An Ohio lawmaker is proposing a bill to make sure elected county officials show up to work more often.
State Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township) has proposed the WORK Act, which would vacate a county official position if the person fails to appear at their main office at least five out of 30 days. Exemptions exist for people who become sick or injured. Current law allows a county official to show up to work on one out of 90 days.
“Although the vast majority of elected officials are dedicated public servants, a few abuse their privilege to serve the people,” Becker said. “This bill recognizes that the duties of the elected official do not necessarily have to be performed at the office, but it requires that they appear at their place of employment at least five out of every 30 days.”
If an official fails to meet this criterion, the office would be deemed “vacant” under this law.
“Arguably under current law, elected officials could lawfully discharge their duties of office by simply responding to their county email remotely from their vacation homes on Mackinac Island or on a beach in Florida and never step foot in the office,” Becker said.
Also, Becker wants to change the legal process on removing an absent elected county official.
“I am proposing to the WORK Act creates a legal process in which anyone can file a complaint in writing with the clerk of courts of the common pleas court where the officer violating the law resides. A common pleas court judge would then decide by clear and convincing evidence, a civil lawsuit standard of proof, whether or not a county officer has neglected their duties of office,” he said.
To remove an elected official for not performing their duties a citizen must file a quo warranto lawsuit, which lawyers have never even heard of, according to the representative.
Becker does not believe people should determine this issue at the ballot box because it could take up to four years to remove that person. This could lead to county work not being “adequately done.”
This issue came up in Ohio when Brown County Recorder Amy DeClaire accepted a job in Clermont County as a budget analyst. Clermont County board dismissed her after learning of the confusion.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Battleground State News.