By Nathan Pilling
XENIA TOWNSHIP — Drugs and taxes were the primary topics of emphasis for political leaders at the annual Greene County Legislative Breakfast Friday. At the event held at the Greene County Career Center, local politicians, business leaders and government officials heard from a representative from U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s (R-Ohio) office, as well as state Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London), state Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) and Greene County Commissioner Alan Anderson.
Perales noted that state lawmakers are working on a bill – House Bill 523 – that would legalize and regulate forms of medical marijuana in advance of two proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendments that could appear on the November ballot in Ohio.
Perales called the legislation a “preemptive move”: “We’re in a position right now where we know it’s gonna get passed in November. … This simply is a preemptive move to make sure that our constitution isn’t stolen and that we have a system in place that we can live with.”
The legislation will have “real strict guidelines on how you can use marijuana and how you can’t,” Perales said. “Some of the key factors are there will be no smoking, it will be locally grown, all the aspects that many of us conservatives feel like is where we get out of control is where we’re trying to really put some good controls in.”
Perales estimated that the bill would be on the governor’s desk in June or July.
Frank DeBrosse, a Turner representative, reported that the U.S. House of Representatives is working through a package of bills dealing with the heroin and opiate addiction epidemic, which he said “will get wrapped up before we head into the fall.”
Greene County Commissioner Alan Anderson spoke to the effects of heroin locally.
“The effects of it really fall on us folks here at the local level because we have to deal with it,” he said. “Federal, state can make the legislation and make it easier, but our folks have to work with it. Greene County is a great place to live, work and play. To do that … we need to have some kindness, we need to have hope, we need to have freedom for fear and I think those three things really fit in prevention of heroin abuse from the beginning.”
Hackett solely addressed higher unemployment taxes Ohio businesses are paying as part of the state borrowing more than $3 billion from the federal government to cover unemployment benefits during the recession.
Hackett said lawmakers are looking for ways to pay off the deficit before a Nov. 10 deadline that he said would bring another another increase in taxes for businesses.
“We gotta get rid of the deficit, but we also gotta make sure we build a surplus,” he said. “In theory in good times you build a surplus so that when bad times come you got a surplus. What happens if we run into another recession and we don’t have a surplus? It could be worse than it was last time.”
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.