Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ohio Seante President Faber Announces Senate’s First 10 Policy Initiatives

COLUMBUS– Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R–Celina) today rolled out the top initiatives that the Senate Majority will champion during the 130th General Assembly. The first legislative priorities include ten initial bills and one joint resolution.

“Though Ohio has built great momentum for job creation and a robust economy, there is still much left to do,” added Faber. “Our top priority remains unchanged as we find new, innovative ways to train the state’s workforce and pair Ohio job-seekers with opportunity right here in the Buckeye State.”

The newly elected Senate President offered assurances that the Senate Majority remains staunchly committed to job creation and workforce development in the 130th General Assembly.

“Over the past two years, we’ve made substantial progress in the Statehouse in creating a more efficient, more accountable state government,” said Faber. “Our work has paid off in the form of a budget surplus, an improved state credit outlook, and more than 120,000 new jobs for hard working Ohioans.”

The first Senate bills of the 130th General Assembly are as follows:

Senate Bill 1 – Workforce Development Revolving Loan Fund: Jointly sponsored by Senators Bill Beagle (R–Tipp City) and Troy Balderson (R–Zanesville), this bill uses $25 million in existing casino licensure fees to establish a revolving job training and education loan program to help Ohioans retool their skills and qualify them for expanding job opportunities.

Senate Bill 2 – Workforce Development Improvement Act: This legislation, jointly sponsored by Senators Peggy Lehner (R–Kettering) and Bill Beagle (R–Tipp City), partners the 90 different county “One-Stop” locations with the statewide OhioMeansJobs initiative to improve job training and placement programs. The OhioMeansJobs website currently has approximately 100,000 job listings.

Senate Bill 3 – Job Creation Empowerment Act: Sponsored by State Senator Frank LaRose (R–Copley), this legislation continues efforts to make Ohio a more attractive place to locate or expand jobs by ensuring that state regulations are regularly reviewed to eliminate unnecessary red tape. Specifically, the bill creates a “Rule Watch” system to make it easier for Ohioans and employers to be notified when a rule affecting them is up for review. It also authorizes the creation of a pilot program identifying three to five entrepreneurs annually to assist state agencies in strengthening coordination with small business employers.

Senate Bill 4 – Newborn Healthy Hearts Bill: This bill, supported by the Ohio Heart Association, ensures that all newborns receive a non-invasive pulse oximetry screening to identify congenital heart defects early. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect in the United States and the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths. This legislation is jointly sponsored by Senators Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville) and Scott Oelslager (R–North Canton).

Senate Bill 5 – Kelsey’s Law: Jointly sponsored by Senators Edna Brown (D–Toledo) and Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville), Senate Bill 5 allows law enforcement officers access to call location information, including GPS tracking, for a missing, abducted person. The bill is named after Kelsey Smith, an abducted and murdered Kansas teenager who might have been located sooner had legal questions not delayed investigators from obtaining cell data.

Senate Bill 6 – Fiscal Officer Integrity Act: At the recommendation of State Auditor Dave Yost, the bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R–Lancaster), establishes continuing education requirements for township and municipal fiscal officers to ensure the protection of public funds and the effective management of tax dollars. It also establishes a standard by which a fiscal officer can be removed from office when they betray the public’s trust.

Senate Bill 7 – Law Enforcement Protection Act: Sponsored by Senators Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) and Chris Widener (R-Springfield), this bill requires courts to notify law enforcement officers of violent offenders who are sentenced to mental health treatment rather than incarceration. The information is essential to protecting officers who could potentially encounter these offenders during an investigation. The legislation was prompted by the death of a Clark County deputy sheriff who was shot and killed by an offender on conditional release.

Senate Bill 8 – Military Employment Assistance Bill: As part of Ohio’s commitment to supporting military families, this bill, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R–Copley), modifies Ohio law to offer unemployment benefits to individuals who have become unemployed due to their military spouse’s relocation or deployment.

Senate Bill 9 – Health Insurance Accountability Act: Sponsored by Senator Kevin Bacon (R–Minerva Township), this bill adopts accountability standards and restrictions for federally mandated health insurance advisors. These “navigators” act as insurance agents who aid in searching and purchasing insurance under the federally mandated health insurance exchange.

Senate Bill 10 – Polling Access & Integrity Act: Sponsored by Senator Bill Coley (R–Liberty Township), this elections reform bill improves access to polling locations for disabled Ohioans. The proposed law also ensures that journalists have “reasonable access” to a polling location and clarifies that a person in line when a polling location closes is entitled to cast a ballot.

In addition to the introduction of the Senate’s first ten bills, President Faber announced that the Senate would renew its consideration of a bipartisan redistricting reform plan. Senate Joint Resolution 1 mirrors a resolution adopted by the Senate last December with a vote of 32-1. It asks Ohio voters to approve or deny an improved, bipartisan process for redrawing state and congressional district lines.