Responses to CCPC's endorsement application questionnaire from:
Kent Smith, candidate for Ohio House District 8
Political Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Current elected office: State representative for District 8
As someone who has completed the course work for a PhD in Economic Development, I feel like this is one of my stronger policy areas. I have been the lead sponsor of legislation to raise Ohio's minimum wage in both the prior General Assmbly and the currect General Assembly. The current bill is HB 86. I have also been a loud critic of Ohio's failure in higher education support and public transportation. Briefly on those points, I serve on the Higher Education Committee for the Ohio House Democrats. Most of what we deal with is "policy" in its nature whereas the biggest failure of our policies is the lack of funding we provide higher education. Over 20 states have figured out some way to make higher education free. Ohio needs to do the same. On public transportation, I have been one of the "Democratic Floor Speeches" on this topic when the GOP brings this issue to the House Floor. The quick overview is Ohio ranks 7th in population, 10th in ridership and 37th in funding for public transportation. We can and should do better. I have also partnered with Rep. Janine Boyd to create a Pay Equity Hotline that would be operated by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
I have introduced the "Move To Amend" resolution in both the prior General Assembly (HR 503) and the current General Assembly (HR 74). As a member of the House Education Committee, I introduced an amendment to the Charter School Reform legislation to prohibit operators of charter school from being able to make political contributions to state candidates. I also am working on campaign finance legislation that I hope to have introduced within 30 days. But there are others involved in this process, so its not all in my hands.
I support efforts to reduce criminal sentences for nonviolent offenders. This is not a problem that is unique to Ohio. in the 1980's there were about 300,000 prisoners in the country. Today that figure is closer to 1.5 million with another 750,000 in local jails and juvenile detention. I believe one of the criminal justice reforms that should be taken up for consideration in Columbus is the required electronic recording of all criminal interrogations. Regarding public education; I am a very strong supporter. I served 12 years on the Euclid School Board before joining the Ohio General Assembly. I believe education funding levels need to be increased - from Pre-K, through K-12 and into college.
I am an active member in the Great Lakes Caucus and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). In fact, NCEL just asked me to become the State Lead for NCEL in Ohio. In the prior General Assembly I introduced legislation (HB 400) to ban microbeads - which are tiny plastics that fish often mistake as food. I also introduced legislation to help pay for water system infrastructure improvements (HJR 5). I am also an active member of the Public Utilities Committee. My work in committee has saved Ohio rate payers millions of dollars. My work has pushed the GOP back to the drawing table when I pointed out that their in committee testimony didn't match the language in the bill that they were presenting before our Committee.
Again, I have been the lead Democratic sponsor on minimum wage legislation and equal pay legislation. In the last General Assembly, I was a lead Democratic sponsor on legislation (HB 357) to remove the 24 hour waiting period for women seeking abortions. I have signed onto legislation put forth by Rep. Antonio to protect the rights of our LGBTQ citizens.