Reviewing Her Year So Far

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

Susan Manchester, Republican representative for the 84th district, spoke to members of the New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary Club Tuesday morning about what she has been up to as a freshman congresswoman for the state. 

During the question portion of her visit, Manchester was asked by St. Marys Rotarian Randy Elsass about the “Red Flag Laws” Gov. Mike DeWine is pursuing for the state. He worried that kind of law would be, “opening a can of worms” which Manchester agreed with. 

“I’m devastated by all of the losses we’ve experienced because of gun violence,” Manchester said. “And I think that I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment and a firm believer in allowing people to maintain their second amendment rights and I understand why the governor maybe went that direction. I don’t think it’s the right direction to go and he’s going to have a hard time passing anything like that through the House of Representatives.”

With that, she added that she believes some very tough conversations need to be had in order to address the issue the country is facing with individuals taking firearms to the streets.

Manchester said she believes in taking a route focused on mental health and bringing appropriate resources into schools and to the public. To her knowledge, she said she was unaware of any hospitals that were specifically, and only, for mental health issues when prompted by New Bremen Police Chief Mike Skinner.

While she believes it was wise for institutionalization to go to the wayside — as many facilities were not better for the health of their patients — she does believe there needs to be a new system in place to help. 

Brent Henschen took time during the conversation to express his disappointment with republicans and the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) handling of the firearms debate, noting the NRA was arguing for bump stocks and silencers around the time of the mass shooting that occurred at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017. 

According to an article on BBC.com, the NRA issued a statement after the shooting encouraging the federal government to relook at bump stocks stating, “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

The Independent, a United Kingdom news website, confirmed however that in the days leading up to the shooting, the NRA’s Twitter page was extremely vocal in it’s support of the SHARE Act which would give firearm owners easier access to silencers. 

Henschen expressed support for voluntary buy back programs to help get guns off the street, specifically assault rifles that he believes civilians don’t need to own. 
“If it stops one shooting, if they can’t give up those guns to help out and do their fair share … I think that should be part of it too,” he said. 

He cited other countries where mass shootings are occurring less than in the United States, pointing out that those countries have mental health problems also but also have less access to firearms.
For Manchester, she expressed her concern with federal buy back programs and red flag laws.

“Red flag laws, buy back programs give me a lot of concern because I don’t think the government should have this running list of who has guns and what kind of guns they own,” she said. “But I think this is a conversation that is going to get very serious, especially when we reconvene … and so the governor has made it very clear there is something he would like to do. 
“I think his proposals are going to have a tough time making it through the legislature but I’m sure it’s a conversation that is going to be had and I encourage you guys to continue with the feedback.”

Feedback is something she said helps her introduce new ways to fix what the state government is getting wrong. Throughout her time with the Rotary club, she encouraged constituents to contact her about issues and solutions they see. 
“Coming to clubs like this at 7:30 on a Tuesday morning and seeing everyone’s enthusiasm and energy for doing good work in the community, you guys are the ones on the front lines of these issues who are seeing some of the faults in what we have done at your state level and you can give me the best ideas for how to fix it,” Manchester said.

One solution the freshman congresswoman has been able to help address is with a bill she recently sponsored in regards to the foster care system. House Bill 8, which unanimously passed the House and is waiting to go through the Senate, gives all rulemaking authority for foster caregivers to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (JFS).

Currently, rulemaking is in the hands of the House and Senate, which Manchester said is too slow to deal with the issues that are ongoing in the foster care system. 

“I’m in government, I’m a part of it but we’re very slow at getting things done, especially in a time of crisis,” she said. “This bill would allow ODJFS to make rules about the need that we’re presented with. 
“Again the opioid epidemic has really increased our foster care needs significantly. I’ve heard that not only from folks here in the district but statewide, there just simply aren’t enough caregivers for the number of kids in the system.”

Her bill goes along with what she said DeWine is making a priority during his term in office, which is ensuring children in Ohio have the resources necessary to be successful in the future.

As a member of the agriculture, transportation and education committees, Manchester is also working to pass legislation in relation to those areas as well. 

House Bill 183 offers a tax credit to farmers who are looking to retire but don’t have a successor for their farm. The proposed bill awards a tax credit to farmers who sell or rent their land to a beginning farmer. 
She explained that a beginner farmer is clearly defined in the bill which is supported by several agricultural groups. 

She is also a co-sponsor for legislation from Rep. Bob Cupp in regards to funding for schools. 

There is also legislation in the works in the transportation committee that is looking to raise the age for teens to get their driver’s license.

The committee has introduced an idea to raise the age to 16.5 years old, which Manchester said she has heard concerns from constituents that the raise could affect student workers who rely on their own transportation to get to their after school jobs.

She said she doesn’t support legislation that would impede anyone’s desire to start working. 

Manchester took more questions from attendees and finished the meeting by taking pictures with a group of students from New Bremen High School. 

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