Morning News: Sen. Sanders to visit Covington; former GOP chair on marijuana application list; state GOP lawmakers fail to overturn Kasich Medicaid freeze veto

Conservatives in the Ohio General Assembly won’t be able to overturn a veto by Gov. John Kasich on legislation freezing Medicaid enrollment. Kasich fought to bring the Medicaid expansion to Ohio in 2014, and GOP lawmakers have sought to undo it since.

Jul 6, 2017 at 10:53 am

click to enlarge Ohio Gov. John Kasich - Max Goldberg
Max Goldberg
Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Good morning all. Hope you enjoyed your holiday and got to blow some stuff up. Let’s check out some news.

Calling all Bernie boosters: Sander-claus is coming to town. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. Let’s try that again. Ahem. Former Democratic presidential primary hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be in Covington Sunday for a rally opposing a Republican health care bill currently in the Senate. Sanders is bringing the fight against the bill, which looks to shave health care costs but will leave some 22 million Americans without insurance, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s backyard. McConnell, who represents Kentucky, has been the main mastermind behind the effort to pass the healthcare reform seeking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

• Did Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters offer a plea deal in the Ray Tensing trial? Well, sort of, he says. Former University of Cincinnati police officer Tensing’s attorney Stew Mathews said earlier this week that his client was offered a deal for reckless homicide instead of more serious murder or manslaughter charges in the shooting death of unarmed motorist Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn in July 2015. But Deters says that the idea, presented during the first trial, wasn’t a formal offer. Tensing turned down the possibility. Prosecutors then offered the plea deal again during Tensing’s second trial, Deters says, in order to get Tensing’s refusal to accept it “on the record.” Tensing has been tried twice for DuBose’s death. Both trials ended with a hung jury. Deters is expected to announce in the coming weeks whether he will seek a third trial for Tensing.

• The Urban League of Greater Cincinnati will hold a forum in the aftermath of Tensing’s second mistrial tonight at its Avondale offices. Elected officials, faith leaders and representatives from political and activist groups will attend, and the meeting is open to the general public. It’ll take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 3458 Reading Road.

“The goal is to engage the community in building trust, transparency, and equity in our city's law enforcement, criminal justice and judicial systems,” according to a press release by the Urban League.

Clifton Market is having some financial difficulties in its first six months, according to a missive from the community-owned grocer’s board. The co-op held its first annual meeting last week and faced some big questions in the face of lower-than-expected revenues. Board member Marilyn Hyland has said that currently, the grocery on Ludlow Ave. is seeing about 6,000-7,000 shoppers a week, less than half the 15,000 shoppers it had projected. Hyland and her son, Adam Hyland, have asked shareholders in the market to increase spending or buy another $200 share to help with cash flow. Despite the difficulties, officials with the market say it isn’t in danger of closing. A number of community groups, in addition to individual shareholders, have contributed money to the co-op. The market plans a six-month anniversary celebration later in July to promote the grocery.

• Local brewing giants Rhinegeist are expanding their distribution into Indianapolis. The brewer will partner with Zink Distributing Company to offer draft beers at local bars there July 10 and will follow up with cans at stores and bars this fall. Rhinegeist favorites like Truth and Cougar will be available, as well as seasonal offerings, limited editions and two cider varieties.

• The state of Ohio has released the list of applicants for medicinal marijuana licenses. One hundred and eighty five companies are vying for the licenses, which will allow winners to grow newly-legalized medicinal marijuana. Of the applicants, 109 are competing for 12 licenses that would allow holders up to 25,000 square feet of grow space. Another 76 applied for 12 available level two licenses, which would allow for up to 3,000 square feet of grow space. Most of the applicants are limited liability corporations, and it’s hard to find out many details about them. Among the names on the list, however: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges. Now a lobbyist, Borges was forced out of his role early this year after President Donald Trump was elected. Now a lobbyist, Borges says he helped the owners of Blu Script LLC with its application but doesn’t own a stake in the company.

• Finally, conservative lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly won’t be able to overturn a veto by Ohio Gov. John Kasich on legislation freezing Medicaid enrollment. That’s part of a longer battle — Kasich fought the legislature to bring the Medicaid expansion, part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, to Ohio back in 2014. Conservative legislators were working to undo that expansion, which is currently 95 percent covered by the federal government but could cost the state millions in coming years. About 700,000 Ohioans are insured under the expansion. Many would eventually lose healthcare coverage under legislators’ new bill, tucked into the state budget, as those who lose eligibility for Medicaid for even one month would not be allowed to re-enroll. Large crowds gathered at the capitol in Columbus to protest the effort to override Kasich’s veto. Republicans in the House needed 60 of the body’s 99 members to vote against the veto, something even Medicaid expansion opponents admitted was a tall order. Though the Medicaid freeze veto override wasn’t successful, the House today voted to override other vetoes on issues related to Medicaid, the first times Kasich’s had vetoes overturned in his six years as governor.