

Blake Springhetti, Ohio House Republicans’ deputy budget director

Straight from the Source

“Fundamental to our democracy is the peaceful transition of power. I am urging all Ohioans no matter what side of the aisle you are on – violence is not and is never the answer. Our nation needs to heal.”

– Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken, in a statement Wednesday referencing the possibility of armed protests planned for Washington D.C., Columbus and other state capitals this weekend. The statement, issued shortly after the U.S. House impeached President Donald Trump, notably doesn’t mention the impeachment vote.

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