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Government


Ohio lawmakers discuss the impact of women’s issues in the Statehouse
Democrats say women’s rights will be a key issue in this year's campaigns
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


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Andy Chow
 
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In The Region:
The top leaders of the General Assembly gathered in one room to talk about their agenda for the coming year. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow was there as the lawmakers discussed the issues they believe to be most pressing in Ohio.
Lawmakers discuss impact of women’s issues in the Statehouse

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Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder and Senate President Keith Faber joined minority leaders Tracy Heard and Joe Schiavoni during a forum hosted by the Associated Press.

Last week, the statewide Democratic candidates announced they will make women’s rights a key platform in their campaigns. The legislators were asked about the role the General Assembly has played in crafting bills on issues such as abortion. Schiavoni thinks the issue has drawn too much attention and believes lawmakers should back off of the issue.

“They’re very divisive issues, they’re very difficult issues. And I don’t think we should be down here trying to tell a woman what she can or cannot do and we really spend an incredible amount of time on this.”

Faber disagreed on several counts.

“I just flat out disagree with Senator Schiavoni on the fact that we spend a lot of time on this issue. We don’t. It gets a lot of media attention, but we have passed a whole lot of legislation and the number of issues we’ve dealt with on the one that gets everyone’s attention—abortion issues—are relatively small.”

Schiavoni interjects: “We put it in the budget.”

Responded Faber: “Yeah, but the budget was 4,000 pages.”

Faber goes on to add that the number one focus has always been job creation. Speaker Batchelder echoed Faber’s comments.

“These issues have not actually received the devoted time that medications, ObamaCare, I could go down a long list of things that took more legislative time than the bills that involve abortion.”

Divisiveness
Leader Heard believes the bills dealing with reproductive issues demonstrate a larger problem than time in the Statehouse. The General Assembly, she says, spends too much time on polarizing issues that continue to drive the parties apart instead of bringing them together.

“In terms of voter suppression issues when voter fraud is not an indicator. Women’s health issues for sure—addressing subjects that have already, at least we thought, have been resolved. Gun issues—certainly divisive. And bringing up concerns that are trying to find solutions to problems that do not exist.”

And then there are jobs
The talking points from both parties then transitioned into job creation.

The leaders shared different statistics that painted two pictures of the economy in Ohio, the Democrats illustrated a state that needs to go in a different direction while the Republicans said employment continues to grow under Gov. John Kasich’s leadership. This could be an accurate sample of what’s to come as we move closer to the gubernatorial race.
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