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Lawmakers set to approve additional calamity days as region gets more snow
Other morning headlines: Kasich signs bill allowing drug overdose antidote; 
Appeals court to hear Dimiora bribery case; Violent juvenile prisoners now held at jail

by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Download (WKSU Only)
  • Lawmakers set to approve additional calamity days as region gets more snow
  • Nearly 80,000 Ohioans select Obamacare plans
  • Kasich signs bill allowing drug overdose antidote
  • Appeals court to hear Dimiora case
  • Violent juvenile prisoners now held at jail
  • Four indicted in food stamp fraud case
  • More jobs added in Ohio than previously thought
  • Grassroots effort seeks to fight "sin tax"
  • Gun silencer bill clears House committee
  • Lawmakers set to approve additional calamity days as region gets more snow
    Lawmakers are expected to approve an Ohio legislative compromise that would give school districts four extra calamity days because of this winter's extreme weather. Floor votes in the House and Senate are expected today on the measure, which gives districts the extra days if they've exhausted their five allotted calamity days. They could use the additional days only after holding school on four other scheduled days off, such as on holidays or during vacations. The measure also allows districts to continue to make up missed days through 30-minute increments tacked onto regularly scheduled school days. They also have the option of using work-at-home "blizzard bags" and online lessons. Some of those may be put to use today, as hundreds of districts close yet again after a winter storm warning was issued for northern Ohio. Rain will eventually change over to snow as colder air moves into the region. Wind gusts could reach up to 50 miles per hour, and a glaze of ice is possible. One to three inches of snow is expected by tonight, with more along Lake Erie.

    Nearly 80,000 Ohioans select Obamacare plans
    Federal officials say close to 79,000 Ohioans have picked health plans in the new insurance marketplace created by President Barack Obama's health care law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report Tuesday with the latest enrollment numbers covering Oct. 1 through March 1. The open enrollment deadline is March 31. The number falls far short of the 152,000 Ohioans that the government projected would be enrolled by the end of February. The report also said more than 193,000 Ohioans were found eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan.

    Kasich signs bill allowing drug overdose antidote
    Gov. Kasich has signed a bill into law allowing friends or family members of addicts to administer a drug overdose antidote without the fear of prosecution. The bill signed Tuesday allows licensed prescribers to provide the drug naloxone to an addict's friends or family members. It reverses the effects of heroin. People administering the drug would be immune from prosecution as long as they call 911 immediately before or after giving the antidote. It also must be obtained through proper channels.

    Appeals court to hear Dimiora case
    A federal appeals court will hear arguments today involving former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora appealing his conviction in a wide-ranging public corruption case. Dimora is asking the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to overturn his 2012 convictions on 32 bribery-related offenses, drop four of the charges and grant him a new trial on the remaining 28 charges. Dimora is serving a 28-year sentence in a West Virginia prison. His trial capped an investigation that led to more than 50 convictions involving county officials, employees and contractors who prosecutors say traded bribes for government jobs and contracts. Dimora argues that the items he received were gifts, not bribes, and that he never tried to hide them.

    Violent juvenile prisoners now held at jail
    Cuyahoga County’s juvenile justice center has moved eight of its most violent prisoners to the county jail. County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty says the prisoners were transferred following a judicial review. He says moving them from the juvenile facility will make the center safer for employees and other minors detained there. The Plain Dealer reports that threats and violence at the center has spiked by more than 200 percent since 2011. McGinty says those transferred have already been bound over and will be tried as adults on felony charges. He says county jail is a more secure setting.

    Four indicted in food stamp fraud case
    Four men in the Cleveland area are facing charges for an alleged scheme to defraud the food stamp and WIC programs. Bashir Mohammed, Yusuf Maalin, Ali Shire Ahmed and Farah Hasan Warsame are accused of allowing customers to redeem food stamps and WIC benefits in exchange for cash, ineligible items, and credit toward overseas wire transfers. The four worked at Bashir Market on Detroit Avenue, which is where the crimes allegedly took place between 2008 and last year. In all, the group is accused of attempting to illegally redeem more than $670 thousand in benefits. They are charged with conspiracy, food stamp fraud, unlawful food stamp redemptions and WIC fraud. Ahmed is also charged with money laundering.

    More jobs added in Ohio than previously thought
    Ohio’s three largest metro areas did better than previously thought at adding jobs in 2012 and 2013. Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati added twice as many jobs as original projections showed. 100,000 new jobs were added over the last two years, as opposed to the estimated 47,900. The Columbus Dispatch reports that number is the biggest percentage gain since 1999. It’s also better than national numbers. Columbus saw the biggest gains at just over 46 thousand. Cincinnati added 30,500 and Cleveland added 23 thousand.

    Grassroots effort seeks to fight "sin tax"
    A grassroots coalition has its target set on defeating the Cuyahoga County “sin tax.” The 15-year extension for the tax on alcohol and cigarettes will go on the ballot in May as Issue 7 to continue to maintain Cleveland’s professional sports facilities. The Coalition Against the Sin Tax says it wants to see a multi-county sales tax or a “facility fee” of up to $5 per ticket instead. The group is holding a campaign kickoff next week.  

    House committee approves gun silencer bill
    A bill that will allow hunters to use silencers on their guns has passed an Ohio House committee. Advocates say the bill will help protect hunters from hearing damage. The League of Ohio Sportsmen actually opposes the bill, and told the Beacon Journal the group would rather see silencers be allowed through the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s rule-making process. By legislating the rule, some gun enthusiasts worry that it will open the door for the Ohio General Assembly to take away ODNR’s authority over hunting and fishing regulation. The group would prefer to see the issue taken on by ODNR officials. Another gun bill received support from the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence Tuesday. 50 members marched in favor of a bill that would make improper storage of a firearm a third-degree misdemeanor. That bill stalled after two hearings.

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