Morning Headlines: Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Inactive Voter Purge; Akron Hikes Trash Fees

Jun 12, 2018

Here's your morning headlines for Tuesday, June 12: 

  • Supreme Court upholds Ohio's inactive voter purge;
  • Akron hikes trash collection fees;
  • Akron City Council approves vacant building registry;
  • Company that cancelled school trips to appear in bankrupcy court;
  • Researchers conclude fracking doesn't contaminate drinking water;
  • Cuyahoga County reports record number of drug overdoses;
  • Man in critical condition identified in East Cleveland house explosion;
  • Akron seeking grant to handle sexual assault case backlog;
  • ECOT attorneys oppose Ohio auditor's request to join legal case;
  • Black bear spotted in Wadsworth; 
  • Second public forum set for input on future of Pro Football Hall of Fame area;
  • Ohio Medicaid scraps $1 billion cut;

Supreme Court upholds Ohio's voter purge

The US Supreme Court is allowing Ohio to purge its voting rolls by targeting people who haven't cast ballots in a while.

In a 5-4 vote, the justices rejected arguments that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal. Justice Samuel Alito said for the court that Ohio is complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues. The four liberal justices dissented. Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and remain eligible.

Akron hikes trash collection fees

Akron residents will start paying more for trash collection in August. After weeks of debate, city Council agreed to increase trash pick-up rates by $1. The city will continue to give a $2.50 recycling rebate after previously proposing to scrap it. Trash fees will increase every year beginning in 2020 to help cover the rising costs of trash pickup and disposal, which the city says have increased 30 percent since 2012.

Akron City Council approves vacant building registry

Akron City Council approved creating a registry to monitor vacant buildings. It will give owners of vacant or commercialized buildings six months to notify the city of their plans for reuse. They'll also have to pay a fee based on the buildings size: $300 a year for fewer than 10,000 square feet and $500 for more. The city says it wants to work to prevent safety hazards.

Company that cancelled school trips to appear in bankrupcy court

Families affected by the sudden closure of a company that organizes school tours may get some answers this week.

The Plain Dealer reports that the owners of Discovery Tours are scheduled to appear in bankruptcy court on Thursday to meet with creditors. School trips for more than 5,000 families were abruptly cancelled last month when Discovery closed its doors. Discovery Tours owes creditors nearly $4 million. The hearing may determine how much of that money owed to parents and school districts will be covered by the company’s insurance.

Researchers conclude fracking doesn't contaminate drinking water

Geologists at the University of Cincinnati have concluded there is no evidence that fracking contributes to groundwater contamination. Researchers examined drinking water from five Ohio counties: Stark, Carroll, Harrison, Belmont and Columbiana from 2012 to 2015, and hypothesized methane levels would increase with the number of shale gas wells in the area. However, the results found clean groundwater in most areas. They did find variable methane levels in a three different areas that could catch fire or explode if the space is enclosed.

Cuyahoga County reports record number of drug overdoses

Cuyahoga County has reported a record number of fatal drug overdoses. The county medical examiner’s preliminary report shows overdose deaths last year rose to 727. That’s 61 more deaths than 2016. But the rate of increase did slow from 80 percent between 2015 and 2016 to 9 percent between 2016 and 2017. The medical examiner says some factors that apparently contributed to a slower rate included a decrease in carfentanil and the increased availability of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, addiction treatment and prevention education.

Man in critical condition from East Cleveland house explosion identified

Police have identified a person who was critically injured in a vacant home explosion in East Cleveland that killed another person. 51-year-old Craig Kelly is still in critical condition. The name of the woman killed in the explosion has not been released. It is unclear why the two people were inside the home at the time of the explosion. Police say the home was sold to a new owner in May, but the owner had yet to move in. The homeowner tells Cleveland.com she was planning on doing $10,000 in renovations before moving into the house. Dominion Energy Ohio says crews are still inspecting gas lines inside the home.

Akron seeking grant to handle sexual assault case backlog

Akron police are seeking a nearly $1 million federal grant to help handle the city's backlog of cold case sexual assaults.

The department is looking to use the grant to launch a six-member team for three years to go through the city's cold cases. The money would come from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative offered by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The police department currently has 847 sexual assault kits that correspond to an existing DNA profile, but only one detective investigating the cases. City Council is expected to vote on allowing the police department to apply for the grant June 18.

ECOT attorneys oppose Ohio auditor's request to join legal case

Attorneys for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow are opposing the Ohio auditor's effort to formally get involved in court proceedings about the dismantling of the massive online charter school amid a dispute over its public funding.

Republican Auditor Dave Yost's office preserved computer data from ECOT but hasn't yet been a party to the Franklin County case about the closure. In a recent court filing, ECOT's attorneys argue it is unnecessary for Yost to get involved and note that the interested parties already are working to agree on protocols for reviewing the preserved data.

ECOT closed in January after the state determined the school should repay nearly $80 million. ECOT challenged how student participation was tallied to calculate that, and it's awaiting an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in that matter.

Black bear spotted in Wadsworth

A black bear is getting the attention of residents in Wadsworth. The Beacon Journal reports several people have spotted the bear in their yards the last couple of days, with one man taking photos of the bear eating from his birdfeeders. The Ohio Division of Wildlife estimates the state’s black bear population to be anywhere from 50 to 100 individual bears. Wildlife officers recommend removing bird feeders and storing garbage in a garage or a secure container.

Second public forum set for input on future of Pro Football Hall of Fame area

Canton and Stark County residents can weigh in tonight about what they want to see happen to the area around the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  A second public forum about an ongoing Hall-area land use and transportation study will be held at 5 p.m. at McKinley High School. The federally funded study is looking at how portions of Stark County can be improved for residents surrounding the half billion dollar Hall of Fame Village development. The study is expected to make recommendations about parking and traffic and potential new projects.

Ohio Medicaid scraps $1 billion cut

Ohio hospitals are avoiding a $1 billion cut to Medicaid. Ohio Medicaid planned the cuts and payment delay because it projected that it was not given enough money from the state legislature to pay for expenses. But state Medicaid officials say since the state’s poverty rate has declined, Medicaid’s analysts now expect to hit their budget. The cut would have represented 5 percent of what Ohio Medicaid pays hospitals to treat some 3 million program recipients.