Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio)

Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

A new law now allows access to birth records to 400,000 adoptees from around the world who were born in Ohio between 1964 and 1996. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler met a few who traveled from 14 states to gather in Columbus last night, to prepare to be first in line at the Ohio Department of Health on the first day of the new law.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
State of Ohio

Secretary of State Jon Husted has said several times that voter fraud is rare but it exists – and that’s why he says he reviews the voting rolls in Ohio’s 88 counties.

Husted has found hundreds who shouldn’t be registered to vote, and wants the federal government to help him find more.

Some of them are in southwest Ohio.

Husted’s latest review found 145 non-citizens registered to vote, with 27 of them actually casting ballots. This brings the total number of non-citizens registered in Ohio to 436, out of about 7.7 million registered voters.

Karen Kasler/Ohio Public Radio

As electronic cigarettes are becoming more popular, the numbers of medical crises involving the liquid nicotine refills they use are rising dramatically. These emergencies have sparked a bipartisan effort to crack down on the products.

E-cigarettes use containers of liquid nicotine, and some are easy to open, often with screw-on caps.

A national group that pushes for more traffic safety laws says Ohio is among 31 states getting a “caution” or “yellow” rating in its latest annual report.

But Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says Ohio has only passed seven of 15 laws it considers necessary. President Jackie Gillan said Ohio needs a primary seat belt law and a law requiring helmets for all motorcycle riders, among others.

2015 has all the elements of an exciting year in the state capitol.

2015 is a budget year, and that potentially means battles over priorities. And Gov. John Kasich knows it.

“As executive, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t care if I have to break some china. But that’s not the best way to do things,” Kasich said. “The best way to do things is to get cooperation out of the people you work with.”

There was a lot that happened in the House in the final weeks of the last General Assembly. There were so many committee meetings it was hard to get a quorum sometimes, there were marathon sessions on the floor, and there was the almost-unheard-of failed vote on the Republican-backed abortion measure known as the Heartbeat Bill.

But when Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder of Medina and Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard of Columbus sat down to talk about the lame duck session, they had different impressions about whether the climate was confrontational or cooperative.

This election year was a relatively slow year for the Ohio legislature as lawmakers spent most of the year campaigning.  That changed in the last few weeks.

Several bills zipped through the lame duck session, but none in a more dramatic fashion than the last minute agreement on a way to change the process of drawing lawmakers’ district boundaries.

There were rumors of the resolution’s success and demise for days.  And after 17 hours of negotiations on the last day the Senate met, at 4 a.m. a vote was taken and it passed with only one "no" vote.  

2014 brought several big cases to the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court, which delivered opinions that surprised some observers.

The Ohio Supreme Court ended the year by deciding one of the highest-profile cases of the year – ruling 4-3 that traffic camera programs are constitutional, and specifically that Toledo can allow appeals to go through an administrative hearing process and not municipal court. But Republican Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, the sponsor of a bill to regulate traffic cameras, says the ruling is basically moot.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Republican Bill Seitz of Cincinnati has long crusaded against red light and speed cameras.

His bill to ban them outright passed the House and Senate in 2006 – only to be vetoed by Republican Gov. Bob Taft in his last days in office, with the reasoning that a statewide prohibition on the installation of those cameras by cities violated the principle of home rule.

There’s never been a better time to start a company in Ohio – especially a technology company. That’s the bottom line of a study done for VentureOhio, a group of venture capitalists. But VentureOhio chairman John McIlwraith of Allos Ventures of Cincinnati says there’s a problem with funding start-up entrepreneurs in Ohio.

“There’s about $520 million in need and about $260 million in capital available, and that capital is going to be deployed not just in Ohio but throughout the Midwest and potentially across the country,"  says McIlwraith.

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