Season’s Greetings! GOPC’s 2016 Accomplishments and a 2017 Preview

December 20th, 2016

Staff holiday pic 16

Pictured from left: Jason Warner, Sheldon Johnson, Alex Highley, Meg Montgomery, Torey Hollingsworth, Jon Honeck, Alison Goebel, and John Collier

 

Dear Friends,

From everyone at the Greater Ohio Policy Center, we wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Throughout 2016, GOPC has been a leader in championing revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio, ensuring the state is equipped with policies and practices that create robust cities and regions. With so much happening around Ohio, the past twelve months have proven to be busy and rewarding for GOPC in equal measure. We introduced Alison Goebel as our new Executive Director following the departure of Lavea Brachman, and in conjunction with this smooth transition, we achieved many important goals and started planning for even greater success next year. In 2016, we:

  • Published original research reports on many critical revitalization issues in Ohio, including:

o   Akron Urban Health and Competitiveness Report finds that Akron is at a crossroads for further growth and economic development.  This work received extensive coverage from news media, including Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and WCPN

o   Transportation Modernization Memos analyze strategies that improve multimodal transportation and underscore the outsized economic benefits of implementing policies that support all modes

o   Credit Gaps in Opportunity Neighborhoods assesses redevelopment needs and highlights the barriers to revitalization in many of Ohio’s opportunity neighborhoods

o   Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Control analyzes grey and green water and sewer infrastructure and highlights modern, cost-effective strategies for maintaining aging stormwater systems

o   Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities highlights the serious economic and demographic challenges facing smaller legacy cities – received extensive coverage from news media, including WKSU Chillicothe Gazette, and Youngstown Business Journal 

  • Hosted a successful Webinar, attended by over 150 people, examining how Ohio’s smaller legacy cities from Akron to Zanesville have fared over the past 15 years
  • Presented our work at over 25 conferences and meetings in Akron, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Marietta, Toledo, Washington DC, and Youngstown
  • Testified at the statehouse on state policy on issues concerning revitalization including active transportation, foreclosure reform, and brownfield redevelopment
  • Launched brand new Water and Sewer Infrastructure and Smaller Legacy Cities web resources with up-to-date news, original research, and previews of upcoming reports

Coming in 2017…

In 2017, we will build on this momentum and to continue to underscore the importance of Ohio’s cities as the economic drivers of the state. With partners from around the state and nation, we look forward to continuing to research and advocate for policies that revitalize neighborhoods, diversify transportation systems, modernize water and sewer infrastructure, and build strong cities and regions in Ohio.

We can’t wait to host our 2017 Summit, Investing in Ohio’s Future: Maximizing Growth in our Cities and Regions on March 7th & 8th in Columbus. The Summit will explore best practices in financing and accelerating comprehensive and sustainable growth in communities throughout Ohio. We are meticulously planning an exciting and informative event that we predict will be our best Summit yet. We hope you join us!

If you believe in creating vibrant, sustainable cities and regions in Ohio, we invite you to support GOPC with a year-end contribution. We are grateful for your support.

Warm wishes for 2017,

ag signature

Alison Goebel and the Greater Ohio Policy Center Team

 

End-of-Year Legislative Update: 131st General Assembly adjourns amid a flurry of activity

December 19th, 2016

At the conclusion of the 131st Ohio General Assembly, lawmakers worked late into the night of December 8th, passing remaining legislative priorities before adjourning for the year. In the final day of session alone, the legislature passed over 30 bills, all of which will be sent to Governor Kasich for his review and approval. Below is a brief review of approved bills that GOPC has been tracking throughout the legislative process:

  • greater-ohio-flag HB463(Dever) revises the law related to real property foreclosure and escrow transactions and certain partial property tax exemptions. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate 26-5 and the Ohio House 72-21
  • greater-ohio-flag SB232 (Bacon) makes changes to transfer on death designation deeds and affidavits and also makes changes in the probate and trust laws regarding the inheritance and beneficial rights of afterborn or pretermitted children or heirs. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate 33-0 and the Ohio House 94-1, and signed into law by Governor Kasich on December 13 (and becomes effective in 90 days)
  • greater-ohio-flag SB235 (Beagle, Coley) permits political subdivisions to exempt from property taxation the increased value of property on which industrial or commercial development is planned for up to six years. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate 29-2 and the Ohio House 89-1
  • greater-ohio-flag HB554 (Amstutz) revises the requirements for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and peak demand reduction. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate 18-13 and the Ohio House 55-34
  • greater-ohio-flag HB154 (Henne) establishes a requirement that motor vehicles passing a bicycle must do so on the left at a distance of three feet or more. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate 30-1 and the Ohio House 88-4

Keep an eye out in GOPC’s January Newsletter for a more detailed review of these bills, along with a preview of the 132nd Ohio General Assembly!

 

StatehouseBirdseye

GOPC’s Open Letter to Ohio EPA Regarding VW Mitigation Funds for Public Transportation

December 13th, 2016

GOPC encourages you to submit formal comments to the Ohio EPA urging them to use Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund dollars for public transportation. Below is a copy of the letter that GOPC submitted on December 13, 2016. You may use this letter as a template for your comments to the Ohio EPA. 

Send your comments to derg@epa.ohio.gov. Comments will be accepted until December 31, 2016.

 

December 13, 2016

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Attn.: Office of Environmental Education, Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants Program Manager
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

Subject: Usage of Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Funds for Transit Repower and Replacement

Dear Office of Environmental Education:

My name is Alison Goebel and I am the Executive Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC), a nonpartisan, nonprofit with a mission to champion revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio. Thank you for accepting formal comments on the state mitigation plan for the Mitigation Trust Fund associated with the Volkswagen Consent Decree.

I am writing to urge the Ohio EPA to use 50% of the Volkswagen settlement funds to repower and replace diesel vehicles in Ohio’s public transportation fleet.

Public transportation in Ohio has been severely underfunded for years. Currently the state allocates approximately $0.63 per Ohioan to transit, while Ohio’s peers, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, invest over $24.00 per capita. As a result of deferred support, over one-third of Ohio’s 3,200 transit vehicles are still on the road despite being beyond their useful life and in need of replacement.

The state mitigation plan for the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund represents an enormous opportunity.

Half of Ohio’s allotment ($35.7 million) of the Mitigation Trust Fund could:

  • replace more than 125 diesel-powered city buses, or
  • repower more than 700 buses with alternative fuel engines

Using the settlement funds for transit vehicles is the highest and best use of the Mitigation Trust Fund dollars.

The eight largest public transportation systems serving Ohio EPA’s possible priority counties provided more than 105 million rides in 2015. If transit ridership rates remain the same over the ten year life of the Mitigation Trust Fund, Ohio will potentially avoid more than 1.05 billion automobile rides.

Eliminating emissions from outdated diesel transit engines and substantially contributing to the reduction of individual automobile emissions will have extraordinary and compounding benefits for Ohio’s air quality.

GOPC has a number of resources on the multiple benefits of providing Ohio with more transportation options, especially transit. Those materials can be found on our Transportation Modernization webpage. We encourage you to see us as a resource as Ohio EPA writes its state mitigation plan.

Again, we urge the Ohio EPA to use the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund to repower or replace a portion of Ohio’s diesel bus fleet. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Alison D. Goebel, PhD

Executive Director

 

December 2016 Legislative Update: Lame Duck Session

December 6th, 2016

The following is a list of bills that GOPC is tracking in the Ohio Legislature. Status of bills is updated as warranted. If you have any questions or concerns about a particular bill, please be sure to contact Jason Warner, Manager of Government Affairs at jwarner@greaterohio.org or by calling 614-224-0187, ext. 306.

 

Housing and Urban Revitalization Issues

greater-ohio-flagHB463 Foreclosure Actions (Dever)

Introduced: February 12, 2016

Current Status: Pending in Senate Civil Justice Committee

Last Update: November 30, 2016

Summary: The bill makes changes to the calculation of the exempt value of improved property subject to a community reinvestment area exemption, and clarifies the calculation of the exempt value of property subject to a brownfield remediation exemption, and authorizes the filing of a complaint with the county auditor challenging the assessed value of fully or partially exempt property. In addition, the bill makes modifications to the Uniform Commercial Code pertaining to the elimination of double payment obligation, unsigned and telephonically authorized checks, electronic records and signatures, and modernized suretyship rules.

Comment: HB482 (see below), which is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee, was amended into HB462 on November 30. The bill is highly likely to be approved during the final week of lame duck session, which wraps up on December 8.

 

greater-ohio-flagHB482 Exempted Property – Value Calculation (Dever)

Introduced: March 3, 2016

Current Status: Pending in House Ways & Means Committee

Last Update: November 29, 2016

Summary: The bill makes changes to the calculation of the exempt value of improved property subject to a community reinvestment area exemption, and clarifies the calculation of the exempt value of property subject to a brownfield remediation exemption, and authorizes the filing of a complaint with the county auditor challenging the assessed value of fully or partially exempt property.

Comment: The bill, which has also been amended into HB463 (see above), is highly likely to see action during lame duck session.

 

greater-ohio-flagHB126 Nuisance Law (Kunze)

Introduced: March 18, 2015

Current Status: Pending in House Judiciary Committee

Last Update: December 8, 2015

Summary: This bill expands the definition of “nuisance” for purposes of the state Nuisance Law, as well as in other sections of the Revised Code relating to nuisances including any real property, including vacant land, on which an offense of violence has occurred or is occurring.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session.

 

greater-ohio-flagSB201 Nuisance – Vacant Property (Hughes, Yuko)

Introduced: August 10, 2015

Current Status: Pending in Senate Civil Justice Committee

Last Update: October 14, 2015

Summary: The bill would expand nuisance laws to apply to any real property, including vacant land, on which an offense of violence has occurred or is occurring. This is a companion bill to HB126 (Kunze) (see above).

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session.

 

Sewer and Water Infrastructure Issues

greater-ohio-flagHB512 Water System Testing – MBR (Ginter)

Introduced: April 7, 2016

Current Status: Signed by the Governor

Last Updated: September 9, 2016 (Effective Date of Legislation)

Summary: The bill establishes requirements governing lead and copper testing for community and nontransient noncommunity water systems and revises the law governing lead contamination from plumbing fixtures. In addition, it provides funding to the Facilities Construction Commission for purposes of providing grants for lead fixture replacement in eligible schools, and to revise the laws governing the Water Pollution Control Loan and Drinking Water Assistance Funds.

Comment: The bill has already become effective law as of September 9, 2016.

 

greater-ohio-flagSB333 Water Quality – MBR (Hite)

Introduced: May 18, 2016

Current Status: Pending in Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

Last Update: November 29, 2016

Summary: The bill would revise specific laws relating to environmental protection.

Comment: The bill is highly likely to see action during lame duck session.

 

greater-ohio-flagSJR3 Water & Sewer Capital Improvements Fund (Schiavoni)

Introduced: August 31, 2015

Current Status: Pending in Senate Finance Committee

Last Update: February 9, 2016

Summary: This joint resolution would amend the Ohio Constitution to permit the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund sewer and water capital improvements.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

Taxation Issues

greater-ohio-flagHB418 Senior Housing Tax Certificates (Barnes)

Introduced: December 17, 2015

Current Status: Pending in House Financial Institutions, Housing & Urban Development Committee

Last Update: May 17, 2016

Summary: This bill, entitled the “Senior Housing Relief Act,” prohibits county treasurers from selling delinquent real estate tax “certificates” for parcels owned and occupied as a homestead for the preceding 20 years by a person aged 65 or older.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

greater-ohio-flagHB528 Local Motor Vehicle Permissive License Taxes (Ruhl)

Introduced: April 20, 2016

Current Status: Pending in House Ways & Means Committee

Last Update: May 17, 2016

Summary: The bill would authorize additional permissive local motor vehicle license taxes by as much as $15. The current max rate that can be assessed by counties, townships and municipalities is $20; this would permit each locality to add an additional $5 in fees, for a total of $15.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

greater-ohio-flagSB41 New Markets Tax Credit Qualifications (Beagle, Tavares)

Introduced: February 10, 2015

Current Status: Pending in Senate Ways & Means Committee

Last Update: June 3, 2015

Summary: The bill would modify the qualifications for the New Market Tax Credit and the schedule for receiving the credit.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

greater-ohio-flagSB305 Tax Certificate Sale Prohibition (Williams)

Introduced: April 4, 2016

Current Status: Pending in Senate Ways & Means Committee

Last Update: April 12, 2016

Summary: The bill would prohibit the sale of tax certificates for parcels owned by a person sixty-five years of age or older and that include the primary residence of the owner.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

greater-ohio-flagSB40 Economic Development Tax Credit (Beagle)

Introduced: February 10, 2015

Current Status: Pending in Senate Ways & Means Committee

Last Update: June 10, 2015

Summary: The bill authorizes tax credits for contributions of money to economic and infrastructure development projects undertaken by local governments and non-profit corporations.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.

 

Miscellaneous Issues

greater-ohio-flagSB232 Death Designation Deeds (Bacon)

Introduced: October 27, 2015

Current Status: Sent to the Governor for Signature

Last Update: December 2, 2016

Summary: The bill would amend the law related and will revoke a transfer on death designation affidavit or transfer on death deed that was executed by an individual who is subsequently divorced, obtains a dissolution of the marriage, or obtains an annulment.

Comment: The bill has been approved by the Ohio Senate (33-0) and the Ohio House (94-1), and will become effective 90 days after the governor approves the law.

 

greater-ohio-flagHB130 DataOhio Board (C. Hagan, Duffey)

Introduced: March 24, 2015

Current Status: Pending in Senate Finance Committee

Last Update: September 28, 2016

Summary: This bill will create the DataOhio Board, which will be required to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding online access to public records and data sets of public records, and to recommend other standards for data.

Comment: The bill is unlikely to see additional action during lame duck session following the November election.