The Marietta Times, Aug. 6
The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission is supposed to look out for all Ohioans by making sure Ohio’s precious natural resources aren’t squandered. Those resources include, prominently, Lake Erie, a state jewel.
Instead, by hastily shelving Gov. John Kasich’s recent executive order aimed at reducing the farm runoff feeding the lake’s destructive toxic algal blooms, the commission has shown itself beholden to farm interests at the expense of its own mandate and the state’s future.
The commission, which is not scheduled to meet again until Nov. 1, must reverse its short-sighted July 19 stall, supposedly done to study Kasich’s July 11 executive order, and it must do so soon, if necessary, via an emergency meeting.
Kasich’s order also gives the Agriculture Department the power to implement any crackdown, assuring a careful review by an agency tasked generally with keeping Ohio’s multibillion-dollar agricultural sector thriving and happy.
The commission should move forward, too. It needs to convene soon to confirm Kasich’s distressed watersheds designation.
The Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 4
In July, Dan Coats made a point of telling the country: “The warning lights are blinking red again.” The director of national intelligence had in mind that Russian interference remains an active threat to the November elections. His imagery was notable, alluding to concerns before the Sept. 11 attacks, intelligence officials and others failing to connect the dots.
Dan Coats identified another priority. “It is essential,” he said, “that we apply critical thinking to all sorts of information.” In that way, know the adversary and the technology. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, wants to aggravate divisions among Americans and thus weaken the country. More, Twitter and other social media are programmed to confirm our biases. As a result, misinformation spreads more rapidly. Social media have an obligation to play more the editor.
The briefing by national security officials came as the president struggles with his own thinking, returning again to labeling the Russian intervention “a big hoax.” He says this when a key priority in building a real deterrent goes to letting the Russians know there will be a heavy cost if they persist. So far, the president hasn’t sent such a clear and consistent message. He might have started by attending the briefing.
The Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 6
Gamblers who like to bet a certain set of numbers might want to add 316 to their favorites. That’s the number of a bill introduced recently in the Ohio Senate to create the framework for sports wagering in Ohio.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that states may legalize sports wagering opened the door to the legislature’s consideration. Keeping legislators focused on the task will be the potential for initiated petitions to be pursued — either by gaming interests or citizens’ groups — to hijack control of legalized sports betting in a constitutional amendment.
So far Senate Bill 316 consists of a single sentence: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.” The bill’s bipartisan sponsors are from northeast Ohio, Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, and Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta.
Hearings could be held this fall to begin putting parameters on sports wagering in Ohio.
Legislators are right to be concerned that outside interests will act if they don’t on sports betting. Casino gambling was authorized in a constitutional amendment pushed by the gaming industry and approved by voters in 2009. But the earliest such an issue could appear on the ballot is November 2019. That should allow plenty of time for a thoughtful legislative approach to be developed and passed.