Having lived in Ohio all my life, I really enjoy the opportunity to travel around the state and see all that Ohio has to offer. Even as I drive back and forth from my home in Pierpont to the Statehouse in Columbus, it is easy to see the differences in Ohio’s landscape. This is why millions of Ohioans and those from out of state take the time to visit our state’s public lands every year.

In fact, the State of Ohio is the single largest landowner in the state. The problem is that we have not been using these lands to their full potential. By better managing these properties, we can avoid the funding problems we see today. One of the ways to do this is by leasing the lands for oil and gas production.

In an effort to take advantage of these natural treasures, where the resources are found within nature, House Bill 133—which was just passed by the House—creates the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission. This commission will act as an advocate of the people of Ohio, ensuring that public land managers have the authority to approve the development of their lands. It is also in the best interest of Ohio that they can control the property, acting alongside the state and federal government.

I support this legislation because it is fundamentally about our state helping itself, rather than increasing the tax burden on more of its citizens. Through the bill, the procedures for the state entering into leases are laid out for oil and gas production on land owned or under control of a state agency. Doing this will provide additional funding for expenses like equipment, renovations and repairs.

What’s even more important to me is that this legislation will benefit the people of Ashtabula and Trumbull counties by watching out for the middle class. Certainly we are aware that when gas prices rise it hurts, and so do other prices—such as food—because of the cost of transporting those items to our local communities. When families are already having a difficult time putting food on the table, there is no reason we should be hindering ourselves by not tapping into what is right under our noses.

By developing these natural resources, Ohio can increase the use of its manufacturing base, meaning more investment in our local economies and more jobs for our citizens. In a place already economically hard-hit, we must be doing everything we can to ensure that we do not face this disadvantage.

Solutions and results do not come over night, but we must continue to work toward them. Passing this legislation is one more step along the way.


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