Morning News and Stuff

School report card reform passed, governors call for bridge tolls, casino to open March 4

Ohio Statehouse
Ohio Statehouse

School report card reform is about to head to Gov. John Kasich, who is likely to sign it. The bill, which places higher grading standards on schools,

passed

the Ohio Senate yesterday with some minor tweaks. The Ohio House is expected to approve the bill again, and then Kasich will need to sign it for it to become law. In

an early simulation

of tougher report card standards in May, Cincinnati Public Schools dropped from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.

The governors of Ohio and Kentucky agree tolls will be

necessary

to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The governors also said there will be a financing plan by next summer and construction will begin in 2014. Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear met yesterday with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss funding for the bridge project.

The Horseshoe Casino will open in Cincinnati on

March 4

. What can Cincinnatians expect? According to one Washington Post analysis, casinos bring jobs, but also

crime, bankruptcy and even suicide

.

Sewer rates in Hamilton County will

go up

next year, but not as much as expected.

Cincinnati has 1,300 properties

awaiting demolition

.

With same-sex marriage likely coming on the ballot in 2013, a Quinnipiac University poll found Ohio voters thinly oppose its legalization

47 percent to 45 percent

, but it’s within the margin of error of 2.9 percent. A Washington Post poll in September found Ohioans support same-sex marriage

52 percent to 37 percent

— well outside of the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent. CityBeat recently wrote about the same-sex marriage legalization in Ohio

here

.

The same poll found Ohio voters deadlocked on whether marijuana should be legalized with 47 percent for it and 47 percent against it. The results are slightly more conservative than the rest of the nation. Washington state recently legalized marijuana and same-sex marriage in the same day, and

the world didn’t end

.

Ohio

gained approval

on a coordinated Medicare-Medicaid initiative that will change funding for low-income seniors who qualify for both public health programs. With the go-ahead from the federal government, the plan will push forward in coordinating Medicare and Medicaid more efficiently to cut costs.

But on the topic of a Medicaid expansion, Ohio will not make a final decision until

February

. As part of Obamacare, states are encouraged to expand their Medicaid plans to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If they do it, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the tab through 2016. After that, federal funding drops annually, eventually reaching 90 percent for 2020 and beyond. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid

improved lives

. Another study found Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saves states money in the long term by reducing the amount of uncompensated health care.

Cleveland's The Plain Dealer says Gov. Kasich will not privatize the Ohio Turnpike, but he will ask for a toll hike to

help finance new projects

. Kasich will officially announce his plans later today.

With opposition from law enforcement, a Senate committee is pushing ahead with a bill that

lessens restrictions

on gun-carrying laws.

Redistricting reform will soon be taken up by the Ohio Senate. The measure

passed committee

in an 8-1 vote. Redistricting is often used by politicians to redraw district borders in politically beneficial ways.

Gov. Kasich signed into law a measure that

cracks down

on dog breeders in Ohio. The measure has long been pushed by animal advocates, who say lax regulations for puppy mills have made the state a breeding ground for bad practices. CityBeat previously wrote about how these bad practices lead to

abusive dog auctions in Ohio

.

Homosexuality may not be in our genes, but it may be in the molecules that regulate genes.

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