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Morning Headlines: Lawmakers Propose School Funding Fix, Tallmadge May Raise Age to Buy Tobacco

A picture of an elementary school classroom.

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, March 26:

  • State lawmakers propose school funding overhaul;
  • Cuyahoga County to purchase bunk beds for inmates sleeping on floor;
  • Tallmadge considers raising age restrictions on tobacco products;
  • Trial starts for Romanian hackers accused of defrauding Ohioans;
  • Murder charges dropped ahead of new gun bill taking effect in Ohio;

State lawmakers propose school funding overhaul
State lawmakers are proposing an overhaul of how Ohio funds its schools. Republican Rep. Bob Cupp of Lima, and Democratic Rep. John Patterson of Ashtabula, say their plan would more fairly split local and state shares of school funding. The plan calls for more funding for students in poverty, preschool access for economically disadvantaged 4-year-olds, and a technology device, such as a basic laptop, for each student. The state’s school funding system has been repeatedly adjusted since the Ohio Supreme Court found it unconstitutional 22 years ago. Advocates contend fairer funding could help address an achievement gap that correlates to poverty.

Cuyahoga County to purchase bunk beds for inmates sleeping on floor
Cuyahoga County plans to buy up to 750 bunk beds so inmates at the county jail no longer have to sleep on mattresses on the floor. Cleveland.com reports the county's Board of Control approved the nearly $150,000 bed purchase Monday. The downtown jail is supposed to hold just under 1,800 inmates. A U.S. Marshals report last November found the jail was holding 2,400 inmates. The county says that number is down to under 2,000 inmates as of this week.

Tallmadge considers raising age restrictions on tobacco products
The City of Tallmadge is considering raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The Beacon Journal reports Tallmadge would join several other cities across Northeast Ohio in raising the age to buy tobacco and vaping products including Norton, Twinsburg, Richfield, Green, Mogadore and Akron. Stow and Barberton rejected proposals to raise the age limit for tobacco. 

Trial starts for Romanian hackers accused of defrauding Ohioans
Two Romanian hackers are on trial in Cleveland this week. They're accused of using sophisticated malware to steal at least $4 million from people in Ohio and across the globe. Cleveland.com reports the hackers from the so-called Bayrob Group were arrested in Bucharest in 2016 and brought to the U.S. According to the FBI, about 50 Northeast Ohio residents were defrauded in an eBay scheme perpetrated by the group. Bogdan Nicolescu and Radu Miclaus face charges of wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft. A third man from the group pleaded guilty in November and will testify in the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.

Murder charges dropped ahead of new gun bill taking effect in Ohio
A change in Ohio law that takes effect Thursday has led prosecutors in Cleveland to drop a murder charge against an Arizona man. Joshua Walker of Phoenix was accused in the shooting death of Aaron Mason outside the Westender Tavern in October 2017. Cleveland.com reports that under the new law, police and prosecutors would have to show that the shooter didn't have reason to use deadly force. A surveillance video indicates otherwise. Walker spent 200 days in jail and faced murder, manslaughter, assault and weapons charges that could have resulted in a life sentence. Prosecutors said they are still debating whether to pursue gun charges against Walker.