COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Republican legislative leaders from Ohio and Wisconsin are working together, hoping other states will join them, as they prepare for changes in how the federal government under President Donald Trump deals with states.
The goal is to partner with an organization of state legislatures, a group of state legislative leaders, and governors to work on issues that will be affected by a Trump presidency. Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos outlined the effort Thursday in Ohio alongside key legislators from both states.
Vos said topics for states include how they will react to repeal of the federal health care law and changes in how federal money is delivered to the states. He hopes the National Conference of State Legislatures will coordinate efforts across the country.
Rosenberger said he wants the collaboration to start a national conversation among states about changes coming under Trump. A spokesman said the message to states is “nobody’s in this alone.”
Republican state Rep. Kristina Roegner, chairwoman of a new Ohio House federalism committee, said Congress has gradually eroded the role of states and they can’t remain idle.
“The states have power. We are sovereign, and we need to start acting like it,” she said.
Many Republican leaders, including many governors, hope the Trump administration will send money to states for education, transportation, Medicaid and other areas with fewer strings attached. Opponents say that approach, particularly with education and Medicaid, will result in less funding for schools and people with the most need when the economy sours.
Vos said there’s bipartisan interest in states working together.
“This is an area where Democrats and Republicans are working together on federalism,” Vos said. “Democrats concerned about Donald Trump want more power back in the states.”
Vos said he spoke with Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker before heading to Ohio. Walker, a vocal Trump supporter, has been lobbying the president to return more power to the states. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Trump detractor, is meeting with the president Friday.
In remarks Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual meeting in suburban Washington, Walker praised Trump’s Cabinet picks and hopes the administration, along with Congress, will make changes that will send more power back to the states. He singled out the Environmental Protection Agency as one where the duties would be better handled at the state level.
“To me, other than the military and maybe preserving things like Social Security and Medicare, I think just about everything else is better done by the states,” he said.
“It’s not enough just to change the map from blue to red,” Walker said. “This is a unique opportunity in time to have transformational change. … That means you’re going to have to push for it.”
Rosenberger is looking at bipartisan task forces in Wisconsin that proposed legislation to fight Alzheimer’s disease and opioid addictions as models for Ohio and other states, Vos said.
Ohio and Wisconsin are among states that created new legislative committees this year to prepare for changes under the Trump administration.