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        A bill that would reform brownfield regulations in Ohio has been re-introduced in the state legislature.

        Representative Steve Arndt, R – Port Clinton, said House Bill 168 would stimulate economic development by incorporating into Ohio law the federal bona fide prospective purchaser defense for someone interested in purchasing contaminated properties.

        Rep. Arndt provided sponsor testimony for the bill last week to the House Civil Justice Committee.

        “In many areas throughout Ohio, there are many slightly contaminated properties, like the site of former gas stations or dry cleaning businesses, that are not currently in productive use simply because of a business our current regulatory structure says is too cost prohibitive for developers to pursue,” he told the committee.

        The federal purchaser defense was established as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) – the program created to regulate what are called Superfund sites.

        Arndt said federal statute provides purchasers with an affirmative defense who have knowledge of existing contamination if the purchaser follows the appropriate protocol. His bill would establish state level immunity for potential purchasers of contaminated property through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency if the protocol already in place in federal law is followed.

        Under the protocol, potential purchasers would have to review federal and state databases for information about possible contamination on the property, interview persons knowledgeable about the property and have the property inspected by an environmental professional for signs of contamination.

        “If any of the due diligence steps indicate that there is contamination present on the property, the prospective purchaser must cooperate with any reasonable steps in the future to stop ongoing releases and prevent exposure,” Arndt told the committee.

        Implementing such a program for prospective buyers on sites in Ohio would bring the state in line with Indiana and Michigan which have already incorporated language from the federal regulations or similar language into state law, he said.

        He said HB 168 is identical to a bill he introduced last year that didn’t make it out of committee before the legislature’s session ended.

        Beginning in 2002 through the final funding round in 2013, the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund programs provided grant assistance to communities to redevelop brownfield sites. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, the programs redeveloped more than 380 former commercial and industrial properties that, in turn, created more than 3,800 acres of development ready land.

        A white paper released last year by the Greater Ohio Policy Center identifies funding options it recommends for consideration for remediation programs, including:

-Redirecting existing revenue from the JobsOhio Revitalization Program, the liquor profits that JobsOhio returns to the state or the Abandoned Gas Station Fund.

-Expanding the sales tax to include additional services not currently subject to the sales tax.

-Eliminating certain tax expenditures that have a diminished level of appropriateness given the time period they were enacted and the state’s current economy.

        In a statement issued last year, the GOPC said the bill would “fill the gap in brownfields redevelopment by aligning Ohio with the federal Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser defense. The BFPP defense offers a much more cost-effective means to putting brownfields into productive use because the BFPP defense does not require a full-blown assessment and clean-up of a prospective property.”

        Ohio has more than 9,000 brownfields, according to the policy center.

        Rep. Arndt last week said local officials affiliated with landbanks have expressed support for the bill.

        “Now they’re only operating under Ohio law, thinking they are exempt from any kind of responsibility if they acquire a site that has any type of contamination,” he said. “When I indicated to them my bill would add a layer of protection for them as long as they follow the CERCLA laws on these sites, some were a little shocked when they realized they could be exposed if they acquired an old gas station or restaurant that had a gas station or something like that.”

 

abortion

The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In practice, that would make abortion illegal after six weeks.
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