Editorial roundup


Akron Beacon Journal, June 10

Evelyn Lundberg Stratton recently reminded state lawmakers about the “evolving standards of decency” when it comes to the death penalty. The former Ohio Supreme Court justice noted that the execution of juveniles has been barred. The same applies to those with intellectual disabilities. She supports House Bill 81 that would exempt from the death penalty those diagnosed with severe mental illness at the time of the capital offense.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Seitz, reflects the work of a task force formed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. The panel of highly regarded and representative stakeholders looked for ways to improve the conduct of capital punishment. Three years have passed since it put forward 56 recommendations. Some have been enacted. Too many have not. …

Seitz and the task force recognized the need to define carefully what qualifies as a severe mental illness. …

Prosecutors warn about a flood of requests, even suggesting the effective end of the death penalty. Actually, as Evelyn Stratton pointed out, just 10 percent to 15 percent would qualify to make an application. …

The worry about abuse of the exemption is curious, the hard line suggesting: Better to execute an offender who was ill at the time than open the door to another somehow gaming the system. … The bill goes to how Ohioans define capital punishment, and what it says about our sense of decency.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 7

… The Ohio General Assembly must move quickly to reinforce … that local increases in the minimum wage are constitutionally barred in Ohio.

Making employers pay a higher minimum wage inside Cleveland — or within any other locality in the state — would not just be wrong and economically destructive. It also would abrogate the clear intent of the Ohio Constitution’s language setting a uniform minimum wage in the state. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said as much in an advisory opinion last year.

The logical consequence of a double-digit percentage increase in the minimum wage just within Cleveland’s 82.5 square miles — where unemployment was 7.2 percent in April — would be to drive jobs into the other 44,740 square miles of Ohio. Statewide, April joblessness was 4.4 percent — 5.6 percent in Cuyahoga County.

That’s the last outcome anyone should want. …

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The Lima News, June 10

What do you do when the governor vetoes a common-sense bill forbidding abortions once a heartbeat can be detected in a young life?

State Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Alliance, introduced the bill again.

For the fourth time, Ohio’s legislators will consider a version of the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” with House Bill 258 introduced this week. It’s the fourth consecutive session of the General Assembly to consider the bill, with the most recent going to Gov. John Kasich’s desk.

When Kasich vetoed it in December, he didn’t say he disliked the bill. He expressed concerns the bill would lead to a costly and eventually unsuccessful Supreme Court case. …

Hagan, for her part, was undeterred this time around. She believes it’s a fight worth fighting, and we agree. …

Kasich is right that Ohio has some stronger anti-abortion laws than other states. In December, he signed a law that banned abortions after 20 weeks, an option favored by Ohio Right to Life.

But the heartbeat remains a gold standard for identifying the start and stop of life. We all acknowledge the prolonged absence of a heartbeat signifies death. The persistence of a heartbeat identifies life. …

The Supreme Court has a more conservative panel than it’s had in decades. Now might be the perfect time to re-evaluate the longstanding permission of abortion in this country. …

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The Marietta Times, June 9

History ought to teach politicians that what goes around, comes around, at least when gerrymandering is involved. It is a lesson they never seem to absorb. …

Reinforcing the impression Republicans who control the General Assembly tinkered with district lines to favor their party is the fact that 12 of the state’s members of the House of Representatives are Republicans. Just four Democrats serve.

In 2015, Buckeye State voters said they wanted a more equitable redistricting system — but only for districts from which members of the General Assembly are chosen. More than 71 percent of voters agreed to a constitutional amendment setting up the Ohio Redistricting Commission for that purpose.

The new system includes requirements for bipartisanship in setting legislative district boundaries. Clearly, it is a giant step away from gerrymandering.

But it does nothing about congressional districts.

Now, it appears voters will be asked next year to approve a new amendment, to use the same system to set congressional district boundaries.

That appears to be a needed reform. …

Ohioans have changed that for General Assembly districts. It’s time to move on to congressional seats.