Guns in schools bill passes Ohio House
An Ohio bill now on to the Ohio Senate would require the state's attorney general to develop a training model for school employees who are allowed to carry concealed weapons. School boards would have to consult with local police to develop school safety protocols, if districts decide to let certain employees carry concealed weapons. The measure would shield the names of gun-carrying employees and block protocols for carrying concealed weapons from being part of collective bargaining negotiations. The House passed the bill on Wednesday, sending it to the Senate. State law limits the people who can have a deadly weapon in a school safety zone to security guards, on-duty officers and others whom a district's board has given permission. The bill would allow off-duty officers to also carry weapons.
Judge to rule on speeding ticket refunds
A southwest Ohio judge is ready to rule on whether a Cincinnati area village should refund speeding tickets from traffic cameras he has called a scam. Motorists want Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman to order Elmwood Place to pay back fines and fees totaling nearly $2 million. The village says there shouldn't be refunds for speeding violations and has appealed the judge's earlier rulings against cameras. The judge has said he will rule sometime today. Ruehlman last year ordered the village to halt camera use, and he has approved class-action status for thousands of ticketed drivers. The village is appealing. Several other lawsuits are pending in Ohio.
Supreme Court won't reconsider Freshwater case
The Ohio Supreme Court won't reconsider its decision upholding the dismissal of a public school science instructor who refused to remove religious materials from his classroom. The court denied John Freshwater's request for reconsideration in a split decision Wednesday. The court previously ruled the Mount Vernon district had grounds to fire Freshwater in 2011 for insubordination for keeping religious books and a poster of a praying president. Freshwater's attorneys argued the court wrongly interpreted his attempts to deal with what they called vague requests from administrators with flat-out insubordination.
False alarm calls costing Cleveland
False security system alarms are costing the city of Cleveland big dollars, and some members of council want to do something about it.
The Plain Dealer reports Cleveland police responded to nearly 24,000 alarms last year. Nearly all of them were false, costing the city about $750,000. Some council members this week revived proposed legislation in 2012 that would fine property owners that have three or more false alarms in a year. It was quickly tabled. Councilman Matt Zone says he’ll keep exploring other solutions. Last month, Akron said it will only respond to most security alarms if a threat has been verified through security cameras or audio surveillance.
Siegel and Shuster Society changes name
Cleveland’s Siegel and Shuster Society—a group that honors Superman and his creators—is changing its name that will help the group transform itself into a charitable foundation. The Plain Dealer reports the board voted unanimously Tuesday to change its name to the Siegel and Shuster Foundation. The group has raised $20,000 since October, when its new Superman specialty license plates went on sale in Ohio. The name change will help the group launch several philanthropic efforts, possibly scholarships. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were teenagers in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood when they created Superman, who celebrated his 75th birthday last year.
FitzGerald supports death penalty, calls for review
Democratic gubernatorial contender Ed FitzGerald says he supports the death penalty and believes there are times when it is called for. FitzGerald was asked by reporters Wednesday about the death penalty following one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Death row inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted last week as an untested drug combination was used to put him to death. FitzGerald says the procedure should be reviewed. He says his experience as a former prosecutor and FBI agent have shaped his views on the death penalty. Republican Gov. John Kasich's spokesman has said the governor supports the death penalty and the procedure is being reviewed. McGuire's attorney, an anti-death penalty group and several Democratic state lawmakers are urging a moratorium on executions.
Bill to track number of addicted babies
The Ohio House has approved a bill requiring hospital maternity units and newborn care nurseries and maternity homes to report the number of babies born addicted to drugs. The reporting to the state Health Department, mandated for every three months, is one of several bills aimed at reducing the state's prescription painkiller addiction epidemic. The bill would not include information that could identify the child. The measure, approved unanimously on Wednesday, heads to the Senate.
Case Western receives NIH grant for AIDS research
Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center have received nearly 13 million dollars from the National Institutes of Health for HIV/AIDS research. It’s the fifth time since 1987 researchers at Case have been awarded this type of funding from the NIH. The award totals more than $12 million for core research, with the potential for $9 million in additional funding for clinical trials of promising treatments. The Case program is one of 37 worldwide that will be conducting human studies to learn more about HIV and its related diseases.
Homicide suspect found with facial recognition software
Akron investigators say they identified a homicide suspect using facial recognition software made available to police last summer through Ohio's law enforcement information-sharing system. Akron police say they used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway database to help identify a photograph obtained during the investigation of a Monday robbery and shooting death. The database includes driver's license photos. The 37-year-old man identified as a potential match to the photo was arrested after follow-up interviews. He is one of three suspects in the case. Critics call the facial recognition technology intrusive. A state panel studying access to the information-sharing system recommended stricter access requirements.
Changes likely to fracking tax bill
Legislators are working on significant changes to fracking tax legislation that is currently in the Ohio House. The bill’s sponsor, Lima Republican Matt Huffman, tells the Columbus Dispatch there are changes lawmakers can make to the bill to satisfy many of the people who have concerns about it, although the details of what those changes are have not yet been released. The bill as it stands now will increase the severance tax on fracking by a smaller amount than the governor originally proposed. It would also offer tax cuts to Ohio-based drillers, both sticking points for Governor Kasich. Other controversial parts include where the tax revenue will go. Counties in the Utica shale region want the money returned to help offset the cost of infrastructure.
Air Force One to stay in Dayton
The presidential jet on which Lyndon Johnson was sworn in following President Kennedy’s assassination will remain in Dayton. The Air Force One plane has been on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at the Wright Patterson base, but the LBJ library in Texas had been trying to get the jet moved to Austin. The Air Force announced Wednesday it will stay in Dayton. Several Ohio Lawmakers had written the Air Force, asking that the plane not be moved, arguing more people would be able to see it.
New jobs coming to Cleveland
Up to 200 new jobs are likely coming to Cleveland. The Wahconah Group clothing company will join Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown for a press conference at the company’s new headquarters on East 55th Street this morning. The company plans to create up to 200 jobs at its new call center, warehouse, design studio, distribution center and manufacturing facilities. At the conference, Brown also will announce the Wear America Act. It’s a bill he plans to introduce to create jobs in the domestic textile industry. It would require any textile product purchased by a federal agency to be made in America. Currently, products only have to be 51 percent American made.
Columbus mayor vies for Republican National Convention
The Democrat mayor of Columbus is trying to get the GOP to hold its 2016 national convention in his city. Mayor Michael Coleman made the pitch last night in Washington, D.C., along with a performance by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Coleman tells the Columbus Dispatch having either the Republican or the Democratic Convention in Columbus would be a huge boost to the city. He went before the Association of State Democratic Chairmen last November to vie for the Democratic National Convention as well.
Report on investment scandal sill not released
Ohio's government watchdog has yet to fulfill a promise made nearly two years ago to release an investigative report on the investment scandal that engulfed the state in 2005. The Toledo Blade reports the inspector general's office says there's no timeline for the release and won't comment further, citing a policy of not discussing investigations until reports are issued. Inspector General Randall Meyer pledged in early 2012 to complete the report left unissued by his predecessor who oversaw the investigation into the scandal dubbed "Coingate." Former coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Tom Noe is serving an 18-year prison sentence for stealing from a $50 million rare-coin fund he oversaw for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. The scandal led to 19 convictions, including then-Gov. Bob Taft.