Morning Headlines: Congress to Fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; Stark Joins Opioid Lawsuits

Mar 22, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 22:

  • Final debate among Democratic candidates for governor scheduled for April 10;
  • 'Serious structural concerns' prompt closure of Akron Children's Hospital parking deck;
  • U.S. Senate passes Portman's online sex trafficking bill;
  • Kasich, Schwarzenegger take jabs at Trump during GOP forum;
  • Congress expected to fully fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative;
  • Cleveland children testing positive for lead surpass state and national averages;
  • Stark County to join hundreds of suits against drug companies;
  • Federal magistrate declines to dismiss lawsuit against neo-Nazi blogger who lived in Ohio;
  • Fairlawn polymer company's takeover of LyondellBasell clears regulators;
  • Baldwin Wallace poll shows public support for tougher firearm regulations;
  • Cleveland Foundation puts $14 million toward jobs and startups;

Final debate among Democratic candidates for governor scheduled for April 10
Four Democratic candidates for Ohio governor will participate in their last debate of the primary campaign season on April 10, the same day early voting for the May primary begins in Ohio. The fifth debate will include state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill. The debate will be at Miami University’s Middletown campus.

'Serious structural concerns' prompt closure of Akron Children's Hospital parking deck
Akron Children’s Hospital has permanently closed its parking deck on Locust street after engineers found “serious structural concerns.” The deck is 46 years old and holds more than 650 vehicles. The hospital says it regrets the inconvenience to patients, families, doctors and staff but it needed to act fast to “avoid possible harm.” The hospital had planned to replace the parking deck over the next few years as part of its campus master plan. Falling concrete and the resulting damage accelerated that decision.

U.S. Senate passes Portman's online sex trafficking bill
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s bill to clamp down on sex trafficking on the internet. The amendment to the Communications Decency Act of 1996 no longer would allow sites such as Backpage.com to escape liability for ads they run offering children for sex. The communications act was meant to shield open discourse on the internet and is regarded as the First Amendment of the web. Backpage insists it simply posted third-party content, and has won a number of court cases. Portman’s bill would end that protection. The House has already passed its version of the bill and President Trump has said he’ll support it.

Kasich, Schwarzenegger take jabs at Trump during GOP forum
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a forum in Los Angeles on the future of the GOP. Both took swipes at President Donald Trump. Schwarzenegger says the party  needs to be more inclusive and embrace issues like climate change to survive in a state like California. Kasich called Trump a “manifestation of where this country has been going" and said “We've got to knock it off."

Congress expected to fully fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Congress is expected to pass a budget  that includes a full $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. President Trump’s budgets have called for outright elimination or drastic cuts to the program which is set up to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the lakes. The Obama administration also proposed cuts to the program, but Great Lakes’ members of the House and Senate – including Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown -- have battled the cuts.

Cleveland children testing positive for lead surpass state and national averages
The number of children in Cleveland testing positive for high levels of lead remains about four times the state and national averages. Cleveland.com reports new data from the state health department shows a slight uptick over the past two years in the number of children with levels high enough to warrant a state investigation into the lead source.

Stark County to join hundreds of suits against drug companies
Stark County plans to join the hundreds of state, county and other local governments suing the drug companies that made and distributed billions of dollars in opioid pain killers. The Repository reports the Stark County commissioners this week signed a deal with three local law firms and one firm in South Carolina to set up the federal litigation. The claim is expected to mirror those in the other suits: that the drug companies misled doctors and regulators about how addictive their drugs are, inflated their sales and failed to report patterns of abuse, thereby leaving communities to deal with the devastation the drugs have caused. The federal cases have been consolidated in U.S. District Judge Dan Polster’s court in Cleveland.

Federal magistrate declines to dismiss lawsuit against neo-Nazi blogger who lived in Ohio
A federal magistrate judge has concluded that a neo-Nazi website publisher's travels outside the U.S. don't warrant dismissal of a lawsuit over an anti-Semitic online trolling campaign he orchestrated against a Montana family. Wednesday’s order says there is sufficient evidence that The Daily Stormer's publisher, Andrew Anglin, was legally "domiciled" in Ohio when Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh sued him last April. Anglin's lawyers argued the court doesn't have jurisdiction over the case and therefore must dismiss it because they claim Anglin is "not a citizen of any state."

Fairlawn polymer company's takeover of LyondellBasell clears regulators
Regulators have cleared the takeover of LyondellBasell by Fairlawn-based polymer company, A. Schulman. The deal is expected to cost $2.25 billion. LyondellBasell is headquartered in Houston and London. The deal still must be approved by Schulman shareholders and other regulators but is expected to close sometime next year.

Baldwin Wallace poll shows public support for tougher firearm regulations
A new survey of Ohioans shows widespread support for tougher regulations on firearm sales. Baldwin Wallace University found that nine in 10 registered voters support a ban on gun sales to violent criminals. Three-fourths of respondents supported raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic weapons to 21 and imposing a mandatory waiting period on gun purchases. Nearly two-thirds of Ohioans supported bans on bump stocks, high capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles. Only about a quarter of respondents said arming teachers would make schools safer. On the question of whether stricter gun laws would improve school safety, respondents were evenly divided.

Cleveland Foundation puts $14 million toward jobs and startups
The Cleveland Foundation is distributing nearly $14 million for job training, startup company support and summer jobs for teens. The money is going to a range of community organizations, including the Neighborhood Leadership Institute and  Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network.