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Pork barrel tops guns on Ohio lawmakers’ to-do list
By Thomas Suddes
Posted Sep 29, 5:38 AM
Next year is an election year, so you’d think that bills to curb Ohio’s gun plague – bills that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, and countless other Ohioans, want the legislature to pass – would be atop 2020’s General Assembly agenda at the Statehouse.
You’d think wrong. All 99 Ohio House seats, and half the state Senate’s 33 seats, will be on 2020’s ballot. And the No. 1 priority for an election-year General Assembly (and for its legislators of both parties) is to pass a pork-barrel state construction (“capital improvements”) bill. Reason: The so-called “capital bill” seems to bring home some bacon for incumbent state legislators’ districts.
Nothing says “good public relations” in a General Assembly member’s district better than hometown ground-breakings and ribbon cuttings when the rest of Ohio is picking up the tab. And nothing says “clout” to the arts-and-music crowd in an Ohio legislator’s district – often among her or his campaign donors – like a new wing on Anytown’s museum.
Funding public schools? Hey, that’s complicated. But construction – the home folks can see that. Ever wonder why the General Assembly has spent oceans of money helping school districts build new schools, while legislators haven’t fixed school funding? Buildings are visible. Voters see them. But voters don’t see the heat and light bills school districts pay to operate those buildings.
The statewide tab for Ohio’s current capital improvements budget, which then-Gov. John Kasich signed on March 30, 2018, was $2.6 billion -- about $225 for every resident of Ohio. True, only a comparatively small slice of that $2.6 billion (about $150 million, or 5.7 percent) is paying for so-called “community projects” – museums, monuments, “the arts” and such.
As you’d expect, Ohio’s most populous counties got some of the biggest allocations for state-aided community projects. The 2018 capital bill financed community projects totaling $20.9 million for Cuyahoga County and $19.6 million for Franklin County.
No question, those appropriations cheered people who enjoy the civic amenities the 2018 bill helped. And those allotments implied to pertinent museum, orchestra and recreation boards, and their employees, that “Senator So-and-So” or “Representative Thus-and-Such” gets (visible) results. That’s the kind of PR a campaign manager can only dream of.
So, from now till midwinter – say, around the filing deadline for 2020’s primary – the legislature’s GOP kingpins will decide which incumbent legislators in their party’s respective caucuses need some good, back-home publicity.
If you see a line of legislators outside the door of Senate President Larry Obhof, of Medina, or House Speaker Larry Householder of Perry County’s Glenford, it won’t be people going to confession, even if some maybe should. The people in line will be General Assembly members with nifty-keen ideas about projects for their districts – projects the rest of Ohio would pay for.
Political hackery, Wood County-style
No sooner had U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, ordered a formal look-see at the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump than Rep. Bob Latta, a Bowling Green Republican, spoke his piece about the House’s inquiry.
Latta’s heavily agricultural 5th Congressional District is in northwest Ohio. The district gave almost 60 percent of its 2016 vote to Trump. (Meanwhile, Latta’s home county, Wood, gave the president 50.1 percent of its vote, to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent.)
And although Trump’s trade “war” with China is squeezing U.S. farmers, the Trump administration is bailing out farmers – lavishly: “At $28 billion so far, the farm rescue is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, which cost taxpayers $12 billion,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported Sept. 19.
“The American people elected President Trump, and they deserve better than partisan hackery at its worst,” Latta said when Pelosi cleared the way for the impeachment inquiry
In fairness, Latta should know partisan hackery when he sees it. In July 1974, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Richard M. Nixon; Nixon resigned the following month. Seven of the committee’s Republicans voted for one or more of the articles of impeachment. But among committee members voting “no” on all three articles was then-Rep. Delbert L. Latta (1920-2016), Bob Latta’s father.
Up Bowling Green way, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Thomas Suddes, a member of the editorial board, writes from Athens.
Penalizing law-abiding gun owners will do nothing to convert criminals into model citizens. It never has, and never will.
All this "commonsense" nonsense is just that, nonsense - NOT common sense. Common sense tells us that criminals a) do not obey the law, b) get their firearms via unlawful means, c) laugh at gun regulations because they are the first offense to be dumped in any plea-bargain, and d) unconstitutionally burden those for whom no such law is necessary.
Get your head on straight, Cleveland. Mike DeWine is trying to feed the alligator hoping that it will eat him last. Don't be fooled by the "commonsense" meme - it is total, utter BS.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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