Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ohio House Passes General Mid-Biennium Review Legislation

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COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today voted in support of a joint House-Senate conference committee report on House Bill 487, which is the main component of the mid-biennium review. The legislation provides process improvement and updating of operating laws. Reforms in the bill include efforts to streamline state government services, prioritize state funding, and make government more responsive by removing statutory barriers.
“House Bill 487 makes many important reforms to our state government so that services are delivered to Ohio citizens in the most efficient way possible,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster).
Under HB 487, $42 million has been allocated for the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program and the Farmland Preservation Program. An appropriation of $2 million was included to protect the timber industry through the reforesting of areas that have been targeted by the Asian longhorned beetle. The bill also extends state auditing authority to combined county Department of Jobs and Family Services agencies.
Other major provisions passed as part of House Bill 487 include:
  • Streamlining state government and saving taxpayer dollars: Maintains our commitment to consolidating state government and spending tax dollars wisely by taking the unprecedented step of reviewing all appropriation line-items in a non-budget year, leading to the consolidation, merging, renaming or repurposing of more than 135 individual appropriation line items, which rendered $13 million in savings over this biennium. Also creates new online resources to aid local governments in joint purchasing and the sharing of services.
·         Safeguarding the Elderly: Creates the Aging in Place Pilot Program, a pilot program for 180 households in southwest Ohio to receive health services and home repairs to attempt to allow more elderly people to stay at home longer.
·         Protecting the Environment:  Creates the Healthy Lake Erie Fund and provides a $3.35 million appropriation to reduce algae blooms on Lake Erie, as well as inland lakes and streams
·         Ensuring healthcare in underserved areas: Protects state funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • Working to eliminate drug addiction in major affected areas: Directs the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction services to create a pilot project in Franklin and Scioto counties for the use of a non-addictive opiate treatment with the voluntary cooperation of individuals in the criminal justice system; Also creates a pilot project in Gallia and other southern Ohio counties to establish the Biometric Enrollment and Verification System in order to reduce drug diversion and doctor shopping
  • Improving services for the developmentally disabled: Improves the state and local developmental disabled agencies and provides more decision-making authority for disabled individuals.
House Bill 487 will now be sent to the governor for his signature.