A Great Year and a Heartfelt Farewell to Greater Ohio Policy Center

June 6th, 2016

By Lindsey Gardiner

At the beginning of April last year I embarked on a journey with GOPC, as Manager of Government Affairs, that would challenge me to think outside the box and learn about policies that would address issues communities face on a day-to-day basis. From foreclosure to abandoned gas stations, I never knew and truly understood the rippling effect they had on the overall health of a neighborhood and impact on business growth. In a little over a year’s time I have had the privilege to see a significant amount of development of economic development and revitalization policy within the Ohio Legislature. I have come to know numerous legislators who are just as passionate as GOPC in bringing Ohio communities back to pre-great recession levels, and I cannot wait to see the progress that is made over the next year. Unfortunately, the upcoming work that GOPC and the State accomplish together must be made from afar as I have accepted a position that is closer to my family in northeast Ohio. Nevertheless, I will most certainly cherish the relationships I’ve made and carry the lessons I’ve learned about community revitalization and economic development with me wherever my family and I go in Ohio and beyond.

You may have already observed the many legislative developments this month after browsing our May Legislative Update, and in that you might have noticed that the foreclosure reform bill (HB 463) made its way across the legislative “finish line” just before the House and Senate made a much-deserved return to their home districts for the Summer Recess. Like any bill, HB 463 was no easy task and required a lot of negotiation, compromise, and of course patience. A little over a year ago when I began working with GOPC I was invited to serve, per the Ohio State Bar Association, as one of the voices that would help craft legislation aimed at fixing Ohio’s deeply flawed foreclosure policy. Learning about foreclosure was quite the learning process, but as a former legislative staffer, lobbyist, and appointed local government official, I personally believe that Ohio has a lot of serious progress to be proud of.

My first job I served as a Legislative Aide and Clerk of the House Ways and Means Committee for the Ohio House of Representatives, and I have to admit I never thought I would learn so much about tax policy nor did I ever anticipate becoming so passionate about the subject. My experience at GOPC has been similar with fast-track foreclosure, but it is also the case for the remediation of brownfields. When the Clean Ohio Fund was implemented, brownfield cleanup was funded by the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) making our state a leader in turning these unusable eyesores into functioning pieces of communities. The return of jobs and revenue goes unmatched by other remediation programs offered by the State today, and although CORF is no longer implemented I believe Ohio is making its way back to focusing on brownfields with the recent development of the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Program. There is so much opportunity when it comes to brownfield cleanup and after working on this particular subject for a little over a year I have learned that job creation, attracting/retaining the millennial workforce, and revitalizing communities are all interconnected with brownfields. GOPC’s unique place-based perspective seamlessly ties these various elements together in a way that I believe will help keep the Legislature moving in the right direction in brownfields cleanup.

Overall, my experience at GOPC has been something I will never forget. GOPC has tremendous leadership and staff, who are passionate about their cause and I thank them for their dedication to revitalizing communities and creating a stronger Ohio. I look forward to seeing GOPC’s research play an instrumental role in educating community leaders and seeing those efforts applied in the policy making process. Best of luck to GOPC and thank you for everything!!!

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Publishes GOPC Article on Revitalization of Legacy Cities

June 6th, 2016

By Lavea Brachman, GOPC Executive Director and Torey Hollingsworth, GOPC Researcher

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has published a Greater Ohio Policy Center article on the revitalization of America’s small- and medium-sized legacy cities. Beginning on page 7 of its Summer 2016 Communities and Banking magazine, the article describes several promising resilience strategies for legacy cities, based on GOPC’s data analysis. The article also highlights Case Studies from Worcester, Massachusetts; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Syracuse, New York; and Akron, Ohio of recent economic recovery practices.

Visit the Article Here

Downtown overhead

This article is part of broader research that GOPC is conducting on the health of small- and medium-sized legacy cities across the country.

To read the Article, please go Here

 

 

Ohio General Assembly Passes House Bill 512 to Reform Water Testing Procedures

June 2nd, 2016

By Jon Honeck, GOPC Senior Policy Fellow

Before leaving on its summer break, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 512, a major reform to Ohio’s drinking water regulations that will tighten lead notification and testing requirements, tighten the requirements for lead-free plumbing fixtures, and provide more flexibility to the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Water Development Authority to support public drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure.  The bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the wake of the well-publicized crises involving lead in drinking water supplies in Flint, MI, and Sebring, OH.  The American Water Works Association estimates that there are 6.1 million lead service drinking water supply lines still in place across the nation, including many in Ohio.  With proper corrosion control methods, many of the issues with lead pipes can be avoided, although the ultimate answer is to replace these lead lines over time.  We hope that this same bipartisan spirit will carry forward into the fall and 2017 as the state grapples with important water infrastructure and water quality issues. 

Under the bill, homeowners must be notified within two business days of lead laboratory test results received by a community water system.  If the lab results show a lead level above the applicable threshold then the water system must provide information about the availability of health screening and lead blood level testing in the area to the homeowner and notify all customers that the system has exceeded acceptable lead levels within two business days, and provide information about lead testing to all customers within 5 business days.  Within 18 months of the notification of about excessive lead levels, the system must submit a revised corrosion control treatment plan to the Ohio EPA.  A revised corrosion control plan requirement is also triggered if a system changes sources of water supply, makes substantial changes to treatment, or operates outside the limits for certain metals or chemicals. Each water system is also required to map parts of its service area that are likely to contain lead lines.

Many Ohio cities are engaged in multi-year capital projects to fix combined sewer overflows and replacing aging water infrastructure.  The Water Pollution Control Loan Fund, which is controlled by the Ohio EPA, provided over $700 million in revolving loans in 2015 for these purposes.  The Fund receives an annual capitalization grant from the U.S. EPA so it can provide below-market interest rates to projects that are a high priority for the state and local partners. House Bill 512 broadened the scope of the WPCLF’s authority to match recent changes in federal law.  New funding purposes include energy conservation and efficiency at wastewater treatment plants (which use enormous amounts of electric power), watershed management, recapture or treatment of stormwater, and decentralized sewer systems to assist smaller, more isolated rural areas.  In addition, loan terms for the WPCLF are increased from 20 to 30 years, making them more affordable for borrowers.  These changes make it easier to develop creative approaches to managing the water treatment system. 

As Greater Ohio pointed out in Phase I of its ongoing infrastructure project, the state’s needs are vast and the financial capacity of many water utilities is stretched to its limit.  We will make further policy recommendations on this point in 2016. 

 

Legacy of Poindexter Village Celebrated in Columbus

May 27th, 2016

By Sheldon K. Johnson, Urban Revitalization Project Specialist

On Wednesday March 18th, Greater Ohio Policy Center attended Columbus Metropolitan Club’s (CMC) event to commemorate the history and legacy of Poindexter Village. Constructed in 1939, Poindexter Village was the first public-housing project in the city of Columbus. All but two of the 35 buildings that housed 414 units were demolished by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in 2013. The 26 acre site will be redeveloped in several phases. The first phase, a 104 unit senior apartment complex called Poindexter Place, is nearing completion. The occasion last week, though, was not about planning for the future, but celebrating and remembering the past.

Poindexter Village was named for the Rev. James M. Poindexter, a prominent leader in Columbus’ 19th century black community.  Rev. Poindexter was the pastor of Second Baptist Church from 1862-1898, became the first African-American elected to the Columbus City Council in 1880, and served on the Columbus Board of Education from 1884-1893. Poindexter Village was significant not only in name, but also for its location. Prior to the establishment of CMHA the area between Long Street and Mount Vernon Avenue was known as the Blackberry Patch. It was home to low-income African-Americans who lived in low quality housing.

Poindexter Village offered not only quality housing with modern amenities, but allowed for the creation of a community. The neighborly atmosphere of Poindexter Village was an important part of the discussion between panelists Myron Lowery, Memphis (TN) City Council Chairman, Curtis J. Moody, president and CEO at Moody Nolan, and Leslie J. Sawyer, retired civil servant. Mr. Lowery, who lived in Poindexter Village for 4 years, and Ms. Sawyer, who attended Poindexter Village Preschool while her father managed the complex, both spoke of how important community was to their childhood.

Several audience members shared memories of their time living in Poindexter Village and urged that the legacy of the complex not be forgotten. Though details of what will happen in the next phases of redevelopment weren’t discussed this event speaks to the importance of the built environment. The presence, or lack thereof, of surroundings such as buildings, greenspace, and infrastructure can have both positive and negative effects on a community. Balancing the revitalization of bricks and sticks for the future while celebrating the special culture of a specific neighborhood or city is important work that many Greater Ohio Policy Center partners are currently undertaking.

 

GOPC Legislative Update: May 2016

May 27th, 2016

By Lindsey Gardiner, 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.

May Leg Update

Updates on Key Bills: greater-ohio-flag

greater-ohio-flagHB 5 UPDATEThe month of May has been quite a busy one for much of the legislation GOPC has been tracking and HB 5, which proposes the Auditor of State  to establish a shared equipment service program and conduct efficiency studies, was no exception. During the first half of May, HB 5 received a fourth and fifth hearing, where the bill was amended to include clarifying changes addressing the specificity of agreements for business case studies. At the fifth hearing on May 17th, the bill received a final vote by the Committee. May 18th, the bill received final consideration by the Senate and was unanimously voted out of the chamber 30-0. Earlier this week, the House reviewed the technical changes made to the legislation and ultimately accepted the bill with a concurrence vote of 94-3. Now that HB 5 has successfully passed out of the House and the Senate, the bill is now on its way to the Governor for signature.

greater-ohio-flagHB 130 UPDATE: As you may recall from our April coverage, HB 130 received approval from the House Finance Committee and has since been waiting for referral for final consideration by the full House. On May 18th, the House unanimously passed HB 130 with a vote of 96-0. Now that the bill has successfully passed out of its originating chamber, the bill is on its way to the Senate for Committee review. GOPC will continue to monitor HB 130 and is prepared to offer support as it goes through this next phase in the legislative process.

greater-ohio-flagHB 134 & HB 463 UPDATE: Activity for HB 134 has continued to gain momentum. Earlier this week the bill received its second and third hearing in the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. If you recall our coverage of HB 463, you will notice that both bills are very similar. In the interest of conserving time, the sponsors of HB 134 and HB 463 decided to work together in an effort to get the reformative measures passed out of the Senate before their summer break. During the second hearing of HB 134, the language in HB 463 was amended into HB 134. The change was accepted by the Committee and the following day the Committee accepted two other clarification changes to HB 134. The new and improved foreclosure bill; however, did not receive a final vote out of the Committee and therefore did not have a chance to receive final approval by the Senate. However, not all was lost for the bill as it would receive another transformative opportunity that would enable it to reach the Senate Floor that same day. HB 134 language was amended into HB 390, which is essentially a natural gas tax exemption bill and was ultimately voted out of the Full Senate late Wednesday night. The House concurred with the Senate’s changes to HB 390 and approved of the amendments made to the bill including the foreclosure language. According to Representative Dever’s office, HB 134, which contained HB 463, has essentially passed out of the Legislature, and is now expected to be sent to the Governor for Signature.

greater-ohio-flagHB 182 UPDATE: HB 182 is another bill that crossed the legislative finish line this week. During the first two weeks of May, the bill received three hearings, and was even amended to make the program more permissive for businesses and ultimately allowing them to choose if joining a Joint Economic Development District is right for them. The bill sponsor, Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) noted that the bill will also create a new market tax credit and allow and economic and community development institute (ECDI) to have a nonprofit dispensation of property taxes. Earlier this week, HB 182 was reported out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and was voted out of the Senate with a unanimous vote of 33-0. The House considered the changes made within the Senate and granted final approval with a concurrence vote of 95-0. HB 182 is now expected to be sent over to the Governor’s office to be signed into law.

greater-ohio-flagHB 303 UPDATE: On May 10th, HB 303 received a fourth hearing in the Senate Financial Institutions Committee. GOPC offered interested party testimony and numerous other organizations, including the Ohio Bankers League and the Ohio Land Title Association, submitted letters in support of the bill. Ultimately, the bill was reported out of Committee and on May 18th, the bill was given a final vote by the full Senate with a vote of 29-0. Earlier this week, the House officially agreed to the Senate’s work on HB 303 and gave a concurrence vote of 97-0. This bill, like numerous others, is anticipated to signed into law by the Governor in next few weeks.

greater-ohio-flagHB 512 UPDATE: Water system testing reform bill has been on the move as well. During the first half of May, HB 512 was reported out of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and on May 11th, it was voted out of the House by a unanimous vote of 96-0. During the weeks following, HB 512 was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where it received hearings and testimony from various state agencies and organizations, including the Ohio Environmental Protections Agency, Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program, and the Ohio Rural Water Association.  On May 25th, the bill was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and received a final vote by the full Senate with a vote of 32-0.

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

SB 333 is sponsored by Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay). This bill is similar in subject area to HB 512 as it also proposes new State policies protect Lake Erie and other drinking water sources. SB 333 is also part of the Mid-Biennial Budget Review process (MBR), which is a proposal made with the Governor’s direction. According to the Ohio EPA’s SB 333 fact sheet, the bill intends to map ways Ohio will meet its commitments under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and update the Lake Erie Commission’s existing statutes. The MBR bill is intended to offer straightforward regulatory framework to encourage better use of dredge materials, require financial assurance for privately owned water systems, and strengthen Ohio’s Certified Water Quality Professional Program. The bill also proposes requiring ongoing asset management efforts by public water systems, which would involve how local governments are managing the upkeep of their water systems. GOPC will actively monitor SB 333 as it continues through the legislative process.

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

GOPC is Hiring: Seeking Government Affairs Manager

May 25th, 2016

GOPC seeks qualified applicants for the Government Affairs Manager position.  This posting will close June 17, 2016. Find out more about this position on our Job Opportunities page.

 

Managing Stormwater: GOPC Attends Great Water Cities Conference

May 16th, 2016

By Jon Honeck, GOPC Senior Policy Fellow

Introduction

On May 12, 2016, the Water Environment Federation (www.wef.org) held its “Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action” conference in Chicago, IL.  The focus of the conference was creating a holistic approach to managing stormwater in the 21st Century, and the panel discussions were organized around recommendations from WEF’s Rainfall to Results report.  Attendees included water utility water leaders and industry representatives from across the country and as far away as Australia.  GOPC’s Jon Honeck, Senior Policy Fellow, attended as part of our ongoing water and sewer infrastructure project to find new strategies to modernize Ohio’s aging infrastructure. 

Background

Stormwater management is an issue that accompanies growing urbanization. Urbanization creates thousands of acres of impervious surfaces and removes the ability of the natural landscape to absorb water when it rains.  Unfortunately, many U.S. cities in the early 20th century constructed “combined” sewer systems that mixed rain water and sewage water in the same tunnels, causing raw sewage to discharge into waterways during heavy rains.  In recent decades, EPA enforcement of the Clean Water Act has forced cities around the country, including many in Ohio, to separate their combined sewer systems and find ways to hold millions of gallons of rainwater temporarily out of the sewer system.  This is often accomplished by building deep storage tunnels, which are extremely expensive capital projects that take years to complete.  New approaches, such as using “green infrastructure” that restores that ability of the landscape to capture stormwater runoff, are now taking center stage as cities look for ways to lower costs and provide more effective solutions.

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Stormwater Utilities

There is an emerging consensus among water industry experts that the field needs a new paradigm, called a “stormwater utility,” and that governmental regulatory frameworks and planning approaches need to change to support this.  Traditional municipal utilities have been organized around drinking water or sewer systems, each with their own user charges, infrastructure, and performance expectations.  Stormwater management in its own right was usually an afterthought, except insofar as it was needed for basic flood control.  A stormwater utility could take many forms, depending on the state and local regulations and needs, but the basic concept is an entity that can work on a large scale, across individual municipalities in a metro area, and even across an entire watershed, to plan and implement stormwater management. 

One of the keys to the paradigm shift is the concept of stormwater runoff as a commodity that has a price.  Districts around the country are implementing dedicated stormwater fees to create an ongoing revenue source for operation and maintenance.  Afternoon speaker Howard Neukrug (Senior Fellow at the U.S. Water Alliance) who implemented Philadelphia’s nationally renowned green infrastructure program, noted that the foundation of the city’s program was a parcel-based stormwater fee and redevelopment regulations that require capture of the first 1.5 inches of rainfall from new or renovated buildings.  Sometimes existing regulatory arrangements make it difficult for utilities to work on scale commensurate with the need.  Morning panelist Karen Sands, Director of Sustainability for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, related that MMSD has an aggressive green infrastructure program, but in order to meet its stormwater capture targets by 2035, the district would have to spend at an annual rate 18 times higher than its current level.  MMSD is now looking at other public private partnerships as a potential solution. 

In other areas of the country, federal and state regulatory frameworks create an urgent need for local governments to cooperate.  As explained by panelist L. Preston Bryant, Senior V.P. of McGuireWoods Consulting and former Secretary of the Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Virginia law treats the US EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulation for Chesapeake Bay as a joint responsibility between the state and local governments and this has spurred regional collaboration.  The state of Virginia also has a Stormwater Local Assistance Fund as part of its EPA clean water revolving loan program that will pay for up to 50% of the costs of local projects.  The state of Maryland also has a stormwater law to help protect the Chesapeake.  Prince George’s County, MD, is an example of a county that moved ahead with a stormwater fee that is being used to fund a public-private partnership that is aggressively creating green infrastructure. 

Asset Management

Asset management for both capital projects and human resources was another theme of the conference.  It is obvious that there are a variety of approaches to maintaining green infrastructure and that there is no agreement on best, or even standard, practice. David St. Pierre, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, explained that MWRD shares the initial installation costs with local governments and then maintains agreements in which the local governments are responsible for long-term maintenance.  In Baltimore, Randy Chow, Director of the Baltimore Department of Public Works explained that the department wants neighborhood organizations to play a role in maintaining green infrastructure. Korey Gray, Business Development Officer of DC Water, described how the city public works department helps to maintain green infrastructure in Washington.  

Several of the afternoon panelists presented visions of both optimism and pessimism about the future adaptability of water utilities in general.  On an optimistic note, Marcus Quigley, CEO and Founder of Opti, a data analysis firm, noted that rapid advances in the field of sensor technology were making it possible to have real time monitoring and control of individual assets, leading to the potential for huge gains in efficiencies from existing infrastructure.  On a more pessimistic note, William Stowe, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works discussed his organization’s decision to file suite against upstream quasi-governmental water management organizations for allowing agricultural runoff (excessive nitrates) to pollute the Des Moines River.  In his view, as long as industrial agriculture remains outside of the EPA stormwater and pollution control framework, agricultural areas in the Midwest will have to invest heavily in equipment to clean excessive nitrates from their drinking water, leading to excessive financial burdens on urban residents.

The conference made it clear that stormwater management is a dynamic, emerging field in which information-sharing across geographies and across professional boundaries is essential.   There is a real desire for innovation and experimentation as local utilities try different approaches.  The need for creativity will become even more important as the 21st Century matures and the effects of climate change are felt more acutely. 

15 Years of Preservation and Revitalization in Ohio

May 10th, 2016

By Alison Goebel, GOPC Deputy Director

Earlier this month, the Greater Ohio Policy Center joined more than 100 conservation, environmental, and urban advocates to celebrate the numerous successes of the Clean Ohio Fund.  Since 2000, the Clean Ohio Fund has restored, protected, and connected Ohio’s natural and urban places by preserving open space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.

All 88 Ohio counties have received funding and benefited from the Clean Ohio Fund.  The Fund has:

  • Cleaned up nearly 400 abandoned, contaminated sites.
  • Preserved over 26,000 acres of natural areas.
  • Protected over 39,748 acres of family farms.
  • Created over 216 miles of multi-purpose, recreational trails.

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As Greater Ohio Policy Center demonstrated in its 2013 study, the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund which supported brownfield remediation, leveraged $4.67 in private dollars for every dollar invested by the state.  More broadly, the entire Clean Ohio Program has leveraged additional investments to create a total economic impact of approximately $2.6 billion in public and private investments to date.

Governor Taft, whose administration initiated the ballot issue that created the Clean Ohio Fund, congratulated advocates and communities on the ongoing successes of the program.  Former EPA Director, Chris Jones, and Kate Bartter, environmental policy advisor to Governor Taft, discussed the history of the ballot initiative and the thoughtful process that created this impactful program.  House Minority Leader, Rep. Fred Strahorn, and Rep. Tim Derickson, a long time champion for Clean Ohio, described the impact of the program in their districts and around the state and the importance of the programs’ continuation.

The strong bi-partisan, multi-sector support for the Clean Ohio Fund, and clear economic benefits of the program confirms the value and importance of this program to Ohio’s economic development and quality of life strategies.

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GOPC Legislative Update: April 2016

May 9th, 2016

By Lindsey Gardiner, 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.

April Leg. Update (2)

Bills Available Online at www.legislature.ohio.gov

Updates on Key Bills:

greater-ohio-flagHB 130 UPDATE: On April 12th, HB 130 received another hearing in the House Finance Committee. HB 130, which proposes to create the DataOhio Board, specify requirements for posting public records online, require the Auditor of State to adopt rules regarding a uniform accounting system for public offices, and establish an online catalog to establish the Local Government Information Exchange Grant Program, was amended by Representative Mike Duffey to remove an appropriation. There were numerous proponents, who offered testimony on behalf of the bill including The Ohio Newspaper Association, and The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Written proponent testimony was submitted by the office of Auditor Dave Yost, the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Ohio Municipal League, and various local government officials. On April 20th, GOPC submitted written testimony as an interested party for HB 130 and the bill was subsequently passed by the Committee. The next step for this bill in the legislation process is for the bill to be referred to the Speaker’s office, where he will decide when or if the bill will receive a vote on by the House.

greater-ohio-flagHB 134 UPDATE: Activity for HB 134 has been picking up since its referral to the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in early December. The bill, which proposes to establish summary actions to foreclose mortgages on vacant and abandoned residential properties received its first hearing April 13th. Co-sponsors of the bill, Representatives Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) offered testimony on behalf of the bill. Various members of the Committee voiced their concerns for property owners within the legislation. Final comments by the Committee members and co-sponsors included continuing an open dialogue to address better protection for property owners with regards to the inspection process contained within the bill.  So far HB 134 has received one hearing in the Senate; however, we anticipate the bill may be able to gain more traction with the continuing efforts to improve the legislation.

greater-ohio-flagHB 182 UPDATE: HB 182 continues to move smoothly through the legislative process. HB 182 proposes to allow local governments to establish Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDDS) for development purposes. On April 27th, the bill received its first hearing within the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill sponsor, Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), offered sponsor testimony and reported to the Committee that he is working with various stakeholders with the hopes of coming up with a final version that everyone can agree on in the near future.

greater-ohio-flagHB 233 UPDATE: HB 233, which proposes to authorize municipal corporations to create downtown redevelopment districts (DRDs) and innovation districts for the purposes of promoting the rehabilitation of historic buildings and encourage economic development, had several witnesses attend committee to offer support. Proponents of HB 233 included The Cincinnati Museum Center and the Ohio Environmental Council. Members of the Committee accepted two amendments without objection. One, from Chairman Peterson, would extend the charitable use tax exemption to children’s, science, history, and natural history museums open to the general public, and the second, from Sen. Eklund, which provided clarifying language for bonding purposes. HB 233 was voted out of the Senate on April 13th, and the House unanimously granted final approval of the bill on April 20th. The final step in the legislative process for HB 233 is for the Governor to sign the bill into law. (HB 233 was signed into law by Governor Kasich May, 6 2016.)

greater-ohio-flagHB 303 UPDATE: Throughout April HB 303—the DOLLAR Deed Program– received three hearings within the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, and is expected to have a fourth hearing in early May. Due to this increased activity, GOPC has moved this bill from the yellow column to the green, which indicates faster movement and increased likelihood of passage. The bill sponsor, Representative Jonathan Dever (R- Cincinnati), offered testimony that explained what the bill proposed and added that Ohio would be “on the cutting edge” since no other states have yet implemented anything like it. The second hearing was designated for proponents to present their perspectives and included the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and the Ohio Credit Union League. The third hearing was held on April 26th, which provided opposing parties to bring forward their concerns with the bill; however, there were none. GOPC anticipates HB 303 will receive a fourth hearing by mid-May where GOPC and other stakeholders will be given the opportunity to offer Interested Party testimony.

greater-ohio-flagHB 418 UPDATE: Last month, HB 418 received two hearings within the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee. Representative John Barnes (D- Cleveland) offered sponsor testimony and explained that his bill would help protect senior citizens, who have lived in their homes for at least 20 years, from seizure of their property if they have delinquent property taxes. One member of the Committee stated he was concerned about the potential abuse of this new policy and mentioned that safeguards should be put in place to remedy the flaw. The following week, Representative Barnes offered an amendment to HB 418, which would prohibit tax foreclosures on senior-owned homesteads if delinquent taxes, assessments, charges, penalties and interest on the property do not exceed $5,000. The amendment also requires dismissal of foreclosure proceedings against a senior-owned homestead (presumably with a tax debt greater than $5,000) if the tax bill on the homestead increased for two or more years, during which the delinquency occurred, and the property owner’s financial circumstances likely contributed to the their inability to pay the taxes due. The committee approved of the amendments to HB 418 and the sponsor is continuing to work with members to produce a bill that everyone can agree upon.

greater-ohio-flagHB 463 UPDATE: HB 463 received a total of four hearings throughout the month of April within the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee, and was ultimately reported out of Committee on April 27th.  During this period various stakeholders came together to cite their support for the bill including Professor Jeff Ferriell of Capital University Law School, the Ohio Bankers League, the Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association, and attorney Tony Fiore of Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter. HB 463 received a third hearing, which provided Interested Party members the opportunity to testify. Among the three interested parties were the Ohio Judicial Conference, the City of South Euclid and Greater Ohio Policy Center. Greater Ohio’s testimony offered commentary about the positive aspects of the legislation, but also brought forward concerns regarding the Ohio Uniform Commercial Code changes involving mortgages and notes that have been lost. Witnesses that offered proponent testimony on behalf of HB 463 included former Attorney General Marc Dann, the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Recorders Association, the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office, and the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association.

Now that the bill has been voted affirmatively out of Committee, GOPC anticipates HB 463 will make its final steps out of the House by the end of May.

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

greater-ohio-flagHB 512 is sponsored by State Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem). This bill proposes to establish requirements governing lead and copper testing for community and non-transient non-community water systems, to make appropriations to the Facilities Construction Commission for purposes of providing grants for lead fixture replacement in eligible schools, and revise the laws governing the Water Pollution Control Loan and Drinking Water Assistance Funds. Greater Ohio has been leading the charge on studying Ohio’s Water/Sewer infrastructure needs, and although HB 512 isn’t directly related to Ohio’s gray infrastructure needs, the bill is still of interest as water contamination and water infrastructure are interrelated. GOPC will continue to monitor HB 512 as it moves through the legislative process.

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

 

Event Upcoming on Community and Economic Revitalization in Legacy Cities

May 9th, 2016

On May 20th, 2016, GOPC Executive Director Lavea Brachman will be speaking at an event in Chicago, titled Spurring Community and Economic Revitalization in Legacy Cities and Weak Market Communities. If you are in the Chicago area during this time, consider attending this informative event. Details are below; help spread the word!

 

Delta Legacy Cities Discussion