Morning Headlines: DeWine Signs Hemp, CBD Bill; 40 Counties Could be Elligible for Federal Aid

Jul 31, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, July 31: 

  • DeWine signs hemp, CBD bill;
  • 40 counties could be elligible for federal aid;
  • Former Cleveland RTA board president charged with theft;
  • Akron City Council condemns President Trump's comments toward four congresswomen;
  • Newspaper journalism jobs decline by more than 40 percent;
  • Cleveland Indians bid Trevor Bauer goodbye;
  • ECOT data to be move into new system;
  • Pence urges ratification of trade deal while in Ohio;

DeWine signs hemp, CBD bill
Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a bill that allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp and legalizes the manufacture and sale of CBD products derived from the plant. Ohio's leading farm group applauded the signing and said industrial hemp will give farmers another revenue stream that could offset years of declining commodity prices. Hemp has quickly grown to a $1 billion industry in U.S. since it was decriminalized in last year’s federal farm bill. The hemp plant only contains trace amounts of the drug THC found in marijuana. Ohio's Department of Agriculture must create rules for a hemp program before farmers can begin planting. The plant hasn’t been grown in Ohio since the 1950s.

40 counties could be elligible for federal aid
The Ohio governor's office said farmers in 40 counties may be eligible for federal aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture after heavy rains and flooding hindered spring planting and led to production losses. A disaster designation from the U.S. agriculture secretary means farm operations in those counties can be considered for help through the Farm Service Agency. That could include emergency loans. The affected counties include nearly all of northwestern Ohio and much of central and southeastern Ohio. They include rain-soaked counties designated as primary natural disaster areas and counties adjacent to those. Record rainfall through the spring planting season devastated farmers as flooding and saturated fields prevented them from planting crops such as corn and soybeans.

Former Cleveland RTA board president charged with theft
George Dixon III, the former board president of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, has been charged with felony theft in office. Cleveland.com reports the charge is related to years of unpaid health premiums by Dixon. According to prosecutors, Dixon agreed to plead guilty and pay $132,000 in restitution. Dixon resigned in March last year amid an investigation after 26 years with RTA.

Akron City Council condemns President Trump's comments toward four congresswomen
Akron City Council has voted to condemn the divisive language President Donald Trump has used against four congresswomen of color. The Beacon Journal reports the resolution, introduced by Councilman Rich Swirsky, admonishes Trump’s attacks against the representatives when he called to send them back to where they came from. Swirsky wrote that Trump’s statements have “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” Council Bob Hoch opposed the measure and said we need to, “quit the finger pointing.”

Newspaper journalism jobs decline by more than 40 percent
Ohio has seen a devastating loss in journalism jobs over the past six years, according to a new report. The new study by Policy Matters Ohio shows newspaper journalists have declined by 43% since 2012. The newspaper industry has shrunk by nearly 60% since 2004. The loss is driven by closures, mergers and consolidations. GateHouse Media, which owns more than 50 Ohio newspapers, including the Beacon Journal, Columbus Dispatch and Canton Repository, is making a bid for Gannet Publications, owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. One of the few independent papers, the Youngstown Vindicator, is closing next month after 150 years of publication, making Youngstown the largest city in America without a local newspaper. The report recommends Ohio lawmakers invest in efforts to strengthen local journalism.

Cleveland Indians bid Trevor Bauer goodbye
The Cleveland Indians are trading pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team deal with the San Diego Padres. The Reds are sending outfielders Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes to Cleveland. The Indians will also welcome left-handed pitcher Logan Allen and two minor league prospects. The move comes in the midst of a tough playoff race for Cleveland, which currently sits three games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central race. Cleveland has a two-and-a-half game lead in the A.L. wildcard standings.

ECOT data to be move into new system
Data from what was once Ohio's largest online charter school will be moved to a new server system to ensure it remains accessible and protected, as related court cases and other reviews unfold. People managing the assets of the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) said the current server system is old and at risk of failing. A Franklin County judge agreed Tuesday they can spend roughly $300,000 on an updated replacement that would be regularly backed up. The data management company handling the work said it has received inquiries about the ECOT data from the FBI and the attorney general's office. The e-school abruptly closed last year after the state concluded student participation data didn't justify all of ECOT's public funding and moved to recoup tens of millions of dollars.

Pence urges ratification of trade deal while in Ohio
Vice President Mike Pence urged congressional ratification of President Donald Trump's trade agreement with Canada and Mexico while attending the groundbreaking for a car seat manufacturing facility in Ohio. Pence told about 300 people at the Magna Seating site in Lancaster on Tuesday that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement "will level the playing field" and treat the automotive industry "fairly." He said the agreement requires that 75% of auto parts must be made in North America and 40% of auto parts must be made by workers making at least $16 an hour. Magna initially plans to locate 300 jobs in Lancaster, southeast of Columbus.