With 2017 behind us, the Ohio General Assembly is now over halfway through its legislative session. This point provides us with the opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we want to go. I was proud to support bills last year that created greater workforce opportunities, provided relief and support for Ohio’s agriculture industry, and created a better environment for Ohioans to grow and prosper. I am proud of what we accomplished last year, and I am optimistic about the continuing positive impacts we will make on our communities.
To kick-off the 132nd General Assembly, my Ohio Senate colleagues and I took a focused approach towards the most pressing issues facing Ohioans. Listening to the thoughts of constituents back home, we prioritized solutions that dealt with their specific concerns. These bills addressed issues important to Ohioans and included increasing penalties for drug traffickers who sell deadly fentanyl, protecting our environment and Ohio’s water quality, improving workforce development efforts; investing in our local community infrastructure, and streamlining government, while lowering Ohioans’ tax burdens.
I am particularly proud of our work in passing a budget that is balanced, conservative, and fiscally responsible. This budget cycle was particularly challenging due to the responsibility to address a $1 billion fiscal shortfall in state revenues. Despite the tough fiscal situation, we kept our word and balanced the budget while investing more than $200 million of additional state funding into our local schools and making historic new investments into the fight against opioid abuse. Serving a rural area of the state, I was particularly happy to see the bill make long-overdue changes to the state’s formula for valuing agricultural land, providing relief to many farmers across the State of Ohio.
I am honored to be trusted by my Senate colleagues to serve as the President Pro Tempore of the Ohio Senate, and as second in Senate Leadership, I am proud to announce that the Senate passed all of our top ten priority bills that we set last year. Currently, the Governor has signed seven of those bills into law, either as stand-alone legislation or as part of the state’s biennial budget.
In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues to put together a Capital Budget that invests in important local projects in our communities. The Capital Budget represents an opportunity to fund worthwhile local projects through bonds and not taxpayer dollars. I have submitted our communities’ proposals on behalf of the district and am eager to see which projects I and my House colleagues will be able to secure local investment dollars for.
In 2018, Senate leadership remains focused on moving Ohio forward, and we will continue to focus on the issues that matter to the people we serve. I hope to hear your ideas about how to improve our great state, and I welcome your questions and feedback at any time. Please reach out to me at Peterson@OhioSenate.gov, by visiting my local office hours, or by calling my office at (614) 466-8156.
Senator Bob Peterson represents the 17th District in the Ohio Senate, which encompasses all or part of Clinton, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, and Vinton counties. He currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Ohio Senate.