It has now been six months since I was sworn in for my first full term in the Ohio Senate. It continues to be an honor to serve the citizens of the 6th Senate District. This has been a very busy time in the legislature and we just wrapped up the spring session by passing the budget on June 30. I invite you to go to my Senate web page (http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/lehner) for more details about what I have been working on in this General Assembly.
Just as a brief summary, I was very happy to be reappointed as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee when Senator Keith Faber took over as President of the Senate in January. This has enabled me to continue the work I started during the last General Assembly on key education issues. I have continued to work on the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the new Accountability system (school report card) for Ohio Schools. I led a task force to look at issues related to improving teacher preparation programs in Ohio and hope to address some of those issues legislatively this fall.
In March, I was chosen to be the co-chair of the newly formed Children’s Caucus- a bi-partisan, bi cameral caucus that will focus on issues important to the health and well being of the children in Ohio. Although barely months old the Caucus was instrumental in getting a 30 million dollar appropriation into the budget to provide vouchers for underprivileged 3 and 4 year olds to attend high quality pre-school programs. Over one third of the children in our state arrive in kindergarten two to three years behind their more affluent peers academically. This is a gap from which they never recover. Pre-school can make all the difference in the world for these children and is an area I intend to focus on in the months ahead.
In addition to the Education Committee I am also serving on the Health and Human Services Committee, Criminal Justice Committee and Workforce Development Committee. Ohio has made some significant strides in employment this year and has been at or near the top in job creation for several months. I am especially proud to be working side by side with Senator Bill Beagle, the other Montgomery County Senator who chairs the Workforce Development Committee.
While the summer promises to slow down a bit I am looking forward to traveling to Minneapolis in July to attend the Council of State Government conference where I serve on their national Education Committee. I also have been asked to speak in September at the ReadyNation meeting in Atlanta on Ohio’s early childhood Education initiative.
On August 16 I will be hosting my annual Pins for Peggy event, a not too serious bowling tournament. It is always a great time and would love to have you join us for this fun event.