Testimony begins on bills to expand Ohio gun laws
An Ohio House committee will hear testimony today on a pair of proposed gun laws that would expand concealed weapons in Ohio by potentially allowing them in places such as churches. The bill introduced would allow concealed weapons in churches, day cares and colleges and universities as long as written authorization permitting the concealed carry of handguns is in place. A related bill relates specifically to carrying concealed weapons in school zones. A third bill letting certain gun owners carry concealed weapons without a permit was removed from the committee's agenda.
House approves expanding statute of limitations for rape
The Ohio House has passed a bill to extend the time period for prosecuting rape and sexual battery to 25 years after the crime. The bill also provides an additional five years for prosecution from the time a potential suspect is identified through DNA testing. The legislation comes as the Attorney General's Office continues to plow through a backlog of untested rape kits, with numerous cases of DNA matches in a criminal database. Opponents have told lawmakers they believe the bill is unconstitutional because it creates two classes of offenders.
Yost creates new team to investigate public fraud and corruption
Ohio's auditor is creating a new team within his office to investigate public corruption and government fraud. State Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement Tuesday that he's bringing together workers of different disciplines to be part of the group, called the Public Integrity Assurance Team. Yost says the team will focus on exposing wrongdoing and bring independence to cases in which local officials have conflicts.
Ohio to get part of settlement with Sprint and Verizon
Ohio is expected to receive nearly $600,000 from Sprint and Verizon to settle allegations that the carriers allowed phony charges on their customers' monthly bills. Federal regulators say the mobile giants partnered with third-party vendors that sell premium text messaging services, such as horoscopes and sports scores. But consumers who hadn't signed up for the services were billed anyway.
Stark and Columbiana counties to be treated for gypsy moths
State authorities are planning to begin the latest aerial treatments to control gypsy moths in sections Stark and Columbiana counties. The Department of Agriculture says the applications from low-flying aircraft aren't toxic to humans, pets or other animals. In Ohio, 51 counties are under gypsy moth quarantine regulations.
U.S. Army Corps ordered to continue fully dredging Cuyahoga River
A federal judge has sided with the state of Ohio by ordering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue fully dredging the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River. The state sued the Army Corps in April over its plan to charge Ohio $1.4 million for disposing sediment from the channel into containment facilities and not Lake Erie. The state says the Army Corps won't dredge the entire channel unless Ohio covers the cost. The Army Corps argued that federal law leaves dredging decisions up to the agency.
Proposal would require more training for prospective police officers
Ohio Statehouse leaders have announced legislation to raise the minimum number of hours needed to become a police officer in the state. The bills would also require law enforcement candidates to have a high school diploma. The measures follow recommendations for upgrading police training and standards that emerged from committees convened by Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine in the wake of protests in Ohio and nationally over fatal police shootings.
Cuyahoga sheriff: Investigation into Tamir Rice shooting nearly complete
Cuyahoga County’s sheriff says detectives have completed most of their investigation into a Cleveland police officer's fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun last November. Clifford Pinkney said Tuesday that investigators still have a few more witnesses to talk with about the shooting of Tamir Rice. Rookie patrolman Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir within seconds of a cruiser pulling up next to the boy. Rice had what turned out to be a pellet gun.
Ohio's Senators split on fast-track trade authority
A bill to grant President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a trans-Pacific trade deal failed in a Senate vote Tuesday. Ohio’s two Senators split in the vote – Republican Rob Portman voted to approve moving forward with fast-track while Democrat Sherrod Brown voted no. Democrats generally oppose the trade package with 11 Asian nations because they say it doesn’t do enough to guarantee jobs for American workers. The Senate needed 60 votes to move forward with debate on the fast-track authority. It’s possible the bill could be reintroduced after the Memorial Day recess.
Settlement reached in Medicaid lawsuit
More than 150,000 Ohioans will be placed back on Medicaid as part of a settlement that a citizen’s advocacy group has reached in a lawsuit against the state. The agreement comes in a dispute involving how Ohio "re-determines" the eligibility of Medicaid beneficiaries. Earlier this year, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus sued the state's Medicaid director on behalf of several individuals and nonprofits. They claimed that some individuals' benefits were terminated or put at risk after Ohio failed to follow federal law and Medicaid regulations.
Kasich heads west for presidential bid fundraising
Governor John Kasich is headed west for fundraising events for his potential 2016 presidential bid. The Columbus Dispatch reports Kasich leaves today to meet with potential donors in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto before speaking Friday at Town Hall Los Angeles. Whether Kasich plans to run for president or, Kasich told the Dispatch quote “If we get the resources, I would expect we would move forward.”
OSU drum major indicted on rape, assault charges
A drum major instructor for Ohio State University's marching band who is accused of sexually assaulting a female student plans to plead not guilty. Twenty-eight-year-old Stewart Kitchen will appear in court today on rape and assault charges. The indictment announced Tuesday alleges Kitchen sexually assaulted the 19-year-old woman in his bedroom after they walked to his Columbus house following drinks and he refused to return her to her home.