From: Sharon Krieg
On Nov. 15, The Republic published an article with the headline, “State lawmakers to attend Columbus Area Chamber’s Legislative Preview Lunch”.
The event will take place at City Hall and will include lunch. It is advertised as an “event for local business leaders and others to engage with state lawmakers. While the event is open to the public, it costs $18 to attend and reservations are required.”
According to The Republic, “The event seeks to allow business leaders and others the chance to learn how decisions being made at the Statehouse can impact their businesses and engage and voice any concerns directly with state lawmakers.”
I think holding an event before the legislative session begins is a worthwhile endeavor. What I don’t understand is the change from a free event each Monday morning during the session to this lunch, and then offering only two free events during the session.
For more than a decade I attended the Third House Sessions on Monday mornings. An attendee could generally count on Sen. Greg Walker and Rep. Milo Smith answering questions. Many times, Rep. Jim Lucas, Rep. Sean Eberhart and Sen. Eric Koch would also attend. There was generally a sizable audience of local business leaders as well the general public. I always found these sessions to be informative. At one session each year, students from ABC Stewart school would attend and have the opportunity to question the legislators.
It was understandable that the sessions needed to change during the COVID epidemic. It was not as intimate participating on Zoom, but certainly necessary. However, I don’t understand the drastic change this year. It seems like it would be easy enough to return to the previous format. I think it’s unfortunate that the legislators aren’t willing to meet with their constituents on a regular basis. There are many issues to be addressed in the coming session, including healthcare and childcare issues as well as housing affordability, to name a few. I hope our legislators will reconsider the decision to only meet the public three times and consider more free sessions.