Issue 2 could change the balance of power in Ohio

Published: Saturday, October 06, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, October 06, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Helping you understand State Issue 2

Citizens have called and emailed our newsroom and said they are confused about State Issue 2. This issue is important to Ohio and is getting lost in the debate as the focus remains or more high-profile races.

Today, the Dayton Daily News, WHIO-TV Channel 7 and Newstalk Radio WHIO are joining together to help you understand this issue.

Today at 8 a.m. on Newstalk Radio WHIO 95.7 FM and AM 1290: Listen in for a special half-hour broadcast explaining Issue 2.

Today at 10:30 a.m. on WHIO Reports on Channel 7: WHIO’s Jim Otte and our Columbus Bureau reporter Jackie Borchardt ask tough questions to supporters on both sides of Issue 2.

Wednesday at noon: Join us at DaytonDailyNews.com for a live web chat on Issue 2 with Jackie Borchardt. She will answer your questions on the issue.

What is Issue 2?

Issue 2 creates a citizens commission to draw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the U.S. Census. If enacted, the new panel would redraw last year’s approved districts in time for the November 2014 election.

Who is behind it?

The Ohio League of Women Voters, Common Cause Ohio and other good-government groups drafted the language but much of the funding has come from labor and teachers’ unions. The NAACP Ohio, the Ohio Libertarian Party and We Are Ohio, the group against Senate Bill 5, have endorsed the plan.

Who are the commissioners?

The 12-member Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission includes four members from each party and four not registered with any party. Any Ohioan who has voted in two of the previous three even-year general elections could apply to serve on the commission, provided they or an immediate family member have not been elected to federal or state office, worked for lawmakers or state officials or been a paid lobbyist. Applicants could not have made monetary contributions greater than $5,000 per two years to political campaigns or parties in the past five years. Commission members serve 10-year terms, but the actual work is done in 14 months between August of the census year and October of the following year. If boundaries aren’t approved by Oct. 1 of the second year, the Ohio Supreme Court will adopt the plan that most closely meets the constitutional criteria.

How are they chosen?

Eight randomly selected appellate court judges (no more than four of each party) screen the applicants and select the 42 based on relevant abilities including a capacity for impartiality. The speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and minority leader can eliminate up to three members of the opposite party. From this pool, three Republicans, three Democrats and three non-affiliated with any party are randomly chosen. Those nine members then choose the remaining three.

What will it cost?

The state Office of Budget Management estimates the Issue 2 changes will cost between $10.9 and $15.2 million over eight years. The estimate was based on a redistricting plan proposed in 2005, a similar citizen redistricting commission in California and the cost of the current process. The estimate assumes commission members will be paid $100,000 for the first two years.

Voters First Ohio officials expect the cost to be much less and said the final cost would be determined by state lawmakers.

What will they do?

The commission will likely hire experts and consultants to assist in drawing lines based on four criteria: preserving county boundaries, competitiveness, representational fairness and compactness. All meetings and correspondence will be made public and the commission will give full and fair consideration to plans submitted by the public. Seven members of the commission must vote to adopt a plan.

— Jackie Borchardt and Text of Proposed Amendment

In the fog of a presidential election and hot U.S. Senate race, a ballot issue that could alter the balance of power in the statehouse and the Ohio congressional delegation is taking a back seat.

Many voters, if they’ve heard about state Issue 2 at all, say they are confused by the ballot language and direct mailings that are appearing on doorsteps.

In the Dayton Daily News/Ohio Newspaper Organization Poll released Sept. 24, too few people knew about Issue 2 to provide meaningful results: 35 percent said they had heard “nothing at all” about it.

If approved, Issue 2 would put the responsibility of drawing legislative and congressional districts in the hands of a new citizen panel. Redistricting isn’t a thrilling term, but small changes can move voters around and make districts lean more Republican or Democratic, become more competitive or safe for lawmakers in office.

Voters First Ohio, the group behind Issue 2, says the lines have been drawn for years to favor incumbents and have effectively made hyper-partisan primary elections more important than general elections. Their solution: Remove politicians from the process.

Districts are redrawn every ten years to reflect population changes noted in the once-a-decade Census. State Senate and House districts are mapped and approved by the Ohio Apportionment Board composed of the governor, secretary of state, auditor and one state legislator from each party — all but one were Republicans in 2011. State lawmakers decide the boundaries of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House districts.

Last year, Republicans held the redistricting pen, but politicians on both sides of the aisle have used their majority status to muscle the other into keeping incumbents safe in their districts and stacking more middle-of-the-road districts to lean one way. Politicians against the proposal admit the current system is broken, but say Issue 2 isn’t the answer.

The plan

Issue 2 would create the Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission, a new panel of 12 members chosen by lot from a candidate pool winnowed by appellate court judges and party officials.

Any Ohioan who has voted in two of the previous three even-year general elections could apply to serve on the commission, provided they or an immediate family member have not been elected to federal or state office, worked for lawmakers or state officials or been a paid lobbyist. Applicants could not have made monetary contributions greater than $5,000 per two years to political campaigns or parties in the past five years.

Local officials such as city councilmen and mayors would be eligible. Jim Slagle, an attorney for the Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, said those officials would likely be cut during the selection process that grants party leaders the opportunity to eliminate candidates.

The commission would meet in public to draft and review publicly submitted plans according to the four criteria from last year’s citizen challenge by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting:

* Preserve existing communities such as counties and townships,

* Balance districts based on voting history so they do not lean toward one party by more than 5 percent,

* Balance the number of districts that lean each way,

* Keep districts compact.

“These are the criteria that best capture fundamental values in our democracy,” said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law who helped draft the ballot initiative. “They’re values that will serve the interests of voters rather than the interests of partisan politicians.”

Proponents of Issue 2 say each district should reflect Ohio’s swing-state status.

In the 2010 election, 70 of Ohio’s 99 state representatives won their races by 20 points or more. Only three of the 33 senators elected in 2008 and 2010 won by less than 10 percent of the vote.

Statewide, Ohioans tend to line up on each side in similar numbers. The top statewide races in 2010 were won by 5 or fewer percent. The last five presidential elections were decided by fewer than 10 points in Ohio — George W. Bush won the state in 2004 by just 120,000 votes. More than 5.6 million Ohioans voted in that election.

History

Former Rep. Joan Lawrence, a Republican with the League of Women Voters who supports Issue 2, sponsored several failed redistricting reform bills in the 1980s.

“The process is manipulatable and it was manipulated and it would be no matter which party was in charge,” Lawrence said.

In 2005, voters slammed a Democrat-driven plan known as Issue 4 by a vote of 70 to 30 percent. A Republican-supported plan in 2006 failed to pass the General Assembly without support from Democrats. Democrats turned down another plan in 2010, certain they would sweep statewide offices and control the Apportionment Board. But Republicans won all statewide elected offices and picked up several seats in the House and Senate.

While politicians worked on their maps, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting held a public competition to draw fair, competitive districts using the same Census and election data. The competition collected 53 congressional maps and a Republican Illinois state representative won the contest.

Contest sponsors including the Ohio League of Women Voters and Common Cause Ohio drafted constitutional amendment language that has become Issue 2. Meanwhile, a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers claimed they were working on a solution that has yet to materialize.

Politics

Issue 2 is intended to take the politics out of the system, but politicians and political forces are lining up on each side.

Good-government groups drafted Issue 2, but unions, Democrats and left-leaning organizations have since backed the proposal. Getting the issue on the ballot cost upward of $1.3 million, according to state campaign finance reports filed in July, and unions bankrolled the majority of the cost.

The Ohio Republican Party came out strong against the proposal at first, and a new group called Protect Your Vote Ohio formed to serve as the official opposition and sought help early on from Columbus lobbyists. Protect Your Vote’s expenditures won’t be known until after the election.

Nine states use appointed citizen commissions to draw legislative lines, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California’s 14-member commission, created in 2008, most closely resembles Ohio’s Issue 2 proposal.

The jury is still out there whether the commission worked. Experts say the process wasn’t as skewed toward the majority party — Democrats there — as it would have been had they controlled the process. But reports surfaced last year that showed Democrats hired people to falsely testify before the commissioners to build districts more favorable for incumbents. Tokaji said Ohio’s plan will succeed where California’s faltered because it requires the commission to balance the districts according to past voting records.

The Ohio State Bar Association opposed Issue 2, saying the process inappropriately gives appointment authority to judges and politicizes the judicial branch. Protect Your Vote’s Carlo LoParo said judges, who run in party primaries, could be pressured by party bosses to select their choice applicants for the initial group of 42.

“This is a worse solution than our present system,” LoParo said. “In the present system, there is transparency in the sense you know who’s making the decisions.”

Slagle said politicians will never support a plan that removes them from the process.

“They will mislead the public because that’s the only way they’ll defeat Issue 2,” Slagle said. “If voters understand what Issue 2 is, it will pass overwhelmingly.”

Some political ‘thanks’ on Thanksgiving

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:50 PM

On every Thanksgiving, it’s always nice to take some time and think about what you and your family are thankful for in 2017 – but at the same time, we may as well try to figure how Turkey Day is playing in political circles as well.

In terms of political news, reporters on Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C. are currently going through an almost never-ending avalanche of stories, erupting daily (or even hourly) in what seems to be a high rate of speed in this new social media atmosphere.

Let’s take a look at a few things on this Thanksgiving 2017:

1. Roy Moore – Roy Moore might be thankful for a lot right now, mainly a number of men in high profile positions in the Congress and the news media who have been ensnared in the recent swarm of news about sex. The latest person to hit the news – and take the focus off of Moore – is Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who had a nude photo of himself leaked on to social media by a woman he was once in a relationship with, which some say might be ‘revenge porn.’ No matter what the details might be of how this occurred, the Barton story is a reminder of the perfect piece of advice that my father gave as he dropped me off at the U.S. Capitol on my first day of work in 1980, when he told me that ‘They call it the House of Representatives for a reason” – members of Congress are no different from our neighbors and friends. Some are good. Some are bad. Some make bad choices along the way. Roy Moore is thankful for Al Franken, John Conyers, Joe Barton, Charlie Rose, and many others. Their stories keep Moore out of the headlines.

2. President Donald Trump. – Mr. Trump may be most thankful for political opponents like Hillary Clinton, who continues to be a Trump punching bag on Twitter. While many Inside the Beltway cringe at “Crooked Hillary” tweets, those missives continue to delight the President’s legions of fans, as it helps to keep the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee in the news. (While Mr. Trump is probably also thankful for sports figures like Lavar Ball, Steph Curry, Richard Sherman, and others, I’ll stick to the political arena.) Over the last year, this President has proven himself to be very adept at verbally smacking people on Twitter – whether you think it’s right or wrong for Mr. Trump to be doing that isn’t the point. The longer that President Trump can keep Hillary Clinton in the news, the better for him, and maybe the better for the Republican Party. Donald Trump is thankful that Hillary Clinton is still around.

3. Tax lawyers and accountants. – Yes, Republicans say their tax reform plan will make the tax code simpler to deal with, and for some individuals, it would be easier to file your taxes under the plans envisioned in the House and Senate. But before you think that it’s going to change everything, a simple review of Congressional tax plans shows there will be plenty of work for people who need to explain the intricacies of the tax code, like tax lawyers and accountants. You don’t have to go very far into the GOP bills to feel confused about what’s being changed. Tax lawyers and accountants are thankful for the GOP tax reform bill. There will still be plenty of business for them, even if that bill becomes law.




4. Federal workers. All the talk for years from Republicans has been about making deep cuts in the budget of various federal agencies. On the campaign trail, President Trump promised much the same. But this first year of a combination of a GOP House & Senate, and the Trump Administration, produced almost nothing in terms of spending cuts and budget savings. Last week, the White House proposed $44 billion in (generic) budget savings to offset disaster aid for recent hurricanes – except it would come between 2025 and 2027, when Mr. Trump would be long gone from the White House. So, as they enjoy a big turkey dinner, federal workers can say ‘thanks’ that the Republican Congress and the President, as they really haven’t been able to wield a budget axe on the Executive Branch. Mr. Trump said before Thanksgiving that he would push for budget cuts in the next year. On Thanksgiving, President Trump visited a Coast Guard facility in Florida. Back in April, Mr. Trump wanted to cut over a billion from the Coast Guard budget. That didn’t make it through the Congress.

5. Politics at Thanksgiving. A year ago, the recent election of Donald Trump was a prime topic for many families, as a lot of Democratic voters were struggling to come to terms with President Trump’s election. Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2017, and it’s possible that a lot of those same people are still somewhat aggravated about the way things have gone in political circles after Mr. Trump’s first 10 months in office. And that leads me to believe that some of you will have a few things to say at the dinner table about President Trump, good and bad. Some will be saying “thanks” for the President – others, not so much. But it isn’t hard to argue over whether you should talk about politics at the table, eh?

Congress: Only 2 bills sponsored by Ohioans became law in 2017

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 8:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 4:03 PM


            Capitol
Capitol

If success in Congress is measured by the bills a lawmaker passes, then it’s been a lackluster year for Ohio’s 16 House members and two senators.

But then, it hasn’t exactly been a banner year for Congress, either.

The state’s congressional delegation this year has served as the original sponsors of 304 bills — bills that would do everything from create a commemorative coin honoring writer Maya Angelou and bills that would make it tougher to receive federal food stamps.

Of those, 11 passed the House as standalone bills. Eight passed the Senate. Two — one sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson, R–Marietta and one sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio — have become law.

That’s compared to 82 laws that Congress has passed this year out of 9,939 bills introduced.

One of the most productive Ohio lawmakers to date is Portman. He introduced 42 bills to date this year. Six passed the Senate. One — a bill that reauthorizes research for early detection, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss in babies and young children — became law. In the House, a Johnson bill that undid one of President Obama’s environmental regulations related to stream protections became law.

But Portman’s staff is quick to point out that those 42 bills are only the ones where he’s the chief sponsor. Portman sponsored or cosponsored 198 bills in 2017. Of those, 36 passed the Senate.

By comparison, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, introduced 64 bills. Two — one to designate Sept. 16 as Isaac M. Wise Temple Day in honor of a synagogue in Cincinnati and one designating Feb. 28 as Rare Disease Day — passed the Senate. None became law.

But Brown sponsored or cosponsored 439 bills — the second-highest number of anyone in the delegation — and he had more success on that front. Of those 439, 42 passed the Senate and five became law.

In the House, Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, has spent much of this year introducing bills — 22, in fact, more than any other Ohioan serving in the House. He’s sponsored or cosponsored 446, more than any other Ohioan. None of the bills he has led have passed the House; of the 446 he has cosponsored, 18 passed the House and six became law.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rep. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, has introduced two bills — one to make it harder to receive food stamps and another to repeal the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare. Both of those bills remain stuck in committee.

Many lawmakers get things done by using larger bills as a vehicle. Rep. Mike Turner, R–Dayton, introduced 11 bills to date this Congress. Three — one aimed at helping survivors of sexual abuse in the military report crimes against them, one to keep the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Ohio and one to implement safety requirements for windows in military housing — were tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act. That bill has passed through Congress and awaits President Trump’s signature.

Three other bills dealt with health care reform. Two of those initiatives were in the House passed bill that later failed in the Senate, meaning the provisions essentially passed the House. And one is opioid-related — Turner hopes to tuck it into a larger bill next year.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking — a joint project between Professor Craig Volden of the University of Virginia and Alan E. Wiseman of Vanderbilt — studies 15 factors including bills sponsored, bills passed or bill movement in committee to determine who is the most effective lawmakers in Congress. They also factor in whether the lawmaker is in the majority or minority; it’s harder to get something done in the minority. And they look at whether the bills or symbolic – such as naming a post office – or substantive.

Among Ohio’s members, Rep. Steve Chabot, R–Cincinnati was deemed the most effective, coming in seventh out of 250 Republicans. Turner was 202 out of 250 Republicans. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, was 91 out of 250 Republicans.

On the bottom end of the spectrum, Reps. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana and Warren Davidson, R–Troy, both ranked 249 out of 250 Republicans.

In the Senate, Brown, came in 26th out of 44 Democrats. Portman came in 14th out of 54 Republicans.

Volden said statistically, a few factors have helped indicate effectiveness: Being in the majority helps, as does being a committee chair or subcommittee chair. Seniority helps as well.

But he’s seen more subtle factors as well. Those who have served in some of “the more professional” state legislatures — the ones that meet year round, collect a salary and are considered a full-time job — are far more effective on average than the citizen legislatures that don’t meet often.

“The ones we’re most impressed by are the folks who are continuing to perform above expectations Congress after Congress after Congress,” he said.

Donald Wolfensberger, director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was curious about whether Congress has actually slowed down in progress, so he compared the January through September of Trump’s first year to those same months during President Barack Obama’s first year in office.

He found that while the House voted more frequently during the first few months of Obama’s administration, the number of laws passed wasn’t that different — 65 under Obama, 64 under Trump. That number, however, doesn’t take into account the differences between the depth or scope of the laws passed.

His takeaway? “Both houses are still dysfunctional,” he said. “And I just don’t know what the solution is other than the big judgment day coming next year in November.”

“This is not exactly a convivial atmosphere in which to get a lot done,” he said.

Southwest Ohio congressional delegation at a glance, 2017

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati

Bills introduced: 18

Bills cosponsored: 213

Bills that passed the House: 2

Cosponsored bills that passed the House: 36

Cosponsored bills that became law: 9

—-

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy

Bills introduced: 12

Bills cosponsored: 84

Bill that passed the House: 1

Cosponsored bills that passed the House: 16

Cosponsored bills that became law: 4

—-

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana

Bills introduced: 2

Bills cosponsored: 82

Cosponsored bills that passed the House: 13

Cosponsored bills that became law: 2

—-

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati

Bills introduced: 13

Bills cosponsored: 108

Bills that passed the House: 2

Cosponsored bills that passed the House: 23

Cosponsored bills that became law: 8

—-

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton

Bills introduced: 11

Bills cosponsored: 138

Cosponsored bills that passed the House: 13

Cosponsored bills that became law: 3

—-

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio

Bills introduced: 64

Bills cosponsored: 439

Bills that passed the Senate: 2

Cosponsored bills that passed the Senate: 42

Cosponsored bills that became law: 5

—-

Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio

Bills introduced: 42

Bills cosponsored: 198

Bills that passed the Senate: 6

Bills that became law: 1

Cosponsored bills that passed the Senate: 36

Cosponsored bills that became law: 2

Source: Congress

$300M for Great Lakes cleanup moves forward in Congress

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 11:47 AM


            Congress
Congress

A wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program would receive $300 million next year under a spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The measure cleared the committee this week and now goes to the full Senate. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative focuses on the region’s most longstanding environmental problems, such as toxic pollution, farm and urban runoff, invasive species and declining wildlife habitat.

President Donald Trump’s budget called for eliminating the program’s funding. But lawmakers in both parties from the Great Lakes region fought to retain the $300 million it has received most years since 2010.

Todd Ambs of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says he’s happy about the funding, but worried that the bill cuts spending for the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments that administer the program.

U.S. slaps new sanctions on North Korean, Chinese firms

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 5:45 PM


            In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the the Sungri Motor Complex in Pyeongannam-do, North Korea. The Trump administration is due to announce new sanctions on North Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, after declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism in the latest push to isolate the pariah nation. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the the Sungri Motor Complex in Pyeongannam-do, North Korea. The Trump administration is due to announce new sanctions on North Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, after declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism in the latest push to isolate the pariah nation. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on a slew of North Korean shipping firms and Chinese trading companies Tuesday in its latest push to isolate the rogue nation over its nuclear weapons development and deprive it of revenue.

The Treasury Department also designated a North Korean corporation involved in exporting workers overseas. The action came a day after the United States returned North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“These designations include companies that have engaged in trade with North Korea cumulatively worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “We are also sanctioning the shipping and transportation companies, and their vessels, that facilitate North Korea’s trade and its deceptive maneuvers.”

Among the companies targeted were four Chinese-based companies and one Chinese individual said to have deep commercial ties with North Korea. The sanctions were imposed under a September executive order that opened the way for the U.S. to punish foreign companies dealing with the North. It bars those sanctioned from holding U.S. assets or doing business with Americans.

The Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co., Ltd., Dandong Xianghe Trading Co., Ltd., and Dandong Hongda Trade Co. Ltd. are alleged to have exported about $650 million worth of goods to North Korea and imported more than $100 million from North Korea since 2013. The goods included notebook computers, anthracite coal, iron and other commodities and ferrous products.

Also sanctioned was Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company, Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., said to have exported more than $28 million worth of goods to the North.

The targeting of Chinese companies is a potential sore point with Beijing, whose help Trump is counting on to put an economic squeeze on Pyongyang. China recently sent its highest-level envoy to North Korea in two years to discuss the tense state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula.

As part of its effort to stymie North Korean transportation networks, Treasury sanctioned North Korea’s Maritime Administration and its transport ministry, six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels, which are all North Korean-flagged.

It accused North Korea of deceptive shipping practices, including ship-to-ship transfers, which is prohibited under U.N. sanctions that have been imposed in response to Pyongyang’s rapid tempo of nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The Treasury statement included aerial photos of what it said was Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel Rye Song Gang 1 possibly transferring oil to evade sanctions that have restricted fuel exports to the North.

Also sanctioned was the Korea South-South Cooperation Corporation said to have exported North Korean workers to China, Russia, Cambodia and Poland to generate revenue for the government.

When President Donald Trump announced the terror designation of North Korea on Monday, he promised to intensify the “maximum pressure” campaign against Pyongyang with the “highest level” of sanctions yet — part of a rolling effort to compel it to negotiate over its nuclear program which poses an emerged threat to the U.S. mainland.

An editorial Tuesday in North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called Trump a “heinous criminal” who had insulted the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership and its socialist system during his recent visit to South Korea. The editorial, carried by the state-run news agency, threatened “merciless punishment.” It did not mention the terror designation or the threat of new sanctions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged Monday a two-month pause in the North’s nuclear and missile tests and said there was still hope for diplomacy. With tougher sanctions in the offing, he warned Kim, “This is only going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.”

The terror designation, however, is likely to exacerbate sour relations between Washington and Pyongyang that have turned uglier with name-calling between Trump and Kim. North Korea shows no interest in talks aimed at getting it to give up its nukes.

North Korea has joined Iran, Sudan and Syria on America’s terror blacklist, a position it has occupied on and off the terror list over the years. It was designated for two decades because of its involvement in international terror attacks in the 1980s, then taken off in 2008 to smooth the way for nuclear talks that soon failed.