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Ohio House speaker urges OFBF members to keep talking with legislators

Published Mar. 23, 2011 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, l, and OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher.

Buckeye Farm News

Calling the Ohio House of Representatives the “people’s house,” House Speaker William Batchelder said he would like hearings to be more accessible to the general public.

“The House should be a very open process. When I first came here, there was a lot of openness in the system. It was not uncommon to move hearings from day to night so citizens across the state could come down and participate. I think it’s changed and that’s unfortunate,” he said. “We have to have a much more open process.”

Batchelder speaks from experience. He served 30 years in the House before leaving because of term limits. In 2007, he returned to the House. He has been a judge for the Medina County Common Pleas Court and a judge on the Ninth District Court of Appeals.

Saying the Ohio House is a “participatory house,” he urged Farm Bureau members to talk to their representatives about the issues that impact them the most. He praised Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) for having a grassroots policy development process.

“I think it’s key for your members to communicate directly with legislators. I always enjoyed the small groups and being invited into somebody’s home. Congratulations because that’s not the way most groups reach out to people,” Batchelder said during a recent Town Hall Ohio show.

During most of the radio talk show, the House speaker talked about Ohio’s challenges, focusing mainly on how the state will balance the budget, which is projected to have an $8 billion deficit. He called for simplifying government and bureaucracy and cutting out items that he called “antiques.”

“Certain groups have had some things in the budget and it becomes a given. Maybe it shouldn’t be,” he said. “We have 48 different labor training plans. That can’t be necessary.”

Batchelder said he is a strong believer in the value of maintaining the local government structure.

“That’s where people can get to programs and decide what they want to do and what they don’t want to do,” he said. “I’m very concerned about (proposed changes in) township governments, which is the cheapest government we have and the most responsive.”

Speaking directly about agriculture, Batchelder said he would like to move up the priority of the college of agriculture at Ohio State University, saying it was “one of the greatest ones in the world.” He said while he supports elimination of the estate tax, that it will have to take a backseat to the budget woes. He also said many people don’t understand how farm animals are cared for and that they are not raised as pets.

The House speaker praised Gov. John Kasich for his creation of JobsOhio, a public-private nonprofit organization that seeks to attract jobs to Ohio. He brushed aside criticism of the initiative, saying it would have adequate transparency. He also praised Kasich, comparing him to late Gov. Jim Rhodes and said Kasich was committed to having a job for every Ohioan.

“This governor is cut from the same cloth (as Rhodes),” he said.


Listen to the Town Hall Ohio interview with Batchelder


Photo by Chip Nelson

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