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Morning news headlines for Dec. 31, 2012
Cleveland City Council loses two seats; Judge rules Worker's Comp. Bureau overcharged Ohio employers;  Great Lakes in crisis according to new study

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
  • Cleveland City Council loses two seats
  • Judge rules Worker's Comp. Bureau overcharged Ohio employers
  • Great Lakes in crisis according to new study
  • Ohio Legislature wraps up session 
  • Ohio youth prisons more violent than adult lockups
  • Research underscores importance of recess in child development 
  • Insurance licensing fees fall 
  • Widow fights Ohio Historical Society for rare Adena artifact
  • Cleveland City Council loses two seats
    There will be two fewer members next year of Cleveland’s 19-member City Council.  Population loss, and a shift in population density means the governing body will need to rewrite ward maps and shrink to reflect a shrinking city.  Cleveland's population has shrunk by more than 30,000 people to about 396,000, according to the most recent U.S. census figures.  The Plain Dealer reports most of that population loss occurred in the city's northeast quadrant.  Cleveland City Council is required to redraws district lines every decade following the census.   The deadline is April 1.

    Worker's Comp overcharged Ohio employers
    A judge's ruling against the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation may end up costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.  The ruling issued Friday also could mean that more than 270,000 Ohio employers are due restitution after the judge said they were overcharged by the state.  A group of businesses sued Ohio in 2007 for $1.3 billion, saying that they paid too much for their workers' compensation premiums.  Cuyahoga County Judge Richard McMonagle agreed, but asked the group to lower their request for damages.  An attorney for the group says the final amount will be less than a billion dollars.  A spokesman for workers' compensation bureau says they plan to appeal the decision.

    Great Lakes in crisis according to new study
    A new report paints a picture of declining health in the nation’s great lakes.  Researchers with the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project say toxic blue-green algae and invasive fish, mussels and plants make Lake Erie the second-most-threatened of the five Great Lakes, behind Ontario.  The report shows fertilizer runoff from Ohio farms feed huge blooms of blue-green algae in Lake Erie.  Decomposing algae then creates a vast, “dead zone” in the lake.  Research indicates that Lake Erie has the biggest dead zone.  Researchers also measured threats from declining water levels, rising water temperature, zebra mussels, sea lampreys and ballast-water dumping by oceangoing vessels in ranking risk to the individual great lakes.

    Ohio Legislature wraps up session 
    Ohio lawmakers have adjourned for the year, leaving a number of bills effectively dead — at least for now.  When the newly elected General Assembly convenes next month, some of the issues are likely to be resurrected and debated again.  State senators are hoping to change the way Ohio draws its state legislative and congressional district lines.  Both chambers have also expressed an interest in cracking down on gambling operations known as Internet cafes. Changes to abortion limits and gun laws could also resurface.  The state's two-year budget is expected to dominate discussion. Gov. John Kasich is expected to release his spending blueprint in early February.  Republicans will continue hold majorities in the House and Senate when session opens Jan 7.

    Ohio youth prisons more violent than adult lockups
    Ohio's youth prisons have much higher assault rates than the adult lockups. Juvenile prisons had more than 1,600 assaults, with an overall population of only 680 youths. The adult population of more than 50,000 inmates had nearly 2,500 assaults.  The Columbus Dispatch reports that a court-appointed monitor found that conditions have been improving.  Some Department of Youth Services staffers say there isn't enough discipline in the youth prisons and that conditions are dangerous for both the teens and the prison staff. The four Ohio youth prisons include some of the state's most violent juvenile offenders, and also some young people with mental issues.

    Research underscores importance of recess in child development  
    The importance of downtime and outdoor play during the school day now has scientific backing.  Research in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics shows that recess is a vital part of child development.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says recess should not be withheld as a punishment, and gym class is not a substitute for play.  The report shows recess tends to be least common at schools that serve poor, urban kids.  Ohio law does not require recess, but The Columbus Dispatch reports 4 out of 5 elementary schools provide 15 minutes of recess in the morning and afternoon.

    Insurance licensing fees fall 
    The state is lowering the fee Ohio insurance agents and agencies pay to have their licenses renewed late or reinstated.  Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also leads Ohio's Department of Insurance, says the move is aimed at maintaining the state's competitive insurance market. The change takes effect on January 1st.  Ohio-licensed agents and agencies will see their fee for renewing their license late fall to $50, from $100. For license reinstatement, the fee drops to $100, from $300.


    Widow fights Ohio Historical Society for rare Adena artifact
    A state appeals court says there should be a new trial to determine who should get ownership of a prehistoric Native American tablet.  The Franklin County Court of Appeals overruled a decision that awarded ownership of the tablet to the Ohio Historical Society rather than to the estate of a man who discovered it as a boy.  The Adena tablet dates to between 500 B.C. and A.D. 100.  It has been displayed at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus since 1971 when the society acquired it from Edward Low.  Low asked for the tablet's return in 2007, saying he lent it to the Historical Society. He sued after they denied his request.  He died in 2010, but his widow is continuing the legal fight.

    Gas prices inch up 
    Ohio drivers are seeing rising gas prices again.  The average price for a gallon of regular is $3.32 in today's AAA survey.  Prices have gone up after some areas of Ohio saw pump numbers fall below the $3-per-gallon mark briefly the week before Christmas, thanks to lower demand and higher inventories.


    FEMA calls smartphone owners for help
    Disaster response agencies in Ohio are urging smartphone owners to learn some tricks for using their devices during emergencies.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s, Ready and ReadyOhio offer tips as part of the "Resolve to be Ready in 2013" campaign.  The effort follows a year marked by 34 tornadoes, winter storms Draco and Euclid, and Superstorm Sandy.  FEMA's Ready campaign emphasizes the role of technology in disaster preparedness plans for individuals, families and businesses.





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