- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A state legislative panel on Tuesday put the brakes on a proposal to boost the speed limit to 75 mph on rural interstate highways and the Ohio Turnpike, sending it to a study committee for further review.

The change was among several made as a conference committee hashed out differences between the House and Senate versions of a $7 billion, two-year transportation budget.

The Senate is expected to vote on the agreement Wednesday, while the House planned a Thursday vote.

The speed-limit increase would have made Ohio only the second state entirely east of the Mississippi River to have such a 75 mph limit. The other is Maine. A total of 16 states have at least a 75 mph speed limit. The others are all connected and stretch from Louisiana and Arizona to North Dakota and Idaho.

Auto club AAA was against the idea for Ohio.

The state’s speed limit was bumped from 65 to 70 mph in the middle of 2013 on some rural sections of interstate highways while the turnpike that crosses northern Ohio switched to a 70 mph limit two years before that.

Conference committee member kept a provision of the budget bill that has drawn criticism from Democrats and the League of Women Voters who say it could make it harder for out-of-state college students to vote in the swing state.

Under the measure, people would be required to obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state within 30 days of becoming a resident. It would apply to those who register to vote here or list Ohio addresses for tax purposes. Those in violation could face a minor misdemeanor.

Opponent say the provision disproportionately impacts out-of-state college students who want to vote in Ohio but hang on to their home state licenses.

“It will punish students for exercising their most fundamental right,” said Kathleen Clyde, a Kent Democrat, in a written statement.

The state’s Republican elections chief defended the proposal, saying it would not place barriers before voters.

“After a thorough review, we find nothing in this provision that makes it harder to register to vote or cast a ballot,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a written statement Tuesday.

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