Latest Ohio Opioid Deal Aims to Appease Cities, Counties

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Local governments would get more authority over how Ohio’s share of a national opioid settlement is spent – but their guaranteed percentage would remain at 30% – under an updated draft of the deal for divvying up the money that is being negotiated with the governor and attorney general.

Some municipalities had pushed back against an earlier version of the so-called “One Ohio” agreement, arguing it did too little to assure cities, counties and towns hit hard by the opioid crisis that would be the primary beneficiaries of the settlement.

But they also know presenting a unified front with Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost could save time, money and trouble down the line.

Ohio would be the first state to take such an approach.

The latest draft of the deal, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, retains the same percentages for dividing Ohio’s share of the money: 30% to local governments; 15% to Yost’s office; and the remaining 55% to be managed over the long-term by a nonprofit foundation.

But it provides more clarity on how the foundation’s share would be spent and allows local government leaders to serve as “experts” in advising the nonprofit’s board. An earlier version required those experts to be outsiders, which Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said was insulting and a waste of money.

Lawyers have set a deadline of March 6 for parties to react to the plan.

Yost said during an unrelated news conference Thursday that talks are “proceeding well” but that “a lot of moving parts” made it difficult to predict when the deal would be complete.

“It is occupying a great deal of my thought and time,” he said.

He said getting unanimous buy-in may not be possible: “But we need something very close to unanimity. We need at least unity.”