Ohio's Senators, Reps React to Withdrawal of GOP's Healthcare Bill

(WTOL) - Northwest Ohio’s elected representatives are making statements after the House of Representatives pulled the American Health Care Act just before its scheduled vote on Friday afternoon.

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said the bill was a waste of time that would have taken health insurance away from working families. 

“It’s no secret why this bill didn’t have the votes to pass the House today – it’s a bad deal for the people we serve. Blocking this plan is a victory for the mother who wrote me about the services her son gets for autism, the people I’ve met who are treating their opioid addictions, the seniors who rely on Medicaid to stay in their nursing homes, and thousands more Ohioans who depend on coverage through the Affordable Care Act.  Instead of wasting any more time threatening to take health insurance away from working families, Congress needs to move on and work together to lower costs and improve healthcare for everyone.”

A spokesperson for Republican Senator Rob Portman also made a statement, saying Republicans and Democrats need to work together on addressing problems in the health care system.

“With premiums and deductibles skyrocketing across the country, the status quo on health care is unsustainable. Rob believes both parties need to work together to fix this broken health care system.” – Emily Benavides, spokesperson for Portman.

U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, of Ohio's 9th district, also released a statement.

“Let’s call a spade a spade, this bill was always a giant tax cut for the rich, posing as a health care bill. Its defeat is a great victory for the American people and the 900,000 Ohioans who now have insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

“It is time for an honest effort to ensure we have an equitable health care system for all Americans. Rejecting this bill is step one, now we must continue the progress we have made under the Affordable Care Act.”

U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, of Ohio’s 4th district, reiterated his commitment to repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s signature achievement. 

 

The American Health Care Act had strong support from President Trump as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) was a major part of his presidential campaign.

WTOL reached out to U.S. Representative Bob Latta but has not gotten a response.

Senators Brown, Portman Introduce Bill to Fight Opioid Epidemic

(WTOL) - The opioid epidemic is continuing to devastate Ohio communities.

Lawmakers from all political view points are trying to come together to tackle what is being called a public health epidemic.

Senator Sherrod Brown says legislation introduced along with Sen. Rob Portman helps the U.S. Customs and Border Protection keep the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl out of the country.

According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in our state more than doubled.

The legislation, called the Interdict Act, would provide the CBP with hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the country.

But Sen. Brown insists it is only one way to fight against the epidemic.

"You just can't keep the drugs out because the demand is still there," Sen. Brown said. "We need better prevention, better education. We need to preserve the Affordable Care Act; 200,000 Ohioans are getting treatment right now who have insurance from the Affordable Care Act."

Senator Brown also said without the medical treatment from the Affordable Care Act, addiction will continue and families will suffer.

Ohio Lawmakers' Guests to Tied to Issues, Agendas

(WTOL) - Ohio U.S. lawmakers invited a variety of guests from war heroes to business owners to President Donald J. Trump’s first address to Congress.

These guests reflect an issue or an agenda they promote.

Democrat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown will be joined by Steven Hill, the owner of Sparano’s Pizza in Columbus and Galloway.

Hill wrote to Brown’s office expressing his support raising wages for workers. Raising the minimum wage and equal pay for female and male workers are issues Brown champions.

U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), a supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare which Republicans vow to repeal and replace, will host Kevin Filiatraut of Bay Village.

Obamacare helped Mr. Filiatraut’s wife receive lifesaving cancer treatment. 

In a sign of significant Republican political inroads among unions since Trump’s election, Nicky “Sonny” Nardi, President of Teamsters Local 416, will accompany Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman as his guest.

“I look forward to attending the speech," Nardi said in a statement. "And I want to thank Rob for the invitation. The Teamsters of Ohio will continue to work with Senator Portman and other members of Congress on jobs, pensions, and the issues our members care about."

Medal of Honor Recipient and Ostego High School graduate, U.S. Navy Senior Chief Edward Byers, Junior joins Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) who serves on several military-related Congressional caucuses.

Chief Byers is one of two recipients of the Medal of Honor currently serving on active duty and is the most decorated living Navy Seal.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama conferred the Medal of Honor on Chief Byers for his actions during a rescue mission of an American citizen, Dr. Dilip Joseph, in Afghanistan in 2012.

President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol is scheduled for 9 p.m. est.

New Innovations at a Toledo Boxing Gym Helping Patients “Knock Out Parkinson’s”

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) -When you think of boxers, you might think of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or even local standout Robert Easter, Junior.

Add the so-called Bop Bop Bang champs at the International Boxing Club of Toledo.

A little slow, gray and wobbly, these Parkinson’s patients don’t look like your typical boxing champions. But with each toe touch, jab, or drill, members of the Knock Out Parkinson’s program are working to knock out this disease and showing improvements they and doctors did not think was possible.

“They’re fighting with this disease. It’s bigger than any fight in the ring,” explained Coach Harry E. Cummins, III.

Cummins is the founder and executive director of the gym that developed this boxing therapy group with the University of Toledo. Unlike other programs, the classes don’t cost patients a dime.

As many as one million Americans, and up to 50,000 Ohioans, live with Parkinson’s.

This neurological disease has no cure. It weakens the muscles and compromises a person’s memory and mood.

Simple daily actions we take for granted can be difficult or impossible for Parkinson’s patients.

“It’s easy for you to blink your eyes or smile at me. But for some of them to take a step, to think about taking a step, they get stuck,” said Dr. Beth-Ann Hatkevich of the University of Toledo.

Dr. Hatkevich oversees the medical part of the program, which began in 2014 with four patients.

Today, 95 are enrolled. Graduate students collect data and classes are now offered every day of the work week, growing to include Cardio-drumming and a stretching class called Delay the Disease.

Exercise has proved to help slow down, and in some cases, reverse the destructive progression of Parkinson’s.

“There are five stages to Parkinson’s. When I came here my doctor said I was at a three and a half," said patient Tammy Dunlap-Keill. "He’s amazed at my progress. My systems here are down to a two and half." 

Her improvement in her gait and balance means she can walk her son down the aisle at his summer wedding, something a few years ago she thought would be impossible.

Researchers say boxing’s power, intensity, the repetitive, precise sequence of motions like jabs and shuffling, as well as the social interaction with people going through the same thing, can be a game changer for patients like Frank Tammarine.

Tammarine is taking a break from medication and their side effects.

Of the boxing bag, he says, each time he comes to the gym, Tammarine hits it with everything he’s got because, according to him, it’s “giving me life.”

Mark Sommer, who like Dunlap-Keill was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s in his forties, agrees.

“It keeps us from staying at home, feeling sorry for ourselves," Sommer said. "The days I come here are the best days of my week."

Coach Harry hears how his Bop Bop Bang champs credit him with giving them a new lease on life, he tears up.

“My job is to motivate my boxers, people," he said. "They don’t realize it but they motivate me.”

Dr. Hatkevich and Coach Cummins say this year, they plan to add comprehensive analysis of the data they collect and life skills classes.

Until there’s a cure, these champions say the movement, motivation, and community from these classes is helping them cope, and in some cases, slow down this disease one punch at a time.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur to attend Trump's inauguration

Toledo, OH (WTOL) - Despite a growing list of Congressional democrats choosing not to attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, Jan. 20, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) announced she will attend the ceremony.

Several democrats, led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), have announced they would not attend Trump's inauguration citing his policies.

Kaptur is not on that list. In fact, she's not only attending the ceremony, but her office is also offering refreshments for Ohioans traveling to Washington D.C. for the event.

"As a sworn Member of the 115th Congress, I will not leave empty my official seat which belongs to the people of Ohio's 9th District," Rep. Kaptur said in a statement. "I will attend to witness America's centuries old tradition of the peaceful transition of power‎ and to fully represent our district's interests during the 115th Congress. "

Rep. Kaptur said while she will attend the inauguration, she also supports Rep. Lewis.

In the statement, she announced she will also attend the tribute march in Selma, Alabama to commemorate "Bloody Sunday."

“May God bless and bind together the people of our nation, erasing hate," Kaptur said. "And may God enlighten all those elected officials who serve or nation and shower strength on John Lewis for his deeply courageous life in the noble struggle for justice for all.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge of Cleveland tweeted she would be among the Congressional democrats boycotting Friday's inauguration.

No U.S. Senator has boycotted the Inauguration, including U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown who is attending on Friday, according to his press office.

GOP Chairman loses bid to keep job to Trump-backed candidate

COLUMBUS, OH (WTOL) - Despite his insistence in December that he had the votes to hold off a challenge for his seat, sitting Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges withdrew his name from consideration for the position after two rounds of voting ended in deadlock on Friday.

Borges was beaten by the Donald Trump-backed candidate Jane Timken, of Canton, who criticized Borges for failing to “fully support” Trump after he won the party’s nomination.

After two rounds of voting, neither candidate was able to gather the required 34-vote majority from the 66-member committee before Borges withdrew his name.

Matt Borges told WTOL 11 that he “had the votes” to remain chairman of the Ohio Republican Party over Timken back in early December.

Timken said she doubted Chairman Borges’ ability to lead the state party during the forthcoming Trump presidency, tracing her reservations at least to the GOP convention in Cleveland when Trump became the Republican nominee.

Opponents claim Borges, a loyalist of Governor John Kasich who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination, did not publicly throw his weight behind Trump until late October.

Honoring an American Hero: The 71-year Journey to Bring a World War II Veteran Home

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ARLINGTON, VA (WTOL)

This 71-year journey began in 1945. Big Band is playing on the radio and World War II is months from ending.

Two of the Beals siblings from South Dakota are serving in the United States Army, including Meryl as a nurse and her little brother Don.

In April, Meryl was furloughed.

During her time off, she decided to visit Don, who is serving with the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group, 494th Squadron. Meryl's flight was delayed and she missed her brother, never to see him again.

To reconstruct the timeline of events around First Lieutenant Donald L. Beal’s death and the seven decade search for his remains, WTOL 11 News reviews the entire U.S. Department of Defense file, as well as the family history and pictures.
 
On April 17th, 1945, Lieutenant Beals and First Lieutenant Hobart M. Albright take off in their P-47 Thunderbolts from Kassel-Rothwesten Airfield, recently seized by the Allies.

On a reconnaissance mission, they spot German targets then dive to destroy them. Instead, they are met by heavy enemy gun fire.

“Pull up Beals, it isn’t worth it,” orders Lieutenant Hobart, according to one of the Army casualty reports. But Lieutenant Beals does not hear this command because he had been hit, and his plane crashed near Lonnewitz, Germany. At first he’s classified as missing, then killed in action.
 
As Meryl celebrated major life milestones, the world marked major events in history.

She moved to Toledo after marrying fellow service member Doug Tabner Sr., who later became WTOL’s First Sport Director. She raised four kids in Ohio.

The crash site near Lonnewitz became part of communist East Germany. This geopolitical transition slowed down the search for Lieutenant Beals.

Fast forward to 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, soon followed by the collapse of the communist Iron Curtain. Throughout it all, Meryl never stopped looking for her little brother.

Over the decades, technology improved, including forensic science, which has a revolutionary impact on the recovery of missing persons.

In 2014, the military calls Meryl, requesting a DNA sample.

A new crash site was discovered that contained shards of a life, including glass from a pair of spectacles, a piece of a heel, ripped fabric from a sweater, and bone fragments from a skull and arm that match Meryl’s DNA.

Seven decades later, Meryl got the call for which she had waited a lifetime. Her “kid” brother, as she called him, was found and was finally coming home.
 
WTOL was there as the family of Lieutenant Beals arrived at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with the exception of Meryl, who passed away just weeks after learning the search for her brother was over.

“Let’s get there and get him honored and lay him to rest,” said nephew Doug Tabner, Junior and Meryl’s son from Toledo.

Some journey from France and California, including Lieutenant Beals’ nephew, designated next of kin and namesake Don.

"He got the distinguished flying cross. Also I have all the artifacts, coins, his rusted foot locker, his actual dog tags," revealed Don Beals about the personal belongings recovered from the crash site.

At the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, a full honors military funeral service for Lieutenant Beals and his family, including a horse drawn caisson, a gun salute, as well as soldiers and Patriot Guard Riders standing at attention.

The orchestration of centuries-old military ritual recognizes the solemnity of the ultimate sacrifice made by a man who formed part of the generation known as the "Greatest," every day fewer in number.

But this moment is also for his family, who waited nearly three-quarters of a century to say, "Welcome Home," and "Rest in peace."

"It came out of nowhere for us and really provided the closure which we didn't even know we needed," said Charlie, another nephew of Lieutenant Beals.
  
As Lieutenant Beals’ family turns the page on this chapter that became woven in to American history, they hope their story gives strength to other military families waiting for their loved ones to be found.

"Don't give up hope," said Charlie Beals. “There's someone out there looking for you."

DNC WikiLeaks: The Ohio Emails

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Of the 19,000+ Democratic National Committee emails the internet activist group WikiLeaks hacked and released to the public, approximately 650 are connected to Ohio.

The emails log how the 2016 campaign sausage is made, including circulating polls, media coverage and talking points for Ohio Democrats led by chair David Pepper.

Still, three involve exchanges between reporters, the DNC and/or the Ohio Democratic Party over the Hillary Victory Fund or HVF.

Lucas County Democratic Party chairman Joshua Hughes says on the weekend release on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is a distraction.

"I think it's a red herring and it's detracting from what should be a wonderful week," says Chairman Hughes.

HVF is a fundraising committee which raised money for the Clinton campaign, the DNC and about three dozen state parties, including the Ohio Democratic Party. But the spring saw problems because some alleged, the local level wasn't getting enough money. The Sanders campaign also saw HVF as one more tool to tip the scales against him.

One leaked email reveals an exchange with Politico which questioned the financial relationship between HVF, the DNC, and the Ohio Democratic Party.

"I would prefer not to respond to this," reads the communication between an Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson to Politico's request. "There is no reason to share that level of strategic information with a reporter."

The leaked email reveals Chairman Pepper agreed with this decision.

Chairman Hughes says during the primaries, he didn't see Ohio Democrats shortchanged by HVF or any bias against the Sanders campaign.

"As chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party and my involvement with the Ohio Democratic Party, I did not witness any of that. I witnessed the Ohio Democratic Party and our own county party remaining neutral and allowing the primary process to work," he said. 

And the Democratic primary process nominated Hillary Clinton.

Despite the WikiLeaks emails, she'll become the first woman to accept a major party's nomination for U.S. president.

The question is: Come November, will she win Ohio?

Home Schooling: Were State Laws Followed in Case of Teen Allegedly Held Captive for a Year?

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Allegedly held captive for a year - that's the damaging claim of a 13-year-old girl.

She says her stepfather Timothy Ciboro and his son Esten Ciboro shackled her in the basement of their home for a year until she recently escaped.

But how could this happen to a school-aged child?

An ongoing Toledo police and Lucas County Child Protective Services investigation revealed the 13-year-old, and her younger half-siblings were not in Toledo Public Schools (TPS), but home-schooled.

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy said the girl has "never stepped foot inside a public school.”

And then, a startling revelation about the 13-year-old's half-siblings from TPS spokeswoman Patty Mazur, who was in the room with Associate Superintendent Murphy:

"We didn't even know these kids existed until this."

How could these children have fallen through the cracks?

To answer that question, WTOL 11 examined the State of Ohio’s rules on home schooling.

The Ohio Department of Education gives parents the right to home-school their children.

But Parents or guardians must follow rules, including:

  • Provide yearly notification to the school district where the student lives.
  • Provide, each year, a School Year Plan detailing the subjects to be covered and a total of 900 hours of instruction.
  • Provide, each year, a Year-end Assessment proving the student passed and can continue onto the next grade.

The Ohio Department of Education writes the rules, but doesn't not provide any oversight:
 
WTOL 11 News’ Viviana Hurtado: "Is there ever face to face contact that TPS will have w/ the home-schooled student or the person doing the homeschooling?"

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy: "No."

WTOL 11 News’ Viviana Hurtado: "There is no criminal background check?"

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy: "Correct."
 
Supervision of home schooling education stays at the local level.

"The local district does not submit any of the documents regarding its home-schooled students to the Ohio Department of Education,” confirms Ohio Department of Education spokesperson Brittany Halpin in an email to WTOL 11 News.
 
Under Ohio public records laws, WTOL 11 requested to view documents from Toledo Public Schools connected to the home schooling of the three children living at the Noble Street home.

Citing the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act or (FERPA), Associate Superintendent Murphy declined our questions on oversight of the 13-year-old's home schooling. The paperwork may provide insight into the students' learning.
 
Associate Superintendent Murphy affirms Toledo Public Schools follows state law, but admits, "Can the homeschooling system be improved? Absolutely it could be improved.”

Exclusive: Senator Rob Portman "I'm supporting Donald Trump for President"

Fremont, OH (WTOL) - Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R) has generally said he would support the Republican presidential nominee no matter the outcome of the primaries. On Friday, he exclusively told WTOL 11's Viviana Hurtado that he is endorsing presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

"I have said for a long time that I intend to support the Republican nominee. Republican voters have now gone through the process, they have selected Donald Trump, and so I'm supporting Donald Trump for President," affirmed the incumbent Senator.

Portman is one of a handful of so-called vulnerable Republican lawmakers throughout the country who are in tight races they could lose.

At play: the Donald Trump factor. Some candidates are staying far away. Others say Trump doesn't factor into their local races and issues.

Then there are those who have jumped on the Trump train and hope to ride it to victory. 

In the latest polls, for example, a Public Policy Polling (PPP) conducted on March 10, 2016, Senator Portman is locked in a statistical dead heat with his opponent, Democrat and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland - 40 percent to 41 percent. 

In our WTOL 11 interview, Portman hit Strickland hard on the economic front, criticizing the former governor for Ohio's economic standing when he left office. The Republican pointed to the Buckeye state’s ranking as 48th in the nation for job creation and the loss of 350,000 jobs. Strickland’s governed during the Great Recession. 

Portman noted that Republican leadership, including his own, has turned around Ohio’s economy.

"Ohio is doing better, finally, than the rest of the country because of Republican policies put in place. Unemployment is better, more jobs are coming in. Again, top 10 in the country. But it's not good enough," said Sen. Portman. 

A gamble for Senator Portman is how Donald Trump will factor in Ohio. Political analysts say Trump has alienated blocks of voters, including women and suburbanites. But the presumptive Republican nominee has also attracted new people to the GOP, including blue collar voters. 

Ohio's Senator race, like the one for President, will be close, coming down to the voters who show up at the polls. With seven months to go, both contests are up for grabs.