Document Type

Legislative Notes


In May of 1980, the 113th Ohio General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 284 to amend section 3745.08 of the Ohio Revised Code. The purpose of the enactment is stated to be clarification of procedures utilized for filing and resolving complaints of alleged violations of specific pollution control laws. The bill was enacted in response to the recommendation of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) that changes and clarification of procedures regarding verified complaints were necessary.

Of particular concern to the OEPA was the exercise of hearing rights as a dilatory tactic by persons charged in a complaint. The OEPA asserts that a hearing requirement prior to an order becoming effective permits the alleged pollution danger to continue unabated until an adjudicatory hearing is concluded. The OEPA also takes the position that when a hearing before the agency is demanded by everyone affected by verified complaints, the entire environmental regulatory system is stultified. The General Assembly responded to these concerns by enacting S.B. 284. Principally, the bill eliminates the former requirement that the director convene a hearing prior to entering an operative order in response to a verified complaint. In its place, the General Assembly has granted to the director discretion in deciding whether to conduct a hearing upon receipt of a verified complaint. Objection to this change stems from the constitutional due process requirement that adequate notice and opportunity to be heard must be afforded a party prior to adversely affecting such person’s constitutionally protected “property” interest.

The following analysis of S.B. 284 will begin with a discussion of the statutory framework, including the scope of complaints and the required verification procedures before a complaint may properly be filed. Next, the procedure for handling and resolving a complaint once filed with the OEPA will be analyzed. Finally, the legislative grant of discretion to the director in convening a hearing will be discussed, along with its effect on the issue whether the administrative procedures provided for in S.B. 284 are constitutionally sufficient.

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