The Ohio House approved more than a dozen bills during Wednesday’s session, including measures to allow shooting feral pigs and to provide support during pregnancy and the first 1,000 days of life.

Infant Mortality

State Reps. Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) introduced House Bill 7, a bipartisan bill that passed with a 72-20 vote. The bill aims to support doula services, pregnancy and postpartum individuals, children and families in poverty, early intervention, child care, a cost savings study for the Medicaid program, and the Head Start Program.

“HB 7 will allocate about $35 million over fiscal years 2024-25 to cover several crucial areas including addressing maternal mortality, improving health outcomes, enhancing mental health supports, strengthening pre- and post-natal health care access, and bolstering support programs for underserved communities,” said Humphrey.

Ohio ranks 44th in the nation for infant mortality and 31st for infant maltreatment. One in 150 Ohio babies don’t live to see their first birthday, and 2,000 infants and toddlers are in foster care, White noted.

“This is a problem that affects all of our communities,” White said. “The solutions in this bill will reach people of all income levels. Infant maternal mortality does not discriminate based on where you live or how much money you earn.”

Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate was 7.0 in 2021, with the rate being 14.2 for Black babies and 5.4 for white babies.

Feral Pigs

The House also unanimously passed House Bill 503, introduced by Reps. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and Don Jones (R-Freeport), which would declare open season on feral pigs, prohibit feeding garbage to pigs, and ban the importation of hogs that have been fed garbage.

“These are mean, wild, and destructive animals that need to be eradicated,” Peterson said. “They are a threat to Ohio’s pork economy, a nuisance to landowners, and carry various diseases.”

Feral pigs, present in several Ohio counties, could cause around $2.5 billion in damages per year to crops, vegetation, and water and soil, according to Peterson.

“Feral swine are an invasive species that can cause billions in property damage and cost taxpayers much to eradicate if they become an issue,” Jones added.

HB 503 would allow people to shoot feral pigs on their property without a hunting license if they notify state officials within 24 hours. It also requires reporting feral pig sightings to state officials within 24 hours and bans feeding, importing, transporting, or releasing feral swine into the wild. The bill gives the Ohio Department of Agriculture the authority to investigate and fine violators up to $1,000.

States like Texas have had serious issues with feral pigs, requiring significant budgets for feral swine mitigation, Jones said.

The bills will now proceed to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.