Editor’s note: This is the second story covering the Legislative Breakfast.
BEAVERCREEK — State legislators representing Greene County have varying viewpoints on reopening the economy during the coronavirus.
A virtual Greene County Chamber of Commerce Annual Legislative Breakfast gave them the opportunity to speak directly to constituents on the matter May 1.
State Sen. Bob Hackett (R) — as a “businessman senator” — sees both sides of the issue.
“Normally as a businessman I’d be chomping at the bit to get back working full time, and as an investment advisor I’m really worried about the economy and how long it will take us to recover. But age wise, I’m in a group that must be careful, plus I have a medical condition that puts me in a slightly higher risk,” Hackett said. “I’ve had so many calls from constituents and clients pushing hard to get Ohio reopened for business, but I’ve had a lot of calls asking that we remain sheltered at home until the virus can be contained.”
Hackett said one issue that always comes up in conversation is that the rural areas don’t seem to be hit as hard as the cities.
“Why are the rules going to be the same throughout the state? We understand that you have to have consistency, and if you have rules different people will slip into other counties to be able to operate and the end result would be the spread of the virus, and we don’t want that,” he explained. “The rural counties, towns and villages have been much more affected by the cure than the virus, but this can change over night. We have to be careful.”
More people have been killed by the virus than were killed in the Vietnam war, Hackett reminded listeners. He commended the governor’s efforts, and urged residents to continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash their hands and surfaces.
Closing, he made a plea for federal legislators to provide more help to local and state governments — but he also pinpointed what he will be doing in the coming weeks to help local businesses when they reopen.
“I am working to help local businesses who are allowed to reopen … we need to have legislation in place to protect the business community because the lawsuits are going to come out of the woodwork on this situation,” he said. “We must find a way to open Ohio for business but at the same time protect the citizens of Ohio.”
Rep. Bill Dean (R), in less than 30 seconds, took a different approach to the topic.
“This is all perpetrated by the Democrats to get Trump out of office, and some of the Republicans also,” he said. “It’s just a farce. It’s just all BS. We need to eliminate all the rules and let the private sector do what they do best and get back to work. And it’s been perpetrated by a bunch of snowflakes that are running our country.”
Rep. Rick Perales (R) made his opinion known by signing the Open Ohio Responsibly Framework letter. He’s pushing to move more quickly, but “not recklessly.”
“Basically it’s asking, encouraging the governor to open up responsibly, open up safely, but let’s get the economy going. There’s always that balance of safety versus the economy; we feel like we’re at that point where we can trust others to do the right thing to some extent,” Perales said of the letter. “We have to trust them; we can’t dictate everything. I think that we (the House) are thinking that there are a lot of negative effects of this that we aren’t quantifying that’s out there versus how many lives we save.”
Perales also highlighted two pieces of legislation aimed to help those in the military. The first has already been signed into law, which allows military members and their spouses to transfer their occupational licenses to Ohio.
“The other one was K-12 education. I’ve got a bill ready and going to run through the House where we’re giving vouchers for military dependents to take care of that,” he said.
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