U.S. Senate passes Republican tax reform bill 

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 11:46 AM

Faced with impatient conservative voters demanding results, Senate Republicans approved a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code by slashing tax rates on corporations, small businesses and many individuals while scrapping dozens of long-time deductions.

RELATED: Senate passes sweeping tax overhaul by 51-49 vote

Brushing aside objections from Democrats that the bill provides a massive tax cut for the wealthy and discounting non-partisan reports that the measure will add staggering amounts of new federal debt, Senate Republicans passed the bill shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday by a narrow margin of 51-to-49. 

Unless the House agrees to the Senate bill, a conference committee of Senate and House negotiators will have to resolve the differences in the two bills before the first major revisions in the tax code since 1986 can be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. 

The White House issued a statement Saturday saying Trump “applauds” the Senate for passing the bill, adding “the senators who voted for these historic tax cuts did a great service to their constituents as they supported putting America first, growing the economy, and rebuilding our great country.” 

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was one of the architects of the bill, voted for the measure while Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, opposed it. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only GOP lawmaker to vote against the bill. 

RELATED: House GOP unveils plan to avert government shutdown

In a floor speech shortly after 8 p.m., Brown complained “we can find trillions for corporations, (but) this is all we can do for working families? What we must do is vote this bill down and start over.” 

Having failed earlier this year to scrap the 2010 health law known as Obamacare, congressional Republicans have been under intense pressure to demonstrate to their voters that they can govern and pass a major part of their agenda. 

GOP strategists warned Republican lawmakers they could lose the House and Senate next year without passing a tax bill. They feared that traditional Republican financial donors would scale back campaign dollars they funnel to GOP candidates. 

But by passing the bill, Republicans have gambled on the future fiscal health of the U.S. government. Trump has ruled out restraining the out-of-control growth of the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare, which are the main causes of the deficit. 

In essence, Republicans are hoping the tax bill will spark economic growth and not add trillions to the deficit. But if the Republicans are wrong, they will be starving the government of the money it needs to finance entitlement programs, along with national defense, education, criminal justice, roads, bridges and other transportation projects. 

“Notching a political win isn’t a good enough reason to throw common sense and legislative responsibility out the window,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. 

Before the vote Senate Democrats released statements by virtually every Senate Republicans over the past few years assailing massive deficits, quoting Portman as saying in a statement in 2014 “our country cannot afford to trillions of dollars to our national debt over the next decade.” 

In a floor speech Wednesday, Portman cited a study by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young claiming “if we had had the tax rate that we have in this proposal, a 20 percent tax rate on these businesses, if we’d had that in place since 2004, there would be 4,700 more U.S. companies today.” 

Portman said the reduced corporate tax rate “is going to mean more jobs and more investment coming right here to this country instead of going overseas. It’s also true that there will be more foreign investment here.” 

In this polarized climate, Senate Republicans made no effort to win the votes of Democrats, much like 2010 when Democrats had little interest in gaining the support of Republicans for passage of Obamacare. 

Like the House bill, the Senate GOP plan reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, although the Senate delays that reduction until 2019. 

The bill creates seven individual tax brackets compared to just four in the House bill. The Senate brackets range from a low of 10 percent to 38.5 percent for the wealthiest taxpayers. The other five brackets would be 12 percent, 22.5 percent, 25 percent, 32.5 percent and 35 percent. 

The Senate bill retains current deductions for home mortgage interest, 401 K retirement contributions, charitable contributions and medical expenses. Both the Senate and House measures end the personal exemption, which allows taxpayers to take a $4,050 exemption for every family member. 

The standard deduction, which is the amount people who don't itemize can deduct from their income, would nearly double to $24,000 a year for married taxpayers and $12,000 for those who are single filers. Currently, the standard deduction is $12,700 for married couples filing jointly and $6,350 for single taxpayers. 

The increase in the standard deduction is designed to simplify the code. If Americans choose the new higher standard deduction, they could not take deductions such as home mortgage interest. But they would be able to file their taxes on a single card. 

Both the House and Senate version prohibit taxpayers from deducting state and local income taxes from their returns. But both versions allow Americans to deduct as much as $10,000 a year in real estate taxes. 

The non-partisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation calculates the Senate bill would add $1 trillion to the nation's publicly held debt during the next decade. The publicly held debt is money the government owes to private and public investors who buy treasury bonds or other government notes. 

That means unless lawmakers in the future restrain federal spending or increase taxes, the federal government’s debt compared as a ratio of gross domestic product is likely to approach 100 percent, the type of debt the country has not seen since the end of World War II. 

“There are no credible estimates to show that this bill comes close to paying for itself,” said Michael Peterson, president and chief executive officer of the Peterson Foundation, a Washington non-profit which favors lower deficits. “It is unfortunate that fiscal concerns have been cast aside in favor of passing the cost on to future generations.” 

The measure also kills the financial penalty imposed on Americans who do not buy individual health insurance policies through the market established by Obamacare.

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Island MetroPark near-drowning witness voices safety concerns

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 11:11 PM

Island MetroPark

Briana Greenwood, witness to a near-drowning of a 2-year-old boy at Island MetroPark last Saturday, is advocating for changes due to safety concerns about the park's water access.

Park employees notified Greenwood in an email that the little boy was doing fine, but she is still concerned. 

Greenwood told park officials in her letter how the boy wandered away from his parents and wound up in the river. 

RELATED: Near-drowning scare at Island MetroPark

The child's father pulled him out, and coughed up water after CPR was performed. 

Signs at the park say adult supervision is required, but Greenwood advised officials there is no barrier to keep children out of the water and suggested a "strong, sensible fence" be put up. 

Mark Hess, Chief of Public Safety for Five Rivers MetroParks responded to Greenwood saying, "We will take your ideas and others into consideration as we evaluate this incident and look for ways to prevent such incidents in the future."

Greenwood frequents the park about once a week with her son, and is concerned an incident like this could happen again if a barrier is not put in. 

"This simple precaution could save many lives of the thousands of children and families that enjoy the Metroparks," wrote Greenwood. 

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Amber Alert issued for 3 Athens County children reportedly taken by their father

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 8:47 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 11:19 PM

Police believe 3 children were abducted by their father in Athens.

UPDATE @ 9:49 p.m.: An Amber Alert has been issued for three children from Athens, Ohio, authorities believe have been taken today by their father following a domestic dispute. 

According to Athens police, the incident took place at a home in the 100 block of East State Street, where the children live.

These children are the focus of an Amber Alert issued Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (Courtesy/Ohio State Highway Patrol)

If you see the group, you are asked to approach with caution because the suspect has a history of violence. 

They may be traveling in a gray Dodge Journey, Ohio license plate GJG 8892. 

The children are: 

* Lilly Dudas, 4 years old.  She is 3 foot 6, 44 pounds, is a blonde and has brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue top and purple skirt with blue pants 

* Olive Perin, 2 years old. She is 2 foot, 24 pounds, has brown hair and eyes.

* Henry Perin, 6 months and 1 pounds, is blond and has blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a onesie with a hoodie. The color is not known.

They are believed to have been taken by Neil Perin, 34. He is described as 6 foot 1, about 190 pounds. He has black hair and hazel eyes, according to authorities. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Man apparently strangled in jail cell

If you have information about Perin or the children, or believe you have seen them, you are asked to contact the Athens Police Department, 740-592-3313. 

You may also call 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST), 1-877-AMBER-OH (1-877-262-3764) or 9-1-1 to be transferred directly to the investigating agency or to hear the alert information.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour number, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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House fire displaces 3 residents; Cause is under investigation, battalion chief says

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 10:31 PM

FROM SCENE: House fire in Riverside displaces 3 residents

A house fire in the 2200 block of Hazelton Avenue that displaced three residents is under investigation, Riverside Battalion Chief Jim Hart said. 

Crews were dispatched just before 9 p.m. on a report of a dwelling fire in a single-story, single-family residence with fire showing on one side. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Smoking in bed blamed in fire

Hart said the preliminary investigation traced the origin of the fire to the kitchen area. 

He estimated damage to the structure and contents at $35,000. 

There were no injuries. 

The three residents will have to stay elsewhere for now, the battalion chief said. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Dayton woman ID’d as ‘aggressive’ driver killed in Riverside head-on collision

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 5:35 AM

Several ambulances and the coroner responded to a multi-vehicle accident on Woodman Avenue on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Update@1:12 p.m.:

No violations for Adams show up in recent Dayton police or municipal court records or any Montgomery County court files, according to a background check.

That check found Adams had multiple violations in Miamisburg in 1996, including, a stop sign violation, improper lane usage, DWI of .147 andspeeding (40 in 25 zone) and driving under suspension which was amended to no operator’s license.

This news organization found no recent violations for her.

First report:

A 46-year-old woman killed in a head-on collision in Riverside Tuesday afternoon has been identified.

Alpha Adams, of Dayton, has been identified as the driver killed in the crash on southbound Harshman Road, according to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. 

An autopsy on the Woodman Park Drive resident is scheduled for today.

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Arrest made in drug case

Witnesses said she was driving erratically, “being aggressive and making hand gestures” just before she was involved in a head-on collision on southbound Harshman Road near Airway Road and Woodman Drive at about 3:45 p.m., Riverside police Sgt. Dave Crigler said.

Witnesses said the woman appeared to be driving erratically on Harshman, headed toward Airway, when she sideswiped a school bus, then hit a second vehicle as she continued on.

She drove left of center as she approached the intersection at Airway Road, striking another vehicle head-on, the sergeant said.

Three other people were injured in the accident that involved as many as eight vehicles, he said, and they have been taken to different hospitals.

One person was killed and three people were injured in a multiple-vehicle accident Tuesday on southbound Harshman Road, near Airway Road, in Riverside. (Jim Noelker/Staff)

There were no children on the school bus, Crigler said.

“We don’t exactly know what the hand gestures were,” the sergeant said.

Zeke Bowling, whose girlfriend was driving one of the vehicles struck in the incident, said she was taken to a hospital and his daughter and son were also in the girlfriend’s vehicle.

Bowling characterized the fatality was the result of a road rage incident.

Crigler said he could not confirm whether the fatality was the result of road rage.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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