- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

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

The Canton Repository, May 7

It’s far from perfect, but the latest version of the state’s biennium budget presents a more level-headed approach than the one Gov. John Kasich offered.

Still, the Ohio House budget, a $63.7 billion two-year spending plan that has moved to the Ohio Senate for consideration, can be called a mixed bag.

On one hand, one-third to one-half of the school districts in the state would lose funding under the proposal, as Marc Kovac, who covers the Statehouse for GateHouse Ohio Media, reported. …

On the other hand, it eliminates Kasich’s proposed tax-shifting, which again would have lowered the state income tax in favor of a higher sales tax; provides additional funding to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic; and removes another Kasich-backed proposal: centralizing the collection of municipal income taxes.

We applaud those moves. With revised tax projections forcing legislators to cut $800 million in spending, now is not the time for another change in the state’s tax structure. By the same token, as the national leader in the number of overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids, lawmakers need to invest more in treatment and recovery options. …

Lawmakers need to come together, deal with the revenue shortfall and put forth a commonsense budget that addresses the state’s needs without pushing off today’s issues on tomorrow’s taxpayers.




Sandusky Register, May 5

About five years ago the county land bank was established, and almost immediately it was successful in gaining state funding to remove dozens of blighted properties. The train was on the track, and it just keeps chugging along.

Last year, seven properties in Sandusky and Perkins Township were razed. …

Land bank director Scott Schell explained the purpose of the neighborhood initiative this way: “To stabilize property values by removing and greening vacant and blighted properties in targeted areas in an effort to prevent future foreclosures for existing homeowners.”

… For a casual observer, it can be difficult to see the progress because the land bank succeeds by removing the blight. The evidence is not apparent because the offending property is gone, replaced by green space.

But residents who routinely drive through communities in the county can see it clearly. Dozens of blighted properties have been removed thanks to the land bank program and other efforts to clean up neighborhoods.

… There is still much work to be done, but if the recent past is an indication, owners of properties that don’t meet code, or aren’t occupied, likely know by now they have a choice: Fix it up, or lose it




The (Youngstown) Vindicator, May 3

Straight out of the “If Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” playbook of unnecessary tinkering the U.S. Congress has produced this spring comes a resolution that would effectively roll back common-sense environmental safeguards, threaten public health and encourage needless waste of valuable energy resources.

House Resolution 36, the Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, won narrow approval in the House of Representatives in February. …

HR 36 would cancel the BLM’s rule implemented last year during the administration of former President Barack Obama that aims to lessen the amount of flaring, venting and other leaking of methane gas on publicly owned lands by the oil and gas industry. …

… Methane, the colorless, odorless greenhouse gas that is the prime component of natural gas, is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere.

From a public health perspective, the danger of the gas looms large as well. Methane pollution from drilling in the oil and gas industry on public and tribal lands - including the massive Wayne National Forest in Ohio’s Appalachian region - brings with it other toxic air pollutants that contribute to smog and sickness.

… The BLM estimates that natural gas valued at $454 million was vented, flared or otherwise wasted in 2014 on federal and tribal lands. That represents a whopping $56 million in tax revenue never realized. …

Collectively, HR 36 produces little more than misguided energy, environmental and economic policy.

While industry opponents argue that the more stringent anti-pollution rules will cost it jobs and growth, reality suggests otherwise. …




The Marietta Times, May 5

Former CIA and National Security Agency head Gen. Michael Hayden’s presentation last week in Steubenville may have been a sobering one for some of those in attendance.

It was quite an education in threats facing both our security as a nation and our safety as individual Americans.

His emphasis was on the changed nature of national security concerns. As Hayden pointed out, for much of human history, major threats came from organized nation-states. They were settled in formal wars.

Now, however, small groups of people, even individuals acting alone, are capable of inflicting enormous damage. At present, Islamic extremist groups and “lone wolf” terrorists are the primary culprits.

That creates a whole new challenge for both intelligence agencies and the military. They need to adapt quickly.

Clearly, U.S. spy agencies are much better at “connecting the dots” than they were before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America. In fact, there are reasons to believe that some terrorist organizations with high hopes of attacking our homeland have been rocked back on their heels and forced to the defensive by our intelligence capability and the U.S. military.

But the threat evolves constantly. No longer is it adequate for our intelligence agencies and armed forces to focus on one or two foes - say, Russia and China. The threat now comes from many directions. Thwarting our foes will require constant attention, adaptation and innovation to keep a changing world safe.



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