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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Morning Headlines: Trump Calls for GM to Reopen Lordstown, O'Rourke to Visit Cleveland

photo of Lordstown GM assembly line
Lordstown GM Plant

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, March 18: 

  • Trump calls for General Motors to reopen Lordstown;
  • Democratic candidate O'Rourke to visit Cleveland;
  • Official wants new ride safety rules for Ohio State Fair;
  • MetroHealth to increase minimum wage;
  • Agency designed by Kasich to cut red tape now blocked;
  • Interstate 76, 77 eastbound lanes to reopen;

Trump calls for General Motors to reopen Lordstown
President Donald Trump stepped up his pressure on General Motors to reopen its Lordstown plant that recently closed and put 1,700 people out of work. Trump's arm-twisting came in a series of separate tweets on Saturday and Sunday. He capped his weekend rant against the GM with a tweet disclosing that he had vented his frustrations during a conversation with the company's CEO, Mary Barra. Trump had previously told Lordstown's UAW leader, David Green, to "get his act together and produce" for the Lordstown workers. In a statement, Green responded, "We're doing everything we can with the Drive It Home Ohio campaign to convince General Motors CEO Mary Barra to reinvest in GM Lordstown.”

Democratic candidate O'Rourke to visit Cleveland
Democrat Bete O'Rourke is taking his presidential campaign to Northeast Ohio Monday afternoon. The former Texas congressman plans to hold a meet and greet with voters at Gino's Cento Anno in South Cleveland at 3:30 p.m., with no other events scheduled throughout the day. O'Rourke is one of more than a dozen candidates either thinking about running or have announced a run for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Official wants new ride safety rules for Ohio State Fair
Ohio's newly appointed agriculture director said she wants amusement-ride operators to report all ride-related safety concerns to state inspectors. The Columbus Dispatch reports Director Dorothy Pelanda's announcement comes after the newspaper learned that Ohio State Fair officials withheld from inspectors a manufacturer's letter sent in December 2017 warning about corrosion problems with chairs on the fair's overhead SkyGlider ride. The ride operated last summer despite the manufacturer's warning that canopies over the chairs were "starting to fall apart" and should be immediately repaired. Corrosion problems caused the fair's Fire Ball ride to fall apart in July 2017, killing an 18-year-old man and injuring six others. The state fair board recently said it's seeking to replace all 95 chairs on the half-mile-long SkyGlider before this summer's fair opens in Columbus

MetroHealth to increase minimum wage
MetroHealth System has announced it will be raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. It’ll be a nearly 12 percent raise from its current minimum wage. MetroHealth System saId it made the decision to help support its employees and lower stress levels. The new minimum wage will start next year and will affect more than 700 employees.

Agency designed by Kasich to cut red tape now blocked
An Ohio state agency designed by then-Gov. John Kasich's administration to cut through state bureaucracy is now itself backlogged. The Common Sense Initiative was formed in 2011 by Kasich's administration to help make Ohio business-friendly. The Columbus Dispatch reports the agency's backlog totaled 1,233 business regulation rules for review — hundreds of which had not been addressed by the agency. Backlogged rules include rules on alcohol and drug testing, health-product standards, drinking-water standards and water-source protection. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who now runs the agency, notes the irony of a state agency designed to cut through bureaucracy getting caught up in bureaucracy itself. He has instructed his staff to wipe out the remaining backlog by April. As of Friday, 76 percent had been cleared.

Interstate 76, 77 eastbound lanes to reopen
The Ohio Department of Transportation hopes to reopen all eastbound lanes on Interstate 76 and 77 in Summit County this week. The lanes have been closed since February to make repairs to damaged steel beams. ODOT had originally planned to have the lanes open by now, but winter weather delayed construction. It plans to have them reopen by March 25 at the latest.