Broadband grants, ditch petition process move forward

A broadband grant program and modernization of the drainage ditch petition process were on the agenda for the Ohio House this past week.

Broadband Residential Grant Program

The Ohio House has passed HB 13, which creates a $20 million grant program for broadband providers who can apply directly to the state for funds. Preference is given to unserved areas and the bill creates a prioritization structure for awarding funding to projects. Ohio Farm Bureau testified as a proponent of the bill, was actively involved in the legislative process, and designated it as a key vote. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

Modernization of drainage ditch petition process

On June 9, the Ohio House passed HB 340, which modernizes the ditch petition processes by which landowners can petition the county for drainage improvement projects.

HB 340 embraces the use of technology such as digital maps, video or photographs via drone footage, etc. to modernize the petition viewing process about the proposed drainage improvement’s location and issues intended to be addressed. Another important highlight is increasing the minimum width of the required sod or seeded strip along the drainage improvement from 4 feet to 10 feet. This will provide for better erosion and sediment control and aligns with Ohio Farm Bureau’s support for efforts that improve soil and water conservation efforts.

Designated as a key vote for Farm Bureau, HB 340 is the culmination of several years of work by the Ohio Drainage Law Revision Task Force comprised of the Ohio County Commissioners’ Association, Ohio Farm Bureau and other stakeholders.

The bill now awaits hearings in the Ohio Senate.