(Columbus) - New and veteran state lawmakers took their seats in Ohio's 130th General Assembly on Monday at the Statehouse.
Passing a state spending blueprint for state programs over the two years beginning July 1 will be lawmakers' main focus for the first half of the year.
"The governor wants to get a lot done in the area of primary and secondary education. We want to get a lot done in the area of taxation," said House Speaker Bill Batchelder.
The Speaker knows getting Ohioans back to work is a top priority. It's the same for the leader of the House Democrats.
"We still have not enough people working," said House Minority Leader Armond Budish. "Education is a problem."
Budish also wants to see cuts to funding for local governments and education restored.
It's a similar story in the Ohio Senate where Keith Faber takes over as Senate President. He says they'll focus on helping not only out-of-work Ohioans, but those who are under-employed as well.
"Those folks who in that job where need that next extra step. Those folks that can't take off from their current job because they can't afford it to get the training for that next better job," Faber said.
He says points out Ohio's unemployment rate continues to be lower than the national average, but he thinks Ohio can do better.
Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney also knows what the top issue is.
"Jobs. Jobs. That's the number one issue, jobs," he said.
He also says they want to work on supporting local governments and education funding.
Other bills that failed to clear the lame duck session may also resurface during the session, which spans two years.
Among them is a proposal to impose the most stringent abortion limit in the nation, prohibiting the procedure in most cases after the first fetal heartbeat. Another closely wanted bill that failed to pass by the end of the last session proposed new regulations on storefront gambling-style operations known as internet cafes.
Batchelder notes those issues passed the House, but failed to get traction in the Senate. He says the won't likely come back up without some idea of what their fate may be in the other chamber. Faber says while he doesn't support all of the legislation that didn't make it to the floor last session, he'll bring anything up as long as Senators want to introduce it.
“If the Senators want to have hearings and they want to have a vote on those issues, we’ll have a vote on those issues,” he said.
Republicans again control the majority in both the Ohio House and Senate.
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