WOOSTER -- State Sen. Larry Obhof Jr. readily admits he is not an exciting or flashy kind of guy.
When Obhof, a Montville Township Republican who represents the 22nd District, was appointed to the Ohio Senate, he received some helpful advice during his first week. He was told how everyone always tried to hit a home run every single time. Obhof has made it a mission to get a lot of "singles and doubles," because they will "score runs."
As he reflected on some of his legislative accomplishments for the past year, Obhof introduced seven bills, six passed the Senate and the remaining one passed out of committee.
A lot of what the senator has done has been to streamline government and make it more efficient.
For example, one of his bills was related to tax law. Every two years, the state has to conform with the federal tax law so taxpayers do not have to file completely different numbers for state and federal governments.
A couple of bills dealt corporate regulations.
"I do a lot of boring things, ... but we are trying to look at corporate law in other states and see what is working and what is not," said Obhof, whose district includes all of Medina and Ashland counties, and parts of Holmes and Richland counties.
He worked on an election bill that was targeted toward updating and modernizing the election system. Part of the bill was to delete outdated references to things that no longer existed in the state, like punch card machines. Because they are no longer used, "We don't need a thousand references to them in the code."
The most important part of the bill, though, requires a system for standardizing rules for an electronic poll book. These books can provide poll workers with real-time information and make for a better experience for the voter.
Right now, if a voter enters the wrong precinct, workers do not have the information on hand to direct them to the right precinct. They could vote provisionally and then hope the ballot is qualified. With an electronic poll book, workers should be able to see where the voter is registered and provide the proper precinct, Obhof said. "There's a lot of opportunity to use technology and improve experience for the voter."
The most interesting thing Obhof worked on was Senate Bill 141, which is designed to help law enforcement officials crack down on money laundering at casinos in the state.
Representatives of the Ohio Casino Control Commission approached state Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) and Obhof about introducing a bill to deal with the issue.
A drug dealer can take money to be laundered to a casino, get chips, play one or two hands of cards and then cash out, receiving clean money and a receipt showing it is clean money, Obhof said. Money launderers can get around being caught by recruiting help and dispensing money to each that fails to reach the $10,000 reporting limit at the casinos.
The bill would make it a separate crime to intentionally avoid reporting limits.
In mid-December, the Associate Press reported 22 members of the Short North Posse, a Columbus-area gang, were charged with drug dealing, illegal weapons possession and money laundering. According to the indictments, two were accused of buying thousands of dollars of chips at the Hollywood Casino and then cashing out.
Though Obhof is not working on necessary "flashy" things, he took to heart some valuable advice he received his first week as a senator. He was told, "Too many people try to hit home runs all of the time. If you hit singles and doubles all of the time, you will score runs."
"That's the kind of approach I take to legislating," Obhof said. "I try to do smaller bills focused on specific topics that solve a real-life problem. Over the years, (it) will add up to a lot of positive change for the state."