Blog Posts For The Week Of December 31, 2014 Through January 6, 2015

Release: Private Pipeline Companies May Not Immediately Seize Ohioans' Properties
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: January, 6 2015 1:42 PM

Rampant Eminent Domain Abuse Continues Throughout Rural Ohio; However, Ohioans Have Legal Defenses

Columbus, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved to counter the aggressive legal actions taken by Texas Eastern Transmission, a private Texas pipeline corporation, against Ohioans Roger and Lana Barack of Belmont County, alongside hundreds of other Ohio landowners.


The Barack family's opposition takes aim at abusive eminent domain practices frequently used by private out-of-state corporations to seize Ohioans property by force, and without legitimate compensation.

More specifically, the 1851 Center's opposition asserts the following:

--Recent federal court decisions reaffirm and revitalize the principle that Congress may not delegate its power, including the power to seize property, to purely private companies: taking of Ohioans property without sufficient government oversight is unconstitutional.

--Government agencies must provide Ohio landowners with notice of any hearings that may result in government permission allowing the seizing of their properties. In this case, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") failed to notify Ohioans of the proceedings affecting their properties.

--Federal approval of a pipeline route does not mean that private pipeline companies may immediately seize Ohioans private property: the Ohio Constitution prevents "quick takings" other than in the case of roads and emergencies. Even with federal approval, pipeline companies must abide by the Ohio Constitution.

"While we fully support energy development in eastern Ohio, that development does not preclude Ohioans' property rights - - through an unholy alliance of government and big business, both state and federal statutes claim to authorize private pipeline companies to take Ohioans property. However, Ohioans should know that even in the case of federally-approved pipelines, they maintain important constitutional rights protecting their property: in many cases, private pipeline companies altogether lack the eminent domain authority they claim to have; and even where such authority may be legitimate, these companies may not immediately seize Ohioan's properties," explained Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center.

"Simply asserting the proper defenses can force pipeline companies to choose a pipeline route that goes around objecting landowners properties, or for enterprising Ohioans, raise offers for their land by hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Section 19, Article I of the Ohio Constitution protects property rights above and beyond the federal baseline protections, forbidding takings that are not for legitimate "public use," and forbidding immediate takings, other than in limited circumstances.

Column: Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: January, 6 2015 1:40 PM


The past four years have certainly been a time of change and progress for Ohio’s agriculture industry. Tax cuts, research, new investments and priorities, and strong leadership have helped our state’s farmers and food producers grow even stronger.

One of the most monumental transformations for the agriculture industry in decades has been Governor Kasich’s tax reform. The 2011 elimination of the “death tax” means farmers and their families are no longer under a long-term financial burden just to do their jobs. Additional tax cuts for small businesses are helping farmers by cutting taxes in half for the first $250,000 of business income. These tax breaks are putting money back in the pockets of those who provide us with our most basic necessities.

In 2011, we also enacted the nation’s first comprehensive livestock care standards after months of reviewing scientific information and holding numerous public meetings. The result is a regulatory structure that has become a national model for balancing farmers’ production needs with consumers’ demand that farm animals be cared for responsibly. The standards protect farmers who are doing a good job and allows them to continue to produce safe, wholesome and abundant food.

In 2012, Ohio became the first state to be granted approval in the new federal program that allows certain state-inspected small businesses to sell their meat products across state lines. For small and specialty meat processors this is a long overdue opportunity to expand customer base and get Ohio products into new markets without burdensome and expensive changes to facilities.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture began recognizing bicentennial farm families in 2013 as a way to honor these incredible small businesses and recognize farm families who have made a commitment to keeping their businesses in Ohio. These families have been living and farming on the same property for at least 200 years, making them some of the oldest continuously operating businesses in the state. We now have identified 73 bicentennial farms in 34 counties, not to mention the more than 1,000 century farms also registered all across the state.

Just this past year, Ohio Department of Agriculture scientists made a scientific breakthrough that is helping pork producers all across the nation in the fight against the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus. Genetic sequencing of a new strain of this virus, performed by staff at the department’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, may lead to a marketable vaccine for swine in the near future.

Over the last four years, we’ve been working together to feed a growing population while making vast strides in the efforts to improve water quality in the state. We’ve made much progress in this area, including fertilizer certification training and the promotion of nutrient stewardship practices, research on best management practices, watershed monitoring, and septic system cleanup, but there is still more to do. In the next four years, we will continue to prioritize research and training to equip farmers with the best, most effective and most efficient tools available.

As we usher in a new year, Ohio’s farmers and food processors have much for which to be thankful, as do the 11.5 million Ohioans who benefit from the products they produce and the jobs they provide.

Release: ODP Chairman Chris Redfern Farewell Statement
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: January, 6 2015 1:39 PM

Dear friends,

Over the last nine years, I have had the honor of leading one of the great political organizations not just of our state, but our country. The Ohio Democratic Party remains one of the strongest state parties in the nation, respected by our colleagues and feared by political adversaries. And we owe it all to the support of people like you.

When I became chairman in December 2005, the ODP had fewer than 10 employees, and we hadn't won a statewide election in years. But with hard work, generous donors, and the best political team anywhere, we won and won again. Although the results of the 2014 cycle were disappointing, our Party has grown and thrived. Our infrastructure is stronger and our commitment to winning in 2016 unswayed.

As I leave the chairmanship of the Ohio Democratic Party, I am filled with a great deal of gratitude and respect for those who have made this effort over these many years so rewarding for so many. The staff of the Ohio Democratic Party often times does not get the thanks they truly deserve. In politics, success has many parents but defeat is an orphan. It is the nature of this business, but that does not mean it is right. Our success these past years is due in large part to the great people I worked with.

We elected the president twice with 50% of the vote and elected a senator twice. We won four new congressional seats and gained a majority of GOP drawn seats in the State House. That is something that has never been achieved by ODP, ever. At the same time, our friend Governor Strickland was swept to victory in 2006 and Senate Bill 5 was repealed with record turnout. Thank you for helping make history!

Beginning January 1st, my friend and colleague David Pepper will begin his term as chairman of our party. He will be assisted by our Vice Chairwoman Rhine McLin and close advisers including Senator Nina Turner. I know that with your support, David will be a great chair.

As for me, if you are ever in my neighborhood, stop by. A glass of wine will be waiting for you.

-Chris Redfern

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