by German Lopez
Medicaid expansion challenged, jails go uninspected, local senator's energy bill criticized
Republican legislators filed a lawsuit against Ohio’s two-year, federally funded Medicaid expansion
after Republican Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board,
an obscure seven-member legislative panel, instead of the
Republican-controlled Ohio House and Senate to get approval for the
expansion. The lawsuit, filed to the Ohio Supreme Court, claims, “Each
representative is disenfranchised in his legislative capacity through
the Controlling Board’s exercise of legislative authority.” Kasich put his request to the Controlling Board
to bypass the legislature after months of unsuccessfully wrangling
legislators in his own party to approve the expansion. The Health Policy
Institute of Ohio previously found
the expansion would insure between 300,000 and 400,000 Ohioans through
fiscal year 2015; if legislators approve the expansion beyond that, the
institute says it would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly
half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Meanwhile, some state senators plan to use the savings from the Medicaid expansion to cut taxes. For Ohioans making up to $50,000 a year, the 4-percent income tax cut would mean annual savings of less than $50.
State officials haven’t inspected southwest Ohio jails for five years,
which means the jails could be breaking minimum standards set by the
state without anyone knowing. The inspections were supposed to occur each
year, but a lack of resources, which left only one inspector in the
department, forced the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
(ODRC) to stop the practice and instead ask jails to inspect themselves —
with limited checks on jails fabricating claims. The inspections are
starting back up now that ODRC has a second jail inspector on its staff,
but the inspections are announced beforehand, meaning jails can plan
for them, and the punishment for failing to meet standards is
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, says he will introduce two amendments
to walk back controversial provisions of an even more controversial
bill that weakens Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency standards.
Critics say the bill would water down and effectively eliminate Ohio’s
cost-saving energy standards, but Seitz, who has ties to a national conservative group that opposes energy standards,
argues the rules impose too many costs on utility companies. A previous
study from Ohio State University and Ohio Advanced Energy Economy found
repealing the standards would increase Ohioans’ electricity bills by
$3.65 billion over the next 12 years. CityBeat covered Seitz’s proposal and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
City Solicitor John Curp and Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick said in an Oct. 22 email exchange
that it was ethically OK for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls to retain her
job as a realtor and vote in support of the streetcar project, even
though the project could indirectly benefit Qualls by increasing
property values — and therefore her compensation as a realtor — along
the route. The exchange was provided to CityBeat and various
media outlets after mayoral candidate John Cranley criticized Qualls,
who is also running for mayor, for the alleged ethical violation at an
Oct. 22 press conference. But Curp and Nick, who cited two previous
opinions from the Ohio Ethics Commission, agreed that Qualls’ financial
connection to property values was too indirect and speculative because
she only picks up a flat fee for the “arms-length transactions between
private parties.” Curp also noted that Qualls had asked about the
potential ethical conflict two times before.
A state prison in Toledo is no longer accepting new inmates
after reports of increasing violence. The goal is to cut down on the
amount of prisoners sharing a cell, ODRC spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told
The Associated Press. Smith said the change was already in the works
before a recent bout of killings. The facility holds roughly 1,300 prisoners, which
is close to capacity.
Former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is heading a state committee created by Gov. Kasich that’s trying to figure out how to curb college costs while improving quality.
Gallup says a majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. CityBeat previously covered legalization and how it could affect Ohio in further detail here.
Women’s breasts apparently age more quickly than the rest of their bodies, according to a new study.
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended.
On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback
to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also nab some free
pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29
at 1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
ACLU: Pay-to-stay policies harm low-income inmates, raise little money for county jails
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Hamilton County Jail charges its
inmates a fee for incarceration, and a new report from the American
Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) suggests the practice harms
low-income inmates and raises little money for the county.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:22 AM | Permalink
Sheriff wants more staff, businesses get tax credits, Ohio Senate to look at gambling bill
Even as it faces budget cuts, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office says it wants more staff
to keep up with higher jail populations — especially in light of a new
measure that will keep more people detained until they appear in court.
The measure is in response to some people never showing up to court
after being released from jail. Staff are crediting the feasibility of the measure to Hamilton
County Sheriff Jim Neil encouraging them to think “outside the box.”
Still, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Chris Monzel
says the cost of the program might require Neil to think “inside the
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority is giving tax breaks
to 13 businesses around the state in hopes of creating 1,417 jobs and
spurring $83 million in investment. Seven of the projects are in the
Hamilton, Butler and Clinton counties, with one in Cincinnati.
The Ohio House easily passed a bill that would effectively shut down Internet sweepstakes cafes, but the Ohio Senate is including the measure in a more comprehensive gambling bill.
Senate President Keith Faber says there are a lot of issues related to
gambling in Ohio, and the cafes are just one part of the problem.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is one of many being targeted
by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control ad campaign. Bloomberg is a
leader in supporting more restrictive gun measures, and he’s planning
on airing the ads in 13 states during the ongoing congressional spring
break to push for stricter background checks and other new rules.
Ohio failed to show improvement
in the latest infrastructure report card from the American Society of
Civil Engineers (ASCE). In both 2009 and 2013, Ohio got a C- for its
infrastructure, which translates to 2,462 structurally deficient bridges
and puts about 42 percent of roadways as “poor” or “mediocre” quality.
But the report might not be as bad as it sounds. The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer argues that the ASCE is notoriously too harsh.
A study from NerdWallet found Cincinnati is the No. 1 city in the nation for consumer banking.
Duke Energy rolled out a new logo yesterday.
A former Miami University student is facing charges for allegedly changing his grades.
More options aren’t always a good thing, according to some science. A new study found more choices can lead to bad, risky decisions.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 20, 2008
In one of life's little ironies, an anti-tax group that prides itself
on trying to save taxpayer money and stop government waste actually
helped set the stage for squandering millions of dollars in t