TROY — State Sen. Bill Beagle and State Rep. Steve Huffman addressed the Miami County Chambers of Commerce at a Friday luncheon at the Concord Room in Troy and touched briefly on a number of priorities of the Ohio General Assembly.
Both Huffman and Beagle began by counting seats that Republicans won in the Ohio State Senate and House of Representatives, remarking on the continued Republican majority in the Ohio General Assembly going into next year.
Huffman, who will be taking Beagle’s seat in the Ohio Senate next year, spoke first, discussing issues including unemployment compensation. He said that the House committee seems to have “settled on” offering 21 weeks of unemployment compensation, down from the current 26 weeks. He also noted that at one point, nine weeks of compensation was mentioned.
“We need to fix that formula,” Huffman said.
The opioid epidemic is also a priority for the state, and Huffman said that they plan on trying “innovative things” that they have not done before, though he did not go into specifics.
Huffman also remarked on the Medicaid expansion, saying that legislators are working on adding work requirements.
Beagle, who hit a term limit after eight years in the Ohio Senate, will be a Miami County Commissioner next year. He spoke about the General Assembly’s plans for redistricting congressional districts, suggesting that there will be different districts by 2022.
Beagle added that there was a new school funding formula proposed in the state legislature. He also went on to say that reducing regulations for businesses is a goal and that workforce development continues to be a priority.
“Workforce development never goes away,” Beagle said.
In regard to criminal justice reform, Beagle said that the state legislature is looking at ways to get ahead any “new and improved” issues similar to state Issue One — which was in regard to criminal classifications for drug possession crimes and funding for rehabilitative programs — that may come before voters again in the future.
During the question-and-answer period at the end of the luncheon, audience member Dave Larson, who is superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center, asked if the state legislature will be tackling the issue of graduation requirements.
“Do either of you see any legislation coming forth in the lame duck session here with the graduation requirement debacle?” Larson asked. “We have got 30 percent of seniors here in Miami County right now who are not on track to graduate based on the current requirements.”
Huffman said that he did not think that the fix will come from the Senate or the House, but he said, “I believe that the new administration will quickly act upon that.” Huffman added that they would be relying on the advice of the state school board.
“We know that it needs to be fixed,” Huffman said.
Beagle asked if addressing the graduation requirements could wait until January, and Larson said that they could not.
“If it can’t wait, then I assume there’s things in the works,” Beagle said. “I haven’t heard anything yet.” Beagle added that the general assembly will reconvene next week.
“We’re aware that it’s a pressing problem,” Beagle said.
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