One of those items was prescription drug abuse, which Johnson said was Kasich’s top subject to discuss.
“He wanted to know my opinion of the status of House Bill 93 and where it was in the Senate,” Johnson said. “And basically I conveyed to him that we were able to move it rapidly through the house, and that I was dismayed by the fact that it was stuck in the Senate. And he vowed to put the pressure of his office to moving it as quickly as possible. So I think we will see movement over there.”
Johnson was co-sponsor of the bill that would regulate the operation of pain clinics in the state. Johnson said he believes Kasich has a genuine concern about residents of southern Ohio and their exposure to the prescription drug problem, which has gained national attention in recent weeks.
“He knows, like I do, that the bill is not enough. We need to do many more things,” Johnson said. “So we had a far-ranging discussion about possible things that we could do including working across state lines and cooperating with other states — looking at their laws — looking at their methodologies, doing everything that we can, not to just diminish the problem, but to defeat it completely.”
Johnson said the two also discussed the possible expansion of Sun Coke, a $600 million project that involves expansion of coke oven batteries.
“I expressed to him my absolute dismay that the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) could be getting in the way of this,” Johnson said. “I pointed out to him that if circumstances fall in the wrong direction and the plant is built across the river (Greenup County), Ohioans will still breathe that air, but we won’t get the jobs.”
Johnson said his statement seemed to resonate with Kasich, and he said the governor told him his (governor’s) staff will look into the situation and try to get the Ohio EPA to play their role in petitioning the federal EPA to change the area’s status.
Johnson met Tuesday with Dan Rogers, general manager of the American Centrifuge plant operations, and said the one-on-one meeting was productive. That conversation led to one on the same subject with Kasich.
“Gov. Kasich fully supports my efforts to pursue a different tack. And we’re going to be doing some things that hopefully will make a difference,” Johnson said. “I personally feel that we have a greater sense of urgency in this. We have asked that company (USEC) to go on and on and on with their personal investment, and what we see from the federal government is an absolute betrayal of their (USEC) honest efforts to bring world-class technology and thousands of jobs to southern Ohio.”
Johnson said he is “personally dismayed” by President Barack Obama’s failure to authorize the U.S. Department of Energy to approve a $2 billion loan guarantee for the USEC ACP.
“I really want to do everything that I can do to let folks know that I think it’s wrong. And that the Obama administration needs to reverse its position on that. I am just appalled by his disregard for the people of southern Ohio,” Johnson said. “That plant is transformative for us. We get that — it makes a huge difference. It swings the inertia in the right direction. If we don’t get it, you have to question, what is the Obama administration’s real feeling about putting people of southern Ohio to work or not.”