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Entries for category:   Legal Developments

 
Jun 10, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Plaintiffs in JobsOhio Suit Lack Standing
 

In a major legal victory for Gov. John Kasich’s signature economic development initiative, the Supreme Court of Ohio today rejected a legal challenge to legislation providing for the creation and operation of JobsOhio. The Court held that plaintiffs ProgressOhio.org, Inc., Michael J. Skindell and Dennis E. Murray, Jr. lacked standing to raise their claims. Standing is a threshold requirement for legal action. Without any direct personal stake in the outcome of the case, the Court explained, the plaintiffs did not have standing and could not proceed. The Court did not reach the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims. Justice Sharon Kennedy concurred in the majority opinion, and Justices Paul Pfeifer and William O’Neill authored dissenting opinions. For more, see the Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-2382.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jun 09, 2014

Ohio enacts new limitations on joint economic development zones
 

On June 5, 2014, Gov. John Kasich signed Sub. H.B. 289 into law. The bill imposes sweeping limitations on the use of joint economic development zones (JEDZs) and establishes municipal utility districts for economic development purposes. The authority to create a new JEDZ, or to make a substantial amendment to an existing JEDZ agreement, expires January 1, 2015. The bill was passed as an emergency measure and takes effect immediately. For more, click here.


 
Posted by M. Engel in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 29, 2014

H.B. 345 would require the DSA to keep the value of its tax credits public
 

Ohio Rep. Nick Barborak (D-Lisbon) recently delivered sponsor testimony for H.B. 345, which he introduced in November to require the director of the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) to estimate the revenue that would be foregone by the state as a result of each tax incentive proposed to the Tax Credit Authority. The bill would also require DSA to publish the director’s estimates on its website, consistent with current DSA practice. Rep. Barborak said his bill would codify this practice to ensure the information is always publicly accessible.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 23, 2014

Ohio House committee advances H.B. 492 to ease restrictions on InvestOhio and the distribution of local tax credits
 

The Ohio House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee recently advanced H.B. 492, which would ease restrictions on the InvestOhio program to "spur investment in small businesses," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. InvestOhio, which "offers a non-refundable 10 percent personal income tax credit for investing up to $10 million in small businesses," was created as part of Gov. John Kasich's previous mid-biennium budget review (MBR). H.B. 294 is part of the governor's current MBR and would reduce from five to two the number of years that investors must hold the investment under the tax credit requirements. Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) officials told the committee that the five-year requirement limited interest in InvestOhio. H.B. 492 also would "eliminate a provision in the law that allows municipalities to award local job creation and job retention tax credits only when the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approves the state version first," the article said. For more, read the full text of H.B. 492.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 22, 2014

Toledo officials opposed to H.B. 289 defend JEDZs
 

Toledo officials recently met with Ohio Senate officials to protest H.B. 289, which the Ohio House of Representatives passed in late February, The Blade reports (See our Feb 27, 2014, blog post for more information). The bill aims to phase out Joint Economic Development Zones (JEDZs), a statutory creature relied upon by many local communities to promote economic development by drawing upon municipal and township cooperation. Its sponsor, Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton), introduced the bill to "prohibit cities and townships from joining forces to 'cherry pick' large businesses and employers for income taxation while providing little or no new economic development." Rep. Schuring is considering a rewrite to create a grandfather clause for existing JEDZs that would "allow for future renewals that do not involve a geographic expansion or increased tax rate." Toledo officials argued that northwest Ohio has not experienced the abuse of JEDZs that the legislation seeks to end, and that H.B. 289 would remove a tremendously success tool "for townships and cities to work together to engender economic development," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 10, 2014

House passes bill that would allow TIF revenue to be used for natural gas infrastructure
 

On Wednesday, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Am. Sub. H.B. 483 along party lines. After undergoing changes in the House Finance & Appropriations Committee earlier this week, the bill passed the House 57-33, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Part of the mid-biennium budget review (MBR), Am. Sub. H.B. 483 would allow communities to apply PILOT payments to “the provision of gas or electric service facilities owned by nongovernmental entities when such improvements are determined to be necessary for economic development purposes.” For more, read the full text of Am. Sub. H.B. 483.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 20, 2014

House committee approves bill that would allow parcel owners to opt out of incentive-district TIF
 

A bill introduced last June that would allow parcel owners to opt out of incentive-district TIFs was recently voted out of the Ohio House of Representatives State and Local Government Committee (See our June 11, 2013, blog post for more information). H.B. 198 would require new TIF districts to be square or rectangular – though if rectangular, the districts could not be too elongated. In addition, the legislation would require that TIF improvements benefit all parcels in the district and would require notice informing owners of property that will be partially within a proposed TIF that they have the right to exclude their property from the TIF district. For more, read the full Ohio Legislative Service Commission Bill Analysis of Am. H.B. 198.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 14, 2014

Economic development provisions included in Kasich administration’s second mid-biennium review budget bill
 

On March 11, 2014, Gov. John Kasich’s administration unveiled its second mid-biennium review budget bill (MBR). The bill, introduced as H.B. 472, highlights six major areas of interest for the administration, but includes many new policy and appropriation items. On Wednesday, March 12, Ohio House of Representatives Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) indicated that it is the House’s intent to divide the MBR into at least 11 bills, which would then be sent to committees for hearings. Below is a summary of the economic development components of the budget. Read this Bricker & Eckler publication for a comprehensive review of the MBR.


Incentive Requirements and Compliance

The MBR would establish August 1 as the uniform due date for reporting by recipients of state assistance through the Development Services Agency, the Ohio Venture Capital Authority, Third Frontier Commission, and the Ohio Coal Development Office.  Additionally, the MBR would require businesses seeking research and development financial assistance in connection with a relocation to notify local governments that will be affected by their relocation before entering into an agreement with the State for the assistance.  In the event that the recipient of a Research and Development Loan Tax Credit fails to comply with certain requirements related to its state assistance, the MBR would authorize the Development Services Agency to reduce the amount, percentage, and term of the tax credit.  Finally, the MBR would authorize the Development Services Agency to access Department of Taxation information as necessary to verify information provided by incentive recipients and to ensure compliance with tax laws.

JCTC Computations

The MBR would reduce the value of certain job creation tax credits during their first year.  Under continuing law, the value of a tax credit is equal to the income tax base revenue in the year at issue, minus the baseline income tax revenue in the twelve months before the Tax Credit Authority approves the project, multiplied by the tax credit percentage established by the Tax Credit Authority.  The MBR would eliminate a provision in current law providing that the baseline income tax revenue in the first year in the first year of the tax credit is to be reduced in proportion to the number of days in the year prior the tax credit in which the tax credit recipient was not eligible for the tax credit.  By eliminating this provision, the MBR would reduce the value of tax credits in their first year so that they will be based on the growth in income tax revenue for that year.

Municipal Tax Credits

The MBR clarifies that municipalities can offer job-creation tax credits and job-retention tax credits to employers, regardless of whether the employers also receive tax credit assistance from the Development Services Agency.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 06, 2014

Medina County Common Pleas judge allows incoming trustees to rescind a settlement involving development zoning
 

A Medina County Common Pleas judge recently agreed that a settlement reached in December 2013 between township trustees and two property owners is "no longer valid or before the court for reconsideration," the Akron Beacon Journal reports. After seeking for years to have their 105-acre parcel rezoned for business development, Timothy and Linda Kratzer filed suit last year. Township trustees approved a controversial settlement that included "paying the Kratzers $15,000 and opening up the land for business development." New trustees who took office in January 2014 rescinded the deal. Cases brought forth by the Kratzers involving the constitutionality of the township's zoning classifications and "an appeal over whether the township improperly denied them a variance" will continue, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 27, 2014

Ohio House of Representatives passes Sub. H.B. 289 to phase out JEDZs
 

On February 26th, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Substitute House Bill 289. If also passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would phase out Joint Economic Development Zones (JEDZs), a statutory creature relied upon by many local communities to promote economic development by drawing upon municipal and township cooperation.

Unlike prior versions of the legislation, however, Sub. H.B. 289 does not substantially affect Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDDs).  Among other things, the new version eliminated provisions that would have required written consent of each property owner and lessee in territory proposed to be included within a JEDD and that would have imposed territorial contiguity and revenue use restrictions with respect to JEDDs (See our Nov 1, 2013, blog post for more information).

As passed by the House, Sub. H.B. 289 would eliminate the authority of municipalities and townships to create JEDZs, effective January 1, 2015. It also would de-authorize the renewal of existing JEDZ contracts after December 31, 2014. The bill further requires the contracting parties of existing and proposed JEDZs to create a review council to monitor the performance of the JEDZ. The county auditor, an economic development organization representative, a member of the public and the owners of the four largest businesses within the territory (measured by number of employees) would make up the seven-member review council. They also would have authority to approve any new JEDZ contract or substantial amendment to a JEDZ contract before it could take effect. Finally, Sub. H.B. 289 provides specific authority for owners or employees of two or more businesses jointly to bring a suit to invalidate or suspend the income tax in a JEDZ.

For more about Sub. H.B. 289, read this Cincinnati.com article. For more information about the prior version of the bill, read this Bricker & Eckler publication.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 26, 2014

Ohio Attorney General announces $1.5 million settlement with Buckeye Silicon for failing to create jobs
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office announced last week that the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) and the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OADQDA) have reached a $1.5 million settlement with the Toledo manufacturing company Buckeye Silicon with respect to DSA and OAQDA financial assistance to the company. The company’s business plan involves the production of polysilicon for use in solar panels. The OAQDA loaned Buckeye Silicon $1,428,000 in October 2010 through its Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Program. That same month, the DSA provided the company with a $1.3 million Research and Development Loan. According to DSA Director David Goodman, however, the company "failed to fulfill commitments to repay Ohioans and create jobs." For more, read the full news release.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 19, 2014

Ohio House Public Utilities Committee holds hearing on bill to permit natural gas companies to apply for an infrastructure development rider
 

On Wednesday, the Ohio House of Representatives Public Utilities Committee will hold its second hearing on H.B. 319, which House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) introduced in October to permit natural gas companies to apply for an infrastructure development rider to cover the costs of certain economic development projects. According to the Gongwer Ohio Report, the Leveraging Energy to Advance Development (LEAD) proposal "would permit natural gas companies to create new funds to extend utility infrastructure to the boundary of a development site," allowing local officials to "more aggressively pursue economic development that might not otherwise occur due to a lack of infrastructure." The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) would determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis. The rider would apply to all of the natural gas company's customers, and the "company's annual investment cannot exceed one percent of the utility's net plant investment utilized in establishing base rates in the  company's most recent base rate case," the article said. For more, read the full text of H.B. 319.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 13, 2014

S.B. 134 would limit the ability of local governments in other states to directly finance economic development projects in Ohio
 

The Ohio General Assembly is considering a proposal to limit the ability of other states and their local governments to directly finance economic development projects in Ohio. Under Senate Bill 134, so-called “foreign entities” (i.e., governments outside Ohio) would need to seek the approval of an Ohio local government before providing financing for an Ohio project. The bill follows recent efforts by several port authorities to offer bond financing across state lines.

The bill requires a foreign entity seeking to finance a capital improvement project in Ohio to apply to the port authority, municipal corporation or county in which the proposed project will be located. If the local government determines that it cannot or will not provide financing on similar or better terms, it must approve the foreign entity’s application. If the local government denies the application, the foreign entity can appeal to the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA).

If a foreign entity finances a capital improvement project without applying for local approval or after its application has been denied, the local government that could have financed the project or the director of the ODSA can obtain a court order halting the financing. The foreign entity also can be required to repay either 75 percent of the fees it received from the financing or 100 percent of the fees that the local government would have generated by financing the project, whichever is greater. An Ohio government agency that works with a foreign entity in violation of the bill will have its actions voided and can be jointly and severally liable for the fee. For more, read these Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and Bond Buyer stories.

 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 12, 2014

Opinion of Attorney General outlines county authority to convey real property in economic development setting
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently issued an opinion addressing the authority a board of county commissioners has to transfer real property in fee simple to a county office of economic development or a community improvement corporation without competitive bidding or public auction. The opinion advises that a board of county commissioners has no general authority to transfer real property to an office of economic development. Pursuant to R.C. 1724.10(B), a board of county commissioners "may transfer lands or interests in lands owned by the county to an economic development corporation, provided the economic development corporation has been designated an agency of the county pursuant to R.C. 1724.10 and an agreement between the economic development corporation and the county permits such transfers." The board of county commissioners may not, however, transfer “real property other than lands or interests in lands owned by the county” to an economic development corporation. For more, read OAG Opinion 2014-003.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 05, 2013

Ohio House Bill 375 introduces new oil and gas severance tax proposal, with industry support
 

Yesterday, Ohio Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) introduced a new severance tax proposal in the Ohio House of Representatives. Co-sponsors of the bill include many House Republican leaders, including Speaker of the House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina).  The new severance tax proposal: (i) reduces the severance tax rate on persons extracting oil and natural gas by means other than horizontal wells (e.g., traditional vertical drilling); (ii) imposes a tax on the net proceeds of oil and natural gas produced through horizontal wells; (iii) provides a non-refundable credit against the state income tax equal to the amount of the horizontal severance tax paid by the taxpayer (which includes the oil and gas producer with a working interest or landowner with a royalty interest); and (iv) provides an exclusion from the commercial activity tax (CAT) for proceeds of the sale of oil and gas by persons paying the severance tax applicable to the use of horizontal wells. A copy of H.B. 375 (as introduced) is available here, and a summary of the bill put together by attorneys at Bricker & Eckler LLP is available here.

By way of background, Gov. John Kasich earlier this year proposed a severance tax as part of H.B. 59, his biennial budget bill. Amid pressure from the oil and gas industry, House Republicans removed the language in April (See our July 26, 2013, blog post – "Oil and gas industry lobbied hard against Gov. Kasich's proposed severance tax hike"). Ohio Oil and Gas Association Executive Vice President Tom Stewart said that the new industry-backed proposal "would lower taxes for conventional oil and gas producers and eliminate the threat of higher taxes for the state's thousands of royalty owners and landowners...and [that it] earmarks excess revenue for a reduction in the personal income tax for all Ohioans," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. An article in The Columbus Dispatch reports that H.B.375 would raise an estimated $1.7 billion over 10 years by taxing oil and gas "at one percent for the first five years of production," which would increase to two percent "if the well is producing at a high level." The new revenue would be divided three ways: "for oil and gas drilling regulation; for a fund to clean up Ohio's more than 5,000 uncapped 'orphan' wells; and for annual statewide income-tax cuts," the article said.  For more, read the full story.
 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 21, 2013

Ohio Rep. Kirk Schuring introduces H.B. 358 to impose a 90-day moratorium on the creation of most new JEDDs and JEDZs
 

Ohio Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) has introduced emergency legislation, House Bill 358, that would impose a 90-day moratorium on the creation of most new Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDDs) and Joint Economic Development Zones (JEDZs). House Bill 358 also would restrict the ability of townships and municipal corporations to amend existing contracts during the 90-day period. For more, read the full text of H.B. 358.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 13, 2013

Bipartisan legislation aims to spur economic development by loosening open container laws
 

A bipartisan bill being considered in the Ohio Senate looks to encourage economic development by loosening the state's open alcoholic container laws, Cincinnati.com reports. Under the proposed legislation, "[m]ore than a dozen Ohio cities and townships would be able to create up to three open-container districts each, depending on their population." Ohio Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) introduced S.B. 116 in April, with "a committee vote likely late this year or when the General Assembly returns in March," the article said. For more, read the full story.
 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 01, 2013

Rep. Kirk Schuring testifies that H.B. 289 would prevent economic development zones and districts from being exploited as a "tax grab"
 

Last week, an Ohio House of Representatives panel heard Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) deliver sponsor testimony on H.B. 289, which he introduced earlier this month to reinforce the requirement that the townships, municipalities and businesses involved in proposed joint economic development zones (JEDZ) and joint economic development districts (JEDD) obtain community support before agreeing to the arrangement, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Oct 10, 2013, blog post – "H.B. 289 would require approval from real property owners and lessees before a joint economic development district or zone could be approved, amended or renewed"). Referring to a "900-employee penal institution" included in a proposed zone that had no plans for economic development, Schuring said his plan would require "100 percent of the businesses and property owners in the zone or district [to] sign a petition approving their inclusion in the zone or district" so that entities such as that one could not be subjected to the tax against their will (See our June 18, 2013, blog post – "Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction contests economic development district proposal"). For more, read the full text of H.B. 289.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Oct 23, 2013

H.B. 219 would authorize tax credits for private investments in economic and infrastructure development projects
 

Earlier this month, Ohio Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) delivered sponsor testimony on H.B. 219, which would authorize tax credits for contributions of money to economic and infrastructure development projects undertaken by local governments and nonprofit organizations (See our June 27, 2013, blog post for more information). Butler said the bill would create the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program (NIAP) to encourage public-private partnerships and neighborhood investments, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. The program is capped at $5 million per year in credits – $3.5 million initially, with the remaining funds being made available later to give "entities two shots at securing the credits," according to The Hannah Report. Projects are eligible only if they are determined to be "catalytic" for an area's development – meaning "they can be expected to induce sustainable investment." For more, read the full text of H.B. 219.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Oct 10, 2013

H.B. 289 would require approval from real property owners and lessees before a joint economic development district or zone could be approved, amended or renewed
 

On Tuesday, Ohio Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) introduced legislation to require subdivisions to obtain written approval from owners and lessees of real property located within a proposed or existing joint economic development zone (JEDZ) or joint economic development district (JEDD) before approving, amending or renewing the JEDZ or JEDD contract. Additionally, H.B. 289 would require that income tax revenue derived from a JEDZ or JEDD approved, amended or renewed after the bill's effective date be used to carry out the JEDZ or JEDD economic development plan before being used for other purposes. The bill also would institute contiguity requirements for JEDZ or JEDD territory. For more, read the full text of H.B. 289.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Oct 08, 2013

Ohio Rep. Tony Burkley gave sponsor testimony on legislation to include police and fire levies among those exempted from being used for TIF payments
 

In June, Ohio Reps. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) and Tony Burkley (R-Payne) introduced legislation that would require reimbursement of police and fire levy revenue foregone because of the creation of a tax increment financing (TIF) incentive district. During sponsor testimony presented to members of the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee last week, Burkley said that H.B. 217 would change the current law to include police and fire levies among the certain types of levy money that are exempted from being used for TIFs. Under the law, exempted levies currently include those for "community mental health, senior citizen facilities, county hospitals, alcohol and drug addiction services, libraries, children's services, zoos and park districts." He said that TIF districts lead to new development projects such as buildings and roads, which create a "bigger workload" for fire and police. For more, read the full text of H.B. 217, as well this press release from Burkley.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Sep 23, 2013

Ohio attorney general announces groundbreaking lawsuits aiming to recover more than $10 million in state aid from economic development award recipient
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced two lawsuits that his office filed in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas – one on behalf of the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) and the other on behalf of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) – in an effort to recover "more than $10 million in state development loans," plus interest, from the Perrysburg-based Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, The Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer report. The lawsuits allege that the company breached its state economic development award agreements by failing to create the required 450 jobs. The lawsuits also allege the company engaged in improper business practices, including that it "failed to maintain distinct checking accounts separate from the shareholders and failed to obtain the necessary certifications to legally sell its products," The Dispatch reports. The lawsuits mark the most significant public effort in recent years to enforce the terms of state economic development award agreements. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer stories, and the complaint.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Sep 09, 2013

Bipartisan House legislation would require the Ohio Development Services Agency to provide technical assistance to eligible businesses
 

Ohio Reps. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) introduced a bill last week that would create a pilot program in the Development Services Agency (DSA) to provide technical assistance to eligible businesses and to make an appropriation. Technical services that would be available to these businesses include "access to information and market intelligence services, including information on markets, customers, and competitors, such as business databases, geographic information systems, search engine marketing, and business connection development encouraging interaction and exchange among business owners and resource providers such as trade associations, academic institutions, business advocacy organizations, peer-based learning sessions, and mentoring programs." For more, read the full text of H.B. 259.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Aug 25, 2013

Bipartisan legislation introduced to add $100 million to DSA's technology investment program
 

Ohio Sens. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) are cosponsoring S.B. 120 – legislation that would increase the total amount of tax credits awarded under the Technology Investment Tax Credit (TITC) Program from $45 million to $145 million, according to The Daily Reporter. The TITC Program is "designed to offer a variety of benefits to Ohio taxpayers who invest in small, research and development, and technology-oriented firms." The Ohio Development Services Agency, which administers the program, stopped accepting new TITC applications in November 2012 after the program reached its cap of $45 million. DSA officials said a "strong increase in the number of investor applications" was responsible for the program hitting its cap, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Aug 21, 2013

Ohio's Commerce Division is investigating SoMoLend for allegedly making false and misleading statements
 

The Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Securities is investigating Cincinnati startup lender Social Mobile Local Lending (SoMoLend) and its CEO for, among other things, "making fraudulent financial projections; false and misleading statements regarding current and past performance; and false and misleading statements about [the company's] relationships with banks and other institutions," Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The company's CEO, Candace Klein, is a well-known advocate for "relaxing rules around crowdfunding equity investments," which are designed to enable startup companies to receive funding from investors who, in turn, receive a small stake in the company.  The state will "not issue a final order until after a hearing scheduled in October," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jun 27, 2013

Legislation would incentivize private investment in local development projects
 

On Wednesday, June 27, companion bills were introduced in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives that are designed to incentivize private investment in local economic development projects. Under the proposed legislation, for-profit corporations or pass-through entities, such as S Corps or partnerships, could seek tax credits for contributions of up to $500,000 that assist a local unit of government, a community improvement corporation, or a nonprofit with an economic development project. The tax credits would be available for up to 60% of the value of a contribution to a rural project and for up to 50% of the value of the contribution to an urban project. For more, read the full text of H.B. 219 and S.B. 149.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jun 11, 2013

HB 198 would allow parcel owners to be excluded from TIF incentive districts
 

On Wednesday, Ohio Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) introduced HB 198, which would require political subdivisions that are proposing a tax increment financing (TIF) incentive district to provide notice to the record owner of each parcel within the proposed incentive district before adopting the TIF resolution. These owners would be permitted to exclude themselves from the incentive district by submitting a written response to the notice which stated that preference. For more, read the full text of the bill.


 
Posted by R. McCarthy in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Mar 05, 2013

JobsOhio releases 2012 Annual Report and 2013 Strategic Plan
 

Released last Friday, JobsOhio’s first annual report highlights several “solid results” achieved during 2012, including working with “277 companies that committed to create 20,979 jobs, retain 54,633 jobs, and make $5.8 billion in new capital investment,” JobsOhio Chairman and President John Minor said in a letter introducing the report. Internally, JobsOhio implemented its strategic plan for proactive economic development; finalized its contract with the Ohio Development Services Agency to make it the “lead economic development organization for the State of Ohio”; launched the advertising campaign Thrive In Ohio to celebrate “the success and growth of people and businesses in Ohio”; and completed its regional partnership and overarching organizational structure to formally unify local economic development entities.

JobsOhio’s 2013 Strategic Plan indicates a commitment to pursuing retention and expansion efforts for more than 2,000 companies in Ohio because “80 percent of new jobs created come from companies that are already doing business in the [s]tate.” With a focus on California, JobsOhio will expand its Thrive In Ohio marketing campaign to target companies that are ready both for “new capital investment” and to “expand or relocate to a more business friendly location.” The nonprofit is working with targeted industries to generate a “demand forecast” for workforce skills that will then be communicated to Ohio’s education and training providers. In addition to “exploring the assets and opportunities” of the Ohio River, JobsOhio is also working with the Development Services Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to offer up to $43 million for the “revitalization of brownfield and other underutilized sites in Ohio.”

For more, read the full document, which includes both the 2012 Annual Report and the 2013 Strategic Plan.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Feb 28, 2013

House and Senate panels meet with Lima educators and business owners to discuss workforce development
 

During a joint session of the Ohio House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee and the Ohio Senate Workforce and Economic Development Committee at the Apollo Career Center in Lima last week, area business owners and job skills educators made pitches “for more help from the state in making workforce development a top priority” at the Statehouse, LimaOhio.com reports. Suggestions included investing in career technical schools and higher education, as well as high school and adult programs, to help overcome the “skills crisis” that business owners are experiencing at a time when the nation’s manufacturing industry is “in the early stages of renaissance,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 28, 2013

H.B. 37 puts the work-sharing program back on the table
 

Earlier this month, Ohio Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) introduced H.B. 37, which would create the SharedWork Ohio program — a plan that would “let employers cut workers’ hours 10 percent to 50 percent instead of dismissing them during troubled times,” Columbus Business First reports. Such a program would convert the typical layoff structure of certain workers losing 100 percent of their unemployment to a “factional layoff in which a larger subset of workers share the impact of a layoff but no one individual loses his or her job,” according to The Daily Reporter. Employers would reduce the number of hours for workers, and while workers would still receive their normal pay per hour, they would also collect “pro-rata unemployment while maintaining benefits,” the article said. The House passed a similar bill last spring, which then stalled “because of a delay in guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on what states must include to comply with federal law,” Columbus Business First reports. For more, read the Columbus Business First story, The Daily Reporter story and H.B. 37.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 27, 2013

2012 had the most new business filings in Ohio history
 

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced last week that 2012 was a record-breaking year for the state, with more new entities filing to do business last year than in any other year during the state’s 209-year history, Columbus Business First and a press release from his office report. In total, 88,068 new entities applied to do business, representing the third consecutive year of growth for a total of 16.5 percent from 2009 to 2012. For more, read the Columbus Business First story and the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 26, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz moves to review the state’s energy portfolio and energy efficiency standards; outlines plan for S.B. 221’s future
 

Yesterday, the office of Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) sent a memorandum to respondents of his request for comment on S.B. 221 — a placeholder bill to review issues related to former Gov. Ted Strickland’s energy bill, which established renewable energy portfolio and energy efficiency standards for the state. 

In Sen. Seitz’s initial request for comment, which was released February 1, 2013, Sen. Seitz provided a list of issues with the existing standards, including “whether the 3% cost cap on complying with the renewable energy portfolio should be revised; how much it cost utilities to comply; whether energy efficiency targets should be frozen in place; and if the benchmarks are abolished, should existing contracts be preserved,” according to the Gongwer Ohio Report

In the memorandum released yesterday, Sen. Seitz confirmed that he will indeed introduce a placeholder bill and stated that the plan going forward, following its introduction, is to have a hearing on “information from the perspectives of the PUCO and the OCC,” followed by subsequent hearings on subtopics. Upon completion of those hearings, it will be determined “what, if anything, should replace the placeholder bill.” For more, read the full memorandum.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 25, 2013

Montgomery County Commissioners unveil plan to create Council of Governments
 

During a meeting of about 50 community advisors earlier this month, the Montgomery County Commission proposed the formation of a new legal entity called a Council of Governments (COG) that would serve as a “central place for communities to discuss ways to share services to cut costs,” Dayton Daily News reports. In addition to the county’s 28 jurisdictions, park districts, library systems and the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority may also be offered voluntary membership. Commissioners unveiled the plan to residents last week, and are now moving toward the selection of a steering committee that will include business and education leaders and elected officials, who will “develop a structure, charter and governing model for the council,” the article said. For more, read this February 2, 2013, story and this February 20, 2013, story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 19, 2013

Bridge project moves Ohio closer to its first public-private partnership
 

In what will become the state’s first public-private partnership since the passage of H.B. 114 allowed for such arrangements, the Ohio Department of Transportation recently announced its shortlist of three firms that will compete for a $332 million bridge project in downtown Cleveland, Bond Buyer reports (see our Sep 18, 2012, blog post for more information). The final three firms are Walsh Construction, a team led by Kokosing Construction Company, and a team comprised of the Ruhlin Company, The Great Lakes Construction Company and the Trumbull Corporation, the article said. The state expects to choose a final team by the summer, with construction expected to start either late this year or early 2014, ODOT said. The project’s design-build-finance structure will have the chosen team “build and finance a portion of the estimated $330 million demolition and construction costs,” with ODOT repaying the firm beginning in 2015 through 2019, the article said. For more, read the full story (subscription required).


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 18, 2013

H.B. 5 would standardize Ohio’s municipal tax structure
 

Ohio Reps. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Mike Henne (R-Clayton) recently introduced H.B. 5, which is legislation that would “standardize the way Ohio communities levy and administer their local income tax” by “impos[ing] a set of uniform rules on municipalities that tax income and would create a standard definition of what income is taxable for businesses and individuals,” Crain’s Cleveland Business reports. While the Ohio Society of CPAs called this legislation a “long overdue opportunity” for Ohio to simplify its municipal tax structure, the Ohio Municipal League and the Ohio Legislative Service Commission oppose H.B. 5, arguing that this legislation would cause municipalities to face tremendous hardships due to revenue losses and through the loss of local control, the article said. For more, read the full story and the full text of H.B. 5.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 14, 2013

First two bills introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives address the Kasich administration’s OhioMeansJobs initiative
 

On January 30, 2013, the first two pieces of legislation were introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives and they address the Kasich administration’s plan to tie the state’s 90 one-stop employment centers into the OhioMeansJob brand, according to The Daily Reporter and Gongwer Ohio (see our January 3, 2013, blog post for more information). H.B. 1, which was introduced by Reps. Timothy Derickson (R-Hanover Twp.) and Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), would “require a local workforce investment area to use OhioMeansJobs as the local workforce investment area's job placement system” and would rename all county one-stop systems “OhioMeansJobs ______ County,” according to the bill and Gongwer Ohio. H.B. 2, introduced by Reps. Derickson and Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green), would “require an unemployment compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits” and would require these claimants to “contact a local one-stop office beginning with the eighth week of filing for unemployment compensation benefits” to ensure that the claimants are “maximizing their job search opportunities,” according to the bill and Gongwer Ohio. For more, read The Daily Reporter story, as well as the full text of H.B. 1 and H.B. 2.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 04, 2013

Transaction complete: Ohio’s wholesale liquor franchise transferred to JobsOhio
 

According to Gongwer, “[t]he transfer of the state’s wholesale liquor enterprise to JobsOhio was finalized Friday [February 1, 2013], along with the sale of $1.57 billion in bonds” even though the Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear the JobsOhio case (see our January 31, 2013, blog post for more information). The “enterprise transfer includes the previously executed Franchise and Transfer Agreement, and the Operation Services Agreement between JobsOhio, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, and Ohio Department of Commerce,” according to a press release from JobsOhio. According to the offering circular, “[o]nly about $125 million in bond revenue will go to JobsOhio as ‘working capital’ for job-creation efforts,” through its agreement to lease the liquor franchise for 25 years, Gongwer reports. For more, read the JobsOhio press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jan 31, 2013

Despite pending litigation, JobsOhio moved forward with its bond sale, expects to clear $125 million from liquor bond sale
 

Just days after the Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear the JobsOhio case (see our January 25, 2013, blog post for more information), the State of Ohio and JobsOhio moved forward with its plan to sell bonds to finance a 25-year lease of the state’s liquor distribution system, The Bond Buyer reported. “Ohio on Monday and Tuesday priced $1.56 billion of liquor-profit backed bonds,” of which $410 million was tax-exempt revenue bonds and $1.1 billion was in taxable bonds. “The agency (JobsOhio) will give $1.43 billion of the proceeds to the state as a cash payment for the lease and to defease outstanding liquor-backed bonds. Another $5 million will be used for capitalized interest and $9.2 million for issuance costs. The private, non-profit group will use the remaining $125 million to fund economic development projects across the state,” the article said. Moreover, the lease is “in addition to an estimated $100 million annually from liquor sales,” JobsOhio will receive as a result of this transaction an article in Columbus Business First reported. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jan 22, 2013

AEP’s $2 million donation to JobsOhio reveals details about entity’s financial structure
 

With pending legal challenges delaying the execution of the $1.5 billion lease of the state’s liquor franchise to JobsOhio, which is anticipated to generate approximately $100 million annually to fund the JobsOhio’s economic development efforts (see our January 10, 2013, blog post for more information), the entity has been functioning with money from the former Ohio Department of Development (now the Development Services Agency) in the amount of $1 million, as well as from private donations, such as the $2 million it received from American Electric Power (AEP), The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that AEP’s donation went to the Ohio Business Development Coalition, which was renamed the JobsOhio Beverage System (JOBS) within days of JobsOhio’s opening in 2011. As a separate, nonprofit organization, the JobsOhio Beverage System is currently handling all of JobsOhio’s donations and will be used later to “house the leased liquor profits from the state once the lease is complete,” the article said.

The article also said that JobsOhio “would not disclose the identities” of its donors, but John Minor, JobsOhio’s chief investment officer, stated, “I don’t think we would seek private donations any longer” once the lease of the state’s liquor franchise was executed, “although he wouldn’t rule them out.” For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jan 10, 2013

JobsOhio receives high ratings on bonds to be used to lease Ohio’s liquor business
 

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor’s applied an “AA” rating and Moody’s Investors Service Inc. applied an “A2” rating for bonds that JobsOhio intends to issue this year to finance the lease of “the state’s liquor business for 25 years in return for an up-front payment of $1.2 billion to the state,” Columbus Business First and a press release from JobsOhio report. Although this moves the entity one step closer toward acquiring its funding stream, it may still face delays as the group ProgressOhio continues to challenge the legal standing of JobsOhio, asking the Ohio Supreme Court to hear its arguments, Columbus Business First reports. For more, read the full story and the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jan 09, 2013

Payroll tax rate returns to 6.2 percent
 

Despite a last minute deal between President Obama and Congress that avoided the fiscal cliff, workers nationwide will see a small reduction to their 2013 paychecks, Business Courier reports. The rate of payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, was held at 4.2 percent over the past two years but returned to 6.2 percent on January 1, 2013. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jan 08, 2013

The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority regains its status as a SBA HUBZone
 

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) authored an amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed into law last month, that would enable the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority to regain its status as a Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone through 2015, according to a press release from the senator’s office. Such a designation gives “small businesses in the area — or those that employ residents of the area — preferential access to federal procurement opportunities in order to encourage economic development and job creation in the region,” the release said. The port authority was previously granted HUBZone status in 2004 in an effort to help the community adjust to the closure of the Newark Air Force Base, the release said. For more, read the full press release and this Newark Advocate story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 21, 2012

Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Chambers of Commerce release progress report on recommendations for fiscal progress and job growth
 

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Metro Chambers of Commerce reported last week the progress that has been made since the 2010 release of Redesigning Ohio: Transforming Government into a 21st Century Institution, which provided a series of recommendations aimed at “reforming Ohio’s regulatory climate, and achieving local government efficiencies through shared services and cost-cutting,” according to a press release from the Greater Cleveland Partnership. The update found that many of the initial report’s suggestions have been implemented, which has helped to “slow the increasing cost of Medicaid,” reign in the cost of the state’s criminal justice system, “eliminate an $8 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes” and reduce the state’s unemployment rate from 9.2 percent in December 2010 to 6.9 percent in August 2012, the release said. In addition to suggesting an ongoing commitment to all of the initial recommendations, the chambers recommend that priority be given to:

  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of local governments 
  • Helping state and local governments become more results-driven
  • Performing a dynamic analysis of Ohio tax expenditures
  • Improving healthcare outcomes and related Medicaid cost
  • Reforming the public primary and secondary education system for continued education improvement

For more, read the full Greater Cleveland Partnership press release, this WTVN story, the 2010 report and the 2012 update.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Professional Associations  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 19, 2012

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine releases the 2012 Economic Development Accountability Report
 

The 2012 Economic Development Accountability Report from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, titled Award Recipient Compliance with State Awards for Economic Development, reports that of the 255 economic-development contracts with a performance period ending in calendar year 2011, 162 award recipients “substantially complied (met at least 90 percent of the commitments) with the terms and conditions of their state awards,” while 93 awards did not comply — representing an overall compliance rate of 63.5 percent. This is an increase from last year’s 59.1 percent compliance rate (see our March 5 blog post for more information).

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the award recipients received a total of $114 million worth of benefits in the form of loans, tax credits or grants in exchange for “employee training or hiring or maintaining certain wage levels.” Award contracts were divided into the following categories:

  • Employee-training aid worth $7 million: 80 of 89 companies complied.
  • Hiring tied to grants worth $35 million: 36 of 74 companies complied.
  • Hiring or wage levels tied to tax credits worth $7 million: 25 of 42 companies complied.
  • Hiring tied to loans worth $65 million: 21 of 50 companies complied.

For more, read The Columbus Dispatch story and the Ohio Attorney General’s 2012 Economic Development Accountability Report.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Dec 17, 2012

Ohio Senate passes bill to raise the annual limit on the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit Program from $10 million to $50 million
 

Last week, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 327 — a bill designed to “boost private investment in low-income communities across Ohio”  — by a 31-2 vote, Dayton Business Journal reports. The bill will allow for the “rapid deployment of over $437 million of investment in Ohio’s poorest communities” by increasing the annual limit on the total amount of credits available through the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit Program, which is designed to provide investors with state tax credits in exchange for delivering below-market-rate investment options to Ohio businesses, from $10 million to $50 million, the article said. For more, read the full story and S.B. 327, and visit the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit Program website.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 04, 2012

State funding cuts to local governments amount to $1 billion for 2012 and 2013
 

The nonprofit economic policy group Policy Matters Ohio released a report last month that found that cuts in state aid to local governments amounted to a little more than $1 billion for calendar years 2012 and 2013 — a “nearly 50 percent reduction from 2010 and 2011,” according to a press release from the group. The report provides an in-depth analysis of county-level data on cuts and descriptions of the “damage done,” including “slashed services, closed facilities and layoffs,” the release said. The report found that the biggest cuts in state funding to local governments came from the Local Government Fund (LGF), a program that provides general operating funds to communities, and “reimbursements that compensated for local property taxes eliminated during the past decade,” the release said.

The funding cuts resulted from budget decisions made in 2011 by Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature eliminating a projected $8 billion budget shortfall without raising state taxes. Columbus Business First reports that Kasich will present the next biennial budget plan by early March, and that some local government officials “fear additional funding reductions are in the works.” For more, read the Columbus Business First story or this Dayton Business Journal story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Professional Associations  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 20, 2012

State does not renew contract with United Labor Agency
 

In September, the state of Ohio chose not to renew its rapid response contract with its existing service provider. Shortly thereafter, Policy Matters Ohio released a statement criticizing the Kasich Administration’s decision to not renew the contract with the Cleveland-based United Labor Agency (ULA), with whom it has contracted since 2007 to “avert layoffs, coordinate statewide workforce development activities, and improve rapid response services to laid-off workers,” Gongwer reports. Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, said federal funding for the Workforce Investment Act, which requires such rapid response services, has “steadily decreased” during the last few years as Ohio’s economy has improved “relative to other states” and that the state’s plan from the beginning has been to contract with ULA until local workforce investment boards were able to handle the work on their own. The intent now, Johnson said, is to free up that funding and simply contract rapid response services on an as-needed basis, the article said. For more, read Policy Matters Ohio’s press release and report summary.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 15, 2012

Technology Investment Tax Credit exhausts funding before it can be renewed
 

On November 1, the state Development Services Agency stopped accepting applications for the Technology Investment Tax Credit, which “reduced state taxes by 25 percent on the amount investors put into qualified Ohio technology companies,” because the program ran out of money before the state legislature could pass a bill reauthorizing it, Columbus Business First reports. Created in 1996, the program was projected to reach its $45 million cap in 2013, but the date was moved up due to a “strong increase in applications recently,” the article said. H.B. 511, which would add $6 million to the program and would also revive the Ohio Capital Fund, “passed the state House in May” and is currently in a Senate committee; however, the Ohio General Assembly has been recessed since summer, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 13, 2012

Ohio Development Services Agency launches Ohio Vacant Facilities Fund to find new uses for abandoned sites
 

The Ohio Development Services Agency recently launched the Ohio Vacant Facilities Fund, which will offer a $500 grant to for-profit employers for every new full-time position created in eligible vacant and underutilized buildings, according to a press release from the agency. The “law authorizing the program was signed into law” on May 4, 2012, by Gov. John Kasich and allocated $2 million through August 2015 in an effort to “find new uses for unoccupied buildings,” Business Courier reports. Employees must be employed for a year before the employer can receive the grant as a reimbursement for costs related to “acquisition, construction, enlargement, improvement, or equipment” for the facility, the article said. For more, read the full story and the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 07, 2012

A recent tax increment financing ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court
 

In a 7-0 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled last month that the city of Centerville could “set up a TIF (tax increment financing) district within 268 acres of land it annexed from Sugarcreek Township for development,” despite the fact that doing so deprived Sugarcreek Township of “collecting property taxes on the improved land,” according to The Hannah Report. In the opinion, the Court said that R.C. 709.023(H) “does not grant townships the unfettered ability to collect any and all taxes that may arise from the real property or improvements to the real property.” For more, read the decision.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 06, 2012

What sequestration means for the states in FY2013
 

Recently, budget analysts with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) issued a study on the impact on states of the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which is made up of “automatic federal budget cuts that apply largely across the board due to begin in January 2013,” according to The Hannah Report. These cuts, which total more than $1 trillion over 10 years, were designed to be triggered if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to identify $1.2 trillion in spending cuts as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the article said. The Office of Management and Budget released a report in September outlining the “potential funding effect of sequestration on defense and non-defense discretionary and mandatory spending and Medicare for FY13,” from which information was gathered that NCSL used to determine the effect on states. While Medicaid, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant (TANF), transportation programs, administrative assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and most entitlement and mandatory programs are exempt from sequestration, cuts due to sequestration will come in the areas of education, environment, energy, human services, housing, community development, labor, job training, law enforcement and homeland security, the NCSL analysis said. For more details on the impact on states of reduced funding due to sequestration, read the NCSL analysis and the OMB report.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Nov 05, 2012

Legislation would let schools, nonprofits and local governments refinance bonds under tax-exempt financing for a second time
 

On September 25, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) introduced House Resolution 6560, the Local Schools and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2012, to give school districts, nonprofits and other local governments the ability to refinance their bonds for a second time using tax-exempt financing, according to a press release from Coffman’s office. Current law allows local governments, nonprofits and school districts to “refinance their debt only once using tax exempt financing.” Allowing these entities to take advantage of “record low interest rates” would lower debt service payments, the savings from which they could use to “help relieve pressure on their already tight budgets,” the release said.  For more, read the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Oct 31, 2012

Cities question whether anti-poaching pact is a legally binding contract
 

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County’s 14 municipalities were asked to sign an anti-poaching pact to help curb the practice of cities attempting to “lure companies in neighboring cities whose tax breaks are about to expire.” So far, only Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Groveport, Grandview Heights, Hilliard and Worthington have agreed, while Canal Winchester, Dublin, Westerville, Grove City, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington and Whitehall have not, the article said. Upper Arlington was already concerned that such an agreement could stifle economic growth, but is now worried that vague language in the agreement could leave the city “vulnerable to lawsuits.” Columbus city officials say the agreement was “never intended to be a contract” and that while participating cities will be expected to honor the agreement, they will not be legally bound to it, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Oct 25, 2012

On the horizon in Ohio: Is there potential for funding energy projects through innovative “on-bill repayment” mechanism?
 

On-bill repayment (OBR), a method for financing energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation projects through a homeowner’s or business owner’s monthly utility bills, is a legislative initiative that may be gaining momentum in Ohio. Projects funded under OBR programs are financed by third-party investors or lenders and are not financed directly by utility companies or ratepayers. OBR permits customers to repay the investor or the lender through payments added to its monthly utility bill instead of direct payment to the investor or the lender. At this time, various stakeholders are considering how on-bill repayment may help businesses in Ohio. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by C. Bell in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Sep 12, 2012

JobsOhio and Democrats ask the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss JobsOhio’s lawsuit
 

JobsOhio filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court last month to “compel the Ohio Department of Commerce to sign a state contract to transfer its wholesale liquor operation to JobsOhio for 25 years” after the commerce department’s director, David Goodman, declined to sign the agreement due to lingering constitutional concerns, Hannah reports (see our August 17 blog post for more information). On August 24, ProgressOhio, Sen. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) filed motions asking the Court to “dismiss the JobsOhio lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction” and allow Ohio courts to “decide the constitutionality of JobsOhio,” the article said. These opponents regard the lawsuit as “sham litigation” because both sides already agree that JobsOhio is constitutional and “any judgment arising from such collusion would be tainted” because there are no “parties in true opposition” present, the article said. Visit our DevelopOhio Resource Center for more information about JobsOhio.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Aug 29, 2012

Federal asbestos regulations delay Ohio land banks from demolishing scores of abandoned homes
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is interpreting federal regulations regarding asbestos removal in a way that requires land banks to “assess every house for asbestos if it is part of a larger urban-renewal project,” even though land bank officials say they can tell if a house doesn’t have asbestos based on “when it was built,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. This requirement has increased the cost of demolitions dramatically and has delayed such demolitions for months. With an estimated 100,000 vacant and abandoned houses in cities and towns across Ohio, officials from Ohio land banks are working with U.S. EPA representatives to determine a compromise that will reduce the number of houses that must be inspected for asbestos while still protecting workers and neighbors from asbestos hazards, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Aug 20, 2012

Laws changed to help ex-offenders find employment; ODOD announces new program
 

Last month, Ohio lawmakers unanimously passed S.B. 337, which is “a package of law changes designed to reduce barriers to ex-offenders finding employment,” Gongwer reports. The measure includes provisions that would allow ex-offenders to “qualify for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment that would enable them to obtain state-issued professional licenses, expand criminal record sealing laws, and permit courts to consider a parent’s incarceration in child support determinations,” the article said.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Business Assistance in partnership with the Columbus Urban League announced the 2012 Restored Citizen Summit, which will provide the “resources and tools” that ex-offenders need to re-enter society, according to a press release from the department. The event, which is free and open to “anyone with a criminal past looking to make a change,” will offer workshops from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 23, 2012, at Columbus State Community College. For more information, read the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Aug 17, 2012

Proponents and opponents alike want the Ohio Supreme Court to settle JobsOhio disputes
 

As the Ohio Supreme Court weighs whether to hear ProgressOhio and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law’s joint appeal regarding the constitutionality of JobsOhio, proponents and opponents of the new private job-creation agency hope the high court will settle the issue once and for all (see our August 3 blog post for more information). The Columbus Dispatch reports that the budget and commerce department has agreed to transfer to JobsOhio “rights to the state liquor business” and use of the profits to promote economic development, but Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman declined to sign the agreement because “constitutional concerns raised about the entity and the transfer deal haven’t been addressed by the Ohio Supreme Court.” In a letter to Mark Kvamme, interim president and chief investment officer for JobsOhio, Director Goodman voiced concern over “lingering constitutional issues” regarding the transaction, including “whether JobsOhio violates the prohibition of the General Assembly from conferring corporate powers via special act; and whether the transfer improperly allows the state to lend credit to a private corporation.” JobsOhio views this as an opportunity “for the Supreme Court to address lingering legal questions, though Kvamme said he is confident that nothing about JobsOhio’s operation is unconstitutional.”

JobsOhio put the Kasich administration “in the unusual position of challenging itself in court” when it responded to Goodman’s refusal to sign the agreement by “asking the Ohio Supreme Court to settle the matter,” an editorial from the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

For more, read The Columbus Dispatch story and the Akron Beacon Journal story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Aug 03, 2012

Conservative group backs the appeal of JobsOhio’s constitutionality to the Ohio Supreme Court
 

ProgressOhio has found an unlikely ally — the conservative group 1851 Center for Constitutional Law — in its appeal of the recent ruling in favor of JobsOhio to the Ohio Supreme Court, Gongwer reports. The 1851 Center is providing “in-kind contributions of labor” after determining that the 10th District Court of Appeals ruling, which “upheld Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty's finding that ProgressOhio and the lawmakers were unable to demonstrate injury as a result of JobsOhio and overruled plaintiffs' argument that the issue is one of great public interest and importance warranting the judges' attention,” to be “abysmal,” Gongwer reports. The 1851 Center has taken particular issue with the finding that ProgressOhio lacks standing, stating that such a ruling “is akin to determining no Ohio taxpayer has a stake in controlling its government ‘when it’s out of control’ in terms of spending, indebtedness and taxation,” the article said. For more information on the court of appeals decision, read our June 15 blog post.

With the court of appeals ruling, JobsOhio was finally positioned to finalize the financing of the long-term lease of the Ohio Liquor Enterprise and access its dedicated funding stream of approximately $100 million per year to meet its job creation and retention mandates. However this appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court will likely put the financing transaction on hold…again.  

Visit our DevelopOhio Resource Center for more information about JobsOhio.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jul 26, 2012

Ohio Attorney General announces recipients of Moving Ohio Forward Program demolition grants
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced that by August 1, 2012, 27 counties will have funds available to them from the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program, which exists to help “stabilize and improve communities by removing blighted and abandoned homes with funds from the national mortgage settlement reached earlier this year,” according to a press release from the attorney general. Funds will be available for all of Ohio’s 88 counties, with the total amount of funding available to each county based on “the percentage of foreclosure filings in each county between 2008 and 2011 (which is the time period of the settlement agreement) divided by the total amount of funding ($75 million).” For more, read the press release.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jul 06, 2012

Federal transportation bill to be signed by the President will create jobs
 

On June 29, Congress passed the long-awaited, 27-month surface transportation bill, H.R. 4348 –also known as MAP-21 – that allows more than $100 billion to be spent on highway, mass transit and other transportation programs. The previous bill, known as SAFETEA-LU, expired in 2009. Since that time, Congress has maintained transportation initiatives through temporary extensions.

The passage of this bill allows the federal government to continue to collect gas taxes and manage the Highway Trust Fund and its Mass Transit account that disburses revenues to road, transit, railroad, water, bicycling, and pedestrian transportation infrastructure projects across the country. More importantly, according to CNN.com, “The transportation bill funds construction for highways, bridges and other transportation projects for two years in every state and congressional district in the nation.”  The bill will sustain and create thousands of jobs across the country.

President Obama signed a one-week extension to the existing law on June 30 and is expected to sign the new bill into law today at a White House ceremony. Read the Reuters story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jul 02, 2012

Industry executives praise Ohio's advanced energy legislation
 

Sean Casten, chief executive of Recycled Energy Development of Chicago, and Philip Brennan, chief executive of Echogen in Akron, wrote an op-ed for the Akron Beacon Journal recently saying that waste energy recovery provisions in S.B. 315 will reduce pollutants and carbon emissions, provide clean power and encourage not only growth in Ohio's manufacturing sector, but also substantial investment from out of state. Using U.S. Department of Energy estimates, Casten and Brennan say that combined heat and power and waste heat recovery projects "would supply about 30 percent of the state's existing capacity" of electric power. For more, read the full op-ed.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jul 02, 2012

Op-ed praises S.B. 315, acknowledges shortcomings
 

A recent op-ed in the Akron Beacon Journal praises S.B. 315 for striking a balance between promoting combined heat and power and waste energy recovery projects and "ensuring room" for wind and solar energy. The op-ed also addresses the bill's oil and gas drilling provisions, hailing the inclusion of water source disclosure requirements and hefty fines for hydraulic fracturing, but outlining several shortcomings in the bill, including a lack of road maintenance requirements and appeal process as well as doing a poor job "balancing company trade secrets and the public interest." For more, read the full op-ed.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jun 25, 2012

Crowdfunding can benefit startups, but may put investors at risk
 

Under a federal law passed in April, "startups needing to raise up to $1 million — which previously were not allowed to ask the public for money — will be able to sell micro-stakes to investors," Columbus Business First reports. Although crowdfunding will help supply early-stage capital for nontraditional technology and goods, it carries with it the potential for failed investments as well as investment fraud, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jun 15, 2012

JobsOhio appeal denied; Kasich administration to move forward
 

On June 14, the Franklin County Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that the plaintiffs seeking to challenge the constitutionality of JobsOhio have no standing to bring suit (read our May 30 blog post for more information). The appeal, brought by State Senator Michael Skindell, State Representative Dennis Murray and ProgressOhio, was rejected by a vote of 3-0. The opinion of the court, written by Judge Gary Tyack and concurred by Judges Lisa L. Sadler and Julia L. Dorrian, stated that the lack of standing by the appellants effectively barred their consideration of the issues raised at the trial court level. 

With economic development legislation recently passed by the Ohio House and Senate headed for the governor's desk and this ruling by the court, JobsOhio is well on its way to being fully operational. Moreover, the conclusion of this lawsuit will allow JobsOhio to finalize the financing of the long-term lease of the Ohio Liquor Enterprise and access its dedicated funding stream of approximately $100 million per year to meet its job creation and retention mandates. 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jun 14, 2012

U.S. House raises small business contracting goal
 

The U.S. House recently passed legislation that would entitle small businesses to at least 25 percent of federal contracting dollars, the Dayton Business Journal reports. At 25 percent, this would be a two percent increase from the current small business contracting goal and could result in up to $11 billion in new small business contracts, the article said. While the increase would be significant for small businesses, the federal government seldom reaches its contracting goal. For more, read the full story


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jun 13, 2012

Ohio Supreme Court extends complex business case program
 

A pilot program creating special court dockets for complex business-related cases in Ohio’s four largest counties has been extended by the Ohio Supreme Court, the Business Courier reports. As noted in our March 13 blog post, the commercial docket pilot program, originally adopted in 2008, was set to expire on July 1. The court’s recent action extends the program through June 2013.

According to the article, the “creation of commercial dockets was intended to promote the efficient resolution of business-related litigation, better utilize court resources, and improve the state’s business climate.” Recently, the court’s Task Force on Commercial Dockets recommended that the temporary program be made permanent and that other populous Ohio counties be permitted to establish commercial dockets, the article said. However, the one-year extension did not address the issue of expanding the pilot program to other counties. For more, read the full story and the task force’s report.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jun 12, 2012

Work sharing bill in Ohio House could limit layoffs
 

A bill currently pending in the Ohio House of Representatives would encourage the practice known as work sharing or short-time compensation, wherein employers are encouraged to cut their employees' hours in exchange for those employees being able to receive unemployment benefits from the federal government as outlined in the Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act, The Plain Dealer reports. Work sharing has existed nationally for about 30 years, but would be new to Ohio if the bill passes. 

While about 25 states have already approved job sharing, a provision requiring companies with collective bargaining agreements to have unions approve the arrangement may slow down the passage of the bill in Ohio, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jun 07, 2012

SiteOhio program signed into law
 

H.B. 436, which creates the SiteOhio program, was signed into law by Governor Kasich on June 4, 2012. SiteOhio, as noted in our May 17 blog post, is a program within the Department of Development created to certify and market eligible commercial, industrial and manufacturing sites and facilities across the state of Ohio.


 
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Jun 05, 2012

Ohio has lowest tax rates of any major shale state
 

Analysis from accounting firm Ernst & Young shows that Ohio will still have the lowest tax rates of any major shale state even if Gov. John Kasich’s “fracking tax” is passed, The Columbus Dispatch reports. With Kasich’s “fracking tax”, Ohio’s effective severance tax rate would be 16 percent lower than other states' average for well producing dry natural gas and natural gas liquids and 40 percent lower for well producing dry natural gas and oil, the article said. Kasich intends to “use some of the revenue from the rate increase to fund a state income-tax cut”; however, the governor has met resistance from fellow Republicans who fear that oil and gas producers will be hurt by higher taxes. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jun 04, 2012

Congress keeps Export-Import Bank alive
 

Last month, in a 78-20 vote, the United States Senate approved a House-passed bill that extends the Export-Import Bank's charter through September 2014 and raises its loan exposure cap by 40 percent to $140 billion, Politico reports. In exchange, the bill demands "greater transparency for any transaction of $100 million or more," newly required quarterly financial reports that show default rates remaining below two percent, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will have to initiate talks with U.S. trading partners toward "substantially reducing and ultimately ending the practice of export financing subsidies," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

May 30, 2012

Lawsuit challenging constitutionality of JobsOhio continues
 

While JobsOhio is up and running, its funding stream from Ohio's liquor enterprise has not yet to begun to flow. The private, nonprofit entity has agreed to pay $1.4 billion upfront to the state of Ohio for a 25-year lease of the liquor enterprise, covering those costs through bonds, plus a potential share of future profits. The long-term lease of the state’s liquor operations will provide a dedicated funding source of approximately a $100 million dollars per year for JobsOhio, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Those funds will be used to cover administrative costs, to maintain a contract with the Department of Commerce to continue performing most of its regulatory liquor control and enforcement functions on behalf of JobsOhio, and to develop new programs to complement existing state programs (grants, loans and funds to train workers).

Governor Kasich and JobsOhio announced the parameters of the liquor enterprise lease agreement in January, with the expectation that the deal be completed sometime in the first quarter. However, a court challenge of the constitutionality of the organization’s relationship to the state is still pending and extending the timeline for execution of the transaction. The lawsuit, filed by State Senator Michael Skindell, State Representative Dennis Murray and ProgressOhio, was most recently dismissed on December 2, 2011, by Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty, who ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the action. That issue is now before the Franklin County Court of Appeals, and a ruling is expected sometime this year.

In the interim, with a $1 million allocation from lawmakers to cover startup costs and private donations, JobsOhio established an office in downtown Columbus and has hired approximately 25 employees to meet its job creation and retention mandates, the article said. For more, read the full article.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

May 23, 2012

Extension of Ohio enterprise zone program
 

S.B. 320, which will extend the time during which businesses and local governments can sign enterprise zone tax abatement agreements, has been unanimously passed by the Ohio Senate. The program is currently set to expire on October 15, 2012. The bill, currently under consideration in the House Local Government Committee, would extend the program one year through October 15, 2013.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

May 22, 2012

Clean Ohio program update
 

Our May 17 blog post discussed the potential appropriation by the Senate Finance Committee that would allow for the issuance of up to $42 million in bonds to further fund the Clean Ohio program’s participation in farmland preservation and green space projects around the state. 

The committee ultimately accepted 15 amendments to the sub bill, which included an additional appropriation of $36 million for FY 13 and FY 14 for the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, resulting in a total appropriation of $42 million ($36 million for the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program and $6 million for the Farmland Preservation Program).

H.B. 487 was submitted for a full Senate floor vote Friday afternoon and was approved.  Joint conference committee talks will occur this week between the Senate and the House, with the adoption of the conference committee report expected within the week, according to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

May 17, 2012

Clean Ohio program could receive capital infusion up to $42 million
 

Before advancing Gov. John Kasich's main mid-biennium review budget bill yesterday morning, the Senate Finance Committee boosted the appropriation authority of the bond-funded Clean Ohio program, according to Gongwer. The Clean Ohio program was created under a 2008 ballot measure that utilizes state dollars to leverage local funds to revitalize blighted areas, set aside open space for the public, preserve family farms, and create trails for Ohioans.

There is currently $100 million in remaining voter-approved bond appropriations available; however, the legislature has to approve further program appropriations. The state capital bill, earlier this year, included only $6 million in funding for trails. Yesterday's appropriation by the committee would allow for the issuance of up to $42 million in bonds to further fund the program. The additional spending authority for farmland preservation and green space projects was among a handful of amendments added to the bill (H.B. 487) by the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill was slated for a full Senate floor vote yesterday afternoon. If passed by the Senate, subsequent conference committee talks would have to occur with the House.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

May 17, 2012

SiteOhio program to assist marketing sites for economic development
 

Legislation has been introduced to create the SiteOhio certification program within the Ohio Department of Development. Sites qualifying for inclusion in the program would be listed on the department’s website and actively marketed to interested persons by the director of development. 

Am. H.B. 436 enacts R.C. 122.97 and 122.971 and authorizes the SiteOhio certification program. Under the program, an eligible applicant may apply to the director of development for certification of an eligible project, based upon scoring criteria to be developed by the director. If the eligible project meets all the scoring criteria, the project “shall” be listed on the department’s website and the director “shall” market the site to interested parties for development.

An “eligible applicant” means a person or political subdivision. An “eligible project” is any project that, upon completion, will be a site and facility primarily intended for commercial, industrial or manufacturing use. Any site intended primarily for residential, retail or governmental use is specifically excluded.

The bill authorizes the director to adopt rules to implement the program.  This includes rules authorizing fees to cover administrative costs of the program, the authority to contract with other persons to administer all or any part of the program, and a limit to the number of sites to be certified based upon available resources and capabilities of the department.


 
Posted by M. Engel in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 30, 2012

Latest update on the public records provision of the JobsOhio II legislation
 

As briefly discussed in our April 27, 2012 DevelopOhio blog post, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has raised concerns about the proposed JobsOhio II legislation regarding public record restrictions of JobsOhio information as it relates to the lack of transparency and what might happen should another agency get involved and handle business records. Specifically, the broadly worded provision in HB 489 that says records created or received by the nonprofit JobsOhio are not public "regardless of who may have custody of the records." DeWine believes that this provision could shield documents from public view that state agencies share with JobsOhio, the Tribune Chronicle reports.

However, Gongwer reported on Friday, April 27 that DeWine and Governor Kasich’s office worked out a solution to make a minor revision to the pending legislation that could prevent major problems with Ohio’s public records law upon passage. DeWine stated that “we have language now that just makes it very clear that’s not going to happen.” Essentially, the proposed amendment would remove language specifying that any documents “received by” JobsOhio are not subject to Ohio’s public records law, Mr. DeWine said. DeWine believes the issue is resolved, and the bill including the revision is now headed to the Senate.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 27, 2012

JobsOhio II legislation passed the House and heads to the Senate; outlines duties for JobsOhio and the Development Services Agency
 

With JobsOhio established to primarily handle Ohio's economic development efforts, legislators and the Kasich administration are restructuring what’s left of the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD). This week, the Ohio House voted 91-5 to send the Senate a proposal designed to reorganize the ODOD.  The new department will be known as the Development Services Agency (DSA) and legislative leaders hope to pass the bill by the end of May.

As cited in our March 27, 2012 DevelopOhio blog post, in addition to renaming the ODOD, the bill would allow the development director to expedite approval of tax credits; create a pilot program called TourismOhio to provide a dedicated funding source for tourism marketing throughout the state; eliminate the Development Financing Advisory Council (DFAC), a panel that decides whether to recommend approval of low-interest loans for companies to expand or relocate in Ohio; and increase financing opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

The plan is for JobsOhio to handle low-interest loans, grants, tax credits, and “close-the-deal” discretionary funds. The DSA will oversee JobsOhio in executing those loans and tax credits and will provide an additional range of services such as technology assistance, workforce training, and revitalizing abandoned industrial sites. The proposed legislation also includes another public record restriction related to JobsOhio. Some critics, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, have raised concerns about the lack of transparency of JobsOhio and what might happen should another agency get involved and handle business records. For more, read The Columbus Dispatch article


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Apr 19, 2012

Governor creates Office of Workforce Transformation and Executive Workforce Board
 

Ohio Governor John Kasich recently signed Executive Order 2012-02K, creating the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) and the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board (which replaces the Governor’s Workforce Policy Advisory Board). The governor’s order assigns the OWT the responsibility of coordinating and streamlining the state’s workforce development functions, specifically serving as a single point of entry for individuals seeking training and businesses seeking skilled employees.

Executive Order 2012-02K became effective on February 9, 2012, immediately upon signature of the governor. Rich Frederick, the governor’s assistant policy director for workforce development, was appointed to serve as executive director of the OWT. For more on the key directives for the OWT, read more here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 17, 2012

Proposed bill would require tax breaks in Ohio to be reviewed regularly
 

In the wake of a revised study revealing that about 59% of the companies in Ohio that received tax breaks to create jobs actually created the number they said they would (see the March 5, 2012, blog post), as well as the fact that the state foregoes approximately $7 billion of tax revenues a year, Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) has introduced HB 446, which would "set up a panel to regularly review each tax break and recommend which ones should continue," according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. As cities across Ohio struggle to reduce deficits and manage significant budget cuts, more attention is being paid to whether specific tax programs still serve their originally intended purposes, the article said. For more, read the text of the bill here and the full story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 05, 2012

The effect of Ohio's commercial activity tax on landowners
 

Landowners receiving lease and royalty payments from oil and gas companies may be in for a surprise. The Ohio commercial activity tax (CAT) applies to all gross receipts that contribute to the production of gross income. The CAT is imposed upon persons with taxable gross receipts in excess of $150,000 annually. The tax is $150 on the first $1 million in gross receipts, and is imposed at a rate of $150 plus 0.26% of gross receipts in excess of $1 million.
 
Individuals and entities such as pass-through entities may be subject to the CAT if their annual lease and royalty payments, plus other receipts from business activities, exceed $150,000.  Persons entering into leases with gas and oil companies may want to consult with their tax advisor in order to determine whether they will incur CAT as a result of the lease. For more information, read a recent article in Farm & Dairy about the commercial activity tax here.


 
Posted by M. Engel in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Apr 03, 2012

JOBS Act headed to President Obama for signature
 

The U.S. House voted to pass H.R. 3060, known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, clearing the legislation to head to President Obama for signature into law. The bill was ultimately passed with strong bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate. As previously discussed in a DevelopOhio post (see our March 30, 2012, blog post), the JOBS bill addresses capital access issues for small business and aims to decrease regulatory burden and promote innovation for new and growing companies throughout the U.S. 

Specifically, the legislation offers that crowdfunding, a method for small businesses to raise funding through the Internet and various social media outlets, allows up to $1 million to be collected without having to file with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Further, the number of public shareholders needed to trigger registration with the SEC was raised from 750 to 2,000, enabling small companies to reach out to a larger group of individuals for investment capital. For more on the JOBS bill, read the Reuters story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Apr 03, 2012

Senate passes short-term transportation funding bill
 

Late last week, the U.S. House and Senate passed a short-term transportation funding bill that President Obama signed into law on Friday, March 30, as the authorization to spend money on transportation programs and levy federal fuel taxes was set to expire on March 31, 2012.

The 90-day funding extension of federal highway and transit aid is the latest temporary measure in the transportation funding saga as the ninth extension of the law that expired in 2009. From an economic development perspective, the short-term funding extension comes at a very critical time as most of the country is experiencing unseasonably warm weather which has accelerated the construction season, highlighting the need for certainty in this area to support the construction industry and economies dependent on related projects.

Although various proposals have been considered for long-term funding plans, none have garnered enough support to advance. Congress has until June 30 to agree on a new bill, when the newly approved extension of federal highway authority expires. For more, read The Associated Press story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 29, 2012

U.S. Senate vote on small business startup bill delayed
 

Two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed small business legislation, by a 390-23 margin, that would "relax [some Securities and Exchange Commission] regulations that could impede small businesses and startups from finding investors and going public." The U.S. Senate, along party lines, resisted efforts to "increase [the bill's] investor protections," resulting in the postponement of a vote on ending the debate, causing a delay in the passage of the bill, The Associated Press reports.

For more on the small business bill, also called the JOBS bill (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), read The Associated Press story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Mar 27, 2012

JobsOhio II bill debuts in the Ohio House and Senate
 

JobsOhio II, legislation that aims to solidify JobsOhio as the primary independent entity in charge of economic development in Ohio, was introduced in both the Ohio House of Representatives (Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Uniontown) introduced HB 489) and the Ohio Senate (Sen. Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) introduced SB 314) this past Thursday, Gongwer reports. JobsOhio II follows HB 1, which was enacted in February 2011 and created JobsOhio. The legislature plans to have the JobsOhio II legislation passed and enacted prior to the 2012 summer recess. 

Besides providing further definition to the JobsOhio structure, the JobsOhio II bill language also provides for a number of related changes to the state’s economic development landscape. This non-inclusive list includes:

  • The renaming and transfer of all responsibilities currently in the Department of Development to the “Development Services Agency” (DSA). 
  • An appropriation to the DSA for fiscal year 2013. The budget bill (HB 153) had set aside a lump sum — $1.2 billion to DSA for FY ‘13, including $117.79 million from the General Revenue Fund — for the entity, but the new bill would formally appropriate the dollars to DSA. House sponsors said DSA’s role going forward would be to provide “essential services” to JobsOhio including the administration and oversight of loans and tax credits that will further create and expand Ohio businesses. The bill also clarifies the contracts between DSA and JobsOhio.
  • The Tax Credit Authority would be reconfigured to include the director of the DSA, the chief investment officer of JobsOhio, and five members: the Senate president; the House speaker; an economic development specialist, a specialist in the development of new technology, and a specialist in taxation, each appointed by the governor.
  • The bill would reconfigure the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which would consist of 11 members, including the director of the DSA, the chief investment officer of JobsOhio, the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, the governor's science and technology advisor, and seven others appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • The bill clarifies that any JobsOhio documents that are not public records do not become public records when someone else possesses them. This type of language was a significant point of contention with the initial JobsOhio legislation, which deemed certain documents were not subject to public records requests — this provision may meet a similar level of scrutiny.
  • The Development Finance Advisory Council (DFAC), the entity which currently approves economic development financing programs, will be phased out. The State Controlling Board will continue to review and authorize such loans.
  • The Water and Sewer Commission, which has not met or taken action since 2007, will be eliminated.
  • The Office of TourismOhio will be created within the DSA. TourismOhio, which will be funded through a five-year pilot program, will link funding for the office to the growth in sales tax revenues of tourism-related industries around the state. The bill will also create the TourismOhio Advisory Board, which will include industry experts to provide guidance and support efforts to promote Ohio tourism.
  • The chief investment officer of JobsOhio would be appointed to the TourismOhio Advisory Board.

For more, read SB 314 and HB 489.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 15, 2012

Governor Kasich releases mid-biennium review
 

Yesterday, Governor Kasich revealed his "mid-biennium budget review" (MBR) that contains sweeping reform plans in the following public policy areas:  

  • Management Efficiency Plan: The Kasich Income Tax Cut, Bank Tax Reform, and New Cost-Saving Tools for Local Governments and Schools
  • Ohio’s 21st Century Energy Policy
  • Ohio’s 21st Century Education & Workforce Plan
  • The Capital Budget

The administration purports these reforms will improve the management of Ohio’s government agencies and health systems; improve Ohioan’s access to low-cost, reliable energy; reduce individual tax burdens; make responsible investments to maintain and improve Ohio's educational and public service infrastructure; and improve Ohio’s education and workforce development efforts. More details can be found on the Governor's website. Click on the appropriate policy topic headings, which lead to a fact sheet on each of the aforementioned policy areas.
 
These proposals will be introduced in multiple legislative bills this spring and will need House and Senate approval before implementation. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Tim Keen will present more details on the plan today to the Ohio House Finance & Appropriations Committee. 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 13, 2012

Permanent commercial dockets for business-to-business lawsuits recommended to make Ohio more business friendly
 

In an effort to "smooth out business fights" and make Ohio "more hospitable to companies," the state established three years ago in its largest four counties an experimental commercial docket program that only handles business-to-business legal disputes, The Plain Dealer reports. As the test program is set to expire July 1, 2012, a report from the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force on Commercial Dockets recommends that the program be continued because it lets judges "accumulate deeper experience in complexities of corporate law," promotes predictable outcomes, and decreases lawsuit delays, among other reasons, the article said. For more, read the full story here and the full report here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Mar 12, 2012

President Obama offers 28% corporate tax rate in exchange for an end to loopholes and subsidies
 

President Obama will ask Congress to remove dozens of loopholes and subsidies from the current corporate tax code in exchange for a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, The New York Times reports. Preference would be given to manufacturers that would "set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent," while a minimum tax on multinational corporations' foreign earnings would be established to discourage "accounting games to shift profits abroad or actual relocation of production overseas," the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Mar 02, 2012

Gov. Kasich previews plan to overhaul Ohio's energy policies
 

Gov. John Kasich gave a preview of his plan to overhaul Ohio's energy policies on Tuesday at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Plain Dealer reports. Major components of the plan include rules governing many elements of shale production, as well as defining waste heat as renewable or advanced energy and developing new sources of power and transmission grids, the article said. It is inevitable that this impending shift in energy policy will have varying effects on the alternative energy sector in Ohio. For more, read the full story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 23, 2012

Multi-billion dollar green energy fund up for possible amendment to the Ohio Constitution
 

The Columbus Dispatch and Business First reported that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has certified a petition, submitted by Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, to place on the ballot an amendment to the Ohio Constitution for the "Ohio Clean Energy Initiative".  (The petition summary is available here).  This initiative would allow the state to issue $13 billion in bonds over a 10-year period starting in 2013 to fund energy infrastructure improvements and research and development of green technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy.
 
This initiative is occurring as Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell) has introduced the repeal bill (SB 216), which would repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS").  Ohio's RPS currently requires the state's utility companies to procure 25 percent of their energy from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025 and was enacted with broad bipartisan support as part of SB 221 in 2008.  (See Bricker & Eckler 's Renewable Portfolio Standard Repeal Bill Receives Hearing publication (2/9/12) for more information).
 
Of the $1.3 million in bonds issued each year, the amendment would commit $65 million a year of the bond revenue to run the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission.  Project funding decisions would also be made by this Commission.  The petition now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether the amendment to the Ohio Constitution requires multiple ballot issues, according to a press release.  If the proposal clears that hurdle, supporters could begin gathering the 385,253 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters needed to place the amendment on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Feb 21, 2012

Demolition funding through the attorney general’s office will assist communities in remediating blighted structures
 

Several weeks ago, the Obama administration and over 40 states throughout the U.S. reached a settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders regarding various lending practices harmfully employed in recent years.  Of the estimated $25 billion mortgage lenders will pay under the settlement, Ohio will receive approximately $335 million, with about $97 million going to the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.  Of that, $75 million will be used to assist communities throughout Ohio in tearing down rundown and/or abandoned structures that are contributing to the blight in a number of neighborhoods as a result of the tough economic times the U.S. has been facing the last several years.

Currently, the attorney general’s office is in the process of structuring the program parameters, but aims to have a portion of these dollars in action for the summer demolition season.  Communities will need to formally apply for the funds, and will likely have to provide a yet to be determined percentage of local matching funding to gain access to these dollars.  

Although these funds will not resolve all of the blight problems facing a number of Ohio communities, from an economic development perspective, they can serve as a catalyst to jumpstart a number of local-level economic development initiatives, creating a unique opportunity for communities, CIC’s, land banks, and port authorities throughout Ohio to leverage the funding source to help create public-private partnerships to spur long awaited community and economic development plans.  For more information, please click here or visit the attorney general’s website.

 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Jan 26, 2012

PACE financing gets public comment review after federal appeals court decision
 

On Jan. 26, 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was ordered to solicit public comment on whether it should have halted Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs. The order came as a result of a ruling from the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 20, 2011. As a result of the order, the Federal Register now lists an advance notice of proposed rulemaking by FHFA on PACE.

PACE financing programs allow property owners to obtain financing for alternate energy and energy efficiency projects secured by special assessment payments levied on real property. Many PACE programs were set to begin operating when, in July 2010, the FHFA ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop underwriting residential mortgages that included PACE assessments in July 2010. Litigation has been ongoing since that time. As a result, the recent appeals court decision is considered not only a win for property owners, but also for local governments, businesses and environmental organizations that support PACE and the economic development they feel it would bring to their communities.

As the court-mandated 60-day comment period moves forward, more than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are working to gain bipartisan support for the PACE Assessment Protection Act (H.R. 2599). If successful, this bill would prevent FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other federal mortgage organizations from blocking state and local PACE laws. Read here for more information on H.R. 2599.

For more information on PACE financing, visit Bricker & Eckler’s Energy SIDs and PACE Financing Resource Center or contact J. Caleb Bell at 614.227.2384 or jbell@bricker.com.


 
Posted by C. Bell in  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jan 12, 2012

Only half of Ohio's job incentives recipients met requirements in 2010 – up significantly from the previous year
 

The Ohio Attorney General's office has issued a report indicating that 47.6% of Ohio businesses whose economic development incentives expired in calendar year 2010 failed to meet the terms of their agreements with the state, which included creating or retaining a certain number of jobs, training workers, or investing capital, an article in Gongwer reports. Only 220 of the 420 businesses that had periods ending in 2010 "substantially complied with the terms and conditions of their economic development awards," the article said. It is important to note that more than 60 companies examined in DeWine’s report that were found not to be compliant, didn’t turn in a compliance form or didn’t receive one to begin with.

The Ohio Department of Development declared the report's results a success since they represent an improvement over fiscal year 2010, when only "16% of the 77 businesses that obtained grants actually met the terms of their contracts and 24% of the 82 companies that got state loans met their requirements," the article said. Additionally, The Columbus Dispatch reports that "companies were most likely to be in compliance with work-force training commitments (81.7%) and tax credits (54.3%)."

For more read the full Columbus Dispatch story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Jan 04, 2012

CSI Ohio – Ohio’s common sense initiative: have you done your part?
 

As economic development professionals, we know that financial incentives play a significant role in the site selection decision by a company and/or their consultant. The dynamics of the actual site are essential to the decision, and the regulatory climate of a state is also important.  

Therefore, when Lt. Governor Mary Taylor announced Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI) – I was intrigued about how resourceful this initiative would be to economic development professionals and would it truly provide another avenue to address and remedy regulatory issues that impede economic development recruitment and retention activities.

Signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich on January 10, 2011, Executive Order 2011-01K established “a process for independently evaluating the economic impact of agency rules and regulations on small businesses in Ohio.”  The Common Sense Initiative reviews Ohio’s regulatory system with the goal of eliminating excessive and duplicative rules that stand in the way of job creation.

Just recently, the Times Bulletin reported on an event where Mark Hamlin, Director of Regulatory Policy for Lt. Governor Taylor, made a presentation to a group on the CSI Ohio Initiative. During that discussion, Hamlin articulated the four core principals the Lt. Governor’s office tries to follow when evaluating proposed changes that do not take away protections for the public:

  • Regulations should encourage economic growth, not get in the way.
  • Regulations should be transparent and responsive in the agencies that create regulations.
  • Regulations should be focused on compliance and compliance should be easy and inexpensive as possible.
  • Regulations should be fair and consistently applied so businesses know what to expect.

Hamlin also said that CSI is working on two separate tracks:

  • Formal Track: A top down review by every state agency that creates rules that affect businesses.
  • Informal Track: Going out to businesses and people directly for their thoughts and concerns.

Once again, the goal of the CSI is to perform a comprehensive regulatory review that leads to a number of reforms, revives Ohio’s economy, and creates jobs by generating a more jobs-friendly environment. From Hamlin's statements, CSI has gained momentum and is proving effective. As economic development professionals, this initiative allows you to provide direct feedback to the Lt. Governor’s office about regulatory constraints that are hindering economic development in your community and preventing job creation.  

Visit this website  http://www.governor.ohio.gov/PrioritiesandInitiatives/CommonSenseInitiative/CSISolutions.aspx%20parent_blank. and click on “Share Your Solutions” to provide your thoughts on reforming onerous and burdensome red tape, rules, and regulations. 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  Regional Updates  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 21, 2011

Unintended consequences of Alabama's immigration law: Policy disrupts economic development efforts
 

In an effort to create greater employment opportunities for legal residents, Alabama’s GOP passed its toughest immigration bill after years and numerous legislative attempts.  The law has been said to be more restrictive than Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina’s.  Moreover, Alabama has received negative press and feedback from the business community, noting that the compliance and ancillary requirements enacted by the law are a burden on businesses and their foreign employees — painting a negative light on the state and hindering business attraction and expansion efforts.
 
For example, two foreign workers for the highly recruited Honda and Mercedes plants were stopped by police for failing to carry proof of legal residency.  The cases were quickly dropped, but not without a great deal of international attention.  As a result of unintended consequences, many of Alabama's GOP including the state's Governor and Attorney General, now want to revise portions of the law.  The more controversial provisions are being challenged as part of a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit. 

For more, read the full story here.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Federal Updates  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Dec 19, 2011

JobsOhio’s leader plans long-term stay in Ohio
 

Mark Kvamme, whom Gov. Kasich handpicked to be the interim chief investment officer of JobsOhio, is optimistic about the future of the state's economic development.  Now an official Ohio resident, Kvamme is in the running for the permanent position working to develop, structure and initiate JobsOhio, Columbus Business First reports.

Kvamme has a number of long-term plans and initiatives that he is spearheading on behalf of the administration.  To name a few:
 
Transferring the State’s Liquor Franchise: Kvamme hopes the transfer to be complete in early 2012.  After the transfer, the funding from the State’s liquor franchise will be used to pay administrative and staffing costs associated with JobsOhio. JobsOhio will also use the dollars for “business development activities” including issuing loans to companies for capital attraction.
 
Hiring a permanent Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of JobsOhio: Kvamme expects a decision on a permanent hire in the first quarter of 2012.  Regardless of the outcome of the search, Kvamme plans to keep working with Kasich.
 
JobsOhio Staffing: Kvamme expects JobsOhio to double its current staff of 14 to 25-30 by early next year.

Other Goals & Activities of JobsOhio: A major objective continues to be on growing Ohio’s community of venture capitalist and investors in early-stage businesses.

Additionally, "the Kasich administration and state legislators are working on a "JobsOhio II" bill which is expected to take shape in January.  This legislation will clarify the "division of duties between JobsOhio and the development Services Agency, the agency that will replace the Ohio Department of Development," Business First reported.   

For more information, you can read the full story here
 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Dec 06, 2011

The constitutionality of JobsOhio revisited and concluded…maybe
 

On December 2, 2011, Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty dismissed the court case filed by State Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood), State Representative Dennis Murray (D–Sandusky), and ProgressOhio.org.  The case challenged the constitutionality of the JobsOhio legislation, House Bill 1 (H.B. 1). enacted earlier this year by the Ohio General Assembly (previously discussed on a September 1 DevelopOhio  post).  According to The Columbus Dispatch, the dismissal was granted by Judge Beatty on technical grounds, not on the merits of the constitutional claims, declaring that the filing parties did not have the legal standing to file the lawsuit because the legislation creating JobsOhio requires any challenge to be filed within 90 days of its creation.

ProgressOhio.org, Sen. Skindell, and Rep. Murray initially filed the suit in the Ohio Supreme Court, challenging several portions of H.B. 1; however, on August 19, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, and ruled that it must be filed in a lower court.  Therefore, the Petitioners re-filed their compliant. They claim that the legislation creating JobsOhio is unconstitutional because it confers corporate powers and allows Ohio to take an equity stake in a private corporation, both of which they argue are explicitly prohibited by Ohio's constitution.

Mark Kvamme, president and interim chief investment officer for JobsOhio, said in a statement, “We are very pleased with the judge's decision. Now we can focus 100 percent of our energy on job No. 1: creating jobs in Ohio.”

ProgressOhio.org’s Brian Rothenberg said, “He would consult with his co-plaintiffs, before deciding whether to appeal.”  Rothenberg also said, “The good thing for citizens out of this process is that out of seven issues that we alleged were unconstitutional, six have been reversed by the Supreme Court or the administration itself has changed.”

The Columbus Dispatch notes that  the  remaining issue involves whether state funding of JobsOhio — Gov. Kasich’s privatized economic development agency — is allowed by the state constitution.  It also notes that the legality of restricting lawsuits to the 90-day period has also been questioned as a result of the ruling.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Nov 01, 2011

Temporary injunction filed to block implementation of JobsOhio
 

On October 25, 2011, the policy group ProgressOhio and two Democratic legislators (State Rep. Dennis Murray, D-Sandusky and Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood), who are suing the Kasich Administration over JobsOhio's constitutionality, filed a motion in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court (Case Number 11CVH 08 10807) seeking a temporary injunction that would suspend funding and operations for JobsOhio as well as any related activity by the State of Ohio until the lawsuit has been resolved.  View the DevelopOhio.com post from September 1, 2011 for additional background.  

The filing for temporary injunction was partially precipitated when JobsOhio received an appropriation from the legislature for $1 million in start-up funding.  Also, the Third Frontier approved a one-year grant, totaling $14.85 million, to implement and support six regional economic development organizations, known as the JobsOhio Network, in taking a more significant role in job attraction and retention efforts throughout the state.  Click the September 30, 2011 DevelopOhio.com post for additional background.

The matter is currently with the court and a decision has yet to be rendered.  


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

Oct 28, 2011

2011 Ohio Business Expo aims to make State contracts more accessible
 

The Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) announced that it will host the 2011 Ohio Business Expo on Wednesday, November 30, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Ohio Expo Center, Rhodes Building, in Columbus. The free event aims to "allow Ohio business owners to network with purchasing professionals from various state agencies regarding upcoming contracting and procurement opportunities with the state," the release said.

One goal of the expo is to expand access to state contracts for minority, women-owned and small businesses. For more, you can find the press release
here or visit the DAS Equal Opportunity website.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Oct 24, 2011

Board of Regents' “Forever Buckeyes” program to stimulate Ohio’s workforce
 

In an effort to encourage the return of young people and former Ohioans to the state, the Ohio Board of Regents included a provision in the last biennial budget  called, "Forever Buckeyes."  This provision will "extend the in-state resident tuition rate to any Ohio high school graduate who leaves the state but returns to enroll in an Ohio college and also establishes residency in Ohio," Fox Toledo reports. Additionally, this unique provision eliminates the 12-month waiting period that is currently required to establish residency, Columbus Business First reports. 


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Oct 11, 2011

Ohio waits for S.B. 216: weighing the economic development impact of Ohio’s advanced energy market and supply chain
 

Last month's Ohio Governor's 21st Energy & Economic Summit featured presenters from a variety of industries to explore related policy and job creation issues that will impact the state over the next several years.  Gov. John Kasich concluded the two-day program with a letter to participants stating that Ohio should not waiver in its commitment to renewable energy.  However, just weeks before the summit, Ohio legislators had proffered a bill that could hinder growth initiatives in the alternative energy arena. 

Ohio State Senator Kris Jordan (R-Powell) introduced Ohio Senate Bill 216 (SB 216) (link to B&E article) to repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") (link to our SB 221 chart)which currently requires that the state's electric utilities provide 25 percent of their retail energy supply from advanced and renewable energy sources by 2025.  

A significant catalyst in the growth of Ohio's alternative energy industry was the 2008 implementation of Ohio Senate Bill 221 (SB 221).  SB 221 was enacted to encourage businesses and utilities to adopt renewable and advanced energy technologies.  It also created energy reduction and peak demand standards that utilities must meet through energy efficiency programs. 

According to a January 2011 report produced by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Ohio is a leading wind and solar component manufacturer in the United States and employs thousands of individuals across 160 companies engaged in the wind power (106) and solar power (63) supply chains. 

If S.B. 216 is approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor (first to be reviewed by the state's Energy and Public Utilities Committees), the shift in public policy could dramatically effect employers of advanced energy solutions, primarily their operations, workforce and strategic plans. 

For more information, read Bricker & Eckler's September 21 article:  Legislative Roundup: Ohio Senate Bill 216 Would Repeal Ohio's Advanced Energy Law


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  Regional Updates   |   Permalink

 

Oct 05, 2011

The Refundable Jobs Retention Tax Credit - Two Unanswered Questions for Businesses
 

The Ohio budget bill, Am. Sub. H.B. 153, provides for a refundable jobs retention tax credit for enterprises that retain employment payroll in the state and make the requisite capital investment in the state.  A provision in the bill has generated two questions about the availability of the credit for companies that maintain multiple locations in Ohio, or that are not headquartered in Ohio.

In order to receive the credit, the enterprise must have 500 full-time equivalent employment positions and a total annual payroll of $35 million.  However, if the enterprise applies for the credit between July 1, 2011, and January 1, 2014, it is sufficient if the enterprise has $20 million in annual payroll.  Finally, the enterprise must have made a capital investment of at least $5 million over the three-year period that includes the year in which the credit is granted.

An additional requirement is that the capital investment must be made “in the political subdivision in which the taxpayer maintains its principal place of business.”  This provision seems to call into question the availability of the credit for companies with operations elsewhere. 

Based upon prior practice at the Department of Development with respect to the existing jobs creation and retention tax credits, and based upon testimony and discussion surrounding the adoption of this provision, it appears the credit was not intended to be construed so narrowly. It appears that the intent behind the provision was simply that the capital investment had to be made at the location where the job retention was to occur.  An enterprise maintaining operations in Cincinnati and Columbus, for example, could not combine capital investment made at the two locations to reach the $5 million threshold; nor could a credit for jobs retained in Columbus be justified by a $5 million investment in the Cincinnati location.  Rather, the location where the investment occurs must coincide with the location where the jobs retention occurs.

However, this conclusion is not certain, and formal guidance from the legal staff of the department has not been issued.  Enterprises counting on the credit in their financial assessment of any investment in Ohio should confirm with the department the manner in which this provision will be interpreted.

For more information, view Mark Engel's July publication:  HB 153 Biennial Budget Bill - Key Economic Development Budget Bill Provisions.


 
Posted by M. Engel in  Financial Incentives  Legal Developments  State Updates   |   Permalink

 

Sep 01, 2011

The Constitutionality of JobsOhio Revisited
 

On August 30, 2011, State Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood), State Representative Dennis Murray (D–Sandusky), and ProgressOhio.org re-filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the JobsOhio legislation, House Bill 1 (H.B. 1), enacted earlier this year by the Ohio General Assembly.

A provision in the Act declares the Ohio Supreme Court to be the exclusive court in which to challenge JobsOhio’s constitutional validity. However, on August 19, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, finding that the Ohio Constitution expressly limited the Supreme Court’s "original jurisdiction" to seven specific types of cases.

A lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to invalidate H.B. 1 does not fall under any of these types of cases. And, because an act of the legislature cannot override the Ohio Constitution, the Supreme Court held that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the Petitioners’ lawsuit, thus not addressing the other constitutional challenges that were made by the Petitioners.

ProgressOhio.org, Sen. Skindell, and Rep. Murray initially filed the suit earlier this year challenging eight portions of H.B. 1. In the time since that lawsuit was filed, the legislature, at the behest of Gov. Kasich’s administration, included a provision in H.B. 153, the state budget bill, to address some of the aspects of the first lawsuit, including removing the governor from the JobsOhio Board. However, not all of the Petitioners’ challenges were addressed in the budget bill.

Therefore, the Petitioners re-filed their compliant. They claim that the legislation creating JobsOhio is unconstitutional because it confers corporate powers and allows Ohio to take an equity stake in a private corporation, both of which they argue are explicitly prohibited by Ohio's constitution. Rep. Murray said the ban on investing public money in private corporations was passed 160 years ago, in the Constitution of 1851, to prohibit state dollars from being invested in railroads and canals, and needs to continue to be upheld.

The Petitioners said they also intend to ask Court of Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty, who will preside over this matter, to issue a temporary restraining order to keep JobsOhio from operating until the lawsuit is resolved. Sen. Skindell said the lawsuit challenges the organization of JobsOhio and its operation, not its financing plan through the lease of the state’s liquor monopoly.


 
Posted by Q. Harris in  JobsOhio/ODSA  Legal Developments   |   Permalink

 

 

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