Ohio News Briefs


State board sends congressional redistricting plan to ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A proposal restructuring Ohio’s process for drawing its congressional maps is headed to May’s ballot.

The Ohio Ballot Board cleared the proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting Tuesday.

The proposal cleared the state Legislature with bipartisan support Feb. 6 after backers of competing proposals agreed to a compromise aimed at curbing gerrymandering.

That process of manipulating district boundaries for partisan gain is seen as a cause of partisanship, gridlock and incivility in Washington.

The Ohio plan would limit how counties are split into multiple districts and require more support from the minority party to put a 10-year map in place.

If lawmakers couldn’t reach such agreement, the map-making process would move to an existing bipartisan commission. If that failed, the majority party could make a shorter-term map under more restrictions.

Judge upholds state law allowing centralized tax collection

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge has upheld an Ohio law that allows the state to collect municipal business-profit taxes from cities, counties and villages.

At issue is a move last year by Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) to streamline a system that required businesses to file taxes in every municipality where they earn income, requiring extensive tax planning and preparation.

The Ohio Department of Taxation estimated business taxpayers would save $800 million in compliance costs under the plan.

Cities sued last year, calling it a power grab by Kasich for one of the largest revenue sources that Ohio municipalities continue to control.

Franklin County Judge David Cain ruled Wednesday the collection is constitutional. A message was left with the lawyer representing local governments.

Suit wants marijuana grower licenses revoked

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A lawsuit filed by some unsuccessful applicants to grow medical marijuana in Ohio claims state regulators failed to follow their own rules last year when they awarded provisional licenses for growing facilities.

Several groups including CannAscend Ohio LLC filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus. The lawsuit challenges the Ohio Department of Commerce’s process for awarding the provisional licenses to 12 companies for large-scale growing facilities.

The lawsuit alleges various failures in the licensing process, including “scoring errors, undisclosed conflicts of interest, and undisclosed loopholes in the security of information.” It asks a judge to revoke the licenses and prevent the department from issuing operators’ permits to the companies.

Department spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said Tuesday that the department can’t comment on pending litigation.

Auditor: Continue marijuana program despite ‘multiple’ flaws

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state auditor says Ohio should continue its medical marijuana program despite “multiple” flaws in selecting grower applicants.

Republican Auditor David Yost says the program’s flaws should be handled by administrative appeals or lawsuits.

At issue is the Department of Commerce’s admission last week that a scoring error led to a company’s inadvertent exclusion from the proposed list of the dozen big marijuana growers in Ohio’s new program.

The agency says it identified the mistake after Yost expressed concern that two employees had complete access to the scoring data.

The agency offered to put the program on hold. Yost said in Wednesday’s letter it’s too late for that. He urged the agency to get advice from the Ohio Attorney General.

Prosecutor: Suspect in prison stabbing 3-time killer

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A prosecutor says one of the inmates suspected in the stabbing of an Ohio prison guard is a three-time convicted killer.

Joe Hale is an assistant prosecutor in Scioto County. Hale says suspect Casey Pigge (pij) was removed from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility after Tuesday’s attack and transferred to a state prison in Youngstown.

Pigge has previously been convicted of killing two fellow inmates in separate incidents and of killing a woman in 2008.

The State Highway Patrol says two inmates attacked the guard in the prison infirmary with metal weapons.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith on Wednesday confirmed a “serious inmate on staff assault.” Smith says corrections officer Matthew Mathias remains hospitalized in stable condition and the prison remains on lockdown.

It wasn’t clear if Pigge has an attorney.

University offers scholarships to fallen officer’s daughters

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio university has offered full four-year scholarships to the children of an Ohio officer fatally shot while responding to a 911 hang-up call.

A representative from Otterbein University announced the scholarships to all three of Officer Eric Joering’s daughters during a Westerville City Council meeting Tuesday evening. Council members voted unanimously at the same meeting to retire the officer’s K-9 partner, Sam, to live with the Joering family.

Officers Joering and Anthony Morelli were killed Feb. 10 after entering a townhome in a Columbus suburb. Investigators say 30-year-old Quentin Smith was wounded when he exchanged gunfire with police.

Smith has been charged with aggravated murder, and he is being held without bail.

Flooding expected to persist this week along Ohio River

CINCINNATI (AP) — Forecasters expect rain to keep feeding flooded areas along the Ohio River this week.

The National Weather Service says the river crested Tuesday evening at 55.3 feet (16.9 meters) in the Cincinnati region, 3 feet above flood stage. The river has begun falling, but flooding persisted Wednesday in Cincinnati and nearby areas in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana. Some highways and many smaller roads were closed in spots.

Forecaster Myron Padgett in the Wilmington, Ohio, office says more rainfall is expected and flooding will continue into the weekend. It’s expected to remain at a minor flooding level, but the amount of rain to come could affect that.

Much of southern Ohio remains under flood warning. The weather service says there is potential for flooding elsewhere in Ohio.

Pastor accused in Sunday school robbery is held on $75K bond

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge has set bond at $75,000 for a man described by police as a gun-wielding pastor who helped rob a teacher during a Sunday school class at his church.

The Blade in Toledo reports a judge set matching bond amounts Tuesday for 49-year-old Anthony Morris and his 46-year-old wife, Zelda.

They were jailed on aggravated robbery charges after the alleged confrontation at St. Paul’s AME Zion Church. Their 19-year-old daughter was sought on the same charge.

Court records didn’t immediately list attorneys for the couple.

Police say the teacher alleged that the teen grabbed her hair, the pastor threw her to the ground and held a gun on her, and the pastor’s wife punched her and took items from the woman’s purse, including a cellphone and stun gun.

Police: 13-year-old stabbed school security officer

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Police say they have arrested a 13-year-old for stabbing a school security officer in Ohio.

The alleged stabbing took place at Jefferson Junior High School in Toledo around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Officer Craig Hanna told police he heard a knock at his office door, but he at first did not see anyone. Hanna says he stepped out, saw a boy standing next to the door and felt a poke in his abdomen.

The knife broke at the handle and fell, and Hanna says he placed the teen in handcuffs. Police say the 57-year-old suffered a small cut and did not require medical attention.

Police say the boy told Hanna he attempted the attack because he did not like the officer.

The teen has been charged with felonious assault.

Boy, 8, says he feared being hurt so he took gun to school

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) — An 8-year-old Ohio boy who had an unloaded gun in his backpack has told police he brought the weapon to his elementary school because he thought another student was going to hurt him.

The Springfield News-Sun reports that a teacher at Springfield’s Simon Kenton Elementary School found the gun Tuesday afternoon while putting homework into the backpack. No one was hurt. Police responded to the school, and the boy was taken into custody.

The superintendent says the boy will be disciplined according to the district’s student code of conduct. Police say the child also could face a charge for having a deadly weapon in a school safety zone.

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