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Government and Politics

New senate president says he’ll change the way committees are structured
Keith Faber says he wants to utilize the talent and experience of both sides of the senate 

Jo Ingles

The incoming president of the Ohio Senate says he’s changing things up a bit. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Senate President Elect Keith Faber explains he’s restructuring the senate’s standing committees.

Faber on committee structures

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“What we are trying to do is to use the wealth of talent and experience on both sides of the aisle. Our incoming new members on the senate side have a great deal of experience and we want to make sure we can maximize that to deal with the complex, complicated issues that are facing Ohio.”

“Tell me what kind of issues you intend to deal with in this general assembly and how you are structuring this to deal with those.”

“Well our number one issue is going to continue to be jobs and economic development. And for that reason, we have created a new workforce and economic development committee. The other thing we know is this Governor, Governor Kasich, has decided that we are going to continue an aggressive agenda….looking at things that matter to include Ohio. And we think that’s going to include a new school funding formula, a new higher education formula, tax reform and continuing Medicaid reform. For that reason, we are splitting out our budget committee into 3 subcommittees. I think the house has five. We will have three.”

“Are you working with Governor Kasich on that?”

“Well the Governor is working on his proposal and we have not seen detail on them other than to know they are coming. So anticipate that we are going to be expected and required to put the full senate experience on those issues and so for that reason, we are doing something unusual on our subcommittee. We are going to add membership to them that are not able to be on the regular senate finance committee. The senate finance hearing room is only so big. And so instead of having 9 members on those subcommittees, we are basically going to use the senate as a whole and give them the opportunity to serve on those different committees.”

“So what difference is this going to make to the ordinary Ohioan who is looking in? Is it going to make you more responsive or what?”

“Yes, it is going to make us able to deal with more complicated complex issues in a more streamlined fashion. The reality is in the previous committee structure, most of these committees had the ability to deal with these types of jurisdictional issues. But by putting the specialization and the skills directly in this way, we are going to be able to include more members in the discussion making process. And so that’s going to allow members and their constituents to have more direct impact on the committee process.”

“One of the complaints we’ve heard in the past is that there isn’t enough committee consideration of bills and that sometimes it’s completely thrown by the wayside and that bills don’t get committee consideration at all. Are you trying to avoid those situations?”

“We are certainly trying to avoid that situation by making sure we have the ability. One of the problems you have in our organization which has relatively few members is that sometimes senators are on too many committees that meet at the same time. So we anticipate that the committees will use an A-B-C committee schedule so they are not expected to meet every week. They are expected to meet when something is before them that is drawing the precedence of the committee. But from that perspective, we think that allows members to be in their seats doing committee work instead of having to be in 3 places at the same time. At least less time they will have to be in 3 places at the same time. But we do anticipate that this certainly ought to enhance the ability for the public to give comment on things as they proceed through the senate.”

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