by German Lopez
25 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:44 AM | Permalink
Parking plan targets budget, GOP could restrict early voting, e-cigarette bill advances
Mayor John Cranley says his parking plan intends to
alleviate Cincinnati’s ongoing budget woes by increasing parking
revenue, but the plan will need approval from a majority of City Council
to become law. The plan wouldn’t increase parking meter
rates downtown, but it would increase neighborhood rates by 25 cents to
75 cents an hour. The plan would also increase enforcement at parking
meters, which could lead to more tickets, and extend enforcement hours
to 9 p.m. around the University of Cincinnati, Short Vine in Corryville,
Over-the-Rhine and downtown. But the plan would not give control of the city’s parking meter rates and hours to outside entities, like
the parking privatization plan did. Cranley plans to send the proposal
to the Neighborhood Committee, with a full council vote possible in two
weeks.An Ohio House committee yesterday cleared a pair of
controversial election bills that would reduce the state’s early voting
period by one week — effectively eliminating a “Golden Week” in which
voters can register and vote at the same time — and restrict counties’
abilities to mail out absentee ballot applications. The bills wouldn’t
go into effect until after the May 6 primary. Democrats say the bills
are blatant attempts at voter suppression, but Republicans, some of whom
acknowledge they politically benefit from reduced access to voting,
say the reform is necessary to eliminate voting disparities between
urban and rural counties. The bills still need approval from the
Republican-controlled Ohio House and Republican Gov. John Kasich to
become law.A bill placing age requirements on electronic cigarettes
yesterday passed an Ohio Senate committee. Critics of the bill argue it
doesn’t go far enough because it puts e-cigarettes in a different
category than tobacco, which exempts e-cigarettes from higher taxes and
stricter regulations even though they contain addictive substances and
potential health risks. Kasich and the rest of the legislature need to OK the proposal before it becomes law.Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reopened
three school-based health clinics closed after Neighborhood Health
Care’s abrupt shutdown.A poll worker in Avondale allegedly voted twice, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.The Ohio Department of Education plans to increase the
number of weeks schools can administer state tests to alleviate time
concerns brought on by excessive snow days.Meanwhile, the Ohio House plans to vote on a bill that would let schools take on more snow days this year.A Christian university located south of Columbus gets public dollars to teach “biblical truth,” an Akron Beacon Journal investigation found. And the school’s president and lobbyist just happen to sit on the Ohio Board of Education.NBC correspondent Tom Brokaw revealed he has cancer.RoboCop isn’t that far off from reality.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to email@example.com.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 29, 2014
The Republican-controlled Ohio House on Jan. 22 approved a bill
that would allow school boards to designate some school employees to
carry concealed firearms.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Budget
at 10:13 AM | Permalink
Reform may come later this year
Politicians and economists often talk favorably about simplifying the tax code, but a June 17 report from Policy Matters Ohio found Ohio’s tax code will remain complicated under the budget plan being discussed in the Ohio House and Senate.Meanwhile, a spokesperson for House Republicans says reform will come through separate bills later this year.
The Policy Matters report, titled “Breaking Bad: Ohio tax breaks escape
scrutiny,” found the state’s tax code will include 129 tax exemptions,
deductions and credits if the Senate’s 2014-2015 budget is approved —
one more tax break than the previous biennium. Altogether, the Ohio
Department of Taxation estimates the tax breaks will cost Ohio nearly $8
billion in fiscal year 2015.
The Senate budget repealed two tax breaks, but it
simultaneously added or expanded a dozen, according to the report. Among
the additions was a 50-percent income tax deduction for business owners worth up to $375,000 of annual income, which Policy Matters says will
largely benefit passive investors, one-man firms and partnerships that
will not add jobs.
Policy Matters found 44 tax breaks have been eliminated
since 2003 because of the elimination of corporate franchise and estate
taxes. But in that time frame elected officials have added and expanded
so many new tax breaks that there are now only nine less tax breaks than
there were in 2003.
The report claims many of the tax breaks are wasteful. One
example: An almost $20 million a year exemption for pollution-control
equipment purchased by utility companies. The report says most of the
purchases are already mandated by the state government, which means the
state is effectively paying companies to follow the law and regulations.
The report ultimately calls for thorough, regular reviews of the state’s tax breaks.
“It is time for the General Assembly to scrutinize
spending through the tax code as it does other state expenditures,” said
Zach Schiller, report author and research director at Policy Matters
Ohio, in a statement.
At the beginning of the 2014-2015 budget process, House
Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) and Senate President Keith Faber
(R-Celina) said one of their goals was to simplify the tax code. Mike
Dittoe, spokesperson for Batchelder and Ohio House Republicans, says
such reform will now be pursued in separate bills, probably later in the
summer or fall.
“The budget is obviously a very labor-intensive process
and there’s lots of moving parts,” he says. “A lot of members of the
House and Senate just want to make sure that things get done right.”
Instead of simplifying the tax code in the budget,
Republican legislators are focused on passing tax cuts. The House and
Senate are currently working on reconciling their separate tax plans by
merging and downsizing them. The joint plan is “likely to be unveiled in
its entirety here over the next few days,” Dittoe says.
The House approved a 7-percent across-the-board income tax
cut in its budget plan. But the Senate cut the House’s tax proposal and
approved a tax deduction for business owners instead. Supporters say the tax cuts will spur the economy and create jobs, while opponents claim the plans are misguided and will fail to lift the lower and middle classes.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of
Ohio says it opposes Senate Bill 238, which would reduce Ohio’s
in-person early voting period from 35 to 29 days.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Ohio House on Nov. 20 passed sweeping gun legislation
that would impose a stand-your-ground law in the state.
by German Lopez
107 days ago
As Ohio legislators advance law, studies cast doubt on claims of improved public safety
Supporters of a stand-your-ground law claim
the measure would make the public safer by making it easier for people to defend themselves from criminals, but the
research so far shows the law might weaken public safety in a few key areas and actually increase the amount of homicides.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Ohio House passed sweeping gun legislation
that would impose a stand-your-ground law in the state. The bill now requires approval from the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate and
Republican Gov. John Kasich to become law.
Stand-your-ground laws remove the duty to retreat before
using deadly force in self-defense in places in which a person is
lawfully allowed. Current Ohio law only maintains a traditional “castle
doctrine,” which removes the duty to retreat only at a person’s home or
The laws have grown particularly controversial following
the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida, where a
stand-your-ground law exists but supposedly played a minor role in the
trial that allowed Zimmerman to go free.
Regardless of what drove Zimmerman to his actions or
allowed him to go free, three major studies found stand-your-ground laws
might increase violence and widen racial disparities in the U.S.
A June 2012 paper
from National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Texas A&M
University researchers concluded, “Results indicate (castle doctrine and
stand-your-ground) laws do not deter burglary, robbery, or aggravated
assault. In contrast, they lead to a statistically significant 8 percent
net increase in the number of reported murders and non-negligent
manslaughters.” The study looked at FBI Uniform Crime Reports from 2000
to 2010 for 21 states, including 17 states with stand-your-ground laws
and four states, including Ohio, with castle doctrine laws that only
apply to a person’s home and vehicle.
Another June 2012 paper
from NBER stated, “Our results indicate that Stand Your Ground laws are
associated with a significant increase in the number of homicides among
whites, especially white males. According to our estimates, between 28
and 33 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these
laws. We find no consistent evidence to suggest that these laws
increase homicides among blacks.” The study looked at monthly data from
U.S. Vital Statistics to gauge the effect of stand-your-ground laws on
homicides and firearm injuries, with supplemental analysis of data from
FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports and the Health Care Utilization
A July 2013 study
from the left-leaning Urban Institute found “homicides with a white
perpetrator and a black victim are ten times more likely to be ruled
justified than cases with a black perpetrator and a white victim, and
the gap is larger in states with Stand Your Ground laws.” According to
the findings, stand-your-ground states are more likely to legally
justify white-on-white, white-on-black and black-on-black homicides but
not black-on-white homicides. For the study, the Urban Institute used
FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data for all 50 states and Washington,
D.C., dated between 2005 and 2010.
When confronted with such statistics, supporters of
stand-your-ground laws typically note that violent crime rates dropped in the states that adopted the laws. But, as PolitiFact Florida pointed out in response to Florida Rep. Dennis Baxley, violent crime began dropping before stand-your-ground laws were passed.
The nationwide violent crime rate dropped from 757.7 to
386.3 between 1992 and 2011, with more than half of the drop occurring
between 1992 and 1999, according to FBI crime data.
The June 2012 paper from NBER found more than 20 states passed
traditional castle doctrine or stand-your-ground laws between 2000 and
2010, after the violent crime rate began to drop.The research could show correlation instead of causation. Perhaps some unnamed factor in states that adopted stand-your-ground laws makes it more likely that they’ll see increases in homicides or racial disparities, even as violent crime declines. But, at the very least, it doesn’t seem supporters of stand-your-ground laws have the empirical evidence on their side.
by German Lopez
108 days ago
Local senator to run for lt. governor, audit clears JobsOhio, House OKs "stand your ground"
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald selected State Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati as his running mate
for his bid against Gov. John Kasich in 2014. Although Kasich is widely
perceived as a favorite as the incumbent, recent polling found the race is tied. (The poll was commissioned by Ohio Democrats, but the firm behind it was deemed the most accurate national pollster of 2012.)
Republican State Auditor Dave Yost’s long-awaited audit of JobsOhio found no substantial conflicts of interests at the privatized development firm established by Gov. Kasich and
Republican legislators to replace the public Ohio Department of
Development. But the audit found 113 items totaling
nearly $69,000 in inadequately documented expenditures financed through the state’s leased liquor profits and insufficient safeguards to identify
potential conflicts of interest. In a statement, John Patrick Carney, the Democratic candidate for state auditor running against Yost in 2014, claimed the audit was “a whitewashed attempt that fails to give taxpayers a full accounting of JobsOhio” and touted it as evidence the state auditor’s office needs change. CityBeat previously wrote about criticisms towards JobsOhio in further detail here. (Updated at 10:45 a.m.: Rewrote paragraph to add Carney’s comments.)
The Ohio House yesterday approved sweeping gun legislation
that would impose “stand your ground” rules in the state and
automatically recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states.
“Stand your ground” rules remove a duty to retreat before using deadly
force in self-defense when a person is in areas in which he’s lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat when a person is
in his home or vehicle. The bill is particularly controversial
following Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a
“stand your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in
the trial that let Zimmerman go free. The bill now requires approval
from the Ohio Senate and Gov. Kasich to become law.
Commentary: “False Equivalency Confuses Streetcar Debate.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says it opposes new early voting limits
that would shorten the in-person early voting period from 35 to 29 days
and remove a “golden week” that allows Ohioans to simultaneously
register and vote in person. The Ohio Association of
Election Officials claims the limits are necessary to establish uniform
voting days across all counties without placing too much of a burden on
smaller counties. But Democrats claim the limits aim to suppress voters.
The Ohio Senate yesterday cleared the new early voting limits, which now require approval from the Ohio House and Gov. Kasich to become law.
If property and business owners along the planned
streetcar line sue over the cancellation of the $133 million project, legal experts say they have a very slim chance of winning.
The threat of litigation is one of the potential back-up options
discussed by streetcar supporters if Mayor-elect John Cranley and the
incoming City Council agree to cancel the project, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Hamilton County commissioners agreed to increase the tax return local property owners will get
as part of the deal funding Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball
Park. The deal boosts the rebate to $13 million in 2014, up from $10
million in 2013 but still below the $20.5 million promised to property
owners after voters approved a sales tax hike to fund the stadiums.
Commissioners estimate property owners will receive nearly $46 for each
$100,000 of property value from the boosted rebate, up from $35 this
year, but Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes told CityBeat that the exact number is unclear until the tax commissioner approves new tax rates.
College campuses generally struggle with too-frequent cases of sexual assault, but one lawsuit from an alleged victim is targeting Miami University
for supposed negligence and a breach of the student code of conduct.
The female student claims she was raped by former Miami University student Antonio
Charles, but she says that multiple red flags could have prevented the
alleged incident. Charles was eventually expelled from Miami University for “sexual
misconduct” in response to the incident involving the plaintiff, but
that was after he was investigated for multiple other accusations related to sexual misconduct. Miami University Sexual
Assault Response Coordinator Rebecca Getson defends some of the
university administration’s actions regarding sexual assault cases as a
strict adherence to protocol and blames some of the public perception on
the administration’s lack of awareness about the atmosphere.
Cincinnati’s economy will grow more slowly than the nation’s economy next year, according to Cincinnati USA Partnership for Economic Development’s panel of five regional economists.
Al Neyer plans to build a $22 million luxury apartment tower in downtown Cincinnati.
Cancer research done on mice might get screwed up by standard laboratory temperatures.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
109 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:08 AM | Permalink
Poverty skews school funding, "stand your ground" advances, tax-free weekend proposed
Urban schools spend less on basic education for a typical student
than previously assumed after accounting for the cost of poverty,
according to a Nov. 19 report from three school advocacy groups. After
weighing the extra cost of educating an impoverished student, the report
finds major urban school districts lose more than 39 percent in
per-pupil education spending and poor rural school districts lose nearly
24 percent, while wealthy suburban schools lose slightly more than 14
percent. In the report, Cincinnati Public Schools drop from a
pre-weighted rank of No. 17 most per-pupil education funding out of 605
school districts in the state to No. 55, while Indian Hills Schools
actually rise from No. 11 to No. 4.
An Ohio House committee approved sweeping gun legislation
that would enact “stand your ground” in the state and automatically
recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states. The “stand your
ground” portion of the bill would remove a duty to retreat before using
deadly force in self-defense in all areas in which a person is lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat in a person’s
home or vehicle. The proposal is particularly controversial following
Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a “stand
your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in the trial
that let Zimmerman go free. To become law, the proposal still needs to
make it through the full House, Senate and governor.A state senator is proposing a sales-tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping
to encourage a shot of spending in a stagnant economy and lure shoppers
from outside the state. Eighteen states have similar policies, but none
border Ohio, according to University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Michael Jones of UC’s Economics Center says the idea is to use tax-free school supplies to lure out-of-state shoppers, who are then more likely to buy other items that aren’t tax exempt while they visit Ohio.
An Ohio Senate committee approved new limits on the Controlling Board,
a seven-member legislative panel that has grown controversial following its approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion
despite disapproval from the Ohio legislature. Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board
after he failed to persuade his fellow Republicans in the legislature
to back the expansion for much of the year. The proposal now must make
it through the full Senate, House and governor to become law.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service plans to adopt more routes similar to bus rapid transit (BRT)
following the success of a new route established this year. Traditional
BRT lines involve bus-only lanes, but Metro’s downsized version only
makes less stops in a more straightforward route. CityBeat covered the lite BRT route in further detail here.
Cincinnati obtained a 90 out of 100 in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, giving the city a 13-point bump compared to 2012’s mixed score.
A bill approved by U.S. Congress last week could direct millions in federal research dollars to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A UC study found a higher minimum wage doesn’t lead to less crime.
Gov. Kasich will deliver UC’s commencement address this year.
The new owner of the Ingalls Building in downtown Cincinnati plans to convert some of the office space to condominiums.
Here are some images of the Cincinnati that never was.
Someone invented a hand-cranked GIF player.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by Hannah McCartney
116 days ago
Four sitting bills would offer amped-up victim protection
Two bills discussed today at a hearing of the Ohio House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee would, if passed, offer greater protections to victims of domestic violence and extend them more legal rights to protect their employment, housing and financial livelihood.Those bills will join H.B. 243 and H.B. 160, which are still awaiting hearings before the judiciary committee and would, respectively, require individuals served with temporary protection orders to surrender their firearms and offer legal protection to the pets of domestic violence victims — often cited as a reason victims have difficulty leaving a violent situation. Most significant are the changes that would be implemented by H.B. 297, first introduced to the Ohio House in October by Reps. Ann Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati). The bill outlines new legal protections for domestic violence victims who need to terminate a rental agreement or take unpaid leave at work in order to deal with domestic violence incidences. Under the bill, victims of domestic violence would be legally protected against termination at work and have the ability to dissolve a rental lease if the tenant has been a victim of domestic violence. The bill would also prohibit landlords from kicking out tenants because they've been victims of domestic violence at the residence and requires them to comply with requests to change locks when a tenant has been a victim of stalking or menacing. H.B. 309, also introduced in October, by Reps. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), would dissolve any charges related to modifications made to a domestic violence, anti-stalking or other type of protection order or consent agreementIn August, CityBeat spoke with domestic violence victim Andrea Metil, who talked about her personal experiences with legal trip-ups that made protecting herself from her attacker difficult. Metil called for stronger legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. This is the first hearing for both of the bills.
by Hannah McCartney
Council vote unanimous; Dayton, Canton and Toledo expected to follow suit
A unanimous City Council vote on Wednesday to pass a resolution officially representing Cincinnati's opposition to the proposed H.B. 203, Ohio's own version of controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, is part of a statewide advocacy effort to oppose loosening restrictions on the use of deadly force.The vote puts Cincinnati in the middle of a national dialogue that's been ongoing since the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in 2012. The bill, introduced by House Republicans on June 11, contains several revisions to the state's gun laws, the most controversial of which is the proposal to expand the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat from a threatening situation before using force in self-defense. Those in opposition to the bill worry that change will encourage vigilante justice and give gun owners a false sense of entitlement in using their firearms in otherwise non-violent situations. The bill's language also loosens restrictions on concealed carry permits and would make it easier for individuals subject to protection orders to obtain handguns. State Rep. Alicia Reece spoke at a Wednesday press conference at City Hall to support Cincinnati's formal opposition to the bill. Reece, also president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, is part of its statewide campaign to garner enough opposition to H.B. 203 to present to Gov. John Kasich and other legislative leaders. She says OLBC has already collected about 5,000 petitions and hopes to obtain more than 10,000 by the time the Ohio House of Representatives resumes regular sessions on Oct. 2. Reece and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who sponsored the resolution, insist that Ohio's self-defense laws are already strong enough to protect those who face physical threats from others. In 2008, then-Gov. Ted Strickland signed Ohio's "Castle Doctrine" into law, which stripped homeowners of the duty to try to retreat in threatening situations and gives them the "benefit of the doubt" when they injure or kill a person who enters their residence or vehicle. "While many states around the country which have Stand Your Ground laws are looking at ways in which they can repeal those laws, or change those laws, unfortunately Ohio is moving backwards by trying to implement Stand Your Ground laws, which has become one of the most polarizing issues not only in the state of Ohio, but in the country," said Reece at Wednesday's press conference. The efficacy of stand-your-ground laws to reduce violence is widely debated; several researches insist that the laws actually cause an increase in homicides. Mark Hoekstra, an economist with Texas A&M University, published a study that found homicides increase 7 to 9 percent in states that pass stand your ground laws, compared to states that didn't pass laws over the same period. His study found no evidence the laws had an effect on deterring crime during the time period. Those statistics are difficult to gauge, however, because some homicides are legitimately considered "justifiable" while others may just be the result of the "escalation of violence in an otherwise non-violent situation," he told NPR in January.H.B. 203 is currently waiting to be heard in front of the Policy and Legislative Oversight committee. See an analysis of the bill below:Analysis of H.B. 203