At the start of the 132nd General Assembly, one of the many tasks my staff, leadership team, and I must discuss and establish are the standing committees in the Ohio House for the next two years. The existence of some committees rarely change, like Finance and Appropriations, and others are created based on the evolving needs of the state. This term, we created the Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, which will focus on issues related to the relationship between the state and the federal government and connections from state to state.
Since its creation, our country has changed and developed, but its foundation was based on federalism, one of the key organizational principles behind our Constitution. Essentially, this system of government splits sovereignty between the federal government and the states, acknowledging the fact that as a nation, there is an understandable need for a strong federal government that can protect its citizens from foreign and domestic threats. However, through the Tenth Amendment, any power not explicitly given to the United States in the Constitution is reserved for the states, giving each state the power to make its own laws, individualized for their specific needs.
This is why we have national armed forces, but also varying speed limits from state to state. As such a vast country, the United States has a need to give power back to the states. Agricultural issues that might occur in Oklahoma are sure to be different than those in New Jersey, and specialized solutions developed through state legislatures are the proper way to handle such diverse matters. Moreover, federalism gives states the opportunity to learn from one another and experiment with policy ideas to see what might work in one state versus another.
This week, I had the honor to spend a day cultivating relationships between my staff and leadership team and a delegation from the Wisconsin State Assembly—opening the conversation between two states that share many common interests and needs. Both the states of Ohio and Wisconsin have been confronted with similar concerns, from heroin and opioid addiction to caring for our aging populations. Through candid conversations with one another, new and creative solutions to the problems both our states face can be developed.
The meetings, events, and discussions of the day were truly a great example of how we can learn so much from each other. In fact, I hope this partnership encourages other states to seek out relationships with one another and with Ohio. Open and honest discussions about approaches to policymaking for the improvements of our states, and nation as a whole, can only lead to better and more prudent policies. After all, through these relationships, we are not left to face society’s greatest issues alone.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.