Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Feb. 18:
- Ohio lawmakers studying error that could ban some guns;
- Officials approve $10.8M for marsh cleanup;
- Statehouse garage renovation reveals additional problems;
- Report: Congressman suspects theft from campaign account;
- Ohio firefighters monitor blaze in docked ship; no injures;
Ohio lawmakers studying error that could ban some guns
A mistake in writing up an Ohio bill could inadvertently ban several types of already legal guns. At issue is legislation approved by lawmakers last year that allows off-duty police officers to carry firearms and phases in pre-emption of many local firearms restrictions, among other changes. The bill also attempted to align Ohio law with federal law regarding short-barrel weapons, or generally speaking shotguns with barrel lengths less than 16 inches. Such guns are legal under federal law but classified as illegal in Ohio, even though many gun stores sell them. As the bill was being drafted, a misplaced paragraph unintentionally lumped a variety of long guns into a prohibited category. Those could include semi-automatic AK-47s and any long gun with a pistol grip, which could also affect shotguns used in competitive shooting. Republican House Speaker Larry Householder plans to examine the issue further. One option is fixing the error in the state budget, which will be introduced March 15 but won't be passed into law until July 1.
Officials approve $10.8M for marsh cleanup
Ohio officials have released nearly $11 million earmarked to clean up a marsh damaged by salt pollution over the last 50 years. The state controlling board approved releasing the money for Mentor Marsh in Lake County. Funding for the project comes from the settlement of a lawsuit between the Ohio EPA and the estate of the late businessman Jerome Osborne. Osborne's companies were responsible for the salt runoff near the marsh that destroyed plants, fish and animals. The land will be held in the custody of a bank during the restoration with the expectation it will be sold for $1 to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Statehouse garage renovation reveals additional problems
The chief of the agency overseeing the Ohio Statehouse said a planned renovation of the building's garage may be more extensive than first anticipated. Ceilings and floors on the bottom two floors of the three-level garage are worse off than even a few months ago. Lawmakers set aside $20 million for the project last year but there's no final cost estimate, especially with the discovery of new problems. The garage renovation is considered the biggest Statehouse update since a complete renovation in the 1990s. The project could take two years to complete, with one level shut down at a time.
Report: Congressman suspects theft from campaign account
The re-election committee for a Northeast Ohio Republican congressman David Joyce told the Federal Election Commission it suspects the campaign's former treasurer stole tens of thousands of dollars from the campaign's bank account. A letter stated an investigator with a Cleveland-area prosecutor's office obtained bank security camera footage to confirm that ex-treasurer Scott Coleman used a campaign ATM card to make more than $80,000 in unauthorized withdrawals over a three-year period beginning in 2015. Coleman is the longtime mayor of Cleveland suburb Highland Heights. He became treasurer for Joyce's first successful congressional bid in 2012 and had the same role for Joyce's predecessor, the late Rep. Steve LaTourette.
Ohio firefighters monitor blaze in docked ship; no injures
A fire broke out inside a docked vessel on Lake Erie at the Port of Toledo. The fire late Saturday night apparently burned through the deck of the St. Clair and ignited an enormous rubber conveyor belt below. The vessel is used for the long-haul transport of iron ore pellets, coal, and limestone on the Great Lakes. The cause is still undetermined and nobody was injured.