Morning Headlines: Feds to Release Prescription Painkiller Data; Pence Campaigns for Renacci

Mar 6, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, March 6:

  • Akron expected to dip into cash reserves to make ends meet;
  • Cleveland to spend $1.3 on home improvements for the elderly;
  • Family of Summit County teen who died of heroin overdose files lawsuit;
  • U.S. Justice Department to release data on prescription painkiller sales;
  • Kasich to deliver final State of the State speech;
  • Great Lakes advocates ask Congress for cleanup, infrastructure investment;
  • Lawsuit filed against Major League Soccer amid plans to relocate to Texas;
  • Monsanto sued over production of PCBs;
  • State pharmacy board reports falling painkiller prescriptions;
  • Vice President Pence to campaign for Senate candidate Renacci in Cleveland;
  • Akron fifth graders to participate in national walkout to protest gun violence;

Akron expected to dip into cash reserves to make ends meet
The city of Akron appears to be headed for deficit spending as it recovers from lower-than-expected income tax revenue. The city unveiled its 2018 operating budget on Monday. The Beacon Journal reports several council members were surprised to see nearly $1 million in deficit spending in the new budget. Last year, the city struck an $11 million deal to lease city land for cell towers. The deal was meant to double the city’s cash reserves, but most of it went toward year-end-bills. Akron lost nearly $8 million in state funding this year. The city has yet to recover from last year’s revenue shortfall in spite of a 4 percent increase in income tax collections.

Cleveland to spend $1.3 on home improvements for the elderly
The city of Cleveland plans to spend nearly $1.3 million this year to help the elderly. City council voted on Monday on the plan to help the city’s elderly maintain their homes. The city’s Department of Aging will administer the program, with each of Cleveland’s 17 wards receiving $75,000. The plan is part of Mayor Frank Jackson’s $65 million neighborhood revitalization program launched last year.

Family of Summit County teen who died of heroin overdose files lawsuit
The family of a Summit County teenager who died of a heroin overdose is suing the people involved in his death. Legal guardian Tammy Smith is suing the teen’s mother, grandmother, two family friends and the Super 8 hotel in Green where Andrew Frye, 16, overdosed in 2016. Frye’s mother called 911 after finding him dead. The boy’s mother and grandmother pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and were sentenced to nine years in prison. The lawsuit claims Frye’s mother, who previously worked at Super 8, should not have been allowed to rent a room because of her history of drug abuse. Smith is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

U.S. Justice Department to release data on prescription painkiller sales
The U.S. Justice Department says it will release data related to sales of prescription painkillers to be used in settlement talks between drug companies and local governments. Hundreds of cities nationwide are suing drug makers for their role in the opioid crisis. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster is overseeing the cases. Polster negotiated a compromise with feds to release a portion of federal data on drug sales, including each drug company’s market share and how many pills were sold. Another round of settlement talks will be held on Tuesday.

Kasich to deliver final State of the State speech
Gov. John Kasich will deliver his final State of the State speech tonight. The term-limited governor is expected to look back on his time in office. Kasich oversaw the state’s Medicaid expansion and pushed to bring high tech companies to the state. As an outspoken critic of President Trump, Kasich frequently butted heads with members of his own party. Kasich’s recent embrace of gun policy reform may also come up in tonight’s address. But he may also use the spotlight to set up a possible presidential run in 2020. Kasich will deliver the speech at Otterbein University in Westerville. We’ll have a live broadcast tonight starting at 7.

Great Lakes advocates ask Congress for cleanup, infrastructure investment
A coalition of Great Lakes advocates is urging Congress to provide funds for cleaning up the region's waters and strengthening its water infrastructure. Groups representing businesses, industry, environmentalists, cities, states and tribes will make their annual lobbying visit to Washington, D.C., this week. They'll visit lawmakers who represent the region's eight states to urge support for a list of funding priorities, including full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Lawsuit filed against Major League Soccer amid plans to relocate to Texas
The Ohio Attorney General and the city of Columbus have sued Major League Soccer and the owner of the Columbus Crew to stop a proposed move to Austin, Texas. The lawsuit cites a law enacted after the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 that prohibits sports teams that have received public money from moving unless certain conditions are met. The law says Ohio sports teams using publicly supported facilities must provide six months of advance notice of a move.

Monsanto sued over production of PCBs
Ohio's attorney general has sued the agribusiness company Monsanto alleging the company produced and sold chemical compounds known as PCBs for decades despite knowing of hazards the chemicals posed. The lawsuit filed Monday in Hamilton County asks for unspecified financial compensation for the state, including money to pay for a plan to investigate and remove the chemicals from Ohio land and waters. Monsanto's vice president of global strategy says the company is still reviewing the lawsuit.

State pharmacy board reports falling painkiller prescriptions
The state says the number of painkiller prescriptions continues to fall as Ohio battles a deadly addictions epidemic. Data released by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy show a 30 percent drop in the number of  painkiller pills dispensed to patients last year, down from a high of around 790 million doses in 2012. The data also show a continuing decrease in the number of patients going from doctor to doctor in search of drugs thanks to the pharmacy board's computerized reporting system.  Ohio still had a record number of overdose deaths last year, at 4,050.

Vice President Pence to campaign for Senate candidate Renacci in Cleveland
Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Cleveland this week to campaign for Senate candidate Jim Renacci. Pence will appear with Renacci on Friday at an event looking at tax policy. Renacci in January dropped his bid for Governor and jumped into the Senate race at the urging of the Trump administration. Renacci faces a Republican primary challenge from Cleveland-area businessman Mike Gibbons.

Akron fifth graders to participate in national walkout to protest gun violence
Fifth graders in Akron making plans to participate in next week’s National School Walkout to protest gun violence. Students met with school board members on Monday to develop an action plan for the event. The protest would include peaceful, age-appropriate activities. Students plan to make signs showing names of victims of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.