Lawmakers pushing for Columbus to get national veterans museum

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 12:13 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 12:13 PM

            Lawmakers pushing for Columbus to get national veterans museum
Lawmakers pushing for Columbus to get national veterans museum

To hear Reps. Joyce Beatty and Steve Stivers tell it, Columbus is an ideal place to host the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

The state, they said hosts the 6th largest veterans population in the U.S. If that’s not enough, it’s within an eight–hour car ride of almost half of the nation’s veterans.

Speaking before a House panel Wednesday, Stivers and Beatty argued that a memorial to the nation’s veterans was long overdue — and that Columbus was all too happy to change that. The site, argued Stivers, “will serve as a civic landmark to honor, inspire and educate all Americans about the service and sacrifice of more than 22 million veterans in this country.”

Under construction and scheduled to open next summer, the site started as a replacement for Columbus’ previous veterans memorial and then blossomed into something far more sweeping and ambitious, said Stivers. Now, he, Beatty and Rep. Pat Tiberi, R–Genoa Township are pushing a bill that would designate it a national museum.

It wouldn’t be the state’s only museum honoring the armed services or those who have served: Roughly an hour’s drive away, Dayton hosts the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

During a hearing on the bill Wednesday, Matthew Sullivan, deputy undersecretary for finance and planning and CFO for the National Cemetery Administration for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the department neither supported nor opposed locating the museum in Columbus. “VA respectfully expresses no view on the proposed bill, which does not apply to VA or to VA’s core mission,” he testified.

But Alex Zhang, assistant director of National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation for the American Legion, said his organization backs the bill. He said the bill would “represent American veterans with profound respect, connecting them with the civilian population, possibly inspiring others to serve and most importantly, educating youth about what these fine men and women have done for America.”

The organization, he said, “wholeheartedly supports” the “beautiful, thoughtful” memorial’s designation, he said.

Veterans of Foreign Wars also backed the legislation, with John Towles, deputy director of national legislative service for the organization, telling the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs “our country currently lacks a museum specifically dedicated to honoring and preserving the collective sacrifices made by this nation’s veterans.”

“This museum would serve to fill that gap,” he said.

Groundbreaking for the 50,000 square foot museum and memorial began in 2015, and more than $75 million was raised for design and construction. It’s located at 300 West Broad St. in Columbus, site of the former Franklin County Veterans Memorial.

The entire Ohio congressional delegation is cosponsoring the bill, and Stivers said he hopes to tuck it into a larger legislative package in the months ahead. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, and Rob Portman, R–Ohio, are working on a similar measure in the Senate.

Beatty said the museum was in part the brainchild of former Ohio Sen. John Glenn, who died last year.

“If he were here today, he would highlight this museum and memorial,” she said. “He would talk about the 300 foot reflecting pool. He would talk about the memorial wall. He would talk about the sanctuary where veterans families and others could go.

“It’s a tremendous idea,” she told the panel. “And we ask for your support.”

Ohio AG offers consumer tips ahead of Black Friday shopping

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:50 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:50 PM


Attorney General Mike DeWine is offering Ohio consumers some tips ahead of the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

The Republican has several pointers for shoppers.

He says sellers must clearly inform customers of “no return” policies before a purchase is completed.

The attorney general says ads for holiday sales should clearly disclose important exclusions or limitations, such as limited quantities, restricted sale hours and “no rain checks.”

He also says gift cards that can be redeemed more broadly may depreciate in value quicker than those tied to a single store.

And DeWine advises that paying with a credit card usually offers greater protection, such as limits on your responsibility for unauthorized charges and the ability to dispute charges.

State to target high-crash Ohio roads with 70 mph limits

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:41 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:41 PM

            Dan Knoop, of the Ohio Department of Transportation, changes the speed limit signs along Interstate 70 in Clark County to 70 miles per hour Monday, July 1, 2013. Interstate 70 through Clark County is one of the areas in the state that has increased the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph effective July 1. Bill Lackey/Staff
Dan Knoop, of the Ohio Department of Transportation, changes the speed limit signs along Interstate 70 in Clark County to 70 miles per hour Monday, July 1, 2013. Interstate 70 through Clark County is one of the areas in the state that has increased the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph effective July 1. Bill Lackey/Staff

The state will target high-crash Ohio roads that have 70 mph limits following a report that found a sharp increase in accidents after Ohio raised the limit from 65 mph.

The analysis of those efforts could lead to a temporary reduction of the limit back to 65 mph in selected areas, according to the State Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation.

A patrol report released last week found a 24 percent increase in crashes on 70 mph roads, including 22 percent more fatal and injury crashes following the change to the higher speed limit in 2013.

The state will use overtime to increase the number of troopers working in three high-crash areas and will launch a $100,000 ad campaign urging drivers to slow down.

“Stop Speeding Before It Stops You” and “Obey The Sign Or Pay The Fine” are among the messages the campaign will promote, according to the state public safety and transportation departments.

Troopers will focus on stretches of I-70 in Licking County east of Columbus, I-71 in Ashland County in northern Ohio and U.S. 33 in Union County northwest of Columbus.

Officers will watch for aggressive driving, including following too closely and improper passing; speeding; safety belt violations; distracted driving; and driving while impaired.

“Roadway safety is a shared responsibility,” said patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers.

If those efforts don’t reduce accidents, the patrol may seek permission from Republican Gov. John Kasich for a temporary reduction to 65 mph in those areas.

At some point, the patrol may also test a reduction to 65 mph in a fourth area.

The Ohio Insurance Institute, which opposed the increase to 70 mph, welcomed the patrol’s proposals.

“There is an obvious correlation between the rise of Ohio crashes and the 70 mph speed limit increase,” said institute president Dean Fadel.

Last year in Wisconsin, a report found that fatalities, injuries and accidents were up since the state raised the speed limit to 70 mph on most interstate highways in 2015.

“When speed limits go up, crashes and deaths on those roads increase, and when speed limits are reduced, crashes and deaths decrease,” said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ohio insurance agent Tony Schroeder questions the impact of the 5 mph increase on crashes, and says he considers distractions from electronic devices “a far more significant threat.” He says he drives 5-7 mph on either side of posted limits, but usually above.

Schroeder, 52, who lives in rural Putnam County, says how fast you go depends on where you live.

“The vast land area of Ohio is very rural — you may encounter a handful of vehicles when you’re making a half-hour drive,” he said. “I think the higher limit makes a lot of sense, and in almost every circumstance.”

Ohio lawmaker wants to limit child marriage

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 7:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:39 PM

            Ohio lawmaker wants to limit child marriage
Ohio lawmaker wants to limit child marriage

Efforts to reform Ohio’s child marriage laws, which currently allow children of any age to marry if they obtain parental and judicial consent, could get tangled up in politics over gay marriage, lawmakers say.

A Dayton Daily News investigation detailed more than 4,400 girls under 18 married in Ohio over the past 15 years, including 59 girls who were 15 or younger. State law sets the marriage age without judicial consent at 16 for girls and 18 for males.

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, plans to introduce a bill in early December to address Ohio’s laws that allow children of any age to marry as long as they have parental and judicial consent.

Rezabek wants to steer clear of efforts to remove a provision in state law that prohibits same-sex marriage. He said he believes legislation solely focused on underage marriage has a better chance of passing.

Related: At 14, Ohio woman married 48-year-old man

Related: Should children be allowed to marry? In Ohio, thousands do

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, introduced Senate Bill 198 that would raise the marriage age to 18 for both the bride and groom, allow marriage for 16 and 17-year-olds who obtain judicial and parental consent, and ban marriage for anyone under 16.

Yuko’s bill also removes the same-sex marriage ban language. The bill, introduced in September, has yet to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Related: Newspaper series leads to Ohio Senate bill on child marriage

Related: Ohio lawmakers say they’ll consider changes to Ohio child marriage laws

Grant Stancliff, spokesman for EqualityOhio, said the gay rights group would eventually like the anti-same-sex marriage language wiped out at some point. “It’d be nice to have that language removed but it’s not something we’re putting a lot of effort behind because de facto, LGBTQ people are getting married in Ohio,” he said.

A 5-4 landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015 invalidated a ban against same-sex marriage approved by Ohio voters in 2004 and made gay marriage legal nationwide.

Related: U.S. Supreme Court rules to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide

National groups that advocate for an ending underage marriage say Ohio needs to outlaw any marriage before age 18. Jeanne Smoot, senior counsel for Tahirih Justice Center, said half-measures won’t meaningfully change the status quo.

“Just setting an age floor of 16, for example, will not protect the majority of minors who are married at 16 and 17, and keeping in place a bare-bones judicial approval process will continue to make it easy for the abuse and exploitation of children to slip by undetected,” she said.

By the numbers

248,000: Number of teens 17 or younger married in America between 2000 and 2010.

4,443: Number of girls 17 or younger who were married in Ohio between 2000 and 2015.

301: Number of boys 17 or younger married during that time span.

80: Percentage of marriages involving young teens that end in divorce, according to a national study.

Sources: Ohio Department of Health, Unchained at Last

Supreme Court to hear arguments on Ohio voter purge

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

By Jack Torry { Washington Bureau

The U.S. Supreme Court has re-scheduled oral arguments on Jan. 10 on whether Ohio officials violated federal law when they removed tens of thousands of people from the voting rolls simply because they had not cast ballots in recent elections.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati in 2016 struck down Ohio’s purge of the voter rolls. The justices originally were scheduled to hear oral arguments earlier this month, but delayed them because one of the attorneys was on medical leave.

The justices will have to determine whether Ohio devised a system aimed at circumventing federal law by striking voters — many of them low-income — from the rolls simply because they hadn’t voted.

But the American Civil Liberties Union has argued that “every eligible voter has the constitutional right not to cast a vote — and the mere exercise of that right should not be the basis for removal from the voter rolls.”