Butler County's lawmakers ready to start 2022
Jan. 2—Butler County's Statehouse delegation said they'll focus on legislation they believe will help the county and the state.
Three of Butler County's four lawmakers are up for re-election at the end of 2022, and all four have specific things they want to accomplish in the second half of the 134th General Assembly.
Here's how they plan to start 2022:
Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, said constituents "can expect solid and good legislation" in the second half of the 134th General Assembly, as well as having an "open heart and a listening ear" to help foster "the spirit of community and the love of my fellow Ohioan."
"True leadership is done through communication and diligence," she said.
A primary object for Carruthers is to send House Bill 3, known as Aisha's Law, to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk for his signature. The proposed law is to further protect victims of domestic violence.
This is the second general assembly Carruthers and her joint sponsor Rep. Janine Boyd has introduced Aisha's Law, which was passed 92-4 out of the Ohio House at the end of October. It's since been referred to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee, and had the first hearing with sponsor testimony on Dec. 7.
Aisha's Law is named for Aisha Fraser, a Shaker Heights teacher who was killed in 2018 by her ex-husband, Lance Mason, a former Cuyahoga County judge and former Ohio senator.
"I want to continue to make my constituents' voices heard in Columbus and to protect our freedoms from those that try to slowly take them away," she said.
In addition, she plans "to help mental health issues become more important in our legislature."
Ohio Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., has been one of the most prolific lawmakers when it comes to introducing legislation during the current general assembly. He is either the primary or a joint sponsor on 16 pieces of legislation through the first 12 months of the current two-year general assembly.
He's had one bill, House Bill 176, which revises the athletic training law, signed by DeWine, and has three bills passed by the Ohio House (House bills 99, 230 and 458).
Heading into 2022, he said he's "eager to continue working with my colleagues to pass good, solid legislation.
"Being one of the youngest freshman in the legislature, I believe my fresh perspective has served me well in collaborating with both sides of the aisle, and I've been fortunate enough to pass numerous bills that I'm very proud of. I was sent to Columbus to get things done, and I will continue to work hard every day for the people of my district," Hall said.
Hall's legislation has been a mixture of controversial bills, such as House Bill 99 which allows authorized officials to be armed within schools, and bills that's received wide bipartisan support, such as House Bill 176, which passed the House with a unanimous vote.
Ohio Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester Twp., said the new year will see her push against regulation and support more bills that deregulate.
"I know it's boring and not exciting, but (regulation) is what harms our businesses," said Gross, a freshman lawmaker. "We've got to do what is required to enhance our business structure and climate."
According to U.S. News and World Report, Ohio is one of the most regulated states in the country. The two most-regulated states are California (No. 1) and New York (No. 2).
Heading into her first term in 2020, Gross said she was focused on "liberty and freedom first" and back constitutionally strong policies.
Heading into 2021, while she's still focused on liberty and freedom, she will be pushing to make Ohio safer, which is why she introduced House Bill 495, which requires medical professionals to offer patients a chaperone in the exam room. This is in light of the U.S. gymnastics scandal, she said.
"It's a small bill but it makes it safer for patients in the exam room," said Gross, a nurse practitioner.
In March, the Ohio Medical board reported more than 90 sexual assault cases against medical professionals. She said this bill "requires providers offer patients a chaperone because sometimes people do bad things."
But 2022 will also be a year where medical freedoms will be one of Ohio's top issues, and "regardless of what that looks like for people, it is, what I'm hearing still in my district, and quite frankly really all over the state."
Also in 2022, Gross said she wants to reach out to more of her constituents. She does have monthly town halls and a monthly newsletter, but "I would like to reach more of my constituents this year."
"I do want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly," she said. "I will respond to people, even if they're mad at me, I will write them back. But if they cuss at me or demean me, which I've had a few times, I don't respond. That's the only time I don't respond."
"I know I'm not hearing from my perhaps more moderate and the left side of my constituents because I represent Democrats and Republicans, and I need to hear from all of them and I feel I am missing some of them," she said.
Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., said he will continue his focus on four things: tax reforms, workforce development, reducing the cost and complexity of state government, and regulatory reforms.
"Everything I'm putting my weight behind falls under one of those four categories," he said.
One of his 2022 priorities is to get an Ohio competitiveness study conducted, and "hopefully it will shine a light to show how uncompetitive we are."
As an example of Ohio's failing competitiveness, Lang said 50 years ago the state had 24 congressmen, and there will be 15 when the new congressional session begins in 2023.
"No other state in America has got their ass kicked as bad as we did in terms of percentage of congressmen lost," Lang said. "So if I'm successful, in 2030, when we re-do the census again, we're going to pick up a congressman or two."
Lang is partnering with Timothy Nash, a professor at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. He's done similar studies with other states, such as Illinois in 2016.
He'll also work on unemployment compensation reforms, something he's worked on for the past four years.
"It is my goal is to have all of that completed and introduced this general assembly, but I don't think we'll get it passed until the next one, but I want to get all the work done. We know what we have to do and have that ready to go and fix our unemployment compensation, which is an absolute disaster."
Lang will also work to get a pair of Senate Bills, 246 and 247, out of committee this spring. SB 246 revises the statute that governs how Ohio's income tax applies to the sale of an ownership in a business. SB 247, among other things, would levy a tax on a pass-through entity's income apportioned to Ohio if it elects to become subject to the tax. Pass-through entities include partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations.
"Whether or not we're going to get them out of the House, I don't know, but I predict we'll get them out of the Senate by March or April," Lang said.