Akron Children’s Hospital employees welcomed State Senators Frank LaRose and Tom Sawyer on July 31 to speak at the hospital’s quarterly Speak Up for Kids Advocacy Briefing.
“We’re fortunate to have Senators LaRose and Sawyer working on our behalf in Columbus and their willingness to share their time an expertise with us today,” Charlie Solley, director of government relations at Akron Children’s, said to the group. “By virtue of our daily work of caring for the children of northeast Ohio, we are all advocates for children. We’d like to share with you important public policy decisions under consideration in Columbus and how we can all be better advocates for legislation that affects children’s health.”
Both Senators encouraged employees – and community members alike – to take the time to speak up for issues they care about.
“It is really important that the hospitals and its professionals speak up when elected officials are considering important issues,” Senator Sawyer said. “Akron Children’s Hospital and all of you speak with an enormously influential voice – a voice that needs to be heard not only with folks like us but with friends and neighbors. You all are the experts. We can learn from you.”
Senators LaRose and Sawyer also gave an update on the recently passed state operating budget and addressed the oft-discussed issue of Medicaid expansion. By their estimation, there may be some kind of Medicaid “expansion” or “reform” this fall.
Their discussion was focused on an Ohio Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 1) that would reform the process of drawing Congressional and General Assembly districts.
“The current system creates districts that are only competitive in the primary election, causing pushing Republican rhetoric further to the right and Democratic rhetoric further to the left,” said Senator LaRose. “Ohio needs reform that will lead to competitive races, I believe SJR 1 will do just that.”
Ultimately, this bi-partisan resolution would create the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which would specify that no appointee can be a current member of the Ohio General Assembly and that any affirmative vote of the Commission must include at least one vote from the political party currently in the minority.
“There has to be a better way than the current mechanism. SJR 1 will redraw not just state districts but congressional districts as well,” added Senator Sawyer.
The event concluded with both senators encouraging Ohioans to contact them with any questions or concerns.
“If any of you use Facebook or Twitter I am pretty easy to find on there, and folks will tell you that I answer questions pretty regularly,” Senator LaRose said. “Please send me your questions or call me.”
“I’m listed in the phonebook,” Senator Sawyer said with a smile.
“It was encouraging to have both State Senators LaRose and Sawyer here talking with our staff,” Solley said. “It is even more heartening to see how these public servants are crossing the aisle and working together to create sound policy.”
The next Speak Up for Kids Advocacy Briefing at Akron Children’s is Oct. 17. Additional details on the event will be distributed as the event nears.