Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio)

As Ohio House leaders put forward a budget that they say will help people out of poverty, the directors of the state’s job and family services agencies say they have some answers as to why people need public assistance.

Substance abuse problems, lack of transportation and high school diplomas are the issues that people on welfare or public assistance face.

That’s the conclusion of a survey done by a task force with the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association.

Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

Six of the nine Ohioans who were exonerated after being sentenced to death want state lawmakers to consider changes to capital punishment in Ohio.

Joe D’Ambrosio spent 22 years on death row for a Cleveland murder he didn’t commit.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, or your children, or your grandchildren,” D’Ambrosio said.

He and five other exonerated former death row inmates want state lawmakers to seriously consider the 57 recommendations made by an Ohio Supreme Court task force on capital punishment last year.

The controversial bill that would ban abortion after the first detectable fetal heartbeat passed the Ohio House, largely on a party line vote. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports the emotion was no surprise, but one revelation was.

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.  

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