Ohio News Briefs

Elections chief: Ohioans must register soon for May primary

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state’s elections chief is reminding Ohio residents that they have only a few days left to register to vote in the spring primary.

Secretary of State Jon Husted says voters in 74 of Ohio’s 88 counties may have a local race or issue on the ballot May 2. The registration deadline for that election is Monday.

For the first time, residents can register or update their registrations online. Paper registration forms also are available at local election boards and public libraries.

Husted says over 300 local issues will be up for voters’ consideration in May.

Early voting for military and overseas voters already has started.

Ohio Democrats push proposal setting up equal pay hotline

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Democratic state lawmakers in Ohio are proposing an equal pay hotline that they say could help fight wage discrimination.

State Reps. Kent Smith, of Euclid, and Janine Boyd, of Cleveland Heights, introduced legislation Tuesday establishing the hotline.

Their bill would establish a toll-free number where workers could anonymously report instances of alleged wage discrimination. The phone line would also provide information to workers on whether they could be victims of pay discrimination.

The bill is unlikely to get far in the Republican-dominated state Legislature, where Democrats have long pushed measures to close the pay gap between men and women.

A 2016 study by the American Association of University Women found Ohio had one of the nation’s biggest gender wage gaps, ranking 42nd nationally in pay equity.

Erotic stories found in professor’s research for Ohio agency

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — Bowling Green State University has suspended a construction management professor after erotic stories were included in computer files he returned to the Ohio Department of Transportation after a research project for the agency.

The Ohio Inspector General’s Office says he violated university policy with the material on his work computer, but federal authorities determined it didn’t amount to a crime. A local prosecutor is reviewing the matter.

Investigators say he indicated he didn’t write the sexually explicit stories involving adults, children, and animals, but sometimes read them for entertainment. He told investigators he wasn’t acting illegally and wasn’t sure how the stories ended up in the research project files.

The Blade in Toledo reports the university says it’s reviewing the findings and isn’t commenting while an internal investigation is pending.

Couple dies in Cincinnati home fire; ‘hoarding’ hinders help

CINCINNATI (AP) — Firefighters say a husband and wife died in an early morning fire in their Cincinnati home.

Fire officials described them as an older couple whose packed house was a “hoarding” situation that hindered access for emergency responders early Wednesday. District 4 Fire Chief Lou Arnold says the fire was relatively small, but the entire house was filled with smoke.

Arnold says firefighters found the couple in their bed on the second floor around 2 a.m.

He says one firefighter strained his back while removing one of the victims. Their names weren’t immediately released.

Investigators were trying to determine what started the fire.

Ohio house explosion injures 3; gas leak suspected as cause

KETTERING, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say three people were hurt in an overnight house explosion in southwest Ohio, and investigators suspect a natural gas leak is to blame.

The blast was reported at a home in Kettering, just south of Dayton.

Kettering Fire Battalion Chief Mike Miller said early Wednesday morning that one person was seriously hurt, and two others suffered minor injuries. A fourth person at the home was unharmed.

The exact cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

Miller says workers subsequently checked gas meters in the area and determined there was no further safety threat.

Human legs found in trash prompt Ohio homicide investigation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Police say someone found two human legs in the trash at a waste-collection facility in Ohio’s capital, prompting a homicide investigation.

Columbus police were called to the business on the city’s south side late Tuesday afternoon.

Officers responding to the scene confirmed that the discovery involved human remains. WCMH-TV reports a coroner’s van went to the scene Tuesday evening.

Police released no other details as they investigate the source of the remains and how they ended up at the waste facility.

Panel: No fix for Ohio unemployment benefit system by April

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Members of a panel working on a plan to fix Ohio’s unemployment compensation system say they won’t meet an April deadline but aim to have a proposal ready by June, before the Legislature’s summer break.

In the wake of the recession that started in 2007, concern has grown about the system’s structure and how long the state’s fund that pays unemployment benefits could be sustained.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the 10-member working group of lawmakers and business and labor representatives will be examining the estimated costs of dozens of possible solutions. Some would reduce benefits for unemployed workers, and others would raise the taxes that employers pay to fund the system.

To pick a proposal, group members must first decide how much money the fund needs to remain solvent.

Village’s legal fees in traffic camera case total over $260K

NEW MIAMI, Ohio (AP) — A southwest Ohio village that had its traffic camera enforcement ruled unconstitutional in 2014 has spent more than $260,000 in legal fees the past four years defending that enforcement.

A Butler County judge ruled last month that New Miami must pay back more than $3 million collected from drivers for speeding citations from the automated cameras formerly used by the village. Police now use hand-held cameras to comply with state law requiring an officer be present when camera enforcement is used.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports attorneys for the drivers recently asked an Ohio appeals court reviewing the case to force the village to reveal its legal bills.

The village’s outside counsel says New Miami officials plan to continue the legal fight and believe they ultimately will prevail.