COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Youngstown) Vindicator, May 6
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan has been in favor of legalizing marijuana in the state — especially for medicinal use — for years and has introduced bills to do so in the past. He’s doing so again — with a two-pronged approach this time — but he has to know that the chances for a Republican-dominated Legislature to jump on the legalization bandwagon is slim.
Even dangling the possibility of a 15 percent sin tax on the sale of recreational marijuana isn’t likely to attract fiscal conservatives to Hagan’s cause….
Hagan also is offering a joint resolution that would place an issue on the ballot to allow adults “to legally purchase, cultivate and use cannabis recreationally.” That proposal, modeled after a recently passed amendment in Colorado, would create state-licensed outlets and tax sales at 15 percent….
We see two key arguments against wholesale legalization. One is that no matter what the states do, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The other is that, unlike alcohol and many other drugs, tests to show marijuana impairment are far from exact science. A company has a right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. The casual use of marijuana shows up in blood tests for as much as a month. Though an employee can claim he or she was unimpaired from marijuana use in the somewhat distant past, a company would have no choice but to discipline or terminate the employee who failed a screening.
The (Findlay) Courier, May 4
One of John Kasich’s goals since being elected governor has been to find ways to create a more business-friendly climate for Ohio.
Kasich gave that cause another boost (last) week with a plan to give existing companies a return on their investment while making the state more attractive to those looking to relocate here.
The plan involves the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the state agency which provides insurance to about two-thirds of Ohio’s public and private workforce….
But now that the bureau’s net assets have grown to $8.3 billion, Kasich says it’s time to return $1 billion to those who have been paying in. Rebate checks or credits could be sent to employers this summer if the proposal is approved by the bureau’s board later this month.
While the size of the refunds would vary depending on the size of the company, the money could allow a business to hire employees or purchase new equipment or expand.
The bureau says it can afford the refunds because of good management and better-than-expected investment returns. Administrator Steve Buehrer said investment returns have averaged 11.4 percent over the last three years….
Other proposed changes should benefit employers in the future….
The agency has come a long way since the days of “Coingate” and Tom Noe, which led to a revamping of its investment practices.
The proposal shows the agency is on solid ground and that Beuhrer is doing his part to keep Ohio open for business.
The (Canton) Repository, May 2
The state has been waging an aggressive battle against “pill mills” run by unscrupulous doctors. Yet the problem of prescription drug addiction is still outrunning the solutions.
Again in 2011 (the latest year for which numbers are available), more people died in Ohio from drug overdoses than from any other cause of injury. It was the fifth straight year that overdoses eclipsed traffic accidents as the leading cause of death.
The overall toll in 2011 was 1,765 people, a 14 percent increase over 2010, according to the Ohio Department of Health and Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. That averages out to a fatal overdose about every five hours of every day….
The issue goes well beyond waging “war” through law enforcement, as U.S. Sen. Rob Portman told the annual Ohio Opiate Conference on Tuesday. Calling the campaign to end abuse a war on drugs is “the wrong way to think of it,” he said, “… in part because millions of our co-workers, our families and others suffer from addiction disorder, and it’s not really a war, it’s more a public safety, public health issue.”
The latest numbers attest to the fact that the scope of the problem is, as the father of a 23-year-old overdose victim told The Columbus Dispatch, “beyond staggering.”
The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, May 3
Attending a public university in Ohio could become a lot cheaper for residents of other states if the General Assembly approves a provision in the state budget bill. Doing so would be crazy, however.
Public universities throughout the country charge higher tuition for students from other states. For example, tuition at Ohio State University is $10,037 a year for Buckeye State residents and $25,445 for out-of-state scholars.
That is only fair. After all, public universities are supported in part by taxes paid by residents of their states.
Students at Ohio public universities could find it as easy as voting — and that has become very easy — to slash their tuition bills, however.
A provision in the $61.5 billion, two-year budget bill being considered in Columbus would allow it. Here’s how it would work:
If the measure is enacted, public universities providing documents such as letters that help students show they qualify to vote in Ohio would have to charge those students in-state tuition rates.
But while the universities traditionally have required proof of Ohio residency continuously for 12 months to qualify for in-state tuition, voting laws are different. Only 30 days’ residency is required to vote.
So, in effect, a student who can prove he’s lived in Ohio for a month would qualify for in-state tuition — saving $60,000 or more on a college education. Again, that’s crazy….
Why anyone in the General Assembly would want to open this can of worms is beyond us. It should be stricken from the budget bill.