SALEM, Ohio — Members of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee hope to have their version of a new farm nutrient control bill submitted to the full House this week.
The committee held its fourth hearing on H.B. 61 Feb. 24, which is similar to a Senate-approved bill that prohibits the application of fertilizer and manure to snow-covered ground, and provides various other requirements related to keeping farm nutrients out of public waterways.
Brandon Ogden, legislative aide to Committee Chairman Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, said the committee had hoped to have the measure to the House last week, but needed more time to review the provisions.
“We wanted to make sure the product was error-free,” he said.
Moving the bill
Ogden said the committee planed to continue its work on the bill March 3 and again March 4, if necessary, before presenting it to the full House.
The Senate approved its own water quality measure, known as The Clean Lake Erie Act, by a unanimous vote Feb. 4.
Ogden said the House committee wanted to hear from all parties before it approved a bill, which it did by holding hearings in northwestern Ohio.
“The commodities have told us we’ve included them more than they’ve ever been included before,” he said.
While the House and Senate bills are very similar, they also contain some key differences. The Senate bill, for example, includes some language that would give the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency more responsibility in coordinating algae-related responses.
The two bills also differ in how they treat nutrient application before a rain event.
Also, the Senate version has a five-year sunset clause, that would end the prohibitions, unless the state’s legislative ag committees recommend to the governor that the restrictions be continued. The House bill proposes a three-year review process.
Farmers testified that a review was necessary, to evaluate future issues and technologies that could change the situation.
Both bills allow for civil penalties, to be determined in rules, but not to exceed $10,000.
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