Government

State Senators Propose Commission to Review Closings

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Sen. Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and state Sen. Capri Cafaro introduced legislation Thursday to establish a State Facilities Closure Review Commission. The impetus for their bill, they said, was the recently announced decisions to close the Youngstown Developmental Center in Mineral Ridge and the Montgomery Developmental Center in Huber Heights, near Dayton.

Co-sponsored by state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-6 Kettering, Senate Bill 62 would create a 13-member commission consisting of legislators and representatives of state agencies, labor unions and the public. The bill is modeled after similar legislation introduced in the 125th Ohio General Assembly that majority Republicans failed to advance to passage.

“The closure announcement has been extremely upsetting for families with loved ones in the Youngstown Development Center, many of whom have been in the facility for a long period of time,” said Schiavoni, D-33 Boardman.  “The closure would be very disruptive for the residents of the facility and for the employees who care for them. A review commission would prohibit unilateral decision making no matter who the governor is.”

The legislation would establish a process that begins with the governor submitting a request for closure to the commission. The commission would have 30 days to consider the request before approving or rejecting it or making an alternative proposal. The commission would evaluate the request based on criteria including:

  • Whether there is a need to reduce the number of facilities;
  • The availability of alternate facilities;
  • The cost effectiveness of the facilities;
  • The geographic factors associated with each facility and its proximity to other similar facilities;
  • The opportunities and barriers to transition employees to other appropriate employment;
  • The utilization and maximization of resources;
  • Continuity of the staff and ability to serve the facility population;
  • Continuing costs following closure of the facility;
  • The impact of the closure on the local economy;
  • Alternatives and opportunities for consolidation with other facilities and collaboration with other agencies or political subdivisions.

“My heart breaks for all the families who are concerned about the closure of the Youngstown Developmental Center,” Cafaro, D-32 Hubbard, said. “I believe the creation of a panel ensures fairness and accountability when determining the necessity for the closure of such a facility.”

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-59 Youngstown, has introduced companion legislation in the state House of Representatives.

 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.