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Northern Ohio attorneys react to Jeff Sessions’ tough drug crimes stance: Ohio Politics Roundup

Northern Ohio attorneys react to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough on crime directive. And Some Ohio gubernatorial candidates make unusual moves to draw attention.

Read more in today’s Ohio Politics Roundup:

War on drugs? Acting U.S. Attorney David Sierleja said Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memo last week pushing federal prosecutors to use all the might of the government to pursue drug and violent crime cases isn’t a huge shift for his office, reporter Eric Heisig writes[1].

To Sierleja, the memo shows that the Justice Department will give his office the tools to go after people accused of serious crimes in ways that President Barack Obama’s administration discouraged,” Heisig writes. “Sessions’ memo, dated Wednesday, says prosecutors should charge and pursue ‘the most serious, readily provable offense.’ This includes charges that carry long sentences and mandatory minimum prison stints. Exceptions can be made, but those must be cleared by a U.S. attorney or an assistant attorney general.”

“From my standpoint, the prior administration clearly wanted us to back off being as aggressive with drug prosecutions in certain areas,” Sierleja said.

“Sierleja’s statement will do little to quell concerns of local defense attorneys who fear Sessions’ views on crime will return the area, and the country, to a time when defendants were given disproportionately long prison sentences, even though they were far from the worst of the worst,” Heisig writes.

“The new policy memo is not a surprise to those who practice and follow criminal law. Before he was tapped by President Donald Trump to be attorney general, Sessions was an Alabama senator who has long professed a mentality pervasive during the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 1990s, when prosecutors sought to address the crack-cocaine epidemic and violent crime through aggressive enforcement of federal laws,” Heisig writes.

Election 2018: “Getting the attention of voters and media is a big preoccupation for all political candidates,”’s Andrew J. Tobias writes.[2] “In the past week, a couple of 2018 Ohio candidates did things — some might view them as silly — that stood out.”

“Former State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Democrat who’s running for governor, “warned” President Donald Trump on Thursday[3] that if she’s elected, she would refuse to deploy the Ohio National Guard, if Trump were to declare a “cover-up war” meant to distract from his political problems, such as the ongoing investigation into possible contacts between members of his campaign and the Russian government. She made the pronouncement in a news conference on Thursday in Columbus,” Tobias writes. Learn more about the political antics in this video.[4]

Taxpayer dollars? Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who’s running for Ohio governor, told reporters last week that he plans to operate the secretary of state’s office without taxpayer money for the next two years, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Chrissie Thompson writes.[5]

“All the other elected officials ask for more tax dollars,” Husted told Enquirer reporters and editors Wednesday. “I’m asking for no tax dollars.”

“To say his office isn’t using taxpayer money is deceptive, critics say. Husted’s department is actually running on millions in fees from new business owners, and they consider those fees a tax,” Thompson writes. “To business owners, Husted is using taxpayer money either way.”

“A fee is a tax. A tax is a fee,” said Roger Geiger, executive director of Ohio’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Although business owners appreciate Husted’s efficiency in cutting costs in his office, “why should small businesses be paying for the entire cost of running elections?” Geiger said. “I think all taxpayers should pay.”

Firefighters: Ohio just made it easier for firefighters diagnosed with cancer to be eligible for worker’s compensation and benefits. But now GOP lawmakers in the Ohio House are proposing new restrictions, Columbus Dispatch reporter Jim Siegel reports.[6]

“Firefighters, trial attorneys and Democrats oppose the amendment added this week to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation budget bill. It would remove the presumption that cancer came from the job if a firefighter failed to use, or improperly used, protective equipment while on duty,” Siegel writes. “The proposal alters a law that took effect in early April. It says a firefighter who contracts cancer is presumed to have gotten it from the job if assigned to hazardous duty for six or more years and exposed to high-level carcinogens.”

Kasich honored in NY: Ohio Gov. John Kasich was one of roughly 100 people on Saturday to receive an Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award, given annually to “American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life,” as described by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, which gives out the award. Past medalists include seven U.S. Presidents, “several” world leaders, two Nobel Prize winners and others, according to the NECO. Kasich, who has described himself as Croatian and Czech, traveled to Ellis Island, New York on Saturday to receive the award, according to a photo posted to Twitter[7] by Davar Ardalan[8].

Happy Belated Birthday to Kasich. The Ohio governor turned 65 on Saturday, Politico reports[9].

Opinion: “Trumpcare isn’t the only threat to hundreds of thousands of low-income Ohioans who depend on Medicaid expansion for health care. So is the Ohio House’s version of Ohio’s proposed 2017-19 budget,” editorial writer Tom Suddes argues[10]. “Tucked into the Republican-run House’s budget rewrite are amendments that could keep otherwise eligible low-income Ohioans from getting or keeping Medicaid expansion coverage.”

“One booby-trap Ohio House Republicans slipped into the budget would require Kasich’s administration to again ask federal Medicaid regulators to let Ohio impose so-called “Healthy Ohio” (somewhere, George Orwell smiles) requirements,” Suddes writes. “Healthy Ohio is a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that, in effect, would require Medicaid clients to contribute to a ‘Buckeye Account,’ which is sort of like a Health Savings Account. (Historically, HSAs have been big faves of Statehouse Republicans, maybe because their banking pals can charge fees on HSAs.) But if Medicaid clients fail to contribute to the account, they can be kicked off Medicaid[11].”

Ballot issue: Ohioans will decide in November whether to force lower government drug prices, Toledo Blade reporter Jim Provance reports[12].

The ballot issue would “would require the state and its programs to pay no more for prescription drugs than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates,” Provance writes. And guess what?

“It’s likely to be an expensive campaign for an off-year election,” Provance writes.

“We believe we can raise the money to get our message out,” said Dennis Willard, spokesman for Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices. “A ‘yes’ vote will mean lower taxes and lower drug prices for the sick and suffering and will teach greedy drug companies and CEOs a lesson.”

“The opposition, Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue, includes a broad coalition including veterans, medical and safety professionals, labor, patients, business, and clergy,” Provance writes. The group “will do everything they can to ensure voters are thoroughly educated about the facts of this proposed statute,” spokesman Jenny Camper said. “Health policy experts who have studied the proposal say it would be very damaging to Ohio and Ohioans.”

Spending: Ohio is spending millions on information technology consultants, Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow reports[13].

“State spending on information-technology consultants, contractual employees and other private services has ballooned to $452 million a year, while the number of generally less-expensive state IT employees has dropped,” Ludlow reports. “As part of a preliminary inquiry into no-bid contracts uncovered by The Dispatch, the office of Ohio Auditor Dave Yost reports that spending on IT “personal services” has more than doubled from $207 million in 2011-12.”

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  1. ^ reporter Eric Heisig writes (
  2. ^’s Andrew J. Tobias writes. (
  3. ^ “warned” President Donald Trump on Thursday (
  4. ^ this video. (
  5. ^ Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Chrissie Thompson writes. (
  6. ^ Columbus Dispatch reporter Jim Siegel reports. (
  7. ^ according to a photo posted to Twitter (
  8. ^ Davar Ardalan (
  9. ^ Politico reports (
  10. ^ editorial writer Tom Suddes argues (
  11. ^ they can be kicked off Medicaid (
  12. ^ Toledo Blade reporter Jim Provance reports (
  13. ^ Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow reports (
  14. ^ Sign up here (
  15. ^

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