COLUMBUS— Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today unveiled a series of bills to improve foster care and job training, and protect Ohio’s water.

The package builds on the work done in the state budget bill, which passed the House last week by a wide, bipartisan margin.

“By working together we can strengthen Ohio families, give our children a brighter future and create a strong foundation for economic growth,” said Sykes (D-Akron).

One of the major tenets of the House budget plan was to invest in Ohio’s foster care system, which is being stretched to the limit by the drug crisis. The number of kids in foster care has increased 25 percent in recent years to more than 15,000.

“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,” Householder said.

Two of the bills proposed today, House Bills 8 and 14, continue the House’s work on foster care.

House Bill 8, sponsored by Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) would improve Ohio’s foster caregiver training so potential foster parents can be trained, licensed and approved more effectively.

House Bill 14, sponsored by Rep Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) would create the Kinship Navigator Program. The program would help kinship caregivers locate support services that are available to them, and expands the definition of kindship so more family members can qualify.

The other two priority bills introduced Monday are:

  • Tech Cred job training grant and reimbursement program – House Bill 2, sponsored by Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) would create funding mechanisms to support training for in-demand jobs. The Tech Cred program would be geared toward the incumbent workforce and individuals looking to enter an in-demand field. Businesses and individuals would be eligible to apply.

  • H2Ohio – House Bill 7, sponsored by Haraz Ghanbari (R-Bowling Green) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and creates the H2Ohio Endowment Board and establishes a state trust to fund the preservation and restoration of Ohio’s lakes and rivers. The measure will provide a long-term plan for Ohio, creating a secure, sustainable funding stream for the protection of water quality. The state budget bill approved last week, House Bill 166, included $86 million for the first two years of H2Ohio, as well as language creating an advisory board for the program.

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