Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Akron Beacon Journal, April 11
A disturbing pattern at the Statehouse is just how easily Republican majorities in both chambers bend to the will of the gun lobby. Time and again, an expansive view of Second Amendment rights has trampled reasonable objections, even from representatives of police departments and sheriff's offices.
The latest example is a bill that would do away with permits, training and background checks to carry a concealed weapon. Introduced by Ron Hood, a Republican member of the Ohio House from Ashville, the legislation would allow those 21 and older and not otherwise banned from having a weapon to carry a concealed firearm.
It's a huge stretch to see common-sense requirements such as background checks and eight hours of training as unconstitutional restrictions of gun rights. Neither the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio nor the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association favors doing away with the requirements.
The logical question, as put by Jennifer Thorne, the executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, is this: "Do we really want to increase the number of people who carry hidden, loaded weapons in the state of Ohio?" Lawmakers should listen to those calling for a balanced approach that gives public safety appropriately high priority.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 11
We'll miss you, Lauren Hill.
You were only 19 when you left us, struck down by a brain cancer you inspired us to fight.
You were so young, your season with us so short. How did you give us so much?
We hurt with you when you found out you had an inoperable brain tumor. It was terminal. We weren't your flesh and blood, but we became your family.
We lived with you when you stepped onto the basketball court at Mount St. Joseph in November, sunk a layup, heard the roar of the crowd. Technically there was an opposing team, but that day, everybody joined your team.
We worked with you, as you stepped forward as a face of pediatric brain cancer, and called for help in the fight for a cure. You had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. We didn't know what that was. You taught us. We gave time and money to the cause, inspired by your example. You were giving everything you had.
We step forward without you now. Our hearts are heavy, but we treasure the unforgettable legacy you left behind. Your unrelenting, joyful courage changed us. You brought us together. You showed us how to live, no matter how little time we have left.
We miss you, Lauren. But we're with you, as you're with us.
We won't forget.
The Marietta Times, April 10
In approving $7 billion in transportation spending for the next two years, Ohio legislators also agreed they need to find better ways to fund projects such as highways and bridges. A joint legislative task force was formed to look into the matter.
Specifically, the lawmakers will be considering reliance on motor fuel taxes as a major component of transportation budgets.
Like other states, Ohio has struggled with the issue for several years. Higher fuel prices and more efficient vehicles have reduced fuel use. Because the state taxes fuel by the gallon, that has had an impact on revenue.
Fuel tax income has not gone down. During fiscal 2014, the state collected nearly $1.8 billion in motor fuel taxes, up from $1.58 billion a decade before. But tax rates have gone up, too, to 28 cents a gallon from 22 cents 20 years ago.
The bottom line is that fuel tax revenue has not kept pace with state Department of Transportation costs.
Legislators will struggle with the issue, simply because more money for ODOT will have to be collected from someone. They should present the full General Assembly with a list of alternatives, and allow the tough decisions to be made as soon as possible.
Tiffin Advertiser Tribune, April 12
Too many plans to "make college more affordable" do nothing of the sort. Typical are nearly all such initiatives in Washington, which merely shift the burden of paying for higher education.
For example, President Barack Obama's suggestion community college be "free" would be covered by taxpayers.
A new affordability plan by Ohio State University President Michael Drake would mix some of that cost-sharing with real savings. He wants to provide $400 million during the next five years to help students pay for college...
Money for the program will come from "innovative financing" and "administrative efficiencies," Drake has said. Such action would lower the cost of college at OSU rather than merely finding new ways for students to pay existing higher education bills.
Drake is taking a step in the right direction, and for that he deserves praise...
Still, OSU is missing the boat on the most dramatic method of curbing college costs — fewer years of paying to go to class.
The new "normal" for obtaining a bachelor's degree from a so-called "four-year college" is six years. That is how success is measured now.
OSU does quite well in comparison to other colleges and universities. The average six-year graduation rate for public institutions in Ohio is 54.6 percent. At OSU, it is 83.2 percent...
Still, getting bachelor's degrees into the hands of more OSU students within four years would save an enormous amount of money. According to the university, it costs $130,218 for tuition, fees, room and board to spend six years on campus. The four-year cost is $86,812.
Again Drake deserves commendation for his plan.... But more can and should be done to truly make college more affordable.
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