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Cuyahoga County Council to hear arguments on sin tax vote
Other morning headlines: ACLU demanding Ohio executions be stopped; 
New campaign targets problem gambling; Spider monkey not rabid

by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Cuyahoga County Council to hear arguments on sin tax vote
  • ACLU demanding Ohio executions be stopped
  • New campaign targets problem gambling
  • Spider monkey not rabid
  • Recycling companies featured in business publication
  • Pepper pushes fight for voter rights
  • Changes to Ohio college savings plan
  • Ohio gets two Tesla charging stations
  • Coyote hunts help farmers, firefighters
  • Cuyahoga County Council to hear arguments on sin tax ballot issue
    Cuyahoga County Council will begin hearings about whether to extend the county’s sin tax for Cleveland’s pro sports teams. This afternoon, representatives from the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers are expected to speak out in support of a May ballot proposal that would allow voters to extend the current county-wide tax on alcohol and tobacco. The money generated by the sin tax helped build the city’s sports venues and helps pay for the cost of repairs and upgrades. It expires in July 2015. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also supports the proposal, and will have representatives at the meeting.

    ACLU demanding Ohio executions be stopped
    A civil-rights organization is asking Ohio Gov. John Kasich to immediately halt executions after a condemned inmate gasped and snorted last week as an untested drug combination was used to put him to death. The ACLU of Ohio made its request to Kasich on Sunday, noting Ohio has five upcoming executions scheduled. Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made loud snorting noises Thursday during the longest execution since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. McGuire's adult children said it amounted to torture and his family says they're suing. McGuire's attorney and an anti-death penalty group urge a moratorium. The 53-year-old McGuire was sentenced to die for raping and fatally stabbing a pregnant woman in 1989. Kasich's spokesman says the governor supports the death penalty and the procedure is being reviewed.

    New campaign targets problem gambling
    The Ohio Lottery Commission is trying to draw attention to serious messages about problem gambling by depicting outcomes of some humorous bets. The characters in the "I Lost a Bet" media campaign include a bearded man dancing atop a table with rhythmic gymnastics ribbons and another guy wearing a dog costume and crouching in a crowded elevator. The billboard and TV ads refer to the campaign website, where funny scenes precede serious messages about damaging effects of problem gambling. The lottery's marketing director describes it as "the applesauce with the medicine." The Columbus Dispatch reports the ads target young adults, especially men, statistically shown to be most at risk for gambling addiction. The $1.5 million campaign is funded by taxes paid by horse-racing tracks that have slots-like video machines.

    Spider monkey not rabid
    A spider monkey that bit the employee of a northeast Ohio car dealership was found not to be rabid in tests performed after the animal was euthanized. The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports the animal was taken from a quarantine site late Friday by representatives of the Erie County Sheriff and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was euthanized shortly after midnight, in order to allow for rabies tests. Tests performed Saturday found no signs of the disease. The newspaper reports the incident sparked outrage among defenders of primates. The monkey's 20-year-old owner, Jacob Ruehlman of Vermilion, had brought the monkey Tuesday to Pat O'Brien Chevrolet. Police reported the monkey, named Brodi, bit an employee who reached through a window to pet it. Ruehlman lacked a required state exotic-animal permit.

    Recycling companies featured in business publication
    Ohio-based companies finding new uses for old items are featured this month in a state business-awareness campaign sponsored by the secretary of state. The "new uses" theme was picked to dovetail with the start of a new year. Recipients include a Magnolia company that refurbishes wood from barns and other historic structures for plank flooring and an Akron company that salvages goods for inventive uses from old factories, schools and houses. One featured company, EnviroFlight of Yellow Springs, makes animal feed and oils from the bioproducts of food manufacturing, brewing and biofuel production. Cincinnati-based Rustic Refinery reclaims wood and industrial metal for furniture, while a nonprofit warehouse in Canton provides affordable used building materials to needy families. Ohio's $30 billion recycling industry employs 98,000 people.

    Pepper pushes fight for voter rights
    Ohio Attorney General candidate David Pepper says he would make advocating for voter rights a priority if elected Ohio's top law officer this fall. The Cincinnati Democrat released his proposals Monday for addressing ballot access and election fairness. Pepper criticizes Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for defending laws passed by state lawmakers that courts later deemed unconstitutional. DeWine told The Vindicator of Youngstown that he didn't pass or write the laws, but did what he's "supposed to do" by defending them in court. Pepper's plan calls for establishing a voter rights unit within the office to investigate complaints and incidents of voter intimidation, disenfranchisement, fraud and suppression. He says he'd also make the office a resource for voting rights awareness and advocate transparency in Ohio's redistricting process.

    Changes to Ohio college savings plan
    Saving for college just got a little more complicated in Ohio. Ohio’s College Advantage 529 savings plan is now using new software that won’t allow automatic contributions from friends and family members. The Tuition Trust Authority says the change is in order to keep banking information private for third-party donors. The new system would otherwise make contributors banking information known to the account holder. The Columbus Dispatch reports changes are in the works that will eventually allow for third-party automatic contributions, but in the mean time, they will have to send a paper check or open their own account. Account holders can still continue to make automatic contributions.

    Ohio gets two Tesla charging stations
    Macedonia in Summit County is one of the first two cities in Ohio to get a charging station for electric Tesla vehicles. The other is in Maumee near Toledo. The station allows owners of the cars to charge them for free in about 20 minutes. The company’s goal is to have enough of them across the country that drivers can travel from coast to coast at no cost. Teslas still aren’t very common, likely because of their price. The electric cars cost $70,000 and up. The state of Ohio is in a battle over Tesla’s direct-sale model, making them available to purchase through company-owned stores rather than dealerships.

    Coyote hunts help farmers, firefighters
    Coyote hunts in southern Ohio are helping out farmers and firefighters but prompting outrage from The Humane Society of the United States.

    Two communities in Fairfield County each hold a coyote hunt in during January. The Columbus Dispatch reports Hunters donate money for food and buy raffle tickets, then spends the day thinning the coyote population. It helps livestock farmers, whose animals often fall victim to coyotes—as well as the fire departments, which raise hundreds of dollars through the hunts.

    But the Humane Society recommends that livestock farmers use other methods, including building 8-foot  fencing with a topper that stops the animals from gaining a hold to scale the fence.

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