Ohio House Democrats and Republicans unveiled a set of bills Monday at a joint press conference, continuing an unusual bipartisan push in the Ohio Legislature after successfully passing a state budget bill.
“By working together, we can strengthen Ohio families, give our children a brighter future and create a strong foundation for economic growth,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) during Monday’s press conference.
Two of the bills unveiled Monday focus on strengthening the state’s foster care system. House Bill 8, sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican, seeks to improve foster caregiver training so foster parents can be trained more effectively.
House Bill 14 would establish the Kinship Navigator Program, a new program that would help caregivers locate support services that are available to them.
“The state’s done a lot to help those struggling with addiction. What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re also helping others who have been impacted by the addiction crisis,” House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said.
Ohio’s foster care system is “being stretched to the limit” as a result of the opioid epidemic. In Ohio alone, the number of kids in foster care has surpassed 15,000 and increased by 25 percent in recent years.
Another bill in the bipartisan package of bills is House Bill 2, which would create a “tech cred job training grant and reimbursement program.” According to a House press release, the program would provide funding to support training for in-demand jobs.
A final bill, House Bill 7, would build off of Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio program by creating an H2Ohio Endowment Board and establishing a “state trust to fund the preservation and restoration of Ohio’s lakes and rivers.” The state budget bill that passed last week included $86 million in funding for the first two years of the H2Ohio program.
“Last week was a very historical week for us. I think it showed not only the people of Ohio but people clear across the United States that there’s an opportunity out there for people to work in a bipartisan fashion,” Householder said during the press conference. “We have talked for a long time about our priorities for the House of Representatives. These aren’t Republican priorities, these aren’t Democrat priorities. These are priorities that we feel are important for the people of the state of Ohio.”
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