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Lawmakers considering bill to localize Ohio agency licensure appeals

The Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus
Liesl Bonneau
Franklin County Courthouse

Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would move the fight over revoked or repealed state licenses to local county courts, which are currently filed with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Senate Bill 21 would allow the court challenge to take place in the local county of that business or individual over disputes related to licenses through the liquor control commission, Ohio Casino Control Commission, state medical board, state chiropractic board, board of nursing and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

“It's really a matter of all of the power being centralized in one county. And that's not fair to most of the people in the state of Ohio,” said Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima).

Huffman said it is “onerous” for the individual to pay for their attorney to travel from a different part of the state to Franklin County in order to appeal the licensure decision.

“This is just basically a matter of basic fairness to people in 87 counties all over the state of Ohio so that they can go to their local court,” Huffman said.

The bill had its first hearing at the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“This also leads to lost productivity caused by pulling someone away from their place of business for a prolonged period of time. Not only will this bill reduce costs, it will also reduce the complexity of doing business in Ohio,” said Sen. Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill in December. He said he is open to the idea but has issues with moving legal challenges out of Franklin County where the court has had time to build up precedent.

“We have a whole body of law that has been developed case by case, and that has been, you know, for a number of years, all Franklin County,” DeWine said.

He continued, “We rely on precedent which gives people the opportunity to predict — and have some surety — of how cases are and what the real law is. So, we have some concern about moving it out with then no precedent.”

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.