Creating Opportunities For Ohioans, Delivering Justice For Victims
A Guest Column by State Senator Larry Obhof
January 26, 2016
 
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With the beginning of the new year, we are halfway through the 131st General Assembly, the two-year cycle for introducing and enacting new legislation. It has been an honor to serve our community in the Ohio Senate, and I would like to quickly recap how we have addressed important issues that Ohio has faced over the past twelve months.  

First and foremost, I have focused on improving Ohio’s economy. In 2015, the Ohio Senate passed the state’s two-year operating budget – perhaps the single most important piece of legislation for the operation of our state. For the third straight time, we were able to balance the state budget while cutting taxes, making our state more competitive and letting you keep more of your hard-earned money. We built on prior progress by reducing the state income tax rate by 6.3 percent and providing significant tax relief for small businesses. This brings total state tax cuts to roughly $5 billion over the past five years, among the largest tax cuts of any state in the country over that span.  

I have also tried to make Ohio a more attractive place for employers to do business. That is why I sponsored Senate Bill 26 and co-sponsored House Bill 3, which cut the filing fees for starting a new business or non-profit by more than 20 percent. House Bill 3 was signed into law last summer, and Ohio is now the least expensive state in which to start and maintain a business in the region. Because of changes like this, 2015 was a record-breaking year, with more new entities filing to do business in Ohio than ever before. Most importantly, Ohio’s employment numbers continue to improve, with roughly 400,000 new jobs created over the past five years.   

The Senate has also worked to make education more affordable. Last year, the state made historic investments in higher education and simultaneously froze tuition at state universities, reducing financial barriers for students and families. Ohio’s colleges and universities are developing innovative solutions in response to the Senate’s challenge to reduce overall student costs by 5 percent. We are also making it easier for families to save for college by increasing the allowable income tax deduction for contributions to 529 college savings plans.

Finally, I am proud of work that we have done in the past year to protect crime victims, particularly victims of sexual violence. For far too long, DNA rape kits were left sitting on shelves untested. Victims were denied justice because of bureaucracy and a lack of cooperation between state and local authorities. I co-sponsored a new law that became effective last spring, which requires Ohio to get rid of the backlog and puts safeguards in place to make sure new DNA kits are tested immediately. We also increased the statute of limitations for rape charges, so that predators cannot escape justice merely by the passage of time.  

These changes are leading to real-life results. Over the past five years, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has completed testing on more than 9,200 kits, resulting in roughly 3,400 hits in the state’s Combined DNA Index System. Prosecutors are finally able to go after these offenders and bring justice for the victims.   

In 2016, my colleagues and I remain focused on moving Ohio forward. I value your input, and I hope to hear any ideas that you may have about how to improve our great state. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions, concerns, or ideas about any issue facing Ohio. I can be reached by phone at 614-466-7505 or by email at Obhof@OhioSenate.gov. You may also reach me by mail at State Sen. Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.

 
 
 
  
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