Jones looking forward to productive second term
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Rep. Don Jones will serve as majority whip during his second term as a state lawmaker, having been sworn into the 134th General Assembly and elected the Republican leadership team.
“I am honored to be sworn in for a second term as state representative to the great people of Ohio’s 95th House District,” Jones, R-Freeport, said. “I am also humbled to be elected as majority whip and hold a leadership position within the majority caucus. I look forward to the upcoming two years of the 134th General Assembly alongside my colleagues as we work to better the livelihoods of all Ohioans.”
Jones said he looks forward to pursuing reforms in the field of education, where he worked prior to seeking office, as well as energy and infrastructure improvements. He sponsored several bills in the 133rd General Assembly, including House Bill 9, addressing student degree completion and school voucher reform.
House Bill 166 created the FY 20-21 operating budget and established new high school graduation requirements for students attending public and chartered nonpublic schools and reinstates the rural industrial park loan fund.
“We’re going to continue to work on school funding and try to get rid of some more mandates and testing requirements, and also work on some broadband (internet access) issues,” he said.
Many rural Ohioans lack convenient internet access.
“If anything, broadband is a bigger problem now than what it was before because all the kids are trying to do online instruction and can’t connect.”
He will continue to oppose what he sees as impractical mandates that disrupt genuine education.
“Let teachers teach,” he said.
Jones will also work toward reopening the state, after the lengthy disruption of operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Get businesses back into where they can do business, but also be smart about how we address the pandemic. It’s real. We’ve got to recognize it’s real. We’ve got to get as many people back to work, but do it safely,” he said.
“That’s a continuing work in progress. We need to be aware of what the numbers are,” he said. “We need to change and adapt as we can. We know a lot more today than we did when this thing started back in last March. We also need to make good decisions based upon good information. We’ve got to work on a way to get kids back into school and do it safely. Kids need to be in school, not just for the educational side of life, but for the mental and social side. … Not everybody agrees with my way of thinking, which is OK, but we still need to look at the whole picture.”
Another area of interest is the state’s energy policy. Jones’ goal is to strengthen infrastructure.
“We’ve got an abundant supply of natural gas in Eastern Ohio, and I think we need to figure out a way to utilize that and make it profitable and available to as many people as we can. That’s something I think people are going to have to start to realize. We’ve got an infrastructure problem in the state of Ohio because we don’t have enough pipelines in the ground to deliver natural gas to people who want it and to businesses that want to grow and expand,” he said.
In a broader context, Jones also commented on the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump objecting to the vote certification process that would give the presidential victory to Joe Biden.
“It was a sad day for our country,” he said. “We’ve got two parties that are not on the same page. We’ve got some issues that need to be resolved. I think for the last four years our country has been very difficult and harsh on a president that worked really hard to try to make life better for as many Americans as he could, and was never given much of a chance by the media.
“We need to get back to the basics of what our republic is built on. We’ve got to realize that we’re going to have differences, and we’re going to have to agree to disagree and we’re going to have to work through our problems. The thing that scares me is we’ve got a culture in our country today that if we disagree with somebody, we can’t work with them, and that is not the way to get problems solved,” he said.
Jones added he believed many longtime elected officials also contributed to this division. In terms of the public trust in the electoral process, he acknowledged there are many who see reason to doubt how the recent election was conducted in some states and expressed confidence in Ohio’s part in guaranteeing a fair election.