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Morning Headlines: Bills Could Reduce Punishment for Drug Crimes, NE Ohio Gets $437,000 for Projects

photo of Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve
Wetland at Kent Bog State Nature Preserve

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, July 8:

  • Bills could reduce punishment for drug crimes;
  • NE Ohio gets $437,000 for projects;
  • Cleveland mulls over building kid-friendly park;
  • Senate considers bill that would grant occupational licenses to military families;
  • Authorities search for vehicle that injured Cleveland officer;
  • Ohio to be represented at Made in America Product Showcase;
  • Ohio's Duncan Toys to celebrate 90th anniversary;
  • All-Star game to implement new second base rule;

Bills could reduce punishment for drug crimes
Bills working their way through the Ohio Legislature would reduce punishment for some drug crimeswhile favoring treatment over automatic prosecution. The measures are part of a national debate over reducing prison populations while responding to the nation's opioid addiction epidemic. A proposal passed by the House last month expands the use of a program allowing judges to order treatment instead of prosecution for defendants facing low-level drug charges. The legislation would also make it easier for Ohioans to seal records involving low-level, nonviolent and non-sexual offenses to help them move forward with their lives. A pending Senate bill would reduce low-level drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and also allow treatment instead of prosecution.

NE Ohio gets $437,000 for projects
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved more than $437,000 in funding for five projects in northern Ohio. The projects are aimed at improving coastal planning, public access and water quality. This year's projects include implementing green stormwater infrastructure, enhancing stream and wetland habitats to improve water quality and developing plans and engineering designs needed to improve public access and restore coastal habitat. The grants are going to projects in Toledo, Eastlake, Ashtabula County, Lorain and Bay Village.

Cleveland mulls over building kid-friendly park
Discussions are underway to build a kid-friendly park in Cleveland as the city's downtown population grows.  Estimates show the number of people living downtown has grown to between 15,000 and 20,000 people, making it one of Cleveland's biggest neighborhoods. Heather Holmes with the Downtown Cleveland Alliance told Cleveland.com that her group, the city and downtown councilman Kerry McCormack have all been talking about the idea. Estimates from U.S. Census indicate that more than 1,100 children live in the general downtown area, with the number of children under 14 more than doubling over a decade.

Senate considers bill that would grant occupational licenses to military families
The Ohio Senate is now considering a bill that would require state agencies that issue occupational licenses to grant them to members of the military and their spouses who move to the state. The legislation is meant to boost Ohio's reputation as a military-friendly state. It would affect licenses required by nurses, teachers and others. Representative Casey Weinstein of Hudson is a co-sponsor of the bill.  The Hudson Democrat said licensing issues caused by frequent moves contribute to military spouses making less than peers with similar education. The bill unanimously passed the House.

Authorities search for vehicle that injured Cleveland officer
Authorities are searching for a vehicle they say struck and injured a Cleveland police officer and then fled the scene early Saturday morning. Cleveland police said the officer was working near an intersection in downtown Cleveland's Warehouse District around 4 a.m. when he was hit. A police spokesman said the officer was hospitalized with broken ribs. Investigators believe the vehicle involved was a 2019 white Jeep Compass. Police are asking anyone with information about to contact police or Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County.

Ohio to be represented at Made in America Product Showcase
The company that makes the iconic Airstream travel trailers will be representing Ohio at a White House showcase of American-made products. The Sidney Daily News reports the Made in America Product Showcase will be held July 15. The event is in its third year. A White House official said businesses from all 50 states will be present as President Trump seeks to highlight job creation. Airstream Inc. is based in Jackson Center, northwest of Columbus.

Ohio's Duncan Toys to celebrate 90th anniversary
An Ohio toy company known for its yo-yos is marking 90 years in operation and plans to celebrate with a yo-yoing contest and other events in Cleveland next month. Cleveland.com reports Middlefield-basedDuncan Toys also wants to try to break a Guinness world record for most players simultaneously yo-yoing. The company is inviting the public to join in the attempt on Aug. 9 at Public Square, where attendees also will have a chance to meet impressive yo-yoers and Duncan employees.

All-Star game to implement new second base rule
Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is set to trot out a new rule this week if the game goes to extra innings. Starting in the 10th inning, an automatic runner will be put at second base to begin the top half and bottom half of each inning. The rule is already used in the minor leagues, international competitions and Olympic softball. The goal is to keep games from going on and on, and to save wear and tear on pitching staffs. The last two All-Star Games have gone to extra innings.

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.