GOPC Legislative Update November 2015

November 24th, 2015

By Lindsey Gardiner, GOPC Manager of Government Affairs

The following grid is designed to provide you with insight into the likelihood of passage of the legislation we are monitoring. Please note that due to the fluid nature of the legislative process, the color coding of bills is subject to change at any time. GOPC will be regularly updating the legislative update the last Thursday of every month and when major developments arise. If you have any concerns about a particular bill, please let us know.

November Leg. Update Grid

Bills Available Online at

Updates on Key Bills: greater-ohio-flag

greater-ohio-flag  HB 134 UPDATE: HB 134 has continued moving through the legislative process. Last week, the bill was passed out of the House of Representatives with 88 affirmative votes and zero objections. HB 134 is now on its way to the Senate where it will await referral to its respected committee. GOPC will continue to monitor HB 134 and looks forward to offering support as the legislation makes its way through the Senate.

greater-ohio-flag HB 233 UPDATE: HB 233 was unanimously voted out of the House chamber on October 27th with 91 affirmative votes. Earlier this month, the bill that proposes to establish Downtown Redevelopment Districts, was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. GOPC anticipates HB 233 will be received well in committee and we look forward to offering support for the bill as it makes its way through the Senate.

greater-ohio-flag HB 303 UPDATE: As we reported last month, HB 303 had its first hearing with the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee on October 20th. Since then, the committee held a second hearing, where GOPC offered interested party testimony in support of the proposal. Before the conclusion of HB 303′s second hearing, a substitute bill was accepted by the committee, which made changes to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s (OHFA) authority over the program. It was noted that the change was in agreement between OHFA and the bill sponsors. There were no objections to the sub bill and the committee unanimously approved HB 303 to be sent to the House floor. For more detailed information, please see the HB 303 Comparison Document.

greater-ohio-flag HB 340 UPDATE: HB 340, which proposes to extend the Local Government Innovation Council (LGIC) for another four years, continues to move through the Legislature at lightning speed. On October 27th, the bill was unanimously passed out of the House with 91 affirmative votes. Earlier this month, HB 340 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and just last week, the bill has already had its first hearing. The LGIC expires at the end of December, and GOPC is ready to provide support as it continues through the second phase of the legislative process.

NEW Bills & Explanation of Bill Impact on Economic Development within Ohio:

SB 232 is sponsored by Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Columbus). This bill deals with the consequences of divorce, dissolution, or annulment on a transfer on death designation on an affidavit or deed that designates a spouse as the real property owner’s beneficiary. Currently Ohioans who execute a transfer on death designation affidavit or transfer on death deed are required to amend or revoke either document following a divorce to ensure that their spouse has no claim to their property. SB 232 intends to address the issue that an increasing number of Ohioans are seeking divorce without the advice or an attorney, who would ordinarily advise that they make these changes. GOPC is interested in this bill as it will help ensure properties are transferred to appropriate end-users; therefore, preventing blight within communities.

SJR 3 is sponsored by Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3 calls for state and federal legislation to assist communities across Ohio to improve outdated sewer and water systems. The proposal would allow the state to issue up to $100 million per fiscal year over a 10 year period for sewer and water capital improvements in cities, counties and townships. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) shares Senator Schiovoni’s commitment to giving Ohio communities more resources to pay for critically important water and sewer infrastructure. GOPC believes there is a great need for additional funding to update Ohio’s water infrastructure and we are continuing to explore potential mechanisms for such funding. Please see our recent report titled “An Assessment of Ohio Cities’ Water and Sewer Infrastructure and Brownfield Sites Redevelopment: Needs and Gaps.


For more details and information on legislation that GOPC is tracking, please visit our Previous Legislative Updates.

The Detroit Story: Are there Lessons Learned in Revitalization of Ohio Cities?

October 23rd, 2015

Lavea Brachman, Executive Director of Greater Ohio Policy Center, recently published a book review on the website The National Book Review. The review, titled “Detroit was a Golden City Once – And It Can Be Again,” explores Detroit’s recent revitalization strategies and describes practices that legacy cities in Ohio could replicate.

Recrafting Vacant Properties into Assests: Panel at HeritageOhio

October 19th, 2015

By Ellen Turk, GOPC Intern

I recently attended a panel at the HeritageOhio annual conference where Alison Goebel, Associate Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center along with Doug Lewis, Painesville Assistance City Manager and Josh Harmon, President of the Ohio Code Enforcement Officials Association, discussed utilizing “Vacant Properties as Assets”.

Goebel explained that since the 1970s Ohio’s population has incrementally declined while land use for commercial purposes has remained stable. In addition to this decline, Ohioans’ demographic makeup has continued to age at a rapid rate. Vacant properties across the state have remained at about 10%, costing an estimated $15 million in city services each year with $49 million lost in taxpaying revenue. Eight cities in Ohio spent $41 million servicing vacant properties. To this end, Greater Ohio Policy Center’s guidebook, “Redeveloping Commercial Vacant Properties in Legacy Cities,” functions as a resource for anyone seeking to redevelop and reuse vacant properties in downtown areas of towns or cities to promote economic growth.  Motivating business people and owners to invest in downtown properties and updating them can help attract visitors and generate revenue for communities.

But how do you encourage title owners to maintain their property or business owners to invest in local downtowns?

One method described in the guidebook and implemented successfully by Painesville Assistance City Manager Doug Lewis is through passing a Vacant Properties Ordinance. In Painesville, vacant properties can be owned by a variety of titleholders, including irresponsible owners and corporations not inclined to sell or maintain. The Ordinance requires owners to submit a Vacant Properties Plan whereby proprietors who do not comply with the rules of the Ordinance and proprietors who do not file the plan on time face fines. If the property is no longer deemed vacant, 30% of the building must be used and the first floor must be utilized.

Another way to curb irresponsible property ownership is through the courts. In Cleveland, the court system has stipulated that you can conduct no business within the court until you have paid off any outstanding fines to the court. This is very useful for incentivizing owners of multiple vacant buildings with fines to sell or generate revenue on the properties. Also, a Court Community Service program ensures minor offenders are placed in the community to perform manual labor and bring properties back to building code compliance.

According to the guidebook, another essential tool is hard data demonstrating the economic effects of revitalization. Josh Harmon spoke about the importance of data as a tool to show communities the detriments of having vacant properties. Census counts recording the number of vacant properties in an area is important. Often, showing residents a vacant property can act as a drain to city resources encourages them to support Vacant Building Ordinances. In Franklin County alone the last time that vacant properties were assessed was 2006! To mitigate vacant property problems, Greater Ohio Policy Center recommends targeting resources, forming alliances in the community, and defining the most effective way to allocate funds and assets.

GOPC Legislative Update September 2015

September 24th, 2015

The following grid is designed to provide you with insight into the likelihood of passage of the legislation we are monitoring. Please note that due to the fluid nature of the legislative process, the color coding of bills is subject to change at any time. GOPC will be regularly updating the legislative update the last Thursday of every month and when major developments arise. If you have any concerns about a particular bill, please let us know.

(Bills Available Online at

(Bills Available Online at


Explanation of Bill Impact on Economic Development within Ohio:


HB 134 is sponsored by Representative Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Representative Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff). This bill would expedite the foreclosure and transfer of unoccupied, blighted parcels in cities with Housing Courts (Cleveland and Toledo) or Environmental Courts (Columbus/Franklin County).  Many communities continue to struggle to mitigate the impact of blighted properties in their neighborhoods. HB 134 provides a framework to shorten the foreclosure timeline to move properties from “limbo” to responsible end users.


HB 182 is sponsored by Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton). HB 182 will enable townships, cities, and villages to cooperatively address concerns associated with diminishing local revenues, economic development, growth, and annexation pressures. The bill is a local community approach to solving economic development issues by providing local governments the ability to enter into legal agreements that will increase revenues and create jobs.


HB 233 is sponsored by Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton). HB 233 authorizes municipal corporations to create downtown redevelopment districts and innovation districts for the purpose of promoting the rehabilitation of historic buildings and promoting economic development in commercial and mixed-use residential areas.


HB 303 is sponsored by Representatives Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) and Robert McColley (R-Napoleon). This Deed Over, Lender Leaseback, Agreed Financing (D.O.L.L.A.R. Deed) Programwould direct the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to administer a loss mitigation alternative for borrowers who are default on a mortgage encumbering a parcel of real property. HB 303 would allow homeowners to remain in their homes as a tenant instead of foreclosing on the property. This legislation will supply an additional tool to fight the abandoned property epidemic in Ohio and help prevent foreclosures and blight.


SB 40 is sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City). The Ohio Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program (NIAP) would provide tax credits to individuals and for-profit corporations that invest in place-based catalytic neighborhood projects with non-profit organizations across Ohio. The NIAP is about businesses and residents investing in their communities for catalytic change. SB 40 would help communities achieve place based projects, which are essential for thriving communities. Additionally, the bill would facilitate job growth within our most vulnerable communities.


SB 41 is sponsored by Senators Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) and Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). Continuing law authorizes a nonrefundable tax credit with a four-year carryforward against the insurance and financial institution taxes for insurance companies and financial institutions that purchase and hold securities issued by low income community organizations to finance investments in qualified active low-income community businesses in Ohio, in accordance with the federal New Markets Tax Credit law.


SB 201 is sponsored by Senators Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) and Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights). SB 201 would add “an offense of violence” to the section of state law that authorities use in court to board up properties. The bill would give city prosecutors an additional tool to deal with nuisance problems faced in cities and in rural areas.



Please check our blog for regular updates on legislation as it progresses within the House and Senate chambers.



Cleveland & Lucas County Awarded Revitalization Assistance

September 18th, 2015

Congratulations to the city of Cleveland and Lucas County, Ohio for receiving the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP) from the Center for Community Progress! Via a competitive application process, Cleveland and Lucas County were two of the three communities to receive support in this round of technical assistance. Criteria for receiving this assistance were based on a number of factors including potential for innovation and demonstrated leadership to implement reform.

CCP will offer 200 hours of technical assistance to Cleveland and Lucas County in order to combat challenges such as property vacancy, abandonment, and tax delinquency currently facing these areas. Specifically, a team of national experts will lead staff trainings, provide legal and policy analysis, and publish tailored reports for improvement. The bulk of TASP’s leverage is made possible by JPMorgan Chase’s grant funding support. In this collaborative effort, JPMorgan Chase has shown a strong commitment to neighborhood revitalization through its support for the Center for Community Progress and local communities.

GOPC is Hiring

August 17th, 2015

The Greater Ohio Policy Center is seeking qualified candidates for the new position of Project Associate, Research and Communications.  GOPC will accept applications for this junior-level position until the position is filled.

For more details about the position and required qualifications, please visit our Job Opportunities page.

Landmark Legislation Extends Land Bank Authority, Marks Fifth Anniversary

July 7th, 2015

Greater Ohio Policy Center applauds the Ohio General Assembly for passage of game-changing legislation that extends land banking authority to the remaining 44 Ohio counties that previously could not establish land banks!  Five years ago, on July 7, 2010, Ohio’s 43 most populous counties received statutory authority to organize county land banks, with Cuyahoga leading the way the year before.  Ohio enjoys one of the most effective and widely-used pieces of land bank legislation in the country.  Happy anniversary to Ohio’s county land banks!

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Land from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank has been redeveloped for urban farming, among many other uses, in Cleveland.

In 2009, Cuyahoga County piloted the land bank structure and its success compelled legislators to extend land banking authority to counties with 60,000 or more residents in 2010.  Now, five years later, the General Assembly has amended the original legislation to allow all counties to create land banks and Governor Kasich signed the changes into law on June 30, 2015.  This amendment paves a path for more exurban and rural counties to access this tremendous tool for community and economic redevelopment.

Since 2010, Ohio’s county land banks have helped revitalize hundreds of buildings–including residential homes, skyscrapers, historic theaters, and vacant factories–and have demolished over 15,000 blighted structures throughout the state.  While not a panacea, land banks have managed the redevelopment of hundreds of acres, guided critical community reinvestment, and fostered economic regrowth in some of Ohio’s most distressed areas.  With this new legislation, existing and additional Ohio counties have the capacity to continue to accelerate community revitalization and statewide economic prosperity.

Greater Ohio Policy Center thanks state legislators for their leadership and commitment to helping Ohio’s communities manage abandoned and blighted properties, especially Rep. Scott Ryan (Newark),  Rep. Ryan Smith (Bidwell) chair of the House Finance Committee,  Sen. Tom Patton (Strongsville), and Sen. Dave Burke (Marysville) for their assistance.


Why Ohio’s business leaders want walkable downtowns

June 18th, 2015

Hundreds of American companies see unique competitive advantages to being located in a walkable downtown neighborhood. These locations are helping companies attract and retain talented workers, build their brand and corporate identity, support creative collaboration, be closer to partners, consolidate operations, and support triple-bottom line business outcomes.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report out today from Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The report surveys nearly 500 companies that have moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns over the past five years, as well as interviews with 45 senior-level staff at those companies. The report sheds light on why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when making their decision.

“These companies chose a walkable downtown location to help them better compete for talent and resources,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “That tells us two things. First, that creating these kinds of places is a crucial economic development strategy for cities. And second, that companies which haven’t considered a walkable location may be at risk of falling behind.”

In addition to explaining the reasons why they moved downtown, company leaders also outlined what they looked for when choosing a new location. Many interviewees said they wanted their offices to be close to restaurants, shops, and entertainment options, and accessible by a variety of transportation options. Great office space was another important factor. A warm welcome on the part of the city, and a clean and safe environment were also influential factors when deciding where to move.

The report’s survey includes 53 companies from Ohio, including General Electric, BrownFlynn, Dakota Software, Nationwide and Deloitte. These are just some of the many companies that have moved to walkable downtowns in the state in recent years.

The full report, along with a full list of companies included in this survey and an interactive map showing where they moved, is available on Smart Growth America’s website at

Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring better development to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. Learn more at

Join the kickoff event: A look at companies moving to downtowns

June 16th, 2015

Over the past five years, hundreds of companies across the United States have moved to and invested in walkable downtowns. Why did companies choose these places? And what features did they look for when picking a new location? On June 18, national non-profit Smart Growth America will release new research that seeks to answer both these questions.

“Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown” surveys nearly 500 companies that have moved to or invested in walkable downtowns over the past five years, and includes interviews with more than 40 senior-level staff at those companies. There are 53 companies in Ohio’s urban cores included in the analysis, including General Electric, BrownFlynn, Dakota Software, Nationwide and Deloitte. Ohio metropolitan areas mentioned in the report include Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

As part of the launch of this new research, Smart Growth America will hold a kickoff panel discussion in Washington, DC. The event will be livestreamed on the web, and you can watch it as it happens on Thursday, June 18, 2015 starting at 9:00 AM EDT. Register to join:


Joining the panel will be Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America; Paula Munger, Director of Business Line Research and Brian Dawson, Senior Managing Director and Market Leader for the Washington, DC region for Cushman & Wakefield; Michael Deemer, Executive Vice President, Business Development at the Downtown Cleveland Alliance; Mark Fisher, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Development for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; Brad Lacy, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Conway, AR Chamber of Commerce; Jim Reilly, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Panasonic; and Amy Ronneberg, Chief Financial Officer at Be the Match.

The conversation in the report as well as on the panel will provide an overview of why these companies chose to move downtown, and what they looked for when considering a new location. The event will also provide ideas for cities about how they can create the kinds of places these companies seek.

Have questions for the panelists ahead of time? Tweet them to @SmartGrowthUSA or use the hashtag #CoreValues.

We hope you’ll join us for the live event on June 18.

Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Jeopardized

June 15th, 2015

As you may know, the Ohio Senate has unveiled a proposal to put a 2-year freeze on Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit projects beginning this July. The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit has been an important tool in revitalizing Ohio’s communities and strengthening our metro economies. We need to keep this going to create jobs and vibrant communities in which people want to live and work.

Why is the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits program good for Ohio?

1. Job Creation. Since the start of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program in 2007, more than 21,000 permanent jobs and more than 20,000 construction jobs have been created.

2. Economic Development. Every $1 of Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit will leverage at least $6.71 in investment. This proposed moratorium will kill major revitalization projects that are already in the pipeline and underway but not yet complete and it will put the entire program in jeopardy.

Please email your senator TODAY and tell him or her why this moratorium is a bad idea for your community and for Ohio and ask the committee to remove the proposal from the Senate Budget Bill. You can find your senator’s contact information here: