Jo Ingles (Ohio Public Radio)

Last year, Ohio changed its rules for prescribing opioids, restricting amounts of, and circumstances under which, doctors can prescribe those narcotics. The new rules have an exemption for people who are in hospice type care for diseases like cancer. But many patients who suffer from chronic pain say the new rules are leaving them without pain relief, resulting in unintended consequences.

Voter registrations are up in Ohio since November 2016, and that pleases a non-partisan group that encourages increased voter participation.

Jen Miller with the League of Women Voters of Ohio says she’s encouraged that, at last check, voter registration rates are up by 2% since the presidential election two years ago.

“We often see a downtick in turnout in midterm elections but this increase seems to indicate an enthusiasm for politics and voting this year.”

Even though judicial races are considered nonpartisan in Ohio, judicial campaigns are usually funded with campaign contributions. A government watchdog group’s report says once they’re on the bench, judges don’t recuse themselves when hearing a case involving those donors. 

The state has issued the first license for a large-scale medical marijuana cultivator under Ohio’s medical marijuana program.

Ohio Department of Commerce spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski says Buckeye Relief has passed its inspection and has been issued a certificate of operation. This is the first one issued to a large-scale cultivator that is allowed to grow up to 25,000 square feet of medical marijuana.

The state has already issued certificates of operation to two smaller cultivators who are allowed to produce up to 3,000 square feet of marijuana.

After two months at an impasse, the Ohio House has a new leader. 

In an unprecedented process, Republican Finance Chair Ryan Smith was elected speaker after 11 rounds of voting on the House floor. Under Ohio law, a speaker must have a majority to win until the 11th round. Smith ended up with 44 votes.

“You know I wasn’t sure if we’d go through 11 rounds of voting to get the plurality but I knew if we did, I’d get there,” the new speaker said.

Gov. John Kasich gave his final State of the State speech last night, at Otterbein University in his hometown of Westerville. He didn’t unveil any new programs but he did talk about values.

Under President Trump’s newly proposed budget, about 80 percent of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients could lose about half of the credit that is currently put on their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards, and would receive a box of food from the government instead. 

Closed-door negotiations over a new way to draw Ohio’s Congressional map have broken down. Ohio lawmakers and representatives from citizens’ groups left the Statehouse late Wednesday night without coming to an agreement.

Two of the more conservative Republican lawmakers at the Statehouse want to put six different issues before voters that would make Ohio a so-called “right to work” state and eliminate prevailing wage.

Supporters of a redistricting plan that might be on the November ballot are critical of a bill being considered by Ohio lawmakers that would let them retain control over the process of drawing Congressional district lines. 

The Ohio NAACP, Common Cause Ohio and the League of Women Voters of Ohio have been gathering signatures to put a proposed redistricting plan before voters this fall. The League’s Ann Henkener says the lawmaker’s plan would not stop the gerrymandering now allowed.  

“The whole idea of it passing is not something my brain can comprehend,” she said.

When opioid addicts try to put their lives back together, it is often difficult to get the housing, jobs, continuing treatment and personal connections they need to stay clean and be successful. As part of Ohio Public Radio’s series on the opioid crisis, Jo Ingles reports on what is being done to help drug abusers get on the right track.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray is announcing he’ll step down from that post before the end of the month. That’s thought by many to signal that he’s running for Governor.

The amount of money being spent by drug companies to defeat Issue 2, the so-called Drug Price Relief Act, has broken the state's record for the most spent on a ballot issue. Backers of that plan have brought in around $14 million so far, but the drug company-funded campaign to defeat Issue 2 has raised $58 million dollars. That big money could yield big results.

The failure of the U.S. Senate’s proposed plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act leaves the program intact. But most Senators, on both sides of the aisle, say if the program is kept, changes must be made to make it function on a long term basis. 

Some of the officers that enforce liquor laws in Ohio are being trained to fight more than illegal serving or drinking. 

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