By DENISE GRANT
State Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, likes the job so much he plans to run for re-election in 2018.
Hite was the guest speaker Wednesday at a Findlay Kiwanis lunch held at The Dock at St. Marks United Methodist Church.
Should he win re-election, Hite said he will have the longest tenure of any Ohio state senator since term limits were approved by voters in 1992.
Under term limits, state senators can serve two four-year elected terms, or a total of eight years.
This is Hite’s first full four-year term, although he has represented Ohio’s 1st Senate District since early 2011. Hite was appointed to fill the unexpired term of state Sen. Steve Buehrer in early 2011, after Buehrer was named administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation by Gov. John Kasich. Hite then was elected to his current term in 2014.
Hite called his appointment “the best deal.”
“Those first years didn’t count. I’m still considered a beginner,” Hite said.
He was beginning his third term representing the 76th District in the Ohio House before being named state senator.
Hite’s 1st Senate District encompasses all or parts of Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams counties.
Hite said it’s “too early” to talk much about his bid for re-election, but he was eager Wednesday to talk about his work in the Ohio Senate.
At a press conferences scheduled for 10 a.m. today in rural Dunkirk, Hite is expected to announce legislation that will reduce setback mandates for wind turbines. Hite said the rules are overly strict and are making Ohio less competitive in this energy market.
The setback dictates distances between the turbines and residential structures and property lines. The idea of easing the rules is controversial in rural communities, where wind turbines are considered an eyesore. However, Hite said several counties in his district want the rules changed to allow wind energy development.
The press conference will be at 10 a.m. today at the Hog Creek Wind Farm, 11600 Township Road 20, Dunkirk.
“People don’t want a monstrosity blocking their sunset. I don’t know what to say about that,” Hite said.
But he said the setback rules interfere with the right of property owners to decide how to best use their land.
Hite also mentioned several other legislative initiatives on Wednesday, including a law he co-sponsored that requires parents of school athletes to watch a video identifying the physical symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.
“I got a lot of people mad at me with this one, too. They think it’s an inconvenience, and it may be an inconvenience,” Hite said. “But if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”
The new rule became effective in March.
Hite also sponsored a new law that increases the role of the Lake Erie Commission in reducing phosphorus runoff. The new rule aims to ensure thorough management of privately-owned water systems, and requires ongoing improvements to public systems. It also strengthens the state’s ability to enforce cleanup of landfill facilities and properties.
State lawmakers are also working on new rules that will benefit Ohio’s vocational schools, Hite said.
“We have jobs, jobs, jobs here in Ohio, but no workers. We need welders, carpenters and truck drivers,” Hite said. “We don’t have an unemployment problem in Ohio, we have an employment problem.”