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Stop SB 134

Senate Bill 134 and House Bill 149 (The UnFair Housing Act of 2015) would roll back the clock on fair housing rights 

SB 134 and HB 149 will be going out of existence shortly. Advocates expect that new bills will be introduced in January. 
RHINO will be keeping members posted about protecting fair housing rights

Senate Bill 134 and a companion bill in the State House (SB 149) strip Ohioans of Fair Housing rights
  • by exempting some landlords from FH duties,
  • by permitting landlords to seek attorney fees from unsuccessful complainants,
  • by "capping" some punative damages allowed by the current law., and
  • by making Ohio ineligible to receive Federal funds for fair housing enforcement.
Fewer tenants who believe they have been discriminated against will file complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for fear that receiving a "no probable cause" finding will result in a bill for the landlord's attorney fees.
Landlords who own 3 or fewer units in a single building (and live in one of the units) would be permitted to discriminate against families with children, and
Ohio's Federal funding for housing discrimination enforcement would be in jeopardy.  Almost $1M in lost revenue to the state.

HUD calls this bill a threat to civil rights

YouTube Video

That could be the case if the Ohio General Assembly passes HB 149 and SB 134--what RHINO calls the UN-fair Housing Act. These bills would:
  • permit discrimination by landlords who own 3 or fewer units in a dwelling or 4 units if the landlord lives in one of the units.
  • cap punitive damages assessed to deter future FH violations. 
    These bills are being promoted by the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association. OREIA refers to these bills as the: "Helen Gryboski Fairness in Fair Housing Act" based on a case against an Ashtabula County landlord for discriminating against families with children and persons with disability. OREIA claims that Ms. Grybosky was unfairly entrapped in a discrimination charge, held for ransom by a Fair Housing group, and that she was charged exorbitant legal fees by the State of Ohio. Here's a couple facts about the Grybosky case.
    Ms. Grybosky is not a "little old lady" renting out a room. Ms. Grybosky and her son (not a little old lady) run a rental property business involving more than 4 rental units. In other words, she would STILL be covered by the State FH law if these bills were passed. 
    Being caught by a "tester" is a pretty common way of documenting discriminatory behavior. The usual outcome is a filing and a finding and maybe some 'training' to teach the landlord about their duties. Ms. Grybosky's lawyer could have settled this claim at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission with very little expense but chose instead to file lawsuits against the state that the Ohio AG needed to spend public funds to defend. Witness Stephanie Bostos-Demers of the OCRC said: "The Gryboskys gambled on untested legal theories and lost, which proved to be a costly tactic."
Ransom for Fair Housing groups? On the contrary all of Ohio's Fair Housing groups offer training to landlords and tenants around the state in order to discourage illegal rental practices. But here we are now. Last Thursday fair housing advocates traveled from around Ohio to testify at the State House in opposition to HB 149. In the course of the hearing, Rep. Bob Hackett (R-London) wondered why the Grybosky case got so out of control. "One of the things that bothers us is a lack of common sense in this case," he said. Now this botched case is the basis for legislation that would roll back the clock on fair housing rights for many Ohioans by exempting up to 58% of Ohio's rental housing. 
    What should worry the Ohio General Assembly is the media spotlight if Ohio rolls back the clock on Fair Housing rights on the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the law and on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next year. You can read all the testimony here Read more and follow the links here
 What's going on?

December 2016--Back from the grave part 2

September 19, 2015: Back from the Grave? 
Advocates thought that SB 134 was dead for good after a magnificent presentation by fair housing advocates in the opponent testimony. Alas, it now appears that House members are ready to introduce a "compromise" bill that would remove many, BUT NOT ALL, of the worst features of the original legislation. Stay tuned for details about next steps for advocates who are fighting "UNFAIR HOUSING" bill.

May 18, 2015:  RHINO reacts to Star Beacon story: 
Star Beacon did a disservice to its readers by failing to give both sides of this controversy.  OREIA and Ms. Grybosky's attorneys is using this case to roll back the clock on fair housing rights in Ohio.  Everyone knows someone who's covered by Ohio's Fair Housing law:  racial and ethnic minorities, female headed households, families with children and persons with disabilities.

Two key points to remember.  First: The proposed laws would NOT have protected Ms. Grybosky because her rental businessdoesn't fit the proposed exemption.  Second:  there were high legal fees in this case because Ms. Grybosky's lawyer kept filing frivolous claims that the State of Ohio was required to defend. 

This coming Wednesday, opponents of HB 149 (and the companion Senate bill) will be testifying against this bill.  I hope that the Star Beacon sees fit to cover THAT story as extensively as it covered Ms. Grybosky's lawyer's version

April 26, 2015.  Toledo Blade says Keep Housing Fair

March 2015:  It's back...The old Senate Bill 349 has been re introduced in the new session of the General Assembly.  Time once again to oppose this effort to protect landlords who discriminate.
  Learn more at

4/13/15  HUD says SB 134 if enacted would jeopardize the substantial equivalency of Ohio's Fair Housing Law.  (copy of the HUD letter is attached below.)

9/5/14:  Stop349 Coalition issues press statement about possible loss of Federal funding if SB 349 passes.  Seitz (a true small government conservative) announces on the next day that he will rewrite SB 349 to avoid the loss of Federal (big brother?) funding.  See links here: 
  • GOP state senator to revise anti-housing-bias bill to keep Ohio from losing $1 million in federal funding  more here.
  • Ohiocould lose millions in civil rights funding if fair-housing bill becomes law, federal official warns 8/24/14;  HUD weighs in with an analysis of SB 349.  Federal funding would be in jeopardy!
7/31/14:  "If the bill passes, fair-housing groups probably will take complaints to the federal system rather than the Civil Rights Commission, which will lengthen the process and cost landlords more, said Jim McCarthy, president of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center.   'Frankly, the senator has not gotten a lot of good information, and he is buying the narrative being peddled by the Real Estate Investors Association...' ” McCarthy said.  (Columbus Dispatch-see link in right sidebar).
7/31/14  "We do not support it in any method or manner," said G. Michael Payton, executive director of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, a state agency that investigates discrimination in housing and other venues. "There's no sound reason to change fair housing law in Ohio." (cincinnati Enquirer-see link in sidebar)
7/29/14:  "Seitz says the bill won’t cause the state to lose money or be in conflict with federal laws.  Even so, he says he’s asked the legislative agency that drafts bills to take a closer look at this one to make sure."
7/27/14:  Stop 349 Coalition launches media campaign to educate the public about the dangers of SB 349.  See the links in the right sidebar.  Read the press release attached at the bottom of the page.
7/13/14:  RHINO members vote to join the coalition in opposition to SB 349.  Working Group established.

Because SB 349 was introduced just days before the Senate went on summer recess, no hearing will be held before late September at the earliest.  Still advocates are wasting no time in reaching out to citizens to contact their state senators to oppose this measure.

What can you do?
Join other RHINO members in reaching out to Ohio State Senators, local media and other advocacy groups.  Just complete the survey and RHINO can help you frame your messages.

What are the long term issues
SB 349 may be just the beginning of legislative attempts to undermine rental rights in Ohio. 

Spencer Wells,
Apr 27, 2015, 7:34 AM