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Kasich promises to veto "unfair" severance tax proposals
Other morning headlines: Timken releases financial results; Casinos bringing in less; Backlash against wedding rules at statehouse
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
  • Kasich promises to veto "unfair" severance tax proposals
  • Timken releases financial results
  • Ohio State names new president
  • State Supreme Court to hear complaints about Youngstown facilities
  • Kasich says union fee proposal not on agenda
  • Judge considers abortion clinic closure
  • Scotts to test genetically modified grass
  • Suarez to settle California suit
  • Finalists named for PUCO seat
  • Casinos bringing in less
  • Backlash against wedding rules at statehouse
  • Federal employee admits to copyright infringement
  • Appeals court rules against man convicted of human trafficking
  • Party chairmen target opposing party candidates
  • Charges dismissed against convicted killer
  • Kasich promises to veto "unfair" severance tax proposals
    Governor John Kasich told legislators he would veto any severance tax proposal that reaches his desk that he doesn’t deem to be fair.

    The House is currently working on a fracking tax package that includes bigger benefits for shale drillers than Kasich proposed in his own plan two years ago.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports that Kasich would not confirm whether he would veto House Bill 375, which includes a 1-percent tax on gross receipts for the first five years of production. The rate then rises to 2 percent until production drops below a certain level.

    Kasich’s plan would have started at 1.5 percent and risen to 4 when startup costs were recouped. The House rejected that proposal twice.

    To date, 1,061 permits for wells have been issued in the Utica Shale. 697 have been drilled and 292 are in production.


    Timken releases financial results
    Canton-based Timken Co. released its most recent financial results yesterday.

    The bearings and steel maker said its fourth-quarter results beat analyst expectations.

    Net income was down 30 percent, to $73.5 million. Revenue was down just 2 percent because of lower demand.

    Shares are up 9.5 percent from a year ago.

    Yearly sales rang in at $4.3 billion, down 18 percent from last year.

    Timken made headlines last year when it announced it would spin off its steel operations into a new, publicly traded company named TimkenSteel Corp. That should happen by July 1.


    Ohio State names new president
    Ohio State University trustees have named a California educator as the school's next president.

    The trustees ended a six-month search by approving the selection of Michael Drake as the 15th president of Ohio State. Drake had been chancellor of the University of California at Irvine.

    Drake succeeds former president Gordon Gee, who retired in July after remarks he made jabbing Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools were made public. Gee is now interim president at West Virginia University.

    Drake is an ophthalmology professor who also is a published textbook author.


    State Supreme Court to hear complaints about Youngstown facilities
    The state Supreme Court has set a hearing date in March to hear complaints from Youngstown municipal judges that their facilities are crumbling.

    The judges asked the high court in 2009 to force the city to pay for improved facilities.

    New Mayor John McNally has said he'd like to avoid further litigation and find a new home for the courts.


    Kasich says union fee proposal not on agenda
    Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich says a proposal to restrict union fees in the Buckeye state is not on his agenda.

    Supporters of a right-to-work proposal in Ohio have been circulating petitions for a ballot measure that would allow employees to opt out of paying the share of their union dues that goes toward collective bargaining.

    The measure comes after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected collective bargaining limits for public employees in 2011.

    Kasich declined yesterday to discuss what effect a right-to-work measure could have on his re-election, only saying it wasn't his priority. He spoke at a legislative preview session, organized by The Associated Press.


    Judge considers abortion clinic closure
    A judge is considering whether to let a suburban Cincinnati abortion clinic remain open as it appeals a state closure order.

    A Hamilton County Judge is set to decide today whether to allow the Lebanon Road Surgery Center to operate as it appeals an order to close by next Tuesday.

    The Ohio Department of Health ordered the closure and revoked the facility's license.

    The clinic has been operating under an exception to state law requiring abortion clinics to secure patient-transfer agreements with a hospital.

    Unable to secure such an agreement, the clinic — with the department's approval — has been using backup doctors who can admit patients to hospitals.

    The Health Department decided to end that agreement.


    Scotts to test genetically modified grass
    Scotts Miracle-Gro will begin testing a genetically modified grass seed this growing season.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports the Central-Ohio based company’s new Kentucky bluegrass is the product of nearly two decades of research.

    It will be tested on the lawns of several employees.

    The grass was modified to protect it from being killed by Monsanto's weedkiller Roundup.

    Scotts first attempt at genetically modified grass failed in Oregon when its lightweight pollen escaped from its test field.

    Skeptics worry genetically modified crops could harm the environment or even human health.​


    Suarez to settle California suit
    A North Canton-based marketer will pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit against its top executives linked to federal charges of improper campaign contributions.

    The Suarez Corporation was sued in June of 2011 by a group of county District Attorneys in California. The suit accused Suarez of using false advertising to sell weight loss and pain control products. This settlement will end that lawsuit.

    But it’s not the end of the controversy surrounding Suarez.

    Suarez founder Ben Suarez and its CFO Michael Giorgio are accused of disguising campaign contributions to politicians who wrote letters to try and get the California suit dropped. The donations were allegedly funneled through the employees and their spouses.

    The politicians involved—Congressman Jim Renacci and treasurer Josh Mandel—returned the money.

    Suarez and Giogio pleaded not guilty in that case.


    Finalists named for PUCO seat
    The four finalists recommended for a soon-to-be-vacated seat on the Ohio commission that regulates public utilities include a former state budget director and a utility-rate administrator for the commission.

    A nominating panel considered 27 applicants for the seat on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and submitted the finalists Thursday to Gov. John Kasich. He can make his choice from that list or ask for a new one.

    The commission will have an open seat because Chairman Todd Snitchler decided not to seek reappointment when his term expires April 10.

    The finalists include two from Columbus: utility-rate administrator Patrick Donlon and Tom Johnson, who was budget director under Governor Bob Taft. Toledo city Councilman Tom Waniewski and Cleveland lawyer Stacey Polk also made the short list.


    Casinos bringing in less
    Ohio counties and school districts will get less money from casino tax revenue this time around.

    $68.6 million is being handed out this week. The Beacon-Journal reports that is 2.2 percent less than the last disbursement.

    Schools will get about $23 million, counties will get $35 million.

    Casino revenue was $821 million last year. That’s down from a projected $886 million, and far less than what was originally predicted during the campaign to allow gambling: $1.9 billion.

    Some worry that money will drop further when more racinos open statewide. Counties don’t get a portion of racino revenue.


    Backlash against wedding rules at statehouse
    There is new backlash against the rules for holding a wedding ceremony or reception at the Ohio Statehouse: Saying it unfairly discriminates against gay couples.

    The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board has allowed couples to get married at the statehouse since 2006. Last year, 22 wedding events took place.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports the problem is with one of the rules: That couples must provide an Ohio marriage license.

    Because Ohio's Constitution prohibits same-sex marriages, no marriage licenses can be issues. Which means a gay couple cannot have a wedding or reception at the Statehouse.

    Freedom Ohio is pushing Capitol Square officials to change the rules, saying the state is not only discriminating but losing out on revenue.

    Weddings cost $3,500. Weddings with receptions cost $8,000. ​


    Federal employee admits to copyright infringement
    A federal employee accused of selling pirated movie DVDs during work hours has pleaded guilty in Ohio to copyright infringement and been sentenced to two years of probation.

    Federal authorities say 65-year-old Darrell Lee Lynch, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and was sentenced Thursday in Columbus. Lynch was ordered to pay about $1,500 to the Motion Picture Association of America and had to resign from the Defense Logistics Agency.

    Lynch's attorney, Joe Landusky II, says Lynch acknowledged his wrongdoing, regrets it and believes the government treated him fairly.

    Court documents say authorities began investigating after complaints that Lynch was selling DVDs to fellow employees during work hours. They found 188 unauthorized copies of recent movies in April with a list and descriptions of the movies for sale.


    Appeals court rules against man convicted of human trafficking
    A northwest Ohio man serving 30 years in prison for forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution has lost his bid to have his conviction thrown out or get a more lenient sentence.

    A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati rejected Anthony Willoughby's arguments that his trial was unfair and his sentence unreasonably long.

    The judges say evidence against the Toledo man was "overwhelming."

    Willoughby's attorney, Angela Hayden, says she doesn't know whether she'll appeal the decision. She declined to comment further.

    Willoughby was convicted in December 2011 of trafficking a 16-year-old girl who had run away from her foster home. The girl testified that the 40-year-old Willoughby forced her to have sex with him and had pimped her out to at least three men.


    Party chairmen target opposing party candidates
    Ohio's political party chairmen have jumped at the chance to highlight vulnerabilities of the gubernatorial contender running on the opposite ticket.

    Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern says the fall election is about the incumbent, Republican Governor John Kasich. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald has been campaigning for months as a Democratic candidate.

    Redfern says he sees Kasich's record on the economy and women's health issues as his weaknesses. Republican chairman Matt Borges points to FitzGerald's record of public service and trouble in picking a running mate as vulnerabilities.

    Redfern and Borges spoke at a legislative preview session, organized by The Associated Press.


    Charges dismissed against convicted killer
    Prosecutors have dismissed charges against a northeast Ohio man who served about 20 years in prison for a 1993 killing but maintained his innocence.

    A judge had ordered a new trial for Dewey Jones of Akron after tests showed his DNA didn't match evidence at the scene. Prosecutors moved Thursday to dismiss the charges, saying evidence has degraded and witnesses have died, making a conviction unlikely.

    Jones tells WEWS-TV he knew such a day would come but didn't think it would take so long.

    Until last year, Jones was imprisoned for the robbery and killing of 71-year-old Neal Rankin.

    A spokeswoman for Ohio's attorney general says the judge hasn't decided whether to categorize the dismissal in a way that could allow for later prosecution of Jones if new evidence arises.

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