Report on Summer Caucus and Forum with State Legislators
Click here to read reports of the conversations from each of the seven caucus sessions held July 31, 2019.
|Special Guest Speaker
Special guest Randy Gardner is now the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Before this role, he had been a member of the panel of state legislators at the summer caucus for many years. Gardner spoke briefly at the forum about his new position. He spoke about the need for well-educated Ohioans and noted that while Ohio has a great number of college and universities, it lags in the number of residents with graduate degrees. Ohio currently imports college students from other states and other countries, and Gardner talked about the need to keep those students in Ohio as they start professional careers.
He asked TMACOG members to investigate and share the resources available on the website: https://www.ohiohighered.org/. This website details careers sorted by education level needed, potential income, and need. There is information from employers including unions and from universities about placement services.
A primary theme of the caucus was the repeated comments by all members of the panel encouraging local governments to bring their needs to the attention of lawmakers and agencies in Columbus and to actively pursue conversation and collaboration. Panel members asked that local governments tell them about red tape that hinders innovation and bring them data to support legislation that would improve how local governments function.
At the forum, seven Ohio lawmakers responded to a range of questions. The city, county, and village representatives all had questions about court systems and other services that are paid for by city, county, and village residents but spend most of their efforts on township populations. This led to a discussion about consolidating services. Rep. Hoops said that if local governments were truly interested in shared services and shared districts, it could be a valuable area to study. He noted that Ohio has many layers of government which makes Ohio a high-tax state although state taxes themselves are relatively low. Senator Fedor said that the discussion was exciting and was interested in pursuing it.
The Township caucus had questions about how to bring more recreational facilities, especially bike paths, into the township. The panel suggested that local planning and consensus are critical and offered to help research sources of funding.
The Special Districts caucus includes parks, port authorities, and water and sewer districts. They asked the panel about how to hold state authorities accountable for efforts to restore Lake Erie. The general discussion that followed included repeated references to large animal feeding operations and the lack of regulation about manure dispersal.
The School Districts and Colleges/Universities caucus had concerns about parents’ need for advanced planning for post-secondary education. They asked if legislators had ideas for encouraging parents to put as much attention into planning for college as they do for planning for their children’s athletic endeavors. The panel discussed the many options for education and careers and encouraged schools to make parent planning a focus.
The Non-governmental Members caucus had a specific question: they asked if the panel members support recommendations from the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force to make touching a mobile device while driving a primary offense (vs. secondary). While the panelists agreed on the problem of people using devices in vehicles, they disagreed on the value of the bill. Representative Hoops said he, “was getting there” because of experiences he has had while driving.
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