Jan. 8, 2024: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


By The Associated Press

Akron Beacon Journal. January 4, 2024.

Editorial: Why Ohio lawmakers should agree with Gov. DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68

Ohio governor correct to oppose bill targeting Ohio transgender community

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did his homework, listened to experts and made a sound decision even though he knew conservative outrage would follow.

The governor’s Dec. 28 veto of House Bill 68 set him apart from other Republican leaders waging a culture war to impress primary election voters with simplistic solutions to the complex issues of modern life.

This unnecessary bill would have prevented doctors from prescribing hormones, puberty blockers or gender reassignment surgery before patients turn 18, even when parents agree with the treatment. Never mind that hospitals such as Akron Children’s and the Cleveland Clinic don’t perform such surgeries on minors.

“These are gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them,” DeWine said.

We appreciate that many people struggle to understand transgender issues and why some people seek such treatment. That’s why it was so important for DeWine to take time to visit children’s hospitals, speak with families and review the pros and cons. Even with his veto, DeWine promised to draft rules to ban surgery for patients under 18 and complete further research, showing he understands some of the concerns.

That’s the thoughtful approach all Ohio citizens deserve from their governor. As we’ve said before, doctors are not going to administer any type of care to a minor without proper adult permission.

We trust doctors’ training and dedication far more than politicians serving in the Ohio General Assembly.

House Bill 68 also would have prohibited transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in high school and college. In this case, the bill offered a solution in search of a rare occurrence.

Again, politicians such as Lt. Gov. Jon Husted oversimplify the issue by declaring: “Men should not compete in women’s sports.” Few might disagree with that sentiment for obvious reasons, but they again ignore the complex issues associated with transitioning men.

Nor is there sufficient evidence on whether transitioning men have an advantage over women, although it’s certainly possible.

For example, one scientific study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found indications that four months of hormone therapy does reduce hemoglobin levels of trans women to levels similar to that of people who’ve been women from birth or cisgender women. The therapy after a year to 36 months also reduced certain measures of strength, muscle area and lean body mass but to levels above that of cisgender women.

We concede that reasonable people can disagree on the scope of this issue and reasonable solutions. But it’s not about the star men’s basketball player suddenly changing to the women’s team one day without any medical treatment and dominating games.

To us, the Ohio High School Athletic Association and NCAA should govern this issue and seek to ensure fairness in all competitions.

As we embark on this 2024 presidential election year, we don’t expect many of DeWine’s fellow Republicans to back down on culture issues, including efforts to overcome Ohio’s new constitutional amendment allowing abortions.

The sad reality is Republicans in the House and Senate could easily override DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68.

But we’re hopeful just a few lawmakers will listen to the governor’s veto message, do their own homework and back away from forcing House Bill 68 on Ohioans.

Let’s find solutions to our state’s real challenges.


The Plain Dealer. January 7, 2024.

Editorial: It’s about time Ohio’s legislative term limits were in the Statehouse crosshairs

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Republican from the state’s southernmost county, recently speculated it may be time for Ohioans to reconsider term limits on General Assembly members. He’s right.

More than 30 years after voters added term limits to the Constitution seeking to prevent an entrenched political class from ruling the Statehouse, it’s evident they’ve mainly succeeded only in empowering special interests to sway the General Assembly’s changing cast of characters.

Those downsides, and the way lawmakers work the system as a never-ending game of musical seats simply by changing chambers, have exposed term limits’ empty promises — as we editorialized as recently as August.

It’s time that Stephens and other legislative leaders who recognize the problems begin to put their political heft in the service of reforms.

Legislative term limits were added to the Ohio Constitution by a 68% vote on the issue in the November 1992 general election. The real targets were 20-year Ohio House Speaker Vernal G. Riffe, a Scioto County Democrat, and what had become the 22-year Ohio House majority (1973 through 1994) that Riffe and his caucus won and maintained.

Riffe, speaker since January 1975, retired in December 1994 as the GOP caucus led by Reynoldsburg Republican Jo Ann Davidson prepared to take over the House beginning in January 1995.

But term limits had nothing to do with the GOP victory or Riffe’s retirement; instead, a 1991 Republican gerrymander of General Assembly districts was a key factor, and Riffe, fatally ill, only lived for two years into retirement.

In a December sit-down with Statehouse reporters, Stephens said, without specifics, that he would support a constitutional amendment to change term limits.

Term limits now restrict a state representative to four consecutive two-year terms (eight years) and a state senator to two consecutive four-year terms (also eight years). But they don’t prevent a lawmaker from claiming another consecutive eight years if they’re able to run and win in the other chamber, presuming there’s an available vacancy and the requisite residency requirements can be met. A lawmaker otherwise has to sit it out for four years before running in the same chamber.

Stephens said, and he’s correct, that term limits severely constrain Statehouse experience. Contrast the limited tenures of legislators to an essentially permanent executive-branch bureaucracy and an equally permanent (and relentless) army of special-interest lobbyists who know state law and the state budget in every mood and tense, thanks to decades of Statehouse experience.

In his story on Stephens’ December comments, cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias noted that Stephens supports term limits himself — and won’t be term-limited out of the House until December 2026, assuming he’s re-elected this November.

But the current House speaker rightly called attention to the demands term limits place on a high-turnover legislature:

“You come in as a state representative (in January),” Stephens said. “You’ve got (a) $100 billion … budget to figure out in six months (by July 1). And you don’t know where the bathrooms are. And you’re trying to do that, and then (in) less than a year, you’re running for election. It makes it very difficult to have that stability.”

Yes, the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission supplies members of the General Assembly with a flood of facts and figures on state finances and on the potential effects of proposed state laws. But for the policy context, the likely effects of a measure, a legislator must rely first on his or her knowledge and experience with previous legislation and debates. And that’s precisely the challenge.

Absent extensive experience in hearings and debates on proposed legislation and expenditures, the executive branch – state government’s permanent bureaucracy – and the Statehouse’s lobbying army become the default experts. And the bureaucracy and the lobbies have their own interests to tend.

Constitutionally, that’s also distorting: It’s members of the Ohio House and state Senate who should have the public interest first in mind.

Still, the case against term limits, or for modifying them, will be a hard sell. Intuitively, if superficially, term limits seem like a sure-fire way to check-and-balance incumbent legislators.

But what legislative term limits really do is limit voters, who aren’t able to re-elect those legislators who prove responsive to their districts and focused on the public interest. In other words, they handcuff voters, not officeholders — something that’s particularly ironic in Ohio.

The Ohio Constitution says, “all political power is inherent in the people,” but it can’t be if, because of term limits, a voter is no longer free to re-elect the lawmaker they like.


Toledo Blade. January 5, 2024.

Editorial: Let DeWine veto stand

While objections to biological males competing in female sports are understandable, the Ohio General Assembly should accept Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 and focus on more pressing issues under their control.

The governor vetoed the bill that conflicts head-on with science as conveyed by the Ohio medical profession. The bill would have prevented doctors from prescribing hormones, puberty blockers, or gender reassignment surgery before patients turn 18. It also would have prohibited transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in high school and college.

The question of minors receiving medical treatment to conform their body to the gender they identify as is one that should be left to parents, doctors, and the youths themselves.

The governor vetoed H.B. 68 on Dec. 29 saying that he had spoken with trans youth, families, and the medical profession.

“These are gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them,” Mr. DeWine said.

Everyone who is up in arms about transgender youths should consider that many relevant medical associations and authorities endorse the value of transgender care. To our knowledge, no institutional medical professional or academic organizations disagree that transgender care is legitimate.

The General Assembly held several hearings and heard testimony from 613 opponents of the bill, including many doctors and psychologists or who represented Ohio hospitals and professional medical and psychological associations.

Fifty-six speakers supported the bill, with only one representing a medical association, the American College of Pediatricians. Critics contend the American College of Pediatricians exists only to oppose LGBTQ issues. The organization is made up of medical professionals who have a point of view on this sensitive topic and they deserve to have their views heard.

Allowing an individual, typically an older teenager, to go forward with gender reassignment affects the teenager himself or herself far more than anyone else.

The right to self determination and the weight of medical opinion recommends that society not attempt to criminalize decisions that are essentially personal.

The legislature should accept the governor’s offer to develop administrative regulations. Those rules will have a better chance of surviving judicial review. Through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which is made up of legislators, proposed rules can be recommended for amendment or repeal.

The number of instances of transgender children in Ohio is small. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has a policy that restricts transgender girls from girls’ sports if they “possess physical traits that would undermine girls’ sports.” In the last eight years, there have been 20 transgender females who have participated in high school sports in Ohio.

Sensitivity and compassion are called for. Instead, we suspect sensitivity and compassion are playing second fiddle to the GOP’s quest to continue to inflame its base with culture hot-button topics.


Youngstown Vindicator. January 4, 2024.

Editorial: Leaders must address health in Appalachia and rural Ohio

Ohio’s elected officials were tooting their own horn a bit at the end of the year — and with good reason. Economic development is happening at a pace to which Buckeye State residents have been unaccustomed. But as a recent report by Scioto Analysis suggests, there is much room for improvement in other categories.

According to a report by the Ohio Capital Journal, Scioto Analysis came up with an Ohio Human Development Report, which focused not just on income and financial wellbeing, but also on health and education. It uses the Human Development Index created by the United Nations back in 1990 to compare countries, but this version is meant to help Ohio policymakers see the bigger picture.

“Seeing as the HDI investigates health, education, and income, we are able to look at three ways that society is performing,” the report said, according to the Capital Journal. “We are then able to see the ways in which Ohio counties are not meeting their full potential in comparison to other counties and neighboring states. Our analysis using this measure highlights how Ohioans are faring and will help policymakers make thoughtful choices on ways to improve communities and assets.”

Compared with the 11 other Midwestern states, Ohio is seventh best — though everyone is improving.

Here we are “lagging behind in noneconomic areas of development,” the report stated.

“It is evident that when considering measuring and improving wellbeing on a county level, policymakers should consider how targeting programs to specific geographic regions can reduce inequities in well-being across the state,” the report said. “Mapping HDI by county demonstrates a clear need for support in rural Ohio counties, particularly those in Southern Ohio.”

No surprise there. Policymakers have for decades ignored the wellbeing of those in rural and Appalachian Ohio. We’re also doing a poor job of moving the needle for Ohio’s black residents, for whom indicators have been stagnate in all three categories — economic, health and education — for at least 20 years.

There is positive news in that the report shows significant, though not statewide, economic growth for Ohio. Perhaps as that growth takes hold and spreads, it will make a difference for health and education, too.

But policymakers must not wait for that to happen without looking for ways they can help. And they must not forget that sometimes the best way to help is to get out of the way.


Elyria Chronicle. January 4, 2024.

Editorial: DeWine’s veto of transgender bill should stand

What sort of crisis could compel the vacation-loving members of the Ohio General Assembly to rush back to work early?

It must be serious because House members have been called back to Columbus for a full session on Jan. 10 instead of the previously scheduled Jan. 24.

Are they going to take action to address the scourge of gun violence?

Are they ready to take on meaningful ethics reform in the wake of the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history?

No and no.

The emergency seems to exist mostly in the mind of House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill. He’s burning with a culture-war-fueled desire to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of an odious and cruel bill that would have banned most transgender care for minors, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgery. It also would have kept transgender women from competing in female sports in high school and college.

DeWine, a Republican, was right to veto bill. He did so after carefully examining the issues, meeting with people on both sides and talking to people who have gone through gender transition.

DeWine’s compelling and compassionate explanation for his veto is worth quoting at length:

“This bill would impact a very small number of Ohio’s children. But for those children who face gender dysphoria, the consequences of this bill could not be more profound. Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life. Many parents have told me that their child would not have survived, would be dead today, if they had not received the treatment they received from one of Ohio’s children’s hospitals.

“These are gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them. Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state, that the government knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most: The parents.”

As was made clear in testimony against the bill, it doesn’t appear as if hospitals in Ohio are performing gender-reassignment surgeries on minors.

Here’s what the Cleveland Clinic says on its website about its rule that those seeking such surgeries must be at least 18: “Because gender-affirming surgeries are life-changing, we only offer these procedures for people who can provide their own consent for surgery.”

That is a reasonable approach.

Moreover, DeWine said he was directing the appropriate state agencies to draft rules on transgender care, including a ban on gender-reassignment surgery for minors and restrictions on pop-up clinics that provide transgender care sometimes without proper counseling and other safeguards in place.

Whether such rules would be appropriate remains to be seen. The governor has called a news conference for today to discuss the potential rules.

Finally, DeWine said he wanted the state to begin collecting more data on transgender care in Ohio. Although the data could prove useful, it must be anonymous lest it be used to create a registry of transgender people in Ohio.

Such privacy protections are vital because of the vitriol aimed at members of the LBGTQ community. Transgender kids are a tiny fraction of the population, but they are too often marginalized and picked on, putting them at greater risk of self-harm and suicide.

Although DeWine didn’t touch on the issue of transgender athletes in his veto message or his prepared remarks, he has previously argued, correctly in our view, that government shouldn’t be involved in the matter.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has long had strict and reasonable rules in place that dictate when and how transgender girls can compete on girls’ sports teams.

Between 2015 and 2022, the OHSAA ruled on the issue 48 times and allowed just 11 transgender athletes to compete. In the same timeframe, about 400,000 students in grades seven through 12 played OHSSA-sanctioned sports.

Unfortunately, all of DeWine’s compassion and nuanced approach to the bill and transgender issues in general might be for naught.

It takes 59 votes in the House and 20 in the Senate to override a governor’s veto. State Rep. Josh Williams, R-Sylvania, told The Ohio Capital Journal he and his fellow Republicans had the numbers.

The bill passed the House with a veto-proof majority of 62 to 27, with state Reps. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, and Dick Stein, R-Norwalk, voting in favor of it. State Rep. Joe Miller, D-Amherst, voted against it.

The Senate likewise passed it with a veto-proof majority of 24 to 8. State Sen. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, voted against it, making him the only member of either party in the two chambers to break ranks on the final vote.

It’s a shame that so many other state lawmakers apparently view making transgender kids’ lives more difficult as an emergency.


Sandusky Register. January 4, 2024.

Editorial: Failure is news

The search for a woman who’s been missing for years was one of the top stories in 2023.

It wasn’t just the so-called search, though, that caught the attention of readers and newsroom folks alike: It was the institutional incompetence officials displayed.

The search for Amanda Dean is as much about a search for competence as it is a search for the Collins, Ohio, woman, who disappeared in July 2017.

At every step, mistakes were made. The first was the lack of follow-up or follow-through from Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin just seven months sheriff at the time. Corbin cut off the search for Dean right at the outset, assuring her family and the community that she was alive and well … and safe.

A day after her family reported her missing, family and friends gathered at Dean’s last known address — an outbuilding on a rural property on Wells Road — ready to search for her. But Corbin announced that Dean had been located, and he prevented them from looking for her.

The sheriff never fully documented how he came to believe Dean was alive, and he never spoke with her before asserting she was safe. She’s never been seen since then — since July 2017.

In March 2023, the long-dormant complaint was switched from a missing persons case to a homicide investigation, although that fact was kept secret by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and his prosecutors. Really, nothing was learned about the investigation from the sheriff or state officials for most of the entire year.

But, at the same time, a lot was learned.

Questions about the status of the search for Dean led to other questions. In the process, the sheriff’s office sought to conceal records — and did conceal records — for months. The more the office sought to control information, the more others sought to set the record straight.

To date, the sheriff’s office is refusing to release records related to alleged criminal complaints, employment records and records related to a domestic violence complaint and a stolen gun complaint. It’s unknown if the complaints were never documented or if they were documented and subsequently lost or discarded.

There are no reports, no findings and no explanations — a standard far below the expectations any community should have of its law enforcement agencies. For most agencies, these would be routine questions that get asked and get answered. But, for some reason, that’s not the case at the Huron County sheriff’s office.

The stonewalling led to more questions, and more interest, in getting answers. The answers, it turns out, reveal dysfunction, secrecy and incompetent standards that mire both the sheriff’s office and the combined bureaucracies of the attorney general’s office, its state crime lab and Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The sheriff offers no explanation for missing records, delayed release of records, records never filed and complaints never investigated, while the attorney general hides himself away, aloof from the responsibilities of his office, separate from any accountability.

In November, state agents with a secret search warrant from Norwalk Municipal Court went to that same Wells Road property — the last place Dean was seen alive — with mobile crime lab units and a backhoe. The dig there went on for about 11 hours over two days, but it’s unknown if any evidence was recovered.

It’s also unknown what agents were searching for because the court sealed the search warrant and other records related to it.

But the November dig and the change in identifying this as a homicide investigation instead of a missing person investigation, makes it clear that this was mishandled from the start.

There’s a stink to it all. And that’s news.

No posts to display