Blogs > Northern Ohio Local Politics

Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sen. Rob Portman statement after President Obama's Libya address to nation

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, released the following statement following President Barack Obama’s address to the nation Monday night:

“The situation in Libya, with a dictator turning a nation’s military against its own people, is tragic.  I remain very concerned, however, that President Obama has yet to clearly define the scope of our mission, the metrics for success, and our ultimate goal in Libya

“With chaos in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and Iran again stepping up activity in Syria and with Hamas, President Obama has yet to justify our involvement in Libya; even Defense Secretary Gates said the involvement was not in our vital national security interest.

“Tonight’s speech left many questions unanswered, and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I look forward to learning more from Administration regarding the national security rationale in the hearings and briefings to follow this week.”

-- John Arthur Hutchison

Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Monday, March 28, 2011

New Public Officials Directory

Jason Boyd, director of the Lake County Planning Commission, says the new 2011 Lake County Public Officials Directory  is at the printers and should be available within the week.

The cost of this booklet - which lists the names, telephone numbers and other such useful information of every township, village, city, county, state and federal official  impacting Lake County - will be $5.

My current 2008 copy is becoming dog-eared, ratty and is terribly out of date with a lot of penned updates. It's time for a new one.

And though a person can access the Planning Commission's web site and download PDF versions, the actual hard, printed copy is way more convenient to use than the electronic version. If you have multiple people to reach or have your computer latched to something else all you have to do is flip pages. Much simpler and more handy.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Lake County budget not a popular one

Lake County commissioners said they had to pass a budget they didn’t like for 2011 — and they aren’t making friends because of it.

There will be others within the county who also don’t like the budget, including department heads who must manage their offices while some of their employees lose their jobs due to decreases in funding.

One reason is because staffing is one of the biggest expenses for government, which means workers are usually cut as expenses need to be curbed.

Approved at 6.3 percent smaller than last year’s spending plan, the county’s $54.83 million general fund budget means cuts to most departments with some more impacted than others.

The news likely isn’t going to get any better as the year proceeds.

That’s because further cuts might need to take place depending on Gov. John Kasich’s state budget proposal and any changes made by the Ohio General Assembly, which must pass the budget before July 1.

Additional cuts to the county’s general fund are likely this year and appropriation changes would occur, county Budget Director Michael T. Matas said.

What I foresee then are increased furloughs throughout the county and even the potential for some offices to close their doors on certain days or reduce their operational hours. Perhaps this may occur at the Lake County Elections Board?

During the past four years, the county’s revenues have dropped $7.5 million due to smaller investment earnings, property tax valuations dropping and sales tax revenues remaining flat.

It’s quite possible that revenue may continue to decrease. One reason is because next year, the county Auditor’s Office will conduct a required update on property valuation.

As the real estate market continues to stagnate, the update will reflect values from the three-year period of 2009 through 2011 — all during the downturn in the economy.

The update likely will show property values continue to decrease, which would lock the county into even less revenue for the next three years following the update.

Inside millage collected by the county from property taxes would be reduced by roughly the same percentage of property value decreases, because there are no other reduction factors that apply to this type of tax, according Auditor Edward H. Zupancic.

His honor
Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene Lucci will be inducted into the Lake Geauga Young Republican Club Hall of Fame on May 6. A dinner to honor Lucci is scheduled that day at Cappelli’s in Mentor.

Past inductees include Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Vincent Culotta, Greg Schmidt, Janet Clair, Former Geauga County GOP Chairman Lou Mucci, former Mentor Councilman B.J. Kresnye, state Sen. Tim Grendell, Lake County Commissioner Raymond E. Sines, Lake County Republican Party Chairman Dale Fellows, former state Rep. Jamie Callender and U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette.
For information about the dinner, see Adam Rosplock, Brian Wollet or Matt Jaworski.

Geauga Dems

Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish will speak on Senate Bill 5, Gov. Kasich’s budget proposals, repeal of the estate tax, hydrofracking in state parks, anti-choice legislation, and many other statewide and local issues at 6:30 p.m. March 28 at Geauga County Democratic Party Headquarters and Social Hall, 12420 Kinsman, Newbury Township.

Admission is $20 and includes a light dinner and dessert. See Party Chairwoman Janet Carson or visit

The county Democratic Party will also host a town hall forum on Hydraulic Fracking in Ohio at 3 p.m. April 3 at the same location.


According to the Lake County Elections Board, the latest candidacy filings are Amy L. Dawson for Concord Township fiscal officer; Bruce Landeg for Mentor Council Ward 3; Caroline N. Luhta for Concord Township trustee.


Mayor Mark Tyler of Kirtland will host a Gathering of Friends, 5:30 to 7:30, April 14 at Dino’s Restaurant on Route 306. See Rick Blum or Sandy Tyler.

Luhta will host a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., April 28 at Hellriegel’s Inn in Painesville Township. See Chris Galloway, Paul Malchesky or Luhta.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald. View it online at
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (3/18/11)

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending March 18, 2011:


Ohio in Congress, 20110318, 2

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Friday, March 18, 2011

A closer look at the state's Local Government Fund

Gov. John Kasich’s state budget proposal may cause local governments in Ohio to feel the pinch from a substantial funding loss.

If approved, the state Local Government Fund will decrease by 33 percent overall during the next two years when fiscal year 2012 begins July 1.

Broken down by year, the decrease in the state’s budget for local governments would decline by 20.9 percent in fiscal year 2012. The total dollars would drop to $526 million from the $665 million allocated for fiscal year 2011.

For fiscal year 2013, the overall total drops to $339 million, which is a loss of $190 million or 35.6 percent from fiscal year 2012.

Upon further review, the total allocated for fiscal year 2013 is down overall $326 million or about 49 percent from fiscal year 2011.

For Lake County as a whole, $16.9 million in state Local Government Fund dollars was distributed to 26 entities in 2010.

Under the budget proposal, the county would lose about $3.53 million in the fiscal year 2012 and then an additional $4.758 million in fiscal year 2013.

Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hinted Thursday that perhaps it might be time to take a closer look at exactly how that money is distributed within the county.

According to Ohio Revised Code, the method of distribution can be conducted in two ways — either the county Budget Commission can make a determination on how to distribute the money or the political subdivisions can pass an alternate formula.

Back in the 1980s, officials choose the alternate formula methodology and it’s been done that way ever since, according to Joe Dowd, chief deputy auditor for Lake County.

The formula was derived by using a base amount and on population figures back then and is generally updated every 10 years.

According to Ohio Revised Code, any changes to the formula or a decision to simply allow the Budget Commission to make the distributions would need to be approved by county commissioners, the legislative body for the county’s largest city — which is currently Mentor — and by at least 50 percent of the remaining communities.

If those officials and communities approved any potential changes, the matter would come before the county Budget Commission, which is comprised of the county auditor, treasurer and prosecutor.

The point was?

National Sunshine Week began March 13 and concluded Saturday. It was designed to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit organizations, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

The initiative got off to a peculiar start Monday in Ohio as the governor first decided to not let media take photos, shoot video or utilize television cameras during his Tuesday afternoon press briefing that he conducted prior to unveiling the state’s proposed budget at a town hall meeting later in the day.

Kasich eventually changed his mind after complaints were filed by the Ohio Newspaper Association and The Associated Press.

Geauga filings, possible candidates

David Snively has filed petitions with the Geauga County Elections Board for Newbury Township trustee.

Potential candidates — meaning they have not filed for office — include Susan Plavcan for Auburn Township fiscal officer; Jeremiah Polz and Joseph J. Triscaro for Bainbridge Township trustee; Nancy Call-Szorady, Luanne Dvorak for Burton Township trustee; Clay Lawrence for Chester Township trustee; Michael Stark for Chester Township fiscal officer; Bob Faehnle for Munson Township trustee; Patrick J. Joyce and Michael Massey for Parkman Township trustee; Martin Winston for Russell Township trustee; Thomas Petronio, Robin Lynn Wells and Andy Sefcik for Cardinal Board of Education; Jackie Dottore for West Geauga Board of Education.

Willoughby Hills Councilman David M. Fiebig: Spring Fever party, 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

Realtors Political Action Committee: Silent/live auction, 5:30 p.m., Thursday at Kirtlander Party Center. See Vicki Pate.

Mayor Mark Tyler of Kirtland, will host a Gathering of Friends, 5:30 to 7:30, April 14 at Dino’s Restaurant on Route 306. See Sandy Tyler.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald. View it online:
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Governor Kasich limiting coverage of release of his budget plan

 Updated at 5:21 p.m.

According to the Association Press, Gov. John Kasich’s office has reversed policy and will now allow journalists to broadcast sound and images gathered during a Tuesday media briefing on the state budget.

Spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp says the reversal was prompted by concerns raised by Statehouse journalists and media outlets on Monday, the first day of Sunshine Week, which calls attention to laws that allow public access to government records and meetings.

Reporters objected to rules limiting them to notepads, pens, and tape recorders, which were to be used only to check accuracy. Video and photos also were to be prohibited.

The media briefing precedes Kasich’s public budget rollout at 6 p.m. It will take the form of a town hall forum for invited guests and broadcast on government television.

Original post:
According to the Associated Press, reporters have been told they will not be allowed to broadcast sound and images from the Tuesday release of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan.

Spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp says journalists can bring only pens, notepads and tape recorders to the afternoon briefing, where Kasich is to announce the first details of his state spending blueprint for the next two years. She says videos and photos will be prohibited and the audio may not be used for anything but checking accuracy.

Members of the Statehouse press corps registered complaints with the governor’s office on the matter. They noted a lack of precedent for such limits on their ability to cover a governor’s budget release. An invitation-only town hall meeting later Tuesday will be broadcast on government television.

-- John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: newsheraldjah

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (3/11/11)

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending March 11, 2011:

Ohio in Congress, 20110311

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Friday, March 11, 2011

County may let city keep Lost Nation Airport

At least two Lake County commissioners are indicating they aren’t likely to support the county taking over the assets of Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby.

Their opinions could always change, but one reason commissioners may be leaning against acquiring the airport is because the county had sought federal funding of more than $1 million to help pay for the transaction with the city of Willoughby, which owns the facility.

However, because there is a moratorium in Congress on federal earmarks, language to provide dollars to help the county take over the airport’s assets is no longer in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

In September 2006, the city of Willoughby asked commissioners to take over the airport’s assets.

Commissioners later asked the Lake County Port Authority to study the best use of the airport facility and make a recommendation to commissioners before they made a decision.

Commissioner Raymond E. Sines said without the federal dollars there just isn’t any money from the county’s general fund for the county to take over the airport.

Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish said the city of Willoughby may want to keep the airport property now.

As the Port Authority’s study is nears conclusion, Aufuldish said the study may indicate the shorter runway would be eliminated and that would free up land for development and that would help the city of Willoughby.

There remains a possibility that funding could become available if Congress appropriated the money through other legislation. Aufuldish said even if the federal money was available to allow the county to purchase the airport without using general fund dollars, he doesn’t think the county would do so in the current economic climate.

That’s because he believes it would take general fund money to help subsidize the airport’s operations and he doesn’t believe commissioners would be willing to do that.

Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hasn’t made up his mind and will wait for the Port Authority’s recommendation to make his decision.

If the dollars did become available from the federal government to help the county take over the assets, Troy said he would want to see how the operational costs are going to be taken care of and certain conditions met.

Basically the airport would have to pay for itself.

Port Authority Member Anthony Debevc said he was quite surprised and disappointed by the commissioners’ comments prior to the study’s conclusion.

Before the study is done, the next step for the Port Authority will be to schedule a meeting with Willoughby Mayor David Anderson to gather the city’s point of view before a recommendation is made to county commissioners, said Port Authority Board Member Don Galea.

Anderson said the current lack of federal funding for the county to take over the airport doesn’t change anything from the city’s perspective. The mayor said this fact doesn’t affect Willoughby in the short term because of the federal grants that require the airport to remain open until at least 2016.


The latest filings with the Lake County Elections Board as of Thursday were: Erik Bednarcik for Mentor Council Ward 2; El Klco for North Perry mayor; Peter Wayman and Kenneth R. Gauntner for Madison Township trustee; Amy Dawson for Concord Township fiscal officer; and Rex Reigert for Madison Board of Education.


Lyndhurst Municipal Court Judge Mary Kaye Bozza is endorsed by the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council.

Aufuldish will host a St. Patrick’s Day celebration from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites LaMalfa in Mentor. See Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour or Ernie Koenig.

Willoughby Hills Councilman David M. Fiebig: Spring Fever party, 5 to 7 p.m. March 22 at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

Realtors Political Action Committee: Silent/live auction, 5:30 p.m., March 24 at Kirtlander Party Center. See Vicki Pate.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald. View it online at
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

Cleveland Metroparks to conform to state concealed carry laws

To dovetail with state law accommodating licensed concealed carry permit holders and weapons possession, the Cleveland Metroparks' three-person park board is expected to revise its rules and regulations.

The change will help the parks system conform with state law that permits licensed permit holders to carry weapons - chiefly handguns - in the agency's parks. Exempted, however, are buildings, as is the case with almost all government installations.

Cleveland Metroparks' spokeswoman Jane Christyson said that park rules and regulations currently prohibit the carrying of weapons, including concealed handguns.

These rules must be altered in order to mesh with the state's more liberal laws that permit those persons with the legal paperwork to carry weapons, Christyson acknowledged.

However, state law still applies and which restricts possessing a weapon - including firearms under a disability, such as being under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs.

Cleveland Metroparks' three park board members are expected to vote on the changes at their 9 a.m., Thursday, March 17 meeting.

Last year statewide, 47,337 new concealed carry permits were issued along with 13,544 renewals. The number of new licenses is the second highest number since the program began several years ago, reports the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Among the new  licenses issued in 2010 were 1,196 in Cuyahoga County along with 549 renewals. However, persons are allowed to obtain a permit from an adjacent county's sheriff office, a process found typical among prospective permit holders surrounding Lake County which ranked second in the state in the number of such documentation provided.

This item also will appear on The News-Herald/Morning Journal's Outdoors with Frischkorn Blog

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grendell chips in to help long-time Geauga friend

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, is chipping in to help ailing Reno "Jay" Reda, retired state wildlife officer assigned to Geauga County.

Reda has been diagnosed with a rare form of terminal stomach cancer. However, it is possible that Reda may be a candidate for experimental treatment. Hence the plan to conduct a special fund-raising event for him.

To that end, a $10,000 donation has been promised but it must be matched with a similar amount. Solicitations are being made with Grendell coming up with $500 to go toward the fund.

Others contributing included Chris Fassnacht, president of Expositions, Inc. which operates the Great Lakes Expo Center in Euclid. Fassnacht contributed $1,000 with other contributions from the Bachtel family, the Faddoul family, Mt. Pleasant Rod and Gun Club, Bob & Judy Meyer and Joe & Dorrie Keough.

Reda's fund-raiser is set for 2 to 8 p.m., April 30 at tghe Croatian Lodge party Center in Eastlake. Cost is $45 per person or $70 per couple.

Donations of raffle and auction items as well as cash are being accepted. Call 216-346-9615, 440-915-1295, 440-346-5830, or 440-570-0361 for details and ticket information and sales.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (3/4/11)

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending March 4, 2011:

Ohio In Congress, 20110304

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Friday, March 4, 2011

How the process to raise sales tax works

Most branches of government are facing tough tasks putting together their budgets, and Lake County commissioners are no exception.

Due to decreased revenues, some elected county officials and department heads have had to utilize staff furloughs, announce layoffs, leave vacant positions unfilled and consider shortening office hours.

Sheriff Daniel A. Dunlap recently laid off two deputies. The Elections Board will implement furlough days, and potentially consider other cost-cutting options, because there is a $130,000 difference between what the department requests and what commissioners propose.

The reasons for the declining revenues?

Interest earnings in 2008 provided the county with $6.9 million. But rates remain at historically low levels, meaning revenue dipped to $4 million in 2009 and shrunk to $2.18 million for 2010 as higher returning investments came off the book. This revenue is projected to provide $1.25 million this year.

Collections from annual property taxes have dropped because property valuations that determine how much one’s home and land are worth declined two years ago by 10 percent in the county — and aren’t likely to rise when the triennial update is completed next year.

Sales tax revenues are the county’s biggest source of revenue, and collections have remained flat. Sales taxes generated  $14,524,182 in 2009, $14,519,064 in 2010, and is projected to be around $14.1 million this year.

The only controllable option commissioners have to increase revenue is to raise the county’s sales tax. The idea is unpopular and not one commissioners are seriously considering.

Should the commissioners ever change their mind, there’s a process they would have to follow to do so.

How it would work

Ohio law permits county commissioners to levy additional sales tax by increments of a quarter of 1 percent by adopting a resolution that generally must state the tax’s purpose and how long it would be in effect.

Two public hearings would need to be conducted before passing the resolution. The second hearing must be held not less than three days, nor more than 10 days, after the first.

In the resolution, commissioners may — but are not required to — direct the Elections Board to ask voters whether to approve the increase.
If the resolution is passed as a non-emergency measure, commissioners must pass it by at least a 2-1 vote and the question may be submitted to the Elections Board 90 days before the election.

If the resolution is adopted as an emergency measure deemed necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, it must receive a unanimous vote and it needs to state the reasons for such necessity.

Voters can use a referendum to prevent a non-emergency tax from going into effect 30 days after the resolution is passed. An emergency tax is not subject to a referendum, but voters can decide to repeal it by petition.

The petition would need to be filed at least 75 days before the general election in any year and must be signed by at least 10 percent of the voters who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election.

If a tax were to be repealed by voters, it would be effective after the current year.

Announcements, endorsements

Highland Heights Mayor Scott Coleman announced he will seek a third term in office this November.
Coleman cites support and endorsements from U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, state Sen. Tim Grendell, Mayfield Heights Mayor Greg Costabile, Mayfield Village Mayor Bruce Rinker, Gates Mills Mayor Connie White, Lyndhurst Mayor Joe Cicero, Richmond Heights Mayor Dan Ursu, Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger and South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo.

Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy: Mardi Gras Party, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.
Jamie Callender, candidate for Ohio Senate: Mardi Gras party, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Quail Hollow Inn in Concord Township. See Jamie or Heidi Callender.

Lake Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish: St. Patrick’s Day celebration from 5 to 7:30 p.m. March 17 at Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites LaMalfa in Mentor. See Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour or Ernie Koenig.

Willoughby Hills Councilman David M. Fiebig: Spring Fever party, 5 to 7 p.m., March 22 at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald. View it online at
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

LaTourette votes to repeal tax requirement for businesses to fill 1099 form for every vendor

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, today voted to repeal a tax requirement in the new health care law that would require businesses to file a 1099 tax form with the IRS for every vendor they paid more than $600 a year.

The measure, H.R. 4, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 314-112. It now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The Senate earlier this year passed 1099 repeal language as part of a Federal Aviation Administration bill.  The House and Senate will have to hammer out repeal language that is identical in both the House and Senate before a measure can be sent to the President for signature.

In a report released in June 2010, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate said the new 1099 reporting requirement would apply to almost 40 million businesses, including more than 1 million charities and tax-exempt organizations and more than 100,000 government entities.

“The 1099 reporting requirement has nothing to do with health care, and its days are numbered,” LaTourette said. “This would be a compliance nightmare for the IRS, and small businesses should focus on job creation, not filing tax forms reporting the purchase of toilet paper and paper towels from Costco or toner and paper from Staples.”

The congressman said H.R. 4 reduces the deficit by $166 million in the first 10 years, and is expected to reduce federal spending by nearly $20 billion over 10 years.

-- John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: newsheraldjah

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LaTourette votes to approve measure to keep federal government open

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, today said he voted for a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open and avert a government shutdown.

The measure was approved 335-91, and is expected to be approved by the Senate and then sent to President Barack Obama for his signature within 48 hours.

The bill cuts $4 billion in spending and will keep the government open until March 18, LaTourette said. The House and Senate are working on a measure to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends at the end of September.

“No one wants a government shutdown, and this gives everyone some breathing room to come up with a more permanent solution and finish bipartisan legislation to fund programs for the rest of this fiscal year,” LaTourette said.

-- John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: newsheraldjah