by German Lopez
Abortion restrictions follow trend, more tax issues in state election, Luken to run for judge
Ohio and various other states passed more abortion
restrictions between 2011 and 2013 than they did in the previous decade,
according to the Guttmacher Institute. The findings indicate that the
latest Republican-backed abortion restrictions, which were passed
through Ohio’s two-year state budget last June, were part of a broader
trend that’s culminated across the nation since the tea party rose to
national prominence in 2010. The trend could play a pivotal political
role: Ohio Democrats have made their opposition to the abortion
restrictions a central part of their campaigns to unseat Republican
incumbents who hold top executive offices in the state.
One of the candidates expected to join the tea party
ticket in a Republican primary challenge against Gov. John Kasich
appears to have personal tax problems. Brenda Mack, tea party leader Ted
Stevenot’s expected running mate, is linked to nearly $60,000 in unpaid
state and federal taxes and penalties, according to government records
in Mahoning and Cuyahoga counties analyzed by The Columbus Dispatch.
Mack refuses to comment on the tax problems until a Tuesday press
conference in which she and Stevenot are expected to officially announce
their candidacies for the May 6 primary.Former Mayor Charlie Luken says he will run for Hamilton
County probate judge. The Democratic candidate will likely face off
against Republican Ted Winkler, a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court
judge. Luken recently garnered the public spotlight for his support for
Mayor John Cranley’s campaign.Cincinnati’s homicide rate for victims younger than 18
rose to 1 in 7 in 2013 and 2012, up from 1 in 10 from 2000 through 2011,
according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Four of the juvenile
victims were 1-year-old or younger, including a fetus who died after the
mother was strangled to death in April.Four seats on the 19-member Ohio Board of Education remain
unfilled, including two seats that have been vacant for months, long
past the 30-day deadline Gov. Kasich has under state law to name a
replacement. Administration officials said they’re aware of the
deadline, but they intend to find the best fit for the position before
moving forward with an appointment. “It’s far more important to us to
find the right person than putting warm bodies on the board,” Kasich
spokesperson Rob Nichols told The Columbus Dispatch.The amount of untested rape kits submitted to Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation exceeded 5,000.Fewer than 1,000 died last year in traffic crashes across
Ohio, the lowest number since the state began keeping track of the
fatalities in 1936.Bill Nye the Science Guy will debate evolution and
biblical creationism at northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum on Feb. 4.
Evolution is a scientific fact, but Creation Museum leader Ken Ham
denies its existence.Aaron Betsky announced yesterday he will step down as
director of the Cincinnati Art Museum. The news follows Betsky’s
controversial comments against the streetcar project in
ArchitectMagazine.com, which Betsky expanded on in a separate blog post.
CityBeat recently interviewed Betsky here.The Cincinnati Bengals received an extension until 4 p.m.
today to sell out tickets for Sunday’s game and avoid a television
blackout in the Cincinnati area.Strange lights sometimes precede earthquakes. Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
States passed more abortion restrictions in past three years than previous decade
Ohio was among various states in the nation that passed more
abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013 than the entire previous
decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Between 2011 and 2013, states passed 205 new restrictions
on abortion. Between 2001 and 2010, states passed only 189 new
The trend is unsurprising for Ohio, which the Guttmacher
Institute says has been “hostile to abortion” since 2000, but the
timeline shows a clear shift in state policies around the nation since
the tea party rose to national prominence in 2010.
Ohio’s latest restrictions were passed last June by Ohio Republicans through the two-year state budget.
Among other restrictions, one measure forces doctors to
perform an external ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and tell
her if a heartbeat is detected and the statistical probability of the
fetus making it to birth.
Ohio and Oklahoma were also the only states in 2013 to
pass restrictions on federal funding for family planning providers, the
Guttmacher Institute claims.
Abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, insist they don’t use
public funds for abortions, instead funding the procedure with
the help of private contributions.
But Ohio Republicans, who predominantly oppose abortion
rights, went through with the restrictions anyway, ultimately hitting
some family planning service providers that don’t even offer abortions.“Members of the House who have issues with Planned Parenthood have only issues with the abortion services,” Michael Dittoe, spokesperson for Ohio House Republicans, told CityBeat last June. “The rest of what Planned Parenthood provides, I imagine they have no issue with whatsoever.”
Ohio Democrats, particularly gubernatorial candidate Ed
FitzGerald, have made their opposition to the anti-abortion measures
part of their campaigns to unseat Gov. John Kasich and other Ohio
Republicans who hold top executive positions in the state. But given the Guttmacher Institute’s timeline, reversing
the trend could require a radical shift in the state government of the
past 14 years.
The people, budgets and controversies CityBeat covered while writing about the streetcar all year
0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Just like it was a big year for Cincinnati and Ohio, it was a big year for the CityBeat news team.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
If passed, State Rep. John Becker's latest bill would effectively ban most public and private health insurance policies from covering abortions.
by Hannah McCartney
Union Township Rep. John Becker backs abortion ban for most insurance and Medicaid
Union Township Rep. John Becker doesn't exactly have a history of standing up for causes CityBeat agrees with, and this week we're seeing more of the same. He's the voice behind another Republican-backed bill introduced Nov. 14, that, if passed, would introduce regulations that would ban most public and private health insurance policies, including Medicaid, from covering abortion care and several common methods of contraception.According to a press release from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, H.B. 351 would manipulate language on the Ohio Revised Code to redefine abortion services and restrict public hospitals from performing abortions — even on women whose lives are at risk due to the pregnancy or who have been victims of rape. NARAL Executive Director Kellie Copeland commented, "Imagine
facing a life-threatening pregnancy complication and being told that
your insurance won’t cover the procedure because Ohio politicians banned
Imagine becoming pregnant as the result of a rape, and having to cover
the cost of an abortion out of pocket because this bill became law. It’s
unthinkable." Also introduced on Wednesday to U.S. Congress was the Women's Health Protection Act, what supporters are calling a historic pro-choice bill that would outlaw states' authority to limit women's reproductive rights by prohibiting states from passing Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose extra regulations on doctors who operate in medical practices that perform abortions. The bill, which will likely face harsh odds in the U.S.'s conservative-dominated House, wouldn't completely diminish states' existing anti-abortion laws, although it require judges to be more carefully reconsider cases that challenge the legality of already-existing laws. Becker's bill has yet to be assigned to a committee. Here's the bill in full. As one of the self-proclaimed "most conservative" members of his party, he's also a cosponsor of the state's Heartbeat Bill and once called the proposal of a needle-exchange program, which could reduce the spread of infectious bloodborne diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, the product of a "liberal media agenda."In August, Becker introduced a bill that would kick a large chunk of pregnant women and low-income parents off of Medicaid by grossly lowering the entry eligibility. Becker also recently lobbied for the impeachment of the judge who
allowed the state to legally recognize the marriage of Jim Obergefell
and his 20-year partner, John Arthur, who recently passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease, for his decision.
by German Lopez
Audit slams former sheriff, part of The Banks sold, local abortion clinic could close
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.An audit of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) found
former Sheriff Simon Leis crippled technological developments, stacked
leadership positions with political cronies and still kept his staff
fiercely loyal during his 25 years in charge of HCSO. The Oct. 15 audit
claims the agency was “largely frozen in time” and didn’t meet the most
basic modern standards, including a failure to adopt computer
spreadsheets and other modern technologies instead of keeping
paper-based records that only one person can access at a time. The audit
claims a few possible consequences for Hamilton County: outdated
policing policies, exposure to possible litigation and an overworked,
under-trained staff. To fix the mistakes, the audit recommends various
investments and changes to policies that could prove costly to the
county — perhaps too costly to a county government that has been forced
to make budget cuts for the past six years. Read more about the audit here.
Developers sold the apartments and 96,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space
in the first phase of The Banks for $79.5 million. In a memo, City
Manager Milton Dohoney claimed the sale is a sign of the strong market
that’s being built in Cincinnati. Dohoney noted that the sale will
provide nearly $1.2 million for the city and county, which will likely
go to other projects in The Banks, and allow Carter and The Dawson
Company to repay the city and county’s nearly $4.7 million retail fit-up
loan three years in advance. The sale should also increase the
property’s assessed value, which Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes previously
put at $52 million, or $27.5 million less than it actually sold for,
and subsequently lead to higher property-based tax revenue, according to
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) could force
the Lebanon Road Surgery Center, a Cincinnati-area abortion clinic, to
close after a health examiner upheld ODH’s decision to revoke the
clinic’s license because it couldn’t establish a patient transfer
agreement with a nearby hospital. Abortion rights advocates touted the
closure as another example of how new regulations in the recently passed
state budget will limit access to legal abortions across the state. But
ODH handed down its original decision for the Cincinnati-area abortion
clinic in November 2012, more than half a year before Gov. John Kasich
in June signed the state budget
and its anti-abortion restrictions into law. Meanwhile, Ohio Right to
Life praised the state for closing down or threatening to close down
five abortion clinics this year.
Reminder: Officials project the streetcar will have a much greater economic impact in downtown than Over-the-Rhine, despite what some detractors may claim.The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office last night began threatening to arrest homeless people who refuse to leave the Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center and find another place to sleep, according to Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. The sheriff’s office says the steps are necessary to put an end to public urination and defecation on county property, but homeless advocates say the county should focus on creating jobs and affordable housing to solve the root of the problem. CityBeat covered the issue in greater detail here.
Former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson questioned her fellow Republicans’ legal threats
against Gov. John Kasich’s plan to bypass the legislature and get the
federally funded Medicaid expansion approved through the Controlling
Board, a seven-member legislative panel. Davidson says Kasich is on
“firm ground” legally because the state budget contained a provision
that allows the state’s Medicaid director to expand the program. The
Kasich administration on Oct. 11 announced its intention to call on the Controlling Board to take up the expansion, which will use federal Obamacare funds for two years to extend Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Ohioans. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Ohio Libertarians and Greens threatened to sue the state
if the legislature passes a bill that would limit ballot access for
minor political parties. The Ohio Senate already approved the
legislation, and an Ohio House committee is expected to vote on it at a
hearing on Oct. 29.
More charges have been filed
against a local spine doctor accused of carrying out unnecessary
surgeries in the Cincinnati area and Florence, Ky., and billing health
care programs millions of dollars, according to court documents released
A race car managed to swap fossil fuels for hydrogen power.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Governor
at 11:18 AM | Permalink
Governor signed new anti-abortion restrictions into law with state budget in June
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) could order the Lebanon Road
Surgery Center, a Cincinnati-area abortion clinic, to shut down after a
hearing examiner upheld ODH’s decision to revoke the clinic’s license because the clinic failed to establish a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital.
Abortion rights advocates touted the closure as
another example of how new regulations in the recently passed state
budget will limit access to legal abortions across the state. But ODH
handed down its original decision for the Cincinnati-area abortion
clinic in November 2012, more than half a year before Gov. John Kasich
in June signed the state budget and its anti-abortion restrictions into
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio decried
“the closure of an abortion provider in the Cincinnati area despite an
exemplary record of medical safety.”
“Just as we feared when Gov. Kasich enacted medically
unnecessary regulations on abortion providers, officials at the Ohio
Department of Health have launched a regulatory witch hunt against
Ohio’s abortion providers and have recommended the closure of an
abortion clinic in Cincinnati,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director
of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement.
Ohio Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights, celebrated the decision.
“We are gratified to see yet another late-term abortionist
shutting down,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life,
in a statement. “As a result of this Health Department order, Martin
Haskell, a strong proponent and former practitioner of the controversial
and deadly partial-birth abortion procedure, will no longer be able to
abort children and jeopardize women’s health in Hamilton County.”
Ohio law classifies abortion clinics as
ambulatory surgical facilities and requires they establish transfer agreements with
nearby hospitals, where clinics can send patients for more comprehensive care
in case of an emergency. The 2014-2015 state budget also barred
abortion clinics from establishing transfer agreements with public
hospitals, which abortion-rights advocates say greatly hinders the clinics because private hospitals are generally religious and oppose abortion rights.
The Cincinnati-area clinic is just one of five Ohio
clinics in the past year to either close down or face the threat of
closing down, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Without the five, Ohio would be reduced to just nine abortion clinics.
On Oct. 9, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio announced a lawsuit
against Ohio’s newest anti-abortion restrictions. The ACLU claims the
regulations went beyond the budget’s purpose of appropriating funds and
therefore violated the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which
requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid
complexity and hidden language.
The hearing examiner’s decision:
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
of Ohio on Oct. 9 announced it will sue the state of Ohio over
anti-abortion restrictions enacted as part of the 2014-2015 state
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:59 AM | Permalink
Civil liberties group says rules violate state constitution
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on
Wednesday announced it is suing the state of Ohio over anti-abortion
restrictions enacted as part of the 2014-2015 state budget.
“To put it simply, none of these amendments have any place
in the state budget bill,” said Susan Scheutzow, ACLU cooperating
attorney and partner at the law firm of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, in
a statement. “This massive bill is not intended to deal with new
policy; the single subject of the budget should be the appropriation of
funds for existing government programs or obligations.”
The lawsuit claims the restrictions violate the Ohio
Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid complexity and hidden language. In
the case of the budget, the ACLU argues that the law shouldn’t go beyond
appropriating state funds and tax collection.
The three anti-abortion budget amendments in question ban
public hospitals and abortion clinics from making transfer agreements
that are required to keep clinics open; order clinics to take
government-outlined steps, including showing a patient if a fetal
heartbeat is detected, before carrying out an abortion procedure; and
create a new “parenting and pregnancy” program that shifts state funds
into private organizations that are barred from mentioning abortion
“The first two amendments have nothing at all to do with
budget appropriations,” said Jessie Hill, ACLU cooperating attorney and
professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, in a
statement. “The third is also unconstitutional because it creates and
funds an entirely new government program, something that requires
The ACLU says the lawsuit is about promoting good
government that follows the rules, regardless of where any individual
stands on the issue of abortion.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Preterm, a women’s
health clinic in Cleveland that provides contraception, family planning
and abortion services.
One anti-abortion restriction that’s not being sued over:
The state budget effectively defunded clinics like Planned Parenthood by
deeming their non-abortion services less competitive.
Republican legislators and Gov. John Kasich approved the
anti-abortion restrictions with the state budget in June. But Democratic
critics say the new rules harshly restrict access to legal abortions
protected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
CityBeat covered the state budget in further detail here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
In comparison to men, Ohio women have
lower incomes, hold fewer leadership roles and disproportionately suffer
from the state’s high infant mortality rate.