Greater Ohio Policy Center actively engages with elected officials in the Ohio Legislature and the Executive Branch to both educate them on issues central to Greater Ohio’s mission and to seek the enactment of legislation and policies that promote sustainable growth and economic development in Ohio. We do this by meeting with lawmakers at the statehouse as well as in their districts; testifying before legislative committees, boards and commissions; and working with interested party groups and partner organizations to build consensus on issues. Greater Ohio develops many of our own policy proposals and legislation in-house, preparing fact sheets, executive summaries and memorandums. As a not-for-profit, Greater Ohio does this on the strength of our ideas, cultivating relationships and building trust with lawmakers as a reliable, non-partisan organization.
Main Operating Budget (Summer 2017)
In an urban renewal project, a municipality and a developer create a development agreement to mitigate a blighted area. After development begins, the property owner makes service payments in lieu of taxes, based on the increased valuation of the property. Service payments support bonds that have been issued to support redevelopment costs. GOPC prepared a permissive amendment to the state budget (House Bill 49) that makes it absolutely clear that environmental remediation is an allowable cost whether the land is publicly or privately owned, and allows the semiannual service payment amount to exceed the foregone real estate taxes on the improvements, if the parties to the development agreement agree. This latter provision would better accommodate the cleanup of very highly contaminated sites. (The difference would be made up with charges passed through to tenants or from other project revenue.)
GOPC actively opposed the inclusion of a provision in the budget that mandated stickers be affixed to retail service station pumps displaying the rate of federal and state taxes applicable to gasoline and diesel fuels. This amendment came with no affixed cost for the program and would have needed to be fully implemented in 14 months. At a time when the legislature was forced to cut nearly $1 billion in funding across the board, reducing spending and cutting funding to a number of important and crucial programs, GOPC did not believe that it made sense to include a new mandate with no fixed cost associated with it and no clear, defined purpose. Both the Ohio Senate and the Conference Committee eliminated this provision from the budget bill signed by Governor Kasich.
The budget creates the Lead-safe Residential Rental Unit Registry, maintained by the director of the Ohio Department of Health. This voluntary, online registry will provide an opportunity for families to more easily find lead-safe homes when looking for places to live. Owners can register qualified properties which have undergone documented lead-safe maintenance practices. GOPC supports policies and practices that help to revitalize neighborhoods in Ohio’s cities so that they attract people and thrive economically. We were pleased that House Bill 49 will do much to help to reduce the risks of lead exposure to children. The budget further provides $4.8 million in annual funding over the biennium for lead remediation and associated testing services for homes under lead hazard orders, ensuring that more properties are made safe for families, and their children.
The legislature also removed a shortsighted proposal which would have overrule municipal home rule authority concerning health and safety standards regarding lead abatement activities. This proposal would have undermined efforts to strengthen standards and ensure more properties are made lead-free. GOPC was among a number of groups actively opposing this proposal. If in the future the state decides that it needs to strengthen state regulations, we would encourage the state to look at local ordinances as a model for statewide reform.
Transportation Budget (Spring 2017)
Increase in Federal Flex Funding
Flexing federal highway dollars reallocates funding Ohio already receives. Prior to 2017, the state flexed around $23 million per year for public transportation purposes. Greater Ohio and otherorganizations have called on the state to increase this funding to $50 million per year, as the Ohio Department of Transportation recommended in the 2013 Transit Needs Study. House Bill 26 increases federal flex funding by $10 million per year, to $33 million annually. This is a significant increase in funding which will help support the purchase of new rural transit vans and full sized buses.
Ohio Bridge Partnership Program
This provision codified the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program into the Ohio Revised Code. The program, created through an executive order in 2013, permits the Ohio Department of Transportation, through the use of federal funding, to assist counties and local governments with the rehabilitation and rebuilding of bridges. To date, the program has appropriated $138 million on nearly 204 bridge projects across the state. To qualify for the program, the bridge must be structurally deficient, open and carrying vehicular traffic, and not currently being funded by other sources. The program, supported by Great Ohio and others organizations, has helped to contribute to Ohio seeing the number of bridges in the state being rated as structurally deficient drop from 2,242 in 2013to 1,942 in 2017, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
House Bill 463 (Winter 2016)
Sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Dever, House Bill 463 makes a number of changes to the state foreclosure laws. Greater Ohio sought the inclusion of a number of change in state law regarding property tax exemptions which was included in the enacted legislation.
Maximum term for Remodeled Property
Ohio's Community Reinvestment Area Law authorizes counties and municipalities to designate certain areas to encourage new construction or remodeling of existing structures. Previously, new construction is tax-exempt for up to 15 years, while a remodeled one- or two-family dwelling was tax-exempt for up to ten years if the cost of remodeling exceeded $2,500 and other remodeled structures were tax-exempt up to 12years if the cost of remodeling exceeded $5,000. Greater Ohio’s amendment in HB463 makes all of the tax exemptions uniform at 15 years, regardless of whether the project is new construction or renovation. The costs of remodeling however remain unchanged ($2,500 for one- or two-family dwellings and $5,000 for other remodeling projects).
The law previously granted a 10 year partial property tax exemption for sites contaminated with hazardous substances (brownfields) that undergo remediation efforts to address the contamination. The exemption applied to the increase in the value of the land itself as well as the value in any building on the land when the exemption was ordered. The exemption began the year the order was issued. The changes in House Bill 463 clarify that the exemption is applicable at the beginning of the year when the exemption is ordered, effectively exempting any increase in property value which occurs after remediation activities begin.