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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: Summit, Cuyahoga Settle Opioid Lawsuit; I-77 Expansion in Akron Planned for 2021

photo of opioid pills
DAN KONIK
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, August 21:

  • Summit, Cuyahoga settle in opioid lawsuit;
  • Clinics challenge Ohio abortion law;
  • I-77 expansion in Akron could start in 2021;
  • Former judge pleads guilty in ex-wife's stabbing death;
  • Ryan unlikely to qualify for next Democratic debate;
  • Ohio Medicaid lead abatement plan gets federal OK;

Summit, Cuyahoga settle opioid lawsuit
Summit and Cuyahoga Counties have settled with two drug companies blamed for the nationwide opioid crisis. Ireland-based Endo Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay $10 million to the two counties and supply $1 million worth of its blood pressure medicine as part of the deal. Allergan agreed to pay $5 million to settle claims related to its branded opioids. An Endo spokesman said it would cost at least $10 million in legal expenses to go to trial. Cuyahoga and Summit are still scheduled to try their claims against other drug manufacturers and distributors in October.

Clinics challenge Ohio abortion law
Lawyers for abortion clinics challenging an Ohio law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected have asked a federal court to block the measure permanently. In a filing Tuesday in federal court in Columbus, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and others said a July 3 decision by Judge Michael Barrett temporarily blocking the so-called heartbeat bill should continue indefinitely. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the legislation in April, joining a national push by mostly Republican-led states aimed at sparking the legal challenge that will overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.

I-77 expansion in Akron could start in 2021
The heavy traffic congestion on I-77 around Akron could ease in the next couple of years. ODOT has proposed plans to widen I-77 from four to five lanes in both directions at the 277/224 interchange. There are also plans to widen the Arlington Road interchange from three to four lanes. Construction of this $65 million project may begin as early as fall of 2021.

Former judge pleads guilty in ex-wife's stabbing death
A former judge in Cleveland has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his ex-wife last year. Prosecutors said Lance Mason, 51, fatally stabbed Aisha Fraser, 45, in the driveway of a Shaker Heights home last November. Mason was removed as a judge in 2015 after pleading guilty to striking and biting Fraser inside a vehicle. He served nine months of a two-year sentence. He now faces life with no chance for parole.

Ryan unlikely qualify for next presidential debate
Northeast Ohio presidential hopeful Tim Ryan has not qualified for the next Democratic debate so far. Ten candidates have met the two requirements for getting on-stage in September. But Ryan has neither polled above 2 percent, nor met fundraising goals. But Ryan, a Democratic Congressman from Niles, has continued to campaign in Iowa and jokingly has challenged businessman, and fellow candidate, Andrew Yang to a dance-off.

Ohio Medicaid lead abatement plan gets federal OK
Ohio's Department of Medicaid has received federal approval for its plan to enhance and expand Medicaid's lead abatement program. Gov. Mike DeWine said Medicaid will have greater flexibility to fund Ohio Department of Health lead hazard control projects in the homes of children or pregnant women. Ohio's recently enacted two-year budget allocates $5 million in each year to fund the effort.