Proposal would expand death penalty to cover some sex-related crimes
An Ohio lawmaker wants to expand the state’s death penalty law to cover some sex-related crimes. Rep. John Becker, a Cincinnati-area Republican, says his proposal is driven by the case of three women who escaped Ariel Castro’s home in Cleveland after being held captive for a decade and raped repeatedly. It would allow for the death penalty in cases of rape, sexual battery and improper sexual contact with a minor if the suspect has a previous sex crime conviction. Prosecutors considered seeking the death penalty against Castro after it was alleged that he forced one of the women to miscarry after she became pregnant. Castro accepted a plea deal that took the death penalty off the table. He’s serving life in prison plus 1,000 years.
Two NEO lawmakers reach across the aisle to foster civility
A Republican state senator and a former Democratic Ohio lawmaker are working together in an effort to foster more civility among legislators. The Akron Beacon Journal reports Republican Sen. Frank LaRose of Copley Township and Democrat Ted Celeste of Lakewood plan to set up an off-the-record Statehouse meeting Sept. 17 for possibly dozens of lawmakers to share more about how they form political views and how they might better cooperate. LaRose says he thinks people are less likely to dismiss opposing views if they know more about the colleagues who have perspectives different than theirs. He and Celeste attended a civility workshop at a recent Council of State Governments regional meeting. They'll talk about that topic at a Sept. 6 meeting sponsored by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Asian carp DNA found in Maumee Lake
State officials say DNA from Asian carp was found in one water sample among hundreds from northern Ohio rivers feeding into Lake Erie. The Blade in Toledo reports the genetic material found in northwest Ohio's Maumee River came from silver carp. That's one of two Asian species threatening to enter the Great Lakes, where scientists fear they'd disrupt a multibillion-dollar fishing industry. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the positive DNA result occurred once in 225 samples from the Maumee River, which begins in Indiana. No DNA was found in 100 samples from the Sandusky River in the latest testing. No live Asian carp were found. President Barack Obama's administration is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on barriers and projects to keep the Great Lakes carp-free.
Cleveland shooting and kidnap suspect found dead, victim alive
A man suspected of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend is dead and the woman he allegedly abducted has been found alive. WKYC reports 35-year-old Kenya Pierce, who was kidnapped at gunpoint during the weekend, was found early this morning. Her alleged abductor, 35-year-old Derek Hudson, was found dead, reportedly he committed suicide. He's accused of kidnapping Pierce after shooting two of his own relatives. His aunt has been released from the hospital…his uncle remains in fair condition.
Cost of gas up slightly
The cost of gas for Ohio drivers is up slightly compared with last week.
The state's average for a gallon of regular gas was $3.48 Monday, according to the survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. That's up 6 cents from a week ago. Compared with the average at this time last year, it's 28 cents cheaper. The average nationwide was $3.54 per gallon on Monday. That's down a penny from a week ago and is 18 cents less than a year ago. Analysts are keeping an eye on oil production and export disruptions caused by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. There's also concern that violence could spread and block important supply routes.
Burke airport gets $20 million runway makeover
Cleveland's general aviation airport is getting a runway makeover. The $20 million project at Burke Lakefront Airport at the edge of downtown includes installation of a 400-foot stretch of "collapsible concrete." That will slow down or stop an aircraft that's unable to brake on its own. Navigation equipment will be improved and a new taxiway will be built. The cost will be shared by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Cleveland Airport System. An airport spokeswoman says the project is on schedule to be completed in three months.
Toledo casino agrees to pay fines
The operator of one of Ohio's four casinos has agreed to settle a fine with the state over a handful of violations. Ohio's Casino Control Commission says Hollywood Casino Toledo isn't fighting the violations and has agreed to pay a $30,000 fine. The fine stems from violations that say the casino operated a blackjack table in an area without video surveillance and used slot machines that had not been verified by the commission. Hollywood officials aren't commenting on the fine. The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland was twice issued notices this year and fined a total of nearly $20,000 for violations.
Portman backs bill for home demolitions
Ohio's big cities have a backlog of vacant homes they'd like to demolish. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is trying to help speed up the work. Portman is backing a bill that would to transfer $60 million left over from foreclosure relief funds to housing demolition in the state. The Blade newspaper in Toledo reports there are an estimated 100,000 homes in Ohio that could be demolished. Cleveland officials said last year that there are 8,500 houses ready to be razed. In Toledo, the city says 3,000 homes are in need of being torn down.