The story that's gripped most of Ohio - and much of the nation this week - is the escape and rescue of three women who'd been missing for years on the west side of Cleveland. Republican Speaker Bill Batchelder says the story has inspired him and other lawmakers to work on another crackdown on human trafficking. Gov. John Kasich isn't giving up hope that lawmakers will change their minds and go forward with Medicaid expansion. Tuesday's special election ballot had great news for libraries, and good news for schools once you dig past the initial numbers. The Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court is looking toward future ballots, saying she has a a plan to change the process of electing justices. The Ohio Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold the sentence of the only woman on death row in the state. Senators decided on a bill that would make some changes in elections laws in a party line vote. Another loss for the state's four casinos - all of them saw dips in April revenues compared to their March numbers. There are more than 2,200 bridges are structurally deficient statewide - but the state says there isn't enough money to fix them. And a longtime lawmaker has made it official - Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown is the first to officially challenge US Senator Rob Portman in the 2016 contest.
Most violent crimes in Ohio are committed by people who have at least two felony convictions. An Ohio State University study of violent crimes data from 1974 to 2010 shows less than 1% of Ohio's population has two or more felony convictions - and they committed 57% of those crimes in that period. Last week, Attorney General Mike DeWine, state Sen. Jim Hughes of Columbus and Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced a bill that seeks to shut down just that small percentage of violent criminals with guns - people they call violent career criminals. Sen. Hughes says it's a laser-like focus on the group that's doing the most damage. And Democrats such as Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown) support the bill
Just eighteen months ago, a much more controversial proposal was on the ballot - Issue 2, which asked voters if they wanted to keep Senate Bill 5, the law that made major changes in the state's collective bargaining laws affecting public employees, including police officers and firefighters. That issue was soundly defeated. But the idea was back last week, when two Republican state lawmakers introduced their own so-called "right to work" measures. Weighing in on the issue of "right to work" are Matt Mayer, a conservative activist and heads Opportunity Ohio, a free market think tank in Dublin, and Brian Rothenberg with the liberal coalition Progress Ohio.
The school year is winding down, but the work is just beginning for the state's new school superintendent. Dick Ross spoke before the Columbus Metropolitan Club this week about the challenges ahead of him as he works to implement new requirements in the state's more than 600 public school districts and on the 1.8 million kids in Ohio's public schools.
Baseball is finally back, and this week we close with two baseball related stories - both involving our recently retired colleague Bill Cohen. On Tuesday, he called a game between the Capitol Cannons, a team of state lawmakers and the Ohio Village Muffins, a team of baseball players who follow Civil War-era rules. And Bill also was invited to throw out the first pitch at the Columbus Clippers game on Monday.