The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 30, 2012

June 30, 2012 Letters to the editor: Lorna Westlake

Siding with special interests


As we draw closer to the November election, perhaps it is time to assess the record of Gov. Kasich and the Republican dominated General Assembly. 
There’s a thread that runs through all their actions and that thread is catering to special interests. Take for example the recently passed water usage bill, HB 473. This bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, who coincidentally owns a bottled water company and sits on the board of the International Bottled Water Association. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house! The resulting bill is full of loopholes that special interests can take advantage of, while the public in general will have no recourse or say in the matter. They were deliberately excluded as stakeholders in the protection of Ohio’s water resources.
Then we have the Consumer Sales Practices Act (HB 275) which from its title you would think had the interests of Ohio consumers at heart. Think again! Behind the bill stands the Ohio Auto Dealers Association. The state of Ohio, which at one time had one of the strongest state consumer laws against unfair and deceptive sales practices, now has one of the weakest in the country.
On June 11, Kasich signed into law SB 315, the legislation dealing with “fracking” in Ohio. Gone from this legislation are the higher oil and gas severance taxes that Kasich had proposed which would have raised $500 million a year by 2016. The Republican legislature with an eye on the oil and gas lobby in this state removed the taxes. It seems governors come and go but the petroleum lobby is forever. The legislature knew which side its bread was buttered on and acted accordingly. Now the average Ohioan will not benefit from Ohio’s mineral wealth, but the big winners will be out of state oil companies such as Chesapeake, Anadarko and Devon and the workers they bring in. Adding insult to injury, higher brine disposal fees were also removed, allowing out of state dumpers to inexpensively dump their fracking waste water in Ohio. Furthermore, SB 315 has loopholes that need to be closed with regards to ground water testing, chemical disclosure and responsibility for road wear and tear.
In all this our present representative in the 99th District, Republican Casey Kozlowski, sided with the special interests against the interests of average Ohioans. The sad truth of the matter is Kozlowski is not a leader, but a follower. He goes along with the crowd and does what he’s told. Come November we need to remember this and vote accordingly.
Lorna Westlake

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