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Head Start to serve nearly 2,000 fewer Ohio kids
Other morning headlines: Ohio lawmakers hit the road for health care tours; Ohio officials to discuss youth suicide prevention

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Head Start to serve nearly 2,000 fewer Ohio kids
  • Ohio lawmakers hit the road for health care tours
  • Ohio officials to discuss youth suicide prevention
  • Ohio regulator: Coal industry forced resignation
  • Ohio AG deems 'useless' some school safety plans
  • Ex-Ohio official pleads not guilty to bribery
  • Ohio Dem leader: Kasich ethics question unresolved
  • Free phone service program still abused in Ohio
  • Head Start to serve nearly 2,000 fewer Ohio kids
    The number of low-income children in Head Start's preschool programs in Ohio will drop by more than 1,800 during this school year because of automatic federal spending cuts. The Office of Head Start says those cuts will reduce its preschool ranks by more than 57,000 children nationwide. More than a million children are served each year by the programs, which help prepare them for elementary school and give them meals and health care. Barbara Haxton, the executive director of Ohio Head Start Association says teachers have been cut and student waiting lists have been extended at most Head Start preschools and affiliates in the state. The cuts  also mean no services, such as health care, for nearly 200 Ohio babies and their families.

    Ohio lawmakers hit the road for health care tours
    State lawmakers are hitting the road to explore possible changes to Ohio's health care system. The Senate's Medicaid subcommittee heads to Cleveland today to see how a mini-Medicaid expansion model works at MetroHealth Medical Center. Legislators have been trying to find common ground on whether to expand Medicaid health coverage to more low income people since Republican Gov. John Kasich proposed an extension of the program in February. GOP leaders pulled it from the state budget, and the issue has yet to gain traction. A House committee that has been studying prescription drug additions also travels to a medical center in southern Ohio. The panel meets in Jackson and also plans to make stops later this summer in Hardin, Lucas, and Cuyahoga counties to hear public testimony.

    Ohio officials to discuss youth suicide prevention
     Ohio officials plan to discuss the state's efforts to prevent youth suicide and how to raise awareness of the issue. Attorney General Mike DeWine says his office will announce a new partnership today with a nonprofit organization called The Jason Foundation that works with teachers to identify and help at-risk young people. Former Ohio State president Gordon Gee sits on the board of the Hendersonville, Tenn.-based organization. He is slated to appear at the Tuesday news conference at the Statehouse to discuss the efforts. State lawmakers recently passed a bill designating Sept. 10 as "Ohio Suicide Prevention Day."

    Ohio regulator: Coal industry forced resignation
    A veteran Ohio environmental regulator says Republican Gov. John Kasich is forcing him to resign after pressure from the coal industry. In an email distributed widely to Ohio EPA employees Monday, George Elmaraghy said the Division of Surface Water he's headed since 2005 faced "considerable pressure" this year to accommodate industry demands. Elmaraghy commended his staff for its work as coal companies sought permits he said would have violated state and federal laws and harmed Ohio's streams and wetlands. The email, first reported by The Huffington Post, said Kasich and Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally have asked Elmaraghy to resign effective Sept. 13. Agency spokeswoman Carol Hester couldn't discuss personnel. But she defended Ohio's water permitting process as sound. She said permits face intense scrutiny.

    Ohio AG deems 'useless' some school safety plans
    Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says some school safety plans would be "useless" in an active shooter emergency. DeWine on Monday said some schools have great plans, but others have procedures that would be difficult to follow because they are too long. Schools are required by state law to file safety plans, but they are not penalized if they do not file them. DeWine says 180 school buildings have plans on file that have not been updated in at least three years and 56 others have incomplete plans. DeWine’s office has organized dozens of training sessions for teachers and school personnel to teach them how to recognize and respond in a potential shooting.

    Ex-Ohio official pleads not guilty to bribery
    A former Ohio deputy treasurer accused in a bribery and money laundering scheme has pleaded not guilty to related charges. Amer Ahmad served as top deputy when Democrat Kevin Boyce was state treasurer. Ahmad later served as Chicago's comptroller. Prosecutors allege Ahmad and others including bank lobbyist Mohammed Noure Alo conspired to use Ahmad's position in Ohio to enrich themselves and their businesses by securing lucrative state business between 2009 and 2011. The 38-year-old Ahmad pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court in Columbus to all charges, including money laundering, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money, bribery and making false statements. The 35-year-old Alo also pleaded not guilty on Monday to conspiracy and other charges. Both were released by U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp on their own recognizance.

    Ohio Dem leader: Kasich ethics question unresolved
    The Ohio House's leading Democrat says the state ethics panel's dismissal Thursday of complaints involving Republican Gov. John Kasich and his privatized economic development office left unanswered ethical questions. House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard said Monday that Ohioans deserved an Ohio Ethics Commission investigation into whether compensation Kasich received from Worthington Industries was tied to state tax credits awarded to the firm's subsidiaries. The Associated Press reported subsidiaries of the central Ohio steel processor received $619,000 in job-creation tax credits in 2012 and 2013. As a director of the firm, Kasich collected $611,000 through fiscal 2011. JobsOhio recommended the tax deals. The ethics commission's chairman determined Kasich made a clean break from the firm. Heard urged the Republican-led Legislature to weigh coming legislation that will propose added JobsOhio scrutiny.

    Free phone service program still abused in Ohio
    Enrollment in a subsidized program that provides free phone service to the poor has dropped by more than 20 percent in the past year, but the part of the program that hands free cellphones to enrollees continues to be abused. The Dayton Daily News reports the program's misuse is forcing authorities to propose rule changes. The phones are given through a federal program paid for with fees on cellphone and home phone bills. Eligibility requirements include that people must receive some form of government assistance such as Medicaid. Some families have been found owning more than one free phone. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio last week endorsed a rule change that calls for ending the practice of handing the phones. Instead, they'd be mailed after a stricter eligibility check.

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