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Ginther announces tax incentive change, affordable housing agenda

614now

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The city is growing and evolving every day. Sure, the new condos and breweries are great but, arguably, one thing that falls to the wayside is affordable housing.

Mayor Andrew Ginther’s latest announcement aims to address just that.

Ginther alongside City Council released information about historic changes coming to decades-long residential tax incentive policy that will focus on creating more affordable housing opportunities in Columbus neighborhoods.

In 2016, Mayor Andrew Ginther tasked the Department of Development to commission the first-ever study to better understand the City’s use of both residential and business incentives.

The changes to the tax incentive policy will reflect the study’s findings as well as input gathered from several hundred Columbus residents.

“Based on research and input from the community, we have put together a new policy that will benefit neighborhoods and residents by spurring development of affordable housing and living wages—real and long-lasting changes for the people of Columbus,” said Mayor Ginther in a release.

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The new residential incentive policy makes significant changes to support affordable, mixed-income neighborhoods in the City’s existing post-1994 Community Reinvestment Areas.

Neighborhoods will be placed into one of three categories based on the following criteria: population growth, median household income growth, poverty rate, growth in median rent, housing vacancy rate and mortgage foreclosure rate.

“As chair of the Housing Committee, I am working diligently to increase access to affordable housing and believe that the implementation of this policy is a critical step,” said Councilmember Jaiza Page. “I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to make this policy robust.”

Council will conduct a second tax incentive policy public hearing on Monday, July 23 at 3pm, in Council Chambers, 90 West Broad Street.

The hearing is to discuss proposed amendments to the legislation, based upon feedback received from the initial meeting.

The new policies will take effect summer 2018.

To review the report and proposed changes visit https://www.columbus.gov/Development/.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: Heartbeat Bill will likely affect 11yo Ohio rape victim

Caitlin Horwatt

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The passage of Ohio’s recent “heartbeat bill,” signed by Governor DeWine, marks a massive and distressing win in the conservative quest to outright ban abortion. All parties supporting the bill—from DeWine to legislators and lobbyists—are well aware that the action will be blocked by courts as they uphold Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to abortion until 24 weeks gestation. We should be frightened as we explore whether their big picture goal is to get Roe v. Wade overturned by the decidedly conservative Court.

By banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits abortion as early as eight weeks, well before many women know they are pregnant. Add in the already mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period between first appointment and procedure, and the likelihood of legal abortion for even a pregnancy detected early seems slim. The law is an blatant attempt to ban women’s right to choose.

The Guttmacher Institute found that ​1 in 4 women​ has had an abortion before age 45. The Pew Research Center found that ​58% of Americans support legal abortion ​in all or most cases, with polarizing views against abortion coming mostly from Republican and religious Americans. These statistics fail to depict, though, how traumatic the impact can be for women forced to carry a child to term when she does not have the means or support to do so. The law is meant to protect the fetus at a term that is far earlier than the 22 to 24 weeks at which it is viable, all at the cost of the mother.

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The bill notably does not give exceptions for cases of rape and incest, only allowing exceptions for medical necessity to save the mother’s life. This means an ​11 year-old rape victim from Massillon​ will likely have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

Heartbeat bills do not ban abortion; they ban legal abortion. I think of a sign I saw during the 2017 Women’s March: a metal coat hanger with the words “WE WON’T GO BACK” scrawled below. The passage of this recent law achingly raises questions of whether or not we will go back.

Women who now find themselves pregnant could have their lives forever changed. Even if they choose to surrender the baby after birth, the cost of a pregnancy is astronomical and healthcare is far from a certainty in this country. If the pregnancy was caused by rape, the potential for trauma only escalates. Women will have few places to turn, with the most vulnerable unable to seek safe healthcare and the potential high for maternal deaths as part of botched abortions.

The ACLU and other organizations are already moving to challenge the ban in court. I can’t shake the looming feeling that these challenges will only play into the hands of those anti-abortion supporters, and that we may be entering the most important fight of our generation in this fight for a woman’s right to choose.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: ‘Red flag’ is far cry from where Ohio gun law should be

Joanne Strasser

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Last weekend, a man entered a synagogue in Poway, California armed with a rifle. The Washington Post reports that prior to him entering the place of worship, the accused shooter wrote a 7-page letter about his hatred for Jewish people. He believed killing them would “glorify God.” Below is an op-ed from one Columbus mother who believes Ohio should be taking a stronger stance against guns following of the Poway tragedy.

Even in light of this past weekend’s synagogue shooting, DeWine is still unwilling to change Ohio’s gun laws. He is, however, advocating for Ohio to pass a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to seize guns from individuals deemed a societal risk.

This isn’t the first time the red flag law was floated in the Ohio Legislature.  In the wake of last year’s Parkland High School shooting in Florida, former Gov. Kasich backed the proposed law, which ultimately failed to gain support.

Opposition to the legislation stems from Republican lawmakers’ belief that it infringes on the constitution rights to bear arms and proper due process of law. However, 14 other states have already implemented the red flag law.

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Moms Demand Action, a national gun control organization, notes that 42% of attackers exhibit warning signs before shootings occur. And although this legislation would only be a small step in the right direction, it could help save lives.

But ultimately, statistics don’t matter to politicians, who are dependent on dollars from the gun lobby.  And until our elected officials decide that Ohioans‘ safety comes first, any measure, regardless of how small and sensible, will fail. 

Ohio Republicans need to take a long hard look at their agenda and ask themselves if it truly serves our needs. Which is more important: our children feeling safe at school or campaign contributions? 

The red flag law is a common-sense measure, and while it’s a far cry from where Ohio gun restriction needs to be, it’s certainly a start.

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Govt & Politics

Daily double: New legislation calls for huge minimum wage hike

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If new legislation passes, Ohio’s minimum wage could nearly double in the next several years. Two Democratic senators are working to increase hourly pay from $8.55 to $15.

State Senators Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) introduced the legislation Wednesday, reports 10TV.

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The new legislation stipulates a $12 minimum per hour beginning in January 2020 and a $1 yearly increase until 2023 to keep up with inflation.

“We have an obligation to make life better for the people in our state and that includes providing living wages,” said Sen. Thomas, per 10TV. “This increase to the minimum wage will help workers and their families have a better life. And when people have more money, it also benefits the local economy from increased spending in the community.”

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