Ohio 133rd General Assembly

By: Evin Bachelor, Friday, March 15th, 2019

State lawmakers have been busy crafting new legislation since the 133rd General Assembly took shape in January.  As promised, here are some highlights and summaries of the pending bills that relate to agriculture in Ohio:

  • Senate Bill 57, titled “Decriminalize hemp and license hemp cultivation.”  The Ohio Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a second hearing about the bill on March 13th, and numerous farm organizations spoke in support of the bill.  As of now the language of the bill has not changed since we last discussed Ohio’s hemp bill in a blog post, but some changes could be made when the bill is sent out of the committee.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • Senate Bill 2, titled “Create state watershed planning structure.”  The one sentence bill expresses the General Assembly’s intent “to create and fund a comprehensive statewide watershed planning structure to be implemented at the local soil and water conservation district level.”  It further expresses the intent “to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of watershed programs implemented by local soil and water conservation districts.”  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 24, titled “Revise humane society law.”  The bill would make various changes to Ohio’s Humane Society Law, including changes to enforcement powers, appointment and removal procedures, training, and criminal law applicability.  One of the significant changes would expand to all animals the seizure and impoundment provisions that currently apply only to companion animals.  This change would allow an officer to seize and impound any animal that the officer has probable cause to believe is the subject of a violation of Ohio’s domestic animal law.  At the same time, the bill would remove certain provisions from current law that pertain to harm to people, thereby focusing the new law solely on the protection of animals.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • House Bill 124, titled “Allow small livestock on residential property.”  Under this bill, counties and townships would no longer be allowed to restrict via zoning certain noncommercial agricultural activities on residential property conducted for an individual’s personal use and enjoyment.  Instead, owners of residential property that is not generally agricultural would be allowed to keep, harbor, breed, and maintain small livestock on their property.  Small livestock includes goats, chickens and similar fowl, rabbits, and similar small animals.  Roosters are explicitly excluded from this definition.  However, the owner would lose his or her rights to keep small livestock if the small livestock create a nuisance, are kept in a manner that causes noxious odors or unsanitary conditions, are kept in a building that is unsafe as defined under the statute, or if the number of animals exceeds a certain ratio of animals to acres as defined under the statute.  The ratio may be modified by the local jurisdiction to allow for more animals per acre.  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 55, titled “Require oil and gas royalty statements.”  Owners of oil and gas wells would have to provide mandatory reports to holders of royalty interests under this bill.  Current law only requires disclosure of the information upon request, but this bill would make the disclosure mandatory.  The bill would expand the types of information that the reports must include, and allows the holder of royalty interests to sue to enforce the new rights.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • House Bill 94, titled “Ban taking oil or natural gas from bed of Lake Erie.”  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources handles oil and gas permitting in Ohio, and this bill would bar the agency from issuing permits or making leases “to take or remove oil or natural gas from and under the bed of Lake Erie.”  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 95, titled “Revise Oil and Gas Law about brine and well conversions.”  The bill would ban the use of brine in secondary oil and gas recovery operations.  It would also ban putting brine, crude oil, natural gas, and other fluids associated with oil and gas exploration in ground or surface waters, on the ground, or in the land.  This restriction would apply even if the fluid received treatment in a public water system or other treatment process.  Further, brine disposal permits would not be allowed to utilize underground injection or disposal on the land or in surface or ground water.  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 100, titled “Revise requirements governing abandoned mineral rights.”  Ohio has a statute that governs when a surface owner can take the mineral rights held or claimed by another by operation of law, essentially because of the passage of time.  The bill would require a surface owner to attempt to give notice to a holder of mineral rights by personal service, certified mail, or if those are unsuccessful then by publication.  Currently, if a holder of mineral rights believes that his or her interest remains valid, he or she may file an affidavit that complies with Ohio Revised Code (ORC) § 5301.56(H)(1) in the county property records.  If the holder of mineral rights fails to file an affidavit, the surface owner may then file an affidavit under ORC § 5301.56(H)(2) that effectively vests the mineral rights in the surface owner.  The new law would allow the surface owner to challenge a holder of mineral rights’ ORC § 5301.56(H)(1) affidavit.  This process would require the surface owner to obtain a court determination that the affidavit is invalid.  Then the surface owner would be able to file the new ORC § 5301.56(H)(3) affidavit to obtain the mineral rights.  Click HERE for more information about the bill.

There are also some bills that could have some indirect implications in the agricultural and natural resources sectors.  These indirect effects make this next set of bills noteworthy, or at least interesting.

  • Senate Bill 1, titled “Reduce number of regulatory restrictions.”  The bill would require each state agency to count its total number of regulatory restrictions, and then reduce the number of restrictions based on that baseline by 30% by 2022.  Once an agency meets its reduction target, it would not be able to increase the number of regulatory restrictions without making additional cuts elsewhere.  The bill would target agency rules that require or prohibit specific acts.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • Senate Bill 21, titled “Allow corporation to become benefit corporation.”  Much like the LLC merged the principles of a corporation and a partnership, the benefit corporation merges the principles of a corporation and a non-profit.  A benefit corporation must follow the formalities of a corporation, but the articles of incorporation can designate a social purpose for the business to pursue, such as promoting the environment through sustainable practices.  One of the unique traits of benefit corporations is that benefit corporations cannot be held liable for damages for failing to seek, achieve, or comply with their beneficial purpose, or even obtain a profit; however, certain individuals may seek a court ordered injunction to force the company to pursue those interests.  In a sense, the benefit corporation reduces the traditional fiduciary duties expected in general corporations.  The bill purports to maintain the traditional fiduciary duties, but by allowing a social purpose other than profit to guide decisions, the traditional fiduciary duties are in effect modified.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • House Bill 33, titled “Establish animal abuse reporting requirements.”  Under the bill, veterinarians and social service professionals would have to report their knowledge of abuse, cruelty, or abandonment toward a companion animal.  Social service professionals would include licensed counselors, social workers, and marriage or family therapists acting in their professional capacity.  Companion animals include non-wild animals kept in a residential dwelling, along with any cats and dogs kept anywhere.  These individuals would be required to report the neglect to law enforcement, agents of the county humane society, dog wardens, or other animal control officers.  Further, dog wardens, deputy dog wardens, and animal control officers would become mandatory reporters of child abuse.  Lastly, the bill explains the information that must be reported, the timing, and the penalties for failure to comply.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.
  • House Bill 48, titled “Create local government road improvement fund.”  The bill proposes to deposit into a new local government road improvement fund some of the surplus funds generated when the state spends less than it appropriates in the general revenue fund.  Under current law, this surplus is split between the budget stabilization fund, also known as the “rainy day fund,” and the income tax reduction fund, which would redistribute remaining surplus to taxpayers.  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 54, titled “Increase tax revenue allocated to the local government fund.”  The bill would increase the proportion of state tax revenue allocated to the Local Government Fund from 1.66% to 3.53%.  Click HERE for more information about the bill.
  • House Bill 74, titled “Prohibit leaving junk watercraft or motor uncovered on property.”  The bill would allow a sheriff, chief of police, highway patrol officer, or township trustee to send notice to a landowner to remove a junk vessel or outboard motor within 10 days.  The prohibition applies to junk vessels, including watercraft, and outboard motors that are three years or older, apparently inoperable, and with a fair market value of $1,500 or less.  Failure to cover, house, or remove the item in ten days could result in conviction of a misdemeanor.  Click HERE for more information about the bill, and HERE for the current official bill analysis.

As more bills are introduced, and as these bills move along, stay tuned to the Ag Law Blog for updates.

Written by Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Ten of Ohio’s thirty-three state senators have introduced and sponsored legislation that would decriminalize licensed hemp cultivation and production in the state of Ohio.  These senators represent a bipartisan mix of seven Republicans and three Democrats.  After the passage of the Farm Bill, we sent out a blog post that explained how current Ohio law does not distinguish hemp from marijuana, meaning that hemp is currently just as illegal under Ohio law as marijuana.  Senate Bill 57 would change that, if passed.

What Senate Bill 57 would change.

Senate Bill 57, if passed in its current form, would effectively decriminalize hemp cultivation and the production and sale of hemp products, so long as the activities are conducted under a license.  The bill establishes definitions for cannabidiol and hemp under Ohio law.  Specially, hemp would be defined as:

“the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, sales, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than three-tenths per cent on a dry weight basis.”

Importantly for hemp cultivators and producers, this bill would remove hemp from Ohio’s Controlled Substances Act.  We previously noted in a blog post that Senate Bill 229 from the last General Assembly was set to remove Ohio’s controlled substances schedules from the Ohio Revised Code, and instead would allow the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to create the schedules by rule.  That bill passed, and would have allowed sales of CBD oils that had obtained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  However, if Senate Bill 57 passes the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy would no longer be able to adopt rules designating hemp and hemp products as controlled substances.

The (potential) Ohio Hemp Cultivation Program.

The Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) would be required to establish a program to monitor and regulate hemp cultivation consistent with the requirements of the Farm Bill that Congress passed last year.  The Farm Bill authorizes the cultivation of hemp and the production of hemp products through state licensing programs.  Ohio’s program would include a licensing program.  Licenses will be valid for five years.  ODA and universities would not be required to obtain a license, but their activities would be limited to certain activities listed in the bill.  Hemp cultivation would still be illegal without a license, and could result in criminal misdemeanor charges.

The bill authorizes ODA to adopt regulations regarding:

  • What the license application looks like
  • What information the license application requires
  • How much a license costs
  • How background check will be conducted, and what they will examine
  • How ODA will issue, renew, deny, suspend, and revoke hemp cultivation licenses
  • How ODA will keep track of the lands where hemp is grown
  • How ODA will test for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration
  • How hemp products must be labeled
  • How ODA will enforce the rules and conduct inspections
  • “Any other requirements or procedures necessary to administer and enforce” Ohio’s hemp cultivation program

The bill would deny licenses to any person who has pleaded guilty to or been convicted of a felony relating to controlled substances in the ten years before submitting their application, along with any person found to have falsified information on their application.

To administer the program, the bill would create a Hemp Cultivation Fund in the Ohio Treasury.  Application fees, fees collected from program operations, money appropriated to the program by the General Assembly or ODA, and any gifts or grants may be deposited into the fund for use in program administration.

At this time, the bill has only been introduced and referred to the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee.  Bills are often subject to amendment, so stay tuned to the Ag Law Blog for updates on Senate Bill 57.  For the text of the bill, click HERE, or visit the Ohio General Assembly’s Senate Bill 57 webpage HERE.

The Ohio Statehouse
By: Evin Bachelor, Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

The 133rd Ohio General Assembly and 116th United States Congress have released their committee assignments for the upcoming legislative terms.  Chamber leaders like the House Speaker or party leaders generally select committee chairs and members, but the members themselves often have an opportunity to preference their assignments.  Below are the lists of representatives and senators on each of the agriculture-related committees, with brief biographies of committee leaders included.  Ohio readers may note that the agriculture committees for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate only have one member each from Ohio: Representative Marcia Fudge and Senator Sherrod Brown.

Here are the names to know for agriculture:

Ohio House of Representatives Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

  • Chairman J. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield).  Representative Koehler is a third term member of the Ohio House, and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from Wright State University.  He worked for a number of years as a software engineer for government contractors, as well as working for his family business, K.K. Tool Company.
  • Vice-Chair J. Todd Smith (R-Germantown).  Representative Smith is entering his first full term as a member of the Ohio House, and is a pastor in his home community.
  • Ranking Member Juanita O. Brent (D-Cleveland).  Representative Brent is a first term member of the Ohio House, and has experience in non-profit and community engagement work.
  • Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire)
  • Rep. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna)
  • Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo)
  • Rep. Don Jones (R-Harrison County)
  • Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville)
  • Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)
  • Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview)
  • Rep. Don Manning (R-New Middletown)
  • Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson)
  • Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum)
  • Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster)
  • Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati)
  • Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Minerva)
  • Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson)

Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee

  • Chairman Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction).  Senator Hoagland is a first term member of the Ohio Senate.  He owns a small business, and has nearly 30 years of experience as a Navy SEAL.
  • Vice-Chair Brian Hill (R-Zanesville).  Senator Hill is entering his first full term in the Ohio Senate.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Ohio State.  Senator Hill raises beef cattle and grows crops on his family farm, and previously served as a Muskingum County Commissioner.  Before entering the Ohio Senate, Senator Hill served in the Ohio House, where he chaired the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.
  • Ranking Member Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta).  Senator O’Brien is a first term member of the Ohio Senate, and previously served three terms in the Ohio House.  He holds a law degree from the University of Akron, and served as a prosecuting attorney for a number of years.
  • Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo)
  • Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London)
  • Sen. Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City)
  • Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard)
  • Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester)
  • Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon)
  • Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House)
  • Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township)

United States House of Representatives Agriculture Committee

  • Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota).  Representative Peterson represents the western portion of Minnesota, which is predominantly rural and agricultural.  He grew up on a farm, and was a Certified Public Accountant.  He has many years of legislative experience at the state and federal level, and takes a keen interest in federal tax policy and conservation as it pertains to agriculture.
  • Vice-Chair Alma Adams (D-North Carolina).  Representative Adams’ district includes much of Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.  She taught art for over 40 years, and received her Ph.D. in Art Education and Multicultural Education from the Ohio State University in 1981.  She has many years of legislative experience at the local, state, and federal level, and takes a keen interest in nutrition and education.
  • Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas).  Representative Conaway represents much of central Texas.  He has a business background, having worked with former-President George W. Bush as the chief financial officer for Bush Exploration, an oil company.
  • Rep. David Scott (D-Georgia)
  • Rep. Jim Costa (D-California)
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts)
  • Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas)
  • Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands)
  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia)
  • Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Connecticut)
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-New York)
  • Rep. TJ Cox (D-California)
  • Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota)
  • Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-New York)
  • Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-New Jersey)
  • Rep. Josh Harder (D-California)
  • Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Washington)
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
  • Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois)
  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York)
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-California)
  • Rep. Al Lawson (D-Florida)
  • Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona)
  • Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-California)
  • Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona)
  • Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)
  • Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-Pennsylvania)
  • Rep. Austin Scott (R-Georgia)
  • Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas)
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee)
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri)
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-California)
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois)
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida)
  • Rep. Rick Allen (R-Georgia)
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-North Carolina)
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Louisiana)
  • Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Mississippi)
  • Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky)
  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas)
  • Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska)
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Florida)
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota)
  • Rep. Jim Baird (R-Indiana)
  • Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minnesota)

United States Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee

  • Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).  Senator Roberts has served in both houses of Congress since the 1980s, and was the first person to have been the chair of both the House and Senate agriculture committees.  His educational background is in journalism, and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).  Senator Stabenow has served in both houses of Congress, and began her career in public service at the county and state level in the late 1970s.  She has long taken an interest in agricultural issues, and serves as a co-chair of the U.S. Senate Great Lakes Task Force.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas)
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)
  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York)
  • Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana)
  • Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pennsylvania)
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia)
  • Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota)
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  • Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota)
  • Sen. Deb Fisher (R-Nebraska)

As these committees take action over the next two years, we will do our best to keep you in the know.  Stay tuned to the Ohio Ag Law Blog for updates.

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