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Morning Headlines: Local races highlight Election Day; FirstEnergy agrees to refund customers $306M

A picture of voting stickers and a sign that reads 'voting day'.
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Today is Election Day, and there are some high-profile races on the ballot in Ohio. Polls are open until 7:30 p.m. Absentee ballots can also be dropped off at county election boards.

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, November 2:

  • Local races highlight Election Day
  • FirstEnergy agrees to refund customers $306M
  • Akron teachers call on district to respond to violence
  • MetroHealth reports the results of its vaccine mandate
  • Health officials continue to encourage masking in schools
  • Supreme Court won't hear Ohio Elections Commission case
  • Cleveland police will rescind mental health referral policy
  • A proposed bill would eliminate the required concealed carry license

Local races highlight Election Day
(WKSU) -- Today is Election Day, and there are some high-profile races on the ballot in Ohio. Voters in parts of Cuyahoga and Summit counties will pick a new Congress member. The race in the 11th District is between Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilmember Shontel Brown and Republican Laverne Gore. Cleveland voters will also pick a new mayor, deciding between Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley. There are also a number of contentious school board races on the ballot. Polls are open until 7:30 p.m. Absentee ballots can also be dropped off at county election boards.

FirstEnergy agrees to refund customers $306M
(AP) — Akron-based FirstEnergy has agreed to refund customers of its three Ohio electric companies $306 million for collecting significantly excessive profits over a three-year period. The average FirstEnergy residential customer will receive about $85 over the next five years as credits on their electric bills if the settlement is approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. It would begin with a lump-sum payment of about $27 on electric bills within 30 days, and then monthly credits that slowly decrease from about $2 per month in 2022 to about 60 cents per month in 2025.

Akron teachers call on the district to respond to violence
(Beacon Journal, WKYC) -- Unionized teachers in Akron are responding to an uptick in student violence and other disruptive behavior. The Beacon Journal reports that the Akron Education Association has passed a ‘no confidence’ resolution calling on the district to take action to ensure teachers’ safety. A press release listed incidents where students brought loaded and unloaded handguns to school, bomb threats, physical and verbal assaults on administrators and staff, student fighting and vandalism, among other disruptions. Akron schools spokesman Mark Williamson said Monday afternoon the administration is scheduling a meeting with the union. Meanwhile, WKYC reports Bedford High School has extended remote learning until the end of November following an outbreak of violence among students.

MetroHealth reports the results of its vaccine mandate
(WKSU) -- Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical System says nearly all employees are now vaccinated after an October 30 deadline. MetroHealth says 99.94% of its 7,700-member workforce is in compliance with the vaccine mandate. Five employees who refused to share their vaccination status have been suspended and will be fired if they don’t get the shot. A dozen employees retired or resigned rather than choose the vaccine, and around 425 requested exemptions. MetroHealth is the only hospital system in Cleveland to make the COVID vaccine a condition of employment.

Health officials continue to encourage masking in schools
(WKSU, Cincinnati Enquirer) -- Ohio health officials are encouraging schools to keep mask mandates in place despite changes to quarantine recommendations. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that dozens of districts have scrapped mask mandates under the new guidelines. On Monday, Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff told schools that COVID cases remain high and masks are still needed in Ohio schools. Vanderhoff recommends parents get their 5-11 year-olds vaccinated as soon as the shots become available.

Supreme Court won't hear Ohio Elections Commission case
(AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear a lawsuit challenging the makeup of the Ohio Elections Commission. The seven-member commission has three Democrats, three Republicans, and one member chosen by the other members who is not affiliated with a political party. The Libertarian Party of Ohio and Harold Thomas, a member of the Libertarian Party, sued over the composition of the commission. They said it violated their rights by making members of smaller political parties ineligible for service on the commission. Lower courts had ruled against them.

Cleveland police will rescind mental health referral policy
(AP) — Cleveland’s police department plans to rescind its policy requiring officers to notify crime victims before sending low-level, non-violent offenders to a county diversion program. It comes after some officials and mental health advocates said the department was unnecessarily applying a 2017 victims-rights law which was preventing people from getting the treatment they need and putting victims in a position to decide the fate of someone’s treatment. City officials had defended the policy last week but decided to make the change. They noted that no one had been denied access to the diversion center.

A proposed bill would eliminate the required concealed carry license
(AP) — A proposed bill in the Ohio House would eliminate the requirement for a concealed weapons permit. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Reps. Tom Brinker and Kris Jordan, would also end the requirement that individuals “promptly” inform police officers that they're carrying a concealed weapon. The bill requires only that individuals provide such information if asked by an officer. The GOP-controlled House Government Oversight Committee approved the bill along party lines last week. A similar bill is pending in the Ohio Senate. Law enforcement groups oppose the measure, concerned about the legislation's lack of required training.