The iOpener: Ohio General Assembly Passes 10.5 Cents Gas Tax Hike; Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed Dead at 70

Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed
Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed []

Good morning, iOpeners. It's Wednesday, April 3, 2019.  

Ohio’s General Assembly passed a two-year transportation budget that raises the gasoline tax by 10.5 cents a gallon and diesel by 19 cents a gallon.  The legislation also eliminates the need for a front license plate.  Approval of the budget bill, which was due at the end of March, came after nearly a week of negotiations between the House and the Senate over the gas tax.  Gov. DeWine had wanted a higher increase, and he could use his veto powers to strike some individual provisions in the budget.  He would not say whether he’d do that.  He told reporters he’s happy lawmakers came to an agreement. 

New language being proposed for the “heartbeat bill” would add tougher penalties for doctors.  An Ohio House committee adopted several changes to Senate Bill 23 that include a $10,000 fine each time a doctor performs an abortion after a  fetal heartbeat is detected.   The money would go toward a fund for foster care and adoption services.  If the House approves the committee’s changes, the bill would go to the Senate, which passed its own version of the heartbeat bill last month.  Gov. DeWine has previously said he’d sign a heartbeat bill. 

A Cuyahoga County Council committee has rejected the Budish Administration’s request to extend a lease of the Euclid Jail by five years.  Instead, the Public Safety and Justice Affairs Committee approved a one-year extension. reports the Euclid Jail is operating at less than half its capacity, increasing the county’s cost per inmate.  Council members are also wary of committing to a five-year lease because planning is underway to replace or renovate the main jail Downtown. The full council is expected to approve the new contract later this month.

Air quality in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties has improved to a level that now makes them compliant with federal particulate emissions standards.  U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told a congressional subcommittee Tuesday that the agency will make an announcement about the Cleveland area’s compliance later this week.   The change in designation comes after Ohio EPA found Cuyahoga and Lorain counties meeting the federal standards for three years in a row.  The Cleveland area is still out of compliance with federal ozone standards.  

Late-night TV legend Ron “The Ghoul” Sweed has died.  He was 70 years old.  Sweed’s former wife, Barbara King, announced his death on Facebook.  She said Sweed had suffered a heart attack five months ago.  Sweed first appeared on Cleveland television in 1971 on WKFB Channel 61.  Sweed appeared on "The Ghoul Show" wearing an eye patch, a mop-like wig and a lab coat, and was known for blowing up model ships and airplanes with firecrackers.  He had worked as an assistant to another local TV legend, Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson, who gave Sweed permission to appear as The Ghoul. 

Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will miss more time due to the ankle injury he suffered in the final week of spring training.  Team president Chris Antonetti told WTAM 1100 that Lindor will be out until the end of April if everything goes well during his rehab process.  The Indians could provide a more definitive time frame after Lindor meets with team managers today.

The Boston Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-2, denying them a chance to clinch a playoff spot. CBJ is 45-31-4 and is fifth in the Metropolitan Division with two games left in their season.

Weather forecast: Sunny and breezy today; winds out of the west of 10-18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.  High 47.  Tonight, increasingly cloudy, less windy.  Low 36.  

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