CPR may be required in high school
Columbus — High school students would be required to complete coursework in responding to medical emergencies, under legislation being introduced in the Ohio House.
HB 580, a bipartisan bill offered by Reps. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Tom Letson (D-Warren), would require training in CPR as a prerequisite for high school graduation.
Information on first aid, the use of automated external defibrillators and related issues would be covered as part of health classes or other coursework.
About 16 other states already have comparable requirements on their books, Grossman said.
At least one Ohio district already is offering the classes. Denny Powell, assistant chief of Miami Township Fire and Rescue in Yellow Springs in Greene County, helps teach the courses on a voluntary basis.
— Marc Kovac, Capital Bureau

Businesses may see more tax refunds
Columbus — The Ohio House signed off on legislation June 3 that would require state tax officials to refund overpayments to businesses.
Senate Bill 263 passed on a vote of 93-0. Pending concurrence by the Ohio Senate on changes made by the House, the legislation will head to Gov. John Kasich for his expected signature.
The state for years refrained from contacting businesses about tax overpayments and did not issue refunds in such cases unless they were requested. After several years, the accumulated overpayments were transferred to the state’s general revenue fund to pay for other expenses.
The situation came to light a couple of years ago, when Kasich and the state’s tax director announced that about 3,500 businesses would receive $13 million-plus in refunds due to overpayments. Late last year, the state inspector general’s office identified more overpayments as part of a review prompted by a separate investigation of employee theft.
The tax department has since been contacting businesses to inform them of overpayments, but lawmakers want to change state law to ensure that future overpayments are refunded quickly.
SB 263 would require the state tax commissioner to notify businesses of overpayments and automatically issue refund checks or tax credits whether businesses formally request them or not.
— Marc Kovac, Capital Bureau

Feb. 21 could be Rascal Flatts Day
Columbus —  Lawmakers OK’d toned down legislation honoring a country music trio with Ohio roots.
Senate Bill 233 would designate Feb. 21 as “Rascal Flatts Day,” noting the day Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney released their first hit song, said sponsoring Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus).
The Senate approved the legislation 30-0 June 4, and the bill heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.
SB 233 initially proposed naming Rascal Flats as the state’s official country music group, a designation that prompted debate, given other notable musicians with Ohio ties.
Backers compromised and amended the legislation to designate a day in the group’s honor. Rascal Flatts has released more than two dozen singles, including a dozen No. 1 hits.
— Marc Kovac, Capital Bureau

activities may get legal protections
Columbus — Farmers who offer hay and trail rides or allow people to pick apples or vegetables on their land would receive protections from civil actions stemming from onsite injuries or zoning laws aimed at blocking such “agritourism” activities, under legislation being considered in the Ohio Senate.
Sponsoring Sens. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) say SB 334 is a way to connect farmers and consumers while alleviating concerns of lawsuits.
SB 334 would block counties and townships from adopting zoning regulations that prohibit agritourism activities.
The latter would be defined in state law as “an educational, entertainment or recreational activity that takes place on a working farm or agricultural or horticultural operation and that allows members of the general public to observe, participate in or enjoy that activity,” according to an analysis of the bill by the state’s Legislative Service Commission. “Agritourism includes historic and cultural agriculture activities, self-pick farms or farmers markets when they are conducted in conjunction with farm operations.”
— Marc Kovac, Capital Bureau

Inmate captured hours after escape
Canton — Authorities say they recaptured a shackled northeast Ohio jail inmate hours after he escaped from a transport van.
Police in Canton say 29-year-old Michael Houghton was captured early June 3 in Canton alone in a car after a tip came from an anonymous caller.
They say Houghton had escaped from a transport van about a mile away. The van was en route from the Canton Municipal Court to the city jail. Someone called 911 after seeing him get out of the van in traffic at about 4 p.m. June 2.
He was wearing a red jumpsuit and was still in a belly chain and leg shackles when he escaped. Police don’t know how he managed to get out of the van.
Houghton was in custody on a domestic violence case.
— Associated Press

Man sought after kindergarten brawl
Cincinnati — Police in southwest Ohio are seeking a man accused of starting a fight that led to a kindergarten graduation melee involving up to 20 people.
An elementary school went on lockdown June 2 as several police cruisers responded in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Mt. Healthy. Mt. Healthy Schools Superintendent Lori Handler says the lockdown was ordered because parents were panicking and the school wanted to make sure no other students or adults wandered into the cafeteria fight scene.
She says the some 150 newly graduated kindergarten students were having punch and cookies with their families when a man hit another man over an apparent domestic dispute, triggering the melee.
Authorities say no one was hurt badly.
— Associated Press

Smoke evacuates Kings Island ride
Cincinnati — A southwest Ohio theme park ride was evacuated June 2 and two people were treated at the scene after heavy smoke filled a building.
Authorities said the smoke came from an overheated motor inside the Kings Island indoor roller coaster ride building, Flight of Fear. A city of Mason spokeswoman said 18 people were exposed to the smoke, and two received treatment but weren’t transported.
City spokeswoman Jennifer Trepal said fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire at about 2:45 p.m. Crews from nearby jurisdictions also rushed to the scene. She said the motor was “smoking heavily,” but wasn’t on fire.
Power was shut off to the motor, and the building was cleared and ventilated. Kings Island closed the ride, which dates back two decades.
Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig said park officials hadn’t decided yet when the ride would resume operation.
— Associated Press