In January of this year, I stood with my fellow Senators as we announced our legislative priorities for this two-year cycle. As we unveiled our priority legislation, the first ten bills introduced in the Senate, we made a commitment to you to make our State a better place. These bills covered a range of issues important to Ohioans, including:

  • Increasing penalties for drug traffickers who sell deadly fentanyl;
  • Protecting our environment and Ohio’s water quality;
  • Improving workforce development efforts;
  • Investing in infrastructure in our local communities;
  • Assisting school districts in improving their technology, infrastructure, and school safety and security; and
  • Streamlining government and lowering Ohioans’ tax burdens.

In the first six months of 2017, the Ohio Senate passed all ten of those priority bills. I believed in our priorities and am proud to say that we came through on the commitments we made. The Governor has now signed six of those bills into law, either as stand-alone legislation or as part of the state’s biennial budget. The House of Representatives is currently considering the rest.

In addition to our priority legislation, the two most significant bills in any two-year cycle are the Transportation Budget and the Biennial Operating Budget. Each is now complete, and each will improve Ohio’s economy, while making investments in key areas of importance to Ohioans.

The Transportation Budget invests in infrastructure throughout the state of Ohio, providing the resources to build and maintain our roads and bridges. It also provides important assistance to local governments by renewing the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program. This requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to partner with local governments (generally the County Engineer) to repair local bridges, directing resources back into our communities and ensuring that our bridges are safe. The bill also scales back red tape and regulation to improve Ohio’s economy. This includes reducing registration fees for high-volume commercial vehicle fleets, to encourage businesses to move their fleets to Ohio and create jobs in our state’s trucking industry.

Perhaps most importantly, in June, the Senate passed a biennial operating budget that is balanced, conservative and fiscally responsible. The budget process was not without challenges. With state revenues missing estimates, the House and the Senate faced a budget gap of nearly $1.1 billion. But once again, we did what our constituents expect of us: we rolled up our sleeves, made some tough decisions and closed the gap. And despite making some substantial spending cuts, we invested more than $200 million of additional state funding into our local schools and made historic new investments into the fight against opioid abuse.

The budget bill also provides tax relief to the hard working men and women of our state. We eliminated Ohio’s two lowest income tax brackets, providing tax relief to those who need it most. We also doubled the amount that you can save tax-free for your child’s college education and renewed the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday for 2018. We also provided much-needed relief to Ohio’s farmers by making long-overdue changes to the state’s formula for valuing agricultural land.

The Senate’s success is not measured by how many bills we pass, it is measured by whether or not we are improving opportunities for the people we represent. We have also strived to make the legislative process more accessible. This year we expanded television coverage of the Senate’s work to include several key committees and made those proceedings available on OhioSenate.gov, on the Ohio Channel online (OhioChannel.org) and on local public access broadcast stations. The Senate works for you, for The People, and we wanted to bring the inner workings of the legislature to Ohioans everywhere, accessible from your homes or on the go via your smartphones.

Looking ahead, we will continue to make your priorities our priorities. I welcome your feedback and opinions at any time. You can reach me at Peterson@ohiosenate.gov or by calling my office at (614) 466-8156.

 
 
 
  
Featured Posts

Peterson Announces Unanimous Senate Passage Of Bill To Address Dating Violence

 

COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House), co-sponsor of House Bill 1, today announced the unanimous Senate passage of legislation aimed at enhancing protections for individuals who are victims of violence and abuse when they are in a dating relationship with the offender.



 
 

Peterson Applauds Passage Of Historic Congressional Redistricting Reform Plan

 

COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) announced that this week the Ohio Senate unanimously passed a plan to reform the process for drawing Ohio’s congressional districts. With a strong bipartisan vote in the Ohio House today, Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 5  will now go before Ohio voters on the May ballot. The passage of Sub SJR 5 follows weeks of negotiations between the leadership of both parties in the General Assembly and various redistricting reform coalitions.



 
 

Remembering Accomplishments In 2017 And Setting New Goals For 2018

 

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.



 
 

PHOTO: Peterson Announces Grand Opening Of New Vinton County Supermarket

 

COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) joined State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and area leaders for the grand opening of Vinton County's new supermarket, Campbell's Market.