Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments

Lawmakers quizzed on Lake Erie, school testing, gas taxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When local officials had a chance to quiz their state legislators Wednesday, there were more questions than time for answers. Lawmakers were asked about some hot button issues like Lake Erie efforts, school testing, gas taxes, and the state’s growing rainy day fund. Fielding the questions were State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, plus Ohio state representatives Jim Hoops, Derek Merrin, Mike Sheehy, and Michigan state representative Jason Sheppard. Asking the questions were members of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, during the organization’s summer caucuses with state lawmakers at Penta Career Center. Acting as moderator was Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, current chairperson of TMACOG. Tim Brown, executive director of TMACOG, said the agency has a 50-year history of going beyond politics to solve problems. “We lay the politics aside, put the partisanship at the door, and talk,” Brown said. The first question was about state efforts to stop harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. While actions already taken have been appreciated, the local officials wanted to know “What’s next?” Gardner acknowledged that the work on Lake Erie is far from over. “There is no misunderstanding that we’ve done all that we can do,” he said. “We can find a way to do more and do better. We must.” Gardner said he hasn’t given up on a proposal to create a clean water bond issue. “Quite frankly, we haven’t received strong support from the governor to go forward,” he said. But Gardner is hopeful the bond issue can be revisited next year. Sheehy said environmental groups are “tired of failure” as the state struggles to find solutions. “We’ve all been saying this a long time. More needs to be done.” School officials asked about state testing requirements for students. Gavarone said testing requirements have been reduced, but more needs to be done to get timely feedback to teachers and parents, so they know how to help students. Gardner added that any testing requirements that aren’t federally mandated need to be reviewed. “They should be questioned and scrutinized as to their value,” he said. The legislators were asked about the state’s role in helping with workforce development. While Merrin said it isn’t the state legislature’s job to help create workforces, Gavarone and Gardner both offered other perspectives. Gavarone said students…