DAYTON, Ohio - The Ohio Attorney General has a message to businesses that have outstanding smoking fines...pay or his office will come knocking at their door.
This comes after a 2 NEWS investigation exposed more than two million dollars of unpaid smoking citations in Ohio.
2 NEWS Investigates is back on the story and is finding out what's next for these businesses who owe money and what the attorney general has planned to collect it.
Attorney General, Mike DeWine says his office is helping the Public Health Department collect fines from businesses who were cited for allowing smoking in their establishments.
But after our investigation, we wanted to know how he plans to make it work after fines went unpaid for years.
Millions of dollars are owed to the state of Ohio in smoking fines, and according to the Montgomery County Public Health Department, nearly 300 thousand of that is coming from several Montgomery County businesses.
All fined for allowing customers to smoke inside their bars and restaurants, but a 2 NEWS investigation exposed a problem: it's not easy to enforce.
"The state wasn't ready to enforce a strict collections policy and so lots of departments had lots of fine letters issued and simply fines weren’t being paid,” said Mark Case with the Montgomery County Public Health Department.
The Public Health Department is now partnering with the Attorney General's office to collect the fines But we wanted to know if they're doing their job.
Natalie: "Are you ever going to see this money?"
DeWine: "We are starting to see some of it. We’ve successfully collected some of it."
Attorney General Mike DeWine tells 2 NEWS Investigates it can take years to collect the money owed to the state because the fined businesses still have a right to go to court and they need to have money to take it.
"We are going to stay right on them. You know if a business goes out of business and let’s say they were a corporation, the law provides you can only get money from that corporation," said DeWine.
DeWine said last year he enlisted the help of another agency to try and get more businesses to pay up.
"One of the things that’s really starting to work is the whole idea of taking away their license. When their license is up for renewal… that is their liquor license, having the Liquor Control Commission jerk their license or not renew their license. That gets people's attention real quick," said DeWine.
In fact, the Attorney General's office says two of the establishments on the Montgomery County Public Health Department's list are awaiting hearings to determine if their liquor licenses will be renewed.
But even after that effort, DeWine can't guarantee the state will see its full 2 million dollars.
"Will all these dollars be collected? Probably not, that's just the way it works. We don't like that, but we do whatever we can do to collect that money that's our job," said DeWine.
DeWine said he's worked with several businesses on a settlement plan once they agree to start paying their fines. But if they refuse, they face even more fines and interest.
Riverside residents met with the Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Health after concerns of toxic chemicals could be polluting their homes.
The Darke County Sheriff's Office was busy responding to several weather-related crashes Tuesday night. Deputies say many of the main roads are clear but most of the secondary streets are caked in ice and snow.
2 NEWS has confirmed Deb Piotrowski will leave her position with Xenia Community Schools.
Bobby Smith, 20, of Miami Township was found dead in front of an apartment building in the 1300 block of Camphill Way around 12:15 a.m.
A plan to build a $22-million dollar sports complex next door to the new music center was approved at Tuesday night's Huber Heights City Planning Commission meeting.