COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed several bills on Friday before the inauguration for his second term.

House Bill 45  

This bill allocates nearly $6 billion dollars in state and American Rescue Plan funds. DeWine said the bill “will overwhelmingly benefit Ohioans of all walks of life.”

Among other investments, the bill allocates half a billion dollars to Ohio’s childcare industry and $700 million to the state’s rainy-day fund. Plus, $175 million dollars will go to mental health resources, which DeWine said is top of his priority list. 

“A historic investment in mental health,” DeWine said. “But the job is not done, we are going to focus on research, making sure every Ohioan has access to mental health.” 

House Bill 458 

This bill changes several election laws. Secretary of State Frank LaRose previously said he has been asking for some of these changes and that there is always room for improvement.

“Ohioans are clearly supportive of strict photo ID for voting and we have found a common-sense way to make it happen that ensures voters are not disenfranchised,” said LaRose in a statement on Friday. “No piece of legislation is a silver-bullet solution, but we are once again showing Ohioans that we take their concerns seriously and are dedicated to continuously improving our elections.” 

DeWine also released a statement, and said it is unlikely for any other election bills to be signed into law.

“I believe with the enactment of the new election integrity provisions in House Bill 458, this matter should be settled, and I do not expect to see any further statutory changes to Ohio voting procedures while I am Governor,” DeWine said.  

House Bill 507  

Also known as “The Chicken Bill,” this bill was meant to reduce the minimum number of poultry chicks that can be sold in lots, but an amendment to the bill that passed 22-7 on the Ohio Senate floor during lame-duck session would expedite the process for oil and gas companies to get a fracking lease in state parks. The bill also defines natural gas as green energy.

“The initial and primary purpose of House Bill 507 is important and worthy of passage. While the bill initially involved agricultural issues, amendments were added regarding drilling and natural gas issues,” said DeWine. “As my administration has analyzed this bill, I believe the amendments in House Bill 507 do not fundamentally change the criteria and processes established by the Ohio General Assembly in 2011 that first established the policy of leasing mineral rights under state parks and lands. 

“In addition, I am instructing the Director of the Department of Natural Resources to continue to follow the processes first established by the General Assembly in 2011 in this area,” DeWine continued. “This includes continuing my administration’s policy of prohibiting any new surface use access in our state parks.” 

Priorities for 2023  

The governor said his budget proposal at the end of the month will include provisions for affordable housing.  

“It will include proposals that takes a comprehensive approach to our housing issues in the state and it takes a comprehensive approach to our affordable housing issues,” DeWine said.  

The bill also prohibits projects that use the federal low-income housing tax credit system from stacking credits with Ohio’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit, but DeWine said he has a solution. He said he will propose, in his budget, a state affordable housing tax credit to help off-set the cost of rent for low-income Ohioans. 

“Ohio will have a very aggressive approach towards both affordable housing, workforce housing and home ownership which we need I the state because the economy is growing,” Lt. Governor Jon Husted said.