Ohio News Briefs

Pension fund considering cuts to cost-of-living adjustments

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s largest pension system is considering cuts to its annual cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System is looking at limiting the cost-of-living adjustments to its current cap of 3 percent, freezing the adjustments between one to five years or lowering the 3 percent cap.

Executive Director Karen Carraher says in a memo to the Ohio General Assembly that they are considering the changes while the pension fund is healthy “so our funding remains strong.”

Carraher says the considerations are in the early stages, and retirees should not expect immediate changes. She says the process will remain open and public.

The proposals are estimated to save the pension fund $1.71 billion to $6.32 billion annually.

City councilman defeated in Senate primary mulls options

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Cincinnati city councilman defeated in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in 2016 is mulling options for his political future.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld recently met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and that his name also is being floated for either Cincinnati mayor or Ohio lieutenant governor.

The 32-year-old politician recently made a failed attempt to defeat former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the 2016 primary election. Strickland himself came up short in the general election against current U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican.

Sittenfeld says it’s flattering that people are weighing in on their preferences on what he should do, but says he’s focused on his job as a city councilman for the people of Cincinnati right now.

Police: Intoxicated Ohio man impersonating officer had guns

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — Police say an intoxicated 21-year-old Ohio man impersonated an officer and approached a driver about alleged traffic violations, then was later found to have three handguns and a bulletproof vest in his vehicle.

Investigators say Jacob Staton walked up to a motorist who was in a vehicle and identified himself as an officer last week in Oxford, roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Cincinnati. Police say the driver realized that the identification that Staton presented wasn’t for a legitimate officer and called authorities.

Staton was jailed on charges of impersonating a peace officer, using weapons while intoxicated and mishandling firearms in a vehicle. Butler County court records listed no attorney for the Oxford man ahead of his initial court appearance Monday.

School district cancels class after 2 teens killed in crash

ENON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio school district has canceled classes after two students were killed in a car crash over the weekend.

The Greenon Local School District in Enon said in a Facebook post Sunday that David Waag and Connor Williams were killed in the crash Saturday near Fairborn. The district says another student and a recent graduate were also involved in the crash. Police say they are expected to survive.

Investigators say it appears the car drifted off the road, overcorrected and went off the other side before flipping over and hitting a tree. Police say no one in the car was wearing a seat belt.

The district says counselors will be available at the high school Monday despite school not being in session.

Anti-tax group urges Ohio Senate against health insurer hike

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An anti-tax activist wants Ohio state senators to let stand Republican Gov. John Kasich’s veto of a proposal to increase taxes on health insurers that would have sent money to counties and regional bus services.

Lawmakers proposed the idea to offset losses from a sales tax on Medicaid-managed care organizations that’s being discontinued by the federal government. Kasich’s administration contended the $207 million tax increase risked Ohio losing even more money and would create a $615 million loss for Medicaid.

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is warning senators that his Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform would be “educating” constituents on any vote. He sent a similar letter last month to members of the Ohio House, who voted to override the veto anyway.

A Senate session is scheduled Tuesday.

Ohio pain doctors to meet in Cincinnati amid opioid epidemic

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s opioid epidemic will be a prime topic for the first meeting of an organization for pain doctors.

The Ohio Society of Interventional Pain Physicians expects hundreds of medical professionals to take part in the gathering that will begin Friday in Cincinnati as they focus on pain management topics.

Among the speakers are journalist Sam Quinones, whose book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” covers the spread of painkiller “pill mills” in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Also speaking will be Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the Montgomery County coroner whose caseload has seen a dramatic increase in opioid overdoses.

Ohio has been one of the states hardest-hit by overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids.

Roadway debris leads to 20 highway deaths per year in Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s traffic accident data shows that 20 people are killed each year in crashes caused by debris on highways.

The statistics show debris on the state’s roadways has led to nearly 19,000 crashes between 2012 and 2016.

During that time, 102 people have been killed and 569 have been seriously injured in debris-related crashes in Ohio.

The Dayton Daily News reports that most often the debris comes from unsecured loads. The newspaper says these crashes represent about 1 percent of all accidents.

But a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation says nearly all of these accidents caused by debris are preventable.

He says that means making sure all loads are tied down.

The state’s department highway says it spends about $4 million a year picking up roadside trash.

Sanders heading deep into Ohio’s Trump country this week

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is heading deep into Trump country with a Tuesday morning rally planned in southern Ohio.

The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate will talk about the economy and health care in Portsmouth, Ohio. Republican Donald Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a more than 2-to-1 margin in Scioto County, and he dominated the vote around Appalachian Ohio.

Sanders also plans to speak Monday in Indianapolis and then join Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers in Detroit for a town hall Tuesday evening.

Sanders was in central Ohio in late June to rally against Republican legislation to repeal the Barack Obama administration’s health care overhaul.