Rulli Seeks National Guard Support, H.B. 6 Reform

CANFIELD, Ohio – State Sen. Michael Rulli and the General Assembly in Columbus have some important items to attend to in House Bill 6 and General Motors’ tax liability. But on Tuesday, he hoped to draw congressional attention to the National Guard in his district.

Rulli visited the Canfield Fairgrounds along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and the Ohio National Guard to deliver food to about 700 families at the fairgrounds’ grandstand. 

Federal officials are trying to determine if the funding is available for the National Guard to assist with food banks. Just before noon, Rulli presented the food bank with a proclamation and an Ohio state flag, a show of support that Rulli hopes catches the capital’s eye.

“I think it’s important that the state show the federal government that we’re all in this together and we have to make sure the finance is there,” said Rulli, R-33 Salem. “The proclamation basically shows the public, and especially the whole country, that the work that’s done here is incredible and it can’t stop.”

Michael Iberis, executive director of Second Harvest, said the number of families has become a “roller coaster.” After population density is factored in, he said, the need is similar in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

“I think the state elected officials – Sen. Rulli, [Gov. Mike DeWine] and many other folks who represent this are in Columbus – have all signed on the letter that went to the president, so we’re hopeful that the president will sign the bill to keep the National Guard here for the next three or four months, which will certainly be an asset to us and a blessing to everyone that’s getting this emergency food,” Iberis said.

On July 23, state Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32 Bazetta, called for a repeal of H.B. 6 following House Speaker Larry Householder’s arrest on bribery charges. Rulli said he isn’t in favor of the “repeal and replace” process that DeWine has advocated.

“I think campaign finance reform really should happen,” Rulli said. “I think it’s a problem throughout the whole country.

“I’m newer at politics. I wasn’t in politics my whole life,” he continued. “There’s a lot of dark money and dirty money involved in politics. It’s really not a good thing.”

Rulli understands he’s in the majority regarding his views on repealing H.B. 6, but he admits to being in the minority when dealing with GM. While many Ohio elected officials want the automobile manufacturer to return $60.3 million in tax breaks received over the last 10 years, Rulli doesn’t want to push GM toward repayment.

“They could have taken the facility of Lordstown and chopped it up. They could have made a ton of money just with scrap and selling the machines and the computers and the robots that operate it” Rulli said. “But they chose a different path. They left the plant completely intact.”

He fears other automobile companies interested in the area might opt to invest somewhere else if GM is forced to return the money.

“There’s going to be a whole new line of cars being built by Tesla. [General Motors] signed a contract with LG Chem [to build a battery plant in Lordstown],” Rulli said. “Now LG Chem wants to build a second plant. They’re looking in Tennessee. They’re not looking here because Columbus is barking so hard for that clawback money.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.