Offering an update on recent legislation

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The legislature is in full swing. The governor recently introduced his budget, House Bill 153.

The summary of the budget itself is several hundred pages long. The actual language of the budget will be even longer, and the House members will be receiving it shortly.

It is a tough budget, and we knew that it would be with the loss of President Obama’s one-time stimulus funds.

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In the budget bill, primary and secondary education took a $1.9 billion cut from the Obama stimulus funds, but state aid for education actually increased slightly.

This is a change from the previous budget, in which state aid for education was actually cut for the first time. As it has been described, equity for school districts is part of the formula. Legislators will learn more about it very soon.

I am concerned about the substantial cuts to local government and many other issues. It is important to realize that this is just a starting point and that the budget will look very different today than it will when it reaches the governor’s desk in June.

Aside from the budget, I want to take this opportunity to update you on legislation that I introduced as a sponsor or joint sponsor. House Bill 36, which restores two calamity days that were cut during the previous General Assembly, has passed the House by a vote of 92-5 and it recently received a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

I am hopeful it will be voted out very soon to provide relief to our local school districts for the remainder of the current school year.

Another bill, House Bill 91, names Route 50 in Vinton County after Ryan Seitz, who gave his life near Londonderry as a volunteer firefighter with the McArthur Fire Department.

I have given sponsor testimony on this bill, and it has been amended into House Bill 65, which includes other fallen heroes who may have highways named in their honor. The next step will be a vote on the House floor.

House Bill 120, which I introduced with Rep. Lou Gentile, establishes a task force that will map areas of the state where Ohioans do not have access to safe drinking water.

EPA Director Scott Nally reported to me that up to 17 percent of Ohioans do not have access to clean drinking water. This legislation is loosely based on ConnectOhio, which mapped areas of the state without internet.

When I introduced this legislation, I thought it would be concentrated mostly in our area, but it has gained statewide attention.

One of the motives behind introducing the bill was to bring the issue to light, because many people in the Statehouse did not know this is a problem. My goal is to develop a long-term, statewide strategy to address this problem.

And then there is also House Bill 128, which I introduced with Rep. Bob Peterson. This legislation is to make it easier for small, rural fire departments to access available grant funds and make some clarifications as far as helping rural departments meet the requirements for making emergency calls.

Proponents of this legislation include the Ohio Townships Association and the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association.

I am planning to introduce a couple of more bills in the near future regarding career colleges and also aggregates, but I will update you on that legislation in the coming weeks.

As always, please feel free to share your views with me as these and other important issues are debated at the Statehouse.

John Carey serves in Ohio’s 87th District of the House of Representatives, which includes eastern Lawrence County. He may be reached at (614) 466-1366 or by writing to: Ohio House of Representatives, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. He can also be reached via e-mail his office at