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Release: Senators Schiavoni and Cafaro Announce Legislation to Establish State Facilities Closure Review Commission

By Gongwer Staff
Posted: February 18, 2015 3:26 PM

Bipartisan bill responds to recently announced closings in Youngstown and Dayton Area

Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced legislation to establish a State Facilities Closure Review Commission. The goal of SB 62* is to provide a more open process that gives all stakeholders the opportunity to provide input before a final decision is made. The bill’s introduction follows the Kasich’s administration’s recent decision to close the Youngstown Developmental Center and the Montgomery Developmental Center in Huber Heights. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering).

“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 Senator Schiavoni. “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.”

Senate Bill 62 would create a 13-member commission consisting of legislators and representatives of state agencies (including OBM), labor unions and members of the public. The legislation is modeled after similar legislation introduced in the 125th Ohio General Assembly (HB100).

“My heart breaks for all the families who are concerned about the closure of the Youngstown Developmental Center,” said Senator Cafaro. “I believe the creation of a panel ensures fairness and accountability when determining the necessity for the closure of such a facility. I will do everything I can to ensure the bill passes and creates the panel in an expedited manner. It is my sincere hope once the bill is enacted that the Commission would see the wisdom in keeping the doors open at YDC, preserving the peace of mind and quality care for all involved.”

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 the following criteria and other factors it deems appropriate:

(1) Whether there is a need to reduce the number of facilities;

(2) The availability of alternate facilities;

(3) The cost effectiveness of the facilities;

(4) The geographic factors associated with each facility and its proximity to other similar facilities;

(5) The opportunities and barriers to transition employees to other appropriate employment;

(6) The utilization and maximization of resources;

(7) Continuity of the staff and ability to serve the facility population;

(8) Continuing costs following closure of the facility;

(9) The impact of the closure on the local economy;

(10) Alternatives and opportunities for consolidation with other facilities and collaboration with other agencies or political subdivisions.

State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced companion legislation (HB 73) in the House of Representatives.

“The decision to close a state facility involves more than just dollars and cents – it involves people,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “Shuttering the doors of Youngstown Developmental Center affects the workers, families, residents and indeed the entire community. A review commission, as established in this bill, ensures that those impacted get the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

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