Morning Headlines: Ohio Senate Considers Three Gun Bills; Rejected Marijuana Grower Wins License

May 17, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, May 17:

  • Ohio Senate mulls three gun bills ahead of summer recess;
  • DeWine calls for legal sports betting in the state after U.S. Supreme Court decision;
  • Akron shelves legislation to raise bee fees;
  • Kasich threatens executive action unless legislators limit runoff in Lake Erie;
  • Marijuana grower wins state license after previous rejection;
  • Toledo's shuttered abortion clinic gets a license to reopen;
  • Man who protested Chief Wahoo mascot pleads guilty to defrauding Native American nonprofit;
  • University of Akron to add a cybersecurity testing lab with $200,000 grant;
  • Judge tosses lawsuit from a high school pole vaulter barred from competing;
  • FirstEnergy Stadium to host biennial soccer tournament;

Ohio Senate mulls three gun bills ahead of summer recess
With less than two weeks before summer break, state lawmakers are considering three gun bills, including a so-called “red flag” law backed by Gov. John Kasich. A Senate panel discussed the legislation on Wednesday and heard testimony from the father of a Parkland, Fla. shooting victim. Senate Bill 278 would let family members or law enforcement obtain a court order to restrict a person’s access to guns if that person poses a threat to themselves or others. A similar but wider-ranging bill also calls for a ban on third-party gun sales and armor-piercing bullets. A companion to that bill is also making its way through the Ohio House. A third bill would allow licensed gun dealers to refuse or delay a gun sale to anyone engaged in a lawsuit.

DeWine calls for legal sports betting in the state after U.S. Supreme Court decision
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is urging state lawmakers to get in front of a potential ballot issue by legalizing sports betting. The Republican gubernatorial candidate says that Ohio must act "right away" to prevent special interests from going to the ballot and determining how sports betting is regulated and where the money goes. That statement differed from the DeWine campaign's initial response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says states can authorize sports betting. A spokesman initially said DeWine opposed the expansion of gambling, including sports betting. Campaign manager Dave Luketic clarified that the spokesman provided the information before checking with DeWine. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray expressed support for a sports betting law that ensures proper regulation and generates revenue for local communities.

Akron shelves legislation to raise bee fees
The city of Akron has withdrawn legislation that would have raised the fee to raise bees. The ordinance would have increased the annual fee from $5 to $50 per hive. Local beekeepers opposed the rate hike, saying it would discourage hobbyists and people who couldn’t afford the higher fee. A city spokesman tells the Beacon Journal the legislation could come up again after council hears from residents and local experts.

Kasich threatens executive action unless legislators limit runoff in Lake Erie
Gov. John Kasich is calling on legislators to limit runoff in Lake Erie, and says he will issue an executive order if they fail to act. Kasich says he’s working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to find areas where fertilizer use should be restricted to curb harmful algae blooms. The state’s farm bureau has said it wants further research into the link between fertilizer use and algae blooms before the state imposes new regulations. Kasich drew criticism last week when he said he didn’t think Lake Erie should be labeled as “impaired,” contradicting the state and federal EPA. He later said he was referring to the middle of the lake, not the impaired western basin.

Marijuana grower wins state license after previous rejection
State officials have issued a medical marijuana growing license to a company that originally was out of the running due to a clerical error. Cleveland.com reports that the Department of Commerce issued a provisional license to Illinois-based PharmaCann Ohio LLC this week by acknowledging a state employee botched the scoring process. The Department is authorized to issue 24 growing licenses. PharmaCann’s is the 25th. A spokeswoman could not say how an extra license was allowed. Licenses for marijuana product processors and dispensaries are expected to be awarded in the coming weeks. State officials say the trouble-plagued medical marijuana program in Ohio will likely miss its required September 8 launch date.

Toledo's shuttered abortion clinic gets a license to reopen
The Ohio Health Department says it has granted a license to Toledo's last abortion clinic, allowing it reopen. Capital Care of Toledo applied for the license after receiving a state-mandated patient-transfer agreement from the ProMedica hospital system in February. Restrictions passed by Ohio lawmakers in 2013 mandated the transfer agreements be with local hospitals, and also barred public hospitals from providing them. The University of Toledo Hospital ended its transfer arrangement with Capital Care about two months before the law was enacted. The Health Department on Wednesday notified Capital Care of the ambulatory surgical license it issued to May 8. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this year the state was within its rights when it revoked the clinic's license because it didn't have the patient-transfer agreement.

Man who protested Chief Wahoo mascot pleads guilty to defrauding Native American nonprofit
A man who has held protests saying the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo mascot is racist has pleaded guilty to stealing money from federal grants aimed at helping Native Americans. Robert Roche, 71, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from programs receiving federal funds. Prosecutors say the Cleveland man conspired to divert money from the American Indian Education Center where he served as executive director. They say Roche and a consultant embezzled at least $180,000 from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants and that Roche diverted $77,000 for his personal use. Sentencing is set for August.

University of Akron to add a cybersecurity testing lab with $200,000 grant
The University of Akron is expanding its cybersecurity program with a new testing lab. The lab is being funded by a $200,000 grant from the Timken Foundation in Canton. It will allow students to simulate cybersecurity threats on a closed network. The testing lab will include 30 workstations. The university says it also hopes to partner with local businesses to connect students with jobs and internships. Construction on the 2,000 square foot lab is set to begin this fall.

Judge tosses lawsuit from a high school pole vaulter barred from competing
A federal judge has a rejected a lawsuit by a pole-vaulter who says his Ohio high school banned him from competing because he refused to practice in the rain. Max Stokey claimed he was "restricted from participating" after he questioned a track coach's decision to practice vaulting in wet conditions April 3. But a federal judge upheld the ban, saying the school had the discretion of keeping the Hoover High School freshman out of competition for failing to abide by the coach's rules. The Repository reports the judge's decision will keep the athlete from participating in this week's district tournament meet.

FirstEnergy Stadium to host biennial soccer tournament
FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland will host the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cup in 2019. The biennial soccer event is the region’s official men’s national team championship. The stadium has previously hosted international soccer games, in 2006 and 2013. Dates and teams have not been announced.