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Exploradio: How Ohio Became a Hotbed of Gorilla Research

They’re the largest of the great apes. Imposing and impressive, gorillas inspire fear and admiration. But local researchers say they also serve as models of gentleness and family harmony. In this week’s Exploradio, we look at Ohio’s role in gorilla conservation and visit the gorillas in our midst.

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photo of Mike DeWine
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Gov. Mike DeWine will ask lawmakers this week to raise the state’s 28 cent a gallon gas tax, a recommendation from a committee he appointed. That increase would patch a hole of more than a billion dollars in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s budget. But DeWine won’t yet get specific on what he’ll ask for.

photo of Dave Yost
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s attorney general says one of the prescription drug middlemen working with the Bureau of Workers Compensation took millions of dollars in overpayments that rightfully belong the state. 

photo of bitcoin symbol
CREATIVE COMMONS

The state has been allowing people to pay 23 kinds of taxes in the digital currency bitcoin for almost three months, in an effort to establish Ohio as a leader in blockchain technology. 

 

Former treasurer Josh Mandel announced in November that taxpayers can pay in bitcoin through a third-party vendor.

At an Ohio Associated Press forum, new treasurer Robert Sprague said the state has accepted two transactions so far.

photo of Gov. Mike DeWine
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Gov. Mike DeWine says no executions will happen in Ohio until the state can come up with a new lethal injection process.

DeWine cites a federal court judge’s opinion on Ohio’s lethal injection process and the upcoming execution of Wayne Keith Henness, which DeWine delayed.

“Ohio’s not going to execute someone on my watch when it’s cruel and unusual punishment.”

DeWine says executions can resume when there’s a new protocol that can survive court challenges.

photo of medical marijuana sign
FLICKR

It’s been more than a month now since medical marijuana was available for sale in limited parts of Ohio. Nearly a million dollars’ worth of it has been sold.

photo of Gary Daniels
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Once again, the ACLU of Ohio is pushing for criminal justice reform with a new report on what it calls the “Statehouse to prison pipeline."

The ACLU’s Gary Daniels said the report shows too many Ohioans are being locked up.

“Our prison system is about 11,000 to 12,000 people above capacity right now," he said.

Daniels said lawmakers have loosened penalties to divert some low-level offenders from lockups but are still passing new tough-on-crime legislation.

Photo of Sherrod Brown
WKSU

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, Feb. 19:

natural gas drilling rig
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Encino Energy is continuing to ramp up staffing at its new headquarters in Stark County. 

Encino is a natural gas and oil acquistion and development company created by a group of successful former executives of other major gas & oil corporations. Late last year it made a multi-billion dollar deal to get the Ohio holdings of Chesapeake Energy, the original leader in the Utica Shale development.

Supporting equipment at a drilling site
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

A new study shows that the drilling boom in south east Ohio is not contributing as much as it could to the local economy.

One of the authors, Amanda Weinstein of the University of Akron, says part of this loss is because many of the workers in those drilling areas are spending their earnings elsewhere.

Photo of bills
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Two Republican state representatives will unveil legislation Tuesday to change the state’s prevailing wage laws. Ohio’s lawmakers have been trying to alter those laws for a while now.

Since 1931, Ohio has had a law mandating trade workers on certain state and local projects be paid specific hourly wages and benefits. 

Two Republican lawmakers want to ban the mandate that local governments, universities and others pay the prevailing wage, saying doing so will lower the cost of construction projects.

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From NPR

The Trump administration says it intends to cancel a $929 million federal grant for California's high-speed rail project. The administration also wants to reclaim another $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent by California on the project.

The Department of Transportation is accusing California officials of missing several deadlines tied to the $929 million appropriation for the state's high speed rail line.

Um yeaaaah, we’re gonna have to go ahead and note that Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the release of “Office Space,” the 1999 movie that follows a few software company workers who hate their jobs.

101: What's the deal with the Green New Deal?

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The Senate is set to bring the Green New Deal to a vote as early as this week. Crafted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, it's an ambitious plan to de-carbonize the American economy while adding new jobs in infrastructure and alternative energy. Environmental reporter and podcaster Amy Westervelt tells us what's in the Green New Deal and how it's faring in the climate of Washington, D.C. Plus, an important clarification on some Toto lyrics.

Walmart reports a great holiday quarter

4 hours ago

Walmart posted surprisingly strong same-store sales for the quarter that ended in January, up 4.2 percent. The retailer has been through quite the turnaround over the past five years — at this point in 2014, Walmart had posted six straight quarters of declining or flat sales. But e-commerce, online grocery sales, and brick-and-mortar refurbishments have helped the retailer stay competitive against Amazon. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

A convicted Chinese trafficker known as the "ivory queen" has been sentenced to 15 years in jail by a Tanzanian court.

Yang Fenglan, who has lived in Tanzania on and off for decades and operated a Chinese restaurant, was found guilty of working with two Tanzanian men to smuggle more than 800 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004, as Reuters reported.

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