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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Morning Headlines: Summit County Judge Self-Quarantines; Lake Erie Records Most Ice-Free Season

Lake Erie
ELIZABETH MILLER
/
WCPN
Lake Erie shoreline

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, March 3: 

  • Summit County judge self-quarantines after Italy trip;
  • Lake Erie records most ice-free season;
  • Additional $3M proposed in Cleveland budget for seniors, kids;
  • Hemp growing registration opens today;
  • AT&T, LeBron James partner for I Promise Village;
  • Board splits Ohio ballot proposal on voting into 4 issues;
  • State responds to youth prison sexual victimization survey;
  • New effort underway to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio;
  • State-issued concealed firearm permits decrease;

Summit County judge self-quarantines amid coronavirus worries
A Summit County judge is under voluntary quarantine after returning from a trip to Italy. Cleveland.com reports Judge Alison McCarty does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but is following the county health department’s recommendation that she wait two weeks before venturing out. Italy has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of Asia. Meanwhile 220 Kent State Students will be under voluntary quarantine as they return this week from the school’s study abroad program in Florence. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.

Lake Erie hits most ice-free season
This year marked the most ice-free season on Lake Erie in nearly 50 years. It’s the lowest ice cover since records began in 1973. Cleveland.com reports that the Army Corp of Engineers this week will remove the ice barriers on the Lake Erie outlet in Buffalo, nearly two months ahead of schedule. The steel pontoons keep ice from flowing into the Niagara River where it can damage shorelines and power plant intakes.

Additional $3M proposed in Cleveland budget for seniors, kids
Cleveland City Council has proposed adding nearly $3 million to Mayor Frank Jackson's budget for seniors and teaching Cleveland kids to play an instrument. The proposal includes an increase of $50,000 per ward to help seniors with home maintenance and $200,000 for instructors in the Play it Forward program. It's a music education program that provides kids with instruments. Other additions also include funds for refurbishing 20 brick streets in the county.  The spending plan is projected to be about $1.8 billion, which is an increase from last year. The budget must have three more readings and a public viewing period before it can be sent to Cuyahoga County on April 1 for approval.

Hemp growing registration opens today
Beginning Tuesday farmers can begin registering to grow hemp in Ohio for the first time in more than a generation. Applicants need to prove financial responsibility and pass a background check. Hemp, although related to marijuana, is an industrial material that has none of pot’s active ingredient THC. Hemp can be used to produce CBD oil which has grown to a more than $2 billion market in the U.S. Ohio is late to the game though — hemp prices have crashed after 30 states already legalized production.

AT&T, LeBron James partner for I Promise Village
LeBron James is partnering with AT&T in an ad campaign that will also benefit his foundation. AT&T will fund a learning institute at the I Promise Village that will provide training on technical and life skills for children and their families enrolled in the Akron I Promise school. The village is set to open this summer in a renovated Akron apartment building to offer transitional housing for I Promise families. James will appear in AT&T television commercials.

Board splits Ohio ballot proposal on voting into 4 issues
The Ohio Ballot Board has voted to split a ballot measure aimed at updating Ohio's voting laws into four separate issues. The proposal from the group Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections would automatically register Ohioans to vote when they conduct business at state Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices. It would also allow eligible Ohioans to register and cast a ballot on the same day during early voting and on Election Day. In a 3-2 vote Monday, the board agreed with Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose's recommendation to sever the issues into four. Backers say the effort is a move to restrict access to the ballot. 

State responds to youth prison sexual victimization survey
The state has responded to a government survey that found high rates of sexual victimization in Ohio's youth prisons. The survey was done by the Bureau of Justice, which is an office within the U.S. Department of Justice. The 2018 survey labeled Ohio a “high-rate state” with an average of 15.3% of incarcerated youth who responded to the survey reporting some kind of victimization. Ohio Department of Youth Services assistant director Julie Walburn told a prisons inspection committee that while numbers are dropping, no level of sexual victimization is acceptable.

New effort underway to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio
A new effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio is underway. The proposal is called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment. Backers of the measure submitted the initial petition and 1,000 signatures to the Ohio Attorney General's Office on Monday for review. The constitutional amendment would allow adults over the age of 21 to buy, possess, consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana. The state's current medical marijuana program would remain in place if the legalization effort passed. Voters in 2015 handily defeated a ballot issue to legalize marijuana in the state.

State-issued concealed firearm permits decrease
Ohio is issuing fewer concealed firearm permits. The Ohio Attorney General's office report shows the state issued nearly 54,000 new permits and around 78,000 renewals last year, a 21% drop from the previous year. It’s the fewest new licenses in nearly a decade. The report didn’t explain the drop in new permits, but noted that denials were rare – about 1,300 in total, a rate of less than 1%.