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Cera pushing new bill that would assist areas impacted by shale drilling

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A new bill that would assist areas impacted by shale drilling.

State Representative Jack Cera, R-Bellaire, says the oil and gas severance tax should come back to benefit the area in which it was generated, and he is working to reinvest severance tax revenue in eastern Ohio.

"There’s about $54 million sitting in this fund right now. That's money that's never been expended, and my concern is that the administration is going to use that to help their budget problem," Cera said.

Cera and Republican Brian Hill, of Zanesville, created a partnership to introduce House Bill 105 -- legislation that will direct existing severance tax revenue in excess of $18 million to various programs and services in the shale region where it was generated.

“Our area could use the money for help with roads, for help with water and sewage, the bill allows funding to help fire departments, it also has funding in it which helps the industry by providing grants to local governments and school districts for conversion to compress natural gas vehicles,” Cera said.

The bill also requires the ODNR to develop a well-plugging program for known and suspected idle and orphaned wells.

"Probably the biggest infrastructure issue we have going right now is the maintenance and repair of our roads," Cera said.

Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas says he and the board stand behind Cera as he takes his bill before the house.

"Belmont County being the No. 1 producer currently in the state of Ohio, we need to see some of those tax dollars come back so we can maintain our infrastructure," Thomas said.

"We feel that this is the money for Eastern Ohio, and we have needs here, and that money should stay in Eastern Ohio and not get spread around the state."

The legislation will be introduced to the Ways and Means committee this week.

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