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Morning news headlines for January 15, 2013
Akron looks to strengthen texting while driving laws; Kasich's education reforms almost ready to be unveiled; GOP chairman doesn't want job much longer

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Akron proposes tougher texting and driving laws
  • Kasich’s education reform bill will be ready soon
  • Edgewater Marina getting federal money for Sandy repairs
  • Ohio GOP chairman says he doesn’t want the job much longer
  • New Phila. school district plans levy for security upgrades
  • Week-long Forlani sentencing hearing wraps up
  • Ashtabula heroin ring busted
  • Appeals court throws out request for new trial in bathtub drowning case
  • State corrections department helping private prison with contraband problem
  • Browns close to stadium naming rights deal
  • Akron proposes tougher texting and driving laws
    Akron may soon be rolling out prime enforcement against texting while driving. Two council members have introduced legislation that would make the city’s law tougher than the one Ohio recently passed. Mike Williams and Donnie Kammer want to make texting while driving a primary offense for drivers regardless of their age. State law makes it a secondary offense for adults, meaning they have to be pulled over for another offense before they can be cited for texting. Drivers under 18 can be pulled over simply for texting, and Williams tells the Beacon Journal that should be the rule for everyone.  Council did not vote on the legislation at last night’s meeting.

    Kasich’s education reform bill will be ready soon
    Gov. John Kasich says his upcoming education bill will give school districts the ability to design programs that pay bonuses to teachers for high student performance. Kasich said Monday the highly anticipated proposal will be unveiled before the end of the month. Despite opposition from some teachers and their unions to performance-based pay systems, Kasich said he believes strongly in rewarding people for doing an excellent job. Kasich says he's also embracing the online education innovations of Google Labs' Sebastian Thrun and plans to work aggressively with him in crafting Ohio schools policy.

    Edgewater Marina getting federal money for Sandy repairs
    Cleveland’s Edgewater Marina will get more than $1.5 million to make repairs from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. The Ohio Controlling Board approved the funding on Monday for the state-owned marina on the city’s west side.  Repairs include removing 24,000 cubic yards of debris and restoring the marina’s breakwall to prevent damage by future storms. State officials say the Federal EMA will reimburse 75-percent of the project’s costs.

    Ohio GOP chairman says he doesn’t want the job much longer
    The head of Ohio’s Republican Party says he wants the group to find a new leader. 73-year old Bob Bennett is expected to be unopposed on Friday for election as chairman but says he doesn’t want the job for much longer. Bennett led the party for more than 20 years before retiring in 2009. He was then named chairman this past April after Governor John Kasich ousted Kevin DeWine. The Columbus Dispatch report state GOP executive director Matt Borges has expressed interest in the position.  

    New Philly school district plans levy for security upgrades
    A rural Northeast Ohio school district plans to ask voters to help pay for increased-security measures. The New Philadelphia school board on Monday voted to put an emergency levy on the May primary ballot that would generate 4-million dollars a year for five years. About a half million dollars of that would pay for placing armed school officers in the each of the district’s buildings.

    Week-long Forlani sentencing hearing wraps up
    The pre-sentence hearing for a Cleveland contractor convicted in the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal has wrapped up after a full week. Michael Forlani has pleaded guilty to 13 bribery-related charges. In Akron, Federal judge Sara Lioi has been hearing arguments over the dollar amount of his crimes so she can set a figure for restitution. The defense called former Port Authority member Robert Peto on Monday but he refused to testify, declaring protection from self-incrimination. Lioi is scheduled to announce her sentence in four weeks. 

    Ashtabula heroin ring busted
    Authorities have broken up an alleged heroin trafficking ring in the northeast corner of Ohio and say one user died of an overdose. A 42-count indictment unsealed in Cleveland federal court Monday says the suspects plotted to sell heroin in and around Ashtabula last year. Authorities say a young mother who was one of the customers of the alleged ring died of an overdose in July. The death doubles the possible penalty for one of the defendants from 10 years to life in prison to 20 years to life.

    Appeals court throws out request for new trial in bathtub drowning case
    A state appeals court has denied the latest bid for a fourth trial by a southwest Ohio man convicted of murder for the bathtub drowning of his wife. The ruling released Monday rejected contentions focused on a detective's alleged misconduct and false statements. The same court rejected an appeal in September based on police handling of the couple's bathtub. Ryan Widmer's attorneys are also appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court.

    State corrections department helping private prison with contraband problem
    Ohio’s corrections department is stepping in to help a privately-owned prison control a rash of smuggling activity. Police in Conneaut and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called on the state to help after there were eight incidents of drugs and other contraband thrown over perimeter fences at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in one week. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials say they are working with local law enforcement.

    Browns close to stadium naming rights deal
    The Cleveland Browns are close to selling naming rights for their stadium to Akron-based First Energy.  The deal could be announced as early as today, which leaked after the Wilson Football plant in Ada, Ohio says it made footballs for the Browns with the name “FirstEnergy Field at Cleveland Browns Stadium” on them. Former Browns owner Randy Lerner declined to sell naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium when it opened in 1999.  The deal could bring millions to new owner Jimmy Haslam, who bought the Browns from Lerner for around $1 billion last October.

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