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Ohio senators further process to name Dayton federal building for Rice

Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 4:06 PM


            U.S. District Court Judge Walter H. Rice
U.S. District Court Judge Walter H. Rice

Ohio’s United States senators on Tuesday introduced legislation to rename Dayton’s federal building and courthouse for U.S. District Court Judge Walter H. Rice.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put forth a companion version of a House of Representatives bill brought by U.S. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH-10).

PREVIOUSLY: Judge Rice ‘incredibly honored’ federal building will be named for him

“Judge Rice has spent his career in service to Montgomery County, and it is fitting that the Dayton courthouse, where he has devoted nearly four decades of his life, bears his name,” Brown said in a joint press release from the senators’ offices. “I join Sen. Portman and Rep. Turner in gratitude for Judge Rice’s service to the Dayton community as we work together to honor his legacy.”

President Carter appointed Judge Rice to the district court bench in 1980. Judge Rice served as Chief Judge of the court from 1996 until 2003. Before that, he was an assistant county prosecutor, a municipal court judge and a common pleas court judge.

RELATED: Dayton federal building to be named for Judge Rice

“For more than four decades, Judge Rice has been a tireless advocate for justice, the people of Dayton, and the state of Ohio,” Portman said. “This is a fitting tribute to his life’s work, and I join Senator Brown and Rep. Turner in thanking him for his service.”

“Judge Rice has dedicated his entire career to serving justice in Dayton honorably,” Turner said. “Unanimously, our community panel recommended that the federal building be named after Judge Rice. I appreciate Senators Brown and Portman introducing companion legislation to my bill in the House to name this building after Judge Rice.”

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In December, Rice told this news organization he plans to continue working.

“This does not mean retirement, and I hope to remain doing what I’m doing for many years,” Rice said. “But anytime that someplace where you’ve worked for 38 years might bear your name is a flattering deal beyond any ability to describe.”

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

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Does Ohio need a ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun bill? Some lawmakers think so

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:14 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 4:22 PM

What would proposed ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun bill in Ohio do? KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
What would proposed ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun bill in Ohio do? KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-gun rights lawmakers moved last week toward making Ohio a “stand your ground” state.

House Bill 228 passed out of a House committee, even though Gov. John Kasich has threatened to veto the measure. Still, the bill has substantial support from House members with 38 co-sponsors.

If and when it goes to the House floor, it will mark the first time a stand your ground measure gets a full vote in the Ohio General Assembly.

RELATED: Ohio step closer to having ‘Stand your ground’ gun law

The bill would remove the legal “duty to retreat” when faced with threats or perceived threats in public places. In self-defense cases, the burden of proof would shift to prosecutors instead of defendants — a provision opposed by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and supported by the Ohio Public Defender.

If it becomes law, it would:

* No longer require places like schools, airports, public buildings to post gun-free zone signs.

* Make the prosecution in court cases responsible for the burden of proof in self-defense cases.

* Remove the requirement for someone to try leave a threatening situation before using lethal force in self defense.

The bill has backing from pro-gun rights groups such as Ohio Gun Owners and Buckeye Firearms Association but it is opposed by the ACLU of Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio, Moms Demand Action, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and March for Our Lives.

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Thousands of military civilian jobs in Ohio at risk

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:51 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:51 PM


            If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall
If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall

The U.S. House passed a defense spending bill Thursday that could impact nearly 6,000 civilian defense jobs in Columbus and 2,600 in Cleveland.

The impact of the proposal on the Dayton region and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, meanwhile, would be negligible.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the House GOP plan “would not have a direct personnel impact as none of the agencies impacted are headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Michael Gessel of the Dayton Development Coalition said roughly 400 to 500 people in the Dayton region work in the Defense bureaucracy, but only a small subset of that number could be studied if the proposal becomes law.

“In real numbers, we don’t know the effect. The people who have anything connected to do with the jobs changed would be quite small or none,” he said.

The cuts — pushed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas — are aimed at saving some $25 billion, which could then be plowed back into other military spending.

The reductions were contained in an amendment to an overall defense bill that passed 351–66. Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Jefferson Township Democrat, was the lone Ohio lawmaker opposing the bill. Beatty said she voted no specifically because of the proposed cuts, which “would not benefit our troops and would put thousands of central Ohio jobs at risk of being eliminated or moved elsewhere.”

While the initial proposal by Thornberry named specific agencies to cut, the final version was more vague, calling instead for the Defense Department to study cuts and target them at specific Defense bureaucratic tasks. Still, the potential cuts to central Ohio defense jobs so alarmed the region’s business community that they flew to Washington last month to personally lobby the Ohio delegation to fight the provision.

The Senate version of the bill is not expected to include the cuts, said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. The White House opposes the amendment, which “would create contradictory and conflicting authorities and relationships” within the Department of Defense.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many of the workers whose jobs would be targeted, condemned the proposal as “foolish and shortsighted.” And Brown wrote a letter to Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the panel’s ranking Democrat, warning that the proposed cuts “will negatively impact our ability to complete core national security missions.”

“This arbitrary cut is wrong for our national security and wrong for Ohio and I’ll keep fighting to make sure our jobs are protected in the final bill,” Brown said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio, meanwhile, vowed to fight to keep the cuts out of the final version of the bill.

“Our defense agency offices in Columbus and Cleveland play very important roles supporting our men and women in uniform, including making sure they get paid, have the repair parts they need for their equipment, and have the information technology systems needed for mission success,” he said. “These aren’t functions we can get rid of.”

If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall as well as 2,600 jobs at a similar agency in Cleveland.

The Senate was scheduled to consider changed to its version of the bill on Thursday, but it does so in private session.

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Senate panel votes to name federal courthouse in Dayton for Judge Rice

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:49 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:49 PM

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice, 78, who moved to Dayton in 1962 and has worked to improve race relations for decades. (GOKAVI)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed a bill to name Dayton’s federal courthouse after Judge Walter H. Rice.

RELATED: Dayton federal building to be named after Judge Rice

The move was the first official action on the designation, and now goes to the full Senate.

The building at 200 W. Second Street has not had a name since it opened.

Rice was appointed to the federal bench in June 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. He served as chief judge of the court from Oct. 13, 1996, to Oct. 12, 2003.

A panel convened by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chose to name the building after Rice.

Rep. Mike Turner talks about the Dayton federal building being renamed in honor of Judge Walter Rice.

“The courthouse has served the federal government and the Miami Valley for over 40 years and providing it with a formal designation is long past due,” Turner said last year.

The panel was chaired by Dayton attorney Merle F. Wilberding and included Amanda Wright Lane, a great-grand-niece of the Wright Brothers, Dayton History Chief Executive Brady Kress and eight other members.

Staff Writer Thomas Gnau contributed to this report.

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New, updated voting machines could be coming for Ohio voters

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:40 AM
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:42 AM


            An electronic touch screen voting machine is set up for testing at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The paper spool will be enclosed at the polls. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF
An electronic touch screen voting machine is set up for testing at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The paper spool will be enclosed at the polls. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF

A bill that would provide nearly $115 million to counties to help upgrade aging voting equipment, reimburse election boards for more recent machine purchases and set up a unified purchasing and leasing program through the Secretary of State passed a Statehouse panel Wednesday.

The measure approved by the House Finance Committee already passed the Ohio Senate. It is in limbo for when the full House will take up the issue. House members must first elect a new speaker for legislation to move forward.

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The 2,300 touch-screen voting machines used by Montgomery County were built in 2003 using “technology from the Blackberry days,” said Jan Kelly, Board of Elections director.

“We’ve been able to recycle parts from old machines onto existing machines, but we’re running out of those parts,” she said earlier this year. “We’re at the end of the life.”

The amount each county would receive will be allocated based on the number of registered voters, according to the bill introduced by state Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson.

Elections officials in Clark County say it could cost roughly $1.2 million to replace current equipment; in Montgomery County, $8 million.

The Montgomery County board calculates it will receive about $4.2 to $4.5 million depending on the final allocation approved by lawmakers, said Steve Harsman, deputy director.

RELATED: Ohioans may have to dig deep to cover cost of new voting machines

State law currently requires one voting machine per 175 registered voters. There are about 362,000 voters registered in Montgomery County, which deployed 2,142 machines at 173 different locations during the recent primary election, according to the elections board.

Ohio purchased most of the current voting machines in 2005 and 2006 with nearly $115 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money. HAVA passed after the 2000 presidential election exposed a critical need for upgrades.

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