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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 Lays Foundation for 2020 in Ohio, DeWine's Budget Includes Narcotics Center

Photo of President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 21:

  • Trump lays foundation for 2020 in Ohio;
  • DeWine's budget includes narcotics center;
  • Ohio attorney general chastises judge over death penalty;
  • Cleveland cop charged, accused of unauthorized use of property;
  • DeWine: House gas tax proposal 'doesn't cut it';
  • Ohio lawmakers propose halting, reversing school 'takeovers';
  • Canton Schools to pay student $275,000 for 2017 altercation;

Trump lays foundation for 2020 in Ohio
President Donald Trump has laid the foundation for his re-election campaign in Ohio. After a speech in Lima yesterday, Trump visited a private fundraiser in Stark County for the first time as president. The Beacon Journal reportsaround 250 people attended the fundraiser at the Brookside Country Club in Jackson Township, and it was expected to raise nearly $3 million. Trump last came to Stark County in 2016 as a presidential candidate.

DeWine's budget includes narcotics center
Gov. Mike DeWine'sbudget planincludes funding to set up a state narcotics intelligence center to combat the opioid epidemic. The new center, which would consist of units in Cleveland and Columbus, would be an unprecedented statewide effort to collect and analyze data from the state's 40-plus police drug task forces. Cleveland.com reportsthe budget plan includes $3.25 million in funding for the proposed center. The governor's budget proposal also seeks an additional $2.5 million to support drug task forces statewide.

Ohio attorney general chastises judge over death penalty
Ohio's attorney general has chastised a federal magistrate judge over remarks he made about pausing executions in the state. At issue is a series of execution delaysordered by Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine after Magistrate Judge Michael Merz raised concerns about Ohio's lethal injection method. After the governor issued his first delay, Merz said that the decision "embodies excellent public policy." The judge also said he was "deeply gratified" by DeWine's expression of trust in Merz' lethal injection ruling. Attorney General Dave Yost said Merz' remarks were improper. Yost said in a Monday court filing that judges aren't supposed to use their courts as "a bully pulpit" to influence state policy.

Cleveland cop charged, accused of unauthorized use of property
A Cleveland police sergeant accused of sending social media messages to some 2,300 women while on-duty has been charged with three counts of unauthorized use of property. Two counts accuse Sgt. Michael Rybarczyk, 58, of looking up two women's information using the national Law Enforcement Automated Database System. Authorities said they found the emails after investigating accusations that Rybarczyk solicited prostitutes while on-duty at the police station.

DeWine: House gas tax proposal 'doesn't cut it'
Gov. Mike DeWine is continuing his push-back against lawmakers' attempts to shrink his proposed gas tax, saying the current House version "doesn't cut it." DeWine has proposed raising $1.2 billionthrough an 18-cent gas tax increase, adjusting it annually for inflation. The House reduced that to 10.7 cents per gallon over two years. The Senate is expected to announce its own proposal as soon as this week. DeWine on Wednesday once again called his proposal a "bare minimum" to keep up with needed repairs to roads and bridges. He said he's optimistic the legislative proposals will "get better."

Ohio lawmakers propose halting, reversing school 'takeovers'
Some lawmakers propose reversing a law that shifted operational control of poor-performing Ohio school districts to state-appointed panels and unelected CEOs instead of locally elected boards. Republican Rep. Don Jones, of Freeport, and Democratic Rep. Joe Miller, of Amherst say academic distress commissions already created for the Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland districts would be dissolved under their new proposal. It goes further than another proposal that would leave those districts under state control but prevent more so-called "state takeovers" through such commissions. The legislation enabling those panels was pushed through the Legislature in one day in 2015. Youngstown is challenging it in a case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Canton Schools to pay student $275,000 for 2017 altercation
A McKinley High School student is receiving $275,000 from the Canton City School District and one of its former teachers, who threw the student to the ground in 2017. The Beacon Journal reports An attorney representing the student filed the lawsuit, saying former teacher Kenneth Weatherbee violated the student's rights, including right to due process and intimidation. The lawsuit also says the student, who has a learning disability, suffered both physical and psychological injuries. Weatherbee has agreed to issue an apology, and the school district plans to have mandatory training for the staff on how to situations involving troubled students.

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