As we move into the Year 2012, it is only natural for each of us to contemplate the events of the past 12 months. In my role as your state representative, I too find myself reflecting on the legislative activity of 2011 as I gear up for another productive year. I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have done since January 2011, and I would like to take some time to review a few of the most pivotal pieces of legislation passed by the 129th Ohio General Assembly so far.
From the very beginning of 2011, the state legislature had to confront Ohio’s bleak economic climate. The state unemployment rate in January 2011 was sitting at a distressing 9.4 percent, while Ohio’s poor economic atmosphere was pushing businesses outside of our borders. Meanwhile, unnecessary government restrictions were only worsening the situation. The 129th General Assembly inherited an Ohio that was losing industrial opportunities, but we pledged to reverse this toxic trend, bringing jobs back in-state and signaling that Ohio is once again “open for business.”
My colleagues and I knew that we had to focus on job creation in order to reach these important goals. Accordingly, our first collective action was to pass House Bill 1, legislation that established JobsOhio. This non-profit economic development entity promotes the growth of Ohio’s private sector and job market by catering to the needs of business.
In March, the legislature also passed a bill to form the Common Sense Initiative Office (CSI). The office focuses on eliminating cumbersome barriers in state government that hinder business success. By reviewing regulations set forth by state agencies, the CSI can effectively pinpoint unnecessary rules, freeing up businesses to create more jobs and operate more efficiently.
While job creation was a central objective in 2011, the House worked hard to improve Ohio in other ways. Above all, it is crucial that we safeguard the wellbeing of all Ohioans. To this end, I sponsored House Bill 64 to categorize certain synthetic cannabinoids, known as Spice or K2, as Schedule I controlled substances. These dangerous drugs have become a major problem in Ohio, capable of causing serious health problems in users. I am proud to say that, starting in October 2011, it is no longer legal to buy, sell or possess Spice. This is a key step in protecting our population, and in particular, Ohio’s youth.
Overall, the House made great strides in the Year 2011. Our economic situation has improved drastically, and our job market is poised for future growth in 2012. We have also worked to protect the welfare of our citizens and ensure a safe environment for our children. I am confident that we can maintain the same momentum in the second half of this legislative session, and I wish you and your family a happy New Year.