State budget passes committee with abortion regulations
A Republican-dominated legislative panel has passed a slew of changes to Ohio's budget, including a last-minute abortion regulation requiring doctors to provide written notice to pregnant women of a detectable fetal heartbeat. The six-member conference committee moved the spending bill along party lines Tuesday night. The 4-2 vote sends the finalized budget bill to the floors of both legislative chambers, which are likely to take action today. One committee change would ban doctors from purposefully performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant woman before determining the presence of a detectable fetal heartbeat unless there is a medical emergency. It would create criminal penalties for violating the rules.
Bill to allow police collect cellphone data passes committee
Police would be allowed to collect cellphone data in a controversial bill moving forward in the Ohio legislature. An Ohio House committee approved the legislation Tuesday that would require cellphone carriers to provide data revealing a user’s location during an emergency such as an abduction. At the request of the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups, the committee added language clarifying that police would need a warrant in non-emergency situations. Ohio would be the 13th state to adopt such a law. It comes after an 18-year-old Kansas woman’s abduction and murder in 2007, in which police say it four days to get a cellphone provider to hand over data that could have pinpointed her location.
Kasich expected to sign bill allowing Columbus schools share dollars with charters
A bill that would allow Columbus schools to share local tax dollars with charter schools is on its way to Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it. The bill, which was fast-tracked through the Ohio legislature with the support of Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and business and community leaders, will become effective immediately after it’s signed into law. The bill would require the school board to ask voters this fall whether they’re willing to share tax dollars with charter schools. The bill also allows for an independent auditor to serve as a district watchdog in light of a student-attendance data rigging scandal that has expanded statewide.
Changes proposed in Senate bill would impose stricter rules on farm runoff
Ohio officials want more power to stem the spread of toxic algae caused by pollution runoff from farms. Changes proposed in a Senate bill would give the Department of Natural Resources the authority to cite farmers if rain washes too much fertilizer off their fields. It also would require farmers to undergo training and receive a certificate from the Ohio Department of Agriculture before they could spread fertilizer. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the provision would also keep the public from seeing an individual farmer's fertilizer and manure-management plans. Officials say changes in the law might be necessary to reduce toxic blue-green algae in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Mary's and other Ohio lakes every summer.
Poll: Support for expanded gun background checks
A recent poll finds wide support among Ohio voters for new restrictions on buying guns at gun shows and online. The poll released today by Quinnipiac University indicates that 78 percent support expanded background checks for people buying guns those ways. Those polled indicated that Republican Sen. Rob Portman's opposition to the expanded background checks caused many — 45 percent — to think of him less favorably. The poll says Portman's position made 15 percent view him more favorably. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's support for expanded checks led 43 percent to say they viewed him more favorably, and 16 percent less. Both senators enjoy positive approval ratings, though Portman's is higher.
Poll: Obama approval slips in Ohio
A poll finds that President Barack Obama's job approval ratings are skidding among voters in Ohio, the swing state he carried twice. The poll released today by Quinnipiac University indicates that 57 percent of voters disapproved of the way Obama is doing things as president, his lowest grade ever in Ohio. The poll finds 40 percent approve of Obama's job performance, with independent voters moving away from the president.
Castro back in court in Cleveland abduction case
Ariel Castro, the man charged with holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for over a decade is headed back to court. The sharing of evidence between prosecutors and defense lawyers is among the issues before Judge Michael Russo in Cleveland in the hearing this morning. The 52-year-old Castro has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment, with even more charges still possible. The defense wants county prosecutor Tim McGinty to take the death penalty off the table to clear the way for a plea deal. McGinty hasn't said if he'll pursue a death sentence for an alleged forced miscarriage involving one victim.
Cuyahoga owes residents $23 million in old court fees
Cuyahoga County says it owes anywhere from $10 to $1,000 to tens of thousands of people because of a decades-old error. The clerk's office says it owes people $23 million in refundable court fees and bond payments in cases dating back to the 1980s. The Plain Dealer reports that the money should have been returned years ago. But county workers did not send notifications and many people didn't know they were entitled to refunds. Auditors found the extra cash recently in a clerk's office account. The average refund will likely be less than $100. The names of people who are owed money will be posted online
Steubenville grand jury to reconvene in rape case
An eastern Ohio grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the rape of a 16-year-old girl is scheduled to begin work again on July 8. One of the key issues before the panel in Steubenville is whether adults who are required to report crimes knew early on of the rape last August but didn't say anything. The panel last met May 24, then adjourned to give investigators time to gather more evidence. A judge in March convicted two high school football players of raping the West Virginia girl after a party last summer.
More than a dozen indictments in drug ring
Federal officials say 17 people have been indicted in a cocaine and heroin ring operating in central and northeast Ohio. The U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland says the 57-count indictment announced Tuesday alleges a conspiracy that distributed cocaine, heroin and marijuana in Columbus, Akron and Youngstown. Authorities say the alleged ring leader previously pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.