Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 20:
- Pelosi to headline Ohio Democrats' dinner;
- Analysis: Ohio revenue running $700M behind estimates;
- Ahead of 2020, Trump returns to Ohio;
- Ohio Senate committee pushes changes to transporation bill;
- Ohio could soon scrap front license plate law;
- Cuyahoga Falls considers raising tobacco-purchasing age to 21;
- University of Akron loses polymer researcher to Duke University;
- Cleveland car mogul might have an idea to save Lordstown;
Pelosi to headline Ohio Democrats' dinner
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will headline an Ohio Democratic Party fundraising dinner. The state party announced Tuesday that the California Democrat will speak at is annual "legacy dinner" in Columbus on May 17. The Democrats' statement came the day before Republican President Donald Trump's scheduled visit Wednesday to the Army Tank Plant in Lima. State Chairman David Pepper said as Democrats gear up for 2020, Pelosi is showing "what it means to stand up to this president and make him respect the people's House." Dinner tickets start at $250 each. The venue will be announced later.
Analysis: Ohio revenue running $700M behind estimates
The head of Ohio's legislative analysis division says its estimates for state revenue over the next couple of years are below those of Gov. Mike DeWine. Mark Flanders is director of the state Legislative Service Commission. His testimony prepared for the House Finance Committee Tuesday indicated LCS's estimates are almost $200 million below DeWine's for the rest of this year. LCS estimates $347 million less for next year and $161 million less in 2021, for a total of about $700 million. The budget proposed last week by DeWine, a Republican, calls for nearly $70 billion in state spending over two years. DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said the governor used conservative revenue estimates to draft his budget. Tierney says estimates will be updated based on monthly revenue reports.
Ahead of 2020, Trump returns to Ohio
President Donald Trump is returning to Ohio, the state that foretold his 2016 victory and serves as the linchpin of his re-election effort. He’ll visit the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, where he has proposed spending $226 million more to upgrade 165 Army battle tanks and $285 million more to modernize 152 Stryker combat vehicles. He’ll cap his day at a fundraiser in Stark County. Tickets for the dinner at Brookside Country Club in Jackson Township cost as much as $70,000 for a couple. In 2004, George W. Bush was the last president to visit Stark County while in office.
Ohio Senate committee pushes changes to transporation bill
An Ohio Senate committee has proposed changes to the state transportation budget bill including reducing fees on electric and hybrid vehicles, while leaving the House's proposed gas-tax increase in the bill for now. But Senate officials said more changes in addition to those proposed Tuesday by the transportation committee will be made in key revenue portions of the bill. Republican Senate President Larry Obhof has expressed reservations about gas-tax increases proposed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and by the House. DeWine proposes increasing the current 28-cents-per-gallon tax by 18 cents a gallon, adjusting it annually for inflation. The House bill calls for increasing the tax by 10.7 cents per gallon over two years and the diesel tax by 20 cents per gallon over three years. DeWine said that isn't enough.
Ohio could scrap front license plate requirement
Ohio's requirment that drivers have a front license plate could soon be gone. The Ohio Senate has made several changes to the House's version of the two-year transportation budget, but the only provision they kept in tact is the proposal to get rid of front license plates. The move would save the state more than $1 million a year. The decision could come sometime this week.
Cuyahoga Falls considers raising tobacco-purchasing age to 21
Cuyahoga Falls City Council plans to vote on an ordinance that would raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 tio 21. The ordinance includes e-cigarettes such as juuls and vapes, as well as tobacco product paraphenalia. Six municipalities have passed similar ordinances, including Akron, Green and Twinsburg city. Stow, Hudson and Barberton rejected similar ordinances. The city council plans to vote Monday.
University of Akron loses polymer researcher to Duke University
The University of Akron is losing one of its top polymer researchers, which could result in the loss of university research funds. Matthew Becker announced on Twitter that he will be moving his lab to Duke University in August. While at UA, Becker has developed polymers that can be used to stabilize traumatic bone injuries. He has received millions of dollars in grants to aid polymer research. The decision comes as blow to the university's renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, which has lost multiple faculty members over the years. Three new faculty members have been hired to join the college this fall.
Cleveland car mogul might have an idea to save Lordstown
Cleveland car mogul Bernie Moreno might have an idea that could save Lordstown. Cleveland.com reports although nothing has been confirmed, Moreno thought about making a deal with General Motors and buy up to 180,000 Chevy Cruzes to create a ride-share service, like Uber. If it's confirmed, it could keep around 3,000 at the Lordstown plant. The last Chevy Cruze rolled off the assembly line earlier this month. Moreno owns a chain of luxury car dealerships and is also one of the main drivers of Cleveland's "Blockland" movement, which helps transform the city into a tech hub.