Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Steubenville Herald-Star, Aug. 23
A bipartisan committee of state legislators is to begin meetings … to tackle a critically important task — ensuring the state unemployment compensation system remains solvent.
For some time during the “Great Recession,” many state programs to help laid-off workers experienced severe fiscal strains. Federal funding had to be sought to keep some programs afloat.
Now that unemployment is not as serious as it was a few years ago, the money crunch is not a worry.
For now, that is. Though there have been no reports of impending shortfalls in Ohio’s program, the long-term reliability of the system should remain on lawmakers’ radar.
It has been suggested legislation may be needed to ensure the program’s long-term solvency. Deciding whether that is so and what, if any steps need to be taken is up to the new panel of state senators and representatives.
They plan to consult with labor groups, businesses and those in the state’s work force.
Once they have a good idea of the system’s prospects, they should take whatever action is needed to keep it solvent.
The Salem News, Aug. 27
Imagine an issue on which virtually all U.S. Senators are in complete, cordial agreement…
It is an important one to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, not to mention millions of other Americans. It may come down to whether they can get enough to eat.
That is no exaggeration. At issue are changes President Barack Obama’s administration wants to make in the SNAP program, often referred to as “food stamps.” It gives low-income people and families financial assistance to purchase food.
Department of Agriculture officials plan to require that stores eligible to accept SNAP credits stock specified types and quantities of certain foods. The idea is to ensure low-income people who rely on SNAP can obtain healthy, nutritious foods.
But as the senators point out, many small grocery and convenience stores either cannot comply with the new rules or would have to increase prices to cover their added costs. Some would stop accepting SNAP customers. Others would charge more.
Either way, the very people the change is supposed to benefit would suffer. SNAP credits would not buy as much food for some. Others would find it difficult or impossible to get to stores accepting SNAP.
The bottom line, as the senators note in their letter: The rule “would reduce access to healthy food for SNAP participants.” For that reason alone, the changes should not be implemented.
Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 28
Not one Ohioan died of a fentanyl-related overdose in 2011. Last year? The death toll reached 1,155, as reported by the state Department of Health last week. The alarming trend, 75 deaths in 2014, 503 in 2014, reflects the expanding heroin epidemic. Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic many times more potent than morphine, has emerged lately as a heroin alternative…
Heroin remains the leading killer, overdose deaths climbing statewide to 1,424 last year from 1,196 in 2014. Yet communities now are seeing something worse surface, cartfentanil, an animal sedative some 100 times more powerful than fentanyl…
The state … has taken steps, including a crackdown on the abuse of prescription drugs and the launch of the StartTalking! program. Still … it is hard to side with Gov. John Kasich’s statement last week: ” . we’re beginning to see it’s going to change.”
What resonates more deeply is the assessment of state Rep. Greta Johnson, who wrote the governor in July urging the formation of a task force or a legislative committee to develop a more comprehensive and coherent statewide approach to the epidemic…
If the state helps in making available naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of the opioid on the brain, officials also should know that many cities and counties are struggling with inadequate resources…
The (Toledo) Blade, Aug. 26
College graduates who got through school on them are likely to be surprised that ramen noodles are currently described as “gold” by many prison inmates.
Ramen noodles are apparently used as an underground currency these days, as cigarettes once were.
One former inmate said prisoners are willing to “kill for it, believe it or not.”
The implication is that prison nutrition is that bad, in many American prisons.
The U.S. Department of Justice should determine whether this is true.
The ramen situation was uncovered by a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona’s school of sociology. …Michael Gibson-Light presented the results of his interviews with 60 male inmates and staff members to the American Sociological Association’s annual conference…
…a former inmate … said this about the sad trend: “It got to the point where some people would rather have a decent meal than a stogie, especially the way they’re feeding us in prison.”
… Someone is likely to point out that these are, after all, people behind bars for the crimes they committed, many of them heinous…
…in a humane society, a prisoner’s punishment is his sentence, not the conditions of his imprisonment.
No one is advocating plasma TV screens in every cell. But we don’t put people in dungeons and chains anymore…
The justice department needs to earn its money and look into this matter.