Morning Headlines: Portman Supports Raising Age to Purchase Long Guns to 21; Ohio River Flooded

Feb 26, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Feb. 26:

  • Ohio's higher education board at a standstill amid uncertain future;
  • Portman voices support for raising minimum age to purchase long guns;
  • Three Cuyahoga County inmates to receive $1.5 million each in settlement;
  • Ohio River expected to remain flooded this week;
  • Ohio moves to add Wright flyer to state seal amid dispute
  • Democratic candidates for governor to debate in Toledo next week;
  • Judge dismisses coal company's lawsuit against HBO's John Oliver;
  • Investigation underway in deaths of two Canal Fulton high schoolers;
  • Trumbull County inmate sues to keep his dreadlocks, citing religious freedom;

Ohio's higher education board at a standstill amid uncertain future
The future of Ohio's once-powerful higher education advisory board remains uncertain as lawmakers move to change the way the state oversees education. The Ohio Board of Regents hasn't met in over a year because it doesn't have enough members for a quorum. Two members were left on the board after multiple regents' terms expired. Members are appointed by the governor and unpaid. The board was previously responsible for appointing the chancellor of higher education and outlining Ohio higher education policy. Legislators voted in 2007 to change state law so the governor appoints the higher education chancellor. In its current role, the board submits an annual report about the state of higher education and evaluates the chancellor's performance.

Portman voices support for raising minimum age to purchase long guns
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is joining a handful of other Republicans in calling for Congress to raise the legal age to purchase a long gun from 18 to 21. Federal law already sets the legal age to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer at 21, but 18-year-olds can buy handguns from a private seller or a gun show. Survivors of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. have called for a range of gun control measures, including assault weapons bans, magazine size restrictions and universal background checks. Portman told Cleveland.com background checks should be improved, but stopped short of background checks for unlicensed, private dealers.

Three Cuyahoga County inmates to receive $1.5 million each in settlement
Three men who spent two decades behind bars because police and prosecutors allegedly hid statements and evidence that could have cleared them are expected to receive $1.5 million each. Cuyahoga County Council has scheduled a vote for Tuesday to approve a settlement in suits filed last year by Laurese Glover, 39; Eugene Johnson, 40; and Derrick Wheatt, 40. The payments won't settle pending claims against the impoverished city of East Cleveland, where police arrested the men in the 1995 slaying of Clifton Hudson, 19. A Cuyahoga County judge freed them from prison and ordered a new trial in 2015 after the Ohio Innocence Project found statements that were never presented to their attorneys at trial or during an appeal. The charges were dropped in 2016.

Ohio River expected to remain flooded this week
The National Weather Service says the rain-swollen Ohio River at Cincinnati appears to have crested and started receding but is expected to remain in flood stage this week. The weather service says the river crested in Cincinnati on Sunday around 60.5 feet. That is its highest level recorded there since 1997. The weather service also confirmed that two tornadoes touched down in southwest Ohio during weekend storms. During a briefing Sunday, Gov. John Kasich pointed to his order five days ago to activate 40 soldiers from an Ohio National Guard engineering company to raise floodgates along the Ohio River in Portsmouth. Kasich has issued an emergency declaration in 17 southern and eastern counties that would allow for activation of more National Guard soldiers if needed.

Ohio moves to add Wright flyer to state seal amid dispute
Ohio is staking another public claim to the Wright brothers' legacy amid a dispute with Connecticut over an aviator that state says flew first. The Ohio Senate is taking up legislation that would add the Wright flyer to Ohio's state seal and coat of arms. The bill cleared the Ohio House last week. Republican Rep. Rick Perales earlier spearheaded a resolution rejecting Connecticut's claim that aviator Gustave Whitehead flew the "first manned, controlled flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft" in 1901. That's two years before the Wrights' historic 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Democratic candidates for governor to debate in Toledo next week
Three of four faces will be new as Democrats continue their series of debates in the primary race for Ohio governor. Former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill will debate for the first time March 7 in Toledo. State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, of Boardman, is the only returning candidate. Since primary contenders last met, three Democrats have dropped out: Betty Sutton, Nan Whaley and Connie Pillich. Sutton became Cordray's running mate and the other two women have endorsed him. Only vetted candidates are participating.

Judge dismisses coal company's lawsuit against HBO's John Oliver
A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by coal company Murray Energy against HBO host John Oliver. A segment of Oliver's Sunday show "Last Week Tonight" in June poked fun at Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, who blames regulatory efforts by the Obama administration for damaging the coal industry. A Circuit Court judge in Marshall County, W. Va., ruled that Murray's company failed to state a claim. The St. Clairsville-based company was seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment's "defamatory statements."

Investigation underway in deaths of two Canal Fulton high schoolers
Stark County authorities are investigating the deaths of two teens found shot in a wooded area Friday night. A Canal Fulton police officer checking on a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy's welfare found them together in Jackson Township. Police found a handgun. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. The boy died at a hospital early Saturday. Both were shot in the head. The teens were students at Northwest High School in Canal Fulton.  Police suspect a double suicide or, perhaps, a homicide-suicide.

Trumbull County inmate sues to keep his dreadlocks, citing religious freedom
An inmate at a Trumbull County prison is asking a federal judge to prevent guards from cutting his dreadlocks. Cleveland.com reports Deon Glenn, 29, has been a practicing Rastafarian since 2012. Glenn argues that being forced to cut his dreadlocks would be a violation of his religious freedom. Glenn has been ordered to cut his hair by March 1. In a lawsuit, Glenn is asking a district judge to declare the prison’s ban on dreadlocks unconstitutional. He also wants the court to block the state from enforcing that policy while the lawsuit is underway. Glenn is serving up to a life sentence for fatally shooting a teenager in 2007.