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Legislative Committee

The Darke County Chamber Legislative Committee is one of the most active in the state of Ohio.


The Legislative Committee of the Darke County Chamber of Commerce (DCCC) is committed to reviewing, developing, and supporting issues that promote a positive, pro-active economic environment and enhanced quality of life. The Chamber believes that laws and regulations should serve the public without acting as a detriment to business development and growth. Our purpose is to influence our elected officials in ways that will improve the ability of a business to compete in the worldwide economy and continue to generate income and jobs that will help to enhance Darke County. Legislative issues are raised by chamber members and evaluated by the Legislative Committee with a recommendation to the Board of Directors of the DCCC.


  • Jeff Kniese, Greenville Federal, Committee Chairman

  • Russ Badgett, Park National Bank

  • Allison Brigitzer, BASF

  • Marshall Combs, Marshall Combs State Farm

  • Pat Custenborder, Phelan Insurance Agency

  • Katie DeLand, Duane Morris Government Strategies

  • Peggy Emerson, Darke County Chamber

  • Wayne Deschambeau, Wayne HealthCare

  • Diane Ewing, Premier Health

  • Mike Fearon, Graves Fearon Agency

  • Dr. Mike Fourman, Family Health

  • Jason Hill, The Andersons

  • Sharon Henry, Classic Carriers

  • Terry Holman, Darke County General Health District

  • Kent James, GNB Banking Centers

  • Bob Nelson, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services

  • Randy O’Dell, JAFE Decorating

  • Kristi Strawser, State of the Heart Care

  • Perry Walls, Walls Brothers Asphalt

  • Jim Ward, Fry & Company

  • John Warner, Brethren Retirement Community

  • Mark Whittaker, Darke County Sheriff’s Office

State of the State Luncheon

The Darke County Chamber State of the State luncheon hosted by the Chamber Legislative Committee was held on Friday, October 4, 2019 at Romer’s Catering. The guest speaker panel included State Representatives Jena Powell and Susan Manchester, and State Senators Matt Huffman and Stephen Huffman.

The state representatives and senators were on hand to answer a few questions in regards to mental health, education, and what we may expect on down the road.

The event began with the priorities in the General Assembly this fall or particular legislation the representatives and senators were campaigning on or sponsoring.

For Representative Powell, her office is currently focused on technical and corrective changes to tax law, or House Bill 197. The bill is to ensure the tax code is accurate, clear, and free of errors.

According to Representative Powell, 125 errors were identified in the code.

Representative Manchester cited House Bill 8, Foster Caregiver Training legislation that would see reform for requirements around foster care training. She emphasized the opioid crisis has increased the need for foster caregivers in the system. Her office is also working on House Bill 183, in regards to the aging farmer population. The bill would reward a tax credit to beginning farmers.

Senator Matt Huffman has prioritized Senate Bill 89, a reform bill for joint-vocational schools and Senator Stephen Huffman a health transparency bill. One that would essentially allow patients to make informed decisions related to their health care and to eliminate “surprise” billing.

Mental health was a significant topic starting with Representative Powell, who cited concerns surrounding farmers and school children. She stated, “I don’t think we have a good grasp of what we are defining as mental health.”

Representative Manchester noted the increase in suicide rates “across the board” and through all sectors of society with the drug epidemic opening eyes on mental health.

“Keep in mind, there’s only so much government can do,” said Senator Matt Huffman on the topic of mental health. He explained a disconnect from society in “many ways” that did not exist when he was growing up, how individuals need to be more proactive in their community, and to have human interactions.

Senator Stephen Huffman concurred with the statement saying it is all about the family.

On education, the panel agreed on the need for more options for employers and employees beyond the four-year degree. “The community colleges are really the future for workforce training,” said Senator Matt Huffman. “Today’s college product for many people is not worth the cost.”

As a solid millennial, Representative Manchester said the overwhelming message when growing up was to obtain a four-year college degree.

“I’m so thankful to see that conversation is changing everywhere I go,” said Representative Manchester. She was a participant earlier that morning in Manufacturing Day, a national event that invites high school sophomore students to tour area manufactures. It is an opportunity to see firsthand the many career options available in the industry.

“Community colleges, the vocational schools, all of those programs have seen a tremendous amount of support,” continued Manchester. “There are so many opportunities available to them.”

Event Sponsor: Wayne HealthCare
Gold Sponsors: Premier Health, The Andersons Marathon Ethanol
Silver Sponsors: BASF Corporation, FRAM, Fry & Company, CPAs, Kettering Health Network, Reid Health, and Whirlpool Corporation

State of the State Luncheon
(Pictured left to right) Jeff Kniese, Darke County Chamber Board Director and Legislative Committee Chairman, State Representative Jena Powell (District 80), State Representative Susan Manchester (District 84), State Senator Matt Huffman (12th District), and State Senator Stephen Huffman (5th District) during the State of the State luncheon held on Friday, October 4, 2019.

Chamber State of the Nation

The Darke County Chamber State of the Nation Legislative luncheon hosted by the Chamber Legislative Committee was held on Friday, November 8, 2019, at the Brethren Retirement Community with Ohio’s 8th Congressional District U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson.

Diane Ewing, CCO of Event Sponsor Premier Health and a director on the Chamber Board, opened the luncheon on the recent tragedies in the region — the death of Dayton Police Detective Jorge DelRio on November 4th, killed in the line of duty, the mass shooting in the city that took the lives of nine, and the Memorial Day tornadoes.

It was only the night before that Ewing was at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Main Street for an event when she noted several police cruisers were driving slowly, lights on but no sirens and an ambulance pass the building. “That turned out to be part of the Detective DelRio’s last journey,” said Ewing. She explained how police officers, firefighters, and first responders put their lives on the line every day, that it was an honor to be there to see it, but at the same time, “so incredibly sad.”

As the featured speaker, Congressman Warren Davidson, who served in the United States Army for twelve years that included Germany at the fall of the Berlin Wall, noted America’s long line of heroes, those who “have served our country, selflessly.”

The Congressman compared the treatment of Vietnam veterans to that of “our police officers today,” highlighting Det. DelRio’s death before briefly touching on a variety of hot topics.

Those topics included the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with Mexico and Canada already signed on, “hopefully we’ll get a vote on it soon,” to ongoing negotiations with China, the Congressman having traveled to the country last month.

Davidson also cited the cease-fire negotiated between the Kurds and Turkey, without “committing” the country to war. That diplomacy was one of the reasons that he ran for office, not that he was against a strong military. “It makes your diplomacy much more successful. If you want peace, prepare for war.”

He went on to state that ongoing war was not making America more secure but leading towards bankruptcy.

“We’re in the process of bankrupting our country fighting other people’s wars,” continued Davidson. “The hook to me is don’t bankrupt America.”

The Congressman also briefly noted the country’s debt, which he sums up as “freedom versus free stuff, and I just think defend freedom” to the Medicare for All debate.

“The problem isn’t necessarily who picks up the tab, the problem is it costs too much,” said Davidson. He cited healthcare as six percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the 1960s to nearly 19 percent today as a massive transfer of wealth from “everyone else” to the industry. However, he did note “everyone is sick” of the current system except for the health insurance companies “they like it, they like it a lot, it is great for them.”

Event Sponsor: Premier Health
Gold Sponsors: Greenville Federal, Walls Brothers Asphalt Silver Sponsors: Brady Ware & Company, Brookdale Greenville, Fifth Third Bank, Brethren Retirement Community, and Edison State Community College

State of the Nation Luncheon
Darke County Chamber members attended the State of the Nation Legislative luncheon on Friday, November 8, 2019 with Ohio’s 8th Congressional District Congressman Warren Davidson as guest speaker.