by German Lopez
School report card reform passed, governors call for bridge tolls, casino to open March 4
School report card reform is about to head to Gov. John Kasich, who is likely to sign it. The bill, which places higher grading standards on
the Ohio Senate yesterday with some minor tweaks. The Ohio House is
expected to approve the bill again, and then Kasich will need to sign it
for it to become law. In an early simulation
of tougher report card standards in May, Cincinnati Public Schools
dropped from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School
retaining its top mark with an A.
The governors of Ohio and Kentucky agree tolls will be necessary
to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The governors also said there
will be a financing plan by next summer and construction will begin in
2014. Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear met yesterday with U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss funding for the bridge
The Horseshoe Casino will open in Cincinnati on March 4. What can Cincinnatians expect? According to one Washington Post analysis, casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
Sewer rates in Hamilton County will go up next year, but not as much as expected.
Cincinnati has 1,300 properties awaiting demolition.
With same-sex marriage likely coming on the ballot in
2013, a Quinnipiac University poll found Ohio voters thinly oppose its
legalization 47 percent to 45 percent, but it’s within the margin of error of 2.9 percent. A Washington Post poll in September found Ohioans support same-sex marriage 52 percent to 37 percent — well outside of the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent. CityBeat recently wrote about the same-sex marriage legalization in Ohio here.
The same poll found Ohio voters deadlocked on whether
marijuana should be legalized with 47 percent for it and 47 percent
against it. The results are slightly more conservative than the rest of
the nation. Washington state recently legalized marijuana and same-sex
marriage in the same day, and the world didn’t end.
Ohio gained approval
on a coordinated Medicare-Medicaid initiative that will change funding
for low-income seniors who qualify for both public health programs. With
the go-ahead from the federal government, the plan will push forward in
coordinating Medicare and Medicaid more efficiently to cut costs.
But on the topic of a Medicaid expansion, Ohio will not make a final decision until February.
As part of Obamacare, states are encouraged to expand their Medicaid
plans to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If they do it, the federal
government will pick up 100 percent of the tab through 2016. After that,
federal funding drops annually, eventually reaching 90 percent for 2020
and beyond. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid improved lives.
Another study found Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saves states money
in the long term by reducing the amount of uncompensated health care.
Cleveland's The Plain Dealer says Gov. Kasich will not privatize the Ohio Turnpike, but he will ask for a toll hike to help finance new projects. Kasich will officially announce his plans later today.
With opposition from law enforcement, a Senate committee is pushing ahead with a bill that lessens restrictions on gun-carrying laws.
Redistricting reform will soon be taken up by the Ohio Senate. The measure passed committee in an 8-1 vote. Redistricting is often used by politicians to redraw district borders in politically beneficial ways.
Gov. Kasich signed into law a measure that cracks down
on dog breeders in Ohio. The measure has long been pushed by animal
advocates, who say lax regulations for puppy mills have made the state a
breeding ground for bad practices. CityBeat previously wrote about how these bad practices lead to abusive dog auctions in Ohio.Homosexuality may not be in our genes, but it may be in the molecules that regulate genes.
Lynchpin of city budget plan has produced mixed results in other cities
1 Comment · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The plan to balance Cincinnati’s budget
and its $34 million deficit seems to hinge on one thing — the
controversial plan to lease city parking facilities to a private
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
If someone turned on the news during the
past few weeks, it would be hard to blame him if he thought the most
pressing issues in the world right now are budgets and abortions.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Women spend less than half as much time cleaning today as
they did 50 years ago, according to a study on the cleaning habits of
adult women living in the UK. WORLD +2
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The sealing of a criminal court case
involving a former Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways
to Get Away with Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the
presiding judge defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
An Ohio policy research group is
criticizing a local state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.”
by German Lopez
Turnpike could remain public, asbestos bill passes, $150 million bid for parking services
The Ohio Turnpike will remain a public asset, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Many Ohioans have been worried Gov. John Kasich would attempt to privatize the
Turnpike in order to pay for transportation projects; instead, the
governor will try to generate revenue for state infrastructure projects
elsewhere, perhaps by using the Turnpike’s tolls. Kasich will unveil his
full plans Thursday and Friday.
The asbestos lawsuit bill is heading to Kasich to be signed.
The bill attempts to curb duplicate lawsuits over on-the-job asbestos
exposure. Supporters of the bill say it will prevent double-dipping by
victims, but opponents say the bill will impede legitimate cases. Ohio has one
of the largest backlogs of on-the-job asbestos exposure cases.
City Manager Milton Dohoney has released some of the potential bids for the city’s parking services, and one bidder is offering $100 to $150 million. Dohoney says the budget can only be balanced if parking services are privatized or the city lays off 344 employees.
But Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is speaking out against the
privatization of the city’s parking services. In a statement, Sittenfeld
said, “Outsourcing our parking system robs the city of future revenue,
and also will mean higher parking rates, longer hours of enforcement,
and more parking tickets.”
LGBT rights are becoming “the new normal,” but not for Western & Southern or American Financial Group.
In the 2012 Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign gave 252
companies a 100-percent score for LGBT rights.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble got a 90 percent, Macy’s got a 90
percent, Kroger got an 85 percent, Fifth Third Bank got an 85 percent, Omnicare got a 15 percent,
American Financial Group got a 0 percent and Western & Southern got a
0 percent. The rankings, dubbed a “Buyer’s Guide,” can be found here.
The Sierra Club says Cincinnati has some of the best and worst transportation projects.
In its annual report, the environmental group praised the Cincinnati
streetcar, claiming the transportation project will attract residents
and business owners. But the organization slammed the Eastern Corridor
Highway project because of its negative impact on the Little Miami River
and the small village of Newtown. The Sierra Club says the purpose of
the report is to shed light on the more than $200 billion spent on
transportation projects every year.
University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono is getting a 10-year contract.
The disease-carrying Walnut Twig Beetle has been discovered
in southwest Ohio. The beetle is known for carrying Thousand Cankers
Disease, which threatens the health of walnut trees. So far, no trees
have been determined to be infected.
Ohio Gov. Kasich, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will meet today
to discuss funding for the Brent Spence Bridge project. If the bridge
project starts in 2014, northern Kentucky and Cincinnati could save $18
billion in fuel and congestion costs, according to the Build Our New
Bridge Now Coalition.
Following the defeat of Issue 2, the Ohio Senate is taking on redistricting reform,
but opponents in the House say there isn’t enough time to tackle the
issue. The current redistricting system is widely abused by politicians
on both sides of the aisle in a process called “gerrymandering,” which
involves politicians redrawing district lines in politically beneficial
ways. The First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was
redrawn during the Republican-controlled process to include
Republican-leaning Warren County, heavily diluting the impact of
Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning urban vote.
Ohio employers are more aware
of wellness than employers in other states, a new survey found.
Wellness programs are one way employers can bring down health-care
expenditures as cost shifting feels the pinch of diminishing returns.
However, Ohio ranked No. 35 in a nationwide health survey.
Ohio district didn't win federal Race to the Top education funds in the latest competition.
Internet cafe legislation is dead for the year.
Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus announced the legislation, which
essentially puts Internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors out of business.
State officials, including Attorney General Mike DeWine, have been
pushing for regulations or a ban on the businesses because they see them
as a breeding ground for criminal activity.
The final 2011-2012 school report cards will not be available until 2013. The report cards were originally delayed due to an investigation into fraudulent attendance reports.Michigan may have approved its anti-union right-to-work law, but Ohio is not eager to follow.
State Democrats are already preparing for a possible battle over the issue,
but even Republican Gov. John Kasich says he’s not currently interested in a
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is loosening
hazardous waste reporting requirements for companies. If the rules go
into effect, regulated facilities will report on hazardous waste once
every two years instead of once a year. The rule changes will get a
public hearing on Dec. 19 in Columbus.
In a question-and-answer session Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia asked,
“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it
against murder? Can we have it against other things?” (Hint: The answer
to both questions is yes.) The Supreme Court recently agreed to tackle the same-sex marriage issue. CityBeat wrote about same-sex marriage in Ohio here.Dogs are now capable of driving, and parrots now have vehicles too. But can our new animal overlords shoot magic foam into the body to stop major bleeding? Because we can.
by German Lopez
Western & Southern, American Financial Group lag behind national progress
LGBT rights are becoming “the new normal” in corporate
America, but American Financial Group and Western & Southern Financial Group are
apparently exceptions. Both Cincinnati-based Fortune 500 companies
received a 0 percent for LGBT policies in the 2012 Corporate Equality
Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).The index uses LGBT-related corporate policies to determine scores: non-discrimination policies including sexual
orientation and gender identity, company-provided domestic partner
health insurance, equal health coverage for transgender individuals,
organizational LGBT cultural competency, engagement in actions that
undermine LGBT equality and other categories. The full rankings, dubbed a
“Buyer’s Guide,” can be found here.
In the Greater Cincinnati area, Cincinnati-based Omnicare,
Covington-based Ashland and Highland Heights-based General Cable fared
only slightly better than American Financial and Western & Southern. The three companies received 15 points for at
least including sexual orientation in non-discrimination policies.
Other Cincinnati-based Fortune 500 companies did much
better in HRC’s rankings. Procter & Gamble got a 90 percent, Macy’s
got a 90 percent, Kroger got an 85 percent and Fifth Third Bank got an
85 percent. The high scores show some companies are providing more to LGBT individuals than local, state and federal governments through equal access to health care and other benefits that aren't written into law.
On a national level, the five low-scoring Fortune 500 companies in Greater Cincinnati show a surprising level of backwardness. In general, the nationwide rankings were very positive
this year. In an emailed statement, HRC pointed out 252 companies got
100-percent scores in 2012, up from 13 companies in 1991. As HRC put it,
“For American companies, 100 percent is the new normal.”
CityBeat could not reach Western & Southern or
American Financial Group for immediate comment. This story will be
updated if comments become available.
by German Lopez
Kasich lacks re-election support, budget faces scrutiny, city increasing green incentives
For the first time since inauguration,
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a positive approval rating, but a plurality
of registered voters say Kasich doesn’t deserve a second term. The
Quinnipac University poll attributed the increase in Kasich’s approval
rating to “high levels of satisfaction among Ohio voters with life in
the Buckeye State.” About 42 percent of respondents approved of Kasich,
while 35 percent disapproved. About 42 percent said Kasich doesn’t
deserve a second term, while 36 percent said he does. The poll surveyed
1,165 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.9 percent.
Last night, Cincinnati held its final public hearing
on City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed budget. About 40 people spoke
during the meeting, with many voicing concern about Media Bridges
funding, which CityBeat recently covered here. The budget has also come under scrutiny due to its privatization of parking services, but Dohoney says the choice is privatization or 344 layoffs.
Cincinnati plans to bolster its green building incentives.
City officials are trying to amend the city’s Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) standards to encourage higher levels of
investment in green projects. Since LEED standards were first approved
in 2009, they have been criticized for only offering strong incentives
for lower levels of certification. The amendment seeks to make the
higher levels of certification more appealing.
University Hospital is being renamed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
An “anti-immigrant bill” proposed by Cincinnati’s Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is not being received well by Innovation Ohio.
S.B. 323 seeks to limit workers’ compensation to illegal immigrants,
but the Ohio policy research group is not sure that’s a legitimate
problem. The organization is also worried the bill will impose a
regulatory burden on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Ohio’s
workers without providing extra funds and training to carry out the
Ohio is improving in its battle against human trafficking.
The state earned a “C” and it was labeled “most improved” in a new
report from the Polaris Project. But one state legislator wants to go
further by placing tougher standards on “johns” participating in the sex
trade. CityBeat previously wrote about the human trafficking problem in Ohio here.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved enough credits to help create about 500 jobs in Greater Cincinnati.
Michigan may have recently passed its anti-union “right-to-work” law, but Gov. Kasich does not share a similar interest.
Kasich will announce
his changes to the Ohio Turnpike Thursday and Friday. The governor says
his proposed changes will unlock “greater wealth,” but critics are
worried Kasich is about to sell off a major public asset.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still defending his decisions during the lead-up the election. Husted has now become infamous nationwide due to his pre-election record, which CityBeat wrote about here.Even Jesus would be jealous. Science can now turn human urine into brain cells.
by German Lopez
Local state senator proposes bill to limit payments to illegal immigrants
An Ohio policy research group is taking offense to a local
state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.” If passed, S.B. 323, proposed in
April by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, would require workers to prove their
legal status to work before receiving workers’ compensation, but
Innovation Ohio says the bill reaches too far to solve a problem that
might not even exist.
The bill was the topic of discussion at a Senate
Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee hearing on Nov. 27. At the
hearing, supporters argued the bill would stop compensating illegal
workers who aren’t supposed to be in Ohio to begin with. But opponents
argue that the details in the bill add too many extra problems.
In fact, the bill might be going after a problem that
doesn’t even exist. At an earlier hearing, Seitz, a Republican, said the state does not
collect data on the immigration status of workers receiving
compensation. To Brian Hoffman of Innovation Ohio, this means there’s no
way to know if the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has ever
compensated a single undocumented worker. “It just seems curious that
this bill is being introduced and has gotten three hearings when there’s
no proof that it’s actually even an issue,” he says.
Hoffman is also worried that the bill is imposing a new
regulatory burden on BWC without providing additional funds. In his
view, the state agency is essentially being told to do more without
additional resources to prepare or train regulators. Considering how
complicated the immigration issue can get, this makes Hoffman doubt the
agency will be able to properly carry out the new regulations.
From a broader perspective, the bill imposes regulatory hurdles on all injured workers just so they can get compensation they're entitled to under state law. “Talk about kicking someone when they’re down,” Hoffman says.
But the burden could hit Hispanics even harder and lead to
more discrimination in the workplace. After all, when employers are
clearing legal statuses, who are they more likely to question, someone with a
name like “Dexter Morgan” or someone with a name like “Angel Batista”?
In Hoffman’s view, the state should leave immigration
issues to the federal government and worry about more pressing issues:
“Why is the state legislature even wasting its time on the issue? There
are plenty of really good ideas to bring jobs back to Ohio. Why aren’t
they focused on those?”
The bill is still in committee, but it’s been the subject
of multiple hearings. It’s unlikely the Ohio Senate will take it up in
what’s left of the lame-duck session, but it could come back in the next
CityBeat was unable to reach Seitz for comment
despite repeated attempts through phone and email, in addition to a scheduled
interview that was canceled. This story will be updated if comment becomes available.