August 28, 2023: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


By The Associated Press

Cleveland Plain Dealer. August 27, 2023.

Editorial: Ohio’s term limits aren’t working as intended, and need to be retired

It’s time to admit that the term limits that Ohio voters imposed on the General Assembly 31 years ago have backfired.

Ohioans embraced the idea as a way to encourage citizen politicians, but the reality has been exactly the opposite. Term limits have hamstrung the state by accelerating partisanship, limiting the knowledge that experience brings, and boosting the clout of the state executive bureaucracy and the Statehouse’s lobbying army at the expense of legislators.

An assessment by the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics not long after term limits were introduced at the Ohio Statehouse found, as’s Sabrina Eaton summarized it recently, that they “increased partisanship and made it harder to pass legislation.”

At the same time, the intensified competition for legislative seats — counterintuitively — led to candidates who were “both more partisan and more ideological than in the past.”

Longer term, limiting legislators to eight consecutive years in the Ohio House or Senate has fed a game of musical political chairs in which savvy lawmakers build up political favors so they can more easily switch chambers at the end of their term limits — or slide into another public job.

No question, term limits have curb appeal. In 1992, Ohioans. with more than 68% of the voters voting “yes,” approved term limits on members of Congress; on Ohio’s statewide elected executive officers; and on the General Assembly.

Federal courts later threw out congressional term limits, saying they’d require amending the U.S. Constitution. (The 1992 Ohio ballot issue amended the state constitution.)

The irony of forbidding congressional term limits is exemplified by the number of very aged and questionably competent members of Congress now thronging the U.S. Capitol.

Yet, equally, the congressional dysfunction and gridlock when there are no term limits to blame also offers an indictment of the term limits in Ohio. With or without term limits, elected lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and Columbus both find a way to perpetuate their time in office.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Statehouse do-si-do that was prompted by the 1992 term-limits amendment carries its own negative consequences.

It promotes inter-chamber backscratching, with a term-limited member of one chamber trying to curry favor with her or his party leaders in the other one. That flies in the face of this constitutional fact: The two chambers are supposed to check-and-balance each other, not serve as mutual employment agencies for lame-ducks. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a two-chamber legislature?

General Assembly term limits, proposed by voter petition, have also substituted short-term ambition for long-range perspective. It is often quipped that, thanks to term limits, a new General Assembly member’s second question, after first asking where the Statehouse’s restrooms are, is, “What’s my next job?”

That is, term limits focus legislators’ eyes on their futures, not Ohio’s future. And given the legislature’s responsibilities, it’s significant that, were Ohio an independent nation, its economy would have been the world’s 21st largest in 2019, according to the Legislative Service Commission, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan research arm.

Stewardship of Ohio calls for long-range thinking, not the short-term politicking that term limits promote. In that connection, guess which Statehouse crowd isn’t term-limited? Executive agencies and lobbyists, who — de facto — now hold the advantage in institutional knowledge and budget history.

And a more savvy, more responsible — and dare voters hope? — a more mature General Assembly, without term limits limiting its vision, might actually grow a backbone to strengthen Ohio’s ethics laws, lobbying laws, and campaign-finance laws.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who early in his career was a member of the state Senate and has served at all levels of government, would be, after he retires from office in January 2027, well-positioned to advocate repeal of General Assembly term limits. The governor should consider that.

Voters’ defeat of Issue 1 earlier this month — a proposal to make it harder for Ohioans to amend the state constitution — demonstrated that voters, given full information, understand Ohio Government 101 and the ways Capitol Square insiders try to limit the voters’ voice.

It turns out that the voters’ voice is, after all, the best adjudicator of term limits — at every legislative election. Ohioans now need to recognize that.


Toledo Blade. August 22, 2023.

Editorial: Let citizens redistrict

Round two of Ohio’s battle between the people and the politicians has begun with the drive to abolish congressional and legislative districts drawn by elected officials.

The Blade Editorial Board has already concluded the politician driven system currently used in Ohio no longer has any credibility with citizens (“A better idea in Michigan,” Feb. 6).

Former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, disgusted with districts ruled unconstitutional seven times for electoral advantage provided to majority Republicans, is leading Citizens Not Politicians, a coalition devoted to amending the state constitution to strip politicians of redistricting authority.

The 72-percent support for an anti-gerrymandering amendment in 2015 covering state legislative districts and the 75-percent vote for politically neutral congressional districts in 2018 did not deter the politician-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission from refusing to fulfill their mission in 2022.

Ms. O’Connor says the momentum from citizen rejection of state Issue 1 and the attempt to require a super-majority to amend the constitution will power the program to obtain 413,487 registered voters signatures to put a citizen-controlled alternative on the ballot in 2024.

The Citizens Not Politicians plan proposes redistricting controlled by a 15-person board comprised of five Republicans, five Democrats and five independents. Ex-office holders, lobbyists, and campaign contributors would be barred from selection.

The basic idea is similar to the process used in Michigan since 2018. Ten states use citizen commissions to draw congressional districts while 15 states make citizens responsible for their legislative districts.

The Ohio proposal simply follows the path of others who’ve lost faith in professional politicians.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission must reconvene to create new districts for 2024, as the boundaries for congressional and legislative seats used in the 2022 election are still ruled unconstitutional.

Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor Keith Faber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Republican lawmakers Rob McColley and Jeff LaRose and Democratic lawmakers Vernon Sykes and Allison Russo have one last chance to show Ohioans the current system can meet voter expectations. But there is nothing that can change the inherent conflict of interest of politicians personally affected by redistricting decisions. Ohioans don’t trust politicians, especially after the attempted power grab on the ballot as state Issue 1.

Gov. Mike DeWine appears to have gotten the message. Mr. DeWine told Gongwer News Service the governor and legislators do not belong on the redistricting commission.

Independent commissions have no motivation to protect or enhance personal power and deserve support for that reason.


Youngstown Vindicator. August 24, 2023.

Editorial: Be ready for illness as kids head to school

With the start of the school year and the approach of fall and winter, Ohio health officials have issued both a warning and some encouragement. COVID-19 and its variants are not gone, and they are accompanied by flu and respiratory syncytial virus in what could be a deadly triple threat.

“COVID, it isn’t gone, and we really do need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming fall and winter respiratory season, which will undoubtedly include COVID, influenza and RSV,” Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said last week.

It’s a frightening prospect, so let’s not forget all that we have learned in recent years about staying healthy.

Remember the importance of frequent and thorough hand-washing or sanitizing. If you’re not feeling well, get tested and keep your distance. Better yet, just stay home, if you are ill.

If you are so inclined and your physician recommends it, an updated COVID-19 booster vaccine expected to be available in late September or early October will target a strain of the virus closely related to the emerging EG.5 strain. Annual flu shots already are routine for many Americans. And now there is an RSV vaccine expected to be available as soon as October for infants younger than eight months. A vaccine already is available for eligible older adults. Check whether some or all of these vaccines should be part of your plan to keep you and your family healthier this winter.

The start of a new school year is always full of bright promise. Make plans to take precautions that could help keep the rest of the year brighter, too.


Elyria Chronicle. August 24, 2023.

Editorial: A tax by another name

Ohioans should pay attention to a bad idea floated by Gov. Mike DeWine to pay for police training through a surcharge on insurance premiums.

Proposals like this might be the future of funding for state government as Ohio Republicans — DeWine is one — pursue their long-term goal of eliminating the state income tax.

The most recent biennial state budget, passed and signed into law earlier this year, was part of that trend, reducing income tax rates and the number of tax brackets.

Lowering tax rates leaves a little more change in taxpayers’ pockets, but it also leaves state government with less money to fund services. That’s not necessarily a big problem in the near term because Ohio has a healthy amount of money in the bank, thanks, in part, to federal pandemic funds.

Sooner or later, though, the state’s financial fortunes will turn.

(The state is hardly alone in having to worry about what happens when its federal pandemic money runs out. The dustup last week between Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield, an independent, and one of his opponents, former Safety-Service Director Kevin Brubaker, a Democrat, over the city’s financial health was a case in point.)

When money gets tight, the state — and other political jurisdictions — will still need to provide services.

Republicans have never been clear about how they would make up the budget shortfalls resulting from further reducing and, if all goes according to their dreams, eliminating the state income tax.

One possibility is to start slashing services, which would save money, but might leave Ohioans without programs they need and expect.

Another option is to raise the state sales tax, but that’s a regressive solution that would hit hardest those who can least afford it. Also, few folks are going to be keen to see the cost of goods increase, especially in an inflationary period.

We saw the consequences of state income tax cuts when Republican John Kasich was governor. He, along with the GOP-controlled state legislature, reduced taxes and paid for it in part by reducing state funds passed along to local governments, many of which then had to raise local taxes to make up the shortfall.

Besides, Columbus Republicans are deeply invested in the idea of cutting taxes and making sure voters know they did so. If local taxes go up, they’re not about to take the blame.

Which brings us back to DeWine’s insurance surcharge idea. It’s based on a Kentucky program that tacks on a 1.8 percent surcharge to insurance premiums, Spectrum News reported. The money collected in Kentucky pays for police training.

In the most recent biennial budget, Ohio allocated around $40 million for law enforcement training. The state hasn’t always adequately funded such training, despite the obvious need to keep officers up to speed on new laws, use-of-force rules, de-escalation tactics and more.

Which is why DeWine, correctly, wants to find a permanent way to fund police training.

The way to do that, however, is not through an insurance surcharge, but rather through a commitment to include money for such training in future state budgets.

It’s also unclear to which insurance premiums DeWine wants to apply the surcharge, but there are a lot to choose from, including auto, home, liability and life.

If all of those were subject to the surcharge, the costs would add up quickly, eating into whatever savings Ohioans reaped from the most recent state income tax cuts.

It’s entirely reasonable to fear that the insurance companies would pass those expenses on to consumers rather than shouldering the burden themselves.

The Ohio Insurance Agents Association also has raised concerns about the idea.

“We believe that the collection of insurance premiums … should be used for the purposes of why they’re collected,” the association’s CEO, Jeff Smith, told Spectrum News, “and that’s to pay claims when someone loses their home in a fire or their business is attacked by a cyber hacker or their business is affected by a flood or a tornado or hurricane, whatever it may be.”

One additional surcharge may not seem like cause for alarm to some. The bigger concern is that if Republicans continue their push to reduce state income taxes, more things could be subjected to fees, surcharges or whatever they end up calling them.

The most accurate description, however, would be to call them what they are: taxes.


Sandusky Register. August 24, 2023.

Editorial: Yost punts again

Though it is mind-boggling anyone would still have to ask, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests filed a letter last week to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, asking the state to hold accountable those in the Catholic church who have been accused of being predators.

The letter is a formal request by the organization for a statewide investigation into the history and scope of child sexual abuse it says is being covered up by the state’s Catholic diocese, according to a report by an Ogden Newspaper, the News and Sentinel.

“Information developed on 49 credibly accused clerics from other attorneys general’s reports (show they have) ties to Ohio,” said Claudia Vercellotti with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, as it’s called. “It makes you wonder what would Attorney General Yost uncover if he merely investigated?”

According to news coverage, the Catholic Conference of Ohio declined to answer whether it would support such an investigation. Rather, a spokesperson responded to the inquiry by saying the church does background checks and has ongoing safe environment training for employees and volunteers.

Yost might very well jump on such an investigation if he wanted. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and we think there most certainly would be a way for Yost to conduct a statewide investigation if he wanted to conduct one.

One state statute gives the attorney general the authority to conduct an investigation if an organization is accused of operating in a criminal manner in more than one county. If the allegations are true, that the church dioceses have knowingly transferred priests from one parish to another to avoid exposure and criminal charges, we don’t see why Yost cannot avail himself of that.

Yost also could simply work with local prosecutors to conduct a statewide probe if he wanted to assist victims. It might just be that this is too hot a topic for this attorney general to handle. He’s shown little interest in prosecuting sexual assault crimes.

“Ohio should be a safe place to raise a child, not a legal haven for child sexual abusers, traffickers and institutions which enable them,” said Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann last week in Columbus. She is co-chair of Ohioans for Child Protection.

Yost’s office might not want to do much more than slap the wrist of the Catholic Church’s charitable arm, but county prosecutors across the Buckeye State could make greater strides toward justice and healing for the victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of those employed by the Catholic Church. Perhaps the Catholic Conference of Ohio and other church officials would even welcome it.

They should.

No posts to display