Recently, thanks to a trip provided by the Ohio Fellows program, I had the chance to venture to a magical place where rule, regulations and procedures that affects us Ohioans in our everyday life are made.
That place is the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus where our senators, lobbyists and representatives work tirelessly.
The Statehouse is an incredible piece of architecture. From the portraits of distinguished law makers of the past to the grand rooms where actual change is made, it is a sight to see.
I saw many great things that day but I’ll share just a few of the moments that stuck with me for you, our readers, in the hope that you pick up interest in how our laws are made and how our government is run.
First I had the privilege of standing in on a proposed bill reform to make strict policy and rule change to the current rules about workplace sexual misconduct such as inappropriate touching or words spoken to co-workers. This was such an important change due to the scandal that had rocked the Statehouse prior.
A number of Ohio lawmakers had to resign due to inappropriate behavior that had seemed to be happening in the Statehouse for some time. There were many sponsors to the bill or people who were behind the issue presenting the reform. It made it an incredible moment that I had the fortune to be apart of.
Next, me and the other students on this trip sat in on a vote about charter school fundings. The issue was that charter schools receive funding on the test scores and attendance of the school from the state, that could go to public schools.
The vote proposed that testing scores should be used from a smaller sample size compared to other public schools, so they have a chance at the funding if they’re better than the charter school scores.
Unfortunately we had to leave before the outcome was decided, but I had the chance to catch up with one of the ushers who was in attendance during the vote and learned that it didn’t pass.
Then the group and I were introduced to Miss Katie L. Deland, the lobbyist for Sinclair Community College interests. She makes sure the voices of those on campus are heard in the Statehouse and that we are given a fair chance at funding and grants.
After that we had a quick respite at the Graze Seasonal Market Grill, the main restaurant located in the Statehouse. I must say the chicken salad sandwich was good enough for me to recommend a trip to the Statehouse. One thing’s for sure, lawmakers eat well!
Right after my delicious lunch I was introduce to more Ohio lawmakers, such as Fred Strahorn, the minority leader, and state representative Niraj J. Antani.
The last part of our day was attending a large session meeting in which the congressmen passed a vote for new license plates for navy veterans.
My trip to the Statehouse opened my eyes at how our laws and policies take shape. Lawmaking is not a fast process. It isn’t an easy one either. It can take months, or even years for a bill or law to be written and put up for a vote. Even then it may be voted down, vetoed by someone higher up or just abandoned by those trying to make change.
It’s tedious and frustrating at times, from what I’ve been told. But it’s necessary for democracy. These procedures gives us a chance to live and prosper in the land where all our voices and choices are valued and the best ideas and thoughts are made into laws for us to follow.
Justin A. Baker