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Morning news headlines for February 15, 2013
Driller charged with violating Clean Water Act; Details coming out on Medicaid expansion plan; Ohio confirms decision not to run its own health care exchange
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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  • Youngstown driller Lupo charged with violating Clean Water Act
  • More details emerge on Kasich’s Medicaid plan
  • Ohio confirms decision not to run health insurance exchange
  • Prison agency wants medical pros to help with executions
  • Appeals court denies former judge’s corruption appeal
  • Tension between Akron mayor and police union rises again
  • $2.3 billion paid out in unemployment in 2012
  • Auditor tells Stark County to pay sheriff during court battle
  • University of Akron building evacuated after gun report
  • Youngstown driller Lupo charged with violating Clean Water Act
    A Youngstown business owner has pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of violating the federal Clean Water Act.  Federal prosecutors charged 62-year-old Ben Lupo on Thursday… Authorities say Lupo ordered the dumping of at least 20,000 gallons of drilling mud and brine into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed on Jan.31.  Clean-up crews are still on site. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources revoked the permits of two of Lupo’s companies Hardrock Excavating, a brine hauler, and D&L Energy. An injection well owned by D&L was also blamed for a series of earthquakes last year in Youngstown. Lupo could face up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. 

    More details emerge on Kasich’s Medicaid plan
    State lawmakers in Ohio are hearing more details on Gov. John Kasich's plan to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. A Kasich administration official emphasized Thursday to an Ohio House committee that the governor's plan offers a way to opt out if the federal government rolls back its financial commitments to cover the cost of the newly eligible. Greg Moody, director of the governor's Office of Health Transformation, described the provision as a "circuit breaker" that would shut down the program should there be future changes out of Washington. Under the law, the federal government will pay the entire cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, gradually phasing down to 90 percent. That's still well above the state's current level of 64 percent.

    Ohio confirms decision not to run health insurance exchange
    Ohio officials are confirming the state's intentions not to run its own health insurance exchange but instead have the federal government operate the new online marketplace under President Barack Obama's health care law. A letter sent Thursday to the Obama administration reiterates what Republican Gov. John Kasich said in November. Ohio will keep its authority to regulate health plans in and out of the exchange, but leave running it to the federal government. Exchanges can be run by the states, the federal government, or a state-federal partnership. The federal government had initially instructed Ohio officials to submit a more detailed blueprint of its plan, which is required of those pursing a federal-state partnership. But recent conversations between officials clarified Ohio no longer fit into that category.

    Prison agency wants medical pros to help with executions
    Ohio's prison agency says it wants doctors or other medical professionals to assist with executions, saying it will help promote humane procedures. Prisons attorney Greg Trout also says state law should be changed to protect any doctor who helps with an execution from sanctions by the state medical board. Trout said that assistance from a doctor or nurse is unlikely without such protection. Trout also told a state Supreme Court committee reviewing Ohio's death penalty law that protection should be offered pharmacies that mix supplies of execution drugs.

    Appeals court denies former judge’s corruption appeal
    The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former Cuyahoga County Judge Steven Terry’s appeal on his corruption conviction. Terry was sentenced to the maximum of more than five years in federal prison in 2011. A jury convicted of him of fixing a foreclosure case for former county Auditor Frank Russo, and for doing campaign work on county time. The judge in the case said Terry lied during his trial when he denied helping Russo, and wire-taps of calls between Terry and Russo proved that. Russo is serving 22 years in federal prison.

    Tension between Akron mayor and police union rises again
    Years-long tension between Akron’s police union and the mayor are escalating yet again. Six Akron police captains have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to remove newly appointed Assistant Chief Charles Brown. They say the hiring by Mayor Don Plusquellic is illegal, in violation of the city’s charter and labor agreement and has put the department in chaos. Plusquellic’s appointment placed Brown above the six captains in the chain of command. The lawsuit asks the court to find Brown’s position unlawful and remove him from the job. Plusquellic said in a statement that he is in charge of the police division under the city’s charter and that he has the right to designate an assistant.

    $2.3 billion paid out in unemployment in 2012
    Out-of-work Ohioans collected almost $2.3 billion in state and federal unemployment compensation last year, though thousands of claims were over paid. A Dayton Daily News analysis of compensation data found more than 110,000 claims saw over payments for a total of nearly $90 million last year. Ohio also recovered $43 million in overpaid funds in 2012. An official with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says the overpayment problem started during the recession when the state agency pushed to deliver timely benefits to tens of thousands of jobless Ohioans. The department says many overpayments are the result of honest mistakes.

    Auditor tells Stark County to pay sheriff during court battle
    Ohio’s auditor is directing Stark County to pay its newly appointed sheriff while the Ohio Supreme Court weighs in on the controversy. County Democrats recently picked George Maier to fill the vacant position. But the former sheriff argues he’s not qualified and has asked the high court to remove him. That prompted Stark County’s Auditor to say he wouldn’t pay Maier his salary or give him any authority until the issue is settled. But on Thursday, State Auditor David Yost said Maier is entitled to all duties of the job, including pay, during the process. Maier has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.

    University of Akron building evacuated after gun report
    There were some nervous moments at the University of Akron Thursday evening. The school evacuated its Polsky Building downtown and canceled evening classes there after a woman reported seeing someone in the building with a gun. Police found nothing and the building is back open today.

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