Ohio’s Biopreferred bill passes House, awaits Strickland’s signature

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House of Representatives voted 92-1 to approve Senate Bill 131, a bill jointly sponsored by Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) and Sen. Karen Gillmor (R-Tiffin) that encourages the use of biobased products. The bill, which was voted upon Feb. 17, previously passed the Senate unanimously and now awaits Governor Strickland’s signature.

Some 23 senators and 59 representatives signed on as co-sponsors for the bill that creates a “Buy Bio-Ohio” purchasing program.

The program

Senate Bill 131 requires the Director of the Department of Administrative Services to establish a program that gives purchasing preference to biobased products as long as the costs are comparable to non-biobased products. The program would apply to supplies purchased by the administrative services department, state agencies and state colleges and universities.

“The goal of this legislation is to promote Ohio agriculture and industry,” said Cafaro. “By increasing our use of biobased products we can help Ohio’s farmers and manufacturers expand and create job opportunities. This legislation also gives a boost to Ohio’s colleges and universities that conduct research into developing biobased products.”

The Federal model

The program will be administered by the Department of Administrative Services and becomes the most comprehensive state biopreferred program in the nation. The bill adopts product standards and approved product lists established by the Federal government as part of the Federal BioPreferred purchasing program. Senate Bill 131 does not apply to the purchase of motor vehicle fuel, heating oil or electricity.

The bill is modeled after the Federal program, which was established in the Farm Security and Rural Investment act of 2002. However, the Federal program also includes a testing and certification process to establish a list of approved bio-products. Senate Bill 131 will rely on this Federal list to determine what products should get preference in Ohio. This would help speed up implementation of the program and save the state time and money on testing.

“During this time of economic stress, we need creative solutions to help fuel our state’s economy,” Gillmor said. “The combined purchasing power of the state and our public colleges and universities is enormous.

Ohio companies

This bill helps capture those dollars which the state is already spending and channel them directly back into Ohio’s economy.”

Many Ohio research and manufacturing companies such as Ashland Chemical, Battelle, Hexion, Nutek, Proctor & Gamble, Sherwin Williams, The Scotts Company, UniVenture and others are already leading the way in bioproduct development and marketing. The bill also benefits Ohio’s small businesses, many of which supply biobased products. Additionally, the growth of the bioproducts industry in Ohio will boost the bottom line for soybean farmers.

Soybean Association

The Ohio Soybean Association applauded the passage of the senate bill since it will help soybean farmers and the soybean market.

“By passing Senate Bill 131, the legislature has set Ohio up to grow the bioproducts industry here in the state, and in-turn help make Ohio soybean farmers more profitable,” said Jeff Wuebker, soybean association president and Darke County soybean farmer. “Soy-based bioproducts are an important new market, and this purchasing program will increase their usage in Ohio without adding any extra burden on taxpayers.”

The bill is expected to be signed by Strickland who stressed the importance of agriculture to Ohio’s economy along with biopolymers during his State of the State address Jan. 26.

During the speech, the governor said, “we will do everything in our power” to leverage Ohio’s resources to grow this promising industry.

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