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04/28/2021

Ohio Legislative Review

OHBA Legislative Review

APRIL 22, 2021 REPORT #4

HB 126 PROPERTY VALUES RECEIVING ATTENTION

HB 126 Property Values (Merrin, D.)
To require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners.
Text/Analysis
Referred in Senate (4/21/2021; Local Government & Elections)

HB 126 has already passed the House, and is now awaiting hearings in the Senate local Government Committee.   During his House sponsor testimony, Chairman Merrin, returning for the third time with the legislation, explained that current law allows local governments to contest the value of properties through the Board of Revision process with a general goal of generating more property tax revenue based on higher property valuations.

"Only twelve other states provide similar authority to local governments. However, the practice has become so abusive in Ohio, the Council of State Taxation representing over 500 national corporations has publicly downgraded Ohio business climate due to this specific issue," he said.

"Local governments filing complaints hire private-sector attorneys with public funds. The complaints put significant pressure on affected property owners. Homeowners have to decide whether to hire legal counsel or represent themselves through the BOR process," the sponsor said. "Many complaints are frivolous and designed to encourage property owners to settle rather than incur legal costs. As you can imagine, law firms hired to target property owners intimidate many Ohioans and create unnecessary divisiveness. It is important to note the vast majority of local governments do not engage in the controversial practice of filing BOR complaints."

Rep. Merrin said the bill "ensures elected officials authorize BOR complaints."

"This is accomplished by requiring legislative authorities to approve a resolution authorizing their legal counsel to file each BOR complaint, but allows resolutions to be group together for a single vote," he said. "To be clear, this bill does not prohibit local governments filing BOR complaints. It only requires a resolution be approved confirming the legislative body's intent to challenge the property value of a parcel." He said the requirement would "enhance transparency and accountability" in the process.

"Furthermore, House Bill 126 requires legislative authorities with a resolution on their agenda authorizing a BOR complaint to provide advanced, written notice to the property owner. Currently, property owners are notified by the BOR after their local government files a complaint," he said.

If anyone has had a problem with local school boards challenging valuations, as described by the sponsor above, please contact OHBA. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

HB 123 Community Reinvestment Areas (Fraizer, M., Cross, J.)
To modify the law governing community reinvestment areas and the terms under which property may be exempted in such areas.
Text/Analysis
Committee Hearing in House Ways & Means (4/20/2021; REPORTED)

The house ways & means committee voted HB 123 out of committee this week 10-6. The bill aims to update the Community Reinvestment Area law enacted in 1994.  According to the sponsors, post-1994 CRA's place burdensome additional reporting requirements, limitations, and unnecessary fees that if removed may vastly improve the opportunities for Residential, Industrial, and Commercial Investment that reside in a CRA zone; with corresponding benefits to County and Municipal entities offering the incentive. Creating opportunities for business, industries, and everyday people to benefit from improving their community and find gainful employment. This proposed legislation will remove much of this red tape, and turn CRAs into what they were always intended to be: a permissive economic tool for communities to enter into, and benefit from. This legislation is simply improving their usability and applicability.

Rep. Fraizer said the bill is largely focused on "building consistency with Economic Development tools, aligning TIFs and CRA default tax incentive percentages to range from 75% to 100% based on school board approval - 80% of CRAs tracked by DSA - reducing penalty years for relocating from 5 years to 2 years for relocating in the State, and cleaning up language and process.

OHBA would appreciate insight on whether CRA’s can be a useful tool for residential development.

HB 175 Water Pollution (Hillyer, B.)
To deregulate certain ephemeral water features under various water pollution control laws.
Text/Analysis
Committee Hearing in House Agriculture & Conservation (3/23/2021; CONTINUED)

OHBA will offer support of HB 175 during its proponent hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on the 27th.  OHBA has been following this issue since the WOTUS definition was changed to exclude certain ephemeral and erosional features.  Additionally, in July, OHBA filed an ERAC appeal challenging the OEPA General Permit to regulate ephemeral streams, and is continuing to navigate the negotiations through the formal ERAC process. 

Currently, the Ohio EPA regulates ephemeral streams that only flow in the event of rain or snowfall through its General Permit issued last spring. 

Please contact OHBA with any questions on HB 175 or the ERAC appeal.

HB 201 Natural Gas (Stephens, J.)
To prevent local governments from limiting use of natural gas.
Text/Analysis
Committee Hearing in House Energy & Natural Resources (4/21/2021; CONTINUED-AMENDED (See separate story))

After testifying in support of HB 201, OHBA signed on to a industry letter reiterating its support for HB 201 send to the House Energy Committee yesterday. 

HB 201 would prohibit local ordinances limiting natural gas use and has drawn support from some industry and business groups, while opponents continue to blast the measure as a Home Rule violation.  OHBA will continue to be supportive as the bill gets out of the House and moves along in the Senate process. 

Please feel free to contact OHBA with any questions or concerns.

SB 64 Roofing Contractors (Hottinger, J., Lang, G.)
To regulate and require the registration of roofing contractors.
Text/Analysis
Committee Hearing in Senate Government Oversight & Reform (3/24/2021; CONTINUED)

OHBA continues to work with proponents of SB 64 on changes to exempt whole home construction from the registration requirements.  Further changes are also expected further simplifying the registration process in a sub bill currently being drafted for adoption in the coming weeks.

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