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Headline News for Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Third parties fight new election law; Cleveland Heights amends restrictive curfew; Healthcare opponents in Ohio make referendum possible

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Third parties prepare to fight new election law requiring re-registration by 40,000 signatures every two years
  • Cleveland Heights amends restrictive curfew to allow minors downtown under certain circumstances
  • Federal healthcare opponents in Ohio say they have enough signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot 
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    Headline News 070611...

    Third parties are gearing up to fight provisions of Ohio’s new election law. Part of the law, signed by Gov. Kasich Friday, lays out how candidates get their party affiliations on ballots. Ohio has had no formal rules governing the process since 2008 when its old rules were found unconstitutional. The new law says that every two years every political party in Ohio will have to re-register by gathering 40,000 signatures or getting more than five percent of the vote in the most recent federal or state-wide election. Anita Rios is the co-chair of Ohio’s Green Party. She says the threshold is too high, something the courts have already affirmed.   Both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party say they plan to challenge the new law in court.


    Opponents of the new federal health care overhaul say they've gathered enough petition signatures for a referendum this fall. Voters would be asked whether the state should amend its constitution to keep people from being required to buy health insurance. The amendment would prohibit any law from forcing Ohioans to participate in a health care system.   Its supporters say they've gathered more than 530,000 signatures. They need roughly 385,000 valid signatures. The National Conference of State Legislatures says lawmakers in Alabama, Florida and Wyoming are putting similar measures before voters next year.


    The city of Cleveland Heights is giving teens a few more options after adopting one of the most restrictive curfews in the state. The city a week ago began prohibiting anyone under 18 from being downtown from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Last night, city council adopted six exceptions, including allowing teens under 17 to be downtown with a parent, for work or a school or religious activity. Mayor Edward Kelly says the new curfew is already changing the landscape downtown.   Critics of the new law, including Case Western Reserve law professor Lewis Katz, says the language is unconstitutionally vague and he says 6 p.m. is unreasonably early for a curfew.


    Drunk driving arrests were down statewide during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The State Highway Patrol says the nearly 600 arrests for impaired driving is 21 fewer than the same weekend last year. Overall, troopers made 26,000 arrests statewide, a 13-and a half percent increase over 2010.


    Columbus-based American Electric Power is moving forward with a solar energy farm that’s expected to be one of the largest east of the Mississippi River. AEP has signed a deal with Turning Point Solar to develop about 750 acres of former coal-mining land in Cumberland, southeast of Zanesville, for a $250-million solar farm. Construction should begin next summer. AEP will invest $20 million in the project in order to meet state alternative energy mandates.


    Stark County officials want the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider its recent ruling allowing the county’s ousted treasurer to return to work.  Gary Zeigler was back on the job Tuesday, following last month’s high court ruling that the state law county commissioners used to remove him last year was unconstitutional.  Commissioners argue Zeigler is responsible for his chief deputy stealing nearly $3 million.


    Newspaper publishers and others say the Ohio Legislature's decision to reduce civil fines for improperly destroying public records effectively does away with a ban that deterred local governments from ridding shelves of controversial items.  But lawmakers say it was needed to protect taxpayers' pocketbooks from people manipulating the law by asking for records they knew had been destroyed.   The measure signed into law last week places a $10,000 limit per case on fines an agency can be forced to pay.


    Ohio is on its way to greatly expanding the school voucher program that lets families better afford tuition at private schools, and as statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports, it’s part of a national trend.


    Minority Democrats in the Ohio House were generally pleased when Republican Secretary and State Jon Husted stepped in recently to voice his opposition to a bill that requires Ohio voters to show government issued photo ID’s at the polls. Husted says he’s not against that idea, but says there are problems with the bill.  Democrats say it will have the effect of suppressing the vote…especially in African American communities, but Husted doesn’t buy that argument. Husted says new restrictions on photo ID were not part of the bill that was signed into law in recent days.


    The prosecution is trying to put a personal face to victims at the Cleveland trial of a man charged with killing 11 women and dumping their remains around his house and property. The father of one woman who was killed and the sisters and son of another testified yesterday as the second week of testimony got underway in the trial Anthony Sowell .


    A Canton nature preserve has closed on unconfirmed reports of a mountain lion on the loose. The city has temporarily closed its 68-acre Fairhope Nature Preserve after three reports of sightings. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says they’ve found nothing to confirm a big cat is in the area and city officials dismiss a report that a mountain lion may have escaped from an exotic animal farm in the region.


    LeBron James is changing the scope of his annual bike-a-thon in his hometown of Akron. The former Cavs star says he's scrubbing the "King for Kids" moniker to now call the event "Wheels for Education" and building it around a two-week camp featuring reading and technology classes for 360 third graders.


    CC Sabathia allowed just five hits as the Yankees beat the Indians 9-2 last night.   Meanwhile, Indians All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was replaced in the fourth inning of last night's game against the New York Yankees because of an apparent ankle injury. Cabrera twisted his ankle while making a leaping throw in the third inning. 

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