This week of the Sound of Ideas Reporter's Roundtable, the state's biggest increase in COVID-19 cases since July; former House Speaker Larry Householder's not-guilty plea on racketeering charges days after he returned to the Statehouse as if it was business as usual; legislation that would shield first responders, businesses and schools from coronavirus-related lawsuits in Ohio, and much more.
We begin with some sobering news released this week by the Ohio Department of Transportation: 154 people died on Ohio's highways in July, making it the deadliest month on the state's roadways since 2007. Overall, traffic is down, thanks to many people working from home during the pandemic, yet crashes are up. We have discussed on this show in the past the fact that many are speeding with the lower traffic volumes, something an Ohio State University study confirmed. Governor Mike DeWine shared the grim numbers Tuesday during his regular news briefing, saying that speed was a factor in many of the accidents, along with distracted driving.
To find out more about this deadly trend and what needs to be done to keep motorists, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists safe, we've invited Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks to join us.
Later in the hour, we discuss the rising coronavirus numbers. Another 1,345 cases were reported in the state, with 50 more deaths on Thursday. That brings the total number of cases in Ohio to more than 127,000 and more than 4200 deaths. An increase earlier this week of 1,500 new cases marked the highest jump in cases since July, just as some K-12 and college students began returning to classrooms.
The other big story of the week is the return of Former House Speaker Larry Householder. He entered a not guilty plea Thursday more than a month after he was charged federally with orchestrating a massive bribery scheme involving HB6, the nuclear bailout bill.
The plea came two days after Householder returned to the Ohio Statehouse -- he still serves as a state representative declaring his innocence and vowing to defend himself vigorously. Not only did he defend himself, but also HB6, which lies at the center of the controversy.
With me to discuss these stories is ideastream host and producer Glenn Forbes, and our Statehouse News bureau chief Karen Kasler.
Glenn Forbes, Host/Producer, ideastream
Karen Kasler, Reporter, Statehouse News Bureau
Jack Marchbanks Ph.D., Director, Ohio Department of Transportation