Recently, Tom Suddes of the Plain Deal wrote:
On average, only about 20 percent of all the bills introduced during a two-year General Assembly session become law. Most bills are like beads thrown at Mardi Gras: Cheap, but visible. In fact, the last time Democrats ran Ohio's House, in 2009-10, under then-Speaker Armond Budish of Beachwood, the proportion of Ohio House bills that reached then-Gov. Ted Strickland's desk was just 5 percent.But in getting to the 20%, the 5% or whatever, the reading public is subjected to press release after press release after press release touting how much your state legislator is getting done for you in the Ohio General Assembly.
A Stark County Political Report examination of legislation offered by the members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly shows that most of the legislation offered is going nowhere and a good part of that which does not accomplish much for Stark Countians.
However, local media is awash in publicity seeking press releases when either state Senator W. Scott Oelslager (R-Plain), state Reps. Kirk Schuring (R-Jackson), Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro) and Stephen Slesnick introduce a bill in the Ohio Legislature.
The most productive members of the Stark County delegation are first Scott Oelslager and second Kirk Schuring.
Christina Hagan and Stephen Slesnick are proving to be virtually worthless in being productive while working the press releases.
Hagan takes the prize so far as the SCPR is concerned when it comes to working the press releases in the face of being unproductive in getting prime sponsored legislation to passage.
And, mind you, this is 2013 a "non-up-for-reelection year."
Just wait until next year when they are all up for reelection. Local newspapers will be filled with self-congratulatory material.
Yours truly recalls years ago in a conversation with the editors of the Akron Beacon Journal of bringing the point that Oelslager claimed credit for "such and such" legislation.
They all let out one big belly laugh.
And they added, Scott Oelslager has never seen a piece of successfully passed legislation he did not want to take some credit for.
Anyhow, let's take a look at what (in order of significance in the view of the SCPR of their respective efforts.
OELSLAGER (the 29th Senate District)
His Senate Bill 4 takes the prize of being legislation offered this year that likely will have the greatest impact on the lives of Stark Coutians.
The added cost for requiring all Ohio hospitals to screen for critical congenital heart defects using "pulse oximetry" is minimal at $150,000 for inital setup and perhaps $30,000 annually to maintain the monitoring system.
Although his SB 99 appears to be going nowhere, it is a worthy offering.
- Prohibits insurers from providing less favorable coverage for orally administered cancer medication than for intravenously or injected cancer medications.
- Prohibits insurers from reducing coverage for either orally administered or intravenously administered cancer medications to levels lower than those in place on the effective date of the bill.
- Enables the Superintendent of Insurance to impose disciplinary actions on insurers who violate the prohibition.
- Enables a court to impose civil penalties on insurers that violate the prohibition: up to $35,000 in total for violations occurring in a six-month period and up to $10,000 for each violation of a cease and desist order issued by the Superintendent. (Source: Ohio LSC)
While Kirk Schuring has had the most success of any member of Stark County delegation, it does not appear to the SCPR that his efforts have all that much significance to Stark Countians.
His HB 67 (became law on March 6, 2013) which had to do with "delaying determinations of eligibility for PERS (Public Employment Retirement System)" will impact future Stark County participating public employees but from their perspective likely in a negative way, it can be argued that Schuring's work on this legislation ensure the long term viability of retirement benefits.
Schuring's prime sponsored HB 108 got swallowed up in the political controversy surrounding providing taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood.
This is what one blog had to say about the fate of this legislation:
The Senate also added the language from HB 108 to the Budget. This bill, initially intended to create the Rape Crisis Trust Fund and provide additional funding to Rape Crisis Centers, was amended to include language which would prohibit Rape Crisis Centers from referring patients to entities that provide abortions. [passed as amended, in the Ohio General Assembly 2014/2015 budget bill]His HB 110 is inconsequential in the SCPR's view in that its objective is to create authority for the issuance of Massillon Tiger license plates as well as similar vanity-esque plates for other organizations.
Unfortunately, this legislation is typical of what legislators offer for the purpose endearing themselves to the few who care about such matters.
HB 112 (passed with an effectivity date of October 11, 2013) has a worthy purpose to it, to wit:
- Creates an income tax refund contribution check-off for the benefit of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Project.
- Discontinues an income tax refund check-off category if contributions to that category do not exceed $150,000 in each of two consecutive years. (Source: LSC)
After Canton City Council president Allen Schulman raised a stink with the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly about the savaging that state of Ohio funding of local government funding took in the 2012/2013 biennium budget bill during a March session of Canton City Council, Schuring cobbled together his HB 115.
Now this is legislation that could help some Stark County local governments. In particular, Alliance (facing a vote on a raise to a 2.5% [highest in Stark County] income tax rate in November. Also, Massillon which is facing being named by the state of Ohio Auditor as being under "fiscal watch" or perhaps even "fiscal emergency" any day now.
But will it pass?
After much publicity and fanfare for Schuring in local media on its introduction, not likely in the judgment of the SCPR.
Schuring is credited with even caring about the financial crisis that many it not most Ohio and, of course, Stark County local governments are facing.
One has to wonder why Hagan and Slesnick has not joined Schuring as a sponsor of HB 115?
As for the rest of Schuring's "prime sponsorship" legislation, it looks pretty inconsequential to The Report.
HAGAN (the 50th House District)
Christina Hagan has sponsored four bills so far in 2013 according to the Ohio House website:
However, none of them have even gotten a committee hearing.
And one of them, HB 248 - "the detectable heartbeat bill" is likely to be highly controversial if the leadership of the House Republican Caucus allow it to move forward at all.
Representative Hagan seems to the SCPR to be developing quite a skill at introducing legislation and getting a lot of ink in the process but having very little hope of getting it through the Legislature.
There are 16 months left in this legislative cycle, so we shall see.
But note that nothing so far deals much with the "bread and butter" issues that Stark Countians care about.
SLESNICK (the 49th House District)
Poor Stephen Slesnick. A Democrat in a Legislature that is supermajority Republican.
What's the expression?
"As useless as 'ti*s' on a boar hog?"
The SCPR thinks that is what he would be as a legislator even if the Democrats were in power.
For what its worth, (the SCPR thinks virtually nothing, here is what he is offering up so far as a prime sponsor in 2013:
Eliminating the need for a front license plate and looking out for the interests of pawnbrokers.
Slesnick's constituents in the 49th have to be "really" impressed, no?
But the license plate thing has gotten him some PR.
Such seems to be much of what all the members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly seem to be about.