Legislative Service Commission
· Provides that it is the public policy of the state to establish the Clean Ohio Fund, a framework for providing financial assistance to state agencies, local governments, and private entities for certain environmental, natural resource, and farmland preservation purposes.
CONTENT AND OPERATION
Am. Sub. H.J.R. 15 of the 123rd General Assembly proposed an amendment to the state constitution that authorized the issuance of $200 million of general obligation bonds for certain conservation purposes and $200 million of revenue bonds for certain revitalization purposes such as environmental remediation and cleanup projects. The resolution was passed by the General Assembly in May of 2000, and the proposed amendment was submitted to the voters of the state in the form of State Issue 1 in November of 2000. The constitutional amendment was approved by a majority of voters in the state. The amendment provides that obligations for conservation purposes may be issued with not more than $200 million principal amount outstanding at any one time. Likewise, not more than $200 million of the obligations issued for revitalization purposes may be outstanding at any one time, and not more than $50 million of those bonds may be issued in any given year.
The bill establishes the general policy of the state with respect to the bond moneys authorized through the approval of State Issue 1. The bill does not establish any substantive requirements and procedures with respect to the issuance of bonds, the use of the proceeds from the sale of bonds, or the types of programs that the proceeds must be used to fund.
The bill states that the General Assembly finds that protecting the environment and preserving the natural resources of Ohio are vital to the quality of life and economic development of the state and recognizes that achieving those goals requires a commitment of financial resources. The bill states that the General Assembly also recognizes that the most efficient use of those financial resources is to provide support to and become a partner of local governments and private entities in achieving statewide goals. Therefore, the bill states, it is the public policy of the state to establish the Clean Ohio Fund, a framework for providing financial assistance to state agencies, local governments, and private entities for the purpose of achieving all of the following:
(1) The redevelopment and remediation of sites that have been contaminated by past industrial activity, which will return previously abandoned or underutilized industrial properties to productive use, create jobs, expand the tax base for urban communities, and provide numerous environmental benefits;
(2) The restoration and protection of streams and watersheds through providing financing for conservation easements and acquisitions of riparian lands;
(3) The preservation of the state's productive and unique farmland resources through increased support for the agricultural easements program;
(4) The preservation of river corridors, forests, grasslands, and wetlands; and
(5) The expansion and development of recreational trails so that the state's citizens may have access to natural resources and the many benefits that they provide. (Sec. 1559.01.)