State Housing Briefing with State Senator Blessing

Blessing joined GSG’s clients and associates for a lively and informative discussion on state housing policy.

State Senator Bill Blessing (OH-8) joined GSG’s clients, associates, and community leaders for a lively and informative roundtable discussion this week. 

As a member of the legislature’s Select Committee on Housing, Senator Blessing provided an update on housing legislation, shared insights about what he’s learned in hearings sponsored by the Select Committee around the state, and his thoughts about the legislation most likely to help prioritize the legislative agenda. Senator Blessing answered questions and engaged in dialogue about the most pressing housing issues facing Ohio, and specifically in Hamilton County, including affordable and workforce housing, Connected Communities, property taxes, and more.

Senator Blessing specifically addressed two pieces of legislation, SB 245 and HB 499. He said that overall, he is “very pleased with SB 245,” a bill introduced by State Senator Michele Reynolds that includes language about evictions and tenant protections, building inspector certification and how the permitting process can be improved, additional transparency, and several other protections that help tenants. 

Senator Blessing called HB 499, a bill introduced by State Representatives Dani Isaacsohn and Adam Mathews, “a collection of ideas” encouraging housing growth. The bill establishes a grant program for local governments adopting pro-housing growth policies. Policies to be adopted range from expedited review of permits, reduced costs for water and sewer connections and minimal parking requirements, to increasing density and allowing for accessory dwelling units. The grants would be available for supporting first-time home buyers, better enforcement of zoning regulations, assisting low-income owners with repair costs, and other related uses. 

We do not anticipate many housing-related bills being enacted this year. Given summer break and the fall elections not much legislative action is anticipated. We do, however, expect hearings and deliberations on many of these issues early next year when the new legislative session begins. 

After taking questions on a broad range of topics related to housing, Senator Blessing wrapped up the discussion by encouraging attendees to reach out and engage with and educate legislators about important issues facing their communities.

To read the full 2024 Senate Select Committee on Housing Report, please click on the following link:

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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022