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Request for Public Comment: Soil and Water Conservation - 2018 Notice and Election Rules

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is accepting comments regarding the rules found in chapters 901:13-2 and 901:13-3 of the Ohio Administrative Code. The rules in this package have been reviewed pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Revised Code and are being proposed as follows. The comment period will remain open through August 6, 2018. Comments may be emailed to eComments@agri.ohio.gov or mailed to Legal Section, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation provides resources and support to local soil and water districts across the state of Ohio. Ohio Administrative Code Chapters 901:13-2 and 901:13-3 are administrative in nature and ensure compliance with the Ohio Open Meetings Act and provide a unified election process for local districts. The rules have been reviewed and amended pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). The rules and the proposed amendments are as follows:
 
OAC 901:13-2-01 sets for the notice requirements for promulgating rules by the Ohio soil and water commission. The rule has been amended to remove the newspaper reporting requirement. 
 
OAC 901:13-2-02 outlines the public meeting notice requirements of the Ohio soil and water conservation commission. This rule is consistent with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. Further, the rule has been amended to include the Department’s website in order to be compliant with the incorporation by reference rules.
 
OAC 901:13-2-03 states that all meeting minutes of the Ohio soil and water conservation commission shall be promptly recorded and available for public inspection. The rule was amended to indicate that the meeting minutes are available for public records request at any time and not just during business hours. 
 
OAC 901:13-3-01 outlines the nomination process for candidates to local soil and water districts. The rule has been amended to make clarifying changes which should assist in comprehension of the rule.
 
OAC 901:13-3-02 sets out the eligibility requirements of both candidates and voters. The rule has been amended to remove language from this rule regarding voting and ballots. This language has been moved to rules 901:13-3-03 and 04. 
 
OAC 901:13-3-03 establishes the notice requirements for local soil and water district elections. The rule has been amended to make clarifying changes which should assist in comprehension of the rule. Further, the notice now requires that the local districts establish when absentee votes must be postmarked and received by. Additionally, the rule extends the notice period in order to give interested voters more time to become aware of the election. 
 
OAC 901:13-3-04 outlines the election process for local soil and water district elections. The rule has been amended to establish criteria for valid ballots and to make clarifying changes which should assist in comprehension of the rule.
 
OAC 901:13-3-05 outlines the process of challenging an election. Originally, the rule required that all ballots and registration records be placed in the office of the local county sheriff. This has been amended to require storage of these records at the Department’s office.