State Supreme Court sets date for JobsOhio lawsuit

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Nov. 6 for an appeal filed by liberal advocacy group ProgressOhio, Ohio Sen. Mike Skindell, D-Lakewood, and former Democratic Rep. Dennis Murray, according to a Thursday court filing.

JobsOhio is a privatized economic development agency funded by profits on the state’s liquor monopoly.

The lawsuit has been working its way through the court system since shortly after Republican state legislators and Republican Gov. John Kasich created JobsOhio in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of Economic Development. The lawsuit began in local courts, where judges ruled the legislators and ProgressOhio didn’t have legal standing to sue.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed last January to reconsider the standing issue after the plaintiffs appealed in July 2012.

When oral argument do begin, Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell won’t be there. In a court filing Thursday, O’Donnell recused himself from the case; a spokeswoman declined to say why the judge recused himself.

ProgressOhio, which has been joined on the case by the conservative 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, argues the Ohio Constitution doesn’t allow the state to create a private corporation.

The JobsOhio case could have implications for another high-profile lawsuit from the socially conservative Ohio Roundtable, which has challenged the legality of the addition of “video lottery terminals” (which are basically electronic slot machines) to Ohio’s seven horse racetracks.

The Ohio Roundtable contends the VLTs are an illegal expansion of gambling since voters didn’t approve them.

Likewise, lower courts have ruled Ohio Roundtable doesn’t have standing to sue. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Ohio Roundtable case, but not until the JobsOhio case was settled.

JobsOhio has been the subject of ongoing controversy over questions about its transparency. Earlier this month, this newspaper reported six of its nine board members had direct financial ties to companies that received public subsidies recommended by JobsOhio, setting off a new round of criticism from Democrats.

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