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Morning Headlines: House Approves DeWine's H2Ohio Plan, Budget Talks to Include Coal Mine Funding

Photo of Lake Erie
The Cleveland skyline along Lake Erie

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, June 24:

  • House approves DeWine's H2Ohio plan;
  • Budget talks to include coal mine funding;
  • Akron police begins storting through 20-year backlog of untested rape kits;
  • Cleveland diocese releases list of priests accused of sexual misconduct;
  • Cuyahoga County jail reports improvements, less cell time for inmates;
  • Cleveland to ditch old-school parking meters for digital-friendly version;

House approves DeWine's H2Ohio plan
Lawmakers in the Ohio House have approved Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio plan, creating a permanent trust to improve water quality around the state. It's one of several ideas for funding water quality initiatives being considered by legislators. The nearly 10-year, $1 billion plan spread would fund projects to clean up Lake Erie and Ohio's polluted streams and rivers. The plan still needs approval in the Ohio Senate, where there's another spending proposal up for debate.

Budget talks to include coal mine funding
The Ohio Senate’s decision to cut funding Republican Gov. Mike DeWine budgeted for reclaiming abandoned coal mining sites is expected to arise during budget compromise talks this week. The Senate version of the state’s two-year state budget trimmed the $4 million DeWine proposed for coal mine reclamation down to $2 million. The Columbus Dispatch reports DeWine intended the funds to replace most of the $5 million former Gov. John Kasich's administration withdrew in 2017 to help cover a revenue shortfall. The health of the coal reclamation fund concerns environmentalists and coal lobbyists. It pools money from all Ohio-permitted mining companies to be used when a company abandons a mining site without reclaiming the land.

Akron police begins sorting through 20-year backlog of untested rape kits
A police unit in Akron is now combing through around 1,000 untested rape kits in the city’s backlog. The Beacon Journal reports the Akron Sexual Assault Kit Initiative has started to delve into kits from 1999 because of the 20-year statute of limitations imposed by Ohio law. So far, the team has reinvestigated 41 sexual assaults. Two cases have been sent to prosecutors. The unit is made up of Akron detectives, officers from the Victim Assistance Program of Summit County, the Rape Center of Medina and Summit Counties and a Summit County assistant prosecutor.

Cleveland diocese releases list of priests accused of sexual misconduct
The Cleveland diocese has made public a list of 22 previously unnamed priests and clergy it said have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The list contained 21 priests and a deacon, along with 29 other priests the diocese had previously named publicly. In a letter, Bishop Nelson Perez said a committee assembled by the diocese determined that the accusations against the clerics were "more likely than not to be true." Perez pledged in October to follow the lead of other dioceses and release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, past and present. The Cleveland diocese in 2002 began publishing the names of priests who were accused from that year forward.

Cuyahoga County jail reports improvements, less cell time for inmates
Cuyahoga County administrators said improvements have reduced the time inmates are locked down in their cells at the county jail, where a U.S. Marshal's Service report said conditions were unsanitary, inhumane and unsafe. Cleveland.com reports County Executive Armond Budish said the county is recruiting more corrections officers, has increased their pay and is seeking to hire an outside food vendor. The U.S. Marshal's report from November said staff shortages routinely led to lockdowns exceeding 24 hours. The jail is the subject of an FBI civil rights investigation. Two former wardens have been indicted.

Cleveland might ditch old-school parking meters for digital-friendly version
Mechanical parking meters in Cleveland could be replaced by newer, mobile-friendly payment options for street parking and municipal lots. Crain's Cleveland reports a city official approved a $300,000 study earlier this month to look into the City's aging mechanical meters. The results of the study could be released later this summer. Crain's reports city officials said Cleveland has saved about $500,000 to help pay for upgraded meters. The city gets sporadic complaints about mechanical meters failing. About half of the city’s meters are able to take credit cards.