Morning News and Stuff

Council to vote on parking, hospitals push Medicaid expansion, MSD upgrades coming

Rendition of proposed downtown grocery store and luxury apartment tower.
Rendition of proposed downtown grocery store and luxury apartment tower.

City Council will vote today on the controversial plan to lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. The plan would give up some control over the city’s parking meters and garages to generate revenue to fund downtown development projects and help balance the deficit for the next two years. Before the City Council vote, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. will hold a presentation on solving Cincinnati’s long-term structural deficit problems, which Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said was a remaining concern even if the parking plan passed. CityBeat previously covered the parking plan

here

, the city manager’s and John Cranley’s alternatives

here

, Councilman Chris Seelbach’s alternative

here

and the Budget and Finance Committee vote on the plan

here

.

Hospital groups are telling lawmakers that the Medicaid expansion is

“necessary”

to preserve facilities that will face big cuts in the next year. Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), hospitals will lose funding from the federal government, but the cuts were supposed to be made up with the prospect of more customers. If the state doesn’t expand Medicaid, the hospitals will still lose funding, and they won’t get many of their potential new customers. As part of Obamacare, the federal government is carrying the full cost of the expansion for the first three years. After that, the federal government’s share is brought down to 95 percent and ultimately phased down to 90 percent. By some estimates, the Medicaid expansion would save Ohio money by shifting costs from the state to the federal government and generate more revenue through increased economic security. Gov. John Kasich suggested the expansion in his budget proposal, which CityBeat covered

here

.

Cincinnati and cities all around the nation are

facing new federal requirements

to update sewer systems to better handle stormwater runoff, which can mix with sewage and spill into rivers. Tony Parrott, executive director of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), says his agency has developed software to prioritize upgrade projects and make them more efficient. CityBeat previously covered some of MSD’s efforts

here

.

A bill sponsored by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, would

limit the window

for collecting additional signatures for a state ballot initiative to 10 days if the secretary of state deems the initial petition signatures short of minimum requirements. Seitz says the bill will eliminate a loophole that allows politically motivated petitioners to extend and abuse the state’s petitioning process, and Secretary of State Jon Husted says the bill “is on the right track.” Opponents are calling the bill “punitive” and saying it will weaken Ohioans’ rights to take up ballot initiatives and referendums.

Supporters of Internet sweepstakes parlors are saying that a state ban on the establishments

would be unconstitutional

and would potentially face litigation. Luther Liggett, an attorney representing Internet Sweepstakes Association of Ohio, said a Toledo appeals court ruling found Internet cafe games are not gambling because the outcome is predetermined. He also said a ban would violate constitutional protections against retroactively negating contracts, which internet cafes hold with employees, real estate owners and computer vendors.

Greater Cincinnati Walmart stores are

installing rooftop solar panels

as part of the retailer’s nationwide green initiative to completely power all its stores with renewable energy. The arrays on 12 Ohio Walmart stores will generate enough electricity to power 820 homes year-round and eliminate carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of 1,152 cars.

The University of Cincinnati

could get $30 million

as a result of the reported settlement with seven schools breaking away from the Big East to form their own non-football conference.

The average American

severely underestimates

how bad wealth inequality is, according to a YouTube video that went viral over the weekend. If the inequality trend is truly downplayed, that could have bad repercussions for Ohio: A

previous report

from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found Ohio’s income gap — the income difference between the rich and poor — is wide and growing, and low-income and middle-income Ohioans have actually seen their incomes drop since the 1990s.

How did you fare in the aftermath of

the winter storm

yesterday? Some southwest Ohio areas were

reporting widespread power outages

.

Indiana lawmakers are

considering changes

to their state’s casinos to make them more competitive with Cincinnati’s newly opened Horseshoe Casino and other Ohio establishments. The Indiana Senate already passed a bill that would allow riverboat casinos to move on shore and racinos to replace electronic game tables with live dealers. The bill is now going to the Indiana House for approval.

A gay couple was

kicked out of a California mall

for holding hands and kissing. Apparently, the security officer who kicked the couple out paid very close attention to the make-out session; in a recording, the officer said that he counted the couple kissing 25 times.

A new study suggested Europa, Jupiter’s moon,

could have salt water on its surface

, which would be good for potential extraterrestrial life.
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