The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to remove from this November’s ballot measures by Medina, Fulton and Athens counties that would have banned hydraulic fracturing and related infrastructure projects. (Medina, Fulton decisions.pdf) (Athens charter petition). However, in a separate ruling, the court allowed the city of Youngstown to proceed with an anti-fracking charter amendment and ordered it be placed on the Nov. 3 ballot. Fracking opponents have questioned the state’s choice of outside counsel to help rule on the ballot issue.
Editor’s note: Ohioans in November will vote on whether to make marijuana legal for medical and recreational use. ResponsibleOhio has proposed what’s become a controversial ballot measure; it’s been reported that the group of investors in marijuana cultivation and sales will spend up to $20 million to campaign for its passage. Already, 23 states have legalized the sale of marijuana for medical use and four states allow pot for recreational use. After this year’s Ohio’s vote, the country could see an even greater movement to end the prohibition on marijuana through state, rather than federal, legislation. “I actually consider 2016 to be what I call the game-over year because there’s a good chance that a bunch of states will legalize marijuana,” said Bill Piper, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs.
Ohio last year approved a bill allowing high school students to receive up to two units of academic credit for instruction outside the public school classroom. Students can get credit for religious instruction as long as no public funds or publicly paid personnel are involved and they’re not taught in public school buildings. The Center for Investigative Reporting, now found at the website revealnews.org has an update of what’s going on around the country when it comes to “religious release” programs.
Since 2003, more than 30 states – including Ohio – either have cut workers’ compensation benefits or made it harder for injured workers to qualify for benefits. That’s according to a just-released series of stories by ProPublica non-profit investigative news organization and National Public Radio. The story was published just as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a report saying that, on average, workers comp pays only 20% of the cost of workers’ injuries and illnesses in the United States. Workers pay half the cost out -of-pocket and the rest is paid by private insurance and other government funding sources. In Ohio, workers’ comp benefit cuts came in the mid-2000s, when laws were passed raising the burden of proof for employees when an injury aggravated an existing condition, and lowering the “life” of claims to automatically close cases five years after the last medical treatment, making it difficult to receive payment if an injury recurs.
The biggest donor to state elections in November was the Republic Governors Association, which spent $68.6 million, according to a data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. The Ohio Republican Party got $9 million of that pot, with $3 million directed to Gov. Kasich’s re-election campaign. Mike DeWine, who won re-election as Ohio’s Attorney General, received $1.3 million from the RGA. In contrast the Democratic Governors’ Association spent $32 million on state races in November. Kasich’s opponent, former Cuyahoga County executive, did not receive donations from the Democratic association.
On Monday, Jan. 20, four death-row inmates in Ohio filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Columbus challenging the law that shields the names of companies that provide lethal injection drugs to the state in death penalty cases. This comes at a time when Ohio is changing the drugs it uses after a botched execution in 2014. The Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization that covers criminal justice issues, reports that an alternative drug that Ohio is considering is hard to come by – and its source may never be known under the state’s secrecy law. The piece was reported and written by Maurice Chammah. You can follow the Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.
Mine-resistant, ambush-protected military vehicles: not your ordinary community police cars, but equipment several small towns in Ohio now own, thanks to the Unites States military. Local police departments for the past 20 years have been obtaining military equipment under a Pentagon surplus give-away program called 1033. Ohio cities such as Brimfield, Canton, Brunswick and Barberton are among the 600 municipalities across the country that have acquired so-called MRAP’s , designed to detect improved explosive devises, valued at around $733,000 each, from the U.S. Department of Defense. That’s according to the Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization that has compiled a data base of 1033 recipients from the DOD’s quiet release of the information last month. Ohio cities, county sheriff’s department, campus police departments and local offices of the FBI have received more than $73 million under the 1033 Program.
Issues similar to Ohio’s battle over home rule
Rich in oil and gas, poor in regulatory powers. That describes a dilemma faced by many small towns in eastern Ohio as the fracking boom continues. The Marcellus and Utica shale beds span large swaths of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. The beds are ripe for drilling and hydraulic fracturing to remove oil and gas deposits and have proved a boon for energy companies – and some residents who have sold or leased their land to oil and gas producers. According to a Dec. 5 report issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 3 million barrels of oil and 132 billion cubic feet of gas in the third quarter of 2014; that’s more than twice as much oil and nearly four times as much gas than during the same period last year.
ByBy Kelsey Jukam, Aaron Maybin and Jordan Rubio / News21 |
R.I.P.s are scrawled on the shell of a burned-out brick building, pockmarked by bullet holes. Overgrown with vines, its dilapidated outer walls recall the ruins of a fortress, a monument to a long-finished battle. But a war still courses through the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the past decade, it’s claimed the lives of hundreds of people — most of whom were black and barely into adulthood. In Flint, Michigan, swing-sets in Mott Park are empty as drug dealers and gang members claim the turf as their own, guns tucked in their wastebands.
Number of states that prohibited concealed carry in 1981: 19
States that prohibit it today: 0
Number of states that do not require a concealed carry permit: 5
An open-carry permit : 25
WICKENBURG, Ariz. — More Americans can carry guns in more places than ever before. In a majority of states, law-abiding gun owners can walk into bars, restaurants and churches with their guns without fear of legal ramifications, a News 21 review of all 50 states found. “It’s a situation just like getting up in the morning and putting your shoes on or your boots on. For me it’s putting (my gun) onto my side,” said Lee Bird, owner of Twin Birds Saddlery in Wickenburg, Arizona, 60 miles northwest of Phoenix.