The Department of Commerce was created to meet certain needs, primarily the regulation
of commercial activities for the citizens of Ohio. Through legislation, the Department
of Commerce was created in 1921 and assumed the responsibilities of five previously
- The Inspector of Building and Loan Associations
- State Fire Marshal
- Superintendent of Insurance
- State Inspector of Oils, and
- Commissioner of Securities.
With the creation of the department, the following divisions were established:
- Building and Loan Associations
- State Fire Marshal.
The State of Ohio had supervised banking operations since 1839 through various boards,
commissions, and legislation. Today the Department of Commerce's Division of Financial
Institutions protects and promotes the public interest in this industry.
In 1891, the Bureau of Building and Loan Associations was created by the Corcoran
Law to organize, regulate and inspect the 700 already existing building and loan
associations. Once the Department of Commerce was created in 1921, the bureau was
incorporated into it and was given immediate division status. It is now known as
the Savings and Loan/Savings Banks section within the Division of Financial Institutions.
With its creation as a separate entity in 1900, the State Fire Marshal's Office
is the oldest of its kind in the United States and the only Division of the Department
that continues under its original title today. It has grown and evolved with the
times, yet maintains its original purpose of education, enforcement, and investigation.
While the regulation of Ohio's securities industry began in 1913, a Division of
Securities was created in 1929. Over the years, this Division included a Consumer
Finance section and a Credit Unions section. As their respective industries grew,
a separate Division of Consumer Finance was created in 1979 and a Division of Credit
Unions (now part of the Division of Financial Institutions) was created in 1980.
In 1980, a Division of Licensing was created to license several industries. In 1992,
the Division of Licensing was reorganized into the Division of Consumer Finance.
In 1996, many of the functions of the Licensing section were transferred to the
Division of Real Estate.
In 1925, the Board of Real Estate Examiners was established under the Department
of Commerce. However, in 1961, this board was succeeded by the independent Ohio
Real Estate Commission and the Division of Real Estate.
In 1968, the Division of Unclaimed Funds was created for the safekeeping and return
of monies designated as "unclaimed." These include: dormant checking and savings
accounts, forgotten rent and utility deposits, uncashed checks, undelivered stock
certificates, uncashed insurance policies, and forgotten layaway deposits.
In 1995, the Department experienced a major reorganization effort. The Division
of Financial Institutions was created to include the activities of the former divisions
of Banks, Savings and Loans/Savings Banks, and Credit Unions. A few months later,
in 1996, many of the duties of the former Division of Consumer Finance were transferred
to the Division of Financial Institutions.
The other major portion of the reorganization effort was the transfer of many of
the responsibilities of the former Department of Industrial Relations to the Department
of Commerce. The Department of Industrial Relations was created in 1921 for the
purpose of improving labor conditions and encouraging industrial expansion. The
new Division of Industrial Compliance includes the Board of Building Standards,
the Board of Building Appeals and the Ohio Construction Industry Examiner Board,
and the sections of Bedding, Boilers, Elevators, Factory and Building, Industrialized
Units, Plumbing, Pressure Piping and Steam Engines.
Another merger of a former state department took place in July 1997, when the Department
assumed the responsibilities of the former Department of Liquor Control. The new
Division of Liquor Control maintained its same responsibilities to control the manufacture,
distribution and sale of all alcoholic beverages within the state as originally
mandated upon its creation in December 1933. This division sells spirituous liquor
through private contract agencies, generating significant sales and tax revenues
for the state. Through its regulatory functions the division issues permits to the
state's manufacturers, distributors and retailers of all alcoholic beverages, and
monitors industry compliance of the laws relating to the manufacture, importation
and distribution of beer, wine and low-proof mixed beverages in Ohio.
In July 2000, a new state department was created, and Commerce was again affected.
The Department of Job and Family Services was created by combining the former Department
of Human Services with the Bureau of Employment Services. During that merger, several
program from OBES were moved to a new Commerce division. The Public Employment Risk
Reduction Program and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration On-site
consultation program, both designed to improve workplace safety, combined with the
Wage and Hour division, which oversees prevailing wage and laws covering minimum
and minor wages, to create the Division of Labor & Worker Safety.