- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Toledo) Blade, April 20

Ohio’s repeal of its estate tax more than two years ago has had a disastrous impact on local communities that relied on revenue from the tax to pay for essential public services. Now, Republicans in Congress want to repeal the federal estate tax - a giveaway that would hand $270 billion in tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires over the next decade - even as they claim to care about rising wealth inequality.

The measure, which the House passed last week, is unlikely to gain approval in the Senate, and certainly not from President Obama…But it reflects the extreme anti-tax agenda that has come to characterize the GOP…

Opponents of the estate tax like to claim that they represent the interests of struggling small businesses, even though virtually no small-business owners pay the tax. It affects only individuals who inherit estates worth $5.43 million, or married couples who inherit $10.86 million - the richest 0.2 percent of Americans…

Opponents call it a “death tax” that punishes heirs for the hard work of their family members. But such cynical labels misstate the roles of the tax: to limit the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few, and to require wealthy Americans to pay a fair share of taxes on fortunes they did not earn…

These proposals are unlikely to go anywhere soon. But lawmakers must preserve the few antidotes to inequality that exist - and leave the estate tax alone.

Online: https://bit.ly/1J2Z2ep

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The Lima News, April 19

Someone needs to explain why it is bad idea to have a quick, easy and cheap method for resolving public records disputes.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost thought he had such a method in place when he unveiled his “Sunshine Audit” program last month. But… the same Republican Party that praised the project now wants to torpedo Yost’s plan. They have inserted language into the substitute version of House Bill 64 that prohibits the auditor from conducting public records audits, saying such duties do not fall under the auditor’s job title…

The “Sunshine Audit” provides Ohioans a no-cost avenue to pursue public-record complaints. If the state auditor’s office determines violations have occurred, it could issue non-compliance audit findings against public employees or agencies, which typically would be enough to resolve the issue.

State Rep. Ryan Smith and other Republicans argue there are already processes for people to settle public-records disputes. What they’re ignoring is that current options aren’t always realistic for the average citizen. Such court actions are expensive and can take too long to work through the legal system…

It also is important to note that while the auditor’s findings would typically be good enough to resolve an issue, they are not binding…

It serves no benefit to the citizens of Ohio to make a law that prevents the auditor’s office from ruling on complaints that state agencies are violating public-records statues. We urge the Legislature to avoid this frontal assault on the independence of the auditor’s office.

Online: https://bit.ly/1D7zLsk

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The Columbus Dispatch, April 17

In the 11 years since Ohio’s concealed-carry law went into effect, hundreds of thousands of Ohioans have taken and passed the class required to receive a permit.

Despite predictions that mayhem would result from concealed carry, Ohio’s permit holders have overwhelmingly proved themselves responsible, safe and law-abiding.

This should not be a surprise. First, because most gun owners already are safe, responsible and law-abiding. But also because Ohio’s concealed-carry permitting process includes background checks to weed out criminals and the mentally ill, guidance in basic gun-handling and gun safety, and instruction in Ohio self-defense law.

Because this system works, there is no reason to change it.

But state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, has introduced a bill that would allow anyone 21 or older who is legally permitted to own a gun to carry concealed with no need for a permit or training.

This would eliminate the current safeguards for no good reason. Ohio’s concealed-carry requirements are not onerous: Classes are widely available, convenient and affordable. Not only do they provide a basic introduction to gun handling and gun safety, but the instruction in self-defense law…are valuable and sobering for anyone who assumes the responsibility of carrying a gun for self-defense.

All of this benefits those who seek a permit. But it also provides assurances to the rest of Ohio’s residents that those who carry concealed have been vetted and prepped. Hood’s proposal recklessly threatens this balance of interests and should be dropped.

Online: https://bit.ly/1EknRkM

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The (Findlay) Courier, April 14

Early voting has begun in Ohio, which means the clock is ticking…

Ohio has among the most generous early voting schedules in the country and a no-excuse-needed absentee voting rule. Certainly, voting has never been so convenient. But it still requires an effort.

Despite the wide voting window, turnout during primary elections tends to be considerably lower than in general elections. But the decisions are just as important, and with fewer people voting, a vote is even more likely to make a difference…

One of the complaints about early voting is that information about the candidates and issues isn’t always available when early voting begins. That can be true…

We encourage all voters to educate themselves on the candidates and issues, and to vote, even if they face a sparse ballot. The right to vote should never be taken for granted.

Often, Hancock County primary elections will draw 20 percent of registered voters or less. That’s unacceptable.

Certainly, no one can use the excuse they couldn’t find time…

If all else fails, of course, there is always Election Day.

Online: https://bit.ly/1E2pwJQ

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