Brown touts record to local business leaders

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 8:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Complete coverage

The U.S. Senate race in Ohio is one of the most expensive in the nation and key to which party controls the Senate. We’re following this race closely and covering both sides. Here’s a look at some of our coverage:

* On Sept. 11, Republican candidate Josh Mandel addressed the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and we had full coverage in last Wednesday’s paper.

* On Sept. 30: We will have profiles of both Josh Mandel and Sherrod Brown in the newspaper.

* In October: Brown and Mandel will have three debates and we will cover all of them. The debates are Oct. 15, 18, 25. Our Columbus Bureau reporter Laura A. Bischoff will be one of the journalists questioning the candidates on Oct. 18.

* Online: Last month, we took an in-depth look at where Brown and Mandel stand on issues such as the debt and health care. Read those stories at DaytonDailyNews.com

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown discussed manufacturing, health care and the federal budget Tuesday, as he addressed the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce seven weeks before the November election.

Brown, finishing his first Senate term after 14 years in the U.S. House, is running against Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who addressed the Dayton Chamber last week. Most recent polls show Brown with a single-digit lead.

Brown said America needs a cohesive manufacturing strategy, including better workforce training, after losing 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010.

“Since early 2010, we’ve gained about 500,000 manufacturing jobs nationally – nothing like the 5 million we lost – but it was the first time … we had job growth in manufacturing since something like 1999,” Brown said.

Brown repeatedly pointed out Ohio companies and Miami Valley business leaders he has worked with. He pointed to his efforts to help expand the Ohio supply chain for Airbus, and spotlighted his continuing fight against China’s trade policies, listing Harco Manufacturing Group of Moraine as a local business that is hurt by currency manipulation.

During a question-and-answer session, two business owners quizzed him on his support for health care reform, with one of them blaming the Affordable Care Act for a recent surge in health care costs for his company. Brown said he was proud to have voted for the bill.

“Costs (to employers and employees) are not going up as sharply, partly because of this health care law,” Brown said after Tuesday’s event.

Brown called the federal sequestration budget process “a bipartisan creation of Congress.”

“I can’t imagine we can deal with sequestration without some defense cuts, some non-defense discretionary cuts, some work on Medicare … something about Medicaid and something with taxes,” Brown said. “I can’t imagine that we won’t do all of the above. Because you can’t get to the numbers you’ve gotta get just by cutting Head Start, just cutting National Institutes of Health and EPA enforcement.”

Travis Considine, spokesman for Mandel’s campaign, said Mandel “supports a budget that protects defense from sequestration by switching the scheduled cuts to non-defense discretionary spending this year and going forward.” He also argued that the health care bill Brown supported would kill Ohio jobs and said 66 percent of Ohio voters “symbolically rejected” health care reform when they voted for a 2011 state issue on freedom to choose health care coverage.

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.”

Ohio Patrol cracking down on distracted driving; state considering higher fines

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 3:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

Distracted driving

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is cracking down on distracting driving with a special effort through July 22.

This is part of a six-state project which includes all of the states that border Ohio. 

“Distracted driving is a reckless and dangerous behavior,” said Colonel Paul A. Pride in a statement. “If you’re behind the wheel, you need to be completely focused on driving. The Ohio State Highway Patrol and our law enforcement partners in our neighboring states know the devastating effects of distracted driving.”

RELATED: Ohio considering major changes for teen drivers

Driving while distracted could cost you an extra $100 if you are pulled over for speeding or another moving violation under a bill the Ohio House of Representatives approved last month.

The law goes beyond driving while texting and State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, says it goes too far because it also covers talking on the phone, switching radio stations and other distractions beyond texting.

“To me, its overly expansive. Its not just texting while driving. It’s everything,” Antani said.

“While cracking down on distracted driving is important, this bill will criminalize talking on the phone while driving which is terrible government overreach.”

The bill passed 71-10 but would not become law unless approved by the Ohio Senate and signed by the governor.

The bill is co-sponsored by State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and State Rep. Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington. It covers moving violations such as speeding, running red lights, disobeying any traffic devices, driving too slowly, improper lane changes and other offenses.

RELATED: Teens involved in more crashes in summer months

“Inspired from previous efforts to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving, Rep. Hughes worked in coordination with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to draft legislation to create this enhanced penalty, which would not add points to an individual’s driver’s license and would not go on their driving record,” according to a news release on Hughes’ website.

“The enhanced penalty for distracted driving as proposed in House Bill 95 will help provide a deterrent to this reckless and dangerous activity,” Hughes said. “Ultimately, the goal is to save lives by making our roadways safer.”

A person could only be cited for “distracted driving” if the law enforcement officer witnesses the offense while the moving violation is occurring, according to the bill.

In lieu of the fine an offender may instead attend distracted driving safety courses, according to a summary of the bill by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

The bill defines “distracted” as:

- Using a handheld electronic wireless communications device - including phones, tablets and computers - except when it is on speakerphone or otherwise hands-free.

- Any activity “that is not necessary to the operation of a vehicle” and could or does impair the driver.

Ohio Supreme Court to decide on new abortion laws

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 10:38 AM
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 10:38 AM

Demonstrators at the Right to Life Rally in Washington on Jan. 27, 2017.  
AL DRAGO/NYT
Demonstrators at the Right to Life Rally in Washington on Jan. 27, 2017. (AL DRAGO/NYT)

By all accounts, abortion opponents have been racking up win after win in the Ohio Statehouse over the last six years, making it more difficult for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Now the Ohio Supreme Court could cement or unravel those wins, depending on how it decides two pending legal challenges.

The high court heard arguments on Capital Care Network of Toledo versus the Ohio Department of Health on Sept. 12 and will hear Preterm-Cleveland, Inc. versus Gov. John Kasich on Sept. 26. Both cases challenge relatively recent restrictions placed on abortion providers.

Preterm is challenging the constitutionality of including abortion policy in a budget bill, saying the maneuver violates the Ohio Constitution’s single-subject rule.

The restrictions being challenged include: mandating abortion clinics to have written transfer agreements with local hospitals; barring public hospitals on providing transfer agreements; and requiring doctors to inform patients about a detectable heartbeat before performing an abortion.

Capital Care Network is challenging the Ohio Department of Health’s decision to revoke its license when the clinic failed to arrange a transfer agreement with a local hospital.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life and a member of the state Medical Board of Ohio, said the cases come down to whether abortion clinics have to follow health and safety regulations imposed on other outpatient surgical centers. Ohio Right to Life calls the Capital Care lawsuit “arguably the most significant abortion case in the history of Ohio.”

“If we lose, the abortion facilities are arguably free from any government oversight,” Gonidakis said.

Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said: “When clinics are forced to close, women must travel long distances and incur even greater out-of-pocket expenses to access care. Women of financial means will be able to go through those extra barriers to access abortion, but many others will not. Those women will be forced to continue pregnancies against their will, or to take matters into their own hands. Ohio is a medical destination state; women should not be denied access to needed health care, or be forced to flee our borders to access care.”

Capital Care Network, the only abortion clinic in the Toledo area, is at risk of closing because it doesn’t have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. The clinic lost its agreement with University of Toledo Hospital and arranged a new one with the University of Michigan 52 miles away. But the state health department determined that Ann Arbor isn’t local and revoked the clinic’s license.

Transfer agreements have been required by administrative rule since 1996 but in 2013, lawmakers embedded the mandate into state law, added the word “local,” and prohibited publicly owned hospitals from providing such agreements. A law adopted later specified 30-miles as the maximum distanced to qualify as local.

Related: Abortion case goes before Ohio Supreme Court

Stephen Carney, deputy solicitor for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said if Capital Care Network were to close, women would have to drive to Detroit or Ann Arbor for abortion services.

That prompted Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill to say: “Counsel, surely you didn’t just say that the undue burden is met if we tell women you can’t have an abortion in Ohio but you can certainly go to Michigan.”

States may regulate abortion as long as the restrictions don’t place an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion.

Related: Ohio key battleground in abortion fight

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Roe v Wade that women have the constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies. The ruling came in a case that challenged a Texas law that outlawed abortion except when the life of the mother was in danger. It also gave the state the power to regulate abortion to protect the health of the mother and that authority increased as a pregnancy progressed. Once a fetus is viable outside the womb, the state has an interest in protecting that potential life with restrictions on abortions.

NARAL ProChoice Ohio lists 18 items signed by Kasich that restricts access to abortion or reproductive care, including: defunding Planned Parenthood, requiring abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals within a 30-mile radius, the new ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation, a prohibition on public hospitals performing abortions or holding transfer agreements with clinics, stricter standards for juveniles seeking judicial bypass instead of parental consent to terminate their pregnancies, and requiring physicians to perform an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat 24 hours before performing an abortion.

Since these new restrictions have been in place, half of the clinics in Ohio have closed.

“If the Supreme Court of Ohio overturns the lower court rulings, it could result in Toledo losing its only abortion provider, and it could jeopardize access across Ohio,” Copeland said. “If hospitals in Dayton, Cincinnati, Akron, Columbus and Cleveland turn their backs on women the way hospitals in Toledo turned their back on Capital Care, clinics could be forced to close in those cities as well.”

The Ohio Supreme Court typically decides cases within six months of oral arguments.

While current abortion restrictions face legal challenges, state lawmakers are considering more:

House Bill 149: Penalties for receiving payment for aborted fetal tissue would be stiffer.

House Bill 214 & Senate Bill 164: Abortions would be prohibited based on the diagnosis that the fetus may have Down Syndrome.

House Bill 258: Abortions would be prohibited once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Senate Bill 28: Fetal remains from surgical abortions would have to be cremated or buried.

Senate Bill 145: Performing a dialation and evacuation abortion would be a felony offense.

What questions do you have about Issue 2?

Published: Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 12:07 PM
Updated: Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 12:07 PM


            Prescription bottle with pills
Prescription bottle with pills

You’ve probably seen commercials from both sides of Ohio’s prescription drug ballot issue. This campaign could be the most expensive in state history with millions spent on both sides already.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Making sense of Issue 2

We’re committed to helping voters understand Issue 2 before early voting begins in October and we’re taking your questions.

Any questions you have about this ballot issue, you can post them on our Ohio Politics Facebook page or send them to reporter Katie Wedell at kwedell@coxohio.com.

We’ll find the answers and publish them so you can be informed at the polls before early voting starts in October.