SIDNEY — The city of Sidney hosted the Biennial Legislative Breakfast at the Sidney Fire Department’s Nancy Adams Training Center Thursday morning, where local community leaders, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio 4th District, and Ohio Senate President Keith Faber discussed pertinent issues.
After a brief opening by Mayor Mike Barhorst, Jordan was introduced and led the forum.
“If the whole world was like Shelby County, we would be just fine. You have something really special here,” Jordan said.
He began with two points he recently heard in a speech by Democrat strategist Pat Caddell: “If government continues on the current path, we may still have a United States, but we won’t have America;” and the numbers 70/60/80 — meaning, 70 percent of Americans think the country is in decline, 60 percent think they are better off than their parents but their children will be worse than they are, and 80 percent feel that Washington is “completely rigged against everyday working folks.”
“The reason 80 percent think that Washington is rigged against them, is because it is … ‘Our job is to remember them and fight for them’ and that’s what we try to do,” said Jordan, quoting the mission statement of a group he and others formed in congress over concern about Americans who think Washington is not for the average citizen.
Jordan listed changes he believes are necessary in Washington for economic growth:
• Remember the rule of law in the constitution. Jordan feels the current administration has overstepped its authority and doesn’t respect the separate and coequal rights of government.
• It is time to tell the American people the truth, especially concerning the national fiscal situation. The nation needs to change how it “funds and where it spends money,” he said.
• Focus our policies on “incentivizing work.” Jobs are out there, but business owners are struggling to find employees. Motivate “able-bodied adults” to get out of the “rut” they may be in through receiving some type of assistance. If an individual is able-bodied and “getting help from the taxpayer, there is going to be a work requirement,” which is the basis of a bill Jordan introduced last week.
Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst asked Jordan, “How do you change folks’ mindset on that debt problem?”
Jordan said often things do not change until the market changes which encourages mindset changes, but also “it would help if political leaders would stand up and say, ‘We have had record low interest rates for a long time. They have to go up at some point.’”
Jordan says high spending cannot continue at the current rate, especially with the a poor growth rate.
Faber addressed the medical marijuana, constitutional amendment bill saying the senate did not agree to a deal to put it on the next ballot.
“I don’t think we will have medical marijuana in the Ohio Constitution (in the future), which is a good thing,” said Faber.
Two of the main points of contention brought by “the marijuana people” were wanting “smokeables and grow your own,” which Faber said is not medical marijuana. “It’s pseudo recreational marijuana,” he said.
“Ultimately, I thought we had too many conditions allowed and not enough of protections in with medical marijuana. I’ve said this publicly: if it were about kids with epilepsy or grandma with cancer, I don’t think there would be any opposition at all. I would probably have voted for it. But that’s not what this is,” Faber said.
He also discussed impending concern about the next budget. In 2010, Ohio started charging a sales tax on Medicaid and managed care plans’ services, and a number of years ago the federal government told Ohio to stop charging the tax by the start of the next, upcoming budget. The tax generates $1.5 billion.
Faber then talked briefly about an issue concerning a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow midterm salary adjustments for government employees and elected officials. Because Congress, Faber said, “couldn’t get it all done, and done right” in time for this November’s election, the target date to put it on the ballot is November 2017.
Finally, Faber introduced the budding Young Entrepreneurs program which is a “Shark Tank” style initiative that he is excited to roll out starting at Youngstown State University. The program is not a legislative subject, but he said it will “get our kids to start thinking about entrepreneur endeavors.”
Barhorst said Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, 85th District, was also invited to the breakfast, but had not responded to the invitation.
The meeting closed with Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff announcing the celebration of Sidney City Council’s 60th anniversary this year, and then going over some upcoming projects in, he said, “an attempt to make Sidney great again.” They include:
• The wastewater treatment plant expansion which is 36 percent complete and will be operational by next spring.
• The water source project which is about 38 percent complete and also should be operational by next spring.
• Street repair, which is in the curb and gutter replacement stage prior to road repairs happening this summer.
• Michigan Street bridge repair, that should be finished by the end of July.
• The installation of two traffic signals: one is at Vandemark Road and Industrial Drive, and the other will be at Fair Road and the I-75 off ramp.
The next legislative breakfast will be in 2018.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.