Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Toledo) Blade, March 4.
In another sign that Ohio and the nation are moving backward on highway safety, teen driving deaths rose during the first half of last year, after nearly a decade of decline.
Deaths among 16 and 17-year-old drivers across the country increased by 19 percent, to 240, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported. In Ohio, the number of such deaths rose from six to nine. Overall, 1,094 people died in crashes statewide last year, an 8 percent increase from 2011.
These statistics should end any complacency Ohio has developed about highway safety. They call for new practices, and possibly new laws. The rise in teen deaths is especially troubling, given the big decreases in such fatalities reported around the country from 2000 to 2010.
New graduated driver's license laws that restrict inexperienced drivers were often credited with past improvements. Ohio's law went into effect in 2007.
Ohio also enacted a text-messaging restriction last year — a secondary offense for adults and a primary offense for drivers under 18....
In Ohio, one in eight drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 was involved in a crash in 2011. Passing a primary-enforcement seat-belt law would help improve highway safety in Ohio. The state should also consider raising the minimum age for a learner's permit to 16.
The (Canton) Repository, March 2.
Thanks to a Franklin County court magistrate's decision this week, public boards in Ohio may be less tempted to try to dodge the state's open meetings law.
This is good news for all of us who want to know how local school boards, city councils and other public bodies do business on our behalf.
Here's the backstory:
Columbus City Schools is in hot water with the state for changing enrollment figures to make its students' achievement test scores look better on the district's report card. Under state law, the board can meet privately with its attorney if it faces "pending or imminent court action." But the Columbus district doesn't face a lawsuit, so it can't use that exemption to the open meetings law.
Even so, last year as the "scrubbing" scandal unfolded, board members closed seven meetings to talk with their attorney....
Wow. Just imagine the possibilities for shutting you out of a meeting. All a public board would have to do is pay a lawyer to sit in....
Boards have any number of reasons for wanting to meet in secret. They may want to get their ducks in a row. They may want to duck questions. They may feel defensive or profoundly uncomfortable about discussing high-stakes situations in an open meeting. Too bad. State law gives them only five exceptions to the open-meetings rule, and in this case, the law comes down squarely against secrecy.
The (Youngstown) Vindicator, March 4.
While a lot of news has been made in the Mahoning Valley in recent weeks about the disposal of one kind of energy waste — liquid from hydraulic fracture wells — another potentially more troublesome waste has been accumulating for decades while congresses and administrations have dithered.
Civilian nuclear waste — a problem that was once presumed to have a solution awaiting it deep within Nevada's Yucca Mountain — continues to be warehoused at various sites in 35 states, Pennsylvania and Ohio among them.
Ohio has 1,120 metric tons of uranium in storage, Pennsylvania has 6,070 tons, according to the latest figures available from the Nuclear Energy Institute.
The federal government invested billions of dollars in constructing underground vaults at Yucca Mountain under a national plan that would have had the waste shipped there and encapsulated....
But the problems of safely storing nuclear waste do not go away, and there is a new effort in the Senate to find a safer alternative to the present system....
While any long-term solution will be decades in the making, it is time for Congress to act responsibly....
Congress recognized the need for a real solution to the dangers of accumulating nuclear waste from the production of weapons and nuclear energy when it passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982. Since then, utility customers in 36 states with nuclear power plants have paid more than $17 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund for construction of a permanent national repository, and they have nothing to show for it but an expensive dry hole in the Nevada desert.
The (Findlay) Courier, Feb. 28
In late 2011, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine asked the state's law enforcement agencies to send him sexual assault evidence so it could be tested free of charge.
To date, more than 2,300 untested rape kits have arrived at a state crime lab, where technicians have started processing them.
If trends from early testing continue, roughly a third of the kits could match someone in state and national DNA databases, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer analysis of data from the attorney general's office.
That could mean a substantial number of criminal cases could be made against rapists, some of whom still may be at large.
DeWine put out the call for rape kits after he learned that one collected in 2009, but never sent for testing, contained evidence which was linked to serial killer Anthony Sowell.
Sowell, you recall, was convicted in July 2011 of murdering 11 women and dumping their remains around his Cleveland home....
Primarily because of testing costs and tight budgets, police are likely to submit a kit to the state's crime lab for testing only when they have a strong suspect. Rape kits from weak cases may not be submitted for testing.
Across the state, about 2,000 kits are tested each year, but another 2,000 may go untested. Those are the ones DeWine sought for analysis to see if DNA matches could be made....
Officials say when all the submitted kits have been tested, there may be 850 potential cases resulting from the DNA matches.
DeWine deserves much credit for calling attention to the problem.