The iOpener: Lawmakers Cut DeWine's Gas Tax Hike; Police at "Turning Point"; RTA's Economic Impact

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke about the opioid crisis and its effect on Ohio’s foster care system during his State of the State address
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke about the opioid crisis and its effect on Ohio’s foster care system during his State of the State address. [Ohio Public Radio]

Good morning, iOpeners. It's Wednesday, March 6, 2019.  We hope you had your fill of paczki on Fat Tuesday.  Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Gov. DeWine called for increased spending to address what he called Ohio’s “real and significant challenges.”  That includes mental health and addiction programs, aid to seniors and children and the state’s road system. In his first State of the State address, the Republican governor urged state lawmakers to approve his 18-cent increase to the state’s 28-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax.

But lawmakers signaled their interest in moving in another directionMembers of the Ohio House Finance Committee made changes to DeWine’s gas tax proposal, trimming the increase to 10.7 cents over three years.  DeWine wanted the tax increase to go into effect in July.  Lawmakers on the Republican-led committee also ditched DeWine’s proposal to link yearly gas tax increases to inflation.  

The monitor overseeing reforms at Cleveland’s police department says the city is at a “critical turning point” in police-community relations, and must now put new policies into practice.  Last month, a federal judge signed off on the CPD’s new community policing strategy and its new, workload-based officer deployment plan.  In his latest report, Matthew Barge said the city must finalize its search and seizure policy and develop new rules guiding internal investigations into officer misconduct and use of force complaints.

A Cuyahoga County forensic pathologist said four-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett received blows to her head weeks, even months, before internal bleeding from that trauma triggered the stroke that killed her.  In his testimony in the murder trial of Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, pathologist Joseph Felo told jurors the girl was “slowly withering away.”  

An economic impact study finds the RTA has an annual economic impact of $322 million in Cuyahoga County.  Researchers at Cleveland State University say the RTA’s buses and rapid transit contributed $2.2 billion to the county’s property values.  The study estimated 66 percent of the RTA’s 25,000 daily riders would be at risk of losing their jobs if they didn’t have mass transit.

The Buckeyes football team opens spring practice today with a new head coach, Ryan Day.  Only four offensive starters are returning.  Star quarterback Dwayne Haskins is not among them.  He's declared for the 2019 draft.  Justin Fields takes over as quarterback.  

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Devils, 2-1.  Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin scored in a shootout

Weather forecast: Light snow starts the morning off.  Blowing snow could limit your visibility driving today, so allow for extra time. One to two inches of accumulation possible. We’ll have frigid temperatures for a third day, with subzero wind chills.  Cloudy, high 21. Wind chill values as low as -3. Tonight, a 40 percent chance of snow showers overnight.  New snow accumulation of less than an inch is likely. Mostly cloudy, low 17. 

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