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DEATH PENALTY-OHIO-REVIEW

Ohio justice: division over death penalty expected

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court says divisions about the death penalty on a panel that spent more than two years studying capital punishment in the state were to be expected.

Justice Maureen O'Connor says that diametrically opposed positions and divisive topics were a healthy part of the panel's work.

The panel convened in 2011 by O'Connor finalized its recommendations last week and now awaits a dissenting report from prosecutors on the committee who disagreed with some proposals.

Recommendations include reducing the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and creating a statewide board that would have the final say over death penalty charges in the state.

O'Connor says the committee's goal was a fair analysis of Ohio's 3-decade old capital punishment law.

SUPREME COURT-POLITICAL SPEECH

Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

WASHINGTON (AP) - Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be punished as a crime?

That debate makes its way to the Supreme Court next week as the justices consider a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates during a campaign.

The case has attracted national attention, with groups across the political spectrum criticizing the law as a restriction on the First Amendment right to free speech.

The high court is not expected to rule directly on the constitutional issue but will focus on whether the law can be challenged before it is actually enforced.

OHIO STATE-MUMPS

No school recommended for unvaccinated kids

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Central Ohio officials are warning that children without mumps vaccinations might have to miss weeks of school if an outbreak of the illness hits classrooms.

More than 200 cases of the contagious viral illness, with more than 130 of those linked to Ohio State University, have been reported this year.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the health commissioners for Columbus and Franklin County wrote letters to schools encouraging vaccinations.

The letters also advise parents that unvaccinated students might have to stay home 25 days or longer if clusters of mumps cases begin showing up in schools.

Officials have urged residents of the region to make sure they've been inoculated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

REPUBLICAN CONVENTION-OHIO

2 Ohio visits slated as GOP seeks convention site

CINCINNATI (AP) - The two Ohio cities still in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention will be visited in late April by party staff or members of a selection committee.

Teams will visit Cincinnati on April 29 and Cleveland on April 30 for a more in-depth look at factors such as financing, convention venues, media workspace and hotels.

The visits will help officials decide which of the cities on the short list get visits from the full RNC delegation before the convention site is chosen.

Republican officials plan to pick the host city this summer, and Las Vegas has emerged as an early leading contender. The other cities in the running are Dallas, Denver and Kansas City, Mo.

TAXES-DEADLINE EXTENDED

Filing deadline extended for municipal Ohio taxes

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - An agency that coordinates the filing of municipal taxes around Ohio has extended the deadline to file until Monday after unprecedented demand.

The Regional Income Tax Agency in Brecksville in northeast Ohio said its website and phone system have been overwhelmed with hits and calls from last-minute filers.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports several suburban Cleveland leaders expressed concern with the problems and said extending the deadline was the right thing to do.

The tax agency said it experienced an "unprecedented demand" for online services, including the electronic filing of municipal income taxes in dozens of communities across Ohio.

Steven Presley, treasurer of the tax agency's board, says the problem is so many people waited until the last minute to file.

DRUG DEATHS-CLINIC CHARGES

Judge to sentence 7 in deadly Ohio pill mill case

CINCINNATI (AP) - A judge has set sentencing dates for six doctors and the owner of three pain management clinics where they worked, all of whom previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the clinics' operations.

Indictments in 2012 and last year alleged dozens of customers a week would travel hundreds of miles to visit clinics in southern and central Ohio and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.

The indictments said prescriptions were written without meaningful physical exams and contributed to the deaths of at least two patients.

Cincinnati federal Judge Michael Barrett will sentence the clinic owner and five doctors on May 21 and a sixth doctor on June 12.

No sentencing date has been set for an eighth defendant who pleaded guilty last month to failing to file federal income taxes.

HEROIN ROUNDTABLE

GOP Sen. Portman hosts heroin discussion in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Anti-drug activists, community leaders, school officials and students are gathering in Columbus to take part in a roundtable discussion about heroin.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area was scheduled to host the Wednesday morning gathering on heroin abuse, and prevention, treatment and recovery from the drug that's increasingly causing addiction and deaths across Ohio.

Portman says a comprehensive, "all hands on deck" effort is needed to counter heroin and other opoids.

The discussion was scheduled to be held with the Drug Free Action Alliance, at the Youth 2 Youth International Center.

DAYTON-SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS

Group asks Dayton schools to reduce suspensions

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A community activist group is asking Dayton city schools to reduce its number of out-of-school suspensions.

Vernellia Randall, a University of Dayton law professor, says the district's suspensions rate is four times higher than the state average.

The Dayton Daily News reports Randall told the Dayton school board Tuesday that black students are suspended more often than other students for the same behavior.

Randall cited research that out-of-school suspensions make students more likely to drop out.

Dayton Superintendent Lori Ward said the district would review the data presented by the group Racial Justice Now before commenting.

The group proposed that Dayton stop out-of-school suspensions for preschool through third-grade students next year, with a moratorium on suspensions for disobedient behavior, truancy, use of tobacco and profanity the following year.

CINCINNATI POLICE-HIRINGS

Cincinnati hires more police as homicides rise

CINCINNATI (AP) - Cincinnati has hired 23 new police officers from other departments to boost enforcement efforts as the number of homicides increases.

City council authorized the new officers in February following the uptick in deaths from 2013, which includes 21 slayings this year.

Cincinnati mayor's office spokesman Kevin Osborne tells the Cincinnati Enquirer the officers will start training May 12 and be on the streets July 7.

Osborne said the original hiring goal was 15 to 20 officers with at least two years of experience but the department had more qualified applicants than expected.

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