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Published: Thursday, 5/22/2014

Senate OKs bill limiting future JEDZs

30-2 vote preserves agreements in place


COLUMBUS — Toledo’s partnerships will survive, but local governments will be forbidden after this year from creating new Joint Economic Development Zones under a bill likely to soon reach Gov. John Kasich’s desk.

The Ohio Senate voted 30-2 for House Bill 289, pushed by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R., Canton). The bill follows criticism that some townships were forming JEDZs with cities and villages so they could extend municipal income taxes to tax existing businesses rather than to spur truly new economic development.

Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) urged her colleagues to support the bill, noting that the Senate version preserves Toledo’s JEDZs with other northwest Ohio areas that were endangered by the House-passed version.

“I believe the bill strikes a balance between supporting successful JEDZ agreements in metropolitan areas such as Toledo and preventing the abuses which prompted the introduction of the bill in the beginning,” she said. All northwest Ohio senators supported the bill.

But Sen. Bill Seitz (R., Cincinnati), one of the two “no” votes, noted that his local townships opposed the change in the wake of a 50 percent cut in their state aid and the loss of revenue by the state repeal of the estate tax.

“I’m hopeful, regardless of today’s vote, that we will wake up and take seriously what we in the General Assembly have done over the last three years to cause the kinds of problems for our townships and particularly our larger townships,” he said.

The bill returns to the House to approve the Senate changes.

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