Legislation Coming to Abolish Ohio’s Death Penalty

Legislation is coming soon to end the death penalty in Ohio, a bipartisan group of state senators announced.

Repost:  State Sen. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is calling for the death penalty to be replaced with life without parole.

The bill will be introduced in the coming weeks, she said in a news conference.

“The death penalty is expensive, inhumane, impractical, unjust and often erroneous. Abolishing it is a practical solution,” Antonio said.

“This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. No matter what a person’s reason is for supporting this legislation, we all agree that this is critical for our own collective humanity. It is our responsibility to work together across party lines and legislative chambers and move forward to end the death penalty in Ohio.”

Antonio has introduced similar legislation in every General Assembly in which she’s served since 2011.

This is the first time, however, the bill has bipartisan support in the Senate.

State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) will be a joint sponsor of the bill and Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) plans to be a co-sponsor.

Ohio leaders have been debating the future of capital punishment as the state struggles to find a supply of lethal injection drugs.

Gov. Mike DeWine delayed seven executions last year and asked the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a new execution protocol after drug makers threatened to cut off access to medications if Ohio used them for executions.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) has said his caucus is having in-depth discussions on the issue and recognizes Ohio has a death penalty law on the books that the state can’t enforce.

Those internal discussions are continuing, Householder said Thursday.
State Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) said he will oppose the bill to abolish the death penalty: “It needs to be retained for terrorists, mass murderers and the like.”

He’s skeptical the legislation will make it out of the Senate.

“I do not predict where the House would be, but I doubt the Senate would pass it. They still haven’t passed the House-passed bill that would remove the death penalty as applied to the seriously mentally ill— so why would anyone think they would abolish it altogether?”

A Gallup poll released in November said 60 percent of Americans indicated they believe life in prison without parole is better punishment than execution, but 56 percent support it for convicted murderers.

By Jennifer Edwards Baker

Repost from CINCINNATI (Fox 19); Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved

Legislative Profile: Jason C. Stephens

Each week, Ohio Statehouse News profiles one of our state legislators. Representative Jason C. Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) is our featured legislator this week.

State Representative Jason C. Stephens is serving his first term in the Ohio House. Stephens represents the 93rd House District, which includes Jackson and Gallia counties, and portions of Lawrence and Vinton counties. Stephens has a background in local government, having served as Lawrence County auditor and Lawrence County commissioner. Stephens graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics/Finance and Business Management.
S
tephens is a small business owner and a licensed insurance agent at Stephens & Son Insurance Agency, Inc and is a co-owner of Stephens & Son Insurance of Chesapeake, Inc.

Why did you become involved in government?
I really care about my community and my area of the state. When I was in my twenties, I became involved in local politics, and in the year 2000 I was elected Lawrence County Commissioner at the age of 29. I have served as an elected official ever since. It is challenging at times to help move an area forward, but I enjoy making government work better for our people.

What are your legislative policy priorities or goals for the upcoming session?
I believe in making government at all levels operate in an efficient manner with the goal of helping, not hindering, the growth of the communities and individuals in our state. That being said, one goal of mine is to widen the access to broadband across Ohio. There are over 300,000 families across the state that do not have internet access, or only have internet access at unusable, low speeds. We need to do something to fix that and help the nearly 1 million Ohioans get access to internet. I believe that if we prioritize issues like broadband, we can help local governments better serve the people throughout the state of Ohio.

What surprises/unexpected challenges did you encounter when you started?
I had to buy some new suits and a couple of new pair of wingtips after being appointed State Representative. There is a little different dress code in Columbus than Southern Ohio.

If you could change one thing with the state system, what would it be?
I would like the state system to be less focused on the state system and more focused on the impact of state policy on the actual communities within our state. Our communities are what make Ohio such a great place to live.

How do you stay in touch with your district?
I stay on the move. My district is made up of four counties and is almost 1500 square miles, which is geographically bigger than the state of Rhode Island. I try to attend as many events as possible throughout my district, and I keep an open line of communication with the leaders of each community.

What is the most interesting/unusual request from a constituent?
Probably the most interesting requests are the ones where a few people think that I know every other elected official in the United States. The best (most entertaining) examples are when people ask me to tell national political figures (whom I have never met, by the way) what to do on some issue or another. Believe me, people can be quite passionate when it comes to these issues. The look on their face when I tell them that I don’t know the person they want me to tell can sometimes be pretty interesting.

What are some of the attractions or hotspots in your district?
The natural beauty of my district is amazing. From the ridges and the hollers, to the beautiful sunsets along the Ohio River, it truly is a great place to live. We have many state parks and the Wayne National Forrest. We also have some of the best small towns in America with all of the great festivals, parades, Friday night football and county fairs that make small town living the best.

Ohio is so diverse, what are the primary challenges you’re facing?
Although beautiful, my district faces a lot of geographical challenges when it comes to infrastructure development, and frankly, it is one of the reasons our part of the state still struggles economically. It is more expensive to build roads, run water lines, develop broadband internet service in our area, but it is essential for Ohio to invest in these vital infrastructure resources in order to keep our state growing in all regions.

What have you done to help your district?
I try to have a positive attitude. Sometimes, it is easy to look at our problems and be negative, but I believe in the future of Southern Ohio. I believe that we can move forward. At the local level, over the years, I have helped develop a power plant, a small hospital, a sewer plant, an industrial park, and many other projects. I believe that my experience in local government has been very helpful in developing policies at the state level that will continue to help my district greatly.

How has your district benefitted from the budget?
I was appointed after the budget had passed, but I am already thinking about the next biennium budget. We have so many challenges in our area, and we always have to be looking forward. I hope that budgets in the future will be continuously mindful of the fact that local governments are the actual implementers of most of the state’s policy. These local on-the-ground agencies and governments need the adequate resources and commonsense rules to effectively carry out good policy in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Why Buy What You Can Grow?

Would medical marijuana users continue to purchase the drug through Ohio’s controlled medical marijuana program if they could grow their own plants at home?

With a new ballot initiative in the works that would allow Ohioans to grow six marijuana plants at a time for their own recreational use, this is a valid question.

Not everyone has a green thumb but considering that there may soon be the option of legally growing personal-use marijuana, one must wonder how many will abandon the state’s program.

The adult-use proposal would legalize recreational marijuana for Ohioans 21 years old and over. It was submitted to the Ohio attorney general’s office on Monday and could be put before voters in November if all ballot initiative criteria is met.

A coalition called Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is behind the proposal.
The group’s spokesman and attorney Tom Haren said that, if passed, the measure would leave the state’s controlled medical marijuana program generally untouched and the two programs would work well together.

Qualifying and participating in Ohio’s program is no easy path. Critics say there are not enough certified doctors, licensed dispensaries, growers and other necessary supports, like approved testing labs. There are hoops to jump through and the expense of the drug make it impossible for some to afford.

Applicants must first locate a physician with an active Certificate to Recommend (CRT) from the State Medical Board of Ohio.

The map below, taken from the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program website, indicates how many doctors offer this service and where they are located. Some areas are without certified doctors within reasonable distance.

Certified physician locations in the state

Doctor’s visits and the required $50 state e-card fee are not covered by health insurance. Neither is the cost of the drug itself.

According to the website, one must maintain a physician-patient relationship and see the doctor at least once each year.

Dispensaries also are few and far between, with only 50 in the state.

Licensed dispensary locations in the state

Some locations are not currently open for business and others have long lines or are missing various types of the drug.

Next is the availability and cost of the product itself. Here is the current pricing from the Ohio Medical Alliance LLC website. This is an out-of-pocket expense.

Rather than hurting Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program with new competition, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesman said it would actually work to the advantage of existing growers and distributors since they are already involved in the program and have their businesses set up with approval from the state.

Haren said the state has disregarded the needs of Ohioans by not adding more to its list of qualifying conditions, even though numerous studies have shown medical marijuana would be beneficial. The state has approved about 20 conditions.

In other states that went from medical to full adult legalization, the larger demand for the recreational product can crowd out the medical market. Haren said the Ohio proposal contains language that would require the state to ensure medical marijuana is available to those who need it before recreational users.

Haren said that, if passed, the amendment would triple the number of retail marijuana locations that currently exist under Ohio’s medical marijuana program.

Under the current law, the Board of Pharmacy is no longer accepting applications for dispensary licenses.

It also and would allow for an additional 1.5 million square feet of cultivation area for new growers, said Haren. He said it would add jobs and bring in significant revenue to the state.

The proposal clarifies it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or give the substance to minors. The plan also allows private property owners and employers to prohibit or restrict use on premises or by employees.

All the Dope on Ohio’s Marijuana Ballot Proposal

Ohio's lack of initiative to reform its four-year-old medical marijuana law brought about a new effort to legalize recreational marijuana.

There’s a movement underway to legalize adult-use of recreational marijuana in the state. A proposed amendment could be put before voters as early as November.

The proposed amendment would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by Ohioans over 21 and would allow for growing up to six plants for personal use on one’s own property, with certain limiting conditions.

A petition was submitted to the Ohio attorney general on Monday, laying the groundwork for an initiative that would go before voters in November’s general election. A ballot initiative, such as this, is a process that typically takes several months and tens of thousands of signatures to reach the ballot.

The AG’s office has ten days to certify the issue before additional steps can be taken toward getting the plan in front of voters.

A coalition called Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is behind the adult-use campaign.

The group is represented by Tom Haren, an Ohio attorney and acting spokesman. Haren previously represented medical marijuana licensees.

Haren said that, if passed, the amendment would triple the number of retail marijuana locations that currently exist under Ohio’s medical marijuana program and would allow for an additional 1.5 million square feet of cultivation area for new growers. He said it would add jobs and bring in significant revenue to the state.

The state’s lack of initiative is what brought about the need for reform, said Haren.

“It doesn’t feel that we have a real willing partner in the state to make the needed reforms,” said Haren.

“The state medical board has refused to add new qualifying conditions, despite ample evidence to support the addition of various conditions, like anxiety, autism, opiate use disorder and others.”
Another problem with the current program, Haren said, is the confusion regarding possession.

“It’s very confusing for patients to participate in because of the language regarding the 90-day supply and the confusing way to calculate possession limits when patients are making purchases,” said Haren.

In addition, Haren said there is very restrictive advertising regulations, making it difficult for patients to get information about the program from the businesses that provide the product.

Haren said the adult-use program was designed to ensure that there is sufficient access to new consumers, but in a way that prevents an over-supply of product in the market.

“Current medical marijuana operators could begin selling in the adult-use market, and the Department of Commerce could issue additional adult-use licenses after that point,” said the attorney.

The amendment will direct the department of commerce to conduct necessary studies prior to issuing new licenses so no one is excluded from the first round of adult-use licenses, Haren explained .

The program spokesman said  it would bring in significant tax revenue for the state.

The organization would direct the tax revenue after the general assembly enacts a special tax, explained the attorney.

Haren said what he really likes about the amendment is the way it addresses social equity, and that this has been a large component in legalization efforts.

Fifty percent of generated tax revenue would go directly into the state local government fund, accorinding to Haren. Twenty-five percent would go into a new commission on expungement, social equity, diversity, and so forth that would make recommendations as how to spend that money for social equity purposes.

Haren said 10 percent of tax revenue would go directly to the communities in which the retail sales took place.

If passed, Ohio would join 11 other states that have legalized marijuana for adult use purposes.

Haren said it would provide the level of access to marijuana that Ohioans were promised back in 2016.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of effort, but we’re confident that we’ll get on the ballot in November and when that happens, we’re confident we’re going to win,” said Haren.

Regarding growing of marijuana by private citizens, Haren said there are safeguards surrounding those provisions. “It can’t be grown openly or publicly, and it must be in a locked, enclosed space.”

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association has not come out yet in support of the measure, but individually many of the members are supportive, said Haren.

The guidelines set forth in the measure limit possession to under an ounce, with no more than eight grams of concentrate.

Adults could grow up to six plants in an enclosed area, with a limit of three flowering plants.

“Adults should be permitted to responsibly consume marijuana,” said the attorney, who added that the proposal protects Ohioans from irresponsible use and creates new chances for entrepreneurs to enter the industry.

Supporters said the plan does not impact the rights of the state’s medical marijuana patients.

The proposal clarifies it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or give the substance to minors. The plan also allows private property owners and employers to prohibit or restrict use on premises or by employees.

Our Compilation of Crazy Novel Coronavirus Stories from Around the Globe

There’s nothing funny about the new coronavirus, but some people’s response to it can be pretty off-the-wall. On a slow news day, our staff checked out headlines from across the state and around the globe, and came up with this compilation of Crazy New Coronavirus Stories.
“Corona beer virus” searches soar as Corona beer sales plummet 

 

Sure. Coronavirus and Corona beer sound similar, but does anyone really think the two are connected? Apparently, yes.

A survey conducted by 5W Public Relations found that 38 percent of beer drinkers won’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” and The New York Post reports 16 percent of those surveyed  said they weren’t sure if the two were connected.

Online searches for “corona beer virus” spiked in early February, according to CNN, but have since declined.

Fake text messages and other scams.

Fake text message delivered in Trumbull County

Don’t fall for COVID-19 scams. An unsolicited link to coronavirus information could very well be a link to a computer virus, warns the Center for Disease Control. The Ohio Department of Health said that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Trumbull County.

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, imagine what a slice of cake could do.

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Italy has risen to nearly 1000. This hasn’t stopped some wisecracking Italians from laughing in the face of danger.

At the Gelateria Infinito shop on the outskirts of Cremona,  customers can get a “Coronacake,” among other goodies.

Wave your cane in the air if you remember the Bump dance craze from the 70’s.

No confirmation on how much truth there is in a Reddit post that shows some folks  have dropped the handshake in exchange for the Bump as a way of greeting one another. No exchange of germs here.

KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell take a hit on Wall Street

Yum China, a near $20 billion dollar enterprise and parent company of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands, lost approximately 15% of its market value this year, stemming from coronavirus fears.

It’s no surprise that a company with “China” in its name could be affected more than the average stock by the novel coronavirus.

In addition, Nike has reportedly closed about half of its company-owned stores in China, according to reports. About 17% of Nike revenue comes from China,  where a large percentage of its products are made.

No sense in taking chances! Anything for our babies.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a face mask for yourself, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one.

You’re about a month too late if you’re looking to purchase face mask protection.  Pharmacies and supermarkets have been sold out for weeks. According to a WalMart pharmacy associate in an East Ohio store, they get multiple requests from customers everyday for face masks.
“They’ve been on backorder and we have no idea when we’ll be getting anymore,” said the associate.

Other Ohio pharmacies said they are taking hundreds of calls a day from people searching for face masks.

Amazon also is sold out of the N95 masks that the CDC recommends.

A resourceful few have found ways to improvise:

Last but certainly not least…

Muslim Pilgrimage Poses New Risk of Spread

Religious pilgrimages and ceremonies in the Middle East have emerged as a dangerous new risk in the spread of the new coronavirus. This Iranian is doing nothing to help matters as he demonstrates how he can “remove” the virus to save others by licking the shrine.

Disturbing behavior as man licks shrine to remove virus

 

Regulation of “Forever Chemicals” in Ohio Drinking Water on Tap

Unregulated chemical compound linked to cancers, thyroid disease, colitis and other serious health issues.

Even though they’ve been around for decades, most people only recently have heard of  “forever chemicals.”

This group of 3,500 man-made chemicals is used to make household products water-proof and non-stick. The problem is that the substance has found its way out of the household and into the nation’s water systems.

They’re called forever chemicals because they are resistant to breaking down in the environment and have been linked to numerous serious health issues. Worse, they are completely unregulated by the government.

The movie Dark Waters was based on the contamination of water in Parkersburg, West Virginia, with forever chemicals that were allegedly spilled by an area DuPont plant.

Two Ohio representatives want to keep forever chemicals out of Ohio’s drinking water by establishing maximum allowable contaminant levels for PFAS, also known as forever chemicals.

Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) and Rep. C. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) are sponsoring House Bill 497 which confronts the problem of forever chemicals here in Ohio.

“The scientific data being gathered on these dangerous toxins has created an imperative to address the need for clean water and the elimination of pollutants in our environment,” Rep. Lightbody said.

Supporters of the bill say that it will compliment Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent call to explore the issue. DeWine issued an order in September 2019 to figure out how prevalent these chemicals may be in Ohio’s drinking water.

A PFAS Action Plan resulted from the order, which will be taken on by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health.

This would be the first step in learning how widespread the problem is in the state.

Building on that effort, the legislation would require the Ohio EPA director to adopt rules establishing maximum levels for both drinking and surface water. Among specific chemicals to be policed include Chromium-6 and 1.4 dioxane.

Environmental watchdog groups say contamination of U.S. drinking water with manmade forever chemicals is far worse than previously thought.
In forming the rules, the OEPA director would be asked to consider limits adopted by other states, studies and scientific evidence, materials produced by the federal government and recent independent and government agency peer-reviewed studies.

“The scientific data being gathered on these dangerous toxins has created an imperative to address the need for clean water and the elimination of pollutants in our environment,” said Lightbody.

The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.

The EPA said it has helped states and communities address PFAS and that it is working to put limits on the two main chemicals but did not give a timeline.

Throughout 2019 and now in 2020, the scope of this new potential health crisis has come more into focus.

About 700 PFAS-contaminated sites have reportedly been identified nationwide, while more than 110 million people may now be drinking contaminated water. More recent testing found high PFAS levels in drinking water in 34 major US cities.

Some researchers say nearly every source of surface water in the country is contaminated.

“They’re everywhere,” warned Christopher Tavenor of the Ohio Environmental Council, “and there are serious health concerns with these substances.”

Some drinking water supplies in Ohio have been impacted, including water supplies in Belpre and Little Hocking Water Association. They both sit across the Ohio River from a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, WV, that relied on forever chemicals for production.

The plant first came under scrutiny in the late 1990s after Ohio environmental attorney Rob Bilott got a tip from a farmer. The farmer’s cattle were dying after drinking contaminated water.

Bilott took the case and went on to become the lead attorney in the nation on PFAS contamination, successfully taking DuPont to court for negligence and winning millions of dollars in damages in class action lawsuits.
Ohio also filed a lawsuit against DuPont alleging the company “caused widespread PFOA contamination in Ohio as a result of decades-long, intentional releases of massive amounts” of the chemical into the environment.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has long advocated for tough federal standards for PFAS and related chemicals, far lower than the EPA’s suggested guidelines.

The EWG set up an interactive map that shows PFAS in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including metropolitan areas. PFAS Contamination in the U.S.

PFAS Contamination sites in Ohio

Another map reveals industrial sites in Cleveland and across the country that have used the chemicals for industrial uses such as electroplating, raising concerns over the chemicals seeping into ground water, rivers and streams. Suspected Industrial Discharges of PFAS

Under pressure from Congress, the EPA in January took steps toward setting new, lower legal limits for two PFAS chemicals. It’s also proposing a regulatory determination to set national standards.

The PFAS Action Act of 2019 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. It would require the EPA to designate PFAS and related “forever chemicals” as hazardous materials. The legislation is currently being reviewed by a Senate committee.

 

Legislative Profile: Bill Seitz

Each week, Ohio Statehouse News profiles one of our state legislators. Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) is our featured legislator this week.

State Representative Bill Seitz is a lifelong resident of Western Hamilton County. He represents the Greater Cincinnati area. Seitz began his public service career as a member of the Cincinnati Board of Education and the St. Antoninus Parish Education Commission. 
Beginning in 2000, Seitz served in the Ohio House of Representatives for almost seven years. Seitz then went on to serve in the Ohio Senate from 2007 to 2016 before returning to the Ohio House where he is now serving the 30th House District in his second consecutive term. 

Why did you become involved in government?

I was looking to utilize my extensive background as a lawyer and an experienced local elected official to impact state law across so many issues that affect all Ohioans: economic prosperity, improved education and health care outcomes, and vital reforms in our civil and criminal justice systems.

What are your legislative policy priorities or goals for the upcoming session?

I remain committed to state level action to stem the flow of illegal immigration through legislation preventing illegal aliens from receiving workers’ compensation, encouraging law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, and preventing illegal aliens from voting. In addition, I am pushing for final legislative action on reforming Ohio’s fireworks law, requiring law enforcement to record custodial interrogations, improving Ohio’s civil commitment law for persons with drug and alcohol addictions, repealing dower, and further reforming our criminal justice system to reduce prison overcrowding and to help ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into law abiding society.

How do you stay in touch with your district?

Mainly, through a combination of personal contact via the numerous clubs and organizations I belong to, and through frequent guest appearances on Cincinnati radio media.

What is the most interesting/unusual request from a constituent?

Requests to intervene in constituents’ court cases are always unusual, and generally incapable of being accommodated.

What are some of the attractions or hotspots in your district?

Restaurants – Ron’s Roost, Maury’s Tiny Cove, Price Hill Chili, Kennings Circle K, The Farm.
Attractions – Western Hills Country Club, Mount St. Joseph College, Covedale Theatre, Harvest Home Fair, Delhi Skirt Game, Neumann Golf Course, German Heritage Museum, Delhi Historical Society Museum.

Ohio is so diverse, what are the primary challenges you’re facing?

Currently, the debate over school vouchers is a big deal. Longer term, we have changing demographics, and a decline in local shopping opportunities.

What have you done to help your district?

The Green Township tax increment financing plan we adopted in 1994, and expanded legislatively thereafter, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Green Township and paid for virtually every capital expense for 25 years. I have changed the state gas tax allocation formula twice, in order to provide substantially more money to large townships like Delhi and Green. My advocacy for state-funded community capital projects have provided millions of dollars for Delhi and Green Township park and recreational facilities, for the Covedale Theatre, the Price Hill Incline Theatre, the Madcap Puppet Theatre, and others. Legislative budget changes which I have championed have provided the lion’s share of the money needed to rebuild the Western Hills viaduct.

How has your district benefitted from the budget?

In 2019, we significantly increased the percentage of gas tax money going to local cities, counties, and townships. This funding stream provides much-needed help to local governments to maintain and improve our road and bridge infrastructure. We also have cut the state income tax repeatedly since 2005, putting more money in the pockets of my district’s constituents.

Unsecured Loads Pose Serious Hazard on Ohio Roadways

Proposed Legislation: Secure your load or face steep penalties.

A television reporter’s request for help from an Ohio legislator resulted in a newly proposed law, House Bill 510.

The reporter was Ron Regan of 5 on Your Side in Cleveland. Regan was working on a story and needed some specifics on the number of accidents caused by unsecured loads on Ohio highways.

The representative Regan went to for help was Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).

When Patton obtained the information the reporter needed,  Patton realized there was a serious problem in the state that needed to be addressed.

“The numbers were way up there,” said Patton. “When you’re seeing 6,800 crashes because people are not taking the time or that extra strap to secure a load, something needs to change.”

Watch Regan’s investigative report that uncovered thousands of accidents in Ohio result from unsecured loads.

What Patton discovered was that, according to crash data from the Ohio Highway Patrol, debris from unsecured loads contributed to some 6,794 crashes from 2015 to 2019.

“There were an alarming number of crashes,” said Patton. “Some of these resulted in very serious injuries and even some fatalities.”

Specifically, during that same time period, there were 715 injuries and at least six fatalities, data showed.

Motorists were charged in some of the incidents but the charges and fines were minimal, even when significant injury was involved.

Ohio is among the most lax in the nation when it comes to fines and penalties for unsecured loads. Currently, this offense is capped at $150 in Ohio with no jail time. There is no provision if someone is injured as a result of the unsecured debris.

Patton’s legislation would significantly increase fines and penalties for drivers convicted of unsecured load violations.

If passed, House Bill 510 would boost fines to $500 for an unsecured load violation and $2,500 and a third-degree misdemeanor if someone is injured. The violation is currently considered a minor misdemeanor.

Ohio is unlike 28 other states that have maximum fines from $500 to $5,000 and 16 others that provide for possible jail time, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Government Accountability Office study on unsecured loads and penalties.

As introduced, the new legislation states that no trash, rubbish, waste, wire, paper, cartons, boxes, glass, solid waste, or any other material of an unsanitary nature that is susceptible to blowing or bouncing from a moving vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway unless the load is covered with a sufficient cover to prevent the load or any part of the load from spilling onto the highway.

The exception to this rule, according to the proposal, is when driving or moving a farm vehicle used to transport agricultural produce or agricultural production materials. It also excludes rubbish vehicles in the process of acquiring a load.

The Ohio Revised Code currently only required that vehicles are “so constructed, loaded, or covered as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping”.

Mounting Effort to Repeal Ohio’s Death Penalty

The era of the death penalty could be slowly coming to an end in Ohio, where executions have been on hold during a year-long struggle to obtain execution drugs.

Now there’s a new effort underway to abolish capital punishment in the state.

Conservative leadership in the Ohio House last week announced its effort to eliminate the death penalty through the formation of the Ohio branch of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

The group is a network of conservatives questioning the alignment of capital punishment with their conservative principles.

As policymakers and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction seek to obtain intravenous execution drugs or to pass a law allowing an alternative method, there seems to be growing momentum for scrapping the death penalty altogether.

Gov. Mike DeWine said pharmaceutical companies don’t want their products used to carry out executions and have threatened to block access to the medications, which have other medical uses for Ohioans.

Since taking office last year, DeWine has issued 11 stays of execution delays. At the same time, juries have handed down six new death sentences.

The state is the eighth in the country in total number of executions. There have been 56 executions since the state resumed the death penalty in 1999.

Thirty-five conservative leaders from around the state have signed CCATDP’s national Statement of Support to End the Death Penalty, something that they pointed out has already occurred in half of the other states in the nation.

The creator of Ohio’s death penalty law said he thinks the state won’t have another execution. Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who wrote Ohio’s death penalty law, said he thinks Ohio has already seen its last execution. He said this is a good thing.

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility  where the state’s executions take place. Photo Credit: John Minchillo

Pfeifer said he now opposes how the law is used, but he doubts lawmakers will abolish the law entirely.

“I think it’ll be a tough sell to get the legislature to repeal the death penalty that’s on the books,” Pfeifer reportedly said.

Pfeifer is now with the Ohio Judicial Conference. Pfeifer admitted that the death penalty has been good for one thing: plea bargains, which is useful in avoiding trials that are painful for the victims’ survivors and costly for the courts.

While support for death penalty appears to be mounting, Senate President Larry Obhof, (R-Medina), reportedly said in early February that it is “unlikely” the Ohio General Assembly will abolish the death penalty completely within the next year.

Obhof said that most lawmakers still favor executions in “particularly heinous cases.”

The Conservative Statement of Support to End the Death Penalty was signed by 35  Conservative leaders listed below:

Selling Your Vote and Other Voter Fraud

Could someone sell their vote to the highest bidder? Asking for a friend.

Don’t judge. My friend isn’t the first person to contemplate selling their vote. Not long ago there was a website called vote-auction.com where folks could auction off their vote to the highest bidder.

Disillusioned voters who intended to sit out the November election put their votes up for bid on the site.

There was just one problem: This is voter fraud, which is a felony. The site was abruptly shut down.

Potential felony charges aside, if someone were to sell their vote, how much would it bring?

Judging by what candidates paid in campaign funds, votes in presidential elections cost the most.

Check out these price tags. A vote cost presidential candidate Hillary Clinton $21.64 in the 2016 election, while a vote cost President Donald Trump somewhat less at $15.20.

Gary Johnson paid bargain-basement prices in the 2016 presidential race, with each vote costing him under three dollars, possibly a good example of “you get what you pay for.”

Some have suggested offering incentives to get people to the polls, a sort of round-about way of paying for votes. One city even offered a lottery jackpot of $10,000 to a random voter.

The secret ballot system makes cheating in an election difficult. Even if a voter wanted to sell their vote and actually found a buyer, the voter would be hard-pressed to offer proof that their vote was cast how the buyer wanted. This is called vote-buying which, reportedly, is very rare.

Voter impersonation at the polls also is a rarity, but apparently can happen.

Federal law requires a voter to provide some sort of official identification before they can register to vote or cast a ballot in an election. Ohio requires an ID to register and on election day at the polls.

When voter fraud occurs, it almost never happens at a polling station, according to law experts. It most commonly occurs through absentee ballots.

Absentee mail-in ballots make it easy to forge a signature, buy or sell a vote or impersonate a voter.

Voting by absentee ballot used to be very uncommon. The voter first had to provide a valid reason to the Board of Elections for being unable to vote on election day before being approved. It’s becoming more commonplace today, and is even encouraged.

Here are some other ways voter fraud can occur.

Voter registration fraud: Filling out and submitting a voter registration card for a fictional person or filling out a voter registration card with the name of a real person but, without that person’s consent, and forging his or her signature on the card.

Votes cast in the names of deceased people: The name of a deceased person remains on a state’s official list of registered voters and a living person fraudulently casts a ballot in that name.

Felon vote fraud: The casting of a ballot by a person who is a convicted felon and is not eligible to vote as a result of the conviction.

Voter suppression: A variety of tactics aimed at lowering or suppressing the number of voters who might otherwise vote in an election.

Ballot stuffing: Casting illegal votes or submitting more than one ballot per voter.

Does your vote count for anything? USA Today recently ran an opinion piece entitled, “Your vote almost certainly won’t matter. On Election Day, work and donate your earnings.”

It stated that your vote matters only if you break a tie. Furthermore, Republican and Democratic voters cancel each other out.

You could always do what this guy did and list your vote on eBay.

2020 vote Citizen; non felon. NC vote; Voting is important to some not as important to me. Once vote is bought I’ll support whoever; open to any political conversations, Wanted a 1,500,000 for vote but eBay only allows 25k….