Morning Headlines: Cuyahoga County to Vote on Plastic Bag Ban, Online Schools Owe State Millions

Apr 8, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, April 8:

  • Cuyahoga County to vote on plastic bag ban;
  • Ohio online schools owe state millions;
  • New rules to prevent fraternity hazing begin at Miami University;
  • Bankruptcy judge rejects FirstEnergy subsidiary's plans;
  • Ohio, Hungary sign deal pledging economic cooperation;
  • Proposal could help Ohio counties pay for costly court cases;
  • State addressing disclosure of personal information;

Cuyahoga County to vote on plastic bag ban
There's a possibility plastic bags will no longer be offered at stores in Cuyahoga County. Cleveland.com reports the Cuyahoga County Council will vote on legislation Tuesday that would ban plastic bags in stores, restaurants and department stores. They would instead use 100 percent recyclable paper bags. The ban wouldn't apply to people bringing in their own plastic bags to retailers or bags for carry-out orders. The legislation is an attempt to stop polluting Lake Erie, which accumulates more than 5 million pounds of plastic a year. If approved, Cuyahoga County will join 200 places in the movement, including Seattle, Boston and all of California.

Ohio online schools owe state millions
Dozens of Ohio online schools still owe a mounting debt back to the state. The Columbus Dispatch reports 35 schools, including the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), owe $167 million combined for falsifying enrollment numbers. So far, the schools have repaid $27 million. ECOT has paid a small portion of the $115 million it owes the state.

New rules to prevent fraternity hazing begin at Miami University
New rules aimed at preventing fraternity hazing have taken effect at Miami University in Ohio where a student recently said he was beaten and forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol in a hazing. The student last month said he was hazed to the point of requiring hospitalization during a pledge ceremony. Miami's Delta Tau Delta fraternity chapter has been suspended. Miami officials last year announced new fraternity rules that were to go into effect this spring. Those changes started this week as students returned from spring break. The rules include requiring fraternity members to complete training courses and shortening the fraternity pledging period, among other changes.

Bankruptcy judge rejects FirstEnergy subsidiary's plans
A federal bankruptcy judge has rejected a multi-billion dollar plan by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy to avoid paying the cost of cleaning up and decommissioning nuclear and coal powered electric plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Judge Alan Koschik ruled that FirstEnergy Solutions' plan was "patently unconfirmable." State and federal regulators have argued FirstEnergy is trying to abuse the bankruptcy system to avoid paying costs when it shuts down plants. The FirstEnergy subsidiary said in a statement it's working to address Koschik's ruling. FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy last year to separate it from FirstEnergy Corp. It plans by 2021 to decommission three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania and three coal plants in those states by the end of 2022.

Ohio, Hungary sign deal pledging economic cooperation
Ohio and Hungary have struck up a partnership aimed at strengthening economic, technological and commercial cooperation. Ohio Development Services Director Lydia Mihalik said the partnership goes beyond trade, which totaled $186 million last year, to shared ideas. Cleveland is home to one of the largest Hungarian populations in the U.S., and 25 years of cooperation between the Ohio National Guard and the Hungarian Defense Forces laid the groundwork for the deal.

Proposal could help Ohio counties pay for costly court cases
The Ohio House has passed legislation that could help cover the anticipated multimillion-dollar cost of prosecuting the potential death-penalty cases of four relatives charged in the slayings of eight members from another family. The bill is aimed at helping counties with smaller budgets deal with the costs of prosecuting capital cases and ensuring defendants have legal representation. Counties facing such costs could get financial help if a legislative panel that oversees certain spending approves their requests. It could immediately benefit Pike County, where four members of the Wagner family have pleaded not guilty in the 2016 Rhoden family slayings. Pike County officials say they don't have the money to bear the prosecution costs and keep up basic county services. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

State addressing disclosure of personal information
Ohio said it's taking steps to address the disclosure of personal information for hundreds of people who use a state benefits portal. The departments of Administrative Services, Medicaid and Job and Family Services said the Ohio Benefits System breaches happened during three separate incidents. The portal, administered by Accenture, supports certain state benefits programs. On Feb. 16, 250 users' information appeared on another user's account. On March 20, 643 beneficiaries' information was erroneously mailed to five unrelated people. Also on March 20, up to 100 users' information was incorrectly saved to the wrong account. Computer errors were cited in all three issues. The first two were resolved in one to two days. A temporary fix is in place for the third issue with a permanent one in development.