Bill Also Creates Pilot Program to Help At-Risk Youth Find Pathways to College 

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the governor signed into law the “Clean Lake 2020 Plan,” or Senate Bill 299, which provides over $36 million in additional funding for the preservation and protection of Lake Erie. Funds will be used for efforts to reduce algal blooms and combat high nutrient levels in the lake and increase resources for ongoing lake quality monitoring and management programs.

“Lake Erie’s health and vitality is critical to our state,” said Obhof, who co-sponsored the legislation. “This bill is one more step in the legislature’s ongoing effort to protect one of Ohio’s greatest natural resources, and I appreciate the partnership between our environmental, agricultural and scientific communities to work together with a sense of urgency and resolve.”

Among other provisions, the bill:

Appropriates $20 million for the Soil and Water Phosphorus Program to be used by the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission for programs to assist in the reduction of phosphorus in sub-watersheds in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Increases the appropriation for the Healthy Lake Erie Initiative by $10 million and earmarks the funds for efforts to reduce open lake disposal of dredged material.

Increases the appropriation for Soil and Water District Support by $3.5 million in FY 2019 for staffing, soil testing, and nutrient management plan development in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Increases the capital appropriation for Stone Laboratory by $2.65 million over the biennium for the construction of additional lab space and in-lake monitoring equipment.

Senate Bill 299 also creates the OhioCorps Pilot Program to provide eligible at-risk students in Ohio with guidance to higher education pathways through mentorship programs operated by public universities and community and technical colleges around the state. Upon successful completion of the program, which will be administered by Ohio’s Department of Higher Education, a one-time $1,000 college scholarship will be provided to those students for use at a public university, community or technical college.

In other legislative news this week, the Senate passed the “POW/MIA Remembrance Act” which would expand the use of the POW/MIA military flag at certain state buildings. The legislation requires that the flag, used to honor military individuals who are prisoners of war or missing in action, be flown at state-operated buildings on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans’ Day. House Bill 254 now moves to the governor for consideration.

Senator Obhof represents the 22nd Ohio Senate District, which encompasses all of Medina, Ashland and Richland counties as well as portions of Holmes county. He currently serves as President of the Ohio Senate. For more information, please visit www.ohiosenate.gov/obhof.