An update from the Capitol

By Representative J. Todd Smith

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Ohio’s 43rd House District during my first elected term as your State Representative. With the first half of 2019 now behind us, I wanted to share with you some items the 133rd General Assembly has accomplished thus far.

Most recently, I voted in support of the State’s two-year main operating budget, which I believe will maximize the value that you expect to receive from your tax dollars. This balanced budget will cut every Ohioan’s income taxes by 4% while simultaneously increasing our funding for schools by $381.8 million over the 2019-20 school year. Greater financial assistance for families with foster children was also included in the legislation, a necessary move given the increase in foster children as a result of the opioid epidemic. Local governments and libraries can also expect an increase with $10 million appropriated for each over the biennium.

You have likely heard about House Bill 6 in the news lately. I voted for this bill, also known as the “Ohio Clean Air Program,” because it saves $1.3 billion for Ohio electric consumers and at the same time saves thousands of good Ohio jobs. The savings come from removing expensive, failed electric mandates that are currently on customers’ bills. The mandates that are eliminated by the end of 2020 include the ‘energy efficiency’ charge, the ‘peak demand’ charge and the ‘Renewable Portfolio Standard’ carve out for solar. House Bill 6 reduces and then sunsets the entire Renewable Portfolio Standard by the end of 2026. Currently, the average ratepayer pays $4.74 on average for these unnecessary mandates and these were set to double next year.

Along with former Montgomery County Sheriff Representative Phil Plummer, I sponsored House Bill 236 which increases penalties for assault offenses committed against hospital police officers. House Bill 236 passed on the House Floor in June and has now moved to the Senate for further consideration. I also introduced House Bill 291 in June, which seeks to consider communication between first responders and fire fighters and their peer counselors as ‘privileged communication’ under Ohio law. The idea was brought to me by law enforcement and first responder groups who want to reduce hesitation by first responders to seek mental health counseling if they think their job will be impacted as a result. There are also several other legislative initiatives I hope to accomplish as we return from summer recess this fall.

I am grateful to the citizens of the 43rd district for electing me to this position and I aim to echo your voice in Columbus at all times. It is important to me that our government be transparent, responsive and accessible to the people to whom it is accountable. Join me in every community throughout this district at one of my “Meet and Greet” sessions and feel free to contact me personally any time you have a need or feel like I can help you at the state level.

By Representative J. Todd Smith