State briefs

Elections chief flags voter forms from marijuana group

COLUMBUS (AP) — Voter registrations collected by a marijuana legalization campaign in Ohio are to be closely scrutinized for potential fraud under orders of the swing state’s elections chief.

Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO’-sted) advised Ohio’s 88 county election boards Wednesday to carefully analyze new voter registrations submitted by The Strategy Network, the organization coordinating a signature drive for ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization campaign.

Husted’s advisory said the heightened caution related to reports from some boards of elections that submissions by the group contained higher error rates and apparent fraudulent registration attempts. He cited non-existent addresses, illegible signatures, duplicate applications from the same address and some underage registrants.

A message seeking comment was left with ResponsibleOhio.

Husted, a Republican, said the warning was part of his responsibility in assuring fair and safe elections.

Panel OKs childproofing for e-cigarette liquids

COLUMBUS — An Ohio House panel has approved a requirement that liquids used in electronic cigarettes be sold in child-resistant packaging.

The vote came Wednesday, a day after similar legislation cleared the Ohio Senate. One measure must clear both chambers before the restrictions can become law.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that typically contain nicotine and sometimes flavorings like fruit or chocolate.

Proponents of the childproofing measures say liquid nicotine refills can harm children if ingested or absorbed through the skin. The proposals also apply to non-nicotine liquids.

The state’s health department would develop the standards for packaging resistant to children 5 and under. Violators could be fined up to $1,000.

Neither bill affects pre-filled cartridges of liquids, only those liquids that can be added to e-cigarettes.

Budget change eliminates union rights care workers

COLUMBUS — Independent health-care and child-care workers under contract with the state could not unionize under a change Republican senators in Ohio have made to the state budget.

The revision added Wednesday would make permanent an order from Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) that nixed the collective bargaining rights of those workers and prevent a future governor from allowing them to unionize.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee had sought to restore those union rights. But Republicans who dominate the committee changed the Democrats’ amendment to make Kasich’s executive order permanent.

The Senate committee was debating its latest revisions to the two-year, $71.3 billion budget bill at a Wednesday hearing before it planned to vote on the measure.

The spending plan funds state operations for the two years beginning July 1.

Flooding blocking all roads into village

KALIDA — Flooding that has closed dozens of roads in rural northwestern Ohio is leaving one village completely cut off in Putnam County.

The sheriff’s office said Wednesday morning that all roads leading into Kalida are blocked by floodwaters.

Heavy rains over the last week have led to flooding in and around the cities of Findlay and Lima. Those areas are bracing for more rain and flooding later Wednesday.

The rising Blanchard River in Ottawa has closed several streets there and in Findlay.

Police officers and firefighters around Lima helped evacuate dozens of people from a couple of apartment complexes on Tuesday.

So far, there haven’t been any reports of injuries from the flooding.

Woman who dropped son into cheetah pit gets probation

CLEVELAND — A woman who dropped her toddler into a Cleveland zoo’s cheetah pit has been sentenced to a year of probation that includes counseling and parenting classes.

Michelle Schwab, of Delaware, Ohio, was sentenced Wednesday. She was charged with child endangering after authorities said she dangled her 2-year-old son over the railing of the zoo’s cheetah exhibit in April. The boy lunged from her and fell about 10 feet.

Schwab and her husband jumped into the exhibit to retrieve the boy, who broke his leg. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo officials say the cheetahs didn’t approach the family.

Schwab pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of aggravated trespassing in May.

Her attorneys said in court Wednesday the accident and media attention that followed brought her a great deal of stress and anxiety.