Historic Speaker Vote in the House; Getting Prepped for the 'Silver Tsunami'

The 131st General Assembly is getting set up this month – first, with the vote among House Republicans for their House Speaker. And this time the pick was historic – Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville in southwest Ohio, who will be the first Asian American Speaker of the Ohio House, and, at 33 years old, the youngest speaker in recent history. But some conservative lawmakers supported Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), and Tea Party activists outside the Statehouse were infuriated, including Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party.

House Democrats are expected to hold their leadership vote next week, as the lame duck session continues. Outgoing Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) expects lawmakers to discuss bills on dealing with redistricting, toxic algae blooms and execution drugs, regulations on telephone companies and credit unions, and bills on education. In the Senate, President Keith Faber says he expects action on a municipal tax changes bill, and also measures on traffic cameras, gun regulations, local government funding and education - along with Medicaid expansion

There’s lots of speculation about who might replace Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern, whose resignation takes effect next month. David Pepper waged an uphill battle against Attorney General Mike DeWine, and says he wasn’t thinking about being ODP chair last week, but he is now. And Pepper says he’s been talking Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, who ran for Secretary of State, about a partnership in the top offices of the ODP. Turner confirms that she and Pepper developed a close relationship during the campaign and that they’ve talked about this, but says of her interest in the party chairmanship that she’s not – in her words – going to lock myself into any position”. Another possible candidate for the chairmanship is Janet Carson, chair of the Geauga County Democratic Party and the president of the 88 Democratic Party chairs.

Meanwhile, Redfern is named in a lawsuit against the Ohio Democratic Party by a Democratic state lawmaker. Rep. John Barnes, Jr. (D-Cleveland), who is African American, claims he was defamed and faced retribution for calling out institutional racism that goes back several years.

By 2030, the population of people over 65 will nearly double to 70 million, and one in four Americans will be over 50 that year. And five years later, in 2035, half of Ohio’s population will either be people over 65 or children – and those folks don’t earn much money or pay much in taxes, but do tend to use government services. The coming “silver tsunami”, as some have called it, inspired one of the state’s leading social services and public policy research groups to look into its impact on the state budget and spending. The result is this report from the Center for Community Solutions, which says that by 2035, the greying of Ohio will likely mean a nearly $1.2 billion decline in annual state income tax revenue coupled with increases in Medicaid spending that will add up to nearly $680 million annually. Here to talk about those huge numbers and what can be done about them are two of the report authors – Jon Honeck from the Center for Community Solutions and Bill LaFayette, an economist who’s also the founder of Regionomics, which analyzes local economies.

Next week, more on this topic, featuring a different view of older Ohioans and the economy from the AARP.

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