Associated Press

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A newspaper is reporting that shootings in Cincinnati increased nearly 28 percent in 2015 compared with the previous year, and the city's mayor says reducing gun violence is the top priority in the new year.
 
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the number of shooting victims last year was 479, the highest since the 510 reported in 2006. The newspaper also reports homicides increased to 71 in 2015, up nearly 13 percent over 2014.
 
Political and law enforcement officials say they are working to find answers to the violence outbreak.

Authorities in a southwest Ohio city say a house fire that resulted in a firefighter's death has been ruled arson.
 
Hamilton officials said Monday that the Dec. 28 death of 28-year-old Patrick Wolterman is now being investigated as a homicide. They declined immediately to discuss more details but urged the public to offer any information that could help their investigation.
 
Wolterman entered the smoke-filled home and died soon after falling through a floor into a basement. Firefighters learned later that the couple who lived there was away on vacation.
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio saw more job openings during a 30-day period this fall that at any time since it began tracking those numbers in 2011.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that statewide there were 240,000 job openings posted between mid-October and mid-November. Nearly 50,000 were in central Ohio and more than 40 percent offered annual pay of $50,000 or more.

The biggest demand was for truck drivers, followed by registered nurses, retail workers and customer-service representatives.

The State Highway Patrol says the number of traffic deaths around Ohio has increased for the second year in a row.

The state had at least 1,057 confirmed traffic fatalities in 2015. That's up from 1,008 for 2014 and 990 confirmed for 2013, which was the lowest reported since the record-keeping started in the 1930s.
 
Preliminary statistics tallied before New Year's Eve show at least 42 more deaths from the past year are under review but not yet confirmed as traffic fatalities.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that laws protecting consumers from deceptive practices don't apply to insurance company repair estimates.

The court made that ruling on Tuesday in the case involving a Columbus insurer, voting 5-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that said an insurance company providing a repair estimate constituted a "consumer transaction."

The case involved a couple who sued Farmers Insurance Co. in a dispute over the use of original manufacturer parts or cheaper non-original parts in the repair of their 2-year-old car.

The Ohio Supreme Court is allowing lawsuits that sought copies of police dash cam and body cam video to continue.

In separate 5-2 decisions Wednesday the court ordered lawyers on both sides to submit all arguments and counter-arguments by the end of February.

At issue is State Highway Patrol dash cam video of a high-speed chase on Jan. 22 on Interstate 71 through Warren and Hamilton counties, and body-cam video involving the July 19 fatal shooting of a black motorist in a traffic stop by a white University of Cincinnati police officer.

Final election results show that opposition was strongest in suburbia to Ohio's first-in-the-nation effort to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in a single vote.

About 7 in 10 voters in counties ringing Columbus and Toledo voted against November's Issue 3, as did over 60 percent in counties outside Dayton, Cleveland and Cincinnati. That's according to an analysis provided to The Associated Press by Columbus-based election statistics expert Mike Dawson.

Ohio drivers are seeing slightly higher prices at the pump as 2015 comes to an end.

The state average for a gallon of regular fuel was about $1.89 in Monday's survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That's up 8 cents from a week ago but down 16 cents compared with this time last year.

Ohio's prices have been running below the national average for regular gas, which was $2.00 to start this week. A year ago, it was about $2.30.

A legislative panel is questioning more than $650 million in untaxed freebies that Ohio casinos and racinos have distributed since the first legalized gambling establishment opened in March 2012.

In a strongly worded report being released Monday, the Joint Committee on Gaming and Wagering urges lawmakers to consider revoking tax exemptions the governor and Legislature granted, respectively, to casinos and racinos "to protect the interests of Ohio's schools, local government, and taxpayers."

A group that has pushed the Ohio Parole Board to allow elderly inmates who've served long prison sentences to go free has held a protest in downtown Columbus for its third consecutive Christmas.

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