Much has changed for our nation since gaining our independence in 1776, however one thing that hasn’t changed is the pride and patriotism that Americans have for living in the greatest country on Earth.


Not only are we lucky enough to call the greatest country home, but we are also able to call Ohio home, a state where pride and patriotism are rooted deep in our Midwest culture. As Ohioans, we embody the definition of American; hardworking, selfless and unwavering in our love for our country.


These qualities can also be seen throughout our men and women in the military. Without these American heroes, we would not be able to celebrate our nation’s independence 240 years later. Countless brave military members have fought to preserve our Ohio values that we hold dear, something I am always reminded of every Fourth of July.


Our founding fathers also embodied the true meaning of being an American. They demonstrated courage and determination by fighting for their principles; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Because of their fight, these American principles continue to endure as the bedrock of this great nation.


From our founding fathers to our military veterans, to the Midwest spirit found right here in western Ohio, we all have a deep love and admiration for our country in common. I am incredibly thankful to live in this nation and to represent the best constituents and American citizens as your state representative.


This year, I hope you are able to share my enthusiasm in embracing our American patriotism. Whether you are celebrating right here in western Ohio, or travelling to be with loved ones, I wish you and yours a very happy Fourth of July!

 
 
  

State Representative Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) today joined State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and others at a press conference to announce recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth—a committee tasked with looking at the challenges facing Ohio’s children who are involved in multiple state services and specifically how to best eliminate the need for custody relinquishment.


As vice chair, Rep. LaTourette spoke about the work achieved by the committee.


“It has been an honor to be vice chair of the Joint Committee on Multi-System Youth and I am incredibly proud to work alongside such thoughtful and knowledgeable colleagues as we seek to address the challenges facing youth that receive services from multiple state agencies,” Rep. LaTourette said. “Through our work on the committee, our efforts are aimed at streamlining the process to ensure we are providing cost-effective, meaningful services to these youth. We hope our work leads to positive change and additional support for youth across the state.”


As outlined in the state operating budget passed last year, the committee is charged with addressing issues facing youth who are in need of services from two or more of the following:
• The child welfare system
• The mental health and addiction services system
• The developmental disabilities services system
• The juvenile court system


Recommendations made by the committee include:
• Improving data collection and sharing related to multi-system youth to inform state and local decision-making capabilities
• Ensuring that youth and families have access to peer support and peer mentor programs with a consistent funding source
• Establishing a safety net of state level funding for multi-system youth
• Ensuring that youth with moderate to severe needs have access to a High Fidelity Wraparound service
• Modernizing Family and Children First Councils
• Creating a Children’s Congregate Care Study Committee


The committee held seven public hearings and included testimony from various experts on this issue. Youth and parents who have first-hand experience in these systems also provided insight during the committee process. According to committee members, the youth input was invaluable to the committee findings and was relied upon heavily when drafting the recommendations contained in the report.

 
 
  

State Representative Mike Henne (R-Clayton) today announced that Northmont City Schools in Ohio House District 40, which he represents, is recommended to receive a grant from the Straight A Fund.


“Due to budget constraints, it is difficult for districts to invest in innovation. I applaud Northmont for their creativity and successfully using the Straight A Fund to better serve their students,” Henne said.


The Straight A Fund was created by Governor Kasich as a resource for deserving educational entities in Ohio that have the motivation and capability to try new approaches that better address the changing landscape of Ohio’s educational system. Recipients are chosen through a rigorous grant process.


Northmont City Schools are recommended to receive a grant of $391,926, which will be used to meet the needs of students in poverty through project based learning.


The final grant award is pending approval by the Controlling Board, which is expected to occur August 8.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Kunze Applauds Columbus For Winning Smart City Grant Money
Columbus selected for federal grant for intelligent transportation
June 22, 2016
 
 

Columbus has been selected to receive a federal Smart City grant, beating out 78 other cities across the nation for a $50 million grant to establish an intelligent transportation system.


Representative Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), along with Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), recently led the state legislature’s effort to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, supporting Columbus in its effort to win the grant money offered by the United States Department of Transportation and Vulcan Inc.


“The Smart City Challenge is a win for all of Central Ohio,” Kunze said. “Franklin County encompasses a fantastic centralized city and includes great countywide suburban partners. The advanced transportation technologies this grant provides will play a key part in the success of our county in the future.”


In the city’s proposal for the grant, officials presented plans for a smart transportation system that consists of driverless vehicles in the underserved Linden neighborhood, providing them with expanded job opportunities. The US Department of Transportation plans to expand Columbus’s developments to other cities following the trial period.


Columbus beat out a number of technology-savvy finalists for the grant money such as San Francisco, Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas. Local Columbus businesses have also pledged support for the initiative promising an additional $90 million for the smart-technology development, bringing the total investment for the project to $140 million.


“I am thrilled to learn that the collaborative efforts on the part of our elected officials and private sector business partners have earned Columbus the honor of being named our nation’s first Smart City,” remarked Kunze.


Currently the 16th largest city in the country, Columbus continues to rapidly expand and is expected to add one million more residents by 2050, making it the largest city without a mass transportation system.


Columbus city officials are anticipated to make the official announcement regarding the Smart City grant on Thursday in the Linden community.


 

 
 
  

State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) applauded Governor John Kasich’s signing of legislation aimed at increasing efficiency and saving taxpayer dollars in local governments and state agencies. Rep. Koehler sponsored Substitute House Bill 5 with Representative Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard).


The bill contains two primary components that focus on using tax money more responsibly and efficiently. First, it gives state agencies and local government offices the ability to request that the Auditor of State conduct a feasibility study between two or more offices, with the goal of sharing resources and improving efficiency.


“I thank the Governor for making this very important piece of common-sense legislation law,” said Rep. Koehler. “Getting local governments to work together by combining duplicated efforts and resources will save tax dollars and allow for more efficient government.”


In conducting the feasibility studies, the Auditor would be authorized to provide a grant to local governments to cover the cost of the study through the LEAP (Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance) Fund. The Auditor would be required to provide written notification to each agency before the study is conducted and, following the conclusion of the study, to hold a public hearing to announce the findings.


The legislation also authorizes the Auditor’s Office to establish a Shared Equipment Service Agreement Program, such as ShareOhio, in which state agencies and political subdivisions can enter into agreements to share heavy equipment like tractors, bulldozers, and backhoes. The bill specifies that that under shared service agreements, the recipient agency or borrower may assume liability.

 
 
  
Columbus - 

State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today applauded Governor John Kasich’s signing of House Bill 171, legislation that lowers the amount of heroin in possession to be considered a major drug offender. Rep. Dever sponsored the bill with Rep. Bill Blessing (R-Colerain).


Under current law, the trafficking or possession of between 50 and 250 grams of heroin is considered a first degree felony. A person who has committed such a crime is punishable by a mandatory prison term of three to 11 years. If the amount of heroin exceeds 250 grams, the person is a major drug offender and must serve the maximum prison term (11 years). 


HB 171 lowers this amount of heroin to 100 grams, putting the offense on par with the penalties for possessing equal amounts of cocaine.


“Ohio’s heroin epidemic can be seen in each community throughout our state; therefore, I am proud to see HB 171 signed by the Governor,” Dever said. “This legislation will hold the drug dealers who are poisoning our neighborhoods accountable while we continue to help the addicted seek treatment. There is no silver bullet for ridding Ohio of heroin, but this law is a part of a solution that includes education and treatment options.”


Heroin abuse has been a growing problem throughout Ohio in recent years. The signing of House Bill 171 is one step of many that the state has taken to combat the epidemic by increasing penalties and access to rehabilitation for those struggling with addiction.

 
 
  

State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) today applauded Governor Kasich’s signing of House Bill 110 into law, also known as “Brandon’s Law,” legislation that increases the penalties for failure to stop after an accident and failure to stop after a nonpublic road accident when the offenses result in the death or serious physical harm to a person.
 
Prior to this Bill, the penalty for failing to stop after an accident that results in serious physical harm to a person was a fifth degree felony. Additionally, the penalty for failing to stop after an accident that results in death was a third degree felony. HB 110 raised both of these penalties to a second degree felony.  Fleeing the scene would now hurt one’s chances of seeing a lesser charge.
 
“I was happy to see this bill get signed by Governor Kasich yesterday,” said Rep. Hill “Seeing the Pethel family, who have lost their loved one, spend time with Governor Kasich and I as we signed the bill was inspiring. This is a vital issue and I know this bill will positively affect the victims and their families.”
 
The bill is named after Brandon Pethtel of Kimbolton, a fifteen-year-old who was fatally struck by a motorist and whose friend was thrown approximately 90 feet as a result of the collision. The driver fled the scene and was picked up the following day, but received a lesser charge due to not being apprehended at the time of the crime.
 
Tonya, Michael, and Brenda Pethel were all present as the Governor signed Brandon’s Law.

 
 
  
 
Governor Kasich Signs Legislation Seeking To Save Lives From Drug Overdose
House Bill 110 creates "Good Samaritan" law to incentivize calling 9-1-1 for drug overdoses
June 13, 2016
 
 

State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) today announced the signing of House Bill 110 by Governor John Kasich. House Bill 110 includes provisions from House Bill 249, the “Good Samaritan Law,” legislation that was originally sponsored by Representative Sprague and Representative Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati).


Language from H.B. 249, ultimately included as an amendment to H.B. 110, provides criminal immunity to a person who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug overdose. This immunity protects a person acting in good faith from a minor drug possession offense, which is penalized as a misdemeanor or fifth degree felony. Granting immunity increases the likelihood that those in the presence of a drug overdose will call for help, thus saving more lives.


This afternoon, Representatives Sprague and Driehaus held a press conference to discuss Ohio’s new Good Samaritan Law.  They were joined by Cindy Koumoutzis, Tony Grotrian, and Kerry Sadler, family members who have struggled to help their children or grandchildren overcome addiction after seeing the effects of an overdose first hand. 


“The 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Law is an important part of a larger package of legislative initiatives to address Ohio’s addiction epidemic, and I appreciate everyone’s contributions to pass this bill into law,” said Rep. Sprague. “It is our hope that this bill will urge individuals to seek help and save lives.”


Ohio is the 35th state to enact a Good Samaritan Law.  House Bill 110 will become effective at  the end of September.


 

 
 
  

As we move into the summer months, I’m certainly looking forward to all the activities taking place in Richland County and around Ohio. Ohio’s new brand: “Ohio. Find it Here,” certainly captures the essence of our state and highlights its’ vast tourism industry.  We are truly blessed to live in a state with such a large variety of activities as well as limitless opportunities for adventure—including amusement parks, state parks, rivers, campsites, in addition to the many festivals and live events hosted by big and small cities throughout Ohio. 


Locally, Richland County boasts iconic attractions and activities for those of us who live here, as well as for people visiting Ohio. The internationally renowned Shawshank Trail, highlighting the area’s 14 filming sites from the movie The Shawshank Redemption is located here.  If you are looking for outdoor activities, we have 88 miles of horse trails and 18.4 miles of walking and biking trails on the B&O Bike Trail.  At the end of the day, relax and take in our new Wine & Ale Trail, featuring wineries, wine bars, and breweries many of which operate in renovated historic buildings.  


Our area is also home to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a world class road racing venue. Those who love an exciting afternoon of racing can attend the IndyCar racing series, the NASCAR Xfinity series, and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.  The return of Spitzer Motor Speedway, an oval track north of the city, presents race fans with more racing options, hosts live concerts, and will even hold a competition bull riding event (which will include yours truly)!  Other favorites include Malabar Farm State Park, Richland Carrousel Park, Kingwood Center Gardens, BibleWalk, The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, The Brickyard Concert series and a much-sought-after LEGO exhibit at the Mansfield Art Center called “Art of the Brick”.  The live music scene is also exploding in our area with free concerts happening all summer long in our downtowns and parks.   


I would also like to extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to all of our local ambassadors.  Did you know that within Richland County, residents take pride in the attractions we have to offer and frequently tell family and friends?  Current research shows “Family & Friends” as one of the biggest influencers for generating visitors.  In fact, if you visit one of our area’s great attractions, let others know by using the hashtag #OhioFindItHere on social media.


According to TourismOhio, family and friends were responsible for bringing 200 million visitors to Ohio which translated to nearly $40 billion in sales for our economy.  Locally, visitor spending exceeds $284 million, generating $8.5 million in local taxes for services residents enjoy.  The bigger the state market becomes, the more potential visitors we can draw into our own local community.  As a state, we need to continue to nurture our vital small business community which makes up the vast majority of Tourism/Hospitality businesses.  


I’m excited that the summer months are here, and there’s so much to get out and do in our own town, as well as across the great Buckeye state. In addition to Ohio’s tourism website www.ohio.org, Richland County invites you to explore at www.MansfieldTourism.com.  You can order or download a FREE visitor guide and see a full calendar of events.  Share it with your family and friends!  I’m proud to live here … #RichlandRocks.

 
 
  
 
State Funds Planned For Wright Brothers' Factory Project
$1 million appropriation will work to preserve historic buildings on factory site
June 07, 2016
 
 

The Ohio General Assembly has approved $1 million in funding to save the Wright brothers’ factory for a national park site, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger announced today.


Speaker Rosenberger, along with Dayton-area lawmakers, advocated for the funding through a capital appropriation in House Bill 390, which was approved by the House on May 25th.


“Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane in their Dayton bicycle shop, and their factory made Ohio the birthplace of America’s aviation industry,” Rosenberger, who is also an Air Force veteran, said at a press conference in front of the factory.


“This funding allows us to preserve these buildings for future use by the National Park Service so that we can tell the story of how Ohio, and America, became the aerospace powerhouse that we are today,” he added. “It also gives a critical boost to ongoing activities aimed at transforming this site from a brownfield to an economic asset.”


The buildings stand on a 54-acre site that was once the Delphi Home Avenue auto parts manufacturing plant. It’s located between West Third Street and U.S. 35 and intersected by Abbey Avenue.


Built by the Wright Company in 1910 and 1911, the factory’s two structures were the first in America built for airplane manufacturing.


NAHA’s goal is to put the factory in the hands of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, where it would complete the story of the Wright brothers’ invention, development and commercialization of the airplane in Ohio. The Park Service has asked Congress for $450,000 to acquire the buildings.


NAHA has been working with federal, state, local and private entities to save the Wright brothers’ factory since Delphi closed the plant in 2008. Approximately $5 million in public and private funds have been invested in clearing the site of all but a row of attached structures, which include the Wright factory buildings.


“This funding makes it possible for NAHA to acquire the factory and preserve them until the National Park Service can accept them, and it allows us to ensure that the surrounding property is redeveloped in ways that benefit both the national park and the surrounding neighborhood,” said Frank Winslow, chair of NAHA’s volunteer board of trustees.


“We are thrilled the State Legislature shares our community’s commitment to this important economic development project. Our region identified Dayton Aviation Heritage Development Project  as one of our top three regional priorities through our Priority Development Advocacy Committee, and we’re grateful to the Speaker and the Legislature for their support,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “A century ago, The Wright brothers’ factory produced some of the world’s first airplanes. Today, we are closer to the dream of seeing manufacturing taking place again at this historic site.”


Also in attendance were Dayton-area legislators including State Representatives Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), Mike Henne (R-Clayton), Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) and Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton).


Rep. Rezabek: “The Wright Brothers are not only a treasure to the Miami Valley region and our state, but to the nation as well. With this funding, we will be able to continue to honor them at the Wright Brothers’ Factory, and that is something of which we can all be proud.”


Rep. Antani: “This project will benefit the entire Dayton region. I thank Speaker Rosenberger for recognizing the importance of the Wright Brothers and their rich heritage in Dayton.”


Rep. Butler: “Preserving our history is vitally important because it helps us remember who we are as a people and that we are capable of accomplishing much. There have been few innovators more bold than Orville and Wilbur Wright, and securing this funding honors their legacy, and our region’s past and ongoing importance in America’s history.”


Rep. Perales: “The Wright Brothers’ Factory is an incredible piece of history that we are fortunate enough to have situated right here in the Miami Valley. For millennia, man only ever dreamed of flying like the birds. Then the Wright Brothers came along and, against all odds, made that dream a reality; revolutionizing transportation and paving the way for an explosion of technological innovation in the 20th century. I am delighted that additional funding will be going to preserve this site, and to secure the preeminent place that Ohio holds in aviation history.” (Rep. Perales also chairs the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee.)


About NAHA
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a nonprofit chartered by Congress in 2004 as the management entity for the National Aviation Heritage Area, a region of national historical importance encompassing Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby, and Auglaize counties. The Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administrated by the National Park Service, and the only one dedicated to aviation heritage. Visit aviationheritagearea.org for more information.

 
 
  
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Bill Strengthening Penalties For Traffickers Of Heroin Signed By Governor Kasich

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today applauded Governor John Kasich’s signing of House Bill 171, legislation that lowers the amount of heroin in possession to be considered a major drug offender. Rep. Dever sponsored the bill with Rep. Bill Blessing (R-Colerain).



 
 

Ohio House Passes Legislation Encouraging Workforce Development In The Automotive Field

 
COLUMBUS - 

State Representatives Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) and Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) today applauded the Ohio House’s passage of legislation they jointly sponsored that would allow automotive technicians and motor vehicle technicians at retail stores the ability to join the Incumbent Workforce Voucher Program. 



 
 

Reps. Kunze, Stinziano Introduce Bill Strengthening Penalties For Strangulation In Domestic Violence Situations

 
COLUMBUS - 

In a press conference at the Statehouse today, State Representatives Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) explained their recently introduced legislation to increase penalties for strangulation in domestic violence situations.



 
 

Ohio House Healthcare Efficiencies Study Committee Meets In Cleveland

 
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House Healthcare Efficiencies Study Committee today held a hearing today at the MetroHealth main campus in Cleveland, focusing on the topics of Medicaid and aging.