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Morning Headlines: Lawmakers Consider Scaling Back Gas Tax Increase, Pence to Fundraise in Columbus

Photo of Mike DeWine
Mike DeWine

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 6:

  • Lawmakers consider scaling back gas tax increase;
  • Mike Pence to visit Columbus;
  • Norwalk teen testifies before Congress to address vaccine stigma;
  • Doctor denies he intentionally killed patient;
  • Dozen hospitalized after 60-car pileup on Route 8;
  • Rep. Tim Ryan calls for GM to invest in Lordstown plant;

Lawmakers consider scaling back gas tax increase
Just hours after Gov. Mike DeWine touted his proposed 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase in his state of the state speech Tuesday, state lawmakers considered clawing it back to 10.7-cents-a-gallon. Cleveland.com reports House Bill 62 would phase-in the gas tax increase starting in October, with additional tax increases in 2020 and 2021. The gas tax increase would help fill the looming billion-dollar hole in the state’s road construction budget. Lawmakers are expected to meet again tonight. A full-house vote could come as early as Thursday.

Mike Pence to visit Columbus
Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Columbus to headline a fundraiser for the oil-and-gas industry. The Republican vice president is to appear Friday at the annual meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a trade association for companies that explore, produce and develop crude oil and natural gas resources within the state. The appearance comes as President Donald Trump's administration works to promote rollbacks of environmental and safety rules for the energy sector, which government projections show would deliver billions of dollars in savings to energy companies. An Associated Press analysis found relaxing those regulations would increase premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution and increase climate-warming emissions, among other impacts.

Norwalk teen testifies before Congress to address vaccine stigma
A teen from Norwalk, who defied his mother's anti-vaccine beliefs when he turned 18 and received immunization shots, testified before Congress Tuesday. Ethan Lindenberger told a Senate Committee that it's crucial to counter fake claims that vaccines are dangerous on social media. Vaccination against a list of diseases is required to attend school, but in Ohio and 16 other states, there are non-medical exemptions for personal, moral or other beliefs. Last December, Lindenberger began catching up on his missed immunizations. He told lawmakers it's important to remind people just how dangerous diseases really are. Lindenberger’s mother said she was proud of how her son carried himself but fears he’s been made the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.

Doctor denies he intentionally killed patient
A Columbus doctor accused of ordering excessive painkiller doses for dozens of patients who died denies he intentionally prescribed drugs to end a woman's life. The response is part of a court filing seeking dismissal of a lawsuit against Dr. William Husel over the death of 64-year-old Bonnie Austin. His lawyer argued Husel is also immune to the suit under state law. The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System fired Husel in December. Husel and the hospital face dozens of wrongful death and medical negligence suits. Mount Carmel claims Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients over several years.

Dozen hospitalized after 60-car pileup on Route 8
About a dozen people were hospitalized in a more than 60 vehicle crash Tuesday on Route 8 northbound in Hudson. The Beacon Journal reports icy roads caused the pileup around 3 p.m. Officials said no one appeared to suffer life threatening injuries. It took nearly four hours to clear the roadway.

Rep. Tim Ryan calls for GM to invest in Lordstown plant
Congressman Tim Ryan is again calling for General Motors (GM) to invest in electric car production at its soon-to-be-shuttered Lordstown assembly plant. Ryan spoke to students at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent Tuesday, many of whom have been directly affected by layoffs at the GM plant. The Record-Courier reports Ryan has had discussions with GM CEO Mary Barra about developing the Lordstown facility into an electric car facility to keep jobs in Ohio, but said he can make no promises. The last North American made Chevy Cruze rolls off the production line at Lordstown Wednesday.