Friday Bill Roundup: Free Speech, Land Installment Contracts and More

Each Friday, we highlight some of the bills and resolutions introduced in the Ohio Legislature in the past week. For question about these bills, or to see the full list, contact Laura Dixon-Caldwell.

Criminal Law 

SB 207-Felonious Assault Expansion 

Senate bill 207 would expand felonious assault to include strangulation or suffocation.

Free Speech

SB206-Ohio Citizen Participation Act 

This bill is Ohio's version of the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. Based upon the Texas law, when someone is sued for expressing their opinion on a matter of publi interest, a process is put in place where the case would be "fast-tracked" rather than languishing in the courts. The bill would not change the defamation or libel definitions, but it would offer protections for anonymous online commenters. The Hillsboro Times Gazette has a good summary.

Real Estate

HB 368-The Fair Lending through Land Contracts Act

This bill would introduce protections for consumers and require sellers to correct code violations and pay outstanding fines before they can enter into a land installment contract. The bill was inspired by lawsuits such as the one filed by the City of Cincinnati against investment firms who sell foreclosed properties under land contracts.

Tax

HB 371-Unsold Properties

House bill 371 would exempt from property tax the increased value of land subdivided for residential development until construction commences or the land is sold.

SB 209-Property Tax/TIF

This bill would modify the conditions that determine the relative priority of property tax exemptions when a parcel subject to a tax increment financing arrangement concurrently qualifies for another exemption.