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Morning news headlines for December 14, 2012
New turnpike plan unveiled; Landis wins close House race; Busy final day for Ohio's General Assembly
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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  • Kasich’s turnpike plan unveiled
  • ODOT exploring tolls on stretch of US 30
  • ACLU calls for special prosecutor in Cleveland police shooting
  • Landis declared winner of close Ohio House race
  • Senate passes redistricting proposal; House won’t act on it this year
  • Statehouse passes increase in minimum car insurance
  • Arsonists will be forced to register under new bill
  • Lawmakers pass bill to allow guns in cars in Statehouse garage
  • Casino fees paying for paid internships
  • Kasich’s turnpike plan unveiled
    Governor John Kasich has formally unveiled his plans to generate extra revenue from Ohio’s Turnpike. After more than a year of controversy surrounding Kasich’s idea to sell or lease the toll road, Kasich on Thursday said he settled on keeping it public. The turnpike will remain under the control of a revamped Ohio Turnpike Commission – a commission that will expand and work more closely with the state Department of Transportation. Under Kasich’s proposal, tolls for local passenger trips paid with E-ZPass will be frozen at current levels for 10 years. All other tolls will be capped at the rate of inflation, or about 2.7 percent annually. The state would generate up to $3 billion by issuing two new bonds and getting matching local and federal funds. 90 percent of the revenue would be spent on Northern Ohio projects, and Kasich says it will create 65,000 new jobs. Some Ohio Democrats on Thursday said Kasich’s plan will hurt families who will have to pay the higher tolls.

    ODOT exploring tolls on stretch of US 30
    A new toll road may be coming to a part of the region that is seeing increased traffic for the growing oil and gas drilling industry. The Beacon Journal reports ODOT is exploring whether to charge tolls along a stretch of US Route 30 in Stark and Columbiana Counties to fund improvements to the highway. The state has wanted to expand the stretch of road from two lanes to four for years. ODOT commissioned a feasibility study a year ago and expects the results in a few weeks.

    ACLU calls for special prosecutor in Cleveland police shooting
    The American Civil Liberties Union wants the state to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the investigation into a deadly police shooting in Cleveland last month. The Plain Dealer reports the group wants to make sure nobody involved in the shooting take part in the investigation. More than two-dozen officers from four departments converged in East Cleveland and fired nearly 140 shots, killing Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell. Both were unarmed. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine tells the newspaper that his office has no authority to appoint a special prosecutor in this case.

    Landis declared winner of close Ohio House race
    More than five weeks after the November election, Ohio’s only undecided House race finally has been settled.  Republican incumbent Al Landis of Dover has been declared the winner over Democrat Josh Farrell of New Philadelphia in the 98th district in Tuscarawas County. Landis led by 15 votes, triggering an automatic recount. Then, county of board elections members squabbled over some disputed ballots during that process. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office gave the board a deadline today to come to an agreement. Landis’ win gives the Republicans in Ohio House a supermajority.

    Senate passes redistricting proposal; House won’t act on it this year
    A bipartisan proposal to change the way Ohio draws state legislative and congressional lines has cleared the state Senate with almost unanimous support. The resolution would create a seven-member commission to draw all maps, and at least one minority party member would have to approve the boundaries. The House isn't expected to act on the proposal and that chamber's vote is needed to put the measure before voters. Sen. Frank LaRose, a co-sponsor, said the Senate plan could serve as a roadmap for discussion next year. Voters in November rejected a ballot proposal to revise Ohio's redistricting process.

    Statehouse passes increase in minimum car insurance
    A new law approved by Ohio lawmakers would raise the minimum amount of car insurance motorists are required to carry. Both the Ohio House and Senate passed bills Thursday that would raise minimum coverages. For example, the state minimum for property damage coverage would jump from $7,500 to $25,000. State Rep. Mark Okey, one of the sponsors of the House bill, says current limits are so low that they leave a lot of drivers vulnerable. He noted that no changes have been made to the minimum requirements since 1969, while the cost of cars and car repair has skyrocketed. Okey acknowledges that it will lead to some people paying higher premiums, but he said the increased cost won't be dramatic.

    Arsonists will be forced to register under new bill
    Convicted arsonists in Ohio would be required to register with local sheriffs under a bill headed to the governor's desk. Gov. John Kasich plans to sign it. The legislation creates a statewide registry of arsonists and requires them to register annually with the sheriff in the county where they live, costing $25 annually. Supporters say the measure could help deter repeat arsons. The registry would not be a public record

    Lawmakers pass bill to allow guns in cars in Statehouse garage
    The Ohio Legislature has approved a bill to let lawmakers and visitors to the Capitol leave guns in vehicles parked in the Statehouse garage. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday, and the House agreed to the changes. It now heads to the governor for his likely signature.

    Casino fees paying for paid internships
    The state says about 3,500 college students in Ohio will get paid internships and co-ops through a program funded by $11 million in casino license fees. Recipients of the funds were announced Thursday by the Ohio Board of Regents.  The one-time funding was included in legislation establishing the four casinos in Ohio. In total, 10 colleges and 13 public or private universities will receive grants, which require matching funds from employers. The University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University and Wright State will receive the highest amounts. The money is expected to help schools fight the so-called "brain drain" from the state.

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