Ohio Gov. Kasich's tax, education changes on tap
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) is preparing to release details of an ambitious election-year policy document that addresses taxes and education and streamlines government services for the poor and unemployed.
The Republican governor's mid-biennium review, or MBR, was expected out Tuesday. Testimony is set to begin in the GOP-led Ohio House on Wednesday afternoon.
Kasich said during his State of the State speech last month that the bill would include his plan for driving Ohio's personal income tax rate to below 5 percent. That will likely involve a second attempt at increasing Ohio's tax rate on big oil and gas drillers, as well as new taxes on tobacco products.
The bill is also expected to provide details of Kasich's plans for educating Ohio's budding young workforce and retraining the unemployed.
Ohio halts gas drilling near site of earthquakes
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - State regulators ordered a gas drilling company to halt operations in an area of northeastern Ohio after three minor earthquakes were felt in the area.
No property damage had been reported from the earthquakes that happened Monday morning just west of Youngstown.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says there's nothing indicating that the earthquakes are connected to any injection wells.
The department says it asked the only oil and gas operator in the area to stop all work until it can further test the area.
An injection well used to hold wastewater from the fracking process has been tied in recent years to a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area.
The first earthquake on Monday happened around 2:30 a.m. and then two more followed several hours later.
VOTER PROTECTION INITIATIVE-OHIO
Ohio AG certifies petition in voter-access effort
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio group has been cleared to continue its effort to guarantee what it calls certain voter protections in the state constitution.
Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the petition Monday for the proposed "Ohio Voters Bill of Rights."
The supporters changed their summary of the proposal after DeWine initially rejected their petition, saying it was not a fair and truthful statement of the amendment.
Backers added two sentences describing federal law to the summary.
The proposed amendment would expand early voting times on weekends and make other changes to election rules. It is supported by a coalition of black lawmakers, clergy and civil rights leaders.
DeWine had to clear the summary's phrasing before supporters could continue with their ballot push and collect signatures to get it before voters this fall.
Ohio panel clears $22.5M for vets' raffle devices
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A state legislative panel has authorized the Ohio Lottery to spend $22.5 million to build and operate new electronic raffle machines for veterans' posts and fraternal organizations.
The state Controlling Board cleared the funding Monday at a hearing packed with veterans largely opposed to the move.
The request funds 1,200 machines made by Intralot, a Greece-based international company that manufactures other lottery machines. A lottery official told the panel the devices will be pilot tested before more are rolled out.
Lottery pursued the new devices after Attorney General Mike DeWine declared earlier raffle machines illegal. DeWine ordered those devices shut down, but that order is on hold pending court action.
An American Legion director said new machines are being forced on posts and lodges whose old devices were working fine.
JUVENILE COURT SHACKLING-OHIO
ACLU: Bar juvenile court shackles if no hearing
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A civil rights organization wants the Ohio Supreme Court to prohibit juvenile courts from shackling youths without first holding a hearing to determine if restraints are necessary.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the request Monday asking for a ruling prohibiting Hamilton County Juvenile Court in Cincinnati from shackling youths in court without a hearing. The ACLU also asks that all Ohio juvenile courts be ordered to hold such hearings.
The filing says a 14-year-old girl charged with a non-violent drug offense in the Hamilton County court was forced to appear in full body shackles without a hearing to determine if restraints were necessary. The ACLU alleges that violated her constitutional rights to due process.
There was no answer to calls to the juvenile court offices Monday evening.
Ohio panel to weigh letting hunters use silencers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio committee has scheduled a vote on a bill that would let Ohio hunters to use firearms silencers.
Last month, lawmakers and their aides got a hands-on look at the devices and listened to silenced and unsilenced weapons.
The measure would let Ohioans holding a valid hunting license use the silencers while hunting certain birds and other wild game, including squirrels, rabbits and white-tailed deer. Only those authorized under state and federal laws could use the suppressor, which must be properly registered.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee planned to consider the bill Tuesday morning.
Backers of suppressors say they protect hunters' hearing, make field commands easier to hear and reduce disruptions to neighbors. Opponents say quieter weapons are less safe and easier to use illegally.
DELPHI HEALTH CREDIT-CONGRESS
Ohio senators seek Delphi health coverage help
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ohio's U.S. senators and other members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing for extension of a health coverage tax credit they say is particularly important for Delphi salaried retirees.
The letter from Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman also has bipartisan support from House members including Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican Mike Turner. Their House districts include many of some 5,000 Ohioans who saw retirement benefits cut when the automotive parts supplier was in bankruptcy.
The letter sent Monday to congressional leaders was signed by 28 lawmakers. It says the Delphi salaried retirees face significant hardships in maintaining affordable health care.
Brown and Portman have asked that the Health Coverage Tax Credit be extended two years. They say it also will help many retired United Steelworkers.
16 cases of mumps reported in Ohio State outbreak
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Public health officials say 16 mumps cases have been confirmed in an outbreak at Ohio State University.
Columbus Public Health spokesman Jose Rodriguez says officials expect to see more cases because those who contract the virus can be contagious for weeks and about one-third of them generally don't show symptoms.
Doctors are concerned the contagious infection might spread to other locales with many students traveling away from campus during this week's spring break.
Rodriguez says health officials throughout Ohio have been warned to watch for mumps symptoms and cases that might be connected to the outbreak. Officials are working to trace its origins.
The cases involve seven females and nine males. The students range in age from 18 to 48. Some had severe symptoms; none was hospitalized.
Agreement reached over horse stalls at Ohio racino
AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (AP) - The operator of a new racino in northeastern Ohio has reached an agreement with the horse racing industry over the number of horse stalls to be built at the track, along with other terms.
The deal comes after state horse racing officials had said they would hold off on approving racing dates for the facility until the number of horse stalls at the Austintown racino was settled.
Penn National Gaming and the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association announcement the agreement Monday.
The two sides say 988 stalls in 13 barns will be built, with another 54 stalls for horses typically not kept there.
The agreement also covers revenue sharing on proceeds from video lottery gambling to boost race purses, as well as simulcast of races originating at the track.
PUBLIC TRANSIT TRIPS-OHIO
Ohio's 4 biggest cities see bus ridership increase
CINCINNATI (AP) - Bus ridership in Ohio's four largest cities all saw increases last year, with Cincinnati leading the way.
The increases mirror national statistics released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association that show people are using public transportation more than any time since the 1950s.
In Cincinnati for example, bus ridership jumped by 3.5 percent last year, to more than 16.9 million rides. That increase is more than triple the 1 percent nationwide increase in overall ridership on public transportation, which includes subways and light rails.
Cleveland also eclipsed the national increase, experiencing a 1.5 percent jump in bus rides last year to more than 39.6 million.
Toledo rose by 1 percent to 3.4 million rides, while Columbus increased by just 0.3 percent to 18.7 million rides.
WAYNE NATIONAL FOREST-SUPERVISOR
Wayne National Forest in Ohio gets new supervisor
NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) - The supervisor for the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan is taking the same job with the Wayne National Forest in Ohio.
A statement from the U.S. Forest Service says Tony Scardina expects to start work at the southeast Ohio forest in early May. He'll replace longtime Forest Service employee Anne Carney, who retired earlier this year.
Scardina has worked with the Forest Service since 2004. His roles have included being district ranger for a district of the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania.
He has a bachelor's degree in forest resources management, wildlife sciences and fisheries sciences, as well as a master's degree in public administration and natural resource law and policy.
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