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Ohio Tea Party leader to challenge Gov. Kasich
Other morning headlines: First Ohio oil and gas production report released; Summit County remains a hotbed of meth production

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Ohio Tea Party leader to challenge Gov. Kasich
  • First Ohio oil and gas production report released
  • Summit County remains a hotbed of meth production
  • Ohio employers face another tax hike
  • Cuyahoga Falls swears in new mayor 
  • Homicides down in Cleveland
  • Ohioans can get vouchers to help pay for GED exam
  • Amish couple's lawsuit against a county children's service agency can go forward
  • Ohio had a record low number of traffic deaths in 2013
  • New Year's Eve walleye drop will look for a new fish

    Ohio Tea Party leader to challenge Gov. Kasich
    An Ohio tea party leader is expected to challenge Gov. John Kasich in the Republican gubernatorial primary in May. The Columbus Dispatch reports 48-year-old Ted Stevenot of Cincinnati has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday in Columbus. He’s a past president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition and a Cincinnati-area business owner. If Stevenot submits 1,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state by Feb. 5, Kasich would become the first sitting Ohio governor to face a primary challenge since Gov. James A. Rhodes in 1978. Kasich angered tea party members when he pushed for $2.5 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid. Earlier this week, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune formed a committee to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to face Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. 

    First Ohio oil and gas production report released
    Ohioans are getting the first official report on how much gas and oil is being produced in the Buckeye State. A state law went into effect in late September that requires drilling companies to report their production every quarter. In the three-month-period ending in September, 245 wells produced a total of 1.3 million barrels of oil and more than 33 billion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s better than double the figures for all of 2012. Experts say the increase comes from more wells going online. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says another 40 wells reported no production – because they don’t yet have the pipeline infrastructure to transport it. The highest producing oil well was in Harrison County. 

    Summit County remains a hotbed of meth production
    Authorities say Summit County is a hotbed of methamphetamine production. The Beacon Journal reports that the county sheriff's drug unit found another 85 meth lab sites in 2013. The multi-jurisdictional group now has identified more than 900 meth labs and places where meth equipment was dumped in Summit County since 2001. That's more than in any other Ohio county. The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network says in a new drug trend report that the availability of meth has increased in the Akron-Canton area, partly because the drug has become easier to make. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Clandestine Laboratory Register lists 395 meth sites in Summit. 

    Ohio employers face another tax hike
    Ohio employers face another tax hike this year. The federal employment tax paid by employers increased for the third time starting Wednesday to help pay off the state’s unemployment-compensation loan from the federal government. The state Department of Job and Family Services says the increase, plus two previous ones, will cost employers an additional $63 per employee this year. Ohio and 35 other states were forced to borrow to continue paying benefits to unemployed workers. Ohio’s debt stands at $1.5 billion. Some House Republicans have sponsored a bill to use the state’s estimated $404 million savings from the federally funded expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program to pay down the debt. Democrats last year proposed tapping the state’s rainy-day fund.

    Cuyahoga Falls swears in new mayor
    The city of Cuyahoga Falls officially has a new mayor on the job for the first time in nearly 30 years. The Beacon Journal reports more than 400 people turned out on New Year’s Day for Don Walters’ swearing in ceremony. Walters, a Democrat, unseated Don Robart in the November election. Robart had been Cuyahoga Falls mayor since 1985. Voters in November also chose new mayors in Olmsted Falls and Richmond Heights 

    Homicides down in Cleveland
    Cleveland’s homicide rate dropped 11 percent in 2013 from the previous year. The Plain Dealer reports Cleveland Police officially recorded 86 homicides in its borders as of Monday, down from 97 in 2012. In Cuyahoga County, homicides inched up in 2013 – project at 130, up from 122 last year. 

    Ohioans can get vouchers to help pay for GED exam
    Ohioans who want get their high school diploma by taking the GED can receive vouchers to help pay for a hike in the test fee.  The GED test in Ohio is expected to cost $120 — triple the cost of last year — with the switch from a paper test to a computerized version. Test-takers can get $80 each in vouchers toward the cost if they meet with a counselor at one of Ohio’s 91 career-technical district sites. The program was allotted $4 million in the state budget.

    Amish couple's lawsuit against a county children's service agency can go forward
    A federal judge is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an Ohio Amish couple against a county children's service agency. The suit claims workers there are responsible for their adopted child being raped by her biological parents during a partially unsupervised visit. The decision by Judge Benita Pearson says neither the Trumbull County Children Services Board nor workers sued individually are entitled to immunity sometimes granted public employees or entities. The lawsuit seeking $3 million in damages was filed in April on behalf of the couple who live in West Farmington, north of Youngstown.

    Ohio had a record low number of traffic deaths in 2013
    Ohio had a record low number of traffic deaths in 2013, according to preliminary data released by the State Highway Patrol. 923 people died on Ohio roads during the past year, and additional deaths are under review but have not been confirmed. It would be the first time Ohio has had fewer than 1,000 traffic deaths since record-keeping began in 1936. The previous low was 1,016 in 2011, according to the patrol's revised statistics. In 2012, Ohio had 1,122 deaths.

    New Year's Eve walleye drop will look for a new fish
    The New Year's Eve walleye drop in a northern Ohio town along Lake Erie may have been the last for the current version of the fiberglass fish. Folks in Port Clinton have been dropping a giant walleye from a crane to welcome the new year since 1996. Last year's event got air time on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman." Organizers of the quirky, annual event say the 600-pound walleye made of wood and fiberglass is starting to show its age and may be retired. The fish they use is about 16 years old
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