Before a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly, Governor Mike DeWine delivered his State of the State address on March 23rd, his first since 2019.

DeWine began his address by touting achievements from his first three years in office, including the Intel chip manufacturing announcement, water quality investments through H2Ohio and support for child welfare and health.

The second half of the address was devoted to several priorities DeWine said will be presented in further detail in the coming weeks.

The first priority is improvements to Ohio’s community mental health treatment capacity. He said the system isn’t broken so much as it was never built in the first place, despite promises made in decades past.

Next on the list, DeWine said he will ask lawmakers to reinvest in the state park system, something he said Ohioans “rediscovered” amid the pandemic. “Our dream is for Ohio to have the best state park system in the country,” he said.

Additionally, DeWine pledged to work with lawmakers and community leaders on efforts to boost Appalachia — “to revitalize and rebuild the economies and the Main Streets of the area where Ohio began.” The initiatives he is proposing will address downtown redevelopment, broadband expansion, workforce development, education and addiction services.

The governor reiterated his for action on a few specific legislative proposals pending before the General Assembly.

Specifically, DeWine urged lawmakers to enact HB 283 (Abrams-Lampton), which would broaden distracted driving prohibitions and boost penalties due to concerns that distracted driving is a major factor in the spike in a disturbing trend in road deaths.

Furthermore, DeWine expressed support for legislation to increase police accountability and transparency by passing a bill sponsored by Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Phil Plummer (R-Dayton).

Finally, the Governor urged adoption of proposals to increase penalties on repeat violent offenders who continue to use guns to commit crimes despite its being illegal for them even to possess one.

The Governor did not prioritize energy policies or legislation.