Bill to encourage use of bio-products, boost Ohio agriculture passes Senate

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COLUMBUS — State Sen. Karen Gillmor (R-Tiffin) announced the Ohio Senate approved Senate Bill 131, her bill that would create a “Buy Bio-Ohio” purchasing program, which would apply state purchasing preferences to bio-products.

Bio-products are composed wholly or in significant part of biological elements, including renewable agricultural materials such as plant, animal and marine materials or forestry materials.

Gillmor co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Capri Cafaro (D- Hubbard).

Ohio law currently contains several provisions that give preference to Ohio vendors to supply state products and materials.

Bio-products

Senate Bill 131 would apply these measures to bio-products, taking money state government is already spending and putting it back into Ohio’s economy in addition to providing a boost to the state’s agriculture industry.

“Giving purchasing preference to bio-products will not only benefit our economy, it will also boost research and development at Ohio colleges and universities as well as manufacturers producing bio-based items,” Gillmor said.

Under the bill, state agencies and institutions of higher education would be required to give purchasing preference to bio-based products when a bio-based alternative is available.

This requirement could be waived in cases where the product is not available within a reasonable period of time, fails to meet performance standards or is available only at an unreasonable price.

Purchases of heating oil, electricity or fuel used in motor vehicles, would be exempt from the bill’s provisions.

BioPreferred program

The “Buy Bio-Ohio” program outlined in Senate Bill 131 would be modeled after the federal BioPreferred program, which involves the testing and certification of products to establish a list of approved bio-products in addition to purchasing preference.

Senate Bill 131 would rely on the federal list and certification process to determine what products are eligible — helping to speed up implementation of the program and save the state time and money on testing.

In addition, Senate Bill 131 requires the state to issue a report each year detailing the number and types of bio-products purchased under the program and the amount of money spent by state agencies and state-supported colleges and universities.

Ohio-based companies

Several Ohio-based companies are already involved in the development and manufacture of bio-products, including Battelle, Ashland Chemical, Procter and Gamble, Sherwin Williams and Univenture.

Senate Bill 131 was approved by a 30-0 vote and now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

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