When you say you are going to do something, you ought to do it. We expect people to keep their promises. I believe that's especially true of our elected officials. The people of Ohio expect – and deserve – representatives who keep their word.
As your State Senator, I am proud to say that we are keeping our commitments to Ohioans. Back in January the Senate announced our legislative priorities for this two-year cycle and unveiled our priority legislation – the first ten bills introduced in the Senate. These bills covered a range of issues important to Ohioans, including, among others:
- 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 half of 2017, the Ohio Senate passed all ten of these priority bills. We said we were going to do these things for the people of Ohio, then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The Governor has now signed six of those bills into law and the House of Representatives is now considering the rest.
In addition to our priority legislation, one of the most significant bills in any two-year cycle is the Biennial Operating Budget. 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 put our heads together, 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.
Importantly, 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 renewed the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday for 2018 and provided much-needed relief to Ohio’s farmers by making long-overdue changes to the state’s formula for valuing agricultural land.
I am also proud to announce the Senate's passage of my legislation, Senate Bill 145, which will end the gruesome practice of dismemberment abortion in our state. This legislation would make it a fourth degree felony to perform this type of abortion, which occurs when a living, unborn child is cut and extracted from the womb, piece by piece. As a pro-life Republican, I strongly believe that we have a duty to advocate for those who do not have a voice and protect our most vulnerable from these inhumane procedures.
Indeed, I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have been able to accomplish during the first half of the year. However, we know 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 and bettering the lives of all Ohioans.
As a component of this, we strive 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 We 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 Wilson@ohiosenate.gov or by calling me at (614) 466-9737.