The Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday night passed a bill that would bring $25-million to Licking County.

The Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday night passed a bill that would bring $25-million to Licking County.

The majority of funding would go to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the state fire marshal's office, both of which are in the Reynoldsburg area, on U.S. Route 40.

House Bill 562, the biennial capital budget bill, will head to the Senate this week.

"In these difficult economic times, this capital budget works to target state funds toward long-term projects that can enhance our communities and our state," state Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) said. "It also designates large blocks of funding toward our higher-education system as we work to help create a highly educated workforce that has a competitive edge as Ohio competes internationally for high-quality jobs."

The $1.3-billion capital budget bill, which Hottinger introduced, is passed every two years and "helps fund local community projects such as building modernization and restoration, land acquisition and conservation programs for parks," according to information from Hottinger's office.

Much of the funding would be used to upgrade facilities that already receive some state funding.

Hottinger said Licking County typically receives a respectable amount of funding because the entire department of agriculture is in Licking County. The county also houses the state's largest branch campus -- Ohio State University at Newark (OSUN).

OSUN would receive $361,000 for basic renovations, and the Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) would receive $1,185,291 to upgrade Founders and Hopewell halls, according to Hottinger's office.

The bill also includes funding for facilities that are considered state cultural items and help promote economic development. Hottinger, who chairs the House finance committee, said he worked to secure more than $1-million for two other local projects: $300,000 to renovate the Midland Theatre in downtown Newark and $725,000 to renovate the Davis-Shai House in Heath. Both are historic landmarks that offer programs for local residents and people from other parts of the state.

Jim Laipply, an aide to state Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), said the Davis-Shai House will continue renovations started with funding from a previous biennial capital budget bill. This year's funding would help to install a new elevator with a larger shaft to make the second floor accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Parking also would be added, and the food-service area would be expanded to allow the facility to participate with larger cultural venues, Laipply said.

The Midland's $300,000 share would be used to continue roof repair, replace downspouts and make sidewalk repairs. The heating-cooling system is being updated and upgraded for security reasons, and the box office, concession stand and marquee would be renovated.

Michael Morris Sr., the Midland's executive director, said the theatre is in its seventh season of an eight-year project. He said the funding would help keep the Midland in the restored shape it was in when received in 2002.

"We appreciate Rep. Hottinger as finance committee chair working on this and the support of Sen. Schaffer," Morris said.

Hottinger said the Senate's finance committee is expected to consider the bill in the next few days, possibly being forwarded to the Senate for a vote by midweek.

He said he's sure the bill will be passed and said any changes would not affect funding designated for Licking County.

lwince@thisweeknews.com