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Groups oppose hiring requirements at oil refineries

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(The Center Square) – Opposition surrounds a proposal in the Ohio House that would increase hiring requirements at oil refineries in the state, including a mandate that employees demonstrate fluency in English.

The National Federation of Independent Business and Americans for Prosperity-Ohio turn their arguments against House Bill 205 to the Senate after it passed the lower chamber earlier this week. It has not been assigned to a committee in the Senate.

The two groups were joined by other business, industry and oil and gas groups that opposed the legislation to create new safety standards for construction workers at oil refineries. The new safety measures would:

• Require an apprenticeship credential to complete construction work.

• Require completion of a 30-hour safety and health hazard recognition and prevention course approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

• Require English language proficiency.

“Setting these training standards is a critical piece of protecting the health and safety of both Ohio workers and the public,” said Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron. “It is also critical that the construction work completed at our refineries be completed proficiently so that the refineries avoid shutdowns due to workplace incidents.”

But NFIB Ohio Director Chris Ferruso said the bill injects state government into hiring and would create a slippery slope.

“Our small business members don’t think the government should dictate who a private business can and can’t hire,” Ferruso said. “These decisions should be left to the individual employer, not the government that’s trying to apply a one-size-fits-all solution to a ‘problem’ that doesn’t really exist. As written and amended, HB205 is limited in scope, but it would set a dangerous precedent for every industry in the state.”

AFP-Ohio State Director Donovan O’Neil agreed and said the proposed legislation would be costly and open rights for unions.

“HB205 is simply the restoration of last session’s HB235, a terribly misguided bill that would’ve implemented unnecessary requirements on oil refinery hiring practices,” O’Neil said. “This new bill would expand the government’s authority over Ohio’s refineries, streamline exclusive privileges for unions who are pushing this legislation, and would inevitably have a monetary ripple effect, resulting in higher costs for everyone. Legislators must understand that this anti-free market policy transcends the oil industry in the state, and would thwart economic prosperity for all Ohioans.”

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