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The U.S. EPA's national Toxics Release Inventory reported that disposal or other releases of toxic chemicals decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2012. In Ohio, releases fell by 21%, from 149 million pounds in 2011 to 117 million pounds in 2012. ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel remained the largest emitters in Cuyahoga County.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency allocated $49.5 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds to 11 counties with established land banks. The Cuyahoga Land Bank received $10.1 million. Last year, the state obtained permission from the U.S. Treasury Department to use a portion of the foreclosure-prevention funding to demolish blighted properties. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a smart investment in stabilizing neighborhoods."

Meanwhile, the Ohio Attorney General's office awarded an additional $3.8 million from the 2012 national mortgage settlement to support demolition programs in 87 counties. Cuyahoga County received $602,202. Counties must use the funding by the end of September.

In his final State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said that he "directed [his] staff to find an additional $50 million in bonding capacity to fund the most sweeping effort to not just demolish, but to demolish, protect, and restore our neighborhoods."

In addition, an Ohio coalition is seeking $200 million from a $13 billion federal mortgage-fraud settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase. The proposed Ohio Plan (PDF) would use $144 million to support demolition programs. A Plain Dealer editorial concluded that it "may be a long shot, but it's a shot."

Four projects in Cleveland and one in Chagrin Falls received awards in the 10th round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. In Cleveland, the Fairmont Creamery redevelopment received a $3.12 million tax credit; the final phase of the St. Luke's Hospital redevelopment received a $506,600 tax credit; and residential conversions of two adjacent buildings on Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland, the Starr Gennett Building and 1220 Huron, received tax credits of $422,001 and $3.55 million, respectively. The Spillway project in Chagrin Falls received a $1.65 million tax credit.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count report showed that poverty remains an issue for Ohio's children. In 2011, 24% of Ohio children lived in poverty, up from 19% in 2005.

Members of Northeast Ohio's congressional delegation, including Senators Brown and Portman, are urging state leaders to seek a waiver for diverting federal foreclosure-prevention funds to support housing demolition programs. Federal officials approved a similar request in Michigan. Some housing housing counselors and foreclosure-prevention officials object to the proposal. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "smart public policy."

As Ohio communities try to meet an end-of-year deadline to spend state housing demolition funds, some Cleveland councilmen are calling for an approach that includes saving houses with 'good bones'. In a pair of Plain Dealer op-eds, Councilman Jeffrey Johnson advocated for rehabilitation and Jim Rokakis made the case for demolition. He also spoke about demolition efforts on the public radio program Here & Now. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Sandra Pianalto wrote about the "need to focus on the demand side of the market."

Update: the U.S. Treasury Department approved the diversion of $60 million from Ohio's remaining $375 million of Hardest Hit Funds to demolition programs.

Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Asian Americans were the country's fastest-growing ethnic group in 2012. The estimates also showed that for the first time, more white Americans are dying than being born, and that the nation is poised to become a minority majority country by 2050, sooner than predicted. Asian Americans were also the fastest-growing ethnic group in Ohio.

For the third consecutive year, Preservation Ohio's list of the state's most endangered historic sites included the Warner and Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland.

Ohio legislators may again extend the Ohio Enterprise Zone Program. Critics of the program say that it no longer functions as intended and that it should be redesigned.

In its annual report on foreclosures, the Ohio Supreme Court said that foreclosure filings in Ohio decreased by 1.5% in 2012. In Cuyahoga County, the figure fell from 11,544 in 2011 to 11,427 in 2012, a 1.0% decrease, but still the largest number in the state. Policy Matters Ohio used the data in its annual foreclosure report. It said that "Ohio foreclosures remain at crisis levels" and that the "number of filings remained more than four times higher than it was in the mid-1990s." Meanwhile, Slate published an excerpt of Edward McClelland's Nothin' but Blue Skies about the origins of the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center issued two of its yearly reports. The 2013 State of Fair Housing in Northeast Ohio (PDF) said that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a decline in the number of housing discrimination complaints, but estimated "that there are annually at least 33,690 instances of housing discrimination" in Greater Cleveland. Its Racial & Ethnic Disparities in 2011 Ohio Mortgage Lending (PDF) report said that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit."

Two new reports highlight the importance of the Clean Ohio program. An economic analysis conducted by the Trust for Public Land found that that the program returned $4 for every $1 invested in its land conservation portion. A second report by Greater Ohio said that the program's brownfield revitalization portion has "generated substantial direct and indirect economic impacts."

In this year's County Health Rankings, Cuyahoga County again finished in the bottom third of Ohio's 88 counties, ranking 67th in health outcomes and 45th in health factors. Geauga and Medina counties were again ranked highly. Cuyahoga County health officials are working to improve health issues through the Health Improvement Partnership. Nationally, residents of the unhealthiest counties died at more than twice the rate of those in the healthiest counties. Previous rankings: 2012, 2011, and 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for counties and metropolitan areas. For the period between July 2011 and July 2012, population shifts returned to pre-recession patterns, with the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the South and West, and the slowest-growing in the Northeast and Midwest. The Cleveland metropolitan area was the slowest-growing large metropolitan area in the country, and Cuyahoga County's loss of 4,872 people was the nation's second-largest numeric population decline. However, the 0.38% drop in Cuyahoga County was its smallest annual decline in 15 years. Franklin County's 1.38% growth rate was the fastest in Ohio, and Geauga and Medina counties also gained population.

The Ohio General Assembly passed a two-year transportation budget bill that will allow the Kasich administration to proceed with its plans to issue up to $1.5 billion in bonds backed by Ohio Turnpike revenues. The Senate version of the bill included a provision that requiring that 90% of the bond proceeds be invested within 75 miles of the turnpike, while the House bill did not. The language was retained in a conference committee. A coalition called Ohioans for Transportation Choice urged legislators to increase the state's investment in alternative transportation options, but their proposal was not incorporated into the legislation. Governor Kasich signed the $7.6 billion bill at a ceremony in Warrensville Heights on April 1. The Ohio Turnpike Commission plans to raise tolls by 2.7% per year over the next decade.

An Ohio appeals court overturned a lower court decision and ruled that the City of Munroe Falls cannot enforce some of its ordinances covering oil and gas well drilling, saying that they are preempted by state law. The City plans to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Changes to the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund require projects to have an end user in order to receive funding. Local officials worry that it could make brownfield remediation more difficult.

via DevelopOhio

Governor Kasich's two-year budget plan calls for investing $500 million from Ohio Turnpike-backed bonds by 2015. The governor initially said that 90% of the funds would be spent in northern Ohio, but ODOT Director Jerry Wray called the figure a "foolish expectation." Statehouse Democrats accused the administration of misleading Ohioans and said that the percentages should be specified in the bill. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt said that the proposal is not good public policy, and U.S. Represenative Tim Ryan called it short-sighted and risky. The Turnpike Commission is preparing to issue the bonds.

The budget includes a provision that would return control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the City of Cleveland (PDF) and provide $14 million for the parks. Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik said that legislators should embrace the proposal, and an editorial called it a win-win deal.

Proposed changes to state sales tax laws could affect RTA's finances.

An ESOP summary of foreclosure rates reports that although the total number of foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County declined in 2012, residential mortgage foreclosures rose from 9,405 in 2011 to 9,905 in 2012. It says that the 5.3% increase means that the "foreclosure crisis is still thriving in Cuyahoga County and many years from fully resolving." Meanwhile, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank said that mortgage delinquencies continue to decline in Ohio, while figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association indicated that levels remain elevated in Greater Cleveland.

The Columbus Dispatch looked at the recent surges in downtown development seen by Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. Meanwhile, Next City examined how the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland (subscription required) is affecting downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies' State of Poverty 2012 report (PDF) employs graphics and case studies to illustrate the effects of poverty in Ohio. The report says that 1.8 million Ohioans live below the federal poverty line and that the number of Ohioans in poverty grew by 57.7% between 1999 and 2011.

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland summarized changes in concentrated poverty over the last decade. The analysis indicated that concentrated poverty tended to highest in northern cities. WKSU's M.L. Schultze spoke with Dionissi Aliprantis, the report's lead researcher. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the two reports "offer a grim perspective on the toll the economic downturn has taken in Ohio."

Update: the state Office of Research also published a report on poverty in Ohio (PDF).

In a 5-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state's Oil and Gas Commission cannot hear appeals of drilling permits issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The news pleased the drilling industry and disappointed environmentalists.

Data from the U.S. EPA's 2011 Toxics Release Inventory shows that 4.09 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, an 8% increase over 2010 levels. Toxic releases into the waters of the Great Lakes Basin grew by 12%. In Ohio, releases declined from 154 million pounds to 150 million pounds, a 2.6% decrease. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the Charter Steel and ArcelorMittal facilities.

Update: The Columbus Dispatch reported on the figures.

State population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Ohio's population grew by 3,218 residents between July 2011 and July 2012, a growth rate of 0.03%. Only West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Vermont had lower growth rates. The nation's population increased by 2.3 million people, to 313.9 million, a growth rate of 0.75%. A Dayton Daily News analysis says that Ohio will likely soon see population losses.

Eight projects in Cuyahoga County were among the 23 recipients of tax credits (PDF) in the ninth round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The awards included $5 million for the former East Ohio Building in downtown Cleveland, credits for six projects on Cleveland's near west side, and $3 million for the Beech Street Residence Halls Project in Berea.

Update: Cleveland's Department of Economic Development posted more details about the seven projects in Cleveland.

Governor Kasich's proposal for leveraging the Ohio Turnpike does not include privatizing the toll road. Instead, his Jobs and Transportation Plan calls for issuing $1.5 billion in bonds backed by future toll revenues. When paired with matching funds, the financing would supply $3 billion for highway projects, most of which would be in northern Ohio. The administration estimates it would create 65,000 jobs over six years. They hope that the Ohio General Assembly will move quickly on enabling legislation.

Reactions from local politicians were often split along party lines: most Republicans supported the proposal and Democrats typically had reservations. A joint statement from a group of leaders including Ed FitzGerald said that they would "take time to evaluate fully the Governor's proposal." The Ohio Trucking Association and Greater Cleveland Partnership supported the plan. Ohio PIRG expressed relief that the proposal didn't call for privatization. An AMATS analysis (PDF) concluded that the process has the potential to be a "significant benefit to our region", but noted that "'the devil is in the details'."

Ohio newspapers also weighed in, with the Akron Beacon Journal, The Blade, The Columbus Dispatch, The Plain Dealer, and The Vindicator all publishing editorials on the subject. Plain Dealer columnist Thomas Suddes called it "chuck-wagon politicking at its best," while Eric Lyttle of The Other Paper said the announcement was a "veritable symphony of orchestration."

Update: The Plain Dealer examined the governor's decision.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said that it is unconstitutional for the state to use revenues from its commercial activities tax on gasoline for non-highway purposes. The decision reversed a lower court ruling and will shift $140 million per year from the general fund to highway projects. The Akron Beacon Journal cited the decision as an example of the strength of voter-approved constitutional amendments.

Governor Kasich indicated that he's nearing a decision on privatizing the Ohio Turnpike, and that a consultant's report on how to "unlock the value of the turnpike" should be released before the end of the year. He asked for patience and "a chance to lay things out." Ohio PIRG issued a report that challenged the need for privatization and posed eight questions it says should be "fully addressed before agreeing to privatize the Turnpike or borrowing against its future proceeds." Local officials remain skeptical. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is still suspicious of the proposal, and some state legislators hope to slow the process. Roldo Bartimole said that privatization represents "class warfare by the upper class," while an editorial in Canton's Repository concluded that "it will take open minds and a spirit of cooperation on both sides to make the right decision."

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the Ohio PIRG report.

In a 4-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear a state effort to clarify the legal status of JobsOhio. The ruling was a setback to the Kasich administration, which had hoped the ruling would speed its access to $100 million in liquor profits. A Plain Dealer editorial said that this is a "bad time for JobsOhio to be stuck in legal limbo", while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that "the justices have made a valid show of restraint."

Meanwhile, JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme announced (PDF) that he would leave the nonprofit development corporation on November 1. The organization's board selected John Minor as his successor. An editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "only time can tell whether Mr. Kvamme's legacy is written in stone or quicksand."

The U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the 2011 American Community Survey. The one-year estimates feature data on more than 40 topics for all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more. The Census Bureau also published several briefs on specific topics. Between 2010 and 2011 at the national level, the number of people in poverty grew, income inequality increased, and median household incomes declined. Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution examined the patterns by metropolitan area. In Ohio, median household income decreased and poverty rates rose, remaining high in the state's largest cities. Cuyahoga County experienced a slight decrease in median household income and a slight drop in its percentage of families in poverty.

The Clean Ohio Council is considering changes to its brownfield funding policies. They are designed to create (PDF) a "streamlined process for funding brownfield projects." Joe Koncelik summarized the proposed changes (PDF) and called them "a seismic shift in how funding decisions will be made." Public comments will be accepted until October 17.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business has more information.

Lake County Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci issued a ruling (PDF) in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case, which was remanded to his court by the Ohio Supreme Court last year. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is appealing the decision. Lakefront property owners praised the ruling and denounced the decision to appeal.

Broadview Heights residents will vote on a charter amendment that would prohibit new natural gas and oil wells in the City. City Council unanimously voted to put the issue on the ballot against the advice of the City's law director, who said it would be be unenforceable if adopted due to a 2004 state law that eliminated local controls. A group called Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods is urging residents to approve the issue, which will appear on the November ballot as Issue 29. Other Ohio communities are also seeking ways to reclaim local control over drilling. Stakeholders discussed the issues on a recent Sound of Ideas show.

Ohio Turnpike Commission Executive Director Richard Hodges said that he favors using the toll road's revenues to help pay for other transportation projects in the state. Others continue to oppose the idea.

WCPN reports that most new industrial investments in Ohio are occurring in places other than Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Preservation Ohio's annual list of the state's most endangered properties includes two in Cuyahoga County: the Stanley Block in downtown Cleveland and the Warner & Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland. Both buildings also appeared on last year's list.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it is freeing states to use $473 million in unspent highway earmarks. The funds were appropriated by Congress between 2003 and 2006, but remain unused. States can now use the money for other other transportation projects, and must identify plans by October 1. Ohio's share of the funding is $12.5 million.

The Ohio Department of Transportation issued the first documents in its Access Ohio 2040 long-range transportation plan. The PDFs include a demographic profile, a best practices paper, and two technical reports. They're also conducting a transportation preferences survey.

The Architect's Newspaper looked at downtown redevelopment in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, and asked if it marked "the beginning of a Rust Belt rebound."

An analysis of U.S. EPA data by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked states by the amount of toxic emissions generated by their electric sectors. Ohio had the second-highest levels, trailing only Kentucky. All of the states bordering Ohio appeared in the list's top 10. The NRDC expects toxic emissions to decline dramatically because of new federal standards.

A libertarian group joined a liberal organization in filing an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the JobsOhio program and who has legal standing to issue a challenge. Two lower courts said that the groups lacked legal standing.

Because of the legal challenges, Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman has declined to sign an agreement transferring state liquor revenues to JobsOhio. The Kasich administration responded by asking the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on the program's constitutionality. An Akron Beacon Journal concluded that this "presents an opening for the high court, finally, to get the matter settled." Joe Koncelik considered its implications for brownfield redevelopment funding.

No developers responded to an Ohio Department of Transportation proposal to add commercial development at five southeast Ohio highway rest areas. ODOT will continue to pursue the program, despite persistent opposition.

At the first of three public hearings convened by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald on the future of the Ohio Turnpike, residents expressed opposition to privatizing the toll road. Turnpike Commission Executive Director Rick Hodges said that the study being conducted for the state by KPMG should be completed by the end of the year, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that Governor Kasich faces "hurdles in making his case" to lease the turnpike.

In its annual Testing the Waters report, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked water quality at Ohio beaches as the second-lowest of the 30 states with coastlines. Villa Angela and Euclid Beach were included in the report's list of "repeat offenders" for having contamination problems in each of the past five years. Most Great Lakes states scored poorly. The NRDC released the report at the Great Lakes Science Center to recognize the area's investments in green infrastructure. Previous reports: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005.

Update: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Executive Director Julius Ciaccia wrote about his agency's efforts to improve the situation.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $35.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 18 recipients. Two of the projects are in downtown Cleveland: a $1.6 million for a partial residential conversion of Rosetta Center (the former National City building at 629 Euclid Avenue), and $1.8 million for a mixed-use redevelopment of the vacant Truman Building at 1030 Euclid Avenue.

The Kasich administration released "Beyond Boundaries: A Shared Services Action Plan for Ohio Schools and Governments", a report that presents shared services as a way for local governments and school districts to address shrinking budgets. It says that implementing its recommendations could save millions of dollars. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report's suggestions hold much potential, but it "barely touches on the challenges that lie ahead."

The Franklin County Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge to Governor Kasich's new JobsOhio agency, upholding a ruling that said the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to file the lawsuit. The Plain Dealer's Thomas Suddes said that "the ruling amounts to hair-splitting of a very high order." JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme said that the transfer of state liquor profits to the new agency should be completed by the end of the year.

In its first round of funding, Ohio's Local Government Innovation Council awarded $3.4 million in grants and $2.9 million in loans (PDFs) to a total of 51 projects. Cuyahoga County received a $100,000 grant to support the merger/shared services study for Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. South Euclid received a $51,386 grant for a five-city emergency services dispatch study, and the Chagrin/Southeast Council of Governments received a $55,000 grant for a joint communication center. Jill Miller Zimon of the EfficientGovNetwork discussed the awards with Randy Cole of the Ohio Controlling Board.

Ohio's Transportation Review and Advisory Council approved an updated schedule for major new transportation projects (PDF). The Ohio Department of Transportation added $400 million to its construction budget, allowing some delays to be reduced, including the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. Early this year the TRAC changed the start date from 2014 to 2023, but recently said work should begin in 2016. ODOT is exploring public-private partnerships as a way of expediting the project, a concept that a Plain Dealer editorial said is worth exploring. The agency faces projected decreases in gas tax revenues and is continuing to advance plans for commercial development at state-owned non-interstate rest areas. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial described the proposal as "an economic shell game."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said the "latest timetable for the Inner Belt Bridge represents a big step in the right direction."

A Franklin County judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the installation of slot-like machines at Ohio racetracks, clearing the way for the state's first racino to open at Scioto Downs near Columbus. Rock Ohio Caesars can install up to 2,500 terminals at Thistledown and reached an agreement with the Kasich administration that allows the company to relocate the racetrack. The agreement (PDF) says that the new location must be within a 12-mile radius of the Akron-Canton Airport in Green. Officials in Northfield anticipate a financial windfall from the creation of a racino at Northfield Park.

The Ohio Senate passed Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation by a 20-12 vote, opting not to make changes to the bill. Environmentalists and other groups said that the standards it establishes fail to provide adequate protection for Lake Erie and its tributaries. Governor Kasich quietly signed the bill over their objections. The Ohio Environmental Council said that "Ohio has left Lake Erie with an uncertain future," and a Plain Dealer editorial said that the Governor has the opportunity to address the its flaws through "strict monitoring and enforcement of the new limits and by tweaking the law".

As part of its mid-biennium review, the Ohio Senate added $42 million for the Clean Ohio program. The spending bill includes $36 million for greenspace preservation and $6 million for farmland preservation. Earlier legislation had budgeted only $6 million for trail maintenance.

In the final round of funding from the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund, the Ohio Department of Development awarded more than $19 million in grants to 11 projects. The City of Cleveland received $1.3 million for demolition and remediation (PDF) at the former Van Dorn property on East 79th Street. The Orlando Baking Company plans to expand onto the property. Food service supplier S.S. Kemp in Cuyahoga Heights was not awarded a grant.

Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA declared that Horsburgh & Scott completed brownfield remediation of its 1.4-acre property (PDF) on Hamilton Avenue in Cleveland.

Update: Governor Kasich signed Ohio House Bill 487, the mid-biennium review.

Under guidelines released by the Ohio Attorney General's office, Cuyahoga County is eligible to receive $11.85 million of the $75 million the office budgeted to assist communities in the demolition of abandoned houses. The funds will be awarded on August 1. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the Cuyahoga Land Bank is the "perfect entity to administer the demolition grant."

The cost of a consultant's study of the Ohio Turnpike increased again, rising from $2.85 million to $3.4 million. A Plain Dealer editorial questioned the added cost and the underlying fairness of privatizing the Turnpike. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald said that more counties have expressed interest in participating in an alternate study.

By a vote of 59-38, the Ohio House of Representatives approved implementing legislation for the Great Lakes Compact. The bill, which includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries, now moves to the Ohio Senate. Environmental groups maintain their objections to provisions of the legislation, calling it "an unbalanced bill". An editorial in Toledo's Blade said the bill is "not good enough", while Plain Dealer editorials encourage the Senate to "examine deficiencies glossed over in the House" and criticize State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann's involvement.

Update: another Plain Dealer editorial says that "lawmakers must dig deeper and fix the flaws" in the bill and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "Ohio Senate still has an opportunity to craft improved legislation".

A USA Today investigative report examined lead levels in areas near hundreds of former lead factories and smelters across the United States, including several in Cleveland. The newspaper conducted soil testing and documented inaction by federal and state regulators. The sites identified in Cleveland were Tyroler Metals on Sweeney Avenue, Metals Refining Co. on Madison, Atlas Metal on East 75th Street, H&L Metal on East 79th Street, Lockport Lead on Bessemer Avenue, and Mowery Metal on Kinsman Avenue.

Environmental groups continue to express concerns about the Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation under discussion in the Ohio House of Representatives. Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal and the Blade reflected those concerns. Governor Kasich and Representative Wachtmann, the bill's sponsor, announced that they reached an agreement (PDF) about the legislation. Details of the agreement are not yet available.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial identified opportunities for improving the legislation. A Plain Dealer editorial said that if Governor "Kasich is serious about legislation to protect Lake Erie, he needs to find a more credible sponsor than State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann."

Update 2: the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote. A floor vote may be held soon. Environmentalists continue to object to provisions in the bill.

With the JobsOhio development agency in place, state legislators and the Kasich administration introduced legislation that would restructure the Ohio Department of Development. The department would have reduced responsibilities and would be renamed the Development Services Agency.

Cuyahoga County's scores improved slightly in the third annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Among Ohio's 88 counties, Cuyahoga County was 65th in heath outcomes and 53rd in health factors. Geauga County and Medina County were among the top-ranked counties in the state. The report also supplied data on nationwide trends.

The U.S. Census Bureau's release of metropolitan area and county population estimates showed a trend of population growth in core counties and decreases in exurban counties. Cuyahoga County's estimated population fell from 1,278,000 in July 2010 to 1,270,294 in July 2011. It was one of only two counties with a population greater than 1 million people to register a decrease. Of Ohio's six large urban counties, only Franklin and Montgomery counties showed growth. The Census Bureau also released Census 2010 Summary File 2 data for Ohio. It includes detailed population and housing data by race and ethnicity.

New maps from the Ohio Geological Survey illustrate the portions of the state where Utica shale deposits are expected to yield the most oil and gas. Previous maps included Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties in this area, but they are mostly excluded in the revised maps.

Policy Matters Ohio's annual analysis of foreclosure statistics says that while foreclosure filings in Ohio declined in 2011, the levels remain elevated. Cuyahoga County had both the largest number of filings and the highest rate of filings per capita.

Despite urges from across the state, the Ohio Senate approved a $1.74 billion capital budget that included minimal funding for the Clean Ohio program. The future of the program is unclear.

Update: a Columbus Dispatch editorial noted that the program remains popular with the public.

Update 2: an editorial in Toledo's Blade says that the "program deserves better".

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial urges state legislators to approve bond sales for the program.

The Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is considering the Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation recently introduced by Representative Lynn Wachtmann of Napoleon. Business interests said they have "serious reservations" about the bill.

More energy companies are acquiring rights to drill in Ohio's Utica shale, and have leased or purchased rights to 3.8 million acres in the state. Projections anticipate that 160 wells will be drilled in 2012, 650 wells in 2013, and 1,075 wells in 2014.

On World Water Day, Environment America released a report titled Wasting Our Waterways 2012. It used Toxics Release Inventory data to identify the states and waterways with the most industrial pollution, and said industrial facilities released 9,184,661 pounds of toxic materials into Ohio waterways in 2010.

While the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to commercialize highway rest areas in the two-year transportation bill it passed last week, Ohio Department of Transportation officials said they would continue to pursue the concept. ODOT will also study the idea of selling naming rights and sponsorships for Ohio highways.

Update: ODOT launched its Division of Innovative Delivery and hired Jim Riley to lead it.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that a 13-cent increase in the state gasoline tax would provide "a more robust, reliable revenue stream".

Figures released by the Ohio Supreme Court show that foreclosure filings in Ohio decreased by 16.3% between 2010 and 2011. It was the second consecutive year with a decrease. Filings in Cuyahoga County fell from 12,825 in 2010 to 11,544 in 2011, a 10% drop.

A revised Great Lakes Compact implementation bill was introduced in the Ohio House by Representative Lynn Wachtmann. Governor Kasich, who vetoed an earlier version of the bill, said that the legislation has issues that remain unresolved. Environmental groups said that the bill is improved, but should be strengthened in some areas, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial also made some suggestions. Joe Koncelik concluded that it would move "Ohio much closer to the other Great Lakes States in how it regulates future water withdrawals from the Great Lakes Basin."

Update: in an article, the Plain Dealer looked at the issues, and in an editorial said that Rep. Wachtmann is the wrong person to lead the process.

Under JobsOhio, the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund may shift from providing grants to offering loans. Economic development professionals fear it would make the program less effective.

In its yearly report on racial disparities in mortgage lending (PDF), the Housing Advocacy and Research Center found that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit" in Ohio and that they "faced higher denial rates and high-cost lending rates than whites."

Ohio will receive a $335 million share of the $25 billion federal settlement with mortgage companies, and Attorney General DeWine intends to set aside $75 million to demolish abandoned properties across the state. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County hope to receive at least $12.5 million from the fund. Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, now head of the Thriving Communities Institute, is working with Representative LaTourette on legislation that would supply federal funding for additional demolitions. Rokakis advocated for the proposal in a recent Washington Post op-ed. Editorials in the Plain Dealer support both efforts, while the National League of Cities reflected on "the lessons that brought the country to this situation."

The Ohio EPA withdrew its proposed water quality standards for headwater streams. Business groups supported the decision and conservationists opposed it. The standards will be reviewed (PDF) under Governor Kasich's Common Sense Initiative.

The cost of the Ohio Turnpike privatization study rose from $1.5 million to $2.85 million. The state Controlling Board approved the contract with KPMG, whose study will look at privatizing the rest areas in addition to the proposed turnpike lease. Meanwhile, a group of northern Ohio elected officials announced plans for an independent analysis of the proposal. They oppose turnpike privatization. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "creative thinking from state and local officials" is needed.

Update: Turnpike Commission Executive Director Rick Hodges urged patience.

Participants in a recent City Club panel discussion talked about state budget cuts and ways that local governments can achieve efficiencies by sharing services. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor DeGeeter of Parma highlighted his city's participation in regional collaborations.

Update: the latest Civic Commons radio show also explored the subject.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Ken Prendergast of All Aboard Ohio advocates for greater investments in Ohio's rail services, saying that "policymakers need to provide transportation choices to keep citizens fully engaged in Ohio's economy."

Members of Ohio's Transportation Review Advisory Council unanimously voted to accept Ohio Department of Transportation staff recommendations for major transportation projects. The approved list delays many projects, including pushing back the start of work on the second new Innerbelt Bridge to 2023. ODOT officials said that the schedule is based on policy, but Cleveland leaders replied that the agency should prioritize the Innerbelt Bridge project. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the state and federal governments must identify new funding sources, while a Columbus Dispatch editorial said that cities need to accept the delays.

FirstEnergy announced that it will close six older coal-fired power plants this year, including the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and the Eastlake Plant in Lake County. The company attributed the decision to new federal mercury pollution standards. Most of the plants that will be closed have been operated as peaking plants.

A Plain Dealer editorial said the closures represented "a punch in the gut for communities already battling sour unemployment numbers," while an editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "no single policy is responsible for the closures." an Akron Beacon Journal editorial provided some perspective. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it "good news for human health and a clean energy economy."

Update: The Atlantic Cities considered how the decision may affect the City of Eastlake.

The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin says that a proposed federal tax credit program presents an opportunity for Ohio cities to address abandoned housing problems.

For the next 25 years, profits from Ohio's liquor operations will support the new JobsOhio development agency. JobsOhio will pay $1.4 billion for the rights. The state will use $150 million of the purchase price to fund the Clean Ohio program for three years.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch says that JobsOhio's "emphasis on loans could signal an expansion of Ohio's development toolbox." An Akron Beacon Journal editorial takes a wait and see approach, and Joe Koncelik has questions about the Clean Ohio plans.

In its biannual report on bicycling and walking in the United States, the Alliance for Biking & Walking examined a variety of factors, including activity levels, safety, policy issues, education, and advocacy. It looked at how states and major cities compare on those factors, and said that "many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done."

Citing a "looming transportation financial crisis facing" the state, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray revealed the agency's funding recommendations (PDF) to the Transportation Review Advisory Council. The recommendations call for major projects across the state to be eliminated or substantially delayed, including the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. Originally scheduled to be built between 2014 and 2016, work on the bridge would not start before 2023. The West Shoreway project was not on the funding list. The announcement angered Cleveland leaders. A Plain Dealer editorial said the delay was unacceptable, while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial suggested raising the gas tax. Governor Kasich may use the news to promote the privatization of the Ohio Turnpike.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more information about the possible West Shoreway funding delay.

Update 2: the Statehouse News Bureau reported on ODOT's funding issues, and Greater Ohio's Gene Krebs renewed his call for a "discussion about how to move people and goods in the most cost effective and safe manner."

Update 3: Governor Kasich defended the agency. An editorial in the Blade urged state leaders to consider raising the gas tax. Participants on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed the issues.

The Ohio EPA issued a draft of its 2012 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. It says that the water quality of the state's lakes, rivers, and streams has improved slightly since 2010, and that the largest problems are from farm fertilizer and urban runoff. The agency is accepting public comments through February 6.

As Ohio shale drilling continues to generate headlines, participants on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed fracking in Ohio. Recent events could lead to policy changes.

Because its funding was transferred to the governor's JobsOhio program, the Clean Ohio program is no longer accepting applications. State leaders have not identified a replacement source of funding for the popular program. An editorial in Youngstown's Vindicator says that officials shouldn't allow the program to end.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that neglecting the Clean Ohio program "would amount to another blow to cities."

Policy Matters Ohio reported that Ohio housing foreclosure filings decreased slightly in 2010, but remained at historically high levels. Bill Callahan looked at the 2011 totals for Cuyahoga County, and noted that last year was the county's sixth consecutive year with over 10,000 foreclosure filings.

The opening date of the Cleveland casino will be pushed back from late March to May or June. The state Casino Control Commission needs more time to conduct required background checks. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that the Commission "is providing the necessary counterweight by insisting on transparency and accountability."

The U.S. EPA issued its annual analysis of data from the national Toxics Release Inventory. After several years of decreases, U.S. toxic chemical releases increased by 16% from 2009 to 2010. Releases in Ohio shrank by 1.8%. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel facilities.

The Ohio EPA's proposed new rules for existing construction and demolition debris landfills would institute scheduled leachate monitoring. If contamination levels exceed standards, the rules would require groundwater testing and possible cleanup action. The EPA will hold a public hearing (PDF) on January 3 in Columbus.

The Ohio Department of Taxation changed its policies, declaring that properties in the Wetlands Reserve Program no longer qualify as agricultural land for tax purposes. Property owners with land in conservation easements may see higher tax bills.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $14.9 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for 13 rehabilitation projects. Eight of the projects are in Northeast Ohio, and four are in Cleveland. The Victory Building at Euclid Avenue and East 71st Street received a $4.38 million credit, the Park and Southworth Buildings on Public Square received a $1.98 million credit, the Rialto Theater on West 25th Street received a $484,108 credit, and the Gifford House on Prospect Avenue received a $108,914 credit. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the tax credit program.

Last week, the U.S. EPA issued the first national standards for mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants. Under the new rules, which will become effective in 2014 and 2015, operators will have to install pollution controls or shut down older coal-fired power plants. The regulations could impact several local power plants, including FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County, and Genon's Avon Lake Generating Station in Lorain County.

The U.S. Census Bureau released state population estimates that cover the period between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. They are the first estimates published since the official 2010 Census results. The 0.92% increase in U.S. population was the lowest annual growth rate since the mid-1940s. Ohio's 0.07% growth rate was among the lowest in the nation.

In addition to studying a proposed lease of the Ohio Turnpike, consultants will also consider the possibility of placing it under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Ohio House of Representatives recently approved changes to the Local Government Innovation Fund, a $45 million grant and loan program that will support local government collaborations. The state will hold an outreach session at Tri-C's Corporate College East on January 17.

Update: the Local Government Innovation Fund application (PDF) is now available.

Update 2: the Akron Beacon Journal described the program.

State officials awarded more than $27.5 million in Clean Ohio Fund grants for 15 brownfield cleanup initiatives, including two local projects. Cuyahoga County received $2 million for demolition and remediation of Cleveland State University's Viking Hall and Wolfe's Music Store building. The university now plans to build a health and life sciences building on the site. The City of Cleveland received $2.99 million for infrastructure, demolition, and remediation in the Miceli Dairy expansion. The project broke ground in October.

Update: Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson wants to save the Wolfe's Music Store building.

The Kasich administration selected KMPG to lead a team of consultants that will offer recommendations on a range of options for using the Ohio Turnpike to help finance other transportation projects. Their work must be completed by July 1.

Update: Richard Hodges, the new executive director of the Ohio Turnpike, supports exploring its lease. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the study "must provide genuine answers, not just political cover."

Governor Kasich proposed a new Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. It would set lower limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries than the legislation he vetoed in July. The bill may be formally introduced in December or January.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the proposed legislation is stronger than the vetoed bill.

Update 2: Tom Henry offered some analysis.

A new report from Environment Ohio ranked Ohio as having the second-highest level of airborne mercury pollution released by power plants, trailing only Texas. Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, it said that power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Gary Suhadolnik and Jacqueline Thomas "consider the long-term implications and hidden costs" of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial expresses concern about the possibilities.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the Kasich "administration needs to step back and take a deep breath before it moves any closer to monetizing -- leasing -- the Ohio Turnpike."

The Federal Highway Administration indicated that it would reinstate funding for studying the proposed privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. Attendees at a recent public meeting in Northwest Ohio opposed its privatization. Governor Kasich said that if the Turnpike is privatized, at least 50% of the proceeds from a lease or bond would be used in northern Ohio. Democratic politicians were unimpressed.

Update: State Representative Matt Lundy laid out his objections at a public meeting in Sheffield Village.

Update 2: the FHA formally approved the funding request.

The Federal Highway Administration withdrew $1.5 million in funding that Ohio officials intended to use to study the privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. ODOT Director Jerry Wray attributed the decision to political pressure, a claim disputed by federal officials.

Update: a group of Republican U.S. Representatives from Ohio asked the federal agency to reconsider its decision.

The Kasich administration narrowed the list of firms seeking to advise on the proposed lease of the Ohio Turnpike. The five finalists are expected to make presentations in November.

Update: Democratic U.S. Representatives objected to the use of public money. In a letter, they said that "federal taxpayer funds should not be serving to facilitate a particular policy initiative to privatize a public asset."

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. The court reversed a lower court decision, and said that public's land "extends to the natural shoreline, which is the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes." Environmental groups and property owners both claimed victory.

Update: the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and Blade published editorials on the decision. Ken Kilbert of the University of Toledo analyzed the ruling.

The Ohio Department of Development's Office of Policy Research and Strategic Planning prepared demographic profiles of the state's African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American (PDFs) populations.

A bill introduced by State Senator Kris Jordan would eliminate Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. It would strike a provision of a 2008 law that requires utilities to generate 25% of their power from renewable and advanced technology sources by 2025. Environmental groups oppose the legislation.

Update: local officials said that the bill imperils the planned Lake Erie wind farm, and Joe Koncelik said that it would be bad for Ohio. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that Senator Jordan "is thinking small about Ohio's future."

State officials are evaluating the 14 proposals from consultants who hope to advise the Kasich administration on the proposed lease of the Ohio Turnpike. They will announce (PDF) the list of finalists on September 23.

As anticipated, Team NEO was selected to coordinate economic development activities for the JobsOhio program in 18 Northeast Ohio counties. Team NEO will expand its staff to manage the additional work, and added 13 new trustees, doubling the size of its board. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission gave $4.1 million to Team NEO for 2012. Mark Kvamme, JobsOhio's chief investment officer, visited Independence to explain the changes to local officials. Channel 3's Tom Beres interviewed Mark Kvamme.

The Ohio Department of Development's new Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program "will provide technical assistance to brownfield-impacted communities to create a plan for redevelopment." Communities interested in participating must submit a letter of interest by October 14.

Update: Diane Alecusan of the Department of Development described the program.

The Kasich administration described its plans for the JobsOhio program in a report to the General Assembly. The proposed restructuring would eliminate 211 jobs at the Ohio Department of Development, which would be renamed as the Development Services Agency. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the speed and freedom of JobsOhio must be balanced by transparency and accountability." Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of JobsOhio, saying it was outside the court's jurisdiction.

Update: the report to the General Assembly (PDF) is available online.

The Kasich Administration is moving forward on its plans to lease the Ohio Turnpike. It formally began the process by issuing a request for a consultant to assist in the "development and evaluation of options for leveraging the Ohio Turnpike."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial questions the concept, and a Plain Dealer editorial urges state leaders to act with caution.

Update 2: 14 consulting teams submitted letters of interest to the state. The concept remains controversial.

The U.S. EPA announced $4.5 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for 11 projects in Ohio. The awardees include the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (PDF). Work is underway on a project at Huntington Beach, one of the projects funded last year.

The Ohio General Assembly may attempt to override Governor Kasich's veto of the Great Lakes Compact implementation bill.

(via Great Lakes Echo)

Update: PolitiFact Ohio evaluated Tim Grendell's claims about Lake Erie. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that lawmakers should listen to the "wide range of knowledgeable voices calling for improved legislation" instead of pursuing an override.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges state leaders to find replacement revenue sources for the Clean Ohio program.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded more than $23.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 13 projects, including three in Cleveland. The Middough Building received $4.8 million, the University Towers Apartments received $2 million, and the Joseph & Feiss Warehouse received $995,334.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business says that the award could revive the Joseph & Feiss renovation project.

The U.S. Census Bureau released Census 2010 Summary File 1 data for Ohio. It includes detailed tables on "age, sex, households, families, relationship to householder, housing units, detailed race and Hispanic or Latino origin groups, and group quarters," and showed a 51% increase in same-sex partner households in Ohio between 2000 and 2010. Demographic profiles of Cuyahoga County communities are now available.

At an event in Toledo, Governor Kasich promoted the idea of leasing the Ohio Turnpike. He predicted that it would generate "billions of dollars to improve highways, bridges, and waterways."

Team NEO submitted a proposal to be one of six regional economic development offices under the JobsOhio program. If accepted, Team NEO would coordinate job attraction and retention efforts over an 18-county Northeast Ohio area. Meanwhile, opponents of JobsOhio asked the Ohio Supreme Court to block funding for the organization until their lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is concluded.

Update: the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the program.

Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, the Natural Resources Defense Council calculated the amount of toxic air pollution generated by power plants. The electric sector in Ohio emitted 44.5 million pounds of pollutants in 2009, more than any other state.

Walk Score updated its rankings of walkable cities, last released in 2008. The City of Cleveland was ranked the 17th most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States. The most walkable neighborhoods in Cleveland were downtown, University Circle, and Ohio City. In Ohio, the most walkable cities included Lakewood and Cleveland Heights, while Broadview Heights and Solon were among the least walkable.

Gail Hesse of Columbus was selected as the new executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. She will begin on August 15.

Under pressure by officials from inside and outside Ohio, Governor Kasich vetoed the Great Lakes Compact implementation bill passed by the General Assembly. In a statement (PDF), he said that portions of the bill "must be improved." It was his first veto as governor. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal supported his decision, while Tom Henry found the entire episode embarrassing. The bill's sponsors said they would seek to override the veto.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the legislation.

Update 2: Brent Larkin said that "although Kasich's veto will not be overridden, this isn't the end of it."

Preservation Ohio released its annual list of Ohio's Most Endangered Historic Sites. The 13 sites include the previously-revealed Columbia Building and Stanley Block in downtown Cleveland, as well as the Warner & Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland.

Update: demolition of the Columbia Building is underway.

Governor Kasich appointed (PDF) eight executives to the board of directors of the new JobsOhio development corporation. One seat remains unfilled. Mark Kvamme will serve as its interim chief investment officer. The board met for the first time on Monday.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "JobsOhio's transparency is as important to its success as its development programs. "

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, looks at state implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. It focuses on three areas: water diversions, conservation and efficiency, and water withdrawal permitting. The Plain Dealer again urges Governor Kasich to veto the Ohio bill.

Update: the Detroit News, Morning Journal, and Kristy Meyer of the Ohio Environmental Council also call for a veto. New York officials dislike the bill, too.

A new report from Good Jobs First concludes that property tax incentives fueled urban sprawl in the Cleveland and Cincinnati metropolitan areas. It looks at 63 business relocations in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area, and says that "by dispersing jobs away from the two urban cores, the relocations contributed to disparities in wealth and opportunity among localities in the regions. They moved jobs away from areas with higher rates of poverty and people of color to more affluent and less racially diverse areas. And by moving mostly to locations that are not served by public transportation, they denied job opportunities to carless workers and denied thousands more any choice about how to get to work."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the study "adds an important voice to other studies and initiatives, all grounded in the realization that shifting jobs within a region does virtually nothing to advance competitiveness in a global economy." A News-Herald editorial concludes that "Northeast Ohio is better off if community leaders work together to attract new businesses to the region instead of compete against each other for businesses that are already here."

Using water quality and public notification data, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked the water quality of beaches in 30 coastal states. The 21st annual Testing the Waters (PDF) report scored Ohio (PDF) as having the second-highest percentage of monitoring samples that exceeded national health standards, a poorer performance than last year. Villa Angela beach in Cleveland was included in the report's list of top 10 repeat offenders. Some Great Lakes beach and health professionals have issues with the report's methodology.

A new report from Ohio's Policy Research & Strategic Planning Office (PDF) compares state data from the 2010 Census with figures from previous decennial censuses.

The two-year state budget signed by Governor Kasich includes an extension and expansion of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, the new Innovation Fund intended to support local government restructuring efforts, and the option to pursue a lease of the Ohio Turnpike.

Update: the National Trust for Historic Preservation has more information about the tax credit renewal, and the Blade has more on the possible lease of the turnpike.

Governor Kasich appointed Mayor Jerry Hruby of Brecksville to the Ohio Turnpike Commission. Mayor Hruby supports the privatization of the Turnpike. An editorial in Youngstown's Vindicator calls the proposed lease a bad idea.

By a vote of 25-8, the Ohio Senate passed a Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. The Ohio House approved the legislation last week. Its protections are the weakest of any Great Lakes state.

Update: editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourage Governor Kasich to veto the bill. The Ohio Environmental Council and Andy Buchsbaum of the National Wildlife Federation are also critical of the bill. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill in the next two weeks.

Update 2: Great Lakes Echo analyzed the situation, while a Detroit Free Press editorial objects to the bill and a Plain Dealer editorial says it could lead to an increase in toxic blue-green algae.

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified Ohio as one of ten states likely to see significant increases in respiratory problems from rising ozone levels associated with global warming. Meanwhile, Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy expanded upon his earlier premise that ranked Cleveland as the city least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rust Wire's Kate Giammarise interviewed Al Douglas of the Ontario Centre for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Resources about its effects on the Great Lakes.

In a party-line vote, the Ohio House passed the Republican-backed Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. The Ohio Senate is now considering the legislation, and former Governor Bob Taft testified against it in a committee hearing.

Update: George Voinovich and Sam Speck also oppose the bill. Editorials in the Plain Dealer, Blade, Akron Beacon Journal, Repository, Dayton Daily News, and Morning Journal urge Ohio senators to vote no.

Democratic lawmakers introduced alternative bills for implementing the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. The legislation sets lower limits on the amount of water that can be extracted from Lake Erie than the bills introduced last month by Republican legislators. Environmental groups support the lower limits and business groups back the higher limits (PDF). An editorial in Toledo's Blade says that the Republican-backed bills "would threaten surface and ground water affecting Lake Erie."

Meanwhile, an Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls for bipartisan congressional support of full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Update: the Blade published more information about the fast-tracked Republican bill. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourages a bipartisan approach.

Governor Kasich said that he and legislative leaders intend to appoint a commission that will study governmental consolidations. The budget bill approved by the Ohio House included $250,000 to encourage collaborations, but the Ohio Senate did not include the funding in its bill. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier calls for Cuyahoga County communities to adopt a new principle of shared responsibility.

Update: the Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik says that collaborations and consolidations should be an important issue in municipal elections.

The Ohio Department of Transportation did not apply for federal reimbursement for $1.4 million spent on planning studies for the canceled 3C Corridor passenger rail line. The U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew $385 million of its $400 million grant for the project in December when it became clear that Governor Kasich would not support its construction.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray advocated for leasing the Ohio Turnpike, an idea opposed by NOACA leaders. State Representative Mike Dovilla of Berea was recently appointed as a non-voting member of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

Update: Jerry Wray also spoke at NOACA's annual summit on June 10 (part 1, part 2, part 3).

Update 2: Jerry Wray promoted the idea to AMATS leaders, as well. Gary Suhadolnik, the former executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, presented his objections to the proposal in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

The budget bills passed by the Ohio House and Senate include an extension of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. Proponents of the program want the $25 million annual ceiling to be increased. A new study from Cleveland State University (PDF) says that the "program is producing a multitude of benefits across the state of Ohio."

A short paper from the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club urges Ohio governments to adopt a fix-it-first approach to infrastructure investments. It says that repairs of distressed roads and bridges should be prioritized ahead of new construction.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $25.6 million in the second round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credits, including $2 million to the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund II. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $300,033 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants, including $13,545 for Rocky River sub-watershed protection and restoration plans and $21,000 for the Tinkers Creek Watershed Community Engagement Project.

Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy compiled an inventory of more than 240 intergovernmental collaboration projects in 16 Northeast Ohio counties, and published a list of 105 initiatives. The most popular areas for partnerships were in public safety, public works, and economic development.

Meanwhile, in a Plain Dealer op-ed, Brad Whitehead and Joe Roman describe a regional approach to economic competitiveness. Ohio's proposed budget bill would provide funds to encourage government collaborations. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the final budget should include the incentives, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that the budget asks too much of local governments.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information about the Kent State study.

Repair Priorities is a new report from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. It says that despite decades of underfunding road repair projects, most states continue to inadequately fund road repair, spending a disproportionate amount on constructing new roads. It adds that "while Ohio has invested heavily in repair and maintenance in recent years, insufficient investment over the long-term has led to a backlog of roads and bridges in 'poor' and 'deficient' condition requiring $194 million annually in major rehabilitation costs over the next twenty years."

Environmental advocates in other Great Lakes states are worried about the proposed Lake Erie water withdrawal limits recently introduced in the Ohio General Assembly. The proposed limits provide less protection than those established by other states.

Update: the proposal is also receiving criticism within Ohio.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the legislation "fails to meet the compact's spirit and letter," and Gary Wilson of the Biodiversity Project cites it as an example of the region's failure to protect the Great Lakes.

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial strongly opposes the bills.

A new Greater Ohio analysis of Ohio's sales tax patterns and policies concludes that "Ohio's county-based sales tax structure is misaligned with regional shopping trends." It recommends strategies for modernizing the state's taxation system. A short report issued (PDF) by Advance Northeast Ohio puts forward a case for increasing local government collaborations as a method of increasing efficiency.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business and WKSU reported on the Advance Northeast Ohio report. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that communities need more financial support for collaboration initiatives.

In its second Dangerous by Design report, Transportation for America highlights pedestrian safety issues and recommends actions to create safer walking environments. The report examines pedestrian fatality statistics, maps individual pedestrian deaths, and ranks the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was the nation's second-safest. Meanwhile, the League of American Bicyclists issued its fourth annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Ohio was ranked 37th-friendliest.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology issued an analysis of the Greater Cleveland economy (PDF). It examines regional strengths and weaknesses, and offers a variety of suggestions. CNT published similar reports for Cincinnati and Columbus.

Update: the Plain Dealer highlighted several of the report's recommendations.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2010 Census demographic profiles for Ohio and several other states. They provide information at state, county, and city levels. The profiles show that Ohio's population aged over the last decade, while the West and South had younger populations. The number of single-parent households in Ohio increased, and the rate of home ownership decreased. The profile data is available through the Census Bureau's American Factfinder.

Two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would implement the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. The enabling legislation includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie. Industry groups support the bill, but environmental advocates say that it provides insufficient protection.

Marc Lefkowitz wrote about the Healthy Communities Active Transportation Conference & Workshop held earlier this week and the state of local bike planning. Cleveland Bicycle Week 2011 starts on Monday. Meanwhile, a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation says that most states lack adequate information to accurately evaluate the performance of their transportation networks. Ohio's scores were in the middle.

Update: ODOT posted the presentations from the HCAT conference.

Draft changes to the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council project scoring criteria (PDF) would de-emphasize the creation of an integrated multimodal transportation network in favor of prioritizing economic development potential.

Update: the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club doesn't support the changes.

The Foundation Center reports that grants for economic development activities in Ohio grew by 152% between 2005 and 2008. The largest contributions over that period were made by the Knight Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation.

The two-year budget approved by the Ohio House on Thursday would indefinitely extend the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, capping the annual allocation at $25 million. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the provision.

A Summit County Court of Common Pleas judge issued an injunction against a company seeking to drill a natural gas well in Munroe Falls. The driller has not applied for municipal approval of roads and other construction associated with the well, and asserts that the only permits required are those from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "ruling reflects is an effort to find a middle ground before it is too late." Other Northeast Ohio communities are searching for ways to regulate drilling.

A new paper by Alan Mallach and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution describes how outdated state laws create barriers to the redevelopment of abandoned properties. They suggest policy changes that would give municipalities more tools for repurposing distressed land and buildings.

The Ohio EPA is offering a set of four proposed water quality rule packages for public comment. Three of the four packages were released in 2008. Both environmental and industry groups have issues with portions of the rules. The deadline for comments is June 6.

Dan Moulthrop and Luke Frazier of the Civic Commons spoke with Cuyahoga County Deputy Chief of Staff Nathan Kelly about the County's recently-announced $100 million economic development fund. The Foundation Center's Cynthia Bailie talked to Christine Amer Mayer of Akron's GAR Foundation about the foundation's involvement in economic development. With the State of Ohio poised to spend $1.4 billion on economic development this year, USA Today compared Ohio's approach with those of other states.

State legislation scheduled to be introduced this spring would allow Ohio townships or counties to merge. It would not affect potential mergers involving cities or villages.

Funding for the Clean Ohio program will expire in 2012 if the program is not renewed. Joe Koncelik considered the future of the Clean Ohio brownfields fund.

The Ohio EPA introduced its new brownfield inventory database. The web-based system is intended to aid in the identification and redevelopment (PDF) of brownfield sites and includes information about cleanup status, infrastructure improvements, historical land uses, and other subjects. Meanwhile, the state's Office of Strategic Research published its 2011 Ohio County Profiles. The document features demographic information gathered from more than 50 sources.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray met with northwest Ohio leaders and spoke about the proposed privatization of the Ohio Turnpike.

Greater Ohio's response to Governor Kasich's proposed 2012-2013 state budget says that "budget cuts MUST be combined with strategic and targeted investments" and suggests policy and legislative changes (PDF) for modernizing local government.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council approved $70 million for new transportation projects (PDF), making several changes to the draft recommendations it approved in December. In addition to the controversial withdrawal of $51.8 million from the Cincinnati streetcar project, the TRAC rejected the $7.1 million it earlier recommended for the Clifton Boulevard Transportation Enhancement Program in Cleveland and Lakewood. Local projects that were funded include the Pearl Road widening project in Strongsville and the planned widening of I-271 in southern Cuyahoga County.

Uncertainty about state policies could delay planned casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Governor Kasich has not finalized casino taxes and fees, and developer Rock Gaming says that his indecision is making it difficult for them to obtain financing.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Governor "Kasich is being an uncharacteristic drag on private investment," while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that he is "pursuing the evaluation that should have been conducted in the first place." On Wednesday, Governor Kasich indicated that he may ask casino developers for additional up-front payments.

Update 2: Governor Kasich said that Ohio "got a bad deal" and that casino developers were "crying wolf". State officials selected two firms as advisors on gambling-related issues.

The second annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked the health of counties by state. In Ohio, Cuyahoga County again ranked well in health factors and lower in health outcomes. Both rankings were improvements over last year's scores. Geauga and Medina counties appeared near the top of both lists.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial and PBS's The Rundown weblog reflected on the report.

A new report from Transportation for America says that 11.5% of the 599,996 bridges in the United States are rated as structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA estimates that it would take $70.9 billion to eliminate the current backlog of needed repairs. In Ohio, 9.8% of the state's 27,963 bridges are rated as structurally deficient.

The Ohio Senate passed the two-year, $6.8 billion transportation budget, and Governor Kasich signed the bill. It includes a provision for public-private partnerships.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more information about the public-private partnerships.

Controversies over natural gas drilling in Ohio could become more prominent this year, as energy companies show more interest in eastern Ohio's shale deposits and state leaders propose drilling in state parks. Ohio environmental groups have called for a moratorium on fracking until the extraction method's risks can be studied more thoroughly.

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to the subject.

Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt says that the plans for the West Shoreway redesign in Cleveland have changed so much since their inception that the designs now more closely resemble a highway than the boulevard that was originally proposed. She says Cleveland and other Ohio cities face "a state with a set of policies that actively undermines cities."

Governor Kasich shifted Mark Kvamme from the Ohio Department of Development into a newly-created role as director of job creation. Jim Leftwich, formerly head of the Dayton Development Coalition, will replace him as director of the Ohio Department of Development. Kvamme is a California resident, and his eligibility to hold a position in the Governor's cabinet was facing a legal challenge.

Governor Kasich's proposed fiscal year 2012-2013 budget includes higher than anticipated cuts to the state's local government fund. Cuyahoga County leaders are promoting cost-saving regionalism initiatives.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the budget will force local governments to collaborate.

The Ohio House of Representatives approved a two-year state transportation budget. The $7 billion budget includes $4.2 billion for road maintenance and construction, and a tax exemption for for petroleum marketers. Meanwhile, a new report by Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution recommends strategies to states for remaking their transportation systems.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the Ohio Senate should consider proposals that were omitted in the House version of the bill.

The U.S. Census Bureau today published the first set of detailed Census 2010 demographics for Ohio, redistricting data that covers population, race, Hispanic origin, and housing occupancy. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Cuyahoga County fell by 113,856 to 1,280,122, a decrease of 8.2%. The City of Cleveland's population declined by 17.1% to 396,815, and most of its inner-ring suburbs also lost population. The populations of Cleveland Heights and Euclid each fell below 50,000, putting their status as entitlement communities into question. Lakewood's population remained over 50,000. We have posted population figures for Cuyahoga County communities and will provide other tables soon.

The eight-county Cleveland-Akron CSA's population declined by only 2.2%, as Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, and Portage counties gained population. The City of Columbus grew by 10.6%, but all of Ohio's other major cities saw population decreases. The Census Bureau will release additional data in the coming months.

Update: area newspapers reported on the release, including the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, News-Herald, Morning Journal, Chronicle-Telegram, Record-Courier, and the Medina County Gazette. In addition to posting the Cuyahoga County population figures, we posted data and maps on the county's racial distribution, Latino population, and housing occupancy.

Update 2: Ohio's Office of Policy Research and Strategic Planning compiled population data for every county, city, village, and township (PDF) in the state.

Update 3: the Plain Dealer published a corrected population change map.

For several months, Governor Kasich has talked about the possibility of leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and in February said he wants at least $3 billion for the toll road. A recent NOACA staff analysis (PDF) of the idea concluded that "leasing the Ohio Turnpike appears to have few positive merits and quite a few likely negative outcomes."

Lake County Chief Deputy Engineer Bruce Landeg asserts that security implications make high-speed rail unfeasible. In a News-Herald op-ed, he says that "rail is for freight and people are for cars" and the "status quo in transportation system choices is the best and the fiscally responsible choice".

After making several changes to the House version of the bill, the Ohio Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that will privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobOhio development corporation. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill on Friday (PDF).

Update: Governor Kasich signed the bill on Friday. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the "Senate amendments were steps in the right direction," but called for more transparency and accountability.

President Obama's proposed 2012 budget could have a number of local impacts.

Funding for many urban development, environmental, and historic preservation programs would also be reduced.

Update: Great Lakes advocates are urging Congress to restore funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Great Lakes congressional delegation "must join together, in a bipartisan manner, to preserve" the program.

Ken Kilbert of the University of Toledo summarized Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie shorelines case recently heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

After 15 years of increases, Ohio's foreclosure rate declined in 2010. There were 85,483 new foreclosure filings in 2010, down from the record-high 89,053 filings in 2009, a 4% decrease. Some of the drop can be attributed to the robo-signing moratorium. Filings in Cuyahoga County fell by 9.5% over the same period, but the county had 12,825 filings, the most of any Ohio county. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "task to drive down the risk of foreclosure in Ohio is no less urgent than it has been the past decade."

A bipartisan group of northern Ohio Congress members met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to talk about the possibility of building a high-speed rail line along Lake Erie. It could connect Cleveland and Toledo with Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, as well as Youngstown and Pittsburgh.

Ohio Department of Transportation leaders announced that the agency will rescind a large portion of the funding it pledged for public transportation, reducing the three-year, $150 program to $80 million. RTA will lose the $2.2 million in funding it received in January, and will not be able to initiate planned new services.

ODOT Director Jerry Wray added that Ohio will not be participating in the proposed new $53 billion federal high-speed rail initiative. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that the state's absence will not harm the program.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the decision to cut public transit funding is a mistake. A Blade editorial said that it "may cost the state tax revenue from business activity in the long run."

By a vote of 59-37, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that would replace the Ohio Department of Development with Governor Kasich's proposed JobsOhio development corporation. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate.

Update: editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Senate to improve the legislation.

Update 2: columnist Thomas Suddes questioned the proposal's constitutionality.

In an op-ed in Toledo's Blade, Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution said that "Ohio must recognize the power of its economic engines: the metropolitan areas that house most of its people and generate an even greater portion of its gross domestic product."

(via Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

Brownfields news:

On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. Tony Yankel of the Ohio Lakefront Group recently urged new Attorney General DeWine to withdraw from the lawsuit.

Update: multiple media outlets reported on the oral arguments. The Ohio Channel has video of the arguments.

The Ohio Water Development Authority and the Ohio Department of Development are launching two loan programs, the Brownfield Loan Program and the Alternative Stormwater Infrastructure Loan Program.

Update: Joe Koncelik described the brownfield loan program.

The newly-established Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission will meet for the first time on January 25. Seven of its nine seats have been filled. At the state level, Governor Kasich revealed more details about his plans to privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobsOhio development corporation.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal says that Governor Kasich should be alert to the hazards of privatization. The Cincinnati Enquirer interviewed Mark Kvamme, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Update 2: legislation introduced in the Ohio House to create JobsOhio would allow the development corporation to operate in private. An amendment would give the Ohio inspector general the ability to investigate the corporation.

New Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray named the agency's 12 new district deputy directors. The District 12 Deputy Director is Myron Pakush.

Local officials and developers are encouraging Ohio legislators to renew the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The Ohio Department of Development's Urban Development Division is currently accepting applications for its sixth round, but will award credits only if the program is reauthorized.

California venture capitalist Mark Kvamme will lead the Ohio Department of Development for John Kasich. The Governor-elect intends to dismantle the department, replacing it with the privatized JobsOhio development corporation. Kasich said he hopes it will be a "four- or five-month job".

Update: the Columbus Dispatch published more details. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the privatization of the department, while the Akron Beacon Journal is more cautious.

The Ohio EPA issued its first statewide air toxics monitoring study (PDF). The report utilized data (PDF) from 34 monitoring sites in 16 counties, including several sites in Cuyahoga County. It identified elevated cancer risks in seven counties, but not in Cuyahoga County.

The Ohio EPA published draft rules for construction and demolition debris landfills. The revised rules are intended to reduce the landfills' environmental impacts (PDF) by preventing leachate problems. Landfill operators oppose the changes. The rules are open to public comment through April 1.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources finalized its update of the Coastal Erosion Area maps. They include projections for recession rates over the next 30 years. In addition, ODNR's Office of Coastal Management is accepting applications for two lakefront land acquisition programs, the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Land Acquisition Grant program and the Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

Ohio homebuilders oppose changes to the state's building code. The changes, based on International Code Council models, would require more energy-efficient construction. Neighboring states have adopted or are considering the changes, but in Ohio, they have remained in committees for two years.

Update: Builder Magazine also reported on the subject.

Passenger rail advocates estimate that canceling the planned 3C Corridor line will eliminate about 16,700 jobs and $3 billion in spinoff developments. The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin, a consistent critic of the plans, said that subsidies for the line would have "blown such a gigantic hole in the state budget it would have adversely impacted state spending for schools, children, the poor, the aged and the ill."

Governor-elect Kasich selected David Mustine to lead the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Scott Nally to head the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Mustine is a former old and gas executive, and the Governor-elect is seeking to expand oil and gas drilling. Nally previously worked at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and at Perdue Farms.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch offers more details.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded a $120,000 grant to Heidelberg University's National Center for Water Quality Research to monitor water quality of four Lake Erie tributaries, including the Cuyahoga River. Cleveland State University received a $34,983 grant to continue its support of the Ohio Balanced Growth Program's Best Local Land Use Practices guidance.

The U.S. Census Bureau released national and state population totals, the first data from the 2010 Census. As of April 1, 2010, the population of the United States was 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7% since 2000. Ohio's population was 11,536,504, an increase of 1.6%. Because Ohio's population grew more slowly than other states, especially those in the South and West, the state will lose two congressional seats.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the changes will require Ohio's congressional delegation to "work together more closely than ever, without regard to partisan or geographic divides, on issues that have a major impact on the state's economy and competitiveness."

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board issued its final report (PDF, 9.8 MB) on Wednesday. The Ohio General Assembly is expected to consider the report's recommendations in 2011. The Ohio Environmental Council called it (PDF) "a critical first step toward preserving one of Ohio's greatest natural resources."

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of data from the Toxics Release Inventory. Nationwide, releases of toxic chemicals fell by 12% to 3.37 billion pounds from 2008 to 2009. Releases in Ohio fell from 224 million pounds in 2008 to 159 million pounds in 2009, a decrease of over 29%. Cuyahoga County's top polluter in 2009 was the Charter Steel mill in Cuyahoga Heights. The ArcelorMittal steel plant in Cleveland was idled for much of the year.

Update: businesses in Ohio continued to emit more toxic air pollutants than those of any other state. Officials attribute the decreases to pollution control equipment, the recession, and new processes.

Ohio EPA officials say that it will take several years to determine nitrogen dioxide levels and whether the state meets new federal standards. The U.S. EPA strengthened its standards in January.

Draft recommendations (PDF) from the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council call for $167.6 million in new construction, planning, and engineering for transportation projects across the state. The list is open to public comment through February 11.

An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal chides the Ohio Senate for failing to pass foreclosure prevention legislation, and a second editorial urges Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Transportation redirected $1.195 billion in passenger rail funding from Ohio and Wisconsin to projects in 14 states, with the largest awards going to California and Florida. Ohio lost $385 million of the $400 million grant it received in January to support the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line because Governor-elect Kasich pledged to cancel the program.

Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown expressed their disappointment, while Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the decision will "ensure American taxpayers get a good return on their Recovery Act dollars," and Ohio rail advocates said that the action was premature.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Governor-elect Kasich acted too hastily.

Jerry Wray will serve as director of the Ohio Department of Transportation under Governor-elect Kasich. Wray led the department from 1991 to 1999 during the Voinovich and Taft administrations, and more recently was a vice president at an asphalt industry lobbying association. He said that the department may reconsider its pledge to fund public transit.

Smart Growth America looked at Ohio's brownfield redevelopment initiatives and their potential to spur economic development. The Ohio EPA declared (PDF) that the City of Cleveland has finished cleanup of a 0.75-acre brownfield site at Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street.

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office identified Ohio and Greater Cleveland as being among the areas that have experienced the most bank walkaways. It recommends that federal agencies should require mortgage servicers "to notify borrowers and communities when foreclosures are halted and to obtain updated valuations for selected properties before initiating foreclosure." Sherrod Brown said that the practice exacerbates neighborhood blight.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the report "a welcome first step, but still just a beginning."

John Kasich formally asked Ted Strickland to cancel planning studies for the 3C Corridor passenger rail line, but Governor Strickland declined the request. Governor-elect Kasich wants to use the state's $400 million in federal rail funding for other purposes, but U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood replied that the funds must be used for passenger rail or they will go to another state.

Update: passenger rail advocates and opponents discussed the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas, while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial addressed the attitudes of the governor-elect and other critics.

In his first press conference after the election, John Kasich said, "Passenger rail is not in Ohio's future." He later said that Governor Strickland should halt planning studies for the 3C Corridor. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt wrote an open letter to Governor-elect Kasich, asking him to reconsider his stance against the 3C Corridor and to support a robust multimodal transportation network. Many of the 120 attendees at the Ohio Department of Transportation's public meeting in Cleveland also want the state to better support transportation choice.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board published its draft recommendations for implementing (PDF, 17.3 MB) the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house at the Bay Village Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on November 19, and will submit the final recommendations by December 15. The Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club has issues with the recommendations.

Attendees at a public meeting in Columbus told Ohio Department of Transportation officials that the agency should devote more resources to public transit and alternative transportation. It was the first in a series of workshops that ODOT is holding at various locations. A Cleveland meeting will be held on November 3 at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel. Officials with ODOT District 12 have also been meeting with local transportation activists.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more information about the Cleveland meeting, and ODOT posted its presentation (PDF).

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Department of Transportation's revised timetable for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line was produced without a detailed analysis or input from freight railroads. Meanwhile, Amtrak ridership in Ohio grew by 14% over the last year, which ODOT says "shows that the demand for transportation choice is on the rise."

In the first round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit program, the Ohio Department of Development made $10 million in credits available to four Ohio entities. About half of the credits were awarded to two Cuyahoga County recipients, one affiliated with KeyBank and the other associated with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The credits may be used to support the Allen Theatre renovations and the Evergreen Cooperatives, among other initiatives.

Under the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states, the old General Motors will commit $773 million for the environmental cleanup of 89 former manufacturing sites. Five plant properties in Ohio will share $39 million: $25.8 million will go to the facility in Moraine, $7.3 million to Elyria, $3 million to Mansfield, $2.6 million to Toledo, and $746,000 to Parma.

Through a program called 21st Century Transit Partnerships for Ohio's Next Generation, the Ohio Department of Transportation will provide $150 million over the next three years to public transit agencies in Ohio. RTA will receive $5.4 million each year, for a total of $16.2 million.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more information.

Shaping the State, a new report from Greater Ohio, compares demographic trends in Ohio and the nation from 2000 to 2008. It concludes that "demographic changes in Ohio reveal a state that is falling behind other states in some areas, but demonstrates strong potential in several others."

The Ohio Department of Transportation's revised timetable for the planned 3C Corridor has done little to persuade Republican critics of the passenger rail line. Ohio is one of several states where Republicans could block or delay federal plans to expand the nation's passenger rail system. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood presented his reasons for supporting high-speed rail.

The National Resources Inventory, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows that every state lost farmland between 1982 and 2007. Ohio had the second-highest amount of prime agricultural land converted to developed land, losing 585,100 acres from 1982 to 2007.

(via Kaid Benfield)

AIA Ohio's 2010 awards included a merit award to Robert Maschke Architects for the bus shelters at the Gordon Arts District in Cleveland. Dru McKeown was dismayed by the declaration, and said that while the structures are handsome, they fail to function as shelters.

In one of its occasional rescissions, Congress required states to return transportation funds to the Federal Highway Administration. Ohio was one of 30 states to make a disproportionally large cut in funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. While Ohio was required to return 5.8% of its annual apportionment, it cut 33% from its Transportation Enhancement Program.

Ohio Republican legislators wrote Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, asking him to take legal action to stop state spending on plans for the 3C Corridor passenger rail line.

Both parties in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case, have submitted written arguments to the Ohio Supreme Court. Attorney General Cordray filed his brief in July, and the Ohio Lakefront Group submitted theirs earlier this week. Supporters of each side also have filed amicus briefs with the Court. On Thursday, the litigants discussed the case on WCPN's Sound of Ideas program.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission issued a revised schedule for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line. It estimates that a trip between Cleveland and Cincinnati would take roughly five hours, about 90 minutes less than earlier projections. The state also received permission from the Federal Railroad Administration to spend its first $15 million in stimulus funds.

Update: the new figures project an average speed of over 50 mph, up from the older 39 mph prediction.

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology continues to advance its BUILT in Ohio initiative, and recently convened stakeholders in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus to discuss smart growth policies.

An Akron Beacon Journal supports further study of the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line between Cleveland and Cincinnati. It says that the line's critics "point to the many questions, but they resist pursuing answers."

Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday show that the poverty rate in the United States was 14.3% in 2009, up from 13.2% in 2008, while median household income remained flat. Minority populations were disproportionately affected. In Ohio, the poverty rate decreased from 13.7% to 13.3%, a change within the survey's margin of error. Median household income in Ohio fell from $49,811 to $46,318, below the national median of $49,945. The Census Bureau will release more detailed figures later this month.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that the numbers make a "compelling case for both short-term measures that provide relief and longer-term measures that will reduce poverty."

Update 2: WCPN's Sound of Ideas explored suburban poverty in Northeast Ohio.

Columbus blogger Jeff Johnson considered the future of intercity transportation in Ohio and drew connections between the potential loss of the Continental hub in Cleveland and the merits of investing in passenger rail.

In the third round of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $970 million in grants. Allocations in Ohio totaled $52 million, including $6.8 million to the City of Cleveland, $2.6 million to Cuyahoga County, $1 million to the City of East Cleveland, and $1 million to the City of Euclid.

A new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force quantified the health problems (PDF) caused by fine particle pollution from the nation's coal-burning power plants. It ranked Ohio as having the second-highest number of adverse health impacts, trailing only Pennsylvania. For metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA ranked eighth-highest. Power companies and the coal industry dispute the group's findings.

Update: the Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles spoke with Nolan Moser of the Ohio Environmental Council about the study.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture expanded its emerald ash borer quarantine to cover all 88 Ohio counties. While restrictions on the transportation of firewood are no longer in place, state officials urge Ohioans to continue exercising caution (PDF) when moving hardwoods. A federal quarantine (PDF) of Ohio remains in effect.

A Columbus Dispatch editorial questioned the wisdom of investing in the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line, while James Nemastil dismissed its critics in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

The Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration issued its final report. It features a series of recommendations (PDF) designed to to encourage governmental cooperation and consolidation, but does not call for requiring increases in local government efficiency. Greater Ohio said that the report is "a step in the right direction," an Akron Beacon Journal editorial called it "a modest agenda," and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution said that state leaders need to act more aggressively. Two members of the commission, Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy and attorney Tim Downing, discussed the report on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more information.

Ohio Department of Transportation leaders envision increasing the top speed of the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line from 79 mph to 110 mph, but the freight railroads are unenthusiastic about the idea. Rail suppliers back the planned line, while Republican state legislators continue to oppose it. In early August, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich said he would cancel the plans if elected and Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Yvette McGee Brown voiced her support for passenger rail. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood downplayed the dispute.

A coalition of 20 Northeast Ohio stakeholders submitted an application for a regional planning grant from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation filed $259 million in grant requests through the federal TIGER II program, including a request for $12.3 million to develop a statewide electric vehicle readiness plan. None of ODOT's 12 projects are specific to Cuyahoga County.

Citing reduced demand and proposed federal regulations, FirstEnergy announced plans to reduce operations at four of its smaller coal-fired power plants in Ohio. The changes include plans (PDF) to temporarily idle the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland and to operate the Eastlake Plant only during the summer and winter.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $8.29 million in Clean Ohio Trails Fund grants (PDF), including $468,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks for the West Creek Greenway, $350,000 to the City of Euclid for a Lake Erie waterfront trail and $88,524 to ParkWorks for the Lake Link Trail in Cleveland. ODNR also awarded $1.87 million in grants from its Recreational Trails Program, which includes $150,000 (PDF) for the trail in Euclid.

Update: the News-Herald has more information about Euclid's plans.

The Natural Resources Defense Council published its 20th annual Testing the Waters report today. The survey of water quality at U.S. beaches ranked Ohio's (PDF) beaches 27th of the 30 states in the survey, an improvement over last year's rank of 29, but still among the nation's worst. Urban runoff and combined sewer overflows contribute to the pollution problems.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $600,000 in federal stimulus funds for brownfield redevelopment. The Famicos Foundation received $100,000 of the funds to help with asbestos remediation at a building on East Boulevard in Cleveland.

As urban agriculture grows in popularity, leaders in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities are considering its role in urban revitalization. An Ohio State University researcher is studying insect populations at community gardens to help inform future land use decisions. Lead contamination can also be an issue in urban soils, but several low-cost techniques can reduce its danger.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is advancing the second phase of the Ohio Hub Plan. The Commission hired AECOM of Los Angeles to assess potential high-speed passenger rail routes from Cleveland to Detroit and from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, as well as upgrades to the planned 3C Corridor. Sherrod Brown and Policy Matters Ohio recently touted the 3C Corridor as an investment that will promote economic development and create jobs. Earlier this year, the Rail Development Commission released the Ohio Statewide Rail Plan.

The Premcor Refining Group of San Antonio reached a settlement with the State of Ohio. The company agreed to clean up leaking underground storage tanks at 55 former Clark gas station sites in 26 counties and to pay $4 million in penalties. Nine of the locations (PDF) are in Cuyahoga County.

Huntington National Bank announced plans to invest $100 million in affordable housing developments across Ohio over the next 30 months. The funds are expected to leverage an additional $150 million.

In the fourth round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, 13 projects were awarded $28.3 million in tax credits. Three Cuyahoga County properties were among the recipients: the Union Building in Cleveland, the former Berea Congregational United Church of Christ, and the Schofield Building in downtown Cleveland. It will be converted to a 140-room boutique hotel and 24 luxury apartments. While the program has been praised, this could be its final round. It's up for renewal, and could end if a new funding source is not identified.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could impact the Lake Erie property lines case currently before the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court ruled that a Florida beach restoration program does not violate the rights of waterfront property owners. The Ohio Environmental Law Center considered whether the decision has implications for the Ohio case, while lakefront property owners asserted that the ruling is not relevant.

Update: WKSU's Jeff St.Clair spoke with property law professor Ben Barros about the case.

Ohio lawmakers approved casino authorization legislation early Friday morning. The bill includes a provision that will permit the Cleveland casino to open in phases and another that grants a property tax exemption to the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland.

Update: Governor Strickland signed the bill.

Greater Ohio has begun to gather feedback on a proposal for a statewide quarter-percent sales tax increase to fund public transit.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey published a series of detailed maps of Ohio's glacial deposits.

The Plain Dealer has more details about the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to grind rumble stripes along the edge lines of state routes.

A new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution looks at the "challenges facing America's distressed older cities," examines the "role and influence of federal policy on these cities" and "offers a set of specific recommendations for how the federal government can help." A second paper by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman focuses on Ohio and suggests changes in state policy.

Two state legislators from Greater Cleveland intend to introduce legislation that would make it easier for communities to collaborate on municipal services. The changes would allow the City of South Euclid to contract with the City of Cleveland for trash collection. Cleveland may be able provide the service at a lower cost than a private company.

About 62% of Cleveland households mailed back their 2010 Census forms, and the statewide return rate was 76%. Both figures were slightly below 2000 levels. The national response rate was 72%. Census takers will start visiting nonrespondents on May 1.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission recently adopted a complete streets policy. Plans for roadway projects that receive funding through the Columbus-area MPO now must consider all potential users. NOACA does not yet have a similar policy.

The state Controlling Board voted to accept federal funding for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line. The 4-3 party-line vote will allow the state to proceed with $25 million in engineering and environmental studies. The Columbus Dispatch liveblogged the meeting. Republican support likely will be needed for future expenditures.

The Strickland administration is seeking approval from the state controlling board of $25 million in planning work for the 3C Corridor passenger rail line. Ohio Department of Transportation officials now say that a supermajority vote is not needed, which would sidestep Republican opposition to the plans.

Update: the maneuver has political risks.

On Wednesday, Governor Strickland signed Substitute House Bill 313, the county land bank bill. A 2009 law established the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and the new legislation will allow up to 41 additional counties to create and operate land banks. It will take effect in 90 days.

The planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line will require subsidies, but estimates of the costs vary. Critics of the line have focused on its projected 39 mph average speed, and Republicans on the state controlling board may block the plans. Former Ohio Rail Development Commission director James Seney is dismayed.

The Ohio Department of Transportation installed its first three Greater Cleveland traffic cameras as part of its introduction of Intelligent Transportation System technologies. The webcams are available at Buckeye Traffic.

Last week, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill that will revise the state's oil and gas drilling laws. Citizen activists were unsatisfied by the lack of consumer protections in the law, which did not return local control over drilling. The legislature also approved a bill that will allow more than 30 counties to establish land banks like the one in Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign both bills.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that the changes in the drilling law "don't go far enough in protecting residents from potential disasters."

In its written comments (PDF) to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA objected to a federal proposal to tighten ozone standards, saying that the agency prefers the standards set by the Bush administration in 2008. Business groups were pleased and environmental organizations were disappointed.

Update: the Plain Dealer has additional details, and an editorial says that lowering ozone levels is an unrealistic goal.

The Ohio Department of Transportation issued its response to Ohio Senate President Bill Harris' questions about the planned 3C Corridor in a 21-page document (PDF). It presents reasoning in favor of the planned passenger rail line, and the Ohio Environmental Council backs the proposal (PDF). Senator Harris remains skeptical about the value of the line.

In the second episode of the Metro Matters podcast, Diana Lind of Next American City interviewed Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. Much of their conversation was about steps that Ohio and the Great Lakes region can take to succeed economically.

The Ohio EPA will appeal the recent court decision which found that the state's pollution rules for small businesses violated the federal Clean Air Act.

In his two newest columns, Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal looked at policy recommendations from the Restoring Prosperity report released by Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution. He first discussed school district consolidation and the reactions of political leaders. In the second piece, he looked at the costs of local government fragmentation and the prospects for reorganizing local government. Greater Ohio officials and state legislators also recently discussed the report at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jolene Molitoris expressed her support for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line. Her agency is still preparing a response to Ohio Senate President Bill Harris' questions about the project.

Update: video of the talk is now available.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. The date for oral arguments has not been set.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, the organizations which jointly released the new Restoring Prosperity agenda, wrote about positioning Ohio's economy for future growth. They said that "Ohio is in a paradoxical moment: The present is painful, but the future could be promising. And in another paradox, its manufacturing heritage is part of the reason why."

On Monday, Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution unveiled the latest report in their Restoring Prosperity initiative. Titled "Transforming Ohio's Communities for the Next Economy", the report and executive summary (PDFs) lay out a policy agenda aimed at reinvigorating the state. It makes 39 short, medium, and long-term policy recommendations in three main areas: building on assets in Ohio's metropolitan areas, reforming state and local governments, and engaging and aligning with the federal government. One of its more discussed recommendations calls for consolidating Ohio school districts. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report "belongs at the center of this campaign year", and a Morning Journal editorial said that its "recommendations deserve careful consideration and study."

Update: the Plain Dealer was also encouraged by the report.

Ohio Senate President Bill Harris is skeptical about the value of the 3C Corridor and recently sent Governor Strickland a seven-page letter with questions about the planned passenger rail line. Republicans on the state controlling board may try to block the plans. Michael Douglas of the Akron Beacon Journal encourages Ohioans to think "less about today and more about what they will need in a decade and beyond."

A new report from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked health outcomes and health factors in the United States by county for each state. In Ohio, Geauga and Medina counties were among the state's healthiest. Cuyahoga County ranked highly in clinical care, but poorly in morbidity, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

Update: the report was the subject of a Sound of Ideas program on WCPN.

The 79 mph top speed of the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line continues to attract criticism. The line also faces potential conflicts with increasing freight rail traffic. Columnists Brent Larkin of the Plain Dealer, Joe Hallett of the Columbus Dispatch and Brian Tucker of Crain's Cleveland Business are opposed to the project. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the concept needs to change, while a Mansfield News Journal editorial said that the "project may be worth the financial risk." Governor Strickland called the critics "cheerleaders for failure."

Update: columnist Thomas Suddes and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial considered the longer-term implications.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial on Ohio mercury rules concludes that "the state EPA must do all that it can to curb the presence of mercury. It runs into trouble when it sets standards and then must admit the tools aren't available to get there."

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that an Ohio pollution exemption for small businesses was in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. A 2006 state law allowed establishments that emitted fewer than 10 tons of air pollutants per year to use less than the best-available emission-reduction technology, but the state never received U.S. EPA approval to change the standards.

Update: Joe Koncelik shared his reactions.

Participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line and the Cleveland Design Competition awards.

The announcement that Ohio was awarded $400 million for the planned 3C Corridor generated a wide variety of reactions, from the enthusiastic to the skeptical. Ohio newspapers also had a broad range of responses. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial was generally positive, the Columbus Dispatch said that investments in passenger rail are a poor use of federal dollars, and the Canton Repository laid out its hopes for the project.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency used federal stimulus funds to approve more than $53 million in tax credits. Three projects in Cuyahoga County were among the recipients: Emerald Alliance V on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Independence Place at the Prospect Avenue YWCA in Cleveland, and the Library Court senior housing development on Chagrin Boulevard in Shaker Heights.

The Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force, a 29-member group chaired by Ohio Representative Mike Foley, unveiled a report that recommends state policy changes (PDF) to foster smart growth and redevelopment. The task force's primary conclusion was that "the existing paradigm of single-jurisdictional planning is not only antiquated, but also harmful to every community in Ohio." Its list of recommendations includes restructuring tax incentive programs and allowing municipalities to jointly establish transportation innovation authorities.

The U.S. EPA proposed tougher new standards for ground-level ozone that would replace standards set by the Bush administration in March 2008. The proposal calls for new standards between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion standard adopted in 2008. Northeast Ohio, which last year attained compliance with the 1997 standard (80 ppb), would not meet the new standard. Much of the rest of the state would also be in noncompliance, and the major metropolitan areas may have difficulty reaching the lower levels.

Greater Ohio will relaunch the ReBuild Ohio program. The organization will "work to refocus ReBuild Ohio's efforts to address Ohio's growing vacant and abandoned property problem through state-level reforms". Participants discuss related issues at the ReBuild Ohio Vacant Property Forum.

Although it obtained federal dollars to preserve transit service, Lorain County Transit may reduce its number of routes from 12 to two. Officials in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties have begun to discuss the potential for a partnership between RTA and Lorain County Transit. Meanwhile, a coalition of organizations unveiled the Save Transit Now, Move Ohio Forward! campaign to advocate for public transportation.

Update: the Columbus Government Examiner has more details about the campaign's objectives. A Morning Journal editorial says that a Cuyahoga County-Lorain County public transit partnership is "worth talking about".

Today's News-Herald has a brief update on the activities of the Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2009 state population estimates today. Ohio's population grew by an estimated 189,505 between 2000 and July 2009, an increase of 1.7%. It was one of the nation's smaller growth rates. At the national scale, population growth slowed in the South and West over the last year. The recession has reduced domestic and international migration.

A draft of the Ohio 2010 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report found that water quality of the state's rivers and streams has improved since the last report was completed in 2008. Some of the improvement may be due to a change in methodologies. The report is open for public comment until March 31. Panelists on the most recent NEOtropolis show discussed the importance of watersheds and the Great Lakes Compact.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more details.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's trustees rejected a proposed 2010 budget and associated service reductions. The board passed a three-month budget, and the proposed cuts will be discussed at public hearings in January. A statewide coalition is organizing a campaign to advocate for increasing investments in public transit.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission approved six Balanced Growth Strategy grants for local watershed plans, including two in the Lake Erie watershed.

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 313, which would permit 28 more Ohio counties to establish land banks. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate as Senate Bill 188.

A bill under consideration in the Ohio Senate would revise Ohio's oil and gas drilling laws. It would change the minimum setback from 100 to 150 feet, but does not include enough changes to satisfy Northeast Ohio legislators and residents. They hope to include stronger protections in an Ohio House bill.

Update: this week's issue of Scene has more details. It was also the subject of a discussion on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $23.7 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 12 projects across the state. The only recipient in Cuyahoga County was the Cowell & Hubbard Building in downtown Cleveland. The Playhouse Square Foundation purchased the building in 2007.

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of Toxics Release Inventory data. In 2008, pollution releases at the national level fell by 6% from 2007 levels. Ohio reduced its releases of toxic air pollutants by 22%, but remained the nation's top emitter of toxic airborne compounds. Toxic releases in Cuyahoga County fell from 12.2 million tons in 2007 to 9.9 million tons in 2008. The ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland was the County's top polluter.

Census Bureau officials anticipate resistance from certain sectors to completing the 2010 Census. Ohio government and nonprofit groups have formed complete count committees.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology launched the BUILT in Ohio program, a partnership with Governor Strickland's office and the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. It's intended "to help Ohio's cities target emerging sources of federal investment and leverage them towards a new pattern of urban growth."

On Monday, Governor Strickland announced that 25 Ohio energy projects will receive more than $13 million in federal stimulus grants. Seven of the wind and solar projects are in Cuyahoga County.

Update: Middleburg Heights leaders continue to discuss the proposed wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

The Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration will hold a meeting and public hearing on Friday morning in the Cleveland Public Library's Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium. The Commission is gathering input (PDF) on intergovernmental cooperation. Testimony should be submitted in advance.

WCPN looked at how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Ohio EPA have invested their federal stimulus dollars.

A new report from Policy Matters Ohio examined the distribution patterns of transportation projects funded by federal stimulus dollars. One of its findings is that 63% of the funds distributed by the state's metropolitan planning organizations went to suburban and exurban projects. The report recommends reviewing decision-making processes to ensure that MPOs do not encourage urban sprawl.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission is compiling a list of projects (PDF) for potential funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It includes funding for the removal of two dams on the Cuyahoga River.

On November 10, Clean Fuels Ohio and the Levin College Forum will host a discussion about the future of transportation in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $6.25 million in grants from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund to 25 projects, including three in Cuyahoga County. Bedford Heights received $374,726 for the Richmond Road All-Purpose Trail, Cuyahoga Heights received $500,000 for the Cuyahoga Heights Multi-Use Trail, and the West Creek Preservation Committee received $103,125 for the O'Malley-Henninger Greenway.

Bipartisan legislation introduced in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly would authorize 28 more counties to organize a county land bank. The current statute, adopted earlier this year, applies only to Cuyahoga County.

Update: the Dayton Daily News offers additional information.

While Congress passed an one-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 transportation law, it did not remove the $8.7 billion rescission included in the old bill. The cuts have hit alternative transportation projects especially hard, and Ohio is among the states canceling funding for transportation enhancements, CMAQ, and trails projects.

The Indiana Department of Transportation applied for $2.8 billion in federal stimulus funds to plan, build, and launch high-speed rail service between Chicago and Cleveland.

Although an Amtrak study said that the proposed 3-C Corridor could begin service in 2011 if it receives funding, it may not start operating until the end of 2012.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said he intends to join in the appeal of the Lake Erie property lines case to the Ohio Supreme Court. A Plain Dealer editorial strongly supported his choice, and an editorial in Toledo's Blade is even more unequivocal about the decision and need to appeal. An earlier Akron Beacon Journal editorial made similar points.

Update: Cordray filed the appeal, saying that the "ruling by the appeals court undermines the attorney general's authority and duty to represent the people of Ohio."

Last week, the Ohio Department of Transportation submitted its application for $563.8 million in federal stimulus funds for the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. About 40 states were expected to submit $106 billion in applications for the available $8 billion.

Community Research Partners analyzed IRS migration data to identify the destinations of people moving from Ohio and the originations of people moving to Ohio. The report looked at migration between Ohio and the rest of the U.S., within the state, and within metropolitan areas. From 2007 to 2008, Ohio experienced a net loss of 35,692 residents through domestic migration.

Greater Ohio, building on input provided at June's Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit, has prepared a draft of its Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Policy Platform and is gathering comments and suggestions. The document will serve as a model for platforms for other Ohio cities.

Additional 2008 American Community Survey data released by the Census Bureau includes information about income, poverty (PDF), and food stamp receipts. The poverty rate rose in Ohio and the Midwest, while in Northeast Ohio, the number of people with incomes near the poverty line increased. An analysis by the Brookings Institution predicts that poverty rates will remain elevated for years.

The Ohio Division of the Federal Highway Administration conducted a Review of Ohio Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning and Safety Efforts (PDF) at the Ohio Department of Transportation and the state's metropolitan planning organizations. It included a set of recommendations to improve the conditions for bicycling and walking. Meanwhile, two Ohio Senators introduced a bill that would establish a safe lateral passing distance for motorists passing cyclists.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 American Community Survey data on Monday. Social, housing, demographic, and economic data are available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. It showed decreases in median household income across Ohio, especially in the state's major cities. For the first time, the ACS included data on health insurance coverage, and Northeast Ohio's big cities had a greater percentage of people without coverage than state and national averages.

Governor Strickland appointed Lisa Patt-McDaniel as director of the Ohio Department of Development. She has served as its interim director since May.

Amtrak yesterday released a draft of its feasibility report (PDF) on the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. It said that the service could be operating by 2011 with nearly 500,000 riders at a cost of $500 million. It would include six daily stops at two Cleveland stations, the lakefront Amtrak station and RTA's Puritas rapid station.

Update: most attendees at an ORDC meeting supported the proposal. Others want more information.

A draft of a study (PDF) by the Ohio EPA of 30 construction and demolition debris landfills found pollutants in their leachate. Each landfill had 3–29 pollutants at levels in excess of health or water quality standards. Five of the landfills surveyed are in Cuyahoga County.

David Jones of the News Herald summarized the history of the Lake Erie property lines case and considered how it may proceed.

In addition to upholding the lower court decision, the recent appeals court ruling in the Lake Erie shoreline case also said that the Ohio attorney general had no standing in the case. The Ohio Environmental Council called the decision a "gross misinterpretation of the [Ohio] Revised Code".

Ohio Rail Development Commission officials are quickly trying to fulfill requirements for federal funding of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. They intend to apply for up to $450 million of the $8 billion in stimulus funds available for high-speed rail. The requests of Midwest states that would be served through the Chicago Hub Network are expected to be among $102 billion in requests from 40 states and Washington, D.C.

The Ohio Department of Development has been without a permanent director since Lee Fisher stepped down in February, and a Plain Dealer editorial says that appointing a director should be a priority. The paper had earlier raised the issue in May, when Lisa Patt-McDaniel was named as interim director. Meanwhile, Karen Kasler of the Statehouse News Bureau asked what the department should be doing and whether it should continue to exist.

The Ohio EPA proposed changes to the state's wetland mitigation rules in early 2006, but they remain unimplemented due to objections from developers. Between 2006 and 2008, more than 477 acres of wetlands and 106 miles of streams were filled in. Ohio EPA officials hope to reach a compromise in October.

Ohio Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner spoke at the City Club today. She said that (MP3, 52.1 MB) she would make rejuvenating the state's cities a priority if elected to the Senate.

The 2009 APA Ohio Statewide Planning Conference will be held from September 23 to 25 at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls. The Cleveland Section's 21st annual Planning and Zoning Workshop will take place on November 13 at LaCentre in Westlake.

University of Toledo professor Ken Kilbert disagrees with the recent shoreline ruling by the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals, while a lakefront property owner supports the decision.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is conducting an online survey of potential users of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. The ORDC will also hold a public meeting on September 16 at the Cleveland Airport Holiday Inn.

(via Greater Ohio)

The Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a 2007 lower court decision, and ruled that private property lines along Lake Erie extend to the water's edge, shifting as the water level changes. The ruling (PDF) pleased property owners and disappointed environmentalists, who are expected to file an appeal.

Last week, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger spoke at the Akron Roundtable about the consequences of global warming, and noted that its impacts are being felt around the world and in Ohio. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the challenge now involves the country and the international community acting quickly enough to avoid far more drastic consequences." Today, the National Wildlife Federation released a report titled More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake Up Call. It details the predicted human health impacts of global warming-induced heat waves.

Meanwhile, some climate scientists attribute shifts in Ohio rainfall patterns to climate change. Northeast Ohio has experienced an increase in the number of days per year with heavy storms. A report released by the the Union of Concerned Scientists last month presented scenarios about the future impacts of climate change in the Midwest.

Amtrak's study of the proposed 3-C Corridor will be released in mid-September. Information from the study will be used in Ohio's application for federal funding of the proposed passenger rail line.

Update: the Associated Press offers more details.

The U.S. EPA is developing national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) . Area officials expect that Ohio cities will be able to comply with the new limits.

The Ohio EPA's new Environmental Insurance Program (PDF) will provide discounted environmental insurance for the risks encountered in brownfield remediation.

Cleveland leaders remain frustrated by the erosion of home rule powers in Ohio.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jolene Molitoris spoke at the City Club today. She said that the (MP3, 51.1 MB) Innerbelt Bridge project is "the highest and most pressing transportation issue in the state."

Update: she also said that the decision to eliminate Innerbelt ramps at Prospect and Carnegie avenues may not be final. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Innerbelt project. The public comment period is open until August 31.

For the second consecutive year, the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual Testing the Waters report ranked the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second-worst in the nation. Bacteria levels at the state's Lake Erie beaches exceeded acceptable levels approximately 19% of the time in 2008. There were 783 health advisory days at Ohio beaches last year, up from 657 in 2007.

Ohio officials submitted applications for federal funding of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. They indicated that income from the state's highway advertising program would help pay for its operation. 40 states and the District of Columbia submitted proposals. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved $4 billion for high-speed rail construction, which would be in addition to the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds.

As support grows for the proposed 3-C Corridor, communities along the proposed route between Cleveland and Cincinnati are lobbying to be selected as stops. The communities competing for stations on the passenger rail line include Grafton, Wellington, Crestline, Gallion, Middletown, and Hamilton.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the new Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force could generate recommendations to refocus and simplify state incentive programs to encourage reinvestment in urban areas instead of urban sprawl.

A New York Times analysis of state spending of federal transportation stimulus dollars "offered vivid evidence that metropolitan areas are losing the struggle for stimulus money" to rural areas. The article used the funding for the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland as an example. A recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (PDF) reached a similar conclusion, leading mayors to register complaints with the White House.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch also published an article on the subject.

It appears likely that funding for the Ohio Urban University Program will be cut from the Ohio budget, which will lead to a loss of research programs at Cleveland State's Levin College.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is promoting a fix-it-first philosophy for infrastructure investments, but a new report from Smart Growth America identified Ohio as one of only five states to allocate over half of its federal stimulus road budget to new construction.

The Brookings Institution posted the text of Bruce Katz's remarks at the recent Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Mayor Jackson "is right to be skeptical" about the the Ohio Department of Transportation's promises to replace diverted federal transportation stimulus dollars. The projects funded by the shifted funds are not in the Cleveland area, which the editorial says "reveals the depth of the state's neglect of its urban economic engines in favor of spreading political peanut butter for votes."

Of the $220 million in federal stimulus funds awarded to Cleveland transportation projects, the Ohio Department of Transportation has diverted $135 million to projects elsewhere in the state. While ODOT has pledged to replace the shifted funds with other state and federal highway dollars, Mayor Jackson is worried that the State will be unable to fulfill its commitment. On Tuesday, he outlined his concerns in a letter to Governor Strickland.

Update: an ODOT spokesperson said that the agency remains committed to the projects.

The Plain Dealer published another editorial about funding for the Ohio Urban University Program, and again urged Ohio legislators to keep the program alive.

At the request of federal transportation officials, the Ohio Department of Transportation reassigned $57 million in federal stimulus funds from highway planning and design work to shorter-term construction projects, including the $20 million that had been designated for the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland. ODOT officials said that the planning projects will be supported with non-stimulus funds. In April, ODOT redirected $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds initially assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project.

A Plain Dealer analysis of the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision on municipal residency requirements described the ruling as "the whack of a gavel pounding another nail -- perhaps the final one -- into home rule's coffin."

A Cincinnati Enquirer editorial says that the foreclosure reform measure passed by the Ohio House last month deserves fair consideration by the Ohio Senate.

(via ReBuild Ohio)

In a 5-2 ruling on Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a 2006 state law that eliminated residency requirements for local governments in the state. In his majority opinion, Justice Pfeifer cited Section 34 of the Ohio Constitution, which says that the General Assembly may enact laws for the general welfare of employees. The City of Cleveland and 137 other Ohio cities and villages had instituted residency rules for employees. Other states have also banned residency requirements.

Members of Cleveland's safety forces celebrated the ruling, but City officials were not pleased. Mayor Jackson said he was disappointed, but would abide by the decision. Cleveland City Council called the ruling flawed and was critical of state legislators who supported the law. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the decision was "horrendous" and that it "undermines home rule" and "sets a pernicious precedent." Local real estate experts do not expect to see a rapid exit of City employees, but a gradual migration is possible.

Over 400 people attended the Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit on Monday. Keynote speaker Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution made suggestions for improving Ohio's competitiveness through government reform, and urged state leaders to target investments in urban areas instead of spreading them around "like peanut butter."

Governor Strickland and ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris were in Washington, D.C. yesterday to promote Ohio's high-speed rail plans. They're seeking $400 million in federal funds for the planned 3-C Corridor.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch offers more details.

The Brookings Institution published "Addressing Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the Next Steps," a paper by Alan Mallach. Greater Ohio issued a draft of the paper in April.

In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned two lower courts, ruling that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has exclusive jurisdiction in the state on tree removal matters in utility easements and that the lower courts lacked the jurisdiction to decide the case. A Brooklyn couple had contested FirstEnergy's right to cut down a tree on their property.

The Ohio EPA awarded nine 319 grants, including a $329,208 grant to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to restore an unnamed tributary of Tinkers Creek (PDF) in Hudson and a $249,984 grant to Metro Parks, Serving Summit County to restore sections of Furnace Run (PDF) in Richfield. Meanwhile, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission gave a $15,000 grant to the GreenCityBlueLake Institute for a land use planning project, and gave a $14,900 grant to the Chagrin River Watershed Partners to develop a clean water web portal.

The Ohio Department of Development will begin accepting applications for round three of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program on July 1.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

A Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit will be held at Cleveland State on June 8. The event is part of the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio. The Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz will be the keynote speaker.

ODNR's Office of Coastal Management awarded more than $1 million in Coastal Management Assistance Grants to 10 organizations and government entities (PDF). The grants include $50,000 to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for its Walworth Run Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study and $68,250 to the Cleveland Metroparks to develop a shoreline management plan for Huntington Reservation.

Update: West Life has more details.

The Ohio House passed House Bill 3 yesterday by a vote of 54 to 43. The foreclosure reform legislation now goes to the Ohio Senate, which is not expected to immediately consider the bill because members are concentrating on the state budget.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the legislation.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the Ohio law that reinstated public hearing requirements for port authorities.

New age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Ohio's population remained virtually unchanged but continued to grow more diverse. Nationally, minority populations grew again, but more slowly than previously anticipated. The growth rates of Hispanic and Asian populations have started to decline, reflecting the recent drop in immigration levels.

Update: the Plain Dealer posted the figures for Greater Cleveland.

An Ohio House committee approved foreclosure reform legislation yesterday. Among the items in House Bill 3 is a six-month foreclosure moratorium. A provision that would have allowed judges to modify mortgage terms was removed from the bill. Representative Foley of Cleveland, the bill's sponsor, spoke with WTAM about it. The entire House may vote on the legislation next week.

Last week, the U.S. EPA announced $111.9 million in grants, of which $5.6 million will be for projects in Ohio. Cuyahoga County received a $1 million grant to conduct brownfields assessments at about 35 sites. The grants were "bolstered by funds" from the federal stimulus bill.

By a vote of 52-42, the Ohio House passed a bill that would give more rights to renters living in foreclosed properties. The bill now heads to the state Senate, and a Plain Dealer editorial urges the Senate to pass it.

Amtrak proposed a route for 3-C Corridor as part of the study it is conducting for the Ohio Rail Development Commission. The route includes stops in downtown Cleveland and near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, but does not go through Akron or Elyria. The passenger rail study should be completed in August.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, University of Dayton professor Michael Gorman says that Ohio should invest in its freight rail infrastructure in addition to improving its passenger rail network: "Investing in our freight rail system would be smart spending that would stimulate jobs now, reduce oil consumption, extend the life of existing roadways and help the environment."

In a News-Herald column, Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio makes a case for increasing state funding for Ohio's public transit systems. She says that "transportation spending should better reflect the positive role public transit can play in creating a more equitable, vibrant and sustainable Ohio."

The Ohio EPA yesterday announced plans to invest $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and low-interest state loans in water and sewer infrastructure projects. Approximately $46 million will go to projects in Northeast Ohio, including $5 million for two NEORSD sewer projects. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled plans for $750 million in stimulus funds, of which the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will receive about $7.8 million. The award will fund five projects in the Park. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the dollars (PDF) will help address the Park's maintenance backlog. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will reallocate $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds it recently assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland to 52 other projects across the state. ODOT officials say that the funding will be replaced with other state and federal dollars.

Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his strategic plan for high-speed rail in the United States. It includes two connections to Cleveland as part of the Chicago Hub Network: the 3-Corridor that would link Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and a line between Cleveland and Chicago that would stop in Toledo. Governor Strickland said that Ohio will compete for federal stimulus dollars that have been allocated for high-speed rail.

Recent reports by Francisca Richter and Lisa Nelson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland compared the way the foreclosure crisis has played out in Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood and the Pittsburgh borough of Braddock. Although the two areas look similar on paper, the foreclosure rate has been much higher in Collinwood. The difference may be attributable to the different regulatory environments of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Greater Ohio released a final draft of "Addressing Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the next steps" (PDF), a new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution. He identified seven objectives and 26 recommendations for state-level policy changes. The paper will be formally published by the Brookings Institution later this spring.

The proposed elimination of the Ohio Urban University Program would lead to layoffs at Cleveland State University. A Plain Dealer editorial again urges state lawmakers to save the program.

A bipartisan conference committee of state legislators crafted a compromise biennial transportation budget, and although a disagreement prevented a vote on Tuesday, the Ohio House and Senate both passed the bill yesterday. Governor Strickland signed the budget bill late last night. The final version kept $250 million for passenger rail along the 3-C Corridor.

The federal stimulus bill passed in February includes $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. The grants are available to fund projects that reduce energy use or improve energy efficiency. Ohio's share of the allocations is $84 million. Cuyahoga County will receive $5.8 million and the City of Cleveland will receive $4.5 million.

Ohio officials today announced that 149 transportation infrastructure projects in 87 Ohio counties will receive a total of $774 million in federal stimulus funds. The largest single investment was for the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland, which will receive $200 million. The other major project in Cuyahoga County to be funded is the Opportunity Corridor, which is slated to receive $20 million.

Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio is the author of Committing to Commuters, a new report about state of public transit in Ohio. In an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, she wrote about the state's lack of investment in public transportation and the need for a dedicated funding source. An editorial in the paper agrees with her conclusions.

The Levin College Forum at CSU will host a discussion titled "Building our Future Beyond Foreclosure" on April 23. It will "highlight existing civic visions and plans for the Northeast Ohio region and the state." Panelists will include David Beach, Lavea Brachman, Andrew Jackson, Robert Jaquay, and Wendy Kellogg.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory statistics reveal that Ohio businesses emitted 3.89% fewer toxins in 2007 than in 2006. Factories and power plants in Ohio continued to emit more air pollution than any other state. Nationwide, toxic releases declined by 5% in 2007. A provision in the recent appropriations bill reinstated stronger reporting requirements, reversing a 2006 Bush administration rule.

The Ohio Senate passed the two-year transportation budget bill, but removed some of Governor Strickland's proposals. Funding for the 3-C Corridor was retained. A compromise bill is expected to emerge from a joint Senate-House conference committee. The Governor's office says that another provision in the Senate bill threatens $96 million in federal stimulus funds.

Update: in an editorial, the Plain Dealer backs the commuter rail plans.

Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish is urging ODOT to assign $200 million in federal stimulus funds for repairs to the Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland.

Policy Matters Ohio's annual foreclosure report says that the 85,782 new foreclosure filings in Ohio last year were a record high. Cuyahoga County had the most filings for the fourth consecutive year, but the number of filings in Cuyahoga County was 7.3% lower in 2008 than in 2007. The largest increases in foreclosure filings were in the state's rural counties.

As of yesterday, the State of Ohio had received over 20,000 proposals for investing federal stimulus dollars. The Akron Beacon Journal identified the suggestions for the Akron area. Several application deadlines have already passed, and the state encourages applicants to submit proposals as quickly as possible. In addition, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved spending $360 million of stimulus funds on brownfield remediation, trails, parks, and other items. The Ohio House is also expected to pass the bill. NOACA will receive nearly $44.2 million in stimulus funds, which will be divided proportionately among its five-county service area. The agency's RTIS will select the projects that will be funded.

Last week, the Ohio House passed a two-year transportation budget bill that would allocate $7.6 billion, plus $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funds. It includes $250 million for the 3-C Corridor passenger rail proposal. The Ohio Senate is now debating the plan. GreenCityBlueLake describes it as "a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild our transportation system", while WKSU commentator Paul Gaston provides a historical perspective.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board held its first meeting last Thursday. The 28-member board is scheduled to make recommendations to the governor and general assembly by June 2010.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges state leaders to restore proposed cuts to the Ohio Urban University Program, saying that "the research done by the Levin College and the others is a bargain."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial also says that the program deserves to be saved.

Heritage Ohio, a statewide historic preservation and downtown development organization, launched a redesigned website and Ohio Downtown Revitalization, a new weblog.

The Ohio House may pass a $7.5 billion state transportation budget this week. It includes funding for the 3-C Corridor, a proposed passenger rail line connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. The Ohio Senate does not have a vote scheduled.

(via Ohio Passenger Rail)

Republicans in the Ohio House want to wait until a study of the proposed 3-C Corridor is finished before pursuing the project. However, they lack the votes to delay it, and passenger rail supporters counter that waiting could hurt the state's chances of receiving federal stimulus funds.

Governor Strickland's proposed two-year budget suggests cutting $5 million from the Ohio Urban University Program, which would result in a $1.6 million reduction for the Levin College of Urban Affairs. Cleveland State University officials are lobbying the state to restore the funding or reduce the size of the cuts.

As of last Friday, Ohio officials had received nearly 7,500 proposals for federal stimulus funds, adding up to about $28 million in requests. The state expects to receive about $8 billion. By yesterday, the number of requests had topped 10,000. GreenCityBlueLake has suggestions for greening the stimulus investments. The list (XLS, 8.3 MB) is available at the state's stimulus website, and Cleveland.com also posted the database.

Ohio passenger rail advocates are urging the Ohio Department of Transportation to apply for federal funding of high-speed and intercity rail projects. ODOT must submit a strategic plan before April 18.

Update: WKSU has more information.

Foreclosure statistics released by the Ohio Supreme Court show that Ohio experienced a record high number of foreclosures in 2008. It was the 13th consecutive year with an increase. However, the rate of increase slowed to 3.1%, the smallest figure in the 13-year period.

Cuyahoga County's $420 million wish list for federal stimulus dollars includes gray and green infrastructure projects, green energy initiatives, and social service programs. The State of Ohio is accepting suggestions for stimulus projects at a special website.

Update: this week's Sun Newspapers have more details about the requests made by Euclid and Broadview Heights leaders.

Democrats in the Ohio House have proposed foreclosure prevention legislation that includes a six-month foreclosure moratorium and would allow judges to rewrite mortgage terms when homeowners owe more than property is worth, among other provisions. A Morning Journal editorial says that the moratorium "makes sense in the current economic crisis."

Update: WKSU has additional reactions.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the nation increased by 4% between 2002 and 2007, but the number of farms in Ohio fell by 2.5% over the same period. While Ohio now has fewer family farms, more of them are operated by women.

Channel 3 followed up yesterday's story about creating a sustainable transportation system with a report about transportation choices that individuals can make. The station also examined proposals for commuter rail in Ohio.

A draft recommendation by the Ohio EPA identifies 31 counties as nonattainment areas under federal ozone standards adopted last year. The list includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing about the recommendation in Columbus on February 12. The Greater Cleveland counties also fail to meet older, less stringent standards.

Eleven Greater Cleveland cities made requests for federal stimulus dollars through a report compiled by the United States Conference of Mayors. The Plain Dealer lists their proposals. Ohio leaders have been actively lobbying for funding, and the state may receive $6.8 billion.

Persisting Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Ohio Mortgage Lending, a new report from the Housing Research & Advocacy Center, found that upper-income African Americans in the state were denied home mortgages more often than low-income whites. It also found that they were more likely to receive high-cost subprime loans.

The transportation portion of Governor Strickland's budget proposal includes tolls for new road construction, support for commuter rail, and new funding mechanisms for road improvements, among other items. Meanwhile, AMATS unveiled a draft of its Transportation Outlook (PDF) for Summit and Portage counties. It will be open for public comment (PDF) through February 27.

Yesterday's Sound of Ideas show was devoted to a discussion of residency requirements for municipal employees.

Ohio officials do not intend to join California and 13 other states in their effort to set strict new automobile emissions standards.

The Plain Dealer has more details about how Ronn Richard will help to coordinate the distribution of federal stimulus dollars.

Greater Ohio's Gene Krebs, a member of the Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force, feels that ODOT does not need an increased gas tax and instead requires "greater accountability and performance criteria on infrastructure investments".

The Ohio Department of Transportation has begun considering whether to replace the state's gas tax with a mileage tax.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director James Beasley will retire at the end of the month. He has held the post since February 2007. Governor Strickland appointed Jolene Molitoris as his successor. She is the current ODOT assistant director and the former head of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Update: passenger rail advocates hope that she will be supportive of commuter rail projects.

Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases about residency requirements for government employees. A 2006 Ohio law banned the residency requirements, and the Cities of Akron and Lima sued to block the law. The state law was upheld in local trial courts, but was overturned by appellate courts. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last year, and the City of Cleveland joined Lima's defense as a friend of the court. 138 cities and villages in Ohio have residency laws.

David Beach shares his thoughts about the recommendations recently identified by ODOT's 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force and what it will take to develop a sustainable transportation system.

While the E-Check program remains unpopular among Greater Clevelanders, U.S. EPA officials say that an automobile emissions inspection program for the region is required under the Clean Air Act. Strickland administration representatives would not say if they plan to continue E-Check, which is set to expire in June.

Update: a News-Herald editorial says that Ohio leaders must fix the program.

Governor Strickland appointed Ronn Richard of the Cleveland Foundation as Ohio's infrastructure czar. In the temporary, part-time position, he will guide the process to select projects and distribute funds from the federal stimulus package. Frank Jackson is pleased with the selection.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case about municipal residency requirements. Brent Larkin of the Plain Dealer says that if the Court strikes down the requirements, it will "essentially complete the exodus of the middle class" from Cleveland.

Update: WCPN has more information about the case.

An amendment to the recently-adopted land bank bill requires Ohio port authorities to conduct master plans and hold public hearings. It is known as the Hauser amendment, in recognition of the late Ed Hauser, who had promoted the language.

In addition to the other requests for anticipated federal infrastructure stimulus dollars, Environment Ohio compiled a list of 100 renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation projects in Ohio.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Mayor Jackson should include more green projects in his wish list and develop a "cohesive plan that pulls together a variety of initiatives to 'brand' Cleveland as a green city and help to establish it as the world center of freshwater wind-power development, engineering and manufacturing."

In the last two years, Ohio officials have issued no fines for transporting firewood out of areas where a quarantine intended to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer is in place. Regulators say that they're focusing on education.

The 15-member Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration held its first meeting on Monday. The panel is charged with developing "recommendations on ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of local government operations, to achieve cost savings for taxpayers, and to facilitate economic development in this state."

The Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force delivered its report to Governor Strickland today. The task force identified four strategies and made 13 recommendations. The final report (PDF) and its appendices (PDF) are available online.

Update: the Plain Dealer and the Blade have more information about the task force's recommendations, which include raising the state's fuel tax. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the report "intelligently addresses the state's transportation needs".

Armond Budish, the new Speaker of the Ohio House, outlined his urban agenda yesterday, calling for the creation of a compact with Ohio cities. In exchange for providing special incentives for urban areas, he wants cities to participate in regionalism initiatives.

Update: three state legislators discussed the proposal and other issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

Grants of up to $3 million are available to communities seeking to acquire land for preservation or recreation within Ohio's Lake Erie watershed. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will refer up to three projects to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for consideration. The application deadline is February 17.

Update: WKSU shares more details.

As expected, the U.S. EPA announced yesterday that Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties failed to meet new standards for fine particle pollution. The Ohio EPA has three years to draft a compliance plan, and the counties must comply with the standards by April 2014. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court reversed itself (PDF) yesterday and temporarily reinstated the Clean Air Interstate Rule that it struck down in July. The EPA is still required to revise the rule but has no deadline for doing so.

New U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates say that Ohio gained 18,993 residents between July 2007 and July 2008. The 0.1% increase was one of the nation's slowest rates of growth. Between July 2000 and July 2008, the state grew by 1.1%, an increase of 121,767 people.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "anemic population growth makes it critical that this state and region develop an agenda that aims to restore and revitalize cities as the engines of job development and growth."

The Ohio Department of Development will distribute more than $83 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to communities across the state. Cuyahoga County will receive $1.3 million, the City of Cleveland will receive $9.4 million, and Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Lakewood, and Parma will also receive awards. The dollars are in addition to the appropriations directly awarded to cities and counties in September. The Ohio Department of Development also announced that Cuyahoga County will receive a $2.15 million Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant. It will be used to remediate property along the Cuyahoga River's Old Channel and prepare it for Great Lakes Towing Company's $23 million ship building project.

Update: Cuyahoga County and the Great Lakes Towing Company will supply local matches for the Clean Ohio grant.

"What's at Stake," a new report from Environment Ohio, enumerates the environmental, economic, and human health threats posed by global warming. It says that "if unchecked, global warming will affect every part of Ohio in the coming century" and urges action to curb emissions of global warming pollutants.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Ohio leaders should be "pushing and preparing aggressively for action, emphasizing the cost if steps are not taken."

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the county land bank legislation on its final day of business last week, and the Ohio Senate concurred with the House version of the bill. The legislation was revised to so that it applies only to Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign the bill, and Cuyahoga County officials hope to begin operating the land bank early next year.

The Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District decided not to ban any counties from sending trash to landfills in the District. Under a controversial new rule, the District could prevent counties that recycle less waste than Stark, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties from using the landfills.

This week's Scene includes a look at the increasing popularity of urban farming in Cleveland. Early next month, City Council may vote on legislation relaxing the rules for raising chickens and bees. At the state level, the Ohio Food Policy Council is promoting the advancement of local food systems.

The Ohio Senate approved the countywide land bank legislation on Wednesday. It now moves to the Ohio House, where a vote may be held next week.

Update: WKSU has more information.

Beyond REO, a new report from Case's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, tracked property transfers of Cuyahoga County houses following sheriff's sales. In 2005, 3.62% of these houses sold at extremely depressed prices. By June 2008, the proportion had grown to 42.26%. Many of these properties are in Cleveland's east side neighborhoods. The report identified the proposed countywide land banks as a potential method of returning distressed properties to productive use.

Meanwhile, a new policy discussion paper (PDF) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland describes the countywide land bank legislation. In addition, University of Missouri - St. Louis Professor Todd Swanstrom compared the ways that Cleveland and St. Louis have responded to the foreclosure crisis (PDF).

Ohio Department of Transportation officials are revising the criteria used to set transportation funding priorities. The new formulas will place less emphasis on traditional factors like traffic volume and capacity, and give more weight to economic development and environmental factors. ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council will vote on the changes on December 18.

(via ClevelandTOD)

Eleven landfills in Ohio, including one in Solon, are participating in the U.S. EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program, and more will be added soon. The program promotes the use of landfill gas as a renewable energy source.

Ohio Rail Development Commission officials are optimistic about the possibility of receiving $100 million in proposed federal infrastructure stimulus funds for the planned 3-C Corridor.

A group of Greater Clevelanders traveled to Columbus yesterday to advocate for Senate Bill 353, the countywide land bank bill. Supporters hope that the Ohio legislature will approve the bill in this month's lame duck session.

Update: WCPN has more details.

Legislation for countywide land banks was the subject of discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program. Hearings on the proposal are expected to begin soon in the Ohio legislature. The program also examined the topic in November 2007.

An Akron Beacon Journal review of Ohio EPA recycling data indicates that Cuyahoga County will likely be among the counties that do not conform to a controversial new rule of the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Solid Waste Management District and will be banned from using the three landfills in the District. The rule is being challenged by the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

Armond Budish, the Speaker-elect of the Ohio House of Representatives, pledged to focus on urban revitalization and economic development, but did not reveal specific proposals.

The Ohio 11th District Appeals Court heard oral arguments in the Lake Erie property lines case on Tuesday. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources earlier attempted to have one of the three judges disqualified because of a potential conflict of interest, but was rebuffed by the Ohio Supreme Court. A decision is not expected for several months.

Calling it "Greater Cleveland's last, best chance to end the foreclosure feeding frenzy that is consuming neighborhoods and eviscerating property values," a Plain Dealer editorial urges state and local officials to support countywide land bank legislation.

Update: Becky Gaylord feels that Cleveland needs "bold, strong action, such as creating a regional land bank."

The Ohio Department of Development awarded 12 Job Ready Sites program grants, two of which were for projects in Cuyahoga County. The City of Cleveland received $5 million for the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Center, a planned redevelopment of a 57-acre brownfield site near the Cuyahoga River. Ray Fogg Building Methods received $4.3 million to assist in the development of an industrial park on the 80-acre PMX site in Euclid.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded over $1 million in grants for local watershed protection programing. The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District received $54,000 for work on Euclid Creek, Grand River Partners received $140,000, and NEFCO received $100,000 for work on the Middle Cuyahoga River.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the 15 recipients of Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grants, including six projects in Northeast Ohio. The cities of Cleveland and Parma were the awardees in Cuyahoga County. Initiatives of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association and the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium were not selected for awards.

The News-Herald looked at the conflicts and the problems resulting from a 2004 Ohio law that removed local oversight of natural gas and oil wells. Some are opposed to the increase in drilling and hope to revise the law.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio say that "Ohio policies stack the deck against core communities, systematically favoring the growth of new places over the redevelopment of older ones and failing to leverage the assets in these places in any coherent way" and that state programs and policies should "identify and build on the key assets that drive prosperity in the places where they occur."

The Ohio Department of Development announced the recipients in the second round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program today. Of the 48 projects selected, 14 are in Cleveland. The Terminal Tower, St. Luke's Hospital, and the East Ohio Gas Building on East 6th Street each received credits valued at an estimated $5 million.

Statewide smart growth advocacy organization Greater Ohio recently started a weblog. It's intended to "act as a forum for discussion and commentary on Restoring Prosperity policy proposals & innovative local initiatives."

The Plain Dealer summarized the impacts of the Clean Ohio program in Greater Cleveland. The bond program is up for renewal as Issue 2, and Lakewood City Council passed a resolution in support of program.

Update: Issue 2 has bipartisan support from top office-holders in Columbus.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission released the Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Plan 2008 (PDF) last week. It lays out ten priorities for preserving and restoring the Lake between now and 2014 and says that "we must fundamentally change the manner in which we make land use, energy use and development decisions in the Lake Erie watershed." The first Protection & Restoration Plan was published in 2000.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission was one of 15 recipients of intercity passenger rail grants from the Federal Railroad Administration. The $62,500 award will help pay for an Amtrak study of the proposed 3-C Corridor, a line that would link Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges voters to approve Issue 2, the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, calling it a "a sound investment that benefits both urban and rural Ohioans."

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data covering 2007 social, economic, and housing characteristics. The data was interpreted in a variety of fashions:

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the data for Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan areas, Ohio, and the nation.

An Akron Beacon Journal backs the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that it "has been a catalyst for change in the state's economy."

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the efforts of state leaders to craft more effective urban policies, and says that "Ohio's economy won't be healthy until its cities do better."

Over 1,000 people attended the Restoring Our Prosperity Policy Summit in Columbus yesterday to discuss the economic competitiveness of Ohio's cities. A recurring theme of the initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio, was the need for intergovernmental partnerships.

A preliminary report issued in conjunction with the event says that "state policies have failed to keep pace with the changing dynamics of today's social, environmental, and economic reality" and identifies strategies for reinvigorating Ohio's 32 "core communities". The final report will be delivered in January.

The Ohio EPA is preparing to submit a plan for bringing into compliance the 27 counties that do not meet federal particulate pollution standards. Cuyahoga County is the only one expected to have problems meeting the standards by the April 5, 2010 deadline. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on September 17 at the Twinsburg Public Library. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is in the process of designating nonattainment areas under new, more stringent particulate rules.

The Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District is proceeding with a controversial rule that could prevent landfills in the three county area from accepting trash from Cuyahoga and Summit counties.

Update: an appeal of a lower court decision upholding the rule was heard by the 5th District Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Leaders in the Youngstown area are encouraged by the prospect of federal funding for the Ohio Hub plan, which would provide rail service to Youngstown and Warren via a line between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The Ohio EPA released a draft of rule changes for the state's water quality regulations. The agency will accept public comments on the revisions through September 30. Three more packages of proposed rule changes will be released over the next six months.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold three public meetings in September about proposed changes to the policies regulating development along the Lake Erie coastline. The Cuyahoga County meeting will be held on September 18 at the Don Umerley Civic Center in Rocky River.

The Federal Highway Administration released data showing that Americans drove less for the eighth straight month, driving 12.2 billion fewer miles (a 4.7% decrease) in June 2008 than in June 2007. Ohio drivers reduced their travel by 442 million miles (4.6%) over the same period.

The Ohio Department of Development will announce additional historic preservation tax credit awards before the end of September. Changes to the rules place a greater emphasis on the potential economic benefits of redevelopment and a more equitable distribution across the state. A large percentage of the round one awards went to projects in Cleveland.

In an editorial, the Morning Journal supports the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that "it's one issue that should not get lost in the crowd" this November.

Yesterday, Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety about the implications of the court decision that struck down the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. He encouraged Congress to pass a bill that would reinstate the rule.

The National Resources Defense Council rated the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second worst in the nation, an improvement over last year's last place ranking. The annual Testing the Waters report placed the beaches (PDF) at Villa Angela State Park and Euclid Beach State Park among the worst ten for exceeding public health standards.

Ohio EPA officials worry that the agency's plans to reduce smog and soot may now be insufficient, because a federal appeals court recently struck down a U.S. EPA rule intended to reduce soot and smog through a cap-and-trade program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges federal leaders to create a replacement for the rejected rule.

A new report (PDF) from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research predicts that global warming could cost Ohio billions of dollars in the shipping, tourism, and recreation industries if current trends continue unabated.

Update: WCPN presents more details.

GreenCityBlueLake cites a new study from the National Resources Defense Council to explain why RTA is experiencing financial difficulties, noting that Ohio was "ranked 40th in transit spending (.77% spent on transit compared to highway spending in 2006)."

A 2009 appropriations bill recently approved (PDF) by a U.S. Senate committee includes $500,000 for an environmental impact study of the Ohio Hub plan. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Ken Sislak of All Aboard Ohio advocates for increased funding of high-speed rail.

Enabling legislation for proposed countywide land banks was introduced in both branches of the Ohio Legislature yesterday. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis has been promoting the concept since last year.

Update: WCPN has more information.

The E-Check program was extended through the end of June 2009 for seven Greater Cleveland counties. Ohio will pay for the program through general revenue funds, and not the tobacco settlement money that was previously used.

North Royalton leaders recently passed a measure requiring increased notification when an oil or gas well is drilled. At least one company intends to ignore the new rules, because they are unenforceable under state law.

The Blade published a series on the downtowns of Ohio's major cities and how they have changed. It included an article about downtown Cleveland.

(via Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed the bill ratifying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Legislators in Michigan also passed the agreement, and Governor Granholm is expected to sign it, leaving Pennsylvania as the only state that has yet to approve the Compact.

Greater Ohio Co-Director Gene Krebs is touring the state to promote the organization's Restoring Our Prosperity initiative. He was in Hamilton last week and met with Ashtabula leaders on Wednesday. The effort is part of the Brookings Institution's Restoring Prosperity initiative, which provides an agenda for revitalizing the nation's older industrial cities.

(via Restoring Prosperity and Advance Northeast Ohio)

A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Ohio has done the right thing" in reviving the Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.

The Plain Dealer's Elizabeth Sullivan says that if Ohio's congressional delegation can cooperate across party lines, the state is well-positioned to gain federal investments in intercity passenger rail. She also notes that "a Chicago-to-Cleveland high-speed rail line is one of only 12 authorized routes that will be grandfathered" into Amtrak reauthorization legislation.

MyHometownOhio lists the changes to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program that were made as part of the recent economic stimulus package.

Update: The Plain Dealer has more details about the changes.

The Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus upheld a challenge of Ohio Senate Bill 18. The legislation passed in 2005 stripped most zoning authority from Ohio counties and townships. The Attorney General's office has not yet decided whether to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court

The majority of people at the Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting on Tuesday expressed a desire for better public transit service, and many said that Ohio needs to become less dependent on highways. The final regional Task Force meeting will be held on Monday in Akron.

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, could fund up to 80% of intercity passenger rail projects. It could provide dollars for the Ohio Hub plan and the proposed 3-C corridor.

In anticipation of today's Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting, WCPN's Sound of Ideas program hosted a discussion of the issues this morning.

An Akron Beacon Journal says that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact "is essential to the region effectively managing a most valuable resource, one-fifth of the planet's fresh water." Toledo Blade columnist Tom Henry says that the "eight-state agreement could go down in history as one of the most important of our era."

The economic stimulus package signed yesterday by Governor Strickland includes a renewal of the Clean Ohio program. If Ohio voters approve the $400 million bond issue in November, funding for the program will be doubled. Half of the funds would be used for brownfield remediation, and the other half would support greenspace conservation, trail construction, and farmland preservation.

Concerned by the continuing increase in the number of new natural gas and oil wells, the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association is examining what local communities can do to address noise and safety issues.

Attendees at an Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force meeting in Toledo yesterday urged the state to invest more in public transportation. The Task Force will hold a Cleveland meeting on Tuesday.

Ohio Republican legislators were able to appease Democrats in the Ohio House, and as expected, the House approved placing the proposed water rights constitutional amendment on the November ballot and the Ohio Senate unanimously voted in favor of joining the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Governor Strickland said he would sign the Compact.

Update: the Blade and the Plain Dealer have more details.

Ohio has changed its approach to the emerald ash borer over the last five years, shifting from efforts designed to block its spread to education, outreach, and management. The invasive insect has been discovered in 35 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Job Opportunities for the Green Economy (PDF), a new study (PDF) from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, reports on the potential employment benefits from building a green economy in 12 states. It concludes that in Ohio, "there are more than 551,000 jobs (PDF) in a representative group of job areas that could see job growth or wage increases by putting global warming solutions to work."

ODOT's Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force will hold one of its seven statewide transportation conversations at Cleveland State University on June 17. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting, complete an online survey, and provide ideas and opinions.

Plans to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact suffered a setback in the Ohio legislature yesterday. Democrats in the House blocked a proposal to put a water rights constitutional amendment on the ballot, and Senate Republicans responded by calling off a vote on the Compact. Legislators will discuss the issue again on June 10.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial predicts that Governor "Strickland will knock heads among Democrats" to get the Compact passed.

The Brookings Institution detailed the carbon footprints of the 100 largest American metropolitan areas by analyzing emissions from transportation and residential sources in 2005. Urban residents generally had smaller carbon footprints than rural residents, but several Ohio metropolitan areas were among those with the largest footprints due in part to their reliance on coal. Cincinnati and Toledo were in the top five. The Cleveland metropolitan area had the 31st-smallest footprint of the 100 cities examined, ranking 12th-lowest in emissions from transportation and 74th-lowest in emissions from residential energy use.

Governor Doyle of Wisconsin signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today, leaving Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as the only states that have yet to adopt the agreement. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Ohio Senate's pending approval of the Compact makes "Ohio's long-term future got a bit more secure".

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune looked at the Compact's implications for communities near the lakes and quoted Peter Annin: "In the near future, the tensions over Great Lakes diversions are actually going to be in the Great Lakes region."

The Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals upheld the City of Cleveland's residency requirement for municipal employees, reversing a 2007 ruling by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The Ohio Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal of related cases in Akron and Lima, and the Cleveland case is also likely to reach the Supreme Court.

The stalemate over the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact appears to be over, and the Ohio Senate is expected to approve it before adjourning next week for summer break. It's also anticipated that the Senate and House will vote to place Senator Grendell's proposed water rights constitutional amendment on the November ballot, although the two items are not formally linked.

Update: the Ohio Senate unanimously voted to put the amendment on the ballot.

Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Development announced the creation of the new Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program, which will make $900,000 available to local governments that are interested in studying regional cooperation. The application deadline is July 29.

31 of Ohio's top 100 polluters are among the companies participating in the Ohio EPA's voluntary Tox-Minus program. In Northeast Ohio, 15 plants are participating (PDF), although Lincoln Electric is the sole Cuyahoga County participant. The program is an effort to reduce pollution identified in the national Toxics Release Inventory.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials praise the regionalism agenda of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cleveland District of Design collaboration. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal says that "the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate stands strikingly alone" in its opposition to the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, while an editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the opposition may be breaking down.

Update: an editorial in the Beacon Journal is also positive about the regionalism initiative.

Wisconsin and Michigan are close to adopting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, increasing pressure on the Ohio Senate to also approve the pact. Ohio and Pennsylvania are now the only states whose legislatures have not passed it. NPR devoted today's episode of Talk of the Nation to a discussion of the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Senate approved former ODNR Director Sam Speck's appointment to the binational International Joint Commission. The opening was created when Dennis Schornack was fired last year.

Ohio State Senator Tim Grendell is scheduled to introduce his proposed groundwater rights constitutional amendment today. He has said that he would end his opposition of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact if the amendment is approved. Others assert that the amendment wouldn't change Ohio's water law and that it shouldn't be tied to approval of the Compact.

State Rep. Matt Dolan and State Sen. Tim Grendell will discuss the merits of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in Newbury Township tomorrow. Grendell is also scheduled to discuss the compact at an event on Monday in Chesterland.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from workers challenging municipal residency requirements. Several Ohio Courts of Appeals, most recently the 6th District in Toledo and the 9th District in Akron, have struck down the state's 2006 law that bans the residency requirements.

Update: WCPN has more details.

Built to Move Millions, a new book by Lorain County Community College Professor Craig Semsel, looks at the history of streetcar manufacturing in Ohio.

The U.S. Census Bureau released national and state population estimates by race, Hispanic origin, sex, and age. Between July 2006 and July 2007, Ohio's minority population grew by 22,403 people, a 1.1% increase. The state's white population shrank as baby boomers moved south and west, but the increases in African-American, Asian-American, and Latino populations more than offset the losses.

At a meeting in Toledo yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher called on the Ohio Senate to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. He also said the state should "develop an industry cluster based on companies that deal with safe, clean water."

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

A bill introduced in the Ohio House would establish the Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration, a temporary state commission that would examine ways to cut costs and increase efficiency by reforming and restructuring local government.

A Plain Dealer editorial draws connections between a recent report on the potential financial benefits of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, ballast water legislation recently passed by the U.S. House, the nascent water technology industry, and the Ohio Senate's stance on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

The Vulcan Project at Purdue University reports that for states, Ohio had the third-highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions. For counties, Cuyahoga County had the fourth-highest amount. The state and county fared much better when per capita emissions were calculated.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that state officials erred in limiting participation in the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, and urges them to remove the "outrageous and capricious cap".

The Plain Dealer reviewed the history of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, the controversial decision to cap its funding at $120 million, and the program's potential direction in the future.

Environmentalists are concerned that new federal wetlands mitigation rules could weaken the Ohio EPA's standards. State officials have been unsatisfied with the quality of wetland mitigation banks and encourage developers to create replacement wetlands on or near development sites. The new federal rules, which are preferred by developers, name mitigation banks as the best option.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's new Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force will hold its inaugural meeting next month in Columbus. It will encourage conversations on three key issues: promoting a multi-modal system, generating economic development, and maximizing public investment. A final report is expected by this fall.

Update: the West Side Sun News and the Plain Dealer have more information.

Several Ohio property owners are suing the Ohio Department of Development, claiming that the agency's decision to halt the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program was illegal. The proposed Ohio stimulus package may include additional funding for the program.

In the third and final article in its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer examined ways that the Cleveland area could utilize its wealth of water for economic advantage, and noted the recent Global Water Ventures of Cleveland feasibility study.

Meanwhile, a pair of newspaper editorials weighed in on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Morning Journal says that "best thing [State Senator Time Grendell] can do for Ohio is drop his objections entirely and help get the Great Lakes pact approved as soon as possible." The Plain Dealer called Grendell's proposal for a constitutional amendment "a laughable idea designed to prevent or slow passage of the water deal."

In its annual foreclosure report, Policy Matters Ohio said that although "foreclosure filings are still more heavily concentrated in urban counties, greater growth is occurring in outlying areas." Foreclosure filings in Ohio rose by 6.7% in 2007, but increased by 22.3% in Lake County, 21.4% in Geauga County, and 17.8% in Medina County.

Frustrated by the lack of local governance over natural gas drilling, the recently-formed Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project is calling for the return of gas well regulatory authority to municipalities.

Wisconsin legislators reached a compromise in language for the adoption of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and are are expected to ratify it at a special legislative session on April 17. Ohio State Senator Tim Grendell, the state's most vocal critic of the Compact, said he would be willing to drop his opposition if Ohio voters approve a constitutional amendment that he is drafting. Senator Grendell, Ohio State Rep. Matt Dolan, and author Peter Annin were among the guests on yesterday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN, where they discussed the Compact.

In the second part of its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer looks at the legislative debate surrounding the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and adds an infographic and a FAQ on the Compact.

Toledo's Blade includes a look at John Austin's suggestions for improving the Great Lakes economy, and a column by Tom Henry that says that Lee Fisher "should have known better" than to suggest that Ohio might "sell Great Lakes water to thirsty parts of the country".

(via Great Lakes Blogger and Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

At a Lake Erie development summit in Toledo, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher mentioned the possibility of selling Great Lakes water, but quickly retracted the statement. At the same event, John Austin of the Brookings Institution spoke about the new Vital Connection report. A Morning Journal editorial says that "the main impressions left by the conference are that communities throughout this region must work in unison to the benefit of the entire Great Lakes area".

An editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the Republicans in the Ohio Senate who have been blocking approval of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact "should find the uproar over Fisher's comments instructive". The Plain Dealer also prepared a presentation that summarizes the Compact.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual release of county population estimates shows that Cuyahoga County continued to lose population to its surrounding counties and to other states. Between July 2006 and July 2007, the county lost 13,304 people (about 1% of its population). Between 2000 and 2007, it lost 96,213 people (6.9% of its total), the biggest drop in the country. Ohio led the nation with seven of the 34 counties with the largest population declines.

The U.S. EPA weakened its new ozone standards after a last-minute intervention by President Bush. The agency also predicted that Geauga County will be one of only 28 counties in the nation that will fail to meet the new rules by 2020. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says the limits will cause economic hardship in Ohio.

Update: local Republican politicians ridiculed the EPA report about Geauga County.

Nine more properties in Cleveland received awards through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. Locally, the largest credits went to the Higbee Building ($7.8 million), the Cleveland Institute of Art's McCullough Center ($5.7 million), the Hanna Building ($4.6 million), and the Union Gospel Press building ($4.4 million). It was the third and final announcement in round one of the awards. MyHometownOhio reports that there will not be a second round because the program reached its $120 million limit. The Plain Dealer listed the status of all local applicants.

The Gund Foundation's latest round of awards includes a $40,000 grant to the City Fresh program, a $90,000 grant to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy for its farmland preservation efforts, and a $100,000 grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to evaluate the economic impact of the pilot Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

An editorial in the Morning Journal says that Governor Strickland's support for reviving the 3-C passenger rail corridor "gives a boost to the long-sought commuter rail service from Cleveland to Lorain and beyond."

Governor Strickland asked Amtrak to study the 3-C Corridor, a proposed restoration of passenger rail service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. It would form the backbone of the proposed Ohio Hub system. The line has not existed since 1971. The study should be completed in 12 to 18 months.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Strickland administration "must commit the resources to back up its rhetoric about urban areas," and in a second editorial, says that Parma would be wise to enact a proposed assessment to maintain the City's infrastructure.

State Senator Tim Grendell continues to promote his rewritten version of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The original version has gathered broad support in most Great Lakes states, and a Plain Dealer editorial lambastes the Ohio Senate for its stance.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory data showed that pollution in Ohio increased by 5% in 2006. Releases of toxic substances rose from 277.1 million pounds in 2005 to 291.3 million pounds in 2006. Ohio again led all states in toxic air pollution.

(via Economic News From Ohio's Regions)

Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution write in a Plain Dealer op-ed that "Ohio's mantle as presidential battleground state" put it "in a political position to demand fresh solutions" for economic, educational, and urban issues.

Update: in a second Plain Dealer op-ed, Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio offers additional suggestions.

Through initiatives like the Fund for Our Economic Future, foundation grants for economic development activities in Ohio have tripled over the last decade. Foundations gave $24.6 million in grants to Ohio economic development programs in 2005.

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact yesterday, but the Ohio Senate is considering its controversial alternative version. The eight governors of Great Lakes states again called on state legislators to approve the Compact (PDF) as originally written.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will hang traps for the emerald ash borer in areas where the invasive insect has not yet been detected, including Geauga County, Lake County, and the southern part of Summit County.

$60 Million and Counting (executive summary, 0.6 MB PDF; complete report, 20.2 MB PDF), a new report from ReBuild Ohio and Community Research Partners, says that abandoned homes cost eight diverse Ohio cities $64 million per year and cost Cleveland $35.5 million per year. The total statewide cost may be ten times greater.

While Indiana and New York are close to adopting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, legislators in Ohio and Wisconsin could scuttle the compact. Ranking Republicans in the Ohio Senate and the Wisconsin Assembly introduced an alternative compact that they say provides a "viable alternative to the problematic wording (MS Word) in the Compact," but Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle accused them of trying to derail the compact.

(via Great Lakes Blogger)

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial again asserts that "there is no place in public life for elected officials who would put at risk the future of Northeast Ohio's most treasured asset."

The Ohio EPA proposed a new set of rules to regulate outdoor wood-fired furnaces. Their increasing popularity has led to concerns about air pollution and offensive odors. The agency is accepting public comments on the draft rules through March 7.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Strickland administration's decision to delay or scuttle the West Shoreway reconstruction project "shows a stunning insensitivity to this community's needs."

In a Morning Journal op-ed, State Senator Sue Morano says she expects the Ohio House to ratify the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact this week, and backs its passage in the Senate. She adds that "the Compact's ratification will be good for Ohio - not only in conserving our precious resource that is Lake Erie, but in preserving the extensive economic benefits the lake provides."

On Friday, the Ohio EPA released a draft of its 2008 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. It shows that "water quality is impaired but continues to improve", and that Ohio's 23 largest rivers are nearing the agency's goal to have 80% attainment of aquatic life use by 2010. However, only 55% of the state's streams meet clean water standards. The agency is accepting public comment on the report through February 25.

Since Ohio lawmakers removed local oversight of natural gas drilling in 2004, 240 permits have been issued for wells in Cuyahoga County. ODNR officials say that the house explosion in Bainbridge was "very rare" and "unlikely to happen again".

RealtyTrac reports that nationwide foreclosure filings increased by 75% in 2007. In Ohio, the number of filings rose by 88%.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the Ohio Legislature ought to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. A Plain Dealer editorial, meanwhile, attributes Ohio's lack of a water technology industry to "hopelessly out-of-touch legislators" in the state Senate.

Update: Andy Guy comments on the emerging water technology industry and references the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Siemens AG's Wisconsin operations that spurred the Plain Dealer editorial.

A bill introduced in the Ohio Sentate yesterday is aimed at expediting the foreclosure process for abandoned houses. Another bill introduced yesterday would allow cities to establish local programs similar to the statewide Clean Ohio Fund. Mayor Coleman of Columbus hopes to use the latter bill to create the Clean Columbus Fund (PDF).

State Rep. Matt Dolan and State Sen. Tim Grendell may again butt heads about whether Ohio should adopt the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. The House approved a similar Dolan-sponsored bill in 2006, but the Senate never voted on it due to opposition from Grendell.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued new rules for oil and natural gas drilling in all of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties and parts of Medina, Lorain, and Summit counties. The changes are in response to an explosion in Bainbridge Township last month caused by methane leaking into the water table.

Update: residents are upset by the state's response to the issue, while area officials are hope the new permit conditions will prevent future problems.

The amount of forested land in Ohio has roughly doubled over the last 50 years. Governor Strickland wants Ohio's state forests to be accredited as sustainable sources of timber. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources points out that owners of woodlands in six Northeast Ohio counties can apply for participation in the Forest Legacy Program, a federal conservation easement program.

The Ohio EPA intends to designate Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties as nonattainment areas under the US EPA's new fine particulate standard. The designation may require new pollution controls to be enacted in order to lower soot levels. The Ohio EPA will accept public comments through January 25, and will hold a public hearing in Columbus on January 22.

This morning, the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals upheld the City of Akron's residency requirement for municipal employees. The City of Lima's law was upheld last month.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU provide more information.

Ohio Attorney General Dann, the Ohio Environmental Council, and the National Wildlife Federation are all appealing Lake County Common Pleas Judge Lucci's decision in the Lake Erie property lines case. They say that the "ruling goes against more than 100 years of Ohio legal precedent".

Update: the Blade and WCPN have more details.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer again encourages Ohio legislators to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, saying that they "cannot allow crackpot conspiracy theories to hold hostage this state's future."

President Bush intends to nominate former ODNR Director Sam Speck as one of the three U.S. commissioners of the International Joint Commission. The appointment requires confirmation by a U.S. Senate panel.

(via GLIN)

The Ohio Department of Development gave 11 more awards through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, including six in Cleveland. The largest tax credit in Cleveland, valued at an estimated $1.4 million, went to the Scott A. Rogers Co. Building, part of the University Lofts development near Cleveland State University. The Capitol Theater in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood received a tax credit worth an estimated $1.1 million.

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed an executive order that extends the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through June 30.

The Akron Beacon Journal looked at the status of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in Ohio. Obtaining approval for the Compact from the Ohio Legislature is expected to be a priority for Governor Strickland in 2008. State Rep. Matt Dolan of Novelty will discuss the Compact on January 8 at a quarterly meeting of the Northeast Ohio Watershed Council.

A Stark County Common Pleas Judge ruled that the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District can ban landfills in their District from accepting trash from Cuyahoga and Summit Counties if they recycle less than the counties in the District, but postponed implementation of the rule from January 1 until June 1, 2009. The National Solid Wastes Management Association is considering an appeal.

Editorials in the Blade and the Plain Dealer are critical of Judge Eugene Lucci's decision in the Lake Erie property lines case. The Plain Dealer says that it was "a faulty ruling" that "essentially transfers the public trust in managing Lake Erie's shore", while the Blade says the decision "gives unwarranted life to the elitist claim of lakefront property owners that they can prohibit what an age-old line of legal reasoning has established - the right to walk along Great Lakes shores in front of private homes."

(via Great Lakes Blogger)

Update: an editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal agrees with the other papers, saying that the ruling lacked the "necessary legal precedent."

The Ohio Senate approved extending the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through a rider attached to an unrelated bill. Governor Strickland vetoed changes to E-Check in a June budget bill, and the program was set to expire at the end of the year. The bill will go back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls E-Check "a fraud".

Yesterday, the Ohio House passed House Bill 138, which would require county sheriffs to promptly file deeds after foreclosure sales. The bill is intended to eliminate the practice of postponing legal responsibility for a foreclosed property by delaying the deed filing.

A Lake County Common Pleas judge ruled yesterday (PDF) that lakefront property along Lake Erie extends to the water's edge, a partial victory for a lakefront landowners group. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources had argued that property rights ended at the lake's historic high water mark, while the landowners argued that their rights extended to the historic low water mark, now about a foot underwater.

On Monday, an Ohio appeals court upheld Lima's residency requirements. Frank Jackson praised the decision, which affects 17 counties in western and northwest Ohio. The state is expected to appeal the ruling (PDF), and most predict that the issue will eventually be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the decision.

This week, the Columbus Dispatch is running a special report that explores the problems facing Ohio's major cities, including a lack of support from the state legislature. The series also takes a closer look at individual cities, including an examination of Cleveland's challenges and assets.

Ohio State University's Center for Farmland Policy Innovation developed a new model to help identify areas with the highest need for farmland protection programming. The model examined all Ohio counties, including urbanized areas traditionally overlooked by agricultural preservationists. It identified 15 counties, including Cuyahoga County, as having relatively high needs for action.

A new report (PDF) prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors enumerates the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis on cities' gross metropolitan products. The report's authors say that 2008 should be "no worse than 2007" for Cleveland. Meanwhile, figures from RealtyTrac show that there were 94% more foreclosure filings in Ohio in October 2007 than in October 2006.

Climate Change and Great Lakes Water Resources (PDF), a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, looks at threats to the Great Lakes from global warming and water diversion, and concludes that states need to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges Ohio legislators to approve the compact.)

Urban planning consultant Kyle Ezell says that Ohioans need to learn how to live in cities for urban residential developments to succeed.

The Center for Global Development compiled government and industry statistics at CARMA, and determined that Ohio is the fifth-worst state for carbon emissions from power plants. Plants in Ohio released 133 million tons of CO2 in 2000. This afternoon, five Midwest governors the premier of Manitoba signed an accord to limit carbon emissions, reduce energy consumption, and encourage renewable energy. Governor Strickland also signed on as an observer.

(Update: The Plain Dealer presents more details about the pact.)

Data released yesterday by RealtyTrac says that the Cleveland metropolitan area experienced the nation's seventh-highest foreclosure rate during the third quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says that Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention plan is "moderate and responsible" and that the "state must act to slow this foreclosure crisis, which threatens to push Ohio's economy into a downward spiral."

Since no lenders signed on to Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention compact, yesterday he proposed tighter regulation of the mortgage industry. Attorney General Dann will file subpoenas (PDF) regarding possible violations of antitrust, civil rights, and consumer sales practice laws.

While the pace of farmland loss has slowed in recent years, Ohio has lost almost 77,000 acres of farmland in the last seven years, mostly to residential development. Participants at the recent Farmland Preservation Summit see opportunities in the local food movement and in biofuel production.

The Cleveland Clinic continues to appeal a 2005 ruling of the Ohio Tax Commissioner which declared that the Clinic's Cedar Road facility in Beachwood is not exempt from local property taxes. The case is expected to eventually go before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Troubled Waters, a new report from Environment Ohio, says that Ohio sewage plants and industrial facilities violated the Clean Water Act with more excessive and illegal discharges than any other state in 2005.

At a meeting with state officials, Northeast Ohio economic development experts shared their dissatisfaction with the funding formulas for the Ohio Job Ready Sites program, which they say encourage urban sprawl.

The Ohio Foreclosure Task Force has published its recommendations for addressing the statewide foreclosure crisis as a final report (PDF) that includes tasking the State with spending $2 million for immediate efforts, among other proposals. The report also views the possible aftermath of the mortgage meltdown, including the possibility of assessing whether some neighborhoods should remain residential.

Meanwhile, a recent study by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that current foreclosure rates are the highest on record, with Ohio, exacerbated by subprime lending and increased job losses, posting the highest levels seen in their surveys. These rates may be levelling off, but predominately-black neighborhoods, with homebuyers who are systematically-charged higher interest rates than white borrowers, may endure an even rougher future.

The Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force refined its recommendations at its meeting on Monday, and is expected to adopt them in two weeks. The suggestions include providing $50 million to help communities with planning, and targeting money to cities that prioritize neighborhood redevelopment over assisting scattered property owners.

State Senator Kevin Coughlin introduced a reworked version of his rejected eminent domain constitutional amendment, and hopes to get in on the ballot in November 2008.

Subcommittees of the Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force are recommending that the State provide $50 million in funding to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes and $10 million to establish counseling for homeowners to prevent additional foreclosures. The Task Force will reconvene on August 27th to finalize recommendations to Governor Ted Strickland.

An Ohio EPA survey of 25 man-made replacement wetlands, mostly in Northeast Ohio, gave a majority a grade of poor-to-fair. The agency's review of wetlands mitigation rules will be completed in November.

"Testing the Waters", the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches, says that Ohio's Lake Erie beaches pose the greatest health risk in the nation. The problems are largely due to high bacteria levels from combined sewer overflows.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WKSU offer more details.)

The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates by age, sex, race, and ethnicity for every county in the nation. In Ohio, minority populations are increasing and the non-Hispanic white population is decreasing. Nationwide, minority populations outnumber whites in about 10% of counties.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommendations call for the 1,625 dams they oversee to be inspected once every five years. The Columbus Dispatch reports that more than 1,200 regulated dams have not been inspected since 2002.

The Free Times concludes its series on the foreclosure crisis with a look at the history of predatory lending legislation in the state and federal legislatures.

Only three people testified at the public hearing held yesterday by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on the strategies for bringing Greater Cleveland into compliance with ozone standards.

The Ohio EPA's interim proposal for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland includes a set of control strategies that calls for lowering emissions from industry and power plants. The agency will accept public comment at a meeting tomorrow afternoon at its Twinsburg office.

(Update: WKSU has additional details.)

Owners of historic structures in Cleveland submitted 32 of the 69 applications for the new Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The properties include the Terminal Tower, Higbee Building, Cleveland Trust Rotunda, and the Cleveland Athletic Club.

On Friday, Governor Strickland reversed state policy and announced that he will have the Ohio Department of Natural Resources institute a new policy which specifies that property lines extend to Lake Erie's low water mark, instead of the previously recognized high water mark. Property owners will still need to seek ODNR approval before building breakwalls, docks, or other structures. Attorney General Dann says that the new policy does not align with current Ohio laws, and will continue to defend the state against a lawsuit brought by a group of lakefront property owners.

(Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "The governor's 'compromise' would be less dismaying if he had included in his announcement a reaffirmation of the right of public access to the shoreline.")

Senator Voinovich says that as many as 48 Ohio counties would not be in compliance with the proposed new federal ozone standards. 25 Ohio counties, including those in Greater Cleveland, are not in compliance with the existing standards.

Governor Strickland signed Senate Bill 7 yesterday, enacting the eminent domain legislation. Some feel that the law is too restrictive, while the bill's sponsor says that it is too weak without the rejected companion constitutional amendment.

The Ohio EPA's interim plan for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland is likely to see changes over the next six months.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio continue to outpace last year's figures. Filings in Cuyahoga County are up 14% from last year, and Ohio's foreclosure rate is almost triple the national average. Bill Callahan offers his analysis and additional data.

Yesterday's launch of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program attracted a crowd to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in Columbus, as applicants camped out in line over the weekend for the first-come, first-served application process. The office opened at 8:00, and by 11:00 a.m., applications for 63 projects had been filed. 100 projects will be financed this year.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution offer a "practical idea for Ohio: Strive to attract at least 2 percent of each metropolitan area's population to live in traditional downtowns."

The US Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates show that the City of Cleveland continues to rapidly lose population. The estimates say that between 2000 and 2006, the city lost 33,15 people, 6.9% of its population. Between July 2005 and July 2006, the city lost 6,247 people, 1.4% of its population. Most Great Lakes cities, including Akron, also lost population. Cleveland.com and Ohio.com both offer forms for querying the estimates.

Yesterday, the Ohio House and Senate agreed on revisions to Senate Bill 7, which will permit the use of eminent domain only when 70% of the targeted properties are blighted. The proposed constitutional amendment that would have nullified local eminent domain laws will not appear on the November ballot, because it did not obtain the required three-fifths majority in the House.

(via Build on This)

The Ohio House passed House Bill 5, which would establish statewide blight standards for the exercise of eminent domain by local governments. The definitions are not as stringent as those called for by a similar Ohio Senate bill. The two bills will likely be reconciled in a conference committee, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "House leaders should hold firm" and should not split the difference between the two bills. The House has not voted on the eminent domain constitutional amendment issue that was approved by the Senate.

(Update: Governor Strickland indicated that he would consider vetoing the bill because it is "hugely limiting" to cities.)

Governor Strickland says he will direct the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop a new coastal management policy. The revised policy will be friendlier to lakefront landowners who want property lines shifted from the high water mark to the low water mark.

The two members of the Ohio Senate who opposed the continuation of the E-Check program inserted an amendment into the state budget bill that "forces the governor to issue an executive order if he feels E-Check is necessary, but requires him to consider less-intrusive and less-costly alternatives to complying with the Federal Clean Air Act."

Preservation Ohio launched the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Resource Center, "a one-stop location for information on the newest financial incentive for renovation and restoration of historic buildings in Ohio." The presentation (PDF) from last month's Northeast Ohio Historic Tax Credit training seminar is also available online.

The US Census Bureau reports that the percentage of commuters driving alone has increased slightly since 2000. Half of the top ten cities in the nation for solo driving are in Ohio, with Canton at number one and Akron at number three. WKSU's Daniel Hockensmith interviewed AMATS transportation planner Jason Segedy about the report.

(Update: Another WKSU story has more details.)

Because the Ohio Housing Finance Agency plans to sell loans from its Opportunity Loan Refinance Program in the secondary market, it established very strict rules for applicants.

WKSU examines how the budget bills passed by the Ohio Legislature will affect the state's cities.

Bruce Katz's May 29 talk at the City Club about the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity report is available as audio (MP3, 19.4 MB) and as text.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio and the rest of the nation increased again last month. Ohio saw 13,214 foreclosure filings in May, an increase of 16% from April and of 150% from May 2006.

The State of Poverty in Ohio 2007 (PDF), a new report from the Center for Community Solutions, says that as the national economy was improving, poverty and job losses went up in Ohio.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Strickland administration to follow the advice of the recent Brookings Institution report, and concludes, "The state must not forget its enormous role in Cleveland's economy."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the eminent domain bills passed by the Ohio Senate "essentially sway the balance so far toward the property owner that cities would have hardly any ability to influence their destinies," and urges the Ohio House to "bring reason to a realm too often ruled by emotion."

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls Ohio E-Check program the best available alternative for addressing air quality problems and that "killing the program would harm the air quality of Northeast Ohio, diminishing the quality of life of all residents."

The latest County Business Patterns release from the US Census Bureau says that the number of businesses in the US grew by 6% between 2000 and 2005, but that Cuyahoga County lost 3.4% of its businesses over the same period. Some local economic development experts assert that the report would look rosier if it included more recent data. Cleveland.com illustrates the numbers with an infographic and an interactive map.

The Ohio Senate passed two bills that would limit the use of eminent domain. One establishes a statewide definition of blight. The Ohio House has also taken up the issue, and is expected to vote on it next week, but there are significant differences between the bills. The other bill was for a proposed constitutional amendment that would appear on the November ballot and would eliminate home rule eminent domain provisions. Northeast Ohio officials oppose both measures.

The State Role in Guiding Land Use Change in the Ohio Lake Erie Basin, a new report, identified "which land planning and management policies and mechanisms have been used to effectively shape land development processes to achieve a more sustainable or balanced outcome, and what policy and program changes and incentives would likely prove most effective in changing land development and conservation patterns".

WKSU provides additional coverage of Bruce Katz's talk at the City Club.

A new report from Environment Ohio says that over 10 billion gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into Lake Erie due to Ohio combined sewer overflows in 2005. Almost half of the total amount came from CSOs in Greater Cleveland. A bill introduced in the Ohio House yesterday would establish notification requirements for overflows.

Ohio State Senators Kevin Coughlin and Tim Grendell say they will not support an Ohio budget that includes the continuation of the state's E-Check program. A spokesman for Governor Strickland says that he is unaware of alternatives that would satisfy federal EPA requirements, but added, "If there are other solutions, the governor is willing to work with the senators."

Ohio EPA officials remain unsatisfied with the quality of man-made replacement wetlands, and are drafting new guidelines. A draft of the new regulations may be ready later this year.

In response to a resident's request, the City of Broadview Heights asked state officials to impose a moratorium on oil and gas wells in heavily populated residential areas.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded approximately $2.3 million in NatureWorks Grants for park and recreational improvements. The recipients included a number of projects in Northeast Ohio.

Although Ohio's farmland preservation program has saved 26,752 acres acres since 1999, the state continues to lose farms to residential development. Lack of funding has prevented the program from preserving more land. Since 2002, the farmland preservation office has received applications for 217,982 acres of farmland, of which 20,385 acres were preserved.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development will hold a free training session on the Ohio Historic Tax Credit program on May 8 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Tri-C's Corporate College East. The seminar is free, but registration (PDF) is required.

In the latest installment of their Making Change series, WCPN reports on an eminent domain forum held yesterday at CSU, which featured keynote speaker Jeff Finkle of the International Economic Development Council.

Mayor Currin of Hudson, chair of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, says that the eminent domain restrictions under discussion in the Ohio Legislature would impede economic development.

The latest models from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicate that Ohio's winds can support commercial turbines that could meet a large portion of the state's electricity needs. Research on Great Lakes wind potential is due out in about six months. Environment Ohio has more details.

Preservation Ohio released their 2007 List of Ohio's Most Endangered Historic Sites. The only Northeast Ohio structure on the list is the Cleveland Trust Tower, which the Cuyahoga County Commissioners recently voted to demolish.

A new report from U.S. PIRG says that Ohio had the fourth-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the third-highest for those produced by coal-fired power plants. Ohio's emissions grew from 244.9 million metric tons in 1990 to 261.8 million metric tons in 2004, a 7% increase.

Foreclosure crisis roundup:

Heritage Ohio is accepting nominations for their Top Preservation Opportunities List (PDF), which will include "properties that have not yet been preserved—historic and architecturally-significant structures that have a good chance for survival and reuse." The submission deadline is May 6.

Earlier this year, Ohio Representative Larry Wolpert introduced House Bill 69, which would permit counties and townships to establish transfer of development rights programs. The Ohio Home Builders Association is opposed to the legislation.

A panel of scientists said that by the end of the century, the Great Lakes region will have a significantly different climate because of global warming. They predicted that Ohio's climate will be much like that of present-day Tennessee or eastern Texas.

Minnesota remains the only state that has ratified the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and it faces obstacles in several states, including Ohio. There is no deadline, and supporters are confident that it will be endorsed by the state legislatures.

Dimensions of Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis (PDF), a new report from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, says that 73% of subprime loans in the state were made in middle and upper income areas.

The Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 24, which changes the rules of the Ohio Job Ready Sites program so that applicants in certain counties cannot excluded from applying for grants. Earlier rules included a minimum property requirement size that prevented urbanized counties from competing.

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation bill, without the controversial earmarks inserted by the Ohio House. The Ohio House later agreed to support the Senate version of the bill.

A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Ohio voters oppose the use of eminent domain in any circumstances. "Voters just do not like eminent domain," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

(via Planetizen)

Greater Cleveland's foreclosure crisis attracted the attention of the national media. Last week, the Chicago Tribune explored the problem in several Cleveland neighborhoods, and the New York Times examined its impacts on Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs.

Meanwhile, Policy Matters Ohio released their annual foreclosure analysis, and reported that there were 79,072 foreclosure filings in the state last year, an increase of 23.6% over 2005 figures. Cuyahoga County again had the largest number of filings, 13,610 new cases, up 24.5%.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

The latest US Census Bureau county population estimates show continued population losses in Greater Cleveland. Between July 2005 and July 2006, Cuyahoga County lost an estimated 16,187 people, and the seven county area lost 11,475. Medina County was again Northeast Ohio's fastest-growing county, with an estimated 12.1% population increase since 2000. Cleveland.com provides an interactive map showing population change in Ohio between 2000 and 2006.

(Update: Paul Oyaski and Mark Rosentraub discussed the figures with Regina Brett on Friday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN.)

The Ohio House approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation budget, but made several changes, including earmarking revenues from the Commercial Activities Tax on gasoline sales for highway projects, and eliminating Strickland's proposal to prioritize road projects that promote economic development. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate. Strickland vowed to use a line-item veto on the tax provision. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that House Republicans are trying to curry favor with the transportation industry.

The State of Ohio will begin offering 30-year, fixed-rate refinancing deals to people who are unable to afford their current mortgages. The program aimed at reducing foreclosures will be administered by the newly-created Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the efforts are desperately needed.

WCPN interviewed ODOT Director James Beasley (MP3) yesterday, which was his first day in his new position. The interview begins 3:52 into the podcast.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann won approval from the Ohio Controlling Board to hire seven people to staff the predatory lending task force headquartered in Cleveland. The positions are for three lawyers, three investigators, and a clerk.

On Friday, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled against the City of Cleveland's residency requirement for municipal employees, saying it was trumped by a state law passed last year. The City will appeal the decision.

(Update: the Cleveland Law Library posted Judge Corrigan's opinion)

State Senator Tim Grendell says he will introduce a bill that calls for a joint legislative task force to study the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact for the rest of 2007, which would delay a vote on the agreement until at least 2008. The Ohio House passed enabling legislation in December, but the Ohio Senate never voted on the measure. Members of both chambers plan to reintroduce bills this year.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer expresses concern that new ODOT director James Beasley may have an anti-urban bias, and urges Greater Cleveland leaders to "make a forceful case for Northeast Ohio's road projects."

RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure remains a major problem in Ohio and Greater Cleveland. As of January, the state had the nation's 7th-highest foreclosure rate, up 2.85% from a year ago, and the metropolitan area had the 14th-highest rate.

Private, public and non-profit groups are increasingly focusing on alternative or advanced energy. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Ohio Department of Development hope to increase the production and consumption of alternative fuels including ethanol, biodiesel, and the harvesting of methane from decaying organic matter. The Strickland administration plans to advance clean-coal technology, and biofuel, biomass, wind, and solar power generation. At the local level, wind power has been at the forefront of several organizational initiatives, including the Cuyahoga County Regional Energy Task Force's efforts to build a wind research center and the Cleveland Foundation's efforts to make the region the hub for freshwater wind power.

Republicans in the Ohio Senate were expected to introduce two eminent domain bills today. One calls for establishing a uniform state standard for defining blight, and the other proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to override local eminent domain laws. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls the proposals unreasonable.

Governor Strickland says that the 2008-2013 transportation construction plan approved by the ODOT Transportation Review Advisory Council would result in a $1.2 billion deficit by 2014. He directed the TRAC and incoming ODOT Director James Beasley to review the list of major new projects.

Ted Strickland selected James Beasley as the new director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. Beasley has been the Brown County Engineer since 1980, and will assume his new role on March 5. Engineer Bonnie Teeuwen is the new deputy director of ODOT District 12.

Building a New Energy Future (PDF, 11.4 MB), the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force's report recommending Lake Erie wind turbines, is now available online. In addition, Governor Strickland announced that $5 million in grants will be available for wind power projects.

In light of the recent debate about the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and conflicts of interest, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners asked the Ohio General Assembly to expand financial disclosure rules to cover Port Authority board members and other appointed officials who receive taxpayer salaries.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that once again, Ohio posted the nation's highest forclosure rate, with 3.32% of houses in the state in foreclosure, up slightly from last year. The national average was 1.05%.

Amidst calls for reform of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Governor Strickland will replace all 12 district directors who served under the Taft administration, including District 12 Director David Coyle. ODOT Director Gordon Proctor also resigned.

Governor Taft signed House Bill 149, enacting the historic preservation tax credit passed by the Ohio General Assembly last month. It will go into effect in 90 days.

The Plain Dealer examined how the Ohio Department of Transportation is spending the funds raised by the gas tax increase of 2003, and looked back at how the tax was approved and the agency's relationship with contractors. A 2005 three part series in the Toledo Blade explored concerns that a pay-to-play culture exists within ODOT.

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