Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Mental health bill before governor

By Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

COLUMBUS - State-regulated homes that care for the mentally retarded will face tough new licensing requirements under a bill lawmakers sent to Gov. Bob Taft Tuesday.

The Ohio Senate voted 31-0 to pass a plan that would replace lifetime licenses for the homes with temporary permits that expire every one, two or three years.

The plan is one response to a series of Enquirer stories that revealed conditions were so bad at 65 nursing homes for the mentally retarded over the past three years that state health inspectors threatened to yank their federal funding. Although some homes were threatened more than once, all were allowed to stay open after their operators promised to fix things.

In other session-ending business:

The Senate passed 28-3 a $1.27 billion construction budget that includes $88.4 million for projects in Greater Cincinnati.

Of the $88.4 million set aside for Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties, the bill includes $18.8 million lawmakers earmarked for community projects in their districts.

The most expensive is $10 million meant to help finance and build a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, part of continuing work to refurbish the stadium complex.

Lawmakers also set aside $1.6 million for the Cincinnati Museum Center for new projects including an outlet museum in Evendale. The suburb is also home to the Republican Senate President, Richard Finan.

Ohio lawmakers delayed by 14 months a state mandate that they electronically file their campaign finance reports with the Ohio Secretary of State.


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