By State Rep. Tony Burkley
Over the past couple of weeks, Governor John Kasich’s Mid-Biennial Review (MBR) has been under consideration in the Ohio House. The MBR is a proposal the governor puts out the year following passage of the state’s operating budget, which is passed and signed every two years. Basically, it gives legislators an opportunity to look at the most recent budget and assess what areas could be improved.
This year’s MBR totaled upwards of 1,600 pages, so to ensure that every part of the bill received the attention and scrutiny it deserves, the House decided to split it up into 14 different bills and send them to 11 different committees. A couple bills were delegated to committees that I serve on, and that impact our region of the state.
First, having recently been appointed to the House Education Committee, I was eager to work on part of the MBR that addressed K-12 learning, House Bill 487. Probably the most important education proposal was an effort to reduce the number of dropouts in Ohio’s public schools. Last year, 24,000 failed to complete high school, a staggering number that obviously has serious negative consequences when it comes to finding a job and pursuing a career.
The bill aims to help schools identify youth who are “at-risk” for not graduating, and then to initiate communication between parents, teachers and students to see what avenues could be taken to help prevent the student from dropping out. When testifying in committee, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dick Ross said, “A majority of dropouts’ parents were not aware of their child’s struggles in attendance and grades or that they were about to leave school.”
House Bill 487 passed out of committee and will be headed to the House floor for a vote.
Another item of great interest and concern to the people of northwest Ohio is agriculture, as well as the health of Grand Lake St. Marys. House Bill 490, which addresses topics related to agriculture and natural resources, also includes several items related to oil and gas regulation, as well as improving the state’s water quality.
Through this legislation, it is our goal to take a common sense approach to water quality. Currently under House Bill 490, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would continue to administer the existing manure handling, storage and application requirements within the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed for as long as it is still designated a watershed in distress, as well as other non-manure oversights.
House Bill 490 is expected to receive several hearings before being voted on in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.
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.