County Prosecutor Assistance Bill has been Signed!

August 31, 2018


Newly Enacted Bill Allows Airport and Port Authorities to Seek Legal Assistance from County Prosecutors

Earlier this month, Governor Kasich signed a priority bill for Ohio Aviation Association that would allow County Prosecutors to provide legal assistance to port and airport authorities. OAA has worked to enact this important legislation at the request of members who have previously received assistance from their county prosecutor or have an interest in obtaining assistance from their county prosecutor. A 2015 opinion issued by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine found that this practice was not allowed under the Ohio Revised Code and that a statutory change was required. House Bill 34, sponsored by State Representatives Steve Hambley (R-Medina) and Scott Ryan (R-Newark) was introduced last year; OAA worked to have this language added to the bill during Senate consideration last month.

Generally, the bill allows port authorities, airport authorities, and regional planning commissions to seek legal assistance and representation from a county prosecutor. There are some key provisions that airports should keep in mind—

  • The issues that a county prosecutor can provide assistance on are not limited to aviation-related issues. A prosecutor can provide counsel and representation on any matter related to the operations of the port or airport authority;
  • The county prosecutor retains sole discretion in determining whether or not to provide assistance to an authority board—the prosecutor may also request fees in exchange for providing legal assistance;
  • The county prosecutor was be elected within the county or counties that comprise the port authority, airport authority, or regional planning commission. A multi-county airport authority or port authority would be able to choose among any county prosecutor in their territory;
  • Any agreement between an authority board and county prosecutor must be approved by the county commissioners for the county in which the prosecutor serves. 

The bill becomes effective on November 2nd, 2018, though we encourage airport and port authority leaders to begin discussions with their county prosecutor and county commissioners now if they are interested in receiving legal assistance from the county prosecutor. We could not have achieved this win without support from State Representative Hambley and also State Representative Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek). And we especially appreciate all of the time that OAA members took to talk about this bill with their state lawmakers and we want to extend a special thanks to members who testified during committee hearings on the measure. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Stacey Heaton, OAA Executive Director, at [email protected]

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