Republicans, Democrats set legislative priorities for General Assembly

Courtesy: WCMH

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WYTV) – When the 132nd General Assembly began, the Senate GOP Caucus laid out their 10 priority bills and went on to pass all of them out of the chamber.

Seven of those 10 bills have already been signed by Governo John Kasich with the three remaining bills still being worked on.

In the meantime, the GOP Caucus says, they are setting new priorities for 2018 and the final year of the General Assembly.

This year, they plan to make energy a priority, according to State Senator Troy Balderson, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He and Senator Bill Beagle have been tasked by Senate President Larry Obhof to come up with a plan.

That plan is unlikely to result in an omnibus bill, according to Balderson, because unlike other topic areas such a bill would be difficult to get passed.

Due to the complexity and wide spectrum energy bills can cover, Balderson says the bills will have to go individually.

Over in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Fred Strahorn says energy is a focus of their caucus as well and acknowledged that the caucus priority seemed to mesh well with the Senate GOP.

Still, Strahorn says education funding, charter school accountability, access to healthcare and the financial health of working Ohioans are their top priorities.

Strahorn said the reality of being in a minority party position is that they are likely to spend a good deal of time defending against GOP attacks on issues like Right to Work, as well as unemployment and Worker’ Compensation.

So far, the legislature has passed 41 bills that have become law. Only one of those bills has primary sponsors that are Democrats.

Another bill with bipartisan primary sponsorship also has become law.

The remaining 39 bills all had primary sponsorship from Republicans. With that said, most of the bills passed both chambers with bipartisan votes.

When asked what that said about how constituents of Democratic Party members were being heard, Strahorn said, “It’s not good enough if really good ideas are languishing because of the label that somebody has or doesn’t have in the legislature.”

“If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea; and we should do that, and we should be focused on the needs of the public,” Strahorn added.