Turnpike Plan Is Finally Unveiled, And Lawmakers Prepare To Finish Up

Gov. John Kasich has unveiled his long-awaited plans for the Ohio Turnpike, in which the state keeps the turnpike, and will raise raise $1.5 billion in bonds backed by future toll revenues to fund local road projects. The governor’s plan caps toll increases on trucks at inflation, freezing rates for 10 years on local trips paid for with EZ Passes, and 90% of the proceeds from bond sales would go to northern Ohio projects, including the turnpike. After the governor released the proposal, ODOT began sending out endorsements from people in northern Ohio. And lawmakers are cautiously optimistic, including conservative Republican Rep. Jay Hottinger of Newark. But others are far less welcoming, including Rep. Ron Gerberry and Rep. Bob Hagan, both Democrats and veteran legislators from the Youngstown area.

Lawmakers took up several bills in their final days of work - they approved a bill to allow lawmakers and visitors to the state Capitol leave guns in vehicles parked in the Statehouse garage. But a couple of measures got halfway through the Statehouse before dying. Senators were nearly unanimous in passing a bill on redistricting, but the House didn’t act on it. Representatives did pass a bill that would increase criminal penalties against kennel operators who abuse pets in their care got through the House, but the bill known as “Nitro’s Law” didn’t have enough support in the Senate to make it to the floor.

Also this week – a new justice was sworn in to the Ohio Supreme Court. Justice Sharon Kennedy, a Republican, succeeds Democrat Yvette McGee Brown, who she defeated last month. In two weeks, the other new Supreme Court Justice, Democrat William O’Neill, will be sworn in – he takes the oath of office on December 27. O’Neill beat incumbent Republican Robert Cupp last month.

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