General Assembly Acts on Lake Legislation before Wrapping Up for the Session
The Ohio General Assembly is expected to wrap up its work this week. Both the Ohio House and Senate have tentatively scheduled a session day on December 27th, with the stated purpose of overriding some expected vetoes by the Governor. After that, the legislature is expected to adjourn. Newly elected and re-elected members will be sworn into office and a new General Assembly will convene in early January. All pending legislation that has not been enacted will have to be re-introduced and start the legislative process all over again.
One of the last bills passed by the current General Assembly has special interest to Ohio Lakefront Group members: Senate Bill 51. SB 51 is expected to be signed into law. Although numerous provisions (predominantly capital expenditures unrelated to the original proposal) were added to the bill, those of the most interest to OLG members would expand the scope of public improvements that may be funded and completed by a special improvement district (SID) to include shoreline improvement projects along Lake Erie.
A SID is an economic development tool that may be used to facilitate the development and implementation of services within a defined district located within one or more cities, villages, or townships. The improvements and services are funded through a special assessment levied against property in the district. The SID is administered by the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is created for the purpose of governing the district. Simplified, a SID would allow property owners to band together to form a public-private partnership for the purposes of lakefront repairs, improvements, and protection. Supporters of the bill are hopeful that creation of a SID could allow property owners to take on restoration and protection efforts that are immediately necessary as a group, financed over up to 30 years. Unlike most other SIDs, those for coastal management purposes must have the consent of 100% of impacted property owners.
The Governor signed SB 51 on December 19th; the applicable provisions will be effective in mid-March. In the interim, the Ohio Lakefront Group will work with local groups and local governments to disseminate additional information for those interested in forming a SID.
General Assembly Threatens Invalidation of Governor Kasich's Proposed Regulations
Members of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) took the unusual step of recommending that the Ohio Department of Agriculture revise and refile an administrative rule package addressing the Lake Erie watershed. JCARR is a lesser known committee of the General Assembly that is tasked with reviewing rules proposed by executive agencies. Although rarely exercised, the committee has the power to recommend that the Ohio General Assembly invalidate rules proposed by state agencies should the proposed rule be found to violate specific conditions such as legislative intent or agency authority or if the rule fails to meet certain other standards related to administrative actions or the common sense initiative.
The measures were adopted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture following an executive order by Governor Kasich in July and dealt with standards for farm runoff in the Lake Erie watershed. The measure generally garnered support from conservation and environmental groups with agricultural organizations expressing concerns that the rules exceeded agency authority, would not have the intended beneficial intent, and could not reasonably be complied with.
Brown, Portman Sponsor Farm Bill Measures to Improve Lake Erie
In a show of bipartisanship that seems increasingly rare, Ohio's two US Senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, applauded inclusion of a provision of the Farm Bill that extends protection and funding to Lake Erie. The Farm Bill has reached its final hurdles and now goes to President Trump for Signature.
Mary Mertz Announced As New Director of Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Issues Expedited Shoreline Permits
Channel 5's Jordan Vandenberge reports that in May
, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources rolled out a new and expedited permitting process for temporary shoreline stabilization projects for people whose properties flank Lake Erie. As of early December, a total of 30 permits were issued to property owners in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula Counties. Eight additional permits are still pending, state records show. The information was included in a larger story about erosion control efforts at
Mentor Beach Park.