LIMA —When Gov. John Kasich delivers the State of the State to a joint session of the Legislature Feb. 19, it will be a day-long working session for the state government. It also will be a chance for Lima officials to show the community in a positive light, and they plan to make the most of it.
The day will include multiple legislative committee hearings, meetings across the city with the governor’s cabinet members, tours for state officials and several luncheons and receptions.
When Kasich moved the speech last year to Steubenville, the community did nothing special for the day. Lima and Allen County officials have taken the opposite approach. Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said he wants the day to be substantive for the Legislature and one that showcases the community.
As a result, Mayor David Berger, the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lima Inc., the Lima/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau and multiple other private and public partners are working together to provide a positive experience. Downtown will have new signage and a State of the State logo for the day. People attending will receive welcome bags that will include a map of downtown businesses, and those businesses will have the coordinating signage.
Huffman said he expects a “significant number” of people to stay overnight that Tuesday.
The chamber has set a $30,000 budget and is soliciting sponsorships at multiple price points. The group, coordinated by Berger, is working on multiple logistical issues to make the day a success. Kasich is hearing about the effort, Huffman said.
“The governor’s office is very excited about what we’re doing,” Huffman said. “When we went to Steubenville, it was sort of a ‘meh’ response. And I told them what we’re doing, and they’re pretty pumped up.”
At least three legislative committee hearings will take place that day. The House Health and Aging Committee will meet at St. Rita’s Medical Center and take testimony on Huffman’s neonatal services bill. The Joint House and Senate Workforce Development Committee is expected to meet at Apollo Career Center. A joint House and Senate task force on school safety will meet at Lima Senior High School.
House Speaker William Batchelder, Senate President Keith Faber and the Democratic leaders from the House and Senate will speak at a lunch at Memorial Hall.
Huffman and Berger are working to find meetings and tours for nearly every member of the governor’s cabinet. The sessions run from the low key, such as Youth Services Director Harvey Reed meeting with Allen County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Derryberry, to the sprawling, such as Public Safety Director Tom Charles with the security principals at the refinery and chemical complex.
In all, 20 or more separate meetings could be happening in the hours between lunch and the State of the State, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
“This is a joint session of the Legislature. Sen. Faber and I have decided we needed to make this a legislative event all day. There are working hearings, and the cabinet members are visiting places pertinent to their involvement,” Huffman said. “Everyone has a certain amount of hometown pride. It’s one thing to talk about it. We’ll be able to have people come here. Workforce development is the focus of the governor, and people will see our great industry, spend the day, have lunch, and see some of the other things in the community. That’s part of it also. My goal is the week after, I want members to say, ‘That was really well done.’”
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