This first week of the new fiscal year on Capitol Square has been quiet, with analysts and experts still dissecting the budget signed last week by Gov. John Kasich. Kasich sat down to discuss the budget with Speaker Bill Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus the morning after he signed it. The ink on the budget was barely dry when it was announced there were three bidders for the five prisons that are to be privatized for $200 million.
And the process for applying for state-paid vouchers that can be used to attend private schools was reopened - now that the cap on the number of vouchers to be awarded has more than doubled.
A state lawmaker from Cincinnati is due back in court later this month to answer to drunk driving charges. 59 year old Robert Mecklenborg was arrested in Indiana after being pulled over on April 23.
Also this week - people who request public records only to find they've been improperly destroyed are entitled to financial damages, but the Ohio Supreme Court says that applies only if they really wanted the records. And newspaper newspaper publishers and others say a new law reducing civil fines for improperly destroying public records effectively does away with a ban that deterred local governments from ridding shelves of controversial items.
The next killer set to be executed in Ohio got no recommendation for mercy from the state parole board. The board voted unanimously against clemency for 45 year old Kenneth Wayne Smith of Hamilton, who's set to die July 19 for murdering Lewis and Ruth Ray while robbing their home in 1995.
The fall ballot is shaping up to bring an interesting confluence of political positions to the polls. The Secretary of State's office is already in the process of verifying 1.3 million signatures presented by opponents of Senate Bill 5. And this week, opponents of the federal health insurance law filed 546,000 signatures to put an amendment before voters to allow Ohio to opt out of the health care law, which the amendment's supporters call Obamacare. The movement is headed up by Maurice Thompson with the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, an offshoot of the conservative Buckeye Institute, and Chris Littleton of the Tea Party group the Ohio Liberty Council.
A bill putting the regional water protection deal known as the Great Lakes Compact into effect ran into rough waters on its way through the Statehouse. The bill passed the House quietly, but there was more debate on it in the Senate than even on the budget. The Republican-backed bill limits withdrawals of Lake Erie water by a business or other entity to five million gallons daily. But environmentalists and even some Republicans say it will allow millions of gallons to be taken away through smaller withdrawals. Jack Shaner with the Ohio Environmental Council talks about his group's concerns.