Job creation hasn't taken a back seat to abortion legislation in Ohio House
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It was recently suggested by The Plain Dealer editorial board that by passing legislation related to abortion, the legislature has lost focus on job creation -- a claim that I consider to be a very serious misstatement about this General Assembly's strong track record of legislative action.

There will always be critics who believe that our work on multiple issues means that we've lost focus on the single-most-important issue to Ohioans. However, the Ohio House of Representatives has never lost its focus on jobs and putting Ohioans back to work. In fact, since the passage of the very first bill from the House -- House Bill 1, which creates JobsOhio as a lean, responsive economic development entity to encourage business retention, location and relocation to Ohio -- the House has successfully considered and passed a variety of bills that will improve the economy.

Consider the legislature's effort to give local governments more flexibility over their budgets and help prevent mass layoffs through the passage of Senate Bill 5. This bill not only respects Ohio's taxpayers, but also allows our most motivated and dedicated public-sector employees -- teachers, police officers and firefighters -- to remain in their jobs through a performance-based pay system.

We've passed House Bill 58, which offers a job-retention tax credit for businesses and to reduce Ohio's comparatively heavy tax code, which will help to retain vital jobs. We also worked to ensure that state regulations do not stifle our businesses through the creation of the Common Sense Initiative Office, which will review any regulations that may have an adverse effect on Ohio's business climate.

Through the passage of House Bill 153, we established InvestOhio to encourage new investment in our local businesses and spur economic growth in Ohio. And we've accomplished all this while balancing an $8 billion budget deficit, without raising taxes or damaging Ohio's business climate. As a result of our diligent work, Ohio has moved up 11 spots to the 23rd position in CNBC 's list of America's top states for business in 2011, which is proof of the positive impact these initiatives have had on our state economy.

While considering and passing numerous bills that focus on job creation, the legislature has also been concurrently able to work on other issues, from election reform to prescription drug abuse. However, we believe that the sanctity of human life is an issue that we cannot let fall through the cracks. Our work on these many other issues means nothing if we fail to protect the most basic of human rights -- the right to life. As former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said, "Anyone who thinks we should call a truce on moral issues doesn't know what America is all about."

Unlike the previous leadership in the Ohio House, which "set a modern record for legislative inactivity," this House is willing and able to tackle many issues at once. It might interest your readers to know that during the last six months of this session, we held twice as many voting sessions compared to the previous General Assembly; in addition, 81 bills passed the House, compared to 23 bills during the same period last session.

As speaker of the House, I am very proud of the dedicated work of the members of the Ohio House, as we have proven it possible to comprehensively improve the quality of life in Ohio from all angles.

We have never taken our eye off the ball during this General Assembly; we simply have the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.

William G. Batchelder, Columbus

Batchelder, a Republican from Medina, is speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.


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