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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Local lawmakers discuss legislative highlights in 2013

Now that 2013 is winding down and the Ohio General Assembly is on recess, two local state lawmakers discussed some of the bigger legislative highlights for the year.

State Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, and state Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, touched on three items in particular during separate interviews with The News-Herald this week.

Both legislators felt the passage of the state’s biennial budget was among the top pieces of legislation because it sets the direction of state policy and spending for the next two years.

Eklund, who was the only state legislator representing Lake or Geauga counties to vote in favor of the measure, pointed to the overall tax burden that was reduced by $2.7 billion. He said most of the tax relief is in the form of state income tax cuts during the next three years.

Rogers said almost no one enjoys paying taxes, but the tax cuts didn’t do much to help the middle class and lower-income workers.

He also said the expansion of the state sales tax might cause some taxpayers to pay a higher percentage of their income because the income tax cuts favor people who are wealthier.

Another major bill passed this year was the state’s $7.6 billion transportation budget that allows the state to issue $1.5 billion in bonds leveraged from the Ohio Turnpike revenue for transportation projects mostly in the northern half of the state.

Eklund, who voted in favor of the legislation, said the utilization of these funds should bring more than $3 billion worth of infrastructure projects and the bill should create an estimated 65,000 jobs in Ohio.

Rogers, who voted against the bill, said his chief concern was that the promised funds for projects in northern Ohio weren’t clearly defined in the legislation and that tolls for the roadways have increased.

When it comes to job creation, Rogers has concerns about the state’s JobsOhio, which is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes job creation and economic development for Ohio.

He said there is a lack of transparency for the organization. He said because it is considered to be private in nature there is very little scrutiny that can be utilized by the public to see how successful JobsOhio is doing and if it is spending taxpayer funding wisely.

Eklund touted legislation designed to spur job creation called the Common Sense Initiative.

It reviews Ohio’s regulatory system to eliminate excessive and duplicative rules and regulations that stand in the way of job creation.

Eklund said the idea is to look at whether regulations are justified given the potentially good outcomes they produce.

He said the legislation helps to make the state a more friendly business community.

Tighter race?

Public Policy Polling’s newest survey of the Ohio governor’s race finds Republican John Kasich polling at 40 percent, Democrat Ed FitzGerald at 38 percent, and Libertarian Charlie Earl at 6 percent. Sixteen percent of voters remain undecided.

The poll can be viewed at and was sponsored by Freedom Ohio, an organization that describes itself as a movement dedicated to end marriage discrimination in Ohio as soon as November 2014.


The weekly deadline to submit information for this column is each Wednesday by 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


  • Campaign kickoff for Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Lu Dunlap.
  • John P. O’Donnell, candidate for Lake County Common Pleas Court, hosts a fundraiser 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, at LaMalfa Party Center. See Mike Lucas, Mike Bucci or Ann Bergen.
  • Lake County Domestic Relations Court Judge Colleen A. Falkowski hosts a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 Jan. 30 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Brian Falkowski.
John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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