Associated Press

A coalition of tea party groups says Republican Governor John Kasich's plan to raise the severance tax on oil and gas drillers to fund an income tax cut is "unnecessary and unwise." The idea remains stalled in the GOP-controlled Legislature. The Ohio Liberty Coalition is telling its members to urge lawmakers to oppose the proposal. The group's president says Kasich should trim state spending if he want cut taxes. Public opinion polls indicate voters support Kasich's proposal. 

The Labor Department says the number of claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Ohio rose by nearly 6-thousand last week, third most behind New York and Michigan. Nationally, claims rose by 34-thousand to a seasonally adjusted 386-thousand, reversing a decline from the previous week. Economists note the Department struggles to adjust claims figures to reflect temporary summertime layoffs in the auto industry. Many automakers are foregoing the typical factory shutdowns amid stronger sales. Applications must fall consistently below 375-thousand to lower the unemployment rate. 

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp says second-quarter profit rose by 15 percent to 376-million dollars, as a sharp drop in writeoffs of unpaid loans enabled the firm to reduce how much it set aside to cover problem lending. Fifth Third wrote off 181 million in unpaid loans, down 40 percent from last year. It set aside 71 million to cover bad debt, down 37 percent from the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, Cleveland based Keycorp reports second quarter profit fell by 3-million to 231-million dollars as it wrote off fewer unpaid loans, and loans and deposits increased.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission says the Columbus casino should open by October 8th, as long as it meets necessary requirements. Those include the installation of 3-thousand slot machines, 70 table games, and the licensing of employees and the casino itself. Owner Penn National Gaming says 900 of the 2 thousand planned employees have been hired. Meanwhile Cuyahoga County Prosecutors say they have compelling video evidence against seven men indicted for cheating at the Cleveland Casino. Six have pleaded not guilty while the seventh is awaiting arraignment.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrapped up a campaign swing through Ohio with a high-end fundraising event last night at a country club near Canton. Prices for the reception, photo session and dinner ranged from 25-hundred to 50-thousand dollars. Romney repeated his recent campaign theme that President Obama doesn't understand how the economy works. Romney also brushed aside additional calls for the release of more of his yearly tax returns.

The attorney for a Columbus man imprisoned in Dubai for more than four years on fraud charges says his client is now free on bond and is receiving medical attention. Eric Akers says Zack Shahin's family remains concerned for his well-being. Shahin's family has said Dubai authorities have mistreated him. Akers says Shahin lost 50 pounds in prison and has heart problems. Shahin was CEO of Deyaar Development Company, which began as a subsidiary of the Dubai Islamic Bank. He was accused of defrauding the bank out of 501 million dollars

Attorney General Mike DeWine says the owner of two state-funded day care operations in northwest Ohio has been convicted of fraudulently billing the state for thousands of dollars in care that wasn't provided.

The search for an Ashland man wanted in the killing of his girlfriend has moved to Columbus. Police say a central Ohio resident reported seeing a man suspected of killing his on-and-off girlfriend during a vacation to North Carolina's Outer Banks, but a search turned up nothing.

Police say an Ohio man charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend and her pregnant sister in Michigan fatally shot himself in a remote West Virginia cabin after seeing U.S. marshals closing in on him.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is doubling the amount of medication it provides to mentally ill inmates as they leave prison in hopes of easing their transition and keeping them from committing new crimes. 

The Department of Homeland Security is expanding access to an immigration database so that several states can use it to cleanse voter rolls. 

Officials say a three-day sweep turned up no Asian carp in Chicago's Lake Calumet, where DNA had been found repeatedly in recent months. 

A former teacher in central Ohio has been arrested for possessing images of nude children after authorities said a flash drive containing photos was found at his desk this spring.

A coal company has pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act involving wastewater spills into a southeast Ohio stream. It could cost the company more than $7 million.

Attorney General Mike DeWine says Ohio has 667 Internet cafes - more than twice the state's earlier estimate. 

The U.S. Olympic Committee says 17 athletes with Ohio hometowns are among the 530 members of the American team that will compete in London starting on July 27th. 

The Ohio Department of Commerce says a tentative settlement in a lawsuit over interest earned on unclaimed funds is worth up to 15 million dollars. The department collects money from dormant bank accounts, forgotten rent deposits and other sources and invests the money until the owners are found. A judge previously ruled the interest must be paid to residents who have collected their money. The department says people who have collected funds since August 3rd of 2000 are eligible for interest under the settlement. The deal must be approved by a court. 

Norfolk Southern Railorad says it has cleared the site of Wednesday's train derailment and explosion near the state fairgrounds and has restored full rail service in the area. The company says the three tank cars carrying ethanol that exploded have been removed,  and the second of two affected
main-line tracks reopened early this morning. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash. A spokesperson has said the train was traveling below the recommended speed, and its operators noticed no problems with the track as they approached the site. 

Columbus-based Nationwide has become the first major insurance company to say it will not cover damage related to the natural gas drilling technique called fracking.  Spokesperson Nancy Smeltzer says the company's personal and commercial policies "were not designed to cover" risk from fracking. Smeltzer says says the risk applies to policies of commercial contractors and landowners who lease property to gas companies. Meanwhile a new U.S.

The Urbana man accused of stabbing, suffocating and dismembering his girlfriend has pleaded guilty to multiple charges. 26-year-old Matthew Puccio will be sentenced next month in the March death of 21-year-old Jessica Sacco. Her remains were found in the bathtub of their Urbana apartment a week after police believe she was killed. A Michigan couple and two other Urbana residents have pleaded not guilty in the case. Investigators say those suspects failed to intervene and helped Puccio dispose of the body parts in southern Ohio and Kentucky.

Fairfield County sheriff's deputies say the parents of a 4-year-old girl who was confined at night in a bed wrapped with steel mesh fencing are each being held on 500-thousand dollars bond. 34-year-old Russell Terry and 32-year-old Jamie Curnell were were arrested after deputies discovered the bed while responding to a domestic violence call Tuesday at their Pleasantville home. The parents told deputies they confined the girl at night to keep her from getting up. The child and an 8-month-old baby are with protective services. 

The U.S House Agriculture Committee has approved a five-year farm bill that gives growers new ways to protect themselves from adversity. It also cuts funding for the food stamp program. 

Norfolk Southern Railroad says the fire from a train derailment and explosion on Columbus' North side is now out. Crews are working to clear the train cars from the site of Wednesday morning's derailment and blast near the state fairgrounds. Authorities decided to allow the three tank cars carrying ethanol to burn before spraying a chemical foam to prevent the blaze from re-igniting. The National Transportation Safety Board says high speed and track conditions do not appear to be factors in the accident.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services has placed a juvenile prison guard on paid leave because of media attention over the homicide of the 2-year-old son of his one-time girlfriend. The agency says the questions involve the October beating death of Bri'Sean Gamble in Stark County. The boy's
grandmother, Phyllis Wheat, tells The Associated Press guard Alan Aeschlimann was living with the boy's mother at the time. The department says the attention is affecting daily operations at Indian River Juvenile Correctional facility in Massillon. 

The union representing prison employees is suing the state, seeking to overturn private prison contracts and get 270 laid-off employees back on the job. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association claims  privatization violates state laws, including a prohibition against lending state credit to private companies A union spokesperson says the jobs were lost when the state leased the

The Labor Department says claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Ohio fell last week by nearly 16-hundred. Nationally, claims fell by 26-thousand to a seasonally-adjusted 350-thousand. That is the lowest level in four years. The department credits seasonal factors for the decline. Automakers traditionally close their plants for the first two weeks in July to prepare to build new models, but this year they are limiting the shutdowns in order to increase production. That resulted in fewer temporary layoffs than normal.

Former Democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland says a tv ad by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes a moment from "a very heated" 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign. The 2012 Obama campaign co-chair is seen in the ad nodding in agreement behind 2008 candidate Hillary Clinton as she criticizes Obama for mailings she says distorted her record. The Romney ad claims Obama uses the same tactics against him.

A Hocking County judge has denied a motion seeking a new trial for a man convicted of killing his estranged wife last year. William Inman II was convicted last month and sentenced to life in prison in the death of 25-year-old Summer Inman. The judge rejected defense claims that a witness'
criminal background was not disclosed before he testified at trial. The judge says there is no indication the verdict would have been different if jurors had disregarded the testimony. 

A freight train derailment and explosion in Columbus near the Ohio State Fairgrounds forced authorities to evacuate a mile-wide area of the city to contain the blaze and determine what's burning.

Two Columbus men who allegedly robbed a western Pennsylvania jewelry store Monday were captured after hiding from police in a restaurant bathroom and a trash container.