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Thursday, June 14, 2007

News and Notes: Ohio

What's going on in the Buckeye State?
The Inspector General has issued his report on Frankie Coleman, finding that she was paid for 56 hours of time when she was not working and that she initially lied to investigators about it. I have more to say about this on the state sub-page.

The opportunity for amendments to improve the statewide video/cable franchising law (Am. Sub. SB 117) has passed and the Ohio House will vote on the measure tomorrow. Bill Callahan declares the law as it stands is "extremely bad news." It strips Ohio communities of their power over cable monopolies, allows cable companies to abandon neighborhoods that they had been serving, and does not guarantee that the new fiber-enhanced video broadband access will be universally (or even widely) available across the state.

The National Rifle Association will push to change the law so that victims of a felony are no longer required to prove that shooting in self defense was justified, and Gov. Ted Strickland (D-New Lisbon) reportedly supports the bill. Just to be clear, a prosecutor could still attempt to prove that a shooting was not justified in a particular case -- it is a matter of shifting the burden of proof from the shooter to the state.

Gov. Strickland has not only vowed to veto a proposed bill to allow electronic betting on archived races at horsetracks, he has now joined with Attorney General Marc Dann to call for a ban on cash prizes from table-top gaming devices that are appearing in bars and restaurants all over the state. Dann's support for a ban has developed out of his frustration with his earlier efforts to enforce the existing legal distinction between outlawed games of chance and permissible games of skill.

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed the state budget in the form approved by the Finance Committee, after Democratic leader Sen. Teresa Feder (D-Toledo) withdrew her proposed amendment that would have imposed stricter accountability standards on charter schools. Fedor hopes to get something done about charter school accountability in the joint conference committee that will attempt to reconcile differences among House and Senate versions of the budget.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

News and Notes: Ohio

Newsy bits from around the Buckeye State today:

Draft DePiero - Thanks to a new website with an internet petition, now you can add your voice to the chorus urging the popular mayor of Parma, Dean DePiero (D-Parma), to mount a primary challenge to serial long-shot presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland).

Kucinich's Rant: "It's The Oil, Stupid!" - Speaking of Cleveland's entry in the White House derby, I caught part of his long-sought one-hour floor speech on Iraq yesterday. He laid out his case that the underlying purpose of our presence in that traumatized nation is the greedy interest of big oil companies in vast untapped oil reserves. His case is rendered more difficult to dismiss by the fact that the oil law that the U.S. is pushing Iraq's parliament to pass was largely shaped by those western oil companies and it would grant them huge development opportunities in the country. Jill has the link to the printable version the speech.

Strickland Calls on Bush to Address Gas Price Crunch - Ohio's new governor joined top officials from 16 other states in calling on the president to work with the oil companies to find a long term solution to rising gas prices.

Ohio Senate Approves "Instant Racing" Machines at Race Tracks - The bill would allow the horse racing industry to install machines that allow gamblers to bet electronically on thousands of old races. But ... isn't that a lot like the slot machines that voters emphatically rejected last November?

Dann Proposes Regulating "Skill" Gambling Machines - Betting machines that resemble slots but purportedly require some element of "skill" have sprouted up all over the state. Attorney General Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) has proposed a plan to test and certify those machines. Yesterday, Dann settled a lawsuit with a manufacturer of two types of such machines, and the settlement allows Dann to hire an independent expert to determine whether that manufacturer's products are based more on skill (which is legal) or more on chance (generally illegal). He wants to expand that testing to all such machines.

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