Action needed based on Governor's recent comments
COLUMBUS - Ohio House Democratic lawmakers called on Gov. Kasich this morning to prioritize hiring Ohioans before the year's end. Recently, Gov. Kasich publicly commented that oil and gas companies with hydraulic fracturing operations in the state do not appear to be hiring many Ohioans. Gov. Kasich's comments in the Columbus Dispatch indicated that some sort of action would be taken if some unknown hiring threshold for Ohioans was not ultimately met.
"Recently, Governor Kasich realized that the oil and gas industry may not be hiring as many Ohioans as was once thought," said Rep. Driehaus. "House Democrats warned of this over six months ago, and offered a simple and sound legislative solution that Republicans fought at all costs."
House Democrats originally attempted to address this issue through Gov. Kasich's energy and natural resource budget bill, SB 315, in May. The effort to have minimum in-state hiring standards in place was thwarted by Ohio's Republican leadership, just as it was this week when a similar amendment was offered on the House floor.
"It's really disappointing that some politicians like to talk jobs, but when the rubber meets the road no one wants to be in the driver's seat," said Rep. Pillich. "It is a failure of leadership when you reject sound policies just because they weren't your ideas, or because someone from a different party presents them."
The amendment offered would ensure that Ohioans benefit from the expansion of in-state fracking operations. Introduced on the House floor yesterday as an amendment to Senate Bill 319, it would require that any time a company applies for a permit to drill a new horizontal well in Ohio, the owner of the well must submit a signed affidavit stating that at least 60 percent of their full-time employees are residents of Ohio.
"Gov. Kasich is paying lip service to Ohioans when he talks about hiring Ohioans first," said Rep. Hagan. "We gave him and his Republican counterparts in the House real opportunities to address this issue and work in a bipartisan way. No one wanted to do it. Now, he knows that these companies aren't hiring that many Ohioans, and he knows that a report is supposed to be issued on the exact numbers. It seems like Gov. Kasich is doing some preemptive grandstanding to save face."
Gov. Kasich's energy and natural resource budget bill included a provision that requires the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to publish workforce statistics on the number of Ohioans employed through oil and gas operations in the state. It's unclear when the annual report must be published.
"The Governor likes to say that having a job is the biggest moral issue facing us today," said Rep. Foley. "If that's the case, why isn't he doing everything he can to ensure Ohioans have jobs in Ohio? Legislative proposals to employ Ohioans have been neglected too long by Republican leaders and Governor Kasich. If corporations won't do the right thing on their own, then we need to legislate requirements."
The Hire Ohio amendment for oil and gas companies is just part of a litany of economic development and job creation bills that have been offered by House Democrats over the past two years, but have never taken up by Republicans. Yesterday, Reps. Driehaus and Pillich provided testimony on "Hire Ohio" legislation, HB 342, to require Ohio workers on state funded projects. The bill was legally required to be given one hearing due to the timeframe in which it was introduced.