News from around the Buckeye State

Proposal seeks to override local pet store regulation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio panel is continuing to review a proposal to override local ordinances that regulate pet stores.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee added the idea to an unrelated tax measure last week. It heard testimony Wednesday.

Grove City’s council members voted in March to require pet stores to purchase animals from shelters and rescue groups. The ordinance would block stores from getting animals from high-volume breeders, which critics say are often “puppy mills” that treat animals poorly. It’s slated to take effect on Jan. 1.

Toledo also bars the sale of dogs by retailers unless obtained through shelters and rescue groups.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger says the amendment needs more vetting and maybe its own separate bill.

The Senate committee had inserted the idea into a House bill.

Man found competent for trial in sisters’ slayings

CINCINNATI (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting his two sisters and injuring another teenager as the three sat in a vehicle at the family’s suburban Cincinnati home has been found competent to stand trial.

Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Hayden of Colerain Township was found competent Wednesday in a Hamilton County court.

The judge agreed with a forensic psychologist who recommended that Hayden continue to be held at a state psychiatric hospital.

Prosecutors allege Hayden shot his 16- and 17-year-old sisters and wounded a 17-year-old boy in October. Authorities haven’t publicly discussed a possible motive.

Hayden is charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for his lawyer.

A trial date hasn’t been set. Hayden is due back in court next month.

Ohio sponsor seeks vote on so-called Pastor Protection Act

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Backers of a bill that would let Ohio’s churches and pastors refuse to perform same-sex marriages are calling for action on the legislation.

Sponsoring Rep. Nino Vitale said Wednesday the bill has had three House committee hearings and it’s time to vote. The Urbana Republican introduced the measure after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision allowing same-sex marriage last year.

Under the so-called Pastor Protection Act, no clergy could be required to solemnize a marriage or have their church property used to host a ceremony that’s against their religious beliefs.

Opponents say the state and U.S. constitutions already protect religious freedom and the bill’s unnecessary.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger told reporters Wednesday the bill could open up pastors to vulnerabilities, and he believes the U.S. Constitution provides them protections.

LGBT Methodist clergy join national letter to church

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A group of central Ohio Methodist ministers has joined other clergy across the country who came out as LGBT in a letter to the church ahead of the denomination’s general conference in Oregon.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the handful of local Methodist leaders are among more than 100 clergy members and candidates who came out in a letter to the church on Monday.

The letter is part of a campaign of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Methodist church.

The church’s Book of Discipline calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The Methodist meeting began Tuesday in Portland, Oregon, with discussion and votes on issues related to gay marriage scheduled for next Tuesday.

Ohio police not charged in fatal shooting of man who had gun

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio prosecutor says a grand jury declined to indict two Columbus police officers in the fatal shooting of a man who they said had struggled with one officer and reached for a gun.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says a grand jury reviewed the Oct. 15 shooting of 25-year-old Deaunte Bell earlier this week.

O’Brien says Bell was in the backseat of a vehicle when officers approached to speak to the occupants. O’Brien says Bell didn’t comply with orders to keep his hands up, and officers fired when he reached for a gun that was in his pocket.

Bell was on court-ordered supervision for a previous weapons conviction when the shooting occurred.

No one else was hurt.

Ohio fights order to return tigers, baboons to farm owner

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio is fighting a court order to return five tigers, two pumas, two baboons and one chimpanzee to a Massillon (MAS’-ih-luhn) farm.

The state asked the Ohio Supreme Court in a motion Wednesday to stop action in the case after a Stark County judge ordered the animals returned to Stump Hill Farm, in northeast Ohio, by May 19.

The state says the owner didn’t meet tightened restrictions on such animals, and argues that returning them poses a risk to public safety and the animals’ health. It says Ohio’s Department of Agriculture has oversight of dangerous wild animals, and argues the county judge didn’t have jurisdiction to make such an order.

The owner’s attorney says the animals weren’t endangering anyone and the seizure was premature because a related appeal is pending.