Ohio must allow in-person voting 3 days before Election Day, court rules

Published: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 9:30 PM
Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 9:30 PM

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote or to update your voter registration for the Nov. 6. Local board of elections offices and the Ohio Secretary of State will be open until 9 p.m. that day to accept new and updated registrations. Addresses can be updated online at www.MyOhioVote.com.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday reinstated in-person early voting in Ohio on the three days before the Nov. 6 General Election, handing the Obama campaign, Democrats and voting rights advocates what they see as a major victory. Local county elections boards will decide what office hours to add.

The Sixth Circuit court rules that a 2011 Ohio law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. That law allowed in-person early voting on the three days prior to the election for military and overseas voters only.

“As a result of this decision, every voters, including military, veterans and overseas voters alongside all Ohioans, will have the same opportunity to vote early through the weekend and Monday before the election,” said Bob Bauer, general counsel for the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

In July the Obama campaign and state and national Democratic parties sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to reinstate the in-person voting rules that had been in place since 2005 in response to long lines on Election Day. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“My office is reviewing today’s decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward,” Husted said in a news release issued Friday. “On Monday we will make a determination on how to proceed legally and provide administrative guidance to Ohio’s boards of elections.”

Rob Scott, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, said he supports Husted’s efforts to get uniformity across the state in voting hours.

“We still fully support that and support it going forward,” Scott said.

Husted’s directive that all counties have the same hours for early voting led to his firing in August of former Montgomery County Board of Elections members Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr.

Lieberman and Ritchie’s lawsuit over the firing is pending before U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice and could be impacted by Friday’s appeals court ruling because it raises similar constitutional issues, said Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Harsman.

“I do think it doesn’t hurt our case in any way,” Lieberman said. “It is an exciting ruling and I think it is great for our community.”

The court granted local county boards of election discretion to determine what, if any, early voting hours they will have on the three days prior to the election — which is contrary to Husted’s directive that voting hours be uniform statewide.

“It’s a big victory and it certainly puts the matter back in the laps of the board of elections,” said Ellis Jacobs, of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, which is a member of the Ohio Fair Elections Network.

“All the members of boards should vote to extend voting hours for all voters on those last three days,” Jacobs said. “(The network) is calling on Husted not to appeal it and to announce that if called on to break any tiebreaker he will vote on expanding hours to all voters, military and non-military alike.”

Evidence showed that an estimated 105,000 Ohio voters cast ballots in person on the last three days before the presidential election in 2008, according to the court.

The court ruling said, “Plaintiffs introduced extensive evidence that a significant number of Ohio voters will in fact be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting.”

“While we readily acknowledge the need to provide military voters more time to vote, we see no corresponding justification for giving others less time,” the court ruled.

The court ruled that the state did not prove the extra hours would be overly burdensome for boards.

It’s not clear what local boards will do as local officials said they will need to see what their board members decide. Harsman said he will recommend that the hours be expanded to that weekend to reduce long lines on Election Day.

“I think this is a good thing for the citizens of Montgomery County based on the popularity,” Harsman said.

Steve Quillen, director of the Miami County board said his employees are too busy getting ready for Election Day and he will recommend against weekend hours. He said voters have plenty of opportunities to vote in person or by mail, along with casting ballots on Election Day.

“They have 35 days to vote. It’s not like rocket science,” Quillen said.

Warren County board director Kim Antrican said she does not believe having voting on the three days prior to the Nov. 6 election will be a problem for her staff. “It’s just one more thing we have to do,” she said.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Matthew Tlachac said the issue will likely be discussed at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the board of elections meeting and Butler County’s Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro said the board also will likely decide what to do next week.

Bob Hamilton, chairman of the Champaign County Democratic Party, said the board will likely vote on the issue during its meeting Oct. 18. The additional voting days might present an extra challenge due to the additional work and hectic schedule, but Hamilton said increasing access to the polls is usually a good idea.

“My thought is we want to be open as much as possible for the public if the rest of the board agrees to that,” he said.

Staff writers Tiffany Y. Latta, Matt Sanctis and Ed Richter contributed to this story.

Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:38 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:32 PM


            Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system
Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Ohio is rolling out the next generation of a powerful prescription drug monitoring system to help fight the opiate addiction crisis, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced.

Started in 2006, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System tracks controlled substances prescribed by doctors, provided by pharmacies and taken by patients. The upgraded version will calculate a patient’s risk for addiction or overdose, provide red flag alerts on potential safety issues, offer real time messaging between health care providers, and include a search tool for drug treatment programs.

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Health care providers will be able to access the new, upgraded OARRS system via electronic medical records and the OARRS website starting Nov. 20.

The system is designed to track prescriptions of controlled substances, such as painkillers, and prevent the practices of over-prescribing and “doctor shopping” — where addicts fill opioid prescriptions from several doctors at multiple pharmacies.

In 2006, the top doctor shopper in Ohio received prescriptions from 105 different doctors and filled those at 50 different pharmacies. In 2016, the top doctor shopper received prescriptions from 45 different doctors and filled those at 19 different pharmacies. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy agents investigate such patterns.

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Likewise, doctors and pharmacies are required to check OARRS before writing or filling certain prescriptions. Physicians and dentists who write controlled substance prescriptions without checking the system are contacted by the Board of Pharmacy.

Beginning at the end of December, doctors will be required to add diagnosis information to OARRS so regulators have a better idea about why patients are being prescribed powerful pain killers.

Ohio congressman leaving office

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 10:23 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 10:23 AM

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, attends a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Caucus in the Capitol, June 10, 2014. Getty Images
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, attends a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Caucus in the Capitol, June 10, 2014. Getty Images

Congressman Rep. Pat Tiberi announced Thursday that he will be leaving Congress by the end of next January, capping 16 years representing his central Ohio congressional district.

In a statement released at 10 a.m., Tiberi said he would not be seeking re-election. Instead, he’ll serve as president of the Ohio Business Roundtable.

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“It has been the most remarkable honor of my life to serve the people of the 12th District,” he said. “As the son of Italian immigrants, I am forever grateful for the opportunity my parents gave me by coming to America and raising our family in Ohio. It was because of their pursuit of the American Dream that made it possible for me to serve 17 years in the halls of Congress representing my home. This truly is the greatest country in the world.”

He said his new job would allow him “to continue to work on public policy issues impacting Ohioans while also spending more time with my family.” Tiberi and his wife Denice have four daughters.

While the timing of his announcement is unclear, Tiberi, a Genoa Township Republican, plans to leave by the end of next January.

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Tiberi will replace Richard Stoff, the founder and current president of the Ohio Business Roundtable, who announced in July that he was retiring at the end of this year. Stoff’s compensation totaled $692,038 in 2015, according to the group’s IRS filings.

Sources close to Tiberi said a variety of factors played into his exit. His mother died earlier this year and his father is in ill health. House Speaker Paul Ryan last year bypassed Tiberi to select Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, as the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, despite the fact that Tiberi had support from the majority of his colleagues on the Republican Steering Committee.

Another loss: the retirement of House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. The two were close political allies, with Tiberi benefiting politically from his close friendship with the West Chester Republican.

And a dysfunctional political environment in Washington made him “miserable” said a source close to Tiberi.

The veteran congressman, who represents Ohio’s 12th congressional district, had considered running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. He ended that speculation in May, announcing that he didn’t want a Senate campaign to take time away from working on tax reform from his position as a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Tiberi had more than $6.6 million in campaign funds at the beginning of the month.

Tiberi, 54, was elected to the House in 2000, replacing John Kasich, who had once hired him as an aide in Kasich’s congressional office in Columbus. Tiberi, who grew up in Columbus, also served four terms in the Ohio House in the 1990s.

He is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on health and is currently chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, a House-Senate committee that examines economic issues. And earlier this year, he became the chairman of the House “Main Street Caucus,” a group of moderate Republicans who billed themselves as the “governing” wing of the Republican Party.

Only two other members of the 16-member Ohio delegation have served longer: Rep. Marcy Kaptur was elected in 1983 and Rep. Steve Chabot in 1995, save for a two-year period when Chabot’s seat was held by a Democrat.

While it’s unclear when Tiberi would vacate his House seat, sources told the Dispatch that it might not be until the end of this year.

Gov. John Kasich, whose term expires in January 2019, is not interested in running for his old House seat, said Chris Schrimpf, his political spokesman.

Tiberi, who won his seat in 2016 with nearly 67 percent of the vote, faces Democrat Ed Albertson and Republican Brandon Grisez if he runs next year.

Tiberi’s decision to leave puts him in a growing club of Republicans who are opting to leave Congress: Reps. Dave Reichert of Washington, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Dave Trott of Michigan and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania have announced their plans to leave in recent days, as has Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

If Tiberi resigns before the end of his term, special elections, including a primary, would be staged to fill his seat. When Speaker John Boehner of Ohio resigned from his seat in late 2015, it took four and one-half months to stage the March 15, 2016 primary and nearly another three months for the June 7, 2016 election won by Republican Warren Davidson.

The reliably Republican 12th District takes in northern Franklin County suburbs and all of Delaware, Morrow and Licking counties. It includes parts of Marion, Muskingum and Richland counties.

Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.

What Ohio lawmakers are saying about the Iran nuclear deal

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 5:47 PM
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 9:04 AM

President Trump Addresses Iran Nuclear Deal

Ohio lawmakers split down party lines Thursday not only on whether President Donald Trump should have refused to certify the Iran nuclear agreement but whether the Obama administration should have backed the deal in the first place.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, acknowledged that the pact is not “perfect,” but said it “remains our best chance for lasting peace and nuclear nonproliferation in Iran.” He called Trump’s decision to not certify the agreement “a grave mistake.”

“There is no doubt that this deal is in the best interests of the United States and helps to neutralize a potential nuclear threat to the world,” he said.

He called Trump’s announcement “yet another example of the egregious mismanagement of our foreign policy (that) does nothing to reassure our allies that the United States is leading with a steady hand.”

The decision does not end the agreement outright, but instead sends it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Ryan called for Congress “to do the right thing” to avoid an international crisis.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, meanwhile, worried that while Trump’s decision doesn’t end the agreement, it could lead to its unraveling. He said failure to adhere to the Iran deal might make allies and North Korea question whether the United States will stand by its commitments.

“There is no question we must crack down on Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, including its support for terrorism — which is exactly why Congress enacted tough new sanctions this summer,” he said. “The president should use those sanctions, instead of leading us down a path toward unraveling the Iran nuclear agreement, which his own defense secretary has said would not be in our national interest.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the multi-nation agreement under Obama “has empowered Iran to increase its destabilizing activities throughout the region, while at best pausing — not dismantling — Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

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He said he would like the U.S. to implement a comprehensive regional strategy to combat Iran’s influence “and hold it accountable for both its nuclear program and its destabilizing non-nuclear activities, including its support for sectarian militias and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, human rights violations, and increasing involvement in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.”

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, one of four GOP candidates for governor, tweeted, “Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal shipped billions to the world’s #1 state sponsor of terrorism & green lighted their nuclear weapons program. It threatens both America’s security & Israel’s existence. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for taking a critical step towards ending it.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, said Trump’s decision should force Congress to develop a strategy “with stricter enforcement to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

“The Iranian regime has consistently remained hostile to Israel, violated multiple UN resolutions to build their ballistic missile program, and has posed a wide range of threats to the region and our own national security,” he said.

Rep. Bill Johnson, R–Marietta, said the U.S. should never have agreed to the deal.

“It only temporarily restricts Iran’s nuclear program, and does little to deter Tehran from continuing its thirst for nuclear weapons and technology — all while filling the regime’s coffers,” he said. “Not only has Iran repeatedly displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior while continuing to recruit and fund terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, but the Iranian regime’s continued nuclear testing on military sites also undermines the standards set by the international community to promote security and regional stability.”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R–Upper Arlington, said he, too, was never comfortable with the Iran deal.

“From the very beginning, I had concerns about the Iran Deal because it is based on the failed North Korea Deal and did not include restrictions on the development of technology used to weaponize nuclear energy, such as triggers, fuses, and ballistic missiles,” he said. “I believe this decision will allow a new agreement to be negotiated which will include language to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the deal had “an insufficient inspection regime, insufficiently addresses long range ICBM missile development, and is limited to 10 years, giving the appearance of permission to develop nuclear weapons during the 11th year.”

However, he said, he believes that Iran is “materially complying with the provisions that require Iran abandon pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons.”

“After the President’s statements today, the international community and Congress must provide sufficient leverage for amending the agreement in ways that could ensure Iran never obtains nuclear weapons,” he said.

Kasich criticizes President Trump actions on health care as ‘outrageous’

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM

Gov. John Kasich
Ron Schwane
Gov. John Kasich(Ron Schwane)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said it is “outrageous” President Donald Trump and lawmakers from both parties have not forged a compromise aimed at both stabilizing the 2010 health law and continuing federal dollars to help middle-income Americans afford their federally subsidized policies.

 

During an appearance Sunday on NBC’ Meet the Press Kasich assailed Trump’s decision last week to end those federal payments, saying the move will “impose higher costs on” on families who bought individual insurance policies made available through the law which is known as Obamacare.

“Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray . . . were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It's a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it's just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper outlined a plan last month aimed at stabilizing the exchanges and preventing the federally subsidized individual market from collapse.

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

“That's how I knew the country was in trouble,” Kasich joked.

Kasich’s comments on Obamacare represent a shift from his presidential campaign rhetoric. As governor, he accepted hundreds of millions of dollars made available through Obamacare to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.

But he refused to establish a state marketplace established by Obamacare where middle-income people could buy federally subsidized individual policies. Instead, people in Ohio had to buy their policies through a marketplace – known as an exchange – established by the federal government.

During a testy exchange with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during a Republican presidential debate last year in South Carolina, Kasich defended his decision to expand Medicaid coverage, but declared he “did not set up an exchange. And (Bush) knows that I’m not for Obamacare, never have been.”

Obamacare cut the number of Americans without health insurance or government-provided coverage by 40 percent. The law expanded Medicaid and provided federal subsidies to allow middle-income people could buy individual plans through exchanges established by the states or federal government.

A family of four earning as much as $98,000 a year could use federal tax credits to buy any of those plans.

For families of four earning up to $61,000 a year, there was an additional benefit. If they bought a silver plan, the federal government offered cost-sharing subsidies to reduce deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses.

Congressional Republicans never agreed to spend money for the cost-sharing subsidies and Trump last week said they would be ended later this year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-research organization in Washington, calculated that 7.1 million of the 12.2 million people who bought policies through the exchanges receive cost - sharing payments, concluding the payments reduced out-of-pocket expenses for the typical family by roughly $5,500 a year.

Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

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Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”