Morning Headlines: Senate Passes 2-year, $69B Budget; CLE Reports One of Wettest Springs on Record

Jun 21, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, June 21:

  • Senate passes 2-year, $69B budget;
  • Cavs owner Dan Gilbert out of hospital after stroke;
  • US appeals court says judge went too far on drug data order;
  • Portman introduces legislation to help states battle addiction;
  • Competency exams ordered for suspect in Akron fires that killed 9;
  • Former Akron deputy mayor to receive humanitarian award;
  • Summit County to offer homeowners financial aid for energy efficieny projects;
  • Woman found dead in Akron storage container identified;
  • Cavs land Vanderbilt's Darius Garland in draft;

Senate passes 2-year, $69B budget
The Ohio House and Senate agree the next state budget should lower income taxes for individuals, but the size of that cut is among sticking points to be hashed out as they face a June 30 deadline to get a spending plan signed by the governor. The Republican-led Senate unanimously passed its two-year, $69 billion budget proposal Thursday. It would direct more money toward water quality initiatives, local governments, libraries and public television stations. It would allot $550 million for educational wraparound services. It also would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 and change high school graduation requirements to reduce state tests. Beginning with the class of 2023, students would need to pass tests for Algebra I and English II instead of the previous seven tests to graduate high school. Students would also have to earn two “diploma seals” in areas like job readiness or community service. The budget allows charter schools to ban unvaccinated studentsand calls for a study of state school report cards with a report and recommendations due in December. It'll also push back Ohio's presidential primary election date. The budget now goes to a joint legislative committee to work out differences between the House and Senate proposals.

Cleveland reports one of wettest springs on record
It was one of the wettest springs on record in Cleveland. Cleveland.com reports it rained 55 of 93 days this spring, a record that has been topped just twice since 1900. Cleveland has 40 days of spring rain on average. It's also been the wettest decade on record, measuring an average 12 inches of rain each spring.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert out of hospital after stroke
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was released from a Detroit-area hospital nearly a month after suffering a stroke and will recover at an in-patient rehabilitation center. Gilbert, 57, was taken to the hospital by a family friend while experiencing stroke-like symptoms on May 26. Gilbert has owned the Cavs since 2005. 

US appeals court says judge went too far on drug data order
A federal appeals court has ruled that a judge went too far in blocking release of federal data about how prescription opioids were distributed. A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated an order by Cleveland-based U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration database and other case information sealed from the public. The panel wrote that Polster should follow proper legal standards in deciding what information could be withheld and why it would be harmful to release it. Polster is overseeing more than 1,500 lawsuits filed by municipalities against companies that make and distribute prescription painkillers. 

Portman introduces legislation to help states battle addiction
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has introduced legislation that would let states use federal grants earmarked to fight opioids to help reduce deaths from other drugs. Portman citied a 6,000-fold increase in Ohio deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses from 2010 through 2017. The bill would provide $500 million a year for five years. Portman says meth usage has been rising as opioid usage decreases.

Competency exams ordered for suspect in Akron fires that killed 9
A judge has ordered competency evaluations for an Akron man charged in two arsons that killed nine people in his neighborhood. Lawyers for 59-year-old Stanley Ford have argued he has brain damage and cognitive impairment and shouldn't be facing a potential death penalty. Ford has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder charges. The fires occurred in  2016 and 2017. Ford’s trial was postponed for months to give the lawyers involved time to consult experts on questions about his mental condition. Jury selection is now scheduled Aug. 6.

Former Akron deputy mayor to receive humanitarian award
Akron's former Deputy Mayor will be recognized this fall for his volunteer work with the city's civic, cultural, and charitable organizations. Dave Lieberth will receive the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award from the Akron Community Foundation, which called him "as a veritable walking history book" of Akron. Lieberth is former chair of the Summit County Historical Society, has produced television documentaries on Akron history, and — as an attorney — was instrumental in spurring the Supreme Court to open Ohio courtrooms to television cameras.  He also served as the first president of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Summit County to offer homeowners financial aid for energy efficieny projects
Summit County is rolling out a financing program to help residents pay for energy efficiency improvements in their homes. The Property Assessed Clean Energy program, or PACE, has previously been used for larger projects in the county, like the Cascade Plaza in Akron and the Akron Rubber development Laboratory in Barberton. By the end of the year, residents will be able to apply for financing for things like new roofing and windows, intended to save energy and reduce utility bills.

Woman found dead in Akron storage container identified
A woman found dead in an Akron storage unit has been identified as Mary Kay Wohlfarth, 68. She was a local antiques dealer. Her body was found in a unit rented by Michael Olson, 35, of Coventry Township, who has been charged with murder. Wohlfarth also rented a unit at the facility in North Hill. Police say they Olson has confessed, but has given no motive.

Cavs land Vanderbilt's Darius Garland in draft
The Cavs selected Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland with the 5th pick in last night's draft. Garland’s freshman season ended with a knee injury last November. The team then selected Belmont swingman Dylan Windler at No. 26. They then made some moves to get USC guard Kevin Porter Jr. The Cavs' young team now includes two new 19-year-olds and a 22-year-old.