Boccieri's Park Board Bill Receives First Hearing In Ohio House
Legislator pledges to reintroduce measure next General Assembly
November 29, 2016
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State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today announced that legislation he introduced in May to alter the appointment process for MetroPark board members received its first hearing in the House Local Government Committee this morning. House Bill (HB) 561, co-sponsored by State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), would require probate judges to engage and seek input from citizens’ groups when making appointments to park district boards. It would also transfer appointment authority from probate judges to county commissioners for any additional board members that are selected beyond the initial three members.

“I am happy to see that HB 561 was granted the first hearing it deserves,” Boccieri said. “This legislation will improve the accountability of MetroPark boards by taking into account the fact that probate judges, as the board appointing authority, cannot be out in front on controversial issues because they’re bound by judicial restraint. Transferring some appointment authority to county commissioners will improve the transparency of these boards.”

Given the limited time remaining for HB 561 to move through the full legislative process before the end of the General Assembly, Rep. Boccieri also pledged to reintroduce the bill next year.

Current law permits probate judges to appoint three board members to park districts and then the appointed members, once seated, have the ability to elect an additional two board members. If the board members choose to do so, the probate judge must also appoint those individuals. HB 561 would move this additional appointment authority to county commissioners. Research from Boccieri’s office and Statehouse legal staff found no clear intent as to why the legislature gave probate judges the unique ability to make appointments to MetroParks.

HB 561 also requires that probate judges provide for a public comment period before making final appointments. If a board elects to have county commissioners appoint additional members, the commissioners are required to abide by this same obligation.

“Permitting citizen involvement in the appointment process is important, especially as it relates to parks,” Boccieri said. “Commissioners appoint members for every other board in the county and can be responsive during controversial decisions. As the fiscal stewards of the county, they should have a voice in the process.”

Rep. Michelle Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) also supports HB 561 and is a part of the bipartisan list of co-sponsors.

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