Kasich’s tax plan faces hurdles
Gov. John Kasich's plan to tax the services of lawyers, lobbyists and accountants faces a host of hurdles. Implementing such taxes elsewhere has proven difficult, while some targeted businesses say it's anticompetitive. That means almost guaranteed political opposition. On the day of his budget unveiling, Kasich conceded lobbyists would probably try to get the tax on their industry removed form Ohio's budget bill. Similar proposals foundered in Michigan and Florida in part because big law and accounting firms often do business across state and international lines, making it a difficult tax to calculate and impose. Professional organizations for Ohio lawyers and accountants have so far held off judgment, saying they are hearing concerns but still evaluating the Republican governor's complete budget package.
Two companies lose drilling permit amid dumping investigation
The state says it has permanently revoked the operating permits of two companies being investigated for the illegal dumping of up to 20,000 gallons of gas drilling wastewater down a storm drain. The Department of Natural Resources said Thursday it took the action after workers at the companies' Youngstown headquarters were allegedly seen dumping the wastewater into a storm sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed. The agency also says it's working with the state Environmental Protection Agency to contain and clean up the dumping. The state revoked injection well permits for D&L Energy and the brine hauler's permit for Hardrock Excavating. The companies and owner Ben Lupo say they're considering an appeal.
Casino revenue falls
Revenue at Cleveland’s casino fell 16 percent in January. The Horseshoe took in $20.6 million, the most revenue of any casino in the state. It also leads all Ohio casinos by bringing in more than $225 per day on each slot machine and over $2,100 on each table game. That may be due in part to Horseshoe’s low payouts on slots and video poker - just under 91 cents per dollar while Toledo and Columbus pay out between 91 and 92 cents.
New England snowstorm causes flight cancellations in Ohio
The big storm heading for the Northeast is already disrupting air travel, with over 2,100 flights cancelled at airports across the Midwest. About half the flights today heading out of Cleveland to New York are cancelled according to airline tracking website FlightAware. All Delta flights from Cleveland Hopkins to New York area airports today are cancelled. New England could get smacked with up to two feet of snow, while New York City is under a blizzard warning for as much as a foot or more.
State scraps plan to force replacement of license plates
A plan to make Ohioans buy new license plates every seven years is headed to the junkyard. Ohio Department of Safety spokesman Joe Andrews tells The Plain Dealer the idea was never a top priority. If it was approved, all of the older bicentennial and gold license plates would have been recalled and drivers would have had to pay $10 to buy new ones. They would have to pay every again seven years. The state can still force drivers to replace rusty or unreadable plates.
Food service in Ohio prisons may be privatized
The Ohio prisons system wants to privatize its food service operations in a move that could save $15 million and result in more than 300 lost jobs. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says it remains committed to balancing its budget without reducing bed space or closing any more prisons. A prisons spokeswoman says that savings would come through the possible reduction of 380 jobs. Unions representing guards at the adult and youth prison system, which is also considering a privatized food service, promise to fight the proposal, calling it unfair and unsafe.
Haslam named to Cleveland Clinic board
The new owner of the Cleveland Browns now has a seat in the board room of the region’s largest employer. Crain’s Cleveland Business reports Jimmy Haslam has been named to the board of directors of the Cleveland Clinic. Haslam is one of 24 board members serving four year terms. The Cleveland Clinic hospital system employs more than 39,000 people in Northeast Ohio.
Eaton moves into new U.S. headquarters
Eaton Corp. moved into its new U.S. headquarters this week. The 600,000 square foot facility in Beachwood holds about 700 workers who moved from buildings in Willoughby, Eastlake, and Downtown Cleveland. The Plain Dealer reports the building has electric vehicle chargers as well as solar panels. Eaton will try to get the building LEED certified. The company’s global headquarters remain in Ireland after it bought Cooper Industries last year.
Four Cuyahoga County suburbs look at merging services
The Cleveland suburbs of Pepper Pike, Orange, Woodmere, and Moreland Hills are exploring ways to merge services. They already share police and fire services, but a grant from the New York-based Center for Governmental Research is allowing them to find out what else can be combined. Once the study’s done, the researchers will make recommendations on what can be done to operate more efficiently.
Teens acquitted in death of newborn
A judge in northeast Ohio has acquitted two teens of criminal charges in the death of their newborn baby. Prosecutors said the boy and girl, both 17 at the time, kept the pregnancy secret, and their son died from the lack of medical care. But The Canton Repository reports that while a judge ruled there was "ample negligence," he declined Thursday to find them guilty of juvenile charges involuntary manslaughter and child endangering. Defense attorneys argued that the girl thought she was having a miscarriage and the boy — who was not present at July birth — didn't know the baby was alive until afterward. If convicted, the Alliance teens could have been held in a state juvenile facility until they turned 21.