Ohio Statehouse Update: A turn towards fall brings economic development reform into focus

Fall in Ohio doesn’t just mean the return of football, it also signals the return of the Ohio General Assembly from their summer break. The return of the legislature brings with it the focus on a number of bills which might not grab headlines but are important policy reforms which will continue to make Ohio a competitive state for development and job growth. We have written before about the importance of House Bill 123, legislation that will reform the state’s Community Reinvestment Area statutes, and we wanted to highlight a couple of other equally important pieces of legislation working their way through the Ohio General Assembly as well.

House Bill 126 sponsored by State Representative Derek Merrin, is one of those pieces of legislation. Passed by the Ohio House in the spring and supported by the representatives of Ohio’s business community including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio NFIB, as well as a number of other stakeholders, the bill looks at reforms to the process for local governments to contest property values. With passage by the Ohio House this spring, the bill now moves over to the Ohio Senate where the upper chamber will begin its work on the legislation. House Bill 126 is currently pending in the Senate Ways & Means committee and would require a school board, county, municipality, or township to first have a public meeting and pass a resolution before approving a property tax complaint when disputing the property tax valuation of a specific property. Additionally, the challenging authority would also need to notify the property owner of the pending meeting and resolution, providing an opportunity for a property owner to be present when the tax valuation complaint is being heard.

Ohio is in the minority of states that allow for an authority to make a tax valuation complaint without first having a public hearing to authorize the complaint.  This simple step would provide property owners a more transparent process than what exist today, which is beneficial to all citizens of the Ohio.

Another important piece of legislation which was recently introduced is Senate Bill 225 sponsored by State Senator Kirk Schuring. Senate Bill 225 would make temporary changes to two important economic development tools in Ohio, which support the redevelopment and improvement of distressed areas of the state. The bill would make changes to Ohio’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit as well as the Ohio Opportunity Zone Investment tax credit. As Ohio, like many other states, continues to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts on the economy there is not a better time for important programs like these to be adaptive to support improving our communities. The legislation would make temporary changes only effecting state fiscal years 2022-23 for the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HPTC) and the Ohio Opportunity Zone Tax Credit. Senate Bill 225 is currently pending before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee.

The bill would:

  • Increase the HPTC aggregate cap for fiscal years 22-23 from the current amount of $60 million per year to $120 million per year.
  • Increase the project cap from the current amount of $5 million to $10 million.
  • Increase the tax credit for smaller municipalities under 71,000 in population from 25% to 35%, which will ensure that smaller communities will get their fair share of projects.
  • Projects that were approved in FY2021 can automatically forgo their previous credit and convert it to the enhanced version in the bill providing their project has not started yet.
  • Maintains the provision in the HPTC law that requires the project to generate a net revenue gain in state and local taxes.  
  • Increases the amount of funds available for the Ohio Opportunity Zone Tax Credit from 50 million dollars to 100 million dollars.

The continued attention on improving Ohio’s economic development tools and policies are important areas that don’t always generate headlines but are particularly important areas of focus for the Ohio General Assembly to be concentrated on during the fall and the remainder of the 134th General Assembly.

If you want to learn more about these issues as well as other issues pending before the state legislature, contact Tim Biggam, Montrose Group Director of Government Relations @ tbiggam@montrosegroupllc.com