Valley advocacy group rallies against Ohio senator’s new bill

The group said the bill would roll back worker safety laws, but the senator said it's needed for transparency

Valley Voices United for Change rallied against Portman's new bill regarding worker safety

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A group of labor and health advocates gathered Thursday on the stairs of the Mahoning County Courthouse.

Their message — Senator Rob Portman’s (R-OH) proposed law puts people in danger.

Portman introduced the “Regulatory Accountability Act” in April, which could change the way government agencies create new regulations for business and industry.

The bill makes it difficult for public servants to create safeguards and protections for children’s toys, clean air and water, labor standards, the opioid epidemic and food, said Valley Voices United for Change. They said it will roll back consumer and worker safety laws by decades and put Americans at risk.

“This bill really changes the game related to protections for our food safety, our environmental safety and workplace safety,” said Karen Zehr of Valley Voices.

“It’s terrible legislation,” said Dave Green, UAW labor leader. “It’s only going to impact workers and families and our air and our food and our environment.”

However, when Portman introduced the bill this spring, he said it was necessary to make the regulatory process ‘more transparent.’

Portman’s bill would reform the 70-year-old regulations process.

His office says the bill will make federal regulations smarter and more effective.

Sen. Rob Portman’s office released a statement in response on Thursday:

“By ensuring agencies use the best scientific and economic data available, giving the public a bigger voice in the process, and requiring agencies to choose the most cost-effective regulations, we will get smarter rules and better outcomes. This will boost job creation and economic growth while continuing to protect public health and safety and the environment, and that will benefit all of us.”

But labor leaders say it’s an effort to de-regulate business and industry, and allow them to scale back on safety measures.

Green says he understands those measures cost money.

“Manufacturers need to make money,” he said. “I understand this. I want my employer to make lots of money. But at the same time, I want to make sure that not only what I’m producing — but where I’m working — is safe.”

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