ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The number of Ohio jobs created by the oil and gas industries now must be reported after passage of a measure introduced by state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville.
Gentile's "Ohio Workers First" amendment was included in the state's energy bill, Senate Bill 315, passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law this month by Gov. John Kasich. Gentile noted his was the only Democratic amendment to be included in the final energy legislation.
The former member of the House Public Utilities Committee said he worked his contacts in the House to make certain his amendment stayed in the bill.
The measure requires the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to compile an annual Ohio Workforce Report citing employment figures for the oil and gas industries in the state and to show "what the real economic impact is in Ohio," Gentile said.
"It should disclose, make transparent, the number of jobs going to Ohioans actually working in the industry - specifically the number of those in the skilled construction trades who are being employed in this industry," he said. "The emphasis is on the number of Ohio contractors who are winning the bids, and who are the Ohio suppliers. We want to have more transparency around all this discussion about jobs and how this will create economic benefit."
Gentile said he supports oil and gas industry efforts in Ohio, but added it is important to know "who is actually getting the work in the industry."
"This is a way for us to send a clear message to the oil and gas industry that we welcome them, but we want them to employ local Ohio skilled craftsmen and local contractors, local suppliers and Ohio-based firms," he added. "By the end of the year, we should have more transparency on that."
Gentile said he will have dialogue with the state DJFS to make sure the reports are done properly and transparently.
"From my understanding they will be working with the industry directly to gather the data - some will be self-reported." he continued. "I'm going to be working with them to do as deep a dive as possible ... to see what Ohio workers are being employed, how many Ohio companies are winning contractors."
Gentile noted he based his amendment on a measure included in the Marcellus shale bill passed late last year by the West Virginia Legislature. The measure was placed in the bill by state Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio.
"I told him we borrowed his idea," Gentile said. "He was thrilled. I didn't know it was his."