As 2017 comes to a close, I wanted to provide you with a review of what the Ohio House has been working on for the past year, recapping our most important legislation before the hustle and bustle of the holidays truly begins. As always, it’s been a busy year, and I’ve tried to have a hand in the discussion of many bills that will have a positive and direct impact on you and other Ohioans.

Much of our time was devoted to the passage of the operating budget, which establishes the state’s spending plan for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It was a challenging budget process during this cycle, with tax revenues coming in under estimates, and we had to emphasize restrained spending and prioritize essential services. Even with these obstacles, I’m proud of the final budget we passed, which among hundreds of other provisions, provides valuable resources to schools by increasing per-pupil funding and promotes consistency in Ohio’s tax structure by not raising taxes.

We also remained committed to fighting the opioid epidemic that is critically damaging our communities across the state. The HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety) Agenda is a specially focused legislative initiative that works to end the crisis from multiple perspectives, including prevention, treatment, mental healthcare, and workforce development. In the budget bill, we devoted $180 million for this coordination of care.

Finally, the House recently passed legislation that has been a priority of mine, House Bill 50, which I sponsored. This bill takes important steps toward preventing fraud in Ohio’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by requiring a color photograph of at least one household adult on the front of an EBT debit card. This simple reform to the administration of the program will deter trafficking of the cards and safeguard the benefits of those who truly need and are legally entitled to them.

As you can see, my fellow members and I have been researching and passing a wide range of legislation that will make Ohio a better place to live and work. This is only a glimpse of all we’ve done, but I wanted to give you a highlight of the 2017 legislative year before 2018 is upon us. I wish you and your family happy holidays, and I look forward to continuing to work for you into the next year.

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