GOPC Updates Analysis on Challenges Facing Ohio’s Smaller Legacy Cities; Presents Findings at CMC

January 17th, 2017

Greater Ohio Policy Center has released an update to its 2016 report From Akron to Zanesville: How Are Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities Faring? The report examined the economic health of Ohio’s older industrial cities over the last 15 years and recommends proactive state policy solutions to strengthen these places. Newly released 2015 data confirms the general downward trajectory of many key economic indicators in these communities.

  • Ohio’s mid-sized legacy cities – Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown – resemble their larger neighbors in many ways, including their challenges with entrenched poverty, low household incomes, and substantial rates of housing vacancy and abandonment. But the signs of recovery continuing to emerge in Cleveland and Cincinnati are not apparent in the economic health data of the mid-sized cities.
  • The proportion of adults working or looking for a job – a key indicator of economic health – declined significantly between 2000 and 2015 in small and mid-sized legacy cities.
  • Unemployment rates ticked down in all city types between 2014 and 2015. By 2015, Columbus and the state as a whole recovered their unemployment rates to 2009 levels. Mid-sized legacy cities also approached their unemployment levels at the end of the Recession. However, unemployment levels in all city types and the state as a whole continue to exceed 2000 levels.

GOPC’s research has confirmed that cities that are rebounding invest in place-based assets to revitalize.  To help Ohio’s smaller legacy cities stabilize and thrive, in 2017, GOPC will continue to lead advocacy on a slate of policies that support community redevelopment as routes to economic stability.

As part of GOPC’s recently launched smaller legacy city initiative, Executive Director, Alison D. Goebel, discussed the 2015 findings and GOPC’s policy recommendations at a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum, Big City Problems in Ohio’s Small Towns, which over 140 people attended earlier this week. During the panel, Goebel discussed ongoing challenges, such as economic and population decline, that Ohio’s smaller legacy cities face. To enable these cities to rebound, Goebel emphasized the importance of local civic capacity and the need to invest in both people and place-based assets.

GOPC was joined by Tara Britton, director of public policy and advocacy at the Center for Community Solutions and John Begala, retired executive director of the Center for Community Solutions, and the session was moderated by Karen Kasler of the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau. If you missed the CMC forum, a Video of the whole event has been made available on CMC’s YouTube channel, which can be viewed online for free!

AG CMC cropped

GOPC’s Executive Director Alison Goebel (right) speaking at the Columbus Metropolitan Club about recent data on smaller legacy cities and strategies for regrowth.

We will be hosting a smaller legacy cities panel along with a whole array of exciting topics during our 2017 Summit: Investing in Ohio’s Future March 7th and 8th! We hope you join us; Register today!

 

Press Release: GOPC Updates Report on Challenges Facing Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Cities

January 10th, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2017

Contact: Michael McGovern, 937-245-1232, michael.d.mcgovern@gmail.com

 

Greater Ohio Policy Center Updates Report on Challenges Facing Ohio’s Small and Mid-sized Cities

Newly released 2015 data largely continues downward trends found in original report

Columbus, OH - Today, Greater Ohio Policy Center released an update to its report “From Akron to Zanesville: How Are Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities Faring?” The report examined the economic health of Ohio’s older industrial cities over the last 15 years and recommends proactive state policy solutions to strengthen these places. Newly released 2015 data confirms the general downward trajectory of many key economic indicators in these communities.

The update to the report is online here.

“Unfortunately, this new data generally shows many of the same downward trends in these communities as they continue to diverge from larger cities,” said GOPC Executive Director Alison Goebel. “Stronger trends in large cities like Columbus mask declines in many other parts of the state.”

“Ohio’s long-term economic health will require these issues be addressed. Recovery in these communities will depend on both creative local leadership and statewide policy change,” Goebel continued. 

The 20 small and mid-sized cities covered in this report all have populations of at least 20,000 people and are situated in larger metropolitan areas of less than one million people. Nearly one-third of Ohioans live in small or mid-sized cities or their surrounding regions and combined, just eight of these cities accounted for nearly 30 percent of the state’s GDP in 2014.

Updates to the report with the addition of the 2015 data include: 

  • The mid-sized legacy cities – Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown – resemble their larger neighbors in many ways, including their challenges with entrenched poverty, low household  incomes, and substantial rates of housing vacancy and abandonment. But the signs of recovery continuing to emerge in Cleveland and Cincinnati are not apparent in the economic health data of the mid-sized cities. 
  • The proportion of adults working or looking for a job – a key indicator of economic health – declined significantly between 2000 and 2015 in small and mid-sized legacy cities.
  • Unemployment rates ticked down in all city types between 2014 and 2015. By 2015, Columbus and the state as a whole recovered their unemployment rates to 2009 levels. Mid-sized legacy cities also approached their unemployment levels at the end of the Recession. However, unemployment levels in all city types and the state as a whole continue to exceed 2000 levels. 

The original report is online here.

The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a mission to champion revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio.  GOPC uses education, research and outreach to develop and advance policies and practices that create revitalized communities, strengthen regional cooperation, and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland.

To speak with one of GOPC’s policy experts about the report and city-specific data, please contact Michael McGovern at michael.d.mcgovern@gmail.com

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GOPC Bids Farewell to Long-Serving Trustee and Founding Member David Beach

January 9th, 2017

Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) would like to thank David Beach for serving on the GOPC Board of Trustees for the past ten years. David has fulfilled his third term as Trustee and will continue his work in Cleveland, where he is the Director of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute, the sustainability center of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We are very grateful for David’s leadership at GOPC, as he was one of the founding members of the organization, which was incorporated in 2007. David was also GOPC’s first Board Chair; he served in this position from August 2007 until December 2011.

From the beginning, David has been a leader in GOPC’s pursuit of ambitious urban revitalization policy change. He has been a strong voice on the need to combat urban sprawl, as well as offering a unique perspective to GOPC on environmental issues.

David has been writing and speaking about the environment, neighborhood development and regional planning issues for more than 25 years. He has deep roots in Northeast Ohio; his family has lived there for six generations.

From everyone at GOPC, we thank David for his service as a GOPC Trustee and wish him all the best in the future.

You’re Invited to See GOPC Speak at the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Ohio’s Smaller Legacy Cities!

January 9th, 2017

On Wednesday January 11th, Greater Ohio Policy Center Executive Director, Alison D. Goebel, is speaking at the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s (CMC) forum titled Big City Problems in Ohio’s Small Towns. Goebel will be discussing findings from GOPC’s “From Akron to Zanesville” report which details ongoing challenges, such as economic and population decline, that Ohio’s smaller legacy cities face.

The discussion of the report, originally published in June 2016, will include updated data from the recently released American Community Survey. This presentation at the CMC forum is part of GOPC’s recently launched smaller legacy city advocacy and resource initiative.

GOPC will be joined by Tara Britton, director of public policy and advocacy at the Center for Community Solutions and by John Begala, retired executive director of the Center for Community Solutions. The session will be moderated by Karen Kasler of the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau.

Please join GOPC at the Boat House at Confluence Park for this forum that will go from noon to 1:15pm. Registration will close on Tuesday January 10th, so be sure to register today!

We look forward to seeing you at the forum!

CMC urban revitalization 4.20

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

The Boat House at Confluence Park

679 W Spring St, Columbus, OH 43215

 

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,

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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.

 

 

GOPC Testifies on Active Transportation’s Cost Savings, Safety Benefits, and Range of Choice at the Ohio Statehouse

November 28th, 2016

By Jason Warner, GOPC Manager of Government Affairs

During two hearings before the Joint Task Force for Transportation Issues and the Joint Education Oversight Committee last week, GOPC promoted the need for, and benefits of, an Active Transportation policy being adopted for both Ohio’s transportation infrastructure plan, as well as a means to reduce costs around school transportation in the state.

Active Transportation, by definition any human-power transportation system such as walking or bicycling, is increasing in frequency across the state for a variety of reasons. Currently, 33 other states have a statewide active transportation policy. GOPC advocates for an Ohio Active Transportation policy that is sensitive to context (rural vs. suburban vs. urban) and that would facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. GOPC is involved with ODOT and Department of Health’s working group devoted to creating an effective statewide Active Transportation policy that enables safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access across transportation modes for users of all ages and abilities.

JW cropped

GOPC Manager of Government Affairs Jason Warner

Nationally, the number of fatalities resulting from traffic collisions involving motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists is rising. Statistics provided by the Governors Highway Safety Association show a 10% increase during the first half of 2015 over the same time period of the previous year. Sadly, Ohio led all other states, with an increase of 124% in pedestrian fatalities during that period. To boost safety, policymakers should look to implement policies that accommodate more types of users, such as bikers and pedestrians. Encouragingly, a 2015 analysis of 37 Active Transportation projects across the country determined that the projects avoided a total of $18.1 million in collision and injury costs in one year alone.

Active Transportation policies that support and promote multimodal usage result in safer streets, minimize the flow of cars, and often increase economic activity along the modified route.  GOPC’s full testimony before the Joint Transportation Task Force on November 15 is available here, while the Joint Education Oversight Committee testimony from November 17 is available here.

Go here to learn more about GOPC’s research and advocacy on this important issue!

 

Ohio General Assembly: 2016 Election Review, Lame Duck, and Upcoming Budget

November 16th, 2016

 By Jason Warner, GOPC Manager of Government Affairs

While much of the focus of the 2016 elections has been at the national level, voters across Ohio cast ballots last Tuesday on down ticket races to elect members of the 132nd Ohio General Assembly. Now that the dust has settled, we can look ahead to the new General Assembly, which will take office on January 3, 2017. The new legislative session will include Governor John Kasich’s final state budget and will prelude the 2018 statewide election when Ohioans will elect Mr. Kasich’s successor and other statewide executive officers.

Prior to the election, Republicans in the state legislature enjoyed a majority of 65/34 in the Ohio House and 23/10 in the Ohio Senate. Defying expectations, Republicans in the state legislature gained one seat each in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, increasing their majorities to 66/33 in the House and 24/9 in the Senate. Both majorities are now large enough to override any vetoes which may be issued by Governor Kasich and to pass legislation as emergency measures (allowing them to take effect immediately as opposed to 90 days after executive approval), without the necessary support of legislative Democrats.

  StatehouseBirdseye

  Ohio Statehouse

The short term impact of the election at this stage is hard to determine. GOPC will be attentive to leadership changes and will continue working with members on both sides of the aisle to advance policies on urban and neighborhood revitalization, development of a diverse transportation system and modernization of the state’s water and sewer infrastructure. GOPC has already been reaching out to members of the General Assembly to highlight policy initiatives and will be working with members to ensure these issues are emphasized in budget meetings and other legislative conversations.

Before the new General Assembly is seated in January, the current session will wrap up with lame duck session, when any remaining bills that are poised for legislative passage will be completed and sent to Governor Kasich for his approval. Since political upheaval in the state legislature did not occur, most observers expect that any lingering issues that are not in need of immediate action will be held off until the start of the new session. However, Senate President Keith Faber said recently, “If you have any bills out there…pay attention. Anything can happen.”

Several bills GOPC has been tracking could see action during lame duck. HB482 (Dever) makes changes to the calculation of the exempt value of improved property subject to a community reinvestment area exemption. The bill clarifies the calculation of the exempt value of property subject to a brownfield remediation exemption while authorizing the filing of a complaint with the county auditor challenging the assessed value of fully or partially exempt property. GOPC has worked with Representative Dever on this bill and the measure is highly likely to see action during the next month.

SB333 (Hite) makes changes to laws relating to environmental protection and could also move during lame duck. While SB333 has yet to receive a hearing, the bill was a priority for Governor Kasich earlier this year. The bill complements HB512 (Ginter), which passed earlier in 2016 and established requirements governing lead and copper testing for community water systems and revised the law governing lead contamination from plumbing fixtures. Both bills emerged in response to recent water crises in Flint, Michigan and Sebring, Ohio.

SB235 (Coley/Beagle) offers an incentive to property owners to enhance land sites for future business and development, and ultimately encourage job growth throughout the state. GOPC testified on SB235 while the bill was pending in the Senate Ways & Means Committee in April, expressing support for the bill’s intent to spur economic development. However, GOPC believes a statewide “automation” of offering tax incentives could result in negative side effects. GOPC will seek to modify the bill, which passed the Senate and should see action in the House during lame duck.

 

*Names listed in parentheses are the legislators who are chief bill sponsors