- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., said “ the power of one” is why he feels he can make an impact in the 99-member Ohio House, and on the direction of the state.
Lang was appointed on Sept. 13 to replace former Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt to represent the constituents of the 52nd Ohio House Disrict, which includes Fairfield, Liberty and West Chester townships, and the Butler County portion of Sharonville. Lang said he wants to change the direction of Ohio, making it the most business-friendly state in the country, similar to what he says was accomplished in West Chester Twp.
“My focus is where I hope I would have an impact, and that is to do what I can to make Ohio the most business-friendly state in the country,” he said. “(West Chester Twp. trustees) Mark Welch, Lee Wong and I have made West Chester the most business-friendly community in the state.”
Doing that is to increase Ohio’s profile as a pro-business state and Lang said that’s accomplished by “removing the shackles” of restrictive business regulations and unnecessary taxes.
Lang’s impact in the Statehouseis also dependent on his committee assignments, which should be made in a couple of weeks.
But what kind of impact can one member of the two-chamber General Assembly have on the state?
A pair of political science professors say it depends.
“It really depends upon the situation in the legislative body as well as how steep Rep. Lang’s learning curve is,” said Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren. “As a new member, it will take him some time to figure out how the House works, both formally and in terms of the relationships that are key to getting things done.”
But Lang is well-known in Republican circles as he’s held GOP fundraisers for Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. He also told this news outlet he held a fundraiser for Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger.
As a 14-year West Chester Twp. trustee, Forren said Lang has already developed a lot of the coalition-building skills and practical political know-how he needs to have in order to get things done in a collaborative body like the General Assembly.
“I would not expect him to need much time to get up to speed in Columbus — and I would not expect the fact that he was appointed rather than elected to be a major impediment to his getting things done,” Forren said.
Cedarville University political science professor Mark C. Smith says the average member of the Ohio House has relatively little influence.
“To gain influence, legislators have to build relationships, get to know the leadership, and figure out what is possible to achieve. Those things generally take time,” he said. “Exceptions are possible. Some people hit the ground running and start to get things done. However, they need leadership support, almost always, to get anywhere.”
West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch said one of Lang’s “greatest skill sets” that will allow him to influence policy and legislation is “his motivation and his desire to be prepared.”
“I think that in that preparedness he has a certain persuasiveness about him where he can get in there and really negotiate with folks, to work toward win-win scenarios,” said Welch, who spent four years with Lang on West Chester Twp.’s trustee board. “That’s how I saw him as a trustee, and that’s how I expect he’ll be in the Statehouse.”
Brad Miller, Press Secretary for Ohio House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger said any one member “can certainly make a major impact in the legislature.”
“The primary responsibility of any elected body, regardless of its size, is to provide a forum for sharing ideas, bring together diverse viewpoints and seek public input. That should be the standard at every level of government,” he said. “In the end, it comes down to the quality of one’s ideas and how well those ideas are articulated throughout the legislative process.”