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Morning Headlines: Akron City Council Repeals Panhandling Law

Morning headlines from WKSU News

Akron City Council has voted to overturn the city’s controversial panhandling law.  Council repealed the 2006 law which required all panhandlers in Akron to get a license to do so, and put restrictions on where they could ask for money.  Last week, the ACLU of Ohio announced it was suing the city over the measure.  City Council president Marilyn Keith says the council is “committed to addressing poverty and homelessness and finding the best solutions for those in need.”

Scarborough reflects on accomplishments and misteps
The president of the University of Akron says he’s learned from his mistakes.  In an interview with the Beacon Journal, Scott Scarborough said communication has been one of his key mistakes.  Scarborough says he was hired to deal with two key issues, the university’s finances and enrollment.  He defends the decisions he’s made such as the rebranding of the schools and the 40 million dollars in budget cuts he had to make.  But as for the backlash it created, he tells the paper “for those who are critical, it’s a reminder that there is a need to communicate in a way that brings us together rather than apart.” 

Fewer Ohio kids in need getting cash help
A new report finds that too few of Ohio's children living in deep poverty are getting cash assistance.  The Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions compared poverty and benefits data between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014.  The organization found a 5 percent decline in the average number of children enrolled in the Ohio Works First program, but a 17-and-a-half percent increase in the number of Ohio children in deep poverty.  The group's report also found wide variations among Ohio's 88 counties in the percentage of children getting cash assistance. The organization's president, John Corlett, says that seems to indicate the safety net programs are being administered differently at the local level.

State agency information breach
The state says it inadvertently released the protected health information of thousands of Ohioans who received mental health services.  Ohio's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services says the breach happened in February when the agency mailed postcards inviting patients to participate in a satisfaction survey.  The information included patients' full names and addresses — but not mental health conditions, any services received or information that could lead to identity theft. The department says the request should've been sent in a sealed envelope to avoid the patients' association.

Ohio Tax Commission weighs in on East Cleveland bankruptcy request
It’s up to the Council, not the Mayor of East Cleveland to file for bankruptcy.  That’s the response from the Ohio Tax Commissioner’s office after Mayor Gary Norton Jr. sent the office requesting approval to seek bankruptcy protection for the city.  The commissioner’s office responded saying council is the taxing authority for the city and therefore must make the request.  Norton tells Cleveland.com he is thankful for the quick response from the state and that Council introduced legislation last week to endorse the bankruptcy move which is likely to be amended.

Ohio House fast-tracking medical marijuana bill
The Ohio House is preparing to vote on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.  The fast-tracked bill would bar patients from smoking the substance but allow them to use it in vapor form. Under the legislation, a nine-member Medical Marijuana Control Commission would set the rules for cultivating, distributing and licensing cannabis. Communities could opt out of hosting dispensaries. Employers who want to maintain drug-free workplaces would be protected from liability. Rep. Kirk Schuring chairs the House committee that approved the bill last week. The Canton Republican says he expects the legislation to be enacted by the end of the end of the month.  It's unclear what changes might be made in the Senate.

Online voter registration advances
A proposal to let Ohioans register to vote online next year could get a vote by a legislative panel today.  The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee recently changed the bill to push back the effective date until after the November presidential election.  The committee also scrapped a provision allowing Ohioans to declare their political party affiliation when registering to vote or updating their addresses. Voters currently are considered affiliated with the party whose ballot they last cast in a primary. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted  has expressed disappointment over the delayed effective date, but he says moving the bill is good for voters.  At least 31 states offer online voter registration.

Ohio schools joining Checkbook.com
The state treasurer is joining officials from five of Ohio's public universities for an announcement involving financial transparency.  Republican Josh Mandel has scheduled a press conference today. A number of past such announcements have involved participation in his office's online checkbook initiative. The searchable website of individual state expenses going back to 2008 has been a focus for Mandel since its launch in December 2014. Besides state government spending, the site has gradually added information for Ohio's five public pension funds and a host of local governments and school districts. The site has won kudos for its Google-style search capabilities.  Bowling Green, Central State, Miami, Wright State and Ohio universities are participating in today's event.

Kluber clobbered
The Astros jumped on Corey Kluber for five runs in the third inning and cruised to a 7-1 win over the Indians last night.  Kluber was coming off the second shutout of his career in his last outing against the Tigers.  He left after just 2 2/3 innings.  He gave up five hits and five runs in his first loss since April 17.

Haslam's vote of confidence
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says he trusts the Browns new head coach, Hue Jackson.  Haslam tells Cleveland.com he’s fine with the team trading its number two draft pick in the recent drafts to the Eagles and then trading down again.  The Browns ended up with a raft of draft selections but passed on a number of big-name quarterback prospects before ending up with Cody Kessler out of USC.  Haslam says he believes Jackson understands talent at that position but just as important, how to coach them.