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House Dems announce $102.5 million in COVID-19 relief, election safety funds

June 15, 2020
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS – House Democrats announced Monday the state Controlling Board approved another round of funding to support Ohio’s efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak and to ensure safe and secure elections this fall.

“We don’t know what this fall will look like regarding the pandemic, so it’s important we provide commonsense safeguards for Ohio voters, including expanded mail-in voting and making in-person voting as safe and accessible as possible. This federal funding is just a small piece of a greater effort to ensure every Ohioan has the opportunity to have their voice heard and ballot counted this November,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “As the COVID-18 pandemic continues, this funding is essential to Ohio’s ability to protect our right to vote and our most vulnerable populations.”

The Controlling Board Monday approved federal funds from the CARES Act to the following agencies to respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • $40.3 million to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ohio’s prisons;
  • $2 million to the Ohio EPA to conduct epidemiological studies regarding COVID-19 trends in wastewater;
  • $4.7 million to the Ohio Department of Agriculture to aid local fairs in holding events in accordance with public health guidelines this summer.

The following federal funding amounts were approved to offset multiple state agencies’ costs in responding to the pandemic:

  • $12 million to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services;
  • $3.95 million to the Ohio Department of Health;
  • $4 million to the Ohio Adjutant General;
  • $22.8 to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

The Controlling Board approved $12.8 million from the Help America Vote Act to the Secretary of State to implement a safe and secure 2020 election. These funds will go to county boards of elections to ensure polling locations have adequate cleaning supplies, PPE, and safe environments to conduct in-person voting, as well as helping the state cover the cost of sending absentee ballot requests to voters.

Last month, House Democrats introduced legislation to ensure a safe and accessible presidential election this November as the global pandemic continues, which includes protecting safe and accessible in-person voting opportunities.

“Amid revenue shortfalls, these federal dollars are needed to keep our state agencies afloat as they play a key role in responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire).