- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

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

Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 31

New recommendations for tightening inspections of natural gas pipelines are flowing at the National Transportation Safety Board, just as concerns from citizens groups are building about proposals for two major pipelines that would cross northern Ohio. The recommendations are based on a study conducted in the wake of three explosions that triggered questions about how well operators are monitoring for potentially fatal defects.

The study revealed dozens of areas for improvement. With natural gas development surging in eastern Ohio and other parts of the country, the proposals deserve prompt attention from federal regulators, who a decade ago began to focus on “high consequence areas,” or sections of pipelines that pose the greatest risk of injuries and property destruction…

Of particular concern are state-regulated pipelines, which operate within state boundaries. They are more likely to fail, as compared to federally regulated interstate pipelines, such as the two proposed for northern Ohio.



Better use of technology and better coordination between federal and state regulators are top concerns noted in the report. Particularly disturbing is the conclusion that resources available to state inspectors from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration were found to be inadequate.

…Pipelines are the safest method for moving natural gas, with a failure rate of about 1 percent. Still, the results of even one explosion can be catastrophic, leading to loss of life and property…As more pipelines are planned and built to accommodate new discoveries that benefit the nation’s economy, it is important to maintain focus on protecting those property owners who accommodate new pipelines.

Online: https://bit.ly/1D67wh3

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The (Canton) Repository, Jan. 29

Gov. John Kasich will likely recommend “tough” new standards for Ohio’s charter schools when he releases his new two-year budget… In December, Kasich told members of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce he’d no longer tolerate people coming into the state and profiting at the expense of education…

Kasich and state lawmakers now have even more reason to crack down on charter schools following an investigation by the Ohio Auditor’s Office. The investigation of 30 charter schools found “unusually high” variances between an unannounced head count and reported enrollment figures at seven schools…Public funding for charters is based on enrollment.

It’s yet another blemish to Ohio’s charter school system, which lacks proper controls and too often performs below acceptable standards.

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that Ohio charter school students on average lag behind students in traditional public schools by 14 days in reading and 43 days in math.

The findings come as no surprise in a state that hasn’t until recently made charter school accountability a priority…

…This month, the Ohio Department of Education launched a new evaluation system for charter school sponsors that includes consequences for poor performers. Auditor Dave Yost, following the recent investigation, is also recommending monthly enrollment reports.

This new scrutiny appears to have led to the slowest period of growth for the industry in Ohio. Only 11 new schools opened last year, while 28 shut their doors, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Parents understandably eager for a viable alternative to a public school education for their children need to be aware of these inadequacies. And state lawmakers need to start working to fix them.

Online: https://bit.ly/16aFljw

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The Ironton Tribune, Jan. 28

In the past 15 years or so, there has been a debate growing about the importance, or, rather, unimportance of getting children vaccinated for infectious diseases.

The catalyst for this debate can be, in part, traced back to a 1998 study published in “The Lancet,” a British medical journal, which linked the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (M.M.R.) to autism.

The publication resulted in a panic that led to dropping immunizations rates and subsequent outbreaks of those diseases.

Despite the journal’s retraction of the research paper in 2010 due to a lack of scientific evidence, a fervent population of parents still refuses to have their children vaccinated against very serious diseases, which is shortsighted and dangerous.

While several diseases, such as polio and rubella, have been basically eliminated in the United States, they still exist in other countries. People from all over the world visit or move to our country every day. Those people could very easily come into contact with children who have not been vaccinated and infect them.

Other diseases, such as whooping cough, influenza and meningitis, are still prevalent in the U.S., but are easily prevented through vaccination.

Yet despite all the scientific studies and myth debunking, some people still think vaccines are either not necessary or worse than the diseases they are meant to prevent.

As a society, we cannot rely on others to stop the spread of disease. We must work together to prevent it by getting vaccinated.

Online: https://bit.ly/1CSMn9D

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The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, Jan. 30.

Criticism by elected statewide officials Thursday of a plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio had familiar reasoning to it.

The proposal would ask voters to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow medical and recreational use of pot by those older than 21.

The amendment would allow 10 state-licensed growers to produce marijuana, which would be screened for safety and potency before being sold.

During a legislative preview session organized by The Associated Press, Attorney General Mike DeWine said the proposal would create a pot-growing monopoly, with a few entities controlling the supply.

“It is offensive to think that we would be asked to give a constitutional monopoly to the marijuana industry for a handful of individuals without the proper oversight and regulation to protect the people of Ohio,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said.

Auditor Dave Yost went further, suggesting a constitutional ban on ballot issue creating monopolies.

Too bad there wasn’t such a ban in place in 2009, when voters approved an amendment creating state-approved monopolies of casino gambling by a select few entities. Penn National Gaming and Rock Ohio Caesars - a joint venture between Caesars Entertainment and Rock Gaming - now own two casinos each.

At the time, this very space was used to argue against enshrining what is, in effect, such a monopoly in the Ohio Constitution. That same argument is just one of multiple reasons to reject the marijuana proposal.

Online: https://bit.ly/1z76gnk

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