Shared from the 6/26/2019 Sandusky Register eEdition

Bill would create long-term fund for water projects




State Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, said he’s “very confident” his bill to create a long-term funding source for water quality projects will be enacted into law.

Ghanbari’s House Bill 7, to create the H2Ohio trust fund, was approved by the House 90-3 on June 20 and awaits action in the Ohio Senate.

It would create a longterm fund for clean water construction projects, including projects to benefit Lake Erie.

Gov. Mike DeWine proposed the H2Ohio fund earlier this year.

The House approved $85 million for the first two years of the program, while the Senate approved $170 million. The new two-year state budget is supposed to start on July 1, so action is expected soon to complete the budget and arrive at a final figure.

“It’s probably going to be a compromise between the two,” Ghanbari said.

Lawmakers such as Ghanbari and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, have been trying to figure out how to fund water improvements beyond the next state budget.

Gavarone has authored a bill to create a 10-year, $1 billion capital improvements program.

Ghanbari said his House Bill 7 “is not intended to conflict with Sen. Gavarone’s bond issue.”

Her plan would fund water quality projects for 10 years, while Ghanbari said his bill is meant to fund water improvements for decades.

His measure would create a trust fund paid for with appropriations, money from revenue bonds, donations and other sources. The Ohio Water Development Authority would be the trustee, while a new H2Ohio Advisory Council would establish priorities.

Ghanbari said DeWine backs the bill. He said he discussed water quality with the governor.

“I just traveled with the governor back in the district to look at some of the floodings in the farm fields,” he said.

Ghanbari said the lopsided vote when his bill passed the Ohio House showed that both parties support clean water.

The vote “sends a very clear message this is, in fact, a piece of very strong bipartisan legislation,” Ghanbari said.

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