COLUMBUS—Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today welcomed Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Robin Vos to the Ohio Statehouse to discuss goals and themes for the 132nd General Assembly including joint legislative efforts between the Ohio House and Wisconsin State Assembly.
"It was a privilege to welcome Speaker Vos and members of the Wisconsin State Assembly to the Statehouse today," Rosenberger said. "Our two states have a lot in common and are facing many of the same issues, so their knowledge and input was greatly welcomed and valued. The topics discussed today are top priorities for the Ohio House Republican Caucus, such as addressing the needs of our aging population, focusing on the importance of federalism, and combating the effects of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Our system of government provides tremendous opportunities for states to work together, and today was a great example of how we can learn from one another to shape better policy and help the residents of our respective states.”
"While Wisconsin and Ohio are different in many ways, our states face similar issues and have leaders with a strong resolve in addressing them," said Speaker Vos, who was joined by Wisconsin State Assembly members State Representatives Mike Rohrkaste and Tyler Vorpagel. "We also have a shared interest in having the federal government give states more power to innovate."
Joined by members of the caucus, Speaker Rosenberger discussed major themes of this General Assembly, which includes battling the state’s drug epidemic, focusing on the needs of Ohio’s aging population, defending states’ rights and promoting interstate relations.
The state’s opioid epidemic continues to plague communities across the state. The Ohio House has taken a proactive role in curbing abuse through increasing resources, shutting down pill mills, streamlining the state’s OARRS (Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System) and providing treatment options for the addicted. Today, Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) discussed future efforts and Ohio HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety), which works to address the issue in a long-term way.
“Hearing from Speaker Vos about what Wisconsin is doing to address the heroin issue allowed us to learn new and innovative ideas,” said Representative Sprague. “As iron sharpens iron, both states are going to have greater opportunities to improve our legislative initiatives as result.”
As the state’s population continues to age, the Ohio House is working to address the needs of senior citizens. In Ohio, 16 percent of the population is over 65 years old and by 2040, a projected 2.32 million Ohioans will be over 65. Rep. Steven Arndt (R-Port Clinton) discussed his work on this topic as chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.
“For the first time in recent history at the Ohio House, we are taking a look at how we can improve the lives of our seniors,” Arndt said. “Ohio has a rapidly aging population, and we need to ensure, as a state, that our seniors are living out their golden years in safety and dignity.”
Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) has been appointed to chair of the Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee. The committee has been discussing the importance of the Tenth Amendment within the context of today’s laws and issues. With the creation of this committee, the Ohio House is renewing its focus, in partnership with Wisconsin, on federalism.
“The Tenth Amendment specifies that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the states,” Rep. Roegner said. “I am delighted with our renewed focus on federalism, the elegant construct created by our founding fathers.”
Wisconsin State Assembly leaders joined Speaker Rosenberger and other members throughout the day to discuss how they can continue to share ideas and build relations through interstate partnerships on various policy areas.
COLUMBUS—State Representative Wes Goodman (R-Cardington) this week presented a resolution honoring Chad Johnson as the 2016 Division III State Boys Cross Country champion.
The Colonel Crawford junior beat out over 180 runners to win the individual state title at the National Trail Raceway. Johnson finished with an impressive time of 15 minutes and 18 seconds, and an average mile time of 4 minutes and 55 seconds.
“I am delighted to honor Chad for his tremendous achievement,” Rep. Goodman said. “He is an exceptional young man who is a source of pride for his family and his entire community.”
COLUMBUS—State Representative Stephen Hambley (R-Brunswick) announced the House’s passage of legislation he sponsored that would designate a portion of State Route 261 in Medina and Summit Counties as the Sergeant James F. Allen III Memorial Highway.
Sergeant Allen, a decorated veteran who resided in Wadsworth, was deployed three times; twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan to fight the War on Terrorism.
Sergeant Allen suffered numerous concussions from IED explosions while serving, and after he returned home in 2011, he was diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He succumbed to this mental illness in February 2016. Rep. Hambley was made aware of Sergeant Allen’s brave service and about his battle with PTSD and made it his mission to bring awareness to the issue and all those who are suffering from this disorder following their time in the armed forces.
“It has been said that in American culture we prefer that our warriors should suffer their pain silently,” Hambley said on the floor of the Ohio House. “When only 50 percent of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment receive these services, we don’t want our hero warriors to suffer their pain silently. We want them to seek help and get treatment.”
House Bill 22 will now go to the Senate for further consideration.
State Representative Hambley is serving his second term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 69th House District, which includes most of Medina County.
COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today approved a joint resolution to hold Governor Kasich’s State of the State address in Sandusky.
Following its passage, Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) released the following statement:
“Lake Erie is an extremely valuable resource for Ohio, and my great friend and colleague, State Representative Steve Arndt, has been a key advocate for the region’s unique communities along the waterfront.
“Sandusky has a deep connection to Ohio’s history and this trip will present an opportunity for the legislature to reflect upon this legacy. I look forward to joining Rep. Arndt in Sandusky for the 2017 State of the State address when we will learn more about Governor Kasich’s vision for the future of our state.”
The setting of this year’s address will be located within the 89th Ohio House District, represented by Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton). Rep. Arndt said:
“Moving the State of the State Address around Ohio is a great way for the people’s representatives to see how our residents are being affected by the policies we pass. At minimal expense to the state, over these two terms with the governor, the General Assembly has been able to see a great cross-section of Ohio, and by moving it this year to the city of Sandusky, we are broadening the opportunities for legislators to experience our great state."
The 2017 State of the State address will be held April 4th at 7 p.m. at the Sandusky State Theatre.
As I dive into my fourth and final term as your state representative, I am once again reminded of the importance and role of leadership. This comes to the forefront of my mind as we celebrate Presidents’ Day, which this year falls on Monday, February 20. Pausing to consider the service and achievements of all the chief executives of the United States aids in fostering a greater appreciation for our country.
It is helpful to understand how Presidents’ Day became a national holiday. Its history dates back to 1800, when Americans began to recognize President George Washington’s birthday following his death the year before. However, Washington’s Birthday was only unofficially celebrated until 1879, when President Rutherford B. Hayes lawfully designated it as a federal holiday in the District of Columbia. It was not until 1885 that Washington’s Birthday was formally recognized in all of the United States.
For years, Washington’s Birthday was remembered on his actual date of birth, February 22. This changed in the late 1960s, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act shifted it to the third Monday of February. Washington’s Birthday thus came to be recognized together with Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12. During the latter part of the twentieth century into the 2000s, several states moved to rename the holiday Presidents’ Day with the intention of honoring all individuals who have served as president.
The president of the United States does not merely serve as the head of our country. Rather, this office has also come to represent the values and ideals that we as Americans hold dear. Democracy, freedom, opportunity—these and more come to mind when we conceive of all that this office symbolizes. The leadership that the presidency provides is truly invaluable.
This Presidents’ Day, may we join together in remembering the diverse presidents who have guided our country through the good and bad, thick and thin. May we gaze backwards at the birth of our great nation and look forward to its growth and progress. It is a genuine privilege to call myself an American and to serve as the representative of the 95th House District, and one that I am especially grateful for on this meaningful holiday.
COLUMBUS—State Representative Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) this week presented a resolution honoring Brooke Mangas on winning the 2016 Division III state title in women’s high jump.
The Ottoville then-junior placed first in the Division III high jump finals for the second year in a row. She went on to break the state record, clearing an incredible 5 feet, 10 inches, a full inch more than the previous record which had stood for 13 years.
“It was an honor hosting Brooke, an exemplary athlete, whose hard work and dedication has been evident throughout both her academic and athletic careers,” Rep. McColley said. “I wish Brooke the upmost success in her future endeavors and look forward to seeing where her career takes her.”
COLUMBUS—State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) has introduced the “Fuel Tax Transparency Act” that would require a sticker to be placed on all retail fuel pumps displaying federal and state fuel tax rates. Ohio currently imposes a 28-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel. The federal tax rate is 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and a 24.4 cents for diesel fuel.
“Taxation must be transparent. With this bill, Ohioans will be empowered to clearly see the fuel taxes they’re paying,” said Representative Merrin.
Ohioans pay about $3 billion annually in state and federal fuel taxes. Although fuel taxes generate significant revenue, the taxes are unnoticed by many motorists at the fuel pumps. The bill seeks to inform taxpayers.
“I want a bright light put on taxation, so taxpayers know the true cost of government,” Merrin said. “Transparency is necessary to hold government accountable. Citizens armed with knowledge and facts improve government.”
House Bill 70 requires county auditors or city sealers to affix the fuel tax sticker to all retail fuel pumps. The Department of Agriculture will produce a uniform sticker to be used statewide. The legislation provides the requirements for the text, size, and design of stickers. County auditors and city sealers will have a year to affix stickers enabling them to simultaneously affix their weights and measures sticker along with the fuel tax sticker.
“The bill has incredible momentum, and Ohio has an opportunity to be a national leader in tax transparency,” Merrin said.
Texas implemented similar legislation in 2015, requiring a fuel tax notice on all fuel pumps. The bill has earned bipartisan support, generating 20 co-sponsors in the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 70 awaits a committee designation.
COLUMBUS—A bill sponsored by State Representative Bob Cupp (R-Allen County) today passed the Ohio House by a vote of 97-0. The bill makes changes to drug trafficking and possession laws regarding cocaine. House Bill 4 restores the statutory penalties for possession of cocaine and clarifies the penalties for the trafficking of cocaine.
Under Ohio’s statutory drug penalty framework, penalties increase with the quantity of the drug involved in the violation. For cocaine, the Ohio Revised Code prescribes five steps or tiers of felony penalties with the increasing amounts of cocaine involved.
The possession penalties were undone by the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent decision in State v. Gonzales, which determined that only the weight of pure cocaine in a substance could be used to set an offender’s sentence. Because of this, cocaine possession regardless of quantity will, as a practical matter, only be prosecuted as a fifth degree felony, the lowest penalty under statute, if the law is not amended.
House Bill 4 modifies this language to clarify that the total weight of the compound, mixture, preparation or substance containing cocaine is included for penalty purposes as had been the legal practice prior to Gonzales. The bill applies to both the offenses of possession and trafficking.
“House Bill 4 addresses an urgent need to repair a hole in the cocaine penalty statutes that would otherwise incentivize drug dealers to push greater quantities of this dangerous drug without any greater penalty,” said Rep. Cupp. “I thank my colleagues for acting so quickly to pass this important legislation.”
The legislation now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration. The bill includes an emergency clause to make it effective on the day it is signed by the Governor.
COLUMBUS—Today, State Representative Wes Goodman (R-Cardington) presented a resolution honoring Justice Paul E. Pfeifer on his retirement from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Pfeifer retired as the longest serving member of the Ohio Supreme Court, with 24 years of service. His passion for the law and compelling writing ability have earned him the respect of peers and citizens alike. Before his tenure on the court, Pfeifer served two years in the Ohio House and 16 years in the Ohio Senate. Following his retirement from the court, Pfeifer began serving as the Executive Director of the Ohio Judicial Conference.
“I am proud to honor Justice Pfeifer on his retirement from the Supreme Court,” Goodman said. “He leaves a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.”
COLUMBUS—State Representative Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) today presented a resolution honoring Richard Palmer on being named the 2016 Ohio Certified Public Manager of the Year.
As the highest honor conferred by the Ohio Certified Public Manager Society, this award recognizes the achievements and contributions of one CPM every year who tangibly pursues excellence and exhibits admirable character. Palmer has established himself as a dependable and exemplary leader in both his positions at the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio CPM Society.
“It is my privilege to present Mr. Palmer with this resolution today,” said Rep. Butler. “Governing doesn’t occur in a vacuum; it requires the hard work and dedication of capable public servants like Mr. Palmer to ensure that Ohioans’ needs are being met by the government carrying out its vital functions. I am pleased to recognize Mr. Palmer for his exemplary public service. He is highly deserving of these honors.”
Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today announced that State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) will continue to serve as Chairman of the House Finance Committee for the 132nd General Assembly, after previously serving as chair in the 131st General Assembly.
State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) today applauded Governor Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 27, legislation that creates presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Rep. Patton sponsored the legislation during the 131st General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate.
State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today announced that the Local Government Innovation Council will begin accepting applications for the second round of the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program. Initiated by the Ohio House of Representatives and included in the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, these grants can help to fund public safety projects in local communities throughout Ohio, including those in the 28th House District.
State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) today announced that preliminary terms between the Finance Fund and Campbell’s Market have been agreed upon to bring a grocery store to Vinton County.