Ohio legislation on the move: the Farm Science Review edition
As it often goes with farming, the weather interfered a bit with Farm Science Review this year. We missed seeing farmers and students from across the state gather for the show on Wednesday. But even wind and rain didn’t stop our Farm Office team, above, from presenting Farm Office Live from the Review on Thursday. I gave an update on Ohio legislation, as Ohio’s legislature is back from its summer break. Here’s a summary of the legislation I discussed at our Farm Science Review program.
Bills passed and soon effective
S.B. 52 – Solar and wind facilities. S.B. 52 passed several months ago and will be effective on October 11, 2021. The new law will allow counties to designate “restricted areas” in a county where wind and solar projects may not locate and creates a county referendum process for a public vote on restricted area designation. The law will also require developers to hold a public meeting in the county where a facility is proposed at least 90 days before applying for project approval with the Ohio Power Siting Board. After the meeting, the county commissioner may choose to prohibit or limit the proposed project. Another provision of the new law appoints 2 local officials from the proposed location to serve on the OPSB board that reviews a project. And importantly for landowners, the new law requires a developer to submit a decommissioning plan to OPSB for approval with the application and to post and regularly update a performance bond for the amount of decommissioning costs. Watch for our new law bulletins on S.B. 52, which we’ll publish soon.
Bills on the move
H.B. 30 – Slow-moving vehicles. The bill passed the House on June 23, 2021, and just received its second hearing before the Senate Transportation on September 22, 2021. It proposes revisions to marking and lighting requirements for animal-drawn vehicles to make the vehicles more visible and reduce roadway accidents.
H.B. 95 – Beginning farmers. We’ve been hoping this bill aiding beginning farmers would continue to receive attention. It would allow individuals to be certified as beginning farmers and create income tax credits for owners who sell land and agricultural assets to certified beginning farmers and for beginning farmers who attend approved financial management programs. The bill passed the House on June 28, 2021 and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on September 8, 2021.
S.B. 47 – Overtime pay. The Senate passed S.B. 47 on September 22, soon after returning from break. It would exempt an employer from paying overtime wages for certain activities, including traveling to the workplace, actions before or after beginning principal work activities, or “de minimus” acts requiring insignificant time. The bill sponsors state that it will bring necessary clarity to overtime pay in the era of more employees working unsupervised from home.
Bills newly introduced
H.B. 397 – Termination of Agricultural Lease. A bill that aims to bring certainty to farmland leases was introduced in the House on August 24, 2021 and referred to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee. The proposal states that where a farm lease agreement does not provide for a termination date or a method for giving notice of termination, a landlord who wants to terminate that agreement must do so in writing by September 1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the termination date would be either the date harvest or removal of the crops is complete or December 31, whichever is earlier.
H.B. 385 – Municipal waste discharges to Lake Erie western basin Municipalities would be prohibited from discharging waste from treatment plants into Lake Erie under a new bill proposed by Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton). The bill would require the Ohio EPA to revoke all existing NPDES permits for municipal treatment works or sewerage systems to in the western basin and prohibit any additional permits for that purpose. It would also fine municipalities up to $250,000 per day for knowingly discharging waste into Lake Erie on the first offense and $1,000 per day for subsequent offenses, or to fine $100 million if the discharge amount exceeds 100 million gallons in a 12-month period. Introduced on August 6, 2021, the bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.
Catch a replay Farm Office Live from Farm Science Review at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farmofficelive. Register at that site to join us for the next Farm Office Live on October 13 at 7 p.m. or a repeat on October 15 at 10 a.m., whern the Farm Office team will digest the latest news and information on agricultural law and farm management issues that affect Ohio’s farm offices.