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Collection Harris, Bill M. Ohio Senate papers
Title Biographical and Correspondence
Accession number 10-20
Admin/Biographical History In March of 1953, Bill Harris enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served in the Korean War as a machine gunner and a platoon commander. After Korea he attended the US Army Counterintelligence School, graduating first in his class. He received his commission in 1961 and served the reminder of his 23-year career with the USMC as an intelligence and counterintelligence officer, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam. Senator Harris retired in 1977 from the military as a major with numerous decorations for valor and outstanding service, including two bronze star awards and the Vietnam Medal of Honor.

After earning his B. A. in Secondary Education from the University of Arizona, and retiring from the Marine Corps, Harris and his family moved to Ashland, Ohio. In 1981, he established Bill Harris Chevrolet Dealership. The dealership was so successful that it become one of the first authorized multi-General Motor franchise dealerships. Although he retired from the business in 1995, the Bill Harris Dealership franchise is still run by his three sons and their families.

While still running his business, Harris was active in the local chamber of commerce where he worked to recruit and elect small business owners to public office. He believed then, as he believes today, that the perspectives of business owners-individuals who have actually had to make a payroll and navigate government bureaucracy to turn a profit-are invaluable to a deliberative body like the Ohio General Assembly. Eventually, he realized that he should be willing to do what he was asking of others, and decided to run for the Ohio House in 1994.

Although he had not previously held a public office, Harris quickly moved up the ranks. He served in a number of leadership positions, including Majority Whip. In August of 2000, Bill Harris was appointed to the Ohio Senate to serve the 19th Senate District, which includes Delaware, Knox, Morrow, Richland and a portion of Ashland counties.

From 2003-2005, Senator Harris chaired the influential Senate Finance & Financial Institutions Committee, which plays in an integral part in developing the state's budget. Then in 2005-10 years after he first reported for duty at the Ohio State house - his colleagues unanimously elected him Senate President. He was reelected in both 2007 and 2009.

As Senate President his primary focus has been on revitalizing the economy and creating more job opportunities for Ohio families. He led the effort to reform the state's outdated tax code, including the elimination of onerous business taxes that had stifled growth and innovation for years and a 21 percent income tax cut for all taxpayers. He then set his sights on higher education, recognizing that a good education, be it at traditional four-year, a two-year community college or proprietary school, is the key to ensuring Ohioans are prepared for the jobs of a changing economy. He pushed to raise the bar on what Ohio students are expected to learn in our primary and secondary schools and then to freeze tuition at all state colleges and universities to make higher education more affordable. Now in his final two years in the Senate, he will continue his work to make Ohio more attractive for new businesses and jobs.

During his time in the legislature, Senator Harris has received numerous awards, including Watchdog of the Treasury, Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council Leadership Award, the Career & Technical Education Award, as well as the Preservation of Democracy Award. Senator Harris was the first legislator to be named AMVETS Legislator of the Year twice. In addition, Senator Harris was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Ashland University and the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Akron.
The Senator has served as chairman of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Ashland United Way Campaign, director of the Huntington National Bank of Ashland and trustee for Samaritan Hospitals. He currently is a member of the Board of Advisors for the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ashland City Huntington Bank.

Senator Harris lives in Ashland with his wife Cay. They have eleven grown children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Archival History The collection was acquired December 2010.
Caption Harris, Bill M.
Catalog Number 10-20AAABiographical
Creator Harris, Bill M.
Imagefile 006\1020Biographical.JPG
Object Name Papers
People Harris, Bill M.
Scope & Content Ohio State Senator Bill Harris
Inventory of boxes

Box 1-Biographical and Correspondence
Box 2-Newsclippings January 2011 to January 2008
Box 3-Newsclippings February 2008 to 2000; Press releases and pamphlets
Box 4-Objects 1-8
Box 5-Objects 9
Box 6-Objects 10-16
Box 7-Objects 17-30
Box 8-Objects oversized 31 and 48
Box 9-Objects oversized
Box 10-Objects oversized
Box 11-Plaques 1-9
Box 12-Plaques 10-15
Box 13-Plaques 16-39
Box 14-Plaques 40-46
Box 15-Plaques 47; certificates
Box 16-extra office stationery