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Board of Building Standards Adopts Amendments

During its meeting on December 15, 2017, the Board of Building Standards adopted amendments to the Residential Code of Ohio, Elevator rules and Certification rules effective January 1, 2018.

The Board initiated the rule change process in February 2017 and the rules have been available in draft form on the Board’s website.  The final adopted rules with detailed summaries can be found at the following links:

Residential Code of Ohio Rules

Elevator Rules

Certification Rules

If you have questions related to these amendments, please contact the Board Office at (614) 644-2613 or bbs@com.state.oh.us.

Capital Budget Bill In Progress

Ohio Budget and Management Director Tim Keen says he expects the capital bill to go to the Legislature by the end of February and be passed by April 1. That gets it in ahead of the General Assembly’s break and 90 days out from July 1 when many of the provisions will need to be effective.

After two previous rounds where Gov. John Kasich convened a panel of higher education leaders to pare down capital requests from institutions, the administration has changed things up for the upcoming capital budget.

Instead of using a higher education funding commission, Cleveland State President Ron Berkman is working with four-year institutions on a list of their needs, while Stark State President Para Jones is working with the community colleges. According to the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), both presidents are asking their colleagues for input and are narrowing the list of requested projects to those that align closest with the principles given to them by the administration.

Previously, Kasich had convened one panel representing both four-year and community colleges to help divide up the pot for capital budget dollars in higher education. Schools are also expecting to have a smaller pool of money to work with in this capital budget than under 131-SB310, the last capital appropriations budget.

ODHE said colleges and universities were asked to devote the vast majority of their capital requests to maintaining what they already have, “with an extremely high bar for new construction projects.” The institutions are also being asked to submit recommendations based on a number of guiding principles, including the following:

  • Help build world-class programs.
  • Focus on maintaining the investment the state has already made in existing campus facilities.
  • Stimulate creativity by advancing strategic collaborations through partnerships, both on campus and with others in the public and private sector.
  • Reflect the needs of today’s students by strengthening their learning environments, ensuring their safety and encouraging new degree and certificate completion opportunities.
  • Increase Ohio’s competitive advantage by capitalizing on existing strengths.
  • Strengthen the ability to respond to new or increased workforce development opportunities in the state.
  • Encourage joint efforts to reduce construction costs and generate ongoing efficiencies.

ODHE said it will review the funding proposals along with the Office of Budget and Management (OBM).

Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, said higher education institutions are expecting to have $400 million in the capital budget, with $300 million for four-year institutions and $100 million for community colleges. He said that is about 10 percent less than what schools had in 131-SB310. While there is more need than funding available, Johnson said schools understand the constraints of the budget this time around.

He said Berkman has asked the IUC’s executive committee to help him review projects that are submitted and make the recommendations to the state. He expected the list of projects to be submitted early in the new year.

State Awards More than $28M in Historic Tax Credits

The Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) awarded $28,370,452 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate 22 historic buildings in 11 communities, the agency announced Tuesday.

The projects are expected to lead to approximately $165,386,833 in private investment, DSA said in a news release. The awards include projects in three communities — Amherst, Cleveland Heights and Mansfield — that are receiving an Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit for the first time.

“Preserving historic buildings saves the unique history of our neighborhoods and downtowns,” DSA Director David Goodman said. “It also adds to the quality of life the community offers residents and visitors.”

Many of the buildings are vacant and generate little economic activity. Once rehabilitated, they will drive further investment in adjacent property. Developers do not receive the tax credit until project construction is complete and all program requirements are verified.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The State Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and that the rehabilitation plans comply with the U.S. secretary of the interior’s standards for rehabilitation.

CENTRAL REGION

46 Park Ave. West (Mansfield, Richland County)
Total Project Cost: $1,100,000
Total Tax Credit: $249,900
Address: 46 Park Ave. West, 44902

This building is one of two projects to be funded this round in Mansfield and one of the first awards made in the city. Dating back to the 1890s, the downtown building once had two commercial spaces on the first floor with apartments on the second and third. After years of vacancy, the building will again be home to residents in the four upstairs apartments with small businesses on the ground floor.

Hedrick House (Mansfield, Richland County)
Total Project Cost: $364,700
Total Tax Credit: $78,675
Address: 159 N. Walnut St., 44902

Built in the 1860s, the home was remodeled into four apartments in the 1940s, but has been vacant for more than 50 years. Two residential units will be built in the house during the rehabilitation project, and historic features such as the staircase and woodwork also will be restored.

NORTHEAST REGION

Central School (Amherst, Lorain County)
Total Project Cost: $12,173,003
Total Tax Credit: $1,497,000
Address: 474 Church St., 44001

Located in the small town of Amherst, the former Central School has been vacant for more than 30 years. It was built of local sandstone in 1907, and a gymnasium was added to the original building in 1922. After rehabilitation, the building will serve the community as an assisted living residence, which will include a dining and activity hall located in the former gym. Residents’ rooms will be in the former classrooms. New elevators and ADA facilities will be added.

College Club of Cleveland (Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost: $12,417,994
Total Tax Credit: $1,226,000
Address: 2348 Overlook Rd., 44106

The College Club of Cleveland project consists of two buildings — the original three-story brick mansion and a two-story brick carriage barn. Constructed in 1905, the property was a single-family residence until it was purchased by the College Club of Cleveland, a women’s philanthropic organization, for use as a clubhouse. Plans call for the main house to be converted into ten apartments with four more located in the carriage barn. Thirteen new town homes will be constructed on an adjacent parcel.

Dorn School of Expression (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost:  $1,814,324
Total Tax Credit:  $249,999
Address: 7306 Detroit Ave., 44102

Built in 1913, the building once housed residential units on the upper floor, and a retail space and a fine and performing arts school on the main floor. Though most of the interior historic details have been lost over time, the exterior retains arched window openings and dormers. After the rehabilitation project is completed, there will be four apartments and two retail spaces in the building.

Fox Buick Sales Building (Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County)
Total Project Cost: $1,771,300
Total Tax Credit: $249,000
Address: 2250 Front St., 44221

The Fox Buick Sales Building is a two-story commercial building along Cuyahoga Falls’ main commercial street with an auto showroom on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. The first-floor commercial space has been vacant and will be rehabilitated into the home of the Ohio Brewing Company. The upstairs apartments will also be rehabilitated. The building is situated on Front St., a former pedestrian mall at the center of Cuyahoga Falls’ revitalization efforts.

Grossman Paper Box Company (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost: $10,828,212
Total Tax Credit: $1,072,100
Address: 1729 Superior Ave., 44114

The Grossman Paper Box Company building dates to 1902 and once was home to a large packaging company. The industrial building saw other warehouse tenants in later years before falling into disuse. The rehabilitation project will create 49 new apartments, preserving the historic industrial character of the building and opening blocked windows.

Hilliard Block (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost: $2,226,750
Total Tax Credit: $250,000
Address: 1415 W. Ninth St., 44113

The Hilliard Block dates back to around 1849, and is one of the oldest buildings in Cleveland’s Warehouse Historic District. Built as a grocery and dry goods store, the building was renovated into offices on the upper floors in the 1980s while retaining commercial space on the first floor. The rehabilitation project will convert the former office spaces into 18 market rate apartments. The current tenant will continue to occupy the first floor.

Illuminating Building (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost: $51,371,441
Total Tax Credit: $5,000,000
Address: 75 Public Square, 44113

This project includes the historic Illuminating Building, built in 1914 on Cleveland’s Public Square, and the nearby Key Center, which is a modern office tower and hotel complex. Floors two to 14 of the Illuminating Building will be converted into 119 residential units while the ground floor will be renovated into retail spaces. The owners intend to rehabilitate eight vacant floors of office space and the lobby in the Key Tower. Restaurant, event, and commercial spaces will be added in the hotel.

St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)
Total Project Cost: $2,318,267
Total Tax Credit: $249,999
Address: 2280 W. 11th St., 44113

The St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church was once the center of the Ukrainian community in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, and later became home to a Hispanic church community. The project will transform the church into corporate offices for a company moving into the neighborhood. Distinctive remaining historic features will be retained, and open spaces will be incorporated into the office design.

Northwest Region

Continental Baking Co. Building (Toledo, Lucas County)
Total Project Cost: $5,676,879
Total Tax Credit: $1,109,957
Address: 1101 N. Summit St., 43604

The former Continental Baking Company Building is located in Toledo’s historic Vistula neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Once the home of Wonder Bread and Hostess products, the building was used by other commercial tenants before becoming vacant in the 1990s. New owners plan to convert the industrial building into 24 market rate apartments along with two commercial office spaces on the ground floor.

Hyatt Block (Findlay, Hancock County)
Total Project Cost: $1,200,000
Total Tax Credit: $232,000
Address: 317-319 S. Main St., 45840

The Hyatt Block is a three-story building in Findlay’s Downtown Historic District. Except for one first floor commercial space, the building has been vacant for more than 10 years. After rehabilitation, the building will be home to an arts organization offering therapeutic and educational opportunities with offices on the second and third floors.

WESTERN REGION

Edward Wren Company Building (Springfield, Clark County)
Total Project Cost: $15,327,359
Total Tax Credit: $2,000,000
Address: 31 E. High St., 45502

Built in 1921 as a department store and bank in the heart of downtown Springfield, the building was remodeled over the years into retail space, then a warehouse, and finally office space before falling vacant for many years and nearly being demolished. The building will be revitalized as 28 market rate apartment units with a ground floor restaurant space.

Nesbitt House (Xenia, Greene County)
Total Project Cost: $416,327
Total Tax Credit: $87,822
Address: 136 W. Second St., 45385

Located near downtown Xenia, the Nesbitt House will be rehabilitated into four apartments. Built around 1890 as a single-family home, it was later divided into apartments. With Queen Anne and Eastlake styles, its rehabilitation fits well into Xenia’s city plan to encourage redevelopment of housing in the historic core.

Third Street Arcade (Dayton, Montgomery County)
Total Project Cost: $40,854,979
Total Tax Credit: $4,000,000
Address: 28 W. Third St. and 29 S. Main St., 45402

This project includes two buildings in the historic Dayton Arcade complex in downtown Dayton. The McCrory building, a three-story former retail building, was built in the 1920s but has been vacant for more than 20 years. The Third Street Arcade/Gibbons Annex building includes a retail arcade with apartments above; the exterior features a unique Flemish-style facade. Thirty-two apartments will be rehabilitated in the upper floors with office space on the second floor. In the McCrory building, future tenants include an entrepreneurial start-up center affiliated with the University of Dayton.

SOUTHWEST REGION

57 E. McMicken Ave. and 1662 Hamer St. (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)
Total Project Cost: $1,373,500
Total Tax Credit: $225,000
Address: 57 E. McMicken Ave. and 1662 Hamer St., 45202

This pair of buildings sits back-to-back on the same parcel in Over-the-Rhine. Built around 1880 in the Italianate style, the buildings housed apartments and commercial space, but both buildings have been vacant for at least 15 years. The project will rehabilitate nine apartments ranging from studios to spaces for small families. The building on McMicken will offer commercial space on its first floor.

Dow Corner Building (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)
Total Project Cost: $1,716,249
Total Tax Credit: $188,000
Address: 5901 Hamilton Ave., 45224

This building was once home to the Dow Drugstore, a local chain of stores, complete with a soda fountain. The second commercial space in the building hosted various tenants over the years from grocers and delis to five and dime and beauty supply stores. There are four apartments upstairs. In recent years, both commercial spaces and the apartments were vacant and in disrepair. The rehabilitation project will preserve the remaining historic features, such as a pressed metal ceiling in the commercial space, and will rebuild the historic store fronts.

Dollhouse and National City Buildings (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)
Total Project Cost: $1,410,549
Total Tax Credit: $155,000
Address: 5917 and 5932 Hamilton Ave., 45224

This set of buildings in Cincinnati’s College Hill neighborhood were both once important fixtures in the life of the community. The Dollhouse Building was home to Herbert Doll’s bakery and restaurant, which operated from 1914-1989. A string of short-term tenants used the space until it was vacated more than 10 years ago. The National City Building is the neighborhood’s only Art Deco/Art Moderne Building and served various banks from the time it was constructed in 1949 until it was vacated in 2006. Rehabilitation plans include commercial spaces on the first floors with restaurant tenants expected. The three apartments upstairs will be renovated for new residents.

Engine Co. 22 Firehouse (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)
Total Project Cost: $1,025,000
Total Tax Credit: $250,000
Address: 222 W. 15th St., 45202

Built in the 1880s as a firehouse, the building served the Cincinnati Fire Department until 1940. After that time, it was used for various industrial purposes and later artist lofts until it was vacated in 2015. Rehabilitation plans call for a mixed use with office space, indoor parking areas, and an upper floor rental unit.

Appeals Court Upholds Local Residency Requirement Law

The 8th District Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that 131-HB180 (Maag) is unconstitutional. The bill, signed into law in August 2016, prohibits local governments from requiring contractors to hire a certain percentage of local individuals for public projects.

The AIA Condemns Senate-Passed Tax Bill

On Sunday, the AIA issued a statement on the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate narrowly passed the bill early Saturday morning with a final vote of 51 to 49. The press release in its entirety follows below:

WASHINGTON, D.C., – December 3, 2017 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) will lobby aggressively in coming days against significant inequities in both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, just as the legislation heads into conference.

The House legislation abolishes the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), vital to the revitalization of America’s city centers and widely hailed as an economic engine since the Reagan Administration put them into place more than three decades ago. The Senate bill eliminates the current 10 percent credit for pre-1936 structures, and significantly dilutes the current 20 percent credit for certified historic structures by spreading it over a five-year period.

The Senate’s tax reform bill allows small businesses that are organized as “pass through” companies (i.e. partnerships, sole proprietorships and S-Corporations) to reduce income through a 23 percent deduction. But, like the House-passed bill, the Senate bill totally excludes certain professional services companies—including all but the smallest architecture firms—from tax relief.

Says AIA 2017 President Thomas Vonier, FAIA:

“By weakening the Historic Tax Credits, Congress and the Administration will hurt historic rehabilitation projects all across the country – something to which architects have been committed for decades. Since 1976, the HTCs have generated some $132 billion in private investment, involving nearly 43,000 projects. The HTC is fundamental to maintaining America’s architectural heritage.

“Unfortunately, both bills for some reason continue to exclude architects and other small business service professions by name from lower tax rates. There’s no public policy reason to do this. Design and construction firms do much more than provide a service; they produce a major component of the nation’s gross domestic product and are a major catalyst for job growth.

“Our members across the country are already mobilized to make sure their Congressional delegations know these views. In the coming days, we will spare no effort to make sure members of the House-Senate conference committee know the views of the AIA’s more than 90,000 members on the inequities in both pieces of legislation.

“We say this again: tax reforms must achieve three basic goals to ensure the vitality of small business and the health, safety and welfare of our communities:
· Preserve tax policies that support and strengthen small businesses.
· Support innovative, economically vibrant, sustainable and resilient buildings and communities.
· Ensure fairness.

“So far, this legislation still falls well short of these goals. If passed, Congress would be making a terrible mistake.”

State Spending Bill Up Next (Capital Budget)

With the biennial budget in the rear-view mirror and the December holidays looming, Ohio policymakers and stakeholders are beginning work on the next big state spending measure – the capital appropriations bill for Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020.

The legislation designed to fund capital improvements with state-issued debt is slated for introduction and passage by April 2018, meaning work has just started and is expected to move quickly at the beginning of the new year.

State agencies submitted requests to the Office of Budget and Management in mid-November for the funding that will make up the bulk of the bill. Officials expect the total price tag of the measure to be similar to the last capital bill.

Community project requests (from legislators and local governments) that make up a small but often much-discussed portion of the legislation, are expected to be submitted around the first of the year.

The General Assembly is eyeing the bill’s introduction around February or early March, with votes expected before April. Once the bill is introduced, the process usually goes quickly.

The previous capital budget (SB310 in the 131st General Assembly) cleared both chambers and was signed by the governor just over a month after its introduction. Having been worked out behind the scenes beforehand, the measure sailed through the legislature without opposition or amendments,

That measure included $2.62 billion in appropriations, including $160 million in community projects.

The upcoming capital bill is also expected to include re-appropriations for ongoing projects. The bill that separately reauthorized ongoing debt-backed work in the last capital biennia (SB260, 131st General Assembly) topped out at about $1.5 billion.

In guidance issued to state agencies, Budget Director, Tim Keen said spending in the upcoming bill will remain limited.

“Consistent with Governor Kasich’s commitment to restrain government spending, it is imperative that appropriations in the FYs 2019-2020 capital biennium also be restrained,” he wrote. “Accordingly, the capital bill will focus on necessary renovations and upkeep of the state’s current capital assets and will reflect an extremely high threshold with respect to funding of new construction.”

Community leaders including chambers of commerce in the state’s metro areas are expected to submit their requests for new investment to the legislature by the end of the year, and legislators are working on identifying projects they will request. The target total for community projects, at roughly $130 million, is lower than what was allotted in the current capital biennium.

Director Keen wrote in his guidance that the community projects will constitute a small portion of the capital bill, with those awards being decided by collaboration between the legislature and the administration.

An item that could draw interest in the capital budget is the proposed inclusion of funding for new voting machines. Counties have said they will need state help paying for the machines ahead of the 2020 election.

Per usual, the capital bill also will provide a few hundred million for state colleges and universities. Much of that total will go toward maintaining and upgrading current facilities.

Preservation Ohio Names 2017 List of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites

Preservation Ohio Names 2017 List of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites

Preservation Ohio, the state’s oldest statewide historic preservation organization, recently named 11 properties to its annual list of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites. Preservation Ohio has compiled the list since 1993.

Preservation Ohio accepts nominations from any citizen or organization. The Board of Trustees then selects the final list. Over the years, Preservation Ohio explains, “the list has proven successful in saving some of Ohio’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage. Recognition of the Westcott House in Springfield, a Frank Lloyd Wright design, led to a multi-million dollar restoration. The Anthony Wayne Hotel in Hamilton, the Masonic Temple in Columbus and the Unionville Tavern share similar stories.

“Other structures and sites named to the list have not been as fortunate. Two of the properties on the 2017 list were also on the list last year. They remain endangered, and Preservation Ohio continues to monitor their status and work with advocates in the local communities to draw attention and resources to the properties.”

Circumstances that contribute to the endangered status and result in sites being named to the list typically include one or more of the following factors: demolition threat, abandonment, neglectful owner, dilapidation, obsolete use, lack of money for repairs, out-of-the-way location or encroaching sprawl.

The 2017 List of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites includes the following:

Ashtabula Stone Train Depot (Ashtabula County)
The depot was built in the 1800s. It is one of a few left with the distinctive architecture of the time. The depot is vacant and in danger of demolition.

Brick Quarters Historic District at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Montgomery County)
These 89 Tudor Revival homes built in the 1930s cover several acres. Built as officers’ quarters, they are National Register-eligible properties. All or parts of the district are in danger of demolition.

Clinton Chapel (Franklin County)
The Clinton Chapel is one of the earliest standing structures left in Franklin County. Considered to be a stop on the Underground Railroad and a speakeasy during prohibition, it is in danger of demolition for development.

Columbus Castings – Buckeye Steel (Franklin County)
Once the largest single-site steel foundry in North America, the building covers over 90 acres with 22 acres under roof. The building is for sale.

Cooper Stadium (Franklin County)
Since its construction in 1932, Cooper Stadium has housed many baseball teams, celebrities and guests. It is vacant and continues to deteriorate.

Gem City Ice Cream Building (Montgomery County)
This building dates from 1886 and housed the first Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop. It is listed on the National Register, although it is vacant and continues to deteriorate.

McDowell Farmhouse (Stark County)
The farmhouse is one of the oldest houses in Plain Township near Canton. The house dates to 1821 and is threatened by a highway, which has been expanded to within six feet of the property.

Newton Falls Community Center/Historic USO Club (Trumbull County)
This remarkable structure is one of the few USO clubs left standing in the nation and the only one in Ohio. It is vacant and continues to deteriorate.

Peter Pontius House (Stark County)
Built in 1835 by Peter Pontius, who is credited with taking pictures of all the school buildings in Ohio, it has been threatened by a widening of the street.

Spartan Municipal Stadium (Scioto County)
This stadium was once home to a former NFL football team, which became the Detroit Lions. A local group is working to educate the community about the stadium, which is currently vacant and
deteriorating from neglect.

Wakefield One-Room Schoolhouse (Darke County)
The school building was built in the 1880s and is one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses in Ohio. It is threatened with demolition by commercial development.

Preservation Ohio is Ohio’s oldest statewide historic preservation organization, an independent, nonprofit organization recognized under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Preservation Ohio was established in 1982 to improve the understanding of and appreciation for Ohio’s historic resources and to serve as a focal point for Ohio organizations, municipalities, corporations and individuals who care about these resources and are concerned about preservation for future generations.

For more information and updates, visit the website at www.preserveohio.com or follow it on Twitter @PreservationOH or “like” it on Facebook.

Tax reform threatens historic buildings

As the GOP undertakes comprehensive tax reform, it should restore the Federal Historic Tax Credit, a program that preserves America’s irreplaceable historic buildings, generates jobs and more than pays for itself.

It simply makes no sense to jettison an incentive that, since its inception in 1976, has generated more than $29.9 billion in federal tax revenue. This is a return of $1.20 on each dollar in tax credits awarded, according to data collected by the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research.

In fact, the federal program works so well that Ohio pairs it with its own historic tax credits, which provide a return of $6.20 in taxes generated for every dollar the state forgoes through its tax credit.

When something improves a community’s quality of life and returns more money than it costs, one would think Congress would let it be. But the federal historic tax credit was not included in the Republican leadership’s framework for House and Senate committees drafting the tax-reform legislation.

We urge Ohio’s Congressional delegation to push hard to restore and improve the Federal Historic Tax Credit — made permanent in the Reagan tax reform of 1986.

We grasp that our byzantine federal tax code must be streamlined. And, in many cases, removing tax exceptions could ultimately lower the tax load for many. But without the incentives provided by this self-funding credit, thousands of projects simply won’t get done. We will send perfectly good buildings to landfills, squander energy and other natural resources on new materials, diminish our cultural heritage and destroy the architectural fabric of our cities.

Investors simply aren’t lining up to renovate money pits. By allowing developers to claim or sell the 20 percent tax credits, these projects become possible. On a $1 million project, for instance, an investor can take $200,000 off total tax liability.

“The tax credit makes projects more feasible, or feasible at all,” said Columbus architect Robert D. Loversidge.

Want to see what he’s talking about? Next time you’re in Downtown Columbus, look up at the city’s most iconic skyscraper. The LeVeque Tower, then slipping toward foreclosure, sold in 2011 for $4 million — about half of what it cost to build in 1927. Even with the modest purchase price, it took tens of millions of dollars along with a combination of tax credits and breaks from the city, state and federal government to make the project work financially.

In Ohio, developers undertook 878 projects using the Federal Historic Tax Credit between 2002 and 2015, according to the National Park Service, which administers the program. This created more than 44,000 jobs, 26,000 of which were permanent. Central Ohio projects include such landmarks as the old State School for the Deaf (now Cristo Rey Columbus High School), the Downtown YMCA and YWCA and the Great Southern Hotel and Opera House.

The credit has breathed new life into communities, provided housing options from low-income to posh, created jobs and saved from the wrecking ball architectural jewels that had fallen on hard times.

Unless Congress adds this credit back into the tax-reform package, it — and some of our most impressive architecture — will be history.


“Editorial: Tax Reform Threatens Historic Buildings.” The Columbus Dispatch, 24 Oct. 2017.

Local Government Infrastructure Bond Bank (HB54)

The Ohio Senate is considering legislation to amend the Ohio Constitution, permitting local governments to borrow from a “Bond Bank” for infrastructure construction projects.

House Bill 54, which passed the House (93-1), is sponsored by Representative Bill Blessing (R, Cincinnati) and Representative Theresa Gavarone (R, Bowling Green).  If signed into law, the bill would create the State Bond Bank to issue tax-exempt bonds, to be re-paid by local government borrowers.  The localities would “pool” their needs rather than enter into smaller, uneconomical debt, creating economies of scale.  The Ohio Treasurer would administer the funds.  The Ohio Senate Finance Committee has held four hearings on the bill.

More Legislative Oversight Of Occupational Licensing Boards (HB289)?

State lawmakers on Oct. 18 outlined a proposal designed to limit unnecessary licensure for working in certain jobs, saying the state processes often create high barriers to entry. The bill sponsors, Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Rep. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), told the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee that the bill, HB 289, would give the legislature more oversight of occupational licensing boards.  The measure would also create a framework for alternatives to occupational licensure while protecting public health and safety, they said.

“In this legislature, we often talk about how we can help foster job creation. Frankly, occupational regulation is the antithesis of job creation,” Rep. Hood said. “It creates a situation where well-intentioned people must go, hat in hand, to the government and ask for a permission slip to simply earn a living. It makes obtaining a job in that field even more difficult and contributes to the unemployment rate.”

The proposal creates a process similar to a fiscal note that would educate the public on licensure changes.

The bill proposes that every occupational licensing board would automatically sunset at the end of five years unless renewed by the legislature.  “Understand, this does not mean that these boards will necessarily be disbanded, only that they must be reviewed,” Rep. McColley said. “It is quite possible, and I would hope probable, that some existing licensure requirements can be modified to be less restrictive, but it is highly unlikely that these boards will be eliminated en masse.”

The measure includes a provision similar to one included in the budget bill, HB49, that would give the Common Sense Initiative the ability to evaluate actions by licensing boards for anti-competitive behavior and stop them. That oversight was designed to deal with potential conflicts of interests when people in an industry regulate themselves.  After Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) asked if the intent was to change what was included in the budget, Rep. Hood said the bill was drafted before the budget passed and that an amendment would eliminate that provision.

Chairman Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) asked if the sponsors had considered the effect of reducing licensure requirements on people who had already gone through the more rigorous process.  “What do you do in the case when people went through that schooling, they expected to have an asset of a certain value for life, and now it’s worth a lot less through no fault of their own?” he asked, using the 1,500-hour requirement for a cosmetologist license as an example.  Rep. McColley said it would be wrong to require other people to go through those same burdensome regulations if they aren’t needed, just because other workers went through the process first.  “Market forces can take effect,” he said. “Those who had more training and those who were more skilled and more established in their businesses would continue to have an advantage over the competition.”

Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) asked how the legislative review of the licensing boards would differ from what is done in the budget process.  By having a review every five years outside of the budget process, Rep. McColley said, the legislature would be able to take more time to look at the regulatory process of each board, rather than just its financial situation.  “I’m of the belief that the budget process is probably not an appropriate avenue to review the complete regulatory structure of these boards and agencies,” he said. “With everything that’s going on in a budget and the accelerated time-frame we have for those discussions, I don’t think it’s really a good avenue to do a deep dive into these licensing agencies.”