Majority Whip Visits, Makes Legislative Forecast
Article from The Mansfield News Journal
February 04, 2014
[ Larry Obhof Home | Larry Obhof Press ]

MANSFIELD — Ohio Senate Majority Whip Larry Obhof told Richland County Republicans the state legislature is likely to react to the heroin abuse epidemic by supporting a preventive campaign similar to the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign of the 1980s.

The Ohio General Assembly earlier responded to problems with prescription drug abuse by putting tighter controls on dispensing pain pills, the Republican from Medina said. Now, many people originally hooked on drugs they got from a doctor’s office have switched to heroin, because of its availability on the streets and low cost.

“It’s a game of whack-a-mole. If you try to get rid of one thing while ignoring the other, you’re not going to get very far,” the State Senate majority whip said Monday.

Addiction “is something that’s very complex. Just enforcement isn’t enough. We need a multi-pronged approach. We need to get to people before they start using these substances,” he told the Richland County Republican party at its monthly luncheon.

Obhof shared his ideas Monday on issues the state legislature may well tackle this spring.

That included legislation to slow down human trafficking, and a budget correction bill.

The General Assembly may well discuss further income tax cuts, Obhof said. Ohio was third or fourth highest in income taxes six or seven years ago. “We’re now about 25th. I’d like us to be in the 40 (rankings) somewhere,” he told local Republicans.

The majority whip said he will continue to work on plans to make Ohio as attractive to newly forming companies looking to incorporate as Delaware, Texas and Nevada have been. He advocates “looking at what those states are doing and doing it here. Let’s steal the ideas that are worth stealing,” he said.

Obhof represents Medina, Ashland, Richland and part of Holmes counties in the 22nd District. State Senate district boundaries were reshaped by the redistricting that followed the 2010 census.

While the 22nd District is large, Obhof said, it includes several good-sized cities that can easily be accessed from U.S. 71 — making it “a little easier to get around in.” Obhof told local party members he tries to spend two to three days per week in Richland County.

The state senator’s term won’t expire until 2016.

He gave a plug to state Rep. Mark Romanchuk, R-Mansfield, who faces a campaign for a second two-year term this year. Obhof said Romanchuk stuck by his guns in a tough early 94-1 vote on a tax bill that put the new state representative in a minority of one. Romanchuk explained to him why he couldn’t stomach amendments inserted into the bill, Obhof said. “About two weeks later, the House realized they shouldn’t have made the amendments,” and passed further legislation reversing the error, he added. “He (Romanchuk) was right,” he said.

Obhof praised Richland County for being one of about 10 counties to have adopted electronic pollbooks — devices that allow pollworkers to immediately check addresses for voters confused about the location of their precinct on Election Day.

“Ohio has one of the highest rates in the country for provision ballots.” Electronic pollbooks help keep errors down and votes counted, for people who initially go to the wrong place. “If you go there (to the correct precinct) you can cast your normal ballot. It won’t get thrown out,” he said.

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