Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag NetThe Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) met on Monday in the latest of the ongoing matters regarding Gov. John Kasich’s executive order to designate eight Ohio watersheds as “distressed.”JCARR voted 8-1 to send the rule back to the Ohio Department of Agriculture due to the proposed amendments to the Ohio Administrative Code possibly being in conflict with the legislative intent of the statue under which they were proposed.“What this essentially means is it will give us a chance to work with the new administration on these rules and there won’t be that pressure to get these things run through like it was being done under Gov. Kasich,” said Tony Seegers, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “It went just as we had hoped it would. The committee, after our testimony and testimony of others, agreed with us and decided to tell the agency what’s called revise and refile the rule, so that rule has gone back to the Department of Agriculture.”Seegers said Farm Bureau and other ag groups had several concerns from a rule-making perspective.“Our first argument was it exceeded the statutory authority of the agency. Basically our argument is that the definition of agriculture pollution does not include commercial fertilizer and they were trying to regulate commercial fertilizer as an agriculture pollutant. It violated statutory intent for the same reasons. We said the justification for the rule in the business impact analysis was faulty because basically the report they relied on to designate eight sub-watersheds in the Western Lake Erie Basin was faulty,” he said. “Therefore, if those are faulty and that’s the reason why you’re doing these rules, then it’s based on a faulty premise. Also the fiscal analysis was not accurate because they said it would only add $1.5 million in state expenditure and would require only one additional person in each of the 13 counties for these areas. Our argument is it’s going to take a heck of a lot more staff and a lot more money.”Seegers said there is some optimism to the issues down the road with a new incoming administration.“Farm Bureau has been continuing to work on this water quality issue with all of our commodity folks and other partners, including the Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups,” he said. “We will definitely continue on in this new administration to work on these issues.”The full text of the JCARR finding is as follows:In accordance with Ohio Revised Code 106.022, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review finds that proposed amended versions of Ohio Administrative Code 901:13-1-11, 901:13-1-19, and 901:13-1-99 which were before the joint committee on December 10, 2018 may be in conflict with the legislative intent of the statute under which they were proposed (ORC 106.022 (B)) and that the department has failed to demonstrate that the regulatory intent of the proposed rules justifies its adverse impact on business (ORC 106.022 (F)) and but for this authorization, may have resulted in a recommendation to invalidate. Therefore, the joint committee authorizes the Department of Agriculture the opportunity to revise and refile the proposed rules to avoid these possible deficiencies. As stated in ORC 106.022, the Department is afforded a maximum of 30 days from the date of receipt of this finding to review this authorization and make any needed revisions before refiling the rules with the Joint Committee.In a statement, ODA Director of Communication’s Mark Bruce said, “We’re disappointed in this latest delay but we will continue to work and do what we can to improve the health of Lake Erie. The department is hopeful our recent efforts have started conversations for meaningful action, from all parties, that will accomplish our shared goals of improved water quality in Lake Erie and across Ohio.”Representative Steven Arndt spoke on the issue of water quality at the Ohio No-Till Conference on the day following after the announcement.“We passed the Clean Lake 2020 back in May and unfortunately, not any money has been utilized or directed at all,” Arndt said. “I can tell you probably within the next several days, we’ll be pulling the rulemaking process out of the Clean Lake 2020 to speed it up. By the end of the year, we’ll be releasing one third of the resources for the soil and water districts to start laying out those plans and strategies on those specific watersheds of getting those specific types of improvements — whether it’s a controlled water facility, an edge of field treatment, variable rate technology and subsurface placement — those plans will start to be worked on now immediately with the soil and water conservation districts. That was the hope with the Clean Lake 2020, to get the money out there on the street, making decent improvements now as opposed to having protracted the rulemaking process. It’s a good thing. The new administration will certainly have the ability to help us continue to drive this investment back home.”JCARR members include: Larry Wolpert – Executive Director of JCARR; Sen. Joe Uecker – JCARR Chairman; Rep. Mike Duffey – JCARR Vice Chairman; Frank Strigari – Senate Majority; Chief Legal Counsel Mike Lenzo – House Majority; Chief Legal Counsel David Miran – Department of Agriculture; Legal Counsel Julie Hartzell –Applications Group Manager, LIS; and Megan Cummiskey – Assistant Deputy Director, LSC.