Local reps split on governor#8217;s use of executive order

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2007

In the eight months Gov. Ted Strickland has been in office, he has issued 28 executive orders and that has brought the new governor some criticism.

Strickland’s first came on Jan. 8, soon after taking office, and was to establish new ethics requirements.

According to the order, “When those who want contracts or grants or other benefits from the state give gifts or meals or tickets or trips to state officials or employees, the people of Ohio have every right to be suspicious that official government decisions aren’t being made based on the merits,” he said.

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Since then, the governor has made 27 executive orders on everything from coordinating Ohio energy policy to establishing a foundation for basic child care and supporting access to affordable child care to his last order on Aug. 22, on illegal gambling machines.

He came under fire from Rep. Kevin DeWine, deputy chairman of the Republican Party, charging that he acted like he was in “a monarchy.”

Ohio Rep. Todd Book, whose 89th District covers part of Lawrence County, said that Strickland is not overusing his power and that he is using it judiciously.

“First, I am confident with Ted Strickland and I trust his judgment,” said Book, a Democrat from McDermott. “I don’t have a problem with that at all. Some of the things he is doing are because the people in the majority have been refusing to do them. He’s doing it because he feels like he has to.”

Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, said he doesn’t have any problem with Strickland using the power of executive order.

“The only one I question is the collective bargaining order,” said Carey, the 17th District representative. “I think that should have been done with legislation. It’s not necessarily that I agree with all of them, but that is one of the powers he has as governor and I respect that. I’ve had a good relationship with Gov. Strickland and I think we have to work together.”

In the collective bargaining for home health care workers, dated July 17, Strickland’s executive order states, in part, “independent home care providers should have access to proper training and to effective representation when negotiating for work-related benefits.”

The executive order also states that parties will work jointly to obtain necessary legislative changes.

Sen. Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, said that although he respects the governor’s authority, he thinks it is important that legislators have an opportunity to debate key issues.

“In general we have to be cautious with the use of executive orders,” he said. “The way individuals get involved in the legislative process and affect public policy is to talk with the legislators,” said Niehaus, who represents the 14th Districtd. “We in turn take those ideas back to Columbus to talk with our colleagues. One of my concerns with executive orders is the public gets cut out of that opportunity to participate.”