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Morning Headlines: GM Open to Selling Lordstown Plant, OH Senate Proposes 6-cent Gas Tax Increase

Southwest end of the GM Lordstown facility
Southwest end of the GM Lordstown facility

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 22:

  • GM open to selling Lordstown plant;
  • OH Senate proposes 6-cent gas tax increase;
  • AP analysis: Partisan mapmaking advantage grew in Ohio;
  • Report: Great Lakes feeling effects of rapid climate warming;
  • Caregivers for disabled to see pay increase under proposal;
  • Howe Road reconstruction to begin;
  • Cleveland Clinic looks to spread out worldwide;

GM open to selling Lordstown plant
General Motors said it's open to selling the shuttered Lordstown plant. The Beacon Journal reports GM has received multiple inquiries for the plant, which has been a key part for Mahoning Valley's economy since 1966. President Donald Trump visited Ohio this week, and put pressure on GM to reopen the plant. The last Chevy Cruze rolled off of its assembly line earlier this month, putting more than 1,400 workers out of a job.

OH Senate proposes 6 cent gas tax increase
The Ohio Senate has proposed increasing the state's gas tax by 6 cents a gallon, down from the House's planned increase of 10.7 cents a gallon, and well below the governor's proposed 18-cents a gallon to maintain roads and bridges. The GOP-controlled Senate approved its version of Ohio's transportation budget Thursday with a 24-to-6 vote, setting up a show-down with the House and also Gov. Mike DeWine. DeWine, also a Republican, proposes raising Ohio's current tax of 28 cents per gallon by 18 cents and adjusting it annually for inflation. The House proposes a 10.7 cents-per-gallon increase for gas over three years, with diesel fuel going up 20 cents a gallon.

AP analysis: Partisan mapmaking advantage grew in Ohio
An Associated Press analysis has found that a political mapmaking process controlled by Ohio Republicans delivered results statistically skewed toward the GOP during last year's elections, even with an upswing in Democratic votes. The mathematical analysis found that Ohio Republicans won at least three more U.S. House seats and seven more state House seats in 2018 than would have been expected based on the average share of the vote Republican candidates received. Both gaps grew compared to 2016. The 2018 results showed Republicans won 52 percent of the votes in Ohio House races yet 62 percent of the seats. Republican candidates for Ohio's U.S. House seats won 52 percent of the votes but 75 percent of the seats. At the same time, Republican support in both congressional and House races was down from 2016.

Report: Great Lakes feeling effects of rapid climate warming
A scientific report said the Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the U.S., which likely will bring more flooding and other extreme weather such as heat waves and drought. The warming climate also could mean less overall snowfall even as lake-effect snowstorms get bigger, according to the report released Thursday by a team of researchers from universities primarily from the Midwest. The report also predicts more severe algae blooms in the Great Lakes, which make it unsafe for swimming and increase the costs of treating the water. Farming could be hit especially hard, with heavy rains delaying spring planting and dry spells requiring more irrigation during summer. Beaches, dunes and shorelines will be more vulnerable to erosion. The Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center commissioned the report.

Caregivers for disabled to see pay increase under proposal
Caregivers for Ohio residents with developmental disabilities could see a higher paycheck under a state-budget proposal. The Columbus Dispatch reports pay for home care workers would increase 11 percent over the next two years to $12.38 an hour. Jeff Davis, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, says the disabilities system is facing a workforce crisis, with turnover rates nearing 60 percent. The base reimbursement rate for Medicaid-covered home and personal service would rise to $22 an hour by 2021 as part of the budget plan. The hourly reimbursement rate for overnight services would also increase, from $6.09 to $8.55 an hour. Adam Herman, spokesman for the state Association of County Boards of Development Disabilities, says the proposal will be the first "meaningful increase" in wages in 14 years.

Howe Road reconstruction to begin
Reconstruction of Howe Road in Cuyahoga Falls is on track to begin next month. City leaders have to meet with the contractor before the construction begins. The nearly $6 million project will rebuild one mile of the road. Once the project begins, westbound lanes will be open, but there will be a detour for westbound lanes. The project is expected to be completed sometime next year.

Cleveland Clinic looks to spread out worldwide
The Cleveland Clinic is looking to double the amount of patients it serves worldwide within the next five years. At the Akron Roundtable meeting Thursday, the clinic's CEO announced plans to start reaching out to more people through digital platforms and build new clinics in each region. If successful, the health system would be serving more than 4 million patients. Cleveland Clinic has more than 160 locations, including Florida, Toronto, and London, which will open soon.

Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.