Bill to allow regional airports access to legal services

COLUMBUS — State Representatives Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) applauded the passage of House Bill 543 from the House floor during this week’s session. This legislation allows a county prosecuting attorney to enter into a contract with a regional airport authority, port authority, or regional planning commission to be its legal advisor. Perales jointly-sponsored the legislation with State Representative Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick).

These entities, especially in rural Ohio, can have difficulties affording legal services due to limited access and tight budgets. House Bill 543 provides a lower cost alternative and is entirely permissive, allowing the prosecutor to decide whether or not to provide services. Under the legislation, the prosecutor is permitted to negotiate fees from an authority or commission board and to ensure accountability, county commissioners are required to approve these agreements.

“House Bill 543 is a simple, straight-forward bill that allows local government entities to efficiently and effectively use county prosecuting services,” said Perales. “With this bill, regional airport authorities, port authorities, and regional planning commissions, will by statute be allowed to use prosecuting services, as long as both parties and the County Commissioner agree. This is a good bill that will allow these entities to better accomplish their jobs while getting the biggest bang for the tax payers dollar.”

Airports owned by a city or county are permitted access to county and city attorneys under current law. This legislation would allow regional equivalents an even playing field and is a tool to help local governments save taxpayer dollars.

House Bill 543 now awaits consideration by the Ohio Senate.