Ohioans have recently experienced a pronounced economic slump. In times of financial strain, it might seem like your government is plying you with hopeful rhetoric about the economy while not backing it up with appropriate legislation. This General Assembly, I am confident that my colleagues and I can pass bills that will bring about positive changes for this state and your family. As your state representative, I have made it a top priority to improve our community through the work we do in the state legislature.

To achieve this important objective in the face of an $8 billion deficit, my colleagues and I are currently introducing and voting on bills tailored to create jobs and boost our economy. House Bill 17 is one such piece of legislation. Introduced by Rep. Nan Baker, this bill authorizes a $2,400 income tax withholding credit for employers who hire an unemployed individual.

In offering this employer tax credit, House Bill 17 will benefit Ohio's economic situation in two ways. First, the bill will ameliorate some financial pressure felt by local businesses. Especially in this tough economy, small businesses struggle to make ends meet and stay afloat from day to day. House Bill 17 can improve the success and functioning of these businesses by lifting some of their fiscal burden.

Secondly, this legislation will give employment opportunities to Ohio's unemployed individuals. Anyone facing unemployment can attest to the hardship they face when looking for work while also attempting to pay their bills. This legislation was drafted with the expressed purpose of creating jobs and encouraging economic growth within our communities. I have seen firsthand the strain wrought by job scarcity in our communities here in the 96th House District, and I am advocating for effective measures to fix this problem. House Bill 17 can be part of the solution to state unemployment and economic stagnation.

Too often, state government loses sight of the interests of Ohio's citizens and businesses. It is so important for my colleagues and me to pass legislation that benefits Ohioans on a local level. The state economy is a composite of each community's economy in Ohio, and our unemployment rate reflects the struggles or good fortune of each individual. House Bill 17 is legislation that will affect change in your everyday lives -- change you will see when your neighbors find work and your local businesses flourish.

I have high hopes for this new legislative session, and I think this General Assembly can work across the aisle to set Ohio back on the road to economic prosperity. Throughout my time in the Statehouse, I pledge to support other common sense legislation like House Bill 17, which will benefit you and your families, as well as your surrounding community. High unemployment and a sluggish economy are tough issues to fix, but I believe that, together, we have the tools to overcome these obstacles.

Rep. Landis may be reached by calling (614) 466-8035, e-mailing District96@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Al Landis, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215.