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Ohio House Committee Passes Transportation Budget, Now Set For Floor Vote

Highway traffic on I-270 in Columbus.
Mary Rathke
Highway traffic on I-270 in Columbus.

The $8 billion state transportation budget goes to the floor of the Ohio House today, after it was overwhelmingly approved by a House committee Wednesday.

Just under a month after its introduction, House Finance Committee chair state Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) reported the vote count on the two-year transportation budget was 29-4.

Committee members took out Gov. Mike DeWine’s $10 increase in vehicle fees, which would have raised $127 million for the state Highway Patrol. But they boosted funding for the patrol by $50 million a year.

The Finance committee removed a provision hiking fines for distracted driving, reduced fees on alternative fuel vehicles, and put back $70 million in cuts DeWine made to public transit. Half of the committee’s eight Democrats voted against the bill.

Under current law, police need another reason to pull drivers over, such as speeding, before they can issue a distracted driving ticket. DeWine wanted the action made a primary driving offense, but Oeslanger said lawmakers didn't want to deal with a criminal law issue in the budget.

The transportation budget must be in place by March 31, although it was several days latewhen it passed in 2019.