WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) - A bipartisan group of Ohio and Michigan members of Congress is asking President Barack Obama to help communities in the two states deal with abandoned and vacant homes.
In a letter dated Monday, the 16 lawmakers say stressed local governments need federal support to demolish decaying properties on a large scale.
The letter says weak housing markets in Ohio and Michigan have been devastated by slow population growth. The lawmakers say it's estimated Ohio has more than 70,000 empty homes in such bad shape that they need to be torn down.
Forecasters say Ohio is in for a snowy and icy start to the weekend.
Most of the state is under a winter weather advisory beginning Friday afternoon and continuing into late morning on Saturday. Up to 6 inches of snow is expected in northern Ohio, while the southern half of the state is likely to receive snow and freezing rain.
Ohio's unemployment rate has dropped again, following the biggest one-month decline in almost 30 years.
The state Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday that the state had joblessness of 8.1 percent in December, down from 8.5 percent in November. The November rate had been down a full half-point from October's even 9 percent.
Ohio's relatively low rates for property insurance are expected to rise in 2012 due to the damaging storms of recent years.
An insurance agent in Middletown in southwest Ohio says Mother Nature has had her way with the state. Gary Grimes of Insurance Associates tells the (Hamilton) JournalNews he expects homeowner rates to go up 10 percent this year.
Insurers can't raise rates to make up for past storms, but the history can be used to predict future losses to help set prices.
Ohio officials say the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling that Ohio's protocol for carrying out lethal injections is constitutional.
Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement yesterday that the state will ask the high court to reverse a federal appeals court decision delaying the Wednesday execution of Charles Lorraine.