The effectiveness of a legislator can depend on a point of view, most notably a political affiliation.
Some see the amount of legislation introduced and enacted as a sign of being productive. The 112th Congress is often criticized as one of the most unproductive Congress since the late 1940s. This Congress is led in the House of Representatives by Speaker of the House John Boehner, the West Chester Twp. Republican who’s represented the 8th Ohio Congressional District since 1991.
While some within his party see Boehner as an effective leader, standing up for Republican principles, many on the left side of the aisle view him as ineffective. Miami County Democratic Party chairman Dave Fisher says Boehner has let the district down by not bringing taxpayer dollars back home.
“He’s been one who’s never done anything with earmarks. I could be critical of that, but he’s said that he would not ask for earmarks and he’s been true to form. But not all earmarks are bad,” Fisher said. “There are some good projects out there that bringing a little bit of the bacon back to the district is good.”
Lynda Smith, chairwoman of the Clark County GOP, said Boehner “is doing an excellent job” and his effectiveness was on display when he voted for the bill that ended the partial government shutdown last month when many of his fellow Ohio Republicans did not.
“He is the speaker of the house and he had said all along that we couldn’t shutdown the government, and I go with what he said,” said Smith who has faith in Boehner’s judgment. “I just think his leadership skills, and his ability to bring people together. He knows what can get done before we can control both houses and what we can’t get done.”
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, the Speaker returned to Tipp City to visit Repacorp Inc. He had been in the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton a month prior, on Oct. 24, for a private meeting with invited members of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce before touring FinPan Inc. In February, Boehner met with officials at Cincinnati State Middletown before meeting with company executives and employees at Vinylmax in Hamilton.
“In addition to his personal time at home, John has interactions with his constituents every day — whether it be in person, by telephone, on social media or by mail,” said Boehner spokeswoman Brittany Bramell. “He considers hearing the opinions, suggestions, and concerns of the American people the most important role he plays as a representative and as Speaker of the House.”
Boehner has frequently said he’s “a regular guy with a big job.”
Effectiveness in the Statehouse
Since the 130th General Assembly took office earlier this year, The Journal-News evaluated how the state’s senators and representatives have performed, specifically those representing Butler County.
The newspaper’s analysis showed that more than 630 bills — 254 in the Senate and 378 in the House — have been introduced this year with 46 being signed by the governor. This does not include hundreds of resolutions in the Senate and House.
Some representatives and senators have introduced a double-digit number of bills, and some have introduced very few, if any at all.
Of the introduced bills, 24 have been sponsored by legislators that represent some portion of Butler County, with five of those bills being passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and four being signed into law by Gov. John Kasich.
Reps. Peter Beck, R-Mason, and Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., haven’t introduced many bills during this general assembly. Beck had introduced one and Conditt has yet to introduce one this year. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have influence in representing their districts, they both said.
“A lot of those legislators that do not introduce legislation are very effective,” said Beck. “They meet with their constituency, they are attentive on those committee hearings and they make suggestions on amendments and weighing in on the legislation. Their effectiveness may not be seen with their name on a bill, but they are involved in the legislation itself.”
Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., who previously served as state representative until 2011, said a legislator’s job “is to make sure that important legislation for the district is enacted and passed into law. That is vastly done with existing legislation and adjusting existing legislation than with stand alone bills.”
“The rubber meets the road in communicating with the powers that be to make sure that the important stuff is included and is passed into law,” Coley said. That isn’t always in the committee process, he said. It can be phone calls to legislators or passing in the halls and asking certain things are included, not included or modified to benefit their district.
Conditt said she looks for “common sense solutions” to problems that are more administrative than through the legislative process.
“I kind of think there should be fewer laws than more laws, and if there’s a problem we can fix it quicker with a phone call,” said Conditt. “I believe in the philosophy of small government and that often new rules create more red-tape for Ohio citizens. It is not about the quantity of legislation but the quality and I would rather repeal laws that restrict the growth of a free society than contribute to big government by introducing more legislation.”
Freshman Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, has introduced eight House Bills in his first 11½ months in office, seven of those as a joint sponsor and one being signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (HB 98 which assists Ohio’s newest generation of veterans in finding jobs upon returning home from deployment). A second bill is on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature (HB 311 clarifies the effective date of an income tax deduction, extends the availability of a corporation franchise tax credit, clarifies the homestead exemption without income limits continues to receive that exemption).
House representatives are limited on time, being elected every two years, and “you don’t want to spend your time doing too much where you’re not getting anything else done,” he said.
Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Hanover Twp., said the measure of effectiveness is how responsive elected officials are with their constituency.
“When you pay attention and you are engaged with your consistency, and listen to concerns to people back home, that is what drives legislation,” he said. “You just got to pay attention, you just got to listen.”
By Michael D. Pitman - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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