Medical Pot Advocate Speaks, And Bill That Cuts Jobless Benefits Sparks Controversy

Sen. Chris Widener, the President Pro Tem of the Senate and a key leader in the Republican caucus, is leaving office early. Two state Senators with very different views on medical marijuana say they’re launching what they’re calling a listening tour to find out what Ohioans think. And some activists who’ve worked on the medical marijuana issue for years, and some say they are disappointed to have been shut out of a House task force on medicinal pot. Mary Jane Borden with the Ohio Rights Group shares her thoughts on the task force and the legislation she hopes to see.

Hearings continue on a bill that would change unemployment checks for jobless Ohio workers, and would change the amount employers pay into the fund that backs those benefits. The bill would cut the length of time workers can get jobless benefits, deduct some Social Security payments from benefits and raise the wage base, which determines what employers pay in unemployment taxes.Overall, it’s estimated that the bill would cut taxes for employers by an average of $313 million a year - and at the same time it would cuts benefits to workers by $475 million a year. The bill is intended to shore up the state’s unemployment compensation fund, which went broke paying out benefits during the Great Recession. But advocates for low-income Ohioans are blasting the bill as hitting workers too hard while giving big breaks to employers. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt runs the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Mark Davis with the Ohio Provider Resource Association are with Advocates for Ohio’s Future.

There are many questions about the measure. Sharing her thoughts on the bill is its sponsor, northwest Ohio Republican Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclava Township).

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