U.S. House Advances Hundreds of Millions More to Fix the Great Lakes

Apr 27, 2016

Toxic algae blooms like this one near Toledo have threatened water supplies.
Credit NOAA

  The U.S. House has passed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act, authorizing $300 million a year over the next five years to try to improve the lakes. It focuses on wildlife habitat, toxic cleanup, farm and city runoff and invasive species. The bill also requires the EPA to appoint a coordinator to address harmful algae blooms in the lakes. The bill was sponsored by Ohio Republican David Joyce and had the support of most of Ohio’s congressional delegation, including Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Marcia Fudge, Jim Renacci and Tim Ryan. Over the last seven years, the U.S. Congress has OK’d more than $2.2 billion through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

More drilling for oil and gas in Ohio
The director of Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources expects oil and gas production in Ohio to continue to increase this year. According to the Youngstown Vindicator, James Zehringer told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that Ohio is now nearly energy self-sufficient. Ohio’s oil production doubled to nearly 22 million barrels last year over 2014 and natural-gas production quadrupled. Zehringer says Ohio produced 95 percent of the gas and oil it used last year.

Ford invests in Avon Lake
Ford Motor Company has announced it’s investing $200 million into its Avon Lake plant to help built the Super Duty chassis cab for the F-350 and other trucks. The plant employs about 1,700 people, and the work on the truck cab has been transferred from Mexico.

Trump protester trial
A federal judge in Ohio will be updated on the case of a college student who rushed the stage at a Donald Trump rally. The judge plans to meet with attorneys Wednesday in a status conference. A trial is scheduled for May 31 for Thomas DiMassimo on a charge of illegally entering a restricted area.

Reed for Cleveland mayor
Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed says there’s a 50-50 chance he’s going to run for mayor. According to WKYC, he made the announcement at his State of the Ward address last night in a speech that included questions of the Jackson administration about safety and quality of life. Jackson has not yet announced whether he’ll run for a fourth term.

Developments in Southern Ohio slayings
The hunt for the killers of eight members of a southern Ohio family has expanded to 200 law enforcement officials, and Attorney General Mike DeWine says investigators have received more than 300 tips and are still serving search warrants. A coroner's report released yesterday shows the eight members of the Rhoden family were each shot three to nine times, and DeWine has called the slayings a “sophisticated operation.” Authorities also discovered large commercial marijuana-growing operations – with plants worth more than a half million dollars -- on the Rhoden properties.

Another abortion clinic faces shutdown
The operators of the Women’s Medical Center of Dayton maintain they are meeting requirements laid out in a 2013 budget bill that have closed about half of the clinics in the state. State Health Director Rick Hodges, who was an anti-abortion state lawmaker, twice last year denied the facility's applications for an exception to the part of the law requiring it to have a patient-transfer agreement with an area hospital for emergencies. The first request identified two backup doctors for such cases; the amended request identified three. The law requires an emergency-transfer agreement with a hospital, while also preventing public hospitals from joining those agreements.A federal judge has ruled that the clinic can continue to operate while it fights to obtain its license.

Fighting overdoses from the jailhouse door
A northwest Ohio sheriff hoping to save more heroin users has floated the idea of giving opioid addicts an anti-overdose drug when they leave jail, along with training on how to use it. The Blade newspaper reports that Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp's program calls for people who are still in detox to leave jail with a kit containing naloxone that reverses overdoses.

Public records redo
The leader of the Ohio Senate says he's planning to introduce legislation that addresses disputes over public records. Senate President Keith Faber, a Celina Republican, has scheduled a Statehouse news conference on Wednesday to discuss his bill. State Auditor Dave Yost and representatives of the state attorney general's office and the Ohio Newspaper Association are slated to join him. An advisory from Faber's office says the bill is designed to streamline disputes over public records and provide a more accessible process for people trying to obtain them.

Push for mass transit money
More than 60 public transit agencies in Ohio are pushing to get more state funding for public transportation. The agencies met with lawmakers in Columbus last week. According to the Lake County News Herald, they noted that Ohio is 14th in the U.S. in transit ridership, but 38th in public funding. A study by the Ohio Department of Transportation says public transit statewide needs nearly a half-billion dollars in equipment and repairs.

Marathon protests planned
Honor the Earth plans to protest at Marathon Petroleum’s annual shareholder meeting in Findlay today. The group is protesting the oil company's refusal to withdraw from the controversial Sandpaper pipeline project to brinkg fracked oil from the Bakken formation through the Great Lakes region.

Federal suit vs. Parma police
A 62-year-old Parma man is suing city police officers, accusing them of slamming him to the ground during a domestic call that ended with the arrest of his son. Mark Bartkiewicz says in the federal lawsuit that he suffered a torn rotator cuff and other injuries. According to Cleveland.com, the police reports says Bartkiewicz was upset, resisting and interfering throughout the incident.

Schuring, LaTourette get Statehouse leadership posts
Republicans in the Ohio House are shuffling leaders after two term-limited representatives stepped down from to give their non-term-limited counterparts a chance at leadership. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger says Rep. Kirk Schuring of Stark County will serve as majority floor leader and Rep. Sarah LaTourette of Bainbridge Township has been named assistant majority whip.The speaker's office says Reps. Barbara Sears and Mike Dovilla decided to step down to give two members an opportunity to serve in leadership before the session ends this year. The House is expected to take a formal vote on the positions today.

Boost for women and minorities in Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga County Council has passed legislation that county Executive Armond Budish says will close the gap in business opportunities for minorities and women. The county will expand its small-business enterprise program and give bid preferences to companies that have shown a commitment to hiring women and minority subcontractors. The new legislation also eliminates performance bonds for small businesses for jobs under $250,000. Budish is also hiring an Inclusion Officer to track and enforce initiatives.

State poverty report coming
The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies is releasing its annual State of Poverty in Ohio Report today in Columbus. The community nonprofit agencies were established in 1964 to try to reduce poverty and help low-income people become self-sufficient.