Morning Headlines: Court Rules Embryos Aren't Living, Akron Faces Fine for Missing Sewer Deadline

May 3, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, May 3: 

  • Court rules embryos aren't living;
  • House plan reduces income tax for low earners;
  • Akron faces fine for missing sewer project deadlines;
  • Under pressure, Ohio's jobs office releases pay of top executives;
  • Former MetroHealth dentist sentenced to 10 years;
  • Bill could save Ohio nuclear plants, dismantle green energy initiatives;
  • Governor announces changes to state parole board;

Court rules embryos aren't living
An Ohio appellate court has ruled that embryos are not living people in a lawsuit filed by a Northeast Ohio couple. Cleveland.com reports Wendy and Rick Penniman lost their embryos when the storage freezer at the University Hospitals Beachwood clinic malfunctioned last year, destroying more than 4,000 eggs and embryos. The Pennimans were among 100 families that sued the hospital, but they also filed a judgement action, arguing that life begins at conception. They plan to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

House plan reduces income tax for low earners
House lawmakers have proposed reducing state income taxes for low- and moderate-income Ohio taxpayers in the latest version of the state budget. The proposal unveiled in the House Finance Committee Thursday eliminates personal income tax for those earning less than $22,500. The bill would cut the tax by 4.7% for those earning between $22,500 and $88,800. The plan also lowers a business income deduction from the first $250,000 in income to the first $100,000. The House bill also adds $125 million on top of Gov. Mike DeWine's own education proposal in the two-year budget, although an overall school-funding plan is also being debated separately.

Akron could face penalities for missing sewer project deadlines
The city of Akron may face penalties for missing a deadline in the city's billion-dollar sewer construction project. Ohio.com reports the EPA-mandated project to separate raw sewage from storm water is 290 days behind schedule, racking up a potential $1.2 million fine that the city says would be paid for by contractors. The city has a new deadline of mid-October. Meanwhile, the missed deadline could affect a judge's pending decision on the city's request to save $70 million by altering a 2014 consent decree for the project. The city says it's taken longer than expected to get its massive underground boring machine, Rosie, up and running and that it has regularly updated its progress with the EPA.

Under pressure, Ohio's jobs office releases pay of top executives
Ohio's privatized job-creation office says its new leader will make $350,000 this year before benefits and any performance bonus. JobsOhio released the salary of president and chief investment officer J.P. Nauseef and 16 other current and former top executives Thursday. The private economic development corporation has been under pressure from Gov. Mike DeWine to be more transparent. Former Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-led state Legislature designed it to be outside the reach of public records laws. Salary data showed Nauseef's predecessor, John Minor, made more than $620,000 a year.

Former MetroHealth dentist sentenced to 10 years
A former MetroHealth dentist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a scheme to defraud the hospital last year. Dr. Yazan Al-Madani is the last of four to be sentenced in the case. He took bribes to steer Medicaid patients to private clinics the others owned. They also solicited thousands of dollars in bribes from prospective overseas residents in the hospital's dental residency program. As a citizen of Jordan, Al-Madani also faces deportation.

Bill could save Ohio nuclear plants, dismantle green energy initiatives
A bill in the Ohio House that would dismantle incentives for green energy and bailout Ohio’s nuclear plants has run into opposition from a surprising corner. Cleveland.com reports that the Ohio Manufacturers Association is opposing the measure in its current form because it could significantly raise rates for small manufacturers. The bill, backed by GOP leadership, adds a new set of fees to electric consumers and business that will generate around $300 million annually. Half of that will go support FirstEnergy Solution’s Davis-Besse and Perry Nuclear plants. Supporters of the plan said Ohio’s nuclear industry should be saved because of it does not produce green-house gases. Opponents of the plan include a diverse group including, the oil and gas industry, environmentalists, and consumer groups.

Governor announces changes to state parole board
Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed changes to the state parole board after it was criticized over its work environment a few months ago. DeWine wants to allow video conferencing at parole board hearings but allow victims’ statements to be shielded. He also wants the prisons department to develop a new program to help offenders upon release. DeWine also named three board members and says the entire board will undergo training to help it be more effective.