Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Toledo Blade. April 29, 2024.

Editorial: Unions not the issue

A little-noticed event at the White House last week should serve as an opening to the important question of whether private equity funds — known for leveraged buyouts — should be operating with money from public pensions.

The White House convened public pension funds and private equity firms on April 23 to discuss worker rights. And while the meeting reached some accommodation in requiring private equity investors to be neutral when it comes to union organizing, it didn’t go far enough.

Private equity, to a disturbing extent, is profitable because of its unique business model: it buys existing low-debt businesses and saddles them with debt, which often then drives these businesses into failure.

Public employee pensions should not be financing their members’ retirements based on rapacious practices like this.

Ohio’s five public pensions should be prohibited from investing in private equity. Not only would it stop Ohio from profiting off of unsavory business practices but it likely would result in better long term growth for the state’s public pension funds.

At the White House meeting, National Economic Adviser Lael Brainard and Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su brought in pension funds with a trillion dollars invested in private equity for a lecture on labor neutrality.

The Biden Administration message was that union workers would make the private equity business model more politically palatable.

The better message would have been for public sector pensions to get out of private equity investments entirely.

State pension dollars allow private equity to pay top dollar to buy up businesses. The equity is stripped and replaced with tax deductible debt, completing the circle of subsidy from working class to the rich.

There’s no worse abuse than in nursing homes, where a National Bureau of Economic Research study shows resident deaths in private equity-owned facilities are 10 percent higher than all other facilities.

Toledo has sad experience with this reality. HCR ManorCare was bought by private equity and stripped of value by selling off nursing home facilities to generate cash, but added huge new expenses for rent, and then sold to ProMedica. The subsequent failure of the nursing home business, compounded by the dynamics of the pandemic, contributed to a financial crisis for ProMedica that has had far-reaching consequences for Toledo.

The business model of high debt and low staff is deadly to elder care but not unusual thanks to capital provided by foolish state pensions like Ohio’s five funds.

The Biden Administration has acknowledged the problem but without the needed resolution, which is to prohibit public pensions from investing in private equity.


Youngstown Vindicator. May 2, 2024.

Editorial: Recent Ohio bill approval shows sign of progress

Slowly but surely, state lawmakers are progressing in the effort to better protect victims, rather than offering protection to criminals. On April 24, Ohio Senate members voted unanimously to eliminate exceptions to certain sex offenses that apply if the victim is the spouse.

This outdated remnant had been allowed to do damage for too long. But in November, members of the Ohio House passed a similar bill with a nearly unanimous vote.

Goodness knows what state Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia, was thinking when he cast the lone “nay” vote.

But it doesn’t matter. A bill that eliminates the exception for rape if the spouse lives with the offender is now on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk, although it is unclear when or if DeWine will sign this bill.

Offenses outlined in House Bill 161 include rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition and importuning. It also allows an individual to testify against their spouse if they choose to prosecute for any of the listed sex offenses.

“I’m grateful to finally see it come to fruition so we can close this loophole in Ohio’s law, providing protection to all survivors of sexual violence,” state Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Dublin, said, according to a report by WBNS, a news television station in Columbus.

It’s proof the vast majority of lawmakers are capable of understanding that some issues are not “social” or “cultural,” but simply a matter of right and wrong. Perhaps Ohioans can be encouraged that this is a baby step toward more positive change in the way the folks in Columbus think about the human beings they have been elected to serve.


Sandusky Register. April 30, 2024.

Editorial: Expunging the record

We’ve long grown weary of national political culture wars taking hold here in the Buckeye State and becoming the focal point of so much legislation created in Columbus: from book bans to the censorship of our own history.

At times, it seems that’s all there is, and it feels overwhelming and worrisome.

But a proposal from state Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Dublin, is like landing back on Earth, where lawmakers craft legislation designed with a societal good, a worthy purpose. Senate Bill 214 is such a proposal, in our view.

Victims of human trafficking often find themselves in trouble with the law. This bill, if approved by state legislators, would expunge their convictions. In a report last year, the office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that state agencies identified nearly 2,600 victims of human trafficking in the state in 2022.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines human trafficking as “a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services or to engage in commercial sex acts.”

Ohio’s current expungement laws are limited to only loitering for the purposes of prostitution, soliciting and prostitution charges. The proposed legislation would expand expungement to include misdemeanors and lower-level felonies.

The Ohio House’s companion bill, House Bill 385, is being sponsored by Republicans Tracy Richardson, of Marysville, and Josh Williams, of Sylvania. On Wednesday, the bill received unanimous approval by the Senate, 32-0.

One Ohio attorney and advocate said attitudes toward addressing human trafficking are improving.

“We’re getting better as a state (and) as a country at identifying what human trafficking really looks like,” said Emily Dunlap.

“We have people who were in an awful situation, through no fault of their own and were then made to break the law,” said Emily Dunlap. “It’s not their fault, and we’re continuing to punish them every day that this record remains in their life. It restricts them from safe housing and good job opportunities.”

This is a worthy piece of legislation, in our view.


Mariette Times. May 3, 2024.

Editorial: Employers have right to decide

Ohio employers have plenty of requirements and standards for employees. As the people best equipped to understand what is necessary to run their own businesses — while keeping employees healthy and safe — policymakers generally allow employers to uphold those standards.

For example, a restaurant owner who required kitchen workers to wear a hair net or otherwise keep hair out of food (and away from flame) would not be frowned upon for disciplining an employee who failed to follow that health and safety rule.

A couple of Ohio lawmakers, apparently desperate for Columbus to have even more control, don’t see it that way. Back in November, state Reps. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester, and Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, introduced House Bill 319.

According to a report by the Ohio Capital Journal, the bill says “A business, employer, including an administrator or supervisor, health plan issuer, health care provider, hospital, institution, nursing home, person, political subdivision, private college, public official, residential care facility, state agency, or state institution of higher education,” cannot deny or terminate employment, deny service, or otherwise treat differently an individual based on an “individual’s refusal of any biologic, vaccine, pharmaceutical, drug, gene editing technology, RNA-based product, or DNA-based product for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.”

As so many who think along the same lines have done, Gross said during an April 9 hearing on the bill, “With the founding of this great nation, two principles at the root of our constitution include: protecting the liberties of the individual and protecting our freedom of religion.”

One wonders whether Gross has read about George Washington mandating that ALL Continental soldiers be inoculated against smallpox, in 1777.

As the National Park Service put it, “many historians credit the medical mandate with the colonists’ victory in the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States of America.”

George Washington understood nearly 250 years ago that requiring his troops to get inoculated was necessary to complete the mission. It’s not hard to imagine how he might have reacted if a government hundreds of miles away had told him he couldn’t discipline those who did not comply.

This and similar attempts to centralize power are reminders there is a small but vocal number in the party that once stood firmly for small government and local control who have either lost their way or are intentionally abusing their label.

THAT should have true Republicans seeing red.