There's just one issue on the fall ballot, and it's attracting a lot of money and increasing attention - most recently from the top judge of the state's highest court. Issue 1 is the constitutional amendment that its backers say prioritizes treatment over prison for drug offenders, and would reduce Ohio's overcrowded prison population and send the savings to treatment programs. It would require low-level drug offenders be charged with misdemeanors, not felonies, and allow for reduced sentences for inmates not convicted of murder, rape and child molestation. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor has a lot of concerns about Issue 1 - starting with the effect it would have on the state's 167 drug courts. But backers of Issue 1, including Stephen JohnsonGrove from the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, are refuting some of the Chief Justice's claims.
Now that the kids are back in school, next week is report card time for Ohio's more than 600 school districts. The release of the first A-F report cards last year generated a lot of surprise and shock. State school superintendent Paolo DeMaria said then that report cards show important data, but that the letter grades aren't the only factor that determines good schools. But Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) was angry, and has proposed legislation to overhaul the A-F grading system he once supported. He says it doesn't compare districts fairly, especially those with unique challenges. Republican Senate Education Committee chair Peggy Lehner of Kettering said at the time she feels improvements could be made, but she says the letter grades aren't the real problem with the report cards. And Becky Higgins with the Ohio Education Association said then that it's had concerns about the report cards in large part because of the emphasis on testing to measure student growth.