State Senator Randy Gardner (R- Bowling Green) and Senator Capri Cafaro (D- Hubbard) announced Friday, Dec. 13, the formation of a new bipartisan Lake Erie Caucus of legislators which will hold its organizational meeting in January.
“Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s truly great natural assets,” said Gardner. “We just believe the lake and all it means to Ohio needs even more focus. As state legislators, we have an obligation to provide that focus and leadership.”
Gardner and Cafaro will serve as Senate joint chairs of the caucus. They expect additional Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join the caucus due to Lake Erie’s significance in northern Ohio. Gardner and Cafaro are reaching out to members of the House of Representatives to join the caucus as well.
Sponsor of the Healthy Lake Erie Fund, originally established to help combat algae problems in the lake, Gardner said the purpose of the Lake Erie Caucus is to make a meaningful impact on state and federal policies and support. The problems are multi-faceted, including both environmental and economic issues that need to be addressed.
Cafaro, who represents Ashtabula County, the longest stretch of shoreline in eastern Ohio, agreed.
“I am proud to represent a portion of the North Shore,” said Cafaro. “I look forward to substantive discussions about the lake’s role in economic growth and tourism, as well as ways to preserve the environmental health of the water.”
In addition to a strong contingent of Senate and House members joining the caucus, Gardner and Cafaro said representatives of Governor Kasich’s cabinet; including the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Commerce; will be asked to provide input. Travel and tourism groups, boating and fishing interests, small businesses impacted by the lake’s economy, environmental groups and other will all be asked to work with the caucus.