Summer Caucus and Lawmakers Forum
The Summer Caucuses and Lawmakers Forum for TMACOG members was held at Owens Community College on August 12. More than 80 members attended representing 45 jurisdictions, schools, agencies, and districts.
Notes on Lawmakers Forum | Report on Caucus Sessions
Following introductions, the Lawmaker’s Forum went directly to questions from TMACOG members.
- The first question was about the reduction in funding to local governments through the Homestead Act, House Bill 5, the Inheritance Tax, and other funding streams. Senator Randy Gardner said that local funds would rise when the economy improved and more jobs were added, and that significant transportation funds have been generated by the turnpike. He also noted that local governments were getting more funding for unemployment, and that the senate fully funded the Clean Ohio Fund which every Ohio County benefits from. Representative Chris Redfern said that these are challenging times for local governments. He said that he has never been asked by a businessperson to lower the inheritance tax but he’s often been asked about fixing a road.
- There was a lively digression about the turnpike operation in which Representative Redfern hoped that tolls paid in northwest Ohio wouldn’t be paying for a bridge in Cincinnati and Senator Gardner pointed out the dollars generated by the turnpike deal were speeding up infrastructure repairs and putting people to work.
- Workforce development was discussed with a general discussion about the value of community colleges and private apprenticeship programs. Good primary schools were noted as a way to keep a workforce in the area. Representative Sheehy is concerned that there is undermining of public education in Ohio.
- Other issues that the panel agreed on included hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in public areas. All were against fracking in parks and wildlife preserves. It was generally noted that if fracking were bad, it would be bad anywhere but there isn’t enough evidence right now to ban it from public forest areas.
TMACOG President Tony Reams urged members to continue to discuss and participate in TMACOG councils and committees to address the issues that were raised. He noted that all members of the panel said that regional planning agencies that brought ideas to their elected officials were listened to.
- Some townships said that they have heard that there will be pressure to merge townships or eliminate them in favor of county government. All members of the panel were against the idea for different reasons. Representatives Redfern and Sheehy said the people didn’t want it. Senator Gardner said that it would just make for larger county government and he was for smaller government, closer to the people.
The panel at the Lawmakers Forum: Ohio Senator Randy Gardner, Ohio Representative Mike Sheehy, and Ohio Representative Chris Redfern.
Angela Kuhn, mayor of the Village of Whitehouse moderated the forum. She is thanked by Senator Gardner and Representative Sheehy.
Discussion with Representative Mike Sheehy before the forum.
TMACOG President Tony Reams and Tim Warren of Perrysburg speak during the break
More than 80 people attended the summer caucus and lawmakers forum August 12.