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Morning news headlines for March 21, 2013
Judge rules against Linndale Mayor's Court; election commission is looking into coal company PAC contributions; Chardon leaders are relieved T.J. Lane case is closed

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
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In The Region:
  • Chardon school leaders embrace closure after a painful year
  • Linndale Mayor’s Court closing is back on schedule
  • Federal Election Commission is investigating coal company PAC
  • Judge orders Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp to repay more than $800 million
  • Speed limit increase clears Ohio's Senate
  • Columbus cashes in with red-light cameras
  • Election law changes are headed to Kasich’s desk
  • Racing commission wants more seats at two new racinos
  • Indiana man wants to withdraw guilty plea in Toledo mosque fire
  • Chardon school leaders embrace closure after painful year
    School officials in Chardon say they're relieved the case is over against a teen who shot and killed three students in a cafeteria in February 2012.
    A statement Wednesday said the sentencing of 18-year-old T.J. Lane allows families of the victims, students and the community to move on. Lane was given three life sentences Tuesday for the killings at Chardon High School, east of Cleveland. He had pleaded guilty.
    A prisons spokesman says Lane was moved Wednesday to the Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton for the orientation process. Officials will later determine which institution will house him long-term.
    The school district says its thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families and that the sentencing allows everyone to take another step toward healing.

    Judge rules against Linndale Mayor's Court
    The new law closing the mayor’s court in Linndale is to take effect as scheduled tomorrow. The law eliminates mayor’s courts in towns with populations of 200 or less.
    The Plain Dealer reports that yesterday, a Columbus-area common pleas judge refused to grant a restraining order that would have blocked the law.
    Linndale and three other villages had sued the state. Attorneys for the small towns say closing the courts will cripple their towns and that the law is unconstitutional. But the state argues that police in the smallest villages rely on the tickets to make money.
    The villages plan to appeal.

    FEC investigating coal company PAC
    The Federal Election Commission is looking into whether a Pepper Pike-based coal company’s political action committee broke federal election law.
    The FEC sent letters earlier this month to Murray Energy’s PAC, saying contributions to several Republican candidates appear to be too high. The Plain Dealer reports Murray Energy gave more than $14,000 to Mitt Romney and $7,000 to Marietta congressman Bill Johnson. Both donations appear to be over the $5,000 limit on contributions by PACs to candidates.
    The FEC is also investigating a complaint by a watchdog group that says the company coerced donations from its employees.
    A company spokesperson says the PAC follows election laws and will respond to the FEC soon about the large donations. It calls the complaint of coerced donations  an attempt to eliminate criticism of what it calls President Barack Obama’s 'war on coal.'

    Bureau of Workers Compensation to pay out over $800 million
    The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation owes employers more than $800 million. That was the ruling Wednesday by a judge in Cleveland, who found the state insurance fund has been overcharging some businesses for nearly a decade.
    The suit filed by a group of businesses led by the owners of Cleveland’s Corky and Lenny’s restaurant argued the state was not fair in how it distributed steep worker’s comp discounts. The ruling affects about 270,000 companies across Ohio, but many aren’t aware that they’re covered by the decision. The group “Pay Us Back Ohio BWC” set up to help employers find out if they’re owed money.

    Speed limit increase clears Senate
    A proposal to increase Ohio's speed limit to 70 mph on rural interstate highways has cleared the state Senate and is heading for likely passage in the House.
    The vote comes after a legislative panel worked out differences between House and Senate versions of the transportation bill. The measure also allows for a 65 mph upper speed limit on urban outerbelt freeways and a maximum of 55 mph in congested areas. The bill also sets in motion Gov. John Kasich's plan for a $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale that would raise money for highway and bridge projects. A compromise provision guarantees that 90 percent of the turnpike bond sale proceeds would go to northern Ohio projects.

    Red-light cameras bring in big money in Columbus
    Red-light cameras are proving to be a money maker for the city of Columbus. A record number of citations issued because of the cameras brought in $2.1 million last year, more than the previous two years combined. Red-light fines totaled about $1.1 million in 2011.
    The Columbus Dispatch reports that the city has added 20 cameras at intersections over the past two years and now has a total of 38. Red-light and speed cameras are used in more than 500 U.S. municipalities.

    Election law changes headed to Kasich’s desk
    Two bills that make election law changes in the presidential battleground state are headed to the governor's desk. One would restrict the time groups have to collect extra signatures needed to ensure their ballot issues get before voters. The other bill would improve access to the polls for disabled voters.

    Racing commission wants more seats at two new racinos
    The State Racing Commission said the developer's designs for proposed racinos in the Youngstown area and in Dayton don't include enough seating for horse-race spectators. Race commissioners plan to wait at least a week before deciding to approve the plans, which include slots-like video terminals at both locations.
    The developer, Penn National, said adding more grandstand seating would mean the company would have to re-draw its architectural plans from scratch. Both racinos are expected to open in spring 2014.

    Indiana man wants to withdraw guilty plea in mosque fire
    An Indiana man is scheduled to appear in federal court today in Toledo to explain why he wants to withdraw his guilty plea to starting a fire at a mosque. Randy Linn asked to change his plea in January, saying he made a mistake and was in an emotional and depressed state when he pleaded guilty.

    Related WKSU Stories

    Last days for Linndale mayor's court?
    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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