Ohio creates task force to study auto industry

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate has OK’d the creation of a new legislative task force to study ways to help the ailing automobile industry.

House Concurrent Resolution 24, creating the Joint Select Committee on the Impact of the Changing Automobile Industry in Ohio, was adopted on a vote of 31-0. It passed the Ohio House a week earlier on a comparable vote.

The economic downturn has hammered the automobile industry. General Motors and Chrysler have filed for bankruptcy, manufacturing plants and suppliers have cut back on production and laid off workers, and dealerships are being closed.

“I don’t expect any of us are unaware of the difficulties that face our friends and neighbors in the auto industry today, whether they’re assembly line workers, whether they’re employees at local dealerships, whether they work at suppliers keeping the manufacturing lines open,”” said Sen. Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond.

State lawmakers have been in discussions about how to respond to the situation. The result is the joint committee, which will meet over the summer and include three members from each chamber.

Its official charge is to “study the automobile industry in Ohio as it relates to manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and consumers, including franchise laws, consumer protection issues, and warranties and shall make recommendations concerning Ohio’s law regulating and supporting the automobile industry.”