By Associated Press - Wednesday, February 1, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Latest on AP’s legislative forum (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

The newly elected chair of the Ohio Republican Party says her job is to unify her party going forward.

Jane Timken says she isn’t a person who keeps score and couldn’t be an effective chairman if she did that.

Timken also said Wednesday at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press that she’ll remain neutral when it comes to party candidates in upcoming primaries.

Timken, supported by President Donald Trump, ousted former party chairman Matt Borges (BOHR’-jihs-ehs). Borges is an ally of Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik).

Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper says his party will run as change agents in 2018.

Pepper says former supporters of President Barack Obama who voted for Trump will come back to the Democratic party because they aren’t happy with what’s happening under Trump.


3:00 p.m.

Three of Ohio’s Republican statewide officeholders say municipalities that identify themselves as sanctuary cities must follow federal law but have some discretion beyond that.

Attorney General Mike DeWine says there’s a lot of confusion over the meaning of the phrase and it’s sometimes unclear what cities mean when they identify that way.

Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO’-sted) said cities’ primary duties are to uphold the law and keep people safe.

Auditor David Yost said there’s a difference between providing a welcoming environment to immigrants and following the law as spelled out in the Constitution.

Though DeWine and Husted are expected to run for governor in 2018 both declined to discuss their plans.

The three spoke Wednesday at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press.


12:30 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) says the state must shed its rust belt image and replace it with a knowledge image.

The Republican Kasich said Wednesday at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press that Ohio has to continue to change its reputation and move forward on technology-related fronts.

Kasich says manufacturing will always be important to Ohio but the focus can’t always be on building factories that produce things people don’t need anymore.

Kasich defended his approach to fighting Ohio’s addictions epidemic, saying the state is spending a billion dollars to address the problem.

But the governor also said the drug problem can’t be fixed from the top down.

Kasich dismissed descriptions of him as a lame duck and said he’ll work to the end of his term.


10:45 a.m.

Lawmakers discussing the state budget agree that fighting Ohio’s addictions epidemic should be a top priority but disagree on the best approach.

GOP House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith calls the opiate crisis Ohio’s number one problem. Republican Senate Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager says it’s a terrible plague.

Senate minority leader Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat, says Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) proposed budget doesn’t do enough to address the problem.

Speaking at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press, lawmakers disagreed Wednesday about balancing the budget with different approaches to tax hikes and cuts.

Smith says Kasich’s renewed proposal to tax oil-and-drilling revenue is likely unpopular with fellow House Republicans.

Schiavoni dismissed Kasich’s approach as “tax shifting.” House minority leader Fred Strahorn says Ohio faces a death spiral without proper investment.


1:50 a.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other statewide leaders plan to address their top priorities this year at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

The annual event Wednesday comes two days after Kasich, a Republican, introduced his final two-year spending plan that includes a 17 percent income tax cut and tax hikes on alcohol, tobacco products and gas drilling.

The $66.9 billion proposal also would impose a half-percent increase in the state sales tax, from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent.

Other attendees include Secretary of State Jon Husted, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Auditor Dave Yost, as well as new Ohio Republican Party chairwoman Jane Timken and Democratic Party chair David Pepper.

GOP House and Senate finance chairmen and Democratic legislative leaders also are expected.

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