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George Lang officially sworn in as representative for 52nd District

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 4:29 PM


            Butler County Area I Court Judge Rob Lyons administers the oath of office to Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., who on Wednesday became the representative for the 52nd Ohio House District. CONTRIBUTED
Butler County Area I Court Judge Rob Lyons administers the oath of office to Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., who on Wednesday became the representative for the 52nd Ohio House District. CONTRIBUTED

Ohio House Republicans approved a resolution Wednesday to appoint George Lang in the vacant seat left by former Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., who resigned last week.

MORE: West Chester residents pull petitions for George Lang’s trustee seat

Lang and his wife, Debbie, as well as one of his two daughters, Alicia, were by his side as Butler County Area I Court Judge Robert Lyons administered the oath of office. Lang’s oldest daughter, Amy, was unable to attend.

Lang was one of seven district Republicans to seek the appointment to Conditt’s term, which has 18 months remaining.

“George Lang was the best person for the 52nd House District Seat,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring, who led a screening panel created by Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. “He’s a self-made entrepreneur, he’s a four-term township trustee from West Chester Twp., the largest township in the state, and he has a proven track-record of success.”

Buildings damaged following large earthquake in Mexico City

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:20 PM

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Central Mexico

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake caused buildings to sway and break apart in Mexico City on the anniversary of the magnitude 8.0 quake that did major damage in 1985.

>> PHOTOS: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

Pictures fell from walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over.

Below are the latest images from social media of the damage:

>> Read more trending news

Repeal of automatic defense cuts gaining momentum, Rep. Turner says

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:21 PM


            U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R- Dayton (at left) and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R- Columbia City, Indiana, at a press conference at the Hope Hotel Tuesday after touring Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Both serve on the House Armed Services Committee. JIM OTTE/STAFF
            Jim Otte
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R- Dayton (at left) and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R- Columbia City, Indiana, at a press conference at the Hope Hotel Tuesday after touring Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Both serve on the House Armed Services Committee. JIM OTTE/STAFF(Jim Otte)

A push to repeal sequestration, or automatic defense budget cuts military leaders have derided as damaging to defense readiness and replacing aging weapons, has gained “momentum” in Congress, a Dayton congressman said.

U.S. Reps. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Jim Banks, R-Indiana, received classified briefings Tuesday at Wright-Patterson and toured the National Air and Space Intelligence Center as Congress is in the midst of hammering out the fiscal year 2018 defense budget and the U.S. and its allies face growing nuclear tensions with North Korea.

At a press conference Tuesday after the briefings, Turner said Congress was “one step closer” with the support of the Trump administration to repeal the Budget Control Act of 2011 that imposed sequestration through 2021.

Banks said repealing sequestration would help “rebuild” the military. Both Turner and Banks are members of the House Armed Services Committee.

RELATED: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs are at risk’

The cuts led to the furlough of thousands of federal civil service employees at bases like Wright-Patterson in 2013, among other consequences, and led congressional leaders to appropriate additional money to fight battles overseas to fill the funding gap.

“We’re in a different position than we were previously,” said Turner, chairman of the House Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee. “The president has called for an end to sequestration.”

A majority of the Senate supports the repeal and the issue was gaining “momentum” in the House, Turner said.

“It’s been several years since we’ve had furloughs at Wright-Patterson as a result of sequestration,” he added. “But I think we need a more long-term response and that’s what I’m hoping with the president’s support we’re going to be able to do and that is permanently end sequestration and not merely just push it off another year.”

Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, warned if it’s repealed the government would spend more and the national debt will grow faster.

“The accumulated debt has already reached $20 trillion, which our kids will have to pay back with interest,” he said in an email. “Even with sequestration, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the government will need to borrow $700 billion in fiscal 2017 (ending October 1) to cover its obligations. We could repeal sequestration and keep the debt in check by raising taxes, but that would require more discipline than Washington seems to have.”

RELATED: Air Force Secretary in exclusive interview talks BRAC, security threats

On Monday, the Senate passed a defense policy authorization bill in an 89-8 vote that appropriated $640 billion in baseline spending, more than President Donald Trump requested, and another $60 billion for combat operations overseas. The legislation will head to a House and Senate conference committee to reach a final deal in the coming weeks.

Trump and Congress reached an earlier spending deal to enact a temporary spending measure — known as a continuing resolution — through the end of December to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

RELATED: FBI warns area defense contractors of cyber threats

Both Turner and Banks voted against the stop-gap measure.

Turner said he was “very disappointed” both the House and the Senate passed the continuing resolution, noting Secretary of Defense James Mattis “had made it clear of the devastating impact of a continuing resolution on the military because they don’t have the ability to respond to new threats or to start new programs” and are restricted to spending no more than budgeted the prior year.

Turner also said a state task force started to explore the vulnerabilities of military installations in Ohio to a round of base closures — commonly called base realignment and closure or BRAC, was overdue.

RELATED: Fear of another BRAC round has locals on edge

The panel’s work was “incredibly important because Ohio is very behind in stepping to the plate on a state level to support its military facilities” while other states such as Texas and Alabama actively prepare, Turner said.

“I think our vulnerability here continues to be that we need more jointness,” he said. “There are many missions that happen here at Wright-Patt where we are working with other service branches, but we need to actually bring the other service branches here in a collaborative way that is happening at other bases.”

Silicon Valley fighting Portman’s efforts to end sex trafficking

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:12 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:12 PM

Portman For Digital

Sen. Rob Portman’s fight to keep websites from selling children and women online for sex is being met with resistance by Silicon Valley.

Portman, R–Ohio, who along with a small group of senators has waged a years-long battle against Backpage, a classified site infamous for being the leading online market to purchase children for sex, is trying to amend a 1996 law in order to make it harder to sell people for sex online.

The 1996 Communications Decency Act, meant to regulate pornography on the Internet, included a provision that aimed to protect website operators from third parties that might post harmful or illegal material on their site.

Backpage, Portman said, used that 26-word provision in the law to protect themselves from litigation, even as victim after victim tried to sue the site for selling them online. Portman’s bill would change that, allowing sex trafficking victims to sue websites that knowingly allow sex trafficking on their site. His bill would also allow state and local law enforcement to prosecute sites that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

But his effort is being fought by internet companies who fear the law would subject them to unnecessary litigation and would limit their freedom of speech. One organization has been posting online ads on Facebook and Twitter arguing against his bill, and the Internet Association, which represents Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have been among those to oppose the bill.

But at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday, Portman said his bill is crafted narrowly to protect sites that inadvertently publish illegal or harmful content and aim, instead, at those who are knowingly selling people for sex, as he said Backpage did. The site shut down its “adult” section in January, but still posts “dating” ads online.

He said three-fourths of sexual trafficking victims are exploited online. Many times, he said, predators make their first connection to the victim online. And sex trafficking, he said, is increasing.

He recently visited Youngstown, where he met with a girl whose father began selling her for sex at age nine, bringing her from city to city to sell her at sporting events. She was raped as often as 20 times a day.

The fact that this occurs, Portman said, is “an outrage. It’s a disgrace. And I believe history is going to judge us on how we respond to it.”

But on the other end of the spectrum is Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote the provision now being targeted in Portman’s bill.

He argues Portman’s bill would stifle free speech as well as the very innovation that has caused the Internet to thrive. While he opposes sex trafficking, “I just believe the legislation being considered…is the wrong answer to an important question. “

Eric Goldman, Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law, said the bill would inadvertently hurt the companies that try to moderate harmful or illegal content on their sites. The bill, he said, “doesn’t limit itself to bad actors; it applies to the entire Internet and force services doing moderation to comprehensively review all content they receive.”

RELATED: What’s really going on with Portman sex trafficking bill?

Supporters of the bill, however, found a powerful voice in Yvonne Ambrose, whose daughter, Desiree Robinson, died late last year at the age of 16.

Desiree, said Yvonne Ambrose, “was the light of my life, my firstborn, my only daughter, my heart, my world. And Desiree made me a better person, because she was a beautiful person. She had the brightest smile that could light up a room.”

Desiree had been smart, kind and loving, but searched for love and acceptance beyond her family and friends. An adult man found her on social media, preyed on her and pressured her to sell herself online. On Dec. 23, 2016, a 32-year-old man named Antonio Rosales looked her up through Backpage. The pimp drove her to meet Rosales. One day later, Rosales beat her, raped her, strangled her, and then slit her throat.

If she had not been sold on Backpage, her mother said, she might still be alive today.

“It could be your child,” she said, in tears, surveying the senators on the dais. “Your niece, your nephew, your cousins, your friend’s children next, if you don’t stop this…if you’re going fix this problem, fix it.”

Beavercreek voters to decide same school tax rejected in May

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:17 PM

Beavercreek City Schools is returning to the Nov. 7 ballot with the same proposal that voters narrowly defeated in the spring special election.

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The proposed 6-mill substitute emergency levy would permanently replace an emergency levy that is set to expire in 2018. If passed, the tax would not raise costs to property owners but continue at the current rate of $210 a year for property valued at $100,000, according to the district. 

The tax would generate approximately 13 percent of the district's daily operating revenue, paying for utilities, bus fuel, classroom supplies, technology and personnel.

MORE >>> Beavercreek school levy will return to voters in November after loss 

Substitute levies came into being in Ohio in 2008 and since then 20 public school districts have secured that revenue source with voters' approval. 

Instead of producing a fixed-dollar amount each year like an emergency levy regardless of new construction, a substitute levy's tax rate doesn't change, but the levy's annual revenue can increase as new homes get built and occupied. Under the current tax, property owners' tax bills gradually decrease as new homes get built and occupied.

You can find out more about the proposal by reading the district’s one-sheet graphic, which is posted on the district’s website.