By Rep. Tony Burkley
Last year featured many important policy issues in the state legislature, most notably the passage of the state’s two-year budget. As I enter my second year serving the people of Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert counties, as well as part of Auglaize County, I would like to inform my constituents of some of what they can expect to see in 2014.
One of the issues that we are currently looking at, addresses financing for infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and water storage facilities. Once the terms of the legislation is agreed to and passed by the legislature, the final say will be given to voters on the upcoming May ballot, where they will have an up or down vote on whether to approve funding the projects.
Another important subject includes a potential reduction or revenue neutral adjustment to the current severance tax, which is a tax on drilling for oil and natural gas. A bill brought before the House (HB 375) would assess a low, competitive severance tax that would fund the oil and gas regulatory program in the state, plug idle and orphaned wells and reduce personal income taxes for Ohioans.
Additionally, the issue of prescription drug abuse has become a serious problem throughout the state. Fortunately, as more people become aware of the problem, more ideas are being brought to the table to hopefully help reverse its effects and scope. The House study committees that were held last summer have resulted in a lot of great collaboration, and I look forward to continue working with this topic in the months ahead.
Finally, Governor Kasich will once again be introducing what is called the “mid-biennial review,” which gives legislators an opportunity to take another look at the budget bill that was passed last year and see where improvements can be made. To my knowledge, Governor Kasich came up with this idea during the last two-year cycle. While I was not a member of the General Assembly at that time, I support the concept and think it is a great way to find places where we can perhaps save taxpayer dollars.
This is obviously just a small sample of what might be ahead for legislators in Columbus. As always, I value your input on any or all of these matters, and I will do my best to keep you informed on the issues that are most important to Northwest Ohio.
Rep. Burkley may be reached by calling (614) 644-5091, e-mailing Rep82@ohiohouse.gov or writing to State Representative Tony Burkley, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.