Morning Headlines: Akron Abandons Fracking Deal on Watershed Land; Pfizer, Moderna, Boosting Vaccine Supply
Here are your morning headlines for Friday, February 5:
- Akron abandons fracking deal on watershed land
- Pfizer, Moderna, boosting vaccination supply
- Acton says she's exploring bid for US Senate in Ohio
- Proposed legislation would repeal HB6 subsidies
- New unemployment claims dip, state turns to private sector for help
- Ohio gets $24 million in nationwide opioid settlement
- Barnes becomes fifth candidate in 11th District Congressional race
Akron abandons fracking deal on watershed land
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced Thursday that the city is withdrawing a proposal to lease 475 acres near LaDue Reservoir for oil and natural gas drilling. Horrigan says the deal with DP Energy Auburn is being pulled after the city received hundreds of complaints. He said the city would not jeopardize the safety of its drinking water. Horrigan says he’s willing to have a policy debate about the issue of fracking in the future. The deal would have generated a one-time payment of $237,500, plus 15% royalties for any producing wells. Horrigan said the city still needs to find a way to bring in additional revenue to offset its mandatory $1.2 billion sewer overhaul.
Pfizer, Moderna, boosting vaccination supply
Gov. Mike DeWine says Ohio can expect to see more doses of the coronavirus vaccine from both Pfizer and Moderna in coming weeks. DeWine says Pfizer hopes to double its current weekly allotment of 73,000 by the end of March, while Moderna is increasing its 73,000 doses to about 105,000. DeWine also said Thursday that once the state opens vaccinations to people 65 and older next week, it will hold at that age level for several weeks because that population is so large, at about 2 million.
Acton says she's exploring bid for US Senate in Ohio
Dr. Amy Acton, the former state health director who became the face of Ohio’s early pandemic response, is stepping down from her position at the Columbus Foundation to “carefully explore” running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate. Acton would be vying for a coveted open seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who recently announced that he will not seek reelection next year. Acton’s leadership at Gov. Mike DeWine's side made her something of a folk hero and role model for Ohio girls, but she also faced intense backlash over the health orders she signed.
Proposed legislation would repeal HB6 subsidies
Two Northeast Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill to repeal the subsidies for Ohio’s two nuclear plants that are part of a tainted energy bill. The legislation proposed by Jerry Cirino of Kirtland and Michael Rulli of Salem would strip the nuclear subsidies from HB6 and adds funding for solar projects. Former House speaker Larry Householder and four other GOP leaders face federal corruption charges related to the passage of HB6, a $1 billion bailout of the nuclear plants. Lawmakers last year failed to take action on reversing the legislation despite promises from leadership.
New unemployment claims dip, state turns to private sector for help
New unemployment claims dipped last week in Ohio for the first time since December. The number of people filing first time jobless claims fell by 4.4% to 47,786. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike DeWine is bringing in the private sector to help with Ohio's troubled unemployment system. The move comes as Ohioans continue to report problems accessing the system and receiving timely payments. DeWine says the 16 members of the team include experts from companies includes KeyBank, Fifth Third Bank and Nationwide insurance. The union representing workers at the state human services agency opposes the move. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association blames overpayments and fraudulent claims on private contractors hired during the pandemic.
Ohio gets $24 million in nationwide opioid settlement
Ohio will receive more than $24 million from a nationwide settlement with an opioid companies’ consultant. McKinsey & Company agreed to pay nearly $600 million to resolve claims made by 49 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The New York-based company is accused of advising OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers on how to market and sell more addictive painkillers. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says OneOhio, a partnership between Gov. DeWine, Yost and local governments, provides a transparent mechanism for the distribution and use of certain opioid settlement funds.
Barnes becomes fifth candidate in 11th District Congressional race
A fifth candidate has emerged in the race to replace Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. Cleveland.com reports former Democratic State Rep. John Barnes Jr., says he’s running for 11th Congressional District that will likely be open once Fudge is confirmed as President Joe Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development. The 62-year-old Barnes is a Cleveland native who has twice represented the city in the Ohio House of Representatives. Others who have said they’ll run include former state Sen. Nina Turner, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, former state Sen. Shirley Smith and former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson.