OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
 
·        The League wants to thank Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp for joining our virtual Board Retreat and Board Meeting this week to speak to our board members about legislative priorities for this upcoming General Assembly and answer questions on issues impacting municipalities. We also want to thank our board members for their participation, insight and feedback in forming the League’s policy agenda for the 134th General Assembly. We will be releasing our policy agenda with a press release early next week
 
·        Budget Watch: This week, HB 74, the Transportation Budget, received its first two hearings before the House Finance Committee. The League testified in support of the bill’s investment in local transportation infrastructure funding but requested adequate funding for public transit. You can read the League’s testimony HERE and read more about the bill in the article below. Additionally, the biennial state operating budget has received HB 110 as its official bill number.
 
·        This week, the Senate passed two bills that would have an impact on two ongoing controversial issues. The first is SB 10, which eliminates and refunds rate provisions that guaranteed FirstEnergy a yearly revenue of $978 million under HB 6. The second, SB 22, would allow the legislature to override executive public health order via concurrent resolution, not requiring the Governor’s signature. Both bills now move to the House to begin the committee hearing process.
 
·        We are continuing to schedule regional virtual roundtable discussions in order give municipal leaders the opportunity to speak directly with their Statehouse delegation and to talk about priority issues in their districts and the municipalities they serve. If you still have not signed up, click HERE and provide us with your name, email, the name of your municipality and the county in which it is located along with the Senate district. We will use this information to contact you when the legislative roundtable for your region has been scheduled. Please note that registration for the regional roundtables for Senate Districts 1, 2 and 3 closes tomorrow.
 
·        The National League of Cities (LNC) has distributed an updated “State and Local Allocation Output” estimates spreadsheet breaking down how much individual state and local governments can expect to receive in federal aid under the American Rescue Plan currently being debated in Congress. You can access the spreadsheet HERE and read more in the article below.
 
 
 
 
LEAGUE TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF GOVERNOR DEWINE’S TRANSPORTATION BUDGET
 
This week, the Transportation Budget received two committee hearings before the House Finance Committee. HB 74, which is Governor DeWine’s proposal for the transportation budget, contains several provisions that benefit local governments:
 
     Distracted Driving: HB 74 would make it a primary offense for an adult driver to handle any electronic devise and increase fines for drivers using electronic devises habitually.
It also enforces the same penalties for drunk driving when a driver using an electronic devise causes serious injury or death
 
     State and Local Partnerships: The bill allocates a total of $357 million to locals each year of biennium. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is also partnering with locals to address 150 dangerous intersections and address pedestrian safety concerns.
 
     Federal Aid: HB 74 allocates $126 million in federal aid to local governments to cover some of the gas tax revenue lost due travel restrictions. The funds come from $333 million in federal aid approved for roadway construction.
 
In our testimony, the League also requested that a change be made to the bill regarding adequate funding for public transit. HB 74 cuts annual state funding to public transit to $7.3 million, compared to $70 million for FY20 and $63 million FY21 and reduces federal funding for public transit from $65.9 million to approximately $50 million each year of the biennium.
 
The League asserted that cuts to public transit would make Ohio’s municipalities substantially less business friendly as reliable public transportation draws businesses and the workforce to Ohio’s cities.
 
We thank the DeWine Administration for its continued investment in and support of local transportation infrastructure and public safety, and we urge the General Assembly to support these provisions while encouraging the adequate funding of public transit. We will keep our members updated as the bill moves through the legislative process.
 
 
 
 
 
LEAGUE MEMBER SURVEY DEMONSTRATES COVID-19 IMPACT AND PRIORITY ISSUES FOR MUNICIPALITIES
 
The League had submitted a survey to our general membership in order to gauge the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on municipalities and what legislative priorities our membership would direct us to pursue. We appreciate all who responded and provided us with valuable information on how the health of Ohio’s municipalities and how we can best represent our members before the General Assembly and the DeWine Administration.
 
Survey results demonstrate that for most respondents, income tax revenue collections were the biggest impact felt by those municipalities. According to the survey:
     77% of respondents experienced some impact to revenues;
     14.5% experienced a severe impact to revenues; and
     8.2% experienced no impact.
 
After revenues, the following were the biggest COVID-19 impacts for respondents by order:
     Work from home
     Business shutdowns
     Reliance on Federal dollars and BWC dividends
     Full effect unknown until April 2021 tax filings
     Impact from reduced utility collections
     2021 impact expected
 
89% of members surveyed said they had used federal CARES Act dollars for health personnel and/or budget items related to first responders, while 10% said they had not.
 
We asked members which legislative priorities they believed were the most important for the League to focus on over the upcoming legislative session. The following responses reflect the legislative issues with which our members are most concerned:
 
     39% - Municipal income tax: current non-resident employee withholding practices (HB197/Sec. 29), other revenue collection issues (i.e., problems with net profit centralized collection)
     21% - Local Government Fund (LGF): restoration of cuts/reorganizing current structure
     20% - Underground infrastructure: funding replacing/expanding existing infrastructure
     10% - COVID-19 pandemic: current and future budget impacts; service delivery challenges/interruptions
     4% - Broadband: expansion of existing system; funding
     3% - Racial equity: initiatives to raise consciousness of issues; policy strategies/increased resources.
     1.7% - Brownfields: greater partnership with state on revitalization efforts
     1.2% - Public safety issues: policing reform measures; municipal liability exposures to public demonstrations
     1.2% - Opioids: enhanced state/local partnership; public-private partnership (PPP) strategies
     0.8% - Public notice requirements: easing announcement mandates
 
Other legislative items the respondents mentioned most frequently as priorities were home rule, housing issues, and landlord and rental concerns.
 
We want to thank all who participated in this survey for their informative responses. The League is only as effective as our membership allow us to be, and these projects play a critical role in how our members direct us in our advocacy efforts to ensure we are effective, responsive and efficient in our work on behalf of Ohio’s cities and villages.
 
 
 
 
OHIO HOUSE PASSES BROADBAND BILL WITH INCREASED FUNDING
 
This week, the Ohio House passed legislation by a vote of 88-5 that would expand broadband access throughout the state. HB 2, sponsored by Rep. Carfagna (R – Genoa Twp.) and Rep. Stewart (R - Ashville), establishes the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program within the Ohio Development Services Agency.
 
Before its passage by the full House, the bill was amended in the House Finance Committee to increase funding for the program from $20 million to $170 million in FY22. The bill still allocates the original $20 million for FY21 and FY23. The bill was also amended to include an emergency clause, meaning the bill would go into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.
 
The League applauds the passage of HB 2 and we urge the General Assembly to continue to prioritize expanding broadband access across the state. You can read joint proponent testimony the League submitted with the Ohio Township Association during a previous committee hearing HERE. The bill now moves to the Senate to begin committee hearings.
 
 
 
 
FEDERAL UPDATE: COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE
 
Last week, the federal House Government and Oversight Committee passed a critical component of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The Committee passed $350 billion in aid for states and local governments as well as tribal and territorial governments. Under the plan as currently written:
 
     Cities, towns and villages will receive $65.1 billion.
     Community Development Block Grant eligible entities will receive $45.57 billion.
     Non-Community Development Block Grant eligible entities will receive $19.53 billion.
 
It is expected that a vote on the entire plan will take place late next week.
 
The National League of Cities (NLC) has distributed the following documents on the forthcoming relief package:
 
     An updated 1-pager HERE.
     The full section-by-section of the Committee Print, as amended, reported by the Oversight Committee HERE.
     An in-depth guide to interpreting the “State and Local Allocation Output” estimates spreadsheet HERE.



NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES (NLC) NBC-LEO LAUNCHES
INITIATIVE TO EDUCATE ELECTED OFFICIALS ON RACIAL DISPARITIES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
 
The National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), a group within the National League of Cities (NLC), has recently launched the Reclaiming the Dream initiative to give local leaders the opportunity to learn about historical disparities for Black communities while helping them identify ways to eliminate those disparities.
 
The initiative focuses on five policy areas: criminal justice reform, educating on equity in government; workforce skill development; homelessness; and working with philanthropic organizations. These five core areas will be the focus of NBC-LEO working groups that will explore each area and develop local policy and process recommendations.
 
The Reclaiming the Dream initiative recognizes that local leaders are on the front lines of the challenges of racial disparities and seeks to equip municipal officials with the tools to address inequality in their local communities and the relationship local leaders have with their residents. NBC-LEO will be hosting a serious of events that will give local officials the opportunity for education and engagement through the Reclaiming the Dream initiative. To learn more and get involved, click HERE.
 
 
 
OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE
 
     As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 947,389 cases of coronavirus, 14,132 deaths, 49,061 hospitalizations and 7,002 ICU admissions.
 
Virtual Townhalls:
·        As part of Ohio's continuing efforts to ensure equity in Ohio's vaccination program, ODH is holding virtual town hall meetings focused on specific minority communities.
o   These virtual meetings will involve local medical professionals and community leaders who will guide these conversations to discuss the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.
 
·        The meetings are intended to jumpstart conversations and give local leaders and attendees the tools they need to better inform members of their communities about vaccine facts, enhance access to trusted resources, and drive conversations in their own communities about why vaccinations are important. 
 
·        The town halls will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
o   More details are available at coronavirus.ohio.gov/townhall
 
Weather Delays:
·        Due to severe weather across Ohio and the country, both Pfizer and Moderna have advised that direct vaccine shipments to providers may be delayed one to two days.
o   The Ohio Department of Health has contacted all providers that are expecting direct shipments to notify them of these potential delays.
 
·        Because of these weather delays, it is expected that providers will give vaccinations over the weekend as shipments arrive.
 
·        Many providers are continuing with their scheduled vaccination appointments, but some have canceled appointments due to snow emergencies.
o   These providers are contacting patients by phone call, email, or by posting on social media.
o   Ohioans who haven’t heard from their provider and are concerned about whether or not their appointment is still scheduled should contact their provider or visit their website.
o   Ohioans who need to cancel their vaccination for any reason should contact their provider to reschedule.
 
Vaccine Maintenance Program:
·        Ohio has launched its COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
o   Each month, facilities can host a vaccine clinic for residents and staff if there is the need for vaccinations.
o   The program ensures that vaccinations in long-term care facilities continue for new residents and staff or current residents and staff who have now decided to be vaccinated.
 
Nursing Home Visitation:
·        Governor DeWine announced that he has assembled a team of doctors and nurses to develop a plan for safe nursing home visitation.
o   Members of the team are experts in infectious disease control, skilled nursing, and other types of long-term care settings.
·        Ohio's existing visitation order does allow compassionate care visits.
o   Examples of compassionate care situations could include:
§ A resident who was living with their family before recently being admitted to a home, is struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support.
§ A resident who needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking, previously provided by family or caregiver(s), is experiencing weight loss or dehydration.
§ A resident, who used to talk and interact with others, is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently.
·        The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is available to assist citizens with questions about compassionate care visits. The office can be reached at OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov or 1-800-282-1206.
 
Phase 1B Medical Condition:
·        This week, vaccine eligibility opened up to Ohioans born with the medical conditions outlined below, or those who were diagnosed in early childhood whose conditions continued into adulthood.
  
Vaccine Data Collection:
     Governor DeWine again asked vaccine providers to collect and report accurate and complete data on vaccine administrations including race, ethnicity, age, and category of eligibility.
 
·        This information is critical to understanding uptake rates among specific communities or occupations and also helps inform future policy and allocation decisions.
 
·        The Ohio Department of Health will continue to reach out to all providers to make sure this critical information is being entered into the system.
 
Central Scheduling System Update:
·        Ohio's centralized scheduling website has been created, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is now working with vaccine providers to enroll them in the system.
o   The website will serve as a singular location for Ohioans to confirm that they are eligible to be vaccinated, identify nearby providers, and schedule their vaccine appointment.
 
·        Ohio and approximately 40 other states chose not to use the centralized system that the federal government intended to develop.
o   Instead, Ohio chose to build its own centralized scheduling system. Despite the significant build time and configuration, the system was built within Ohio's intended timeframe.
 
·        ODH will work directly with vaccine providers to integrate their current systems into the statewide system and assist them in working through current waitlists to potentially integrate these commitments into the centralized system.
o   Providers will be expected to use this system as Ohio looks to the future, and guidance will be provided in the near future regarding deadlines.
 
·        Outside partners, including the Area Agencies on Aging, will be available to help Ohioans who do not have access to the internet with appointment scheduling.
 
 
 
OML/OMAA UPCOMING WEBINARS
 
The League, along with the Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association (OMAA), are offering the following upcoming webinars to municipal officials. These webinars are
 
 
·        HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS FROM YOUR TIF: BORROW IT, BANK IT OR SOMETHING IN-BETWEEN?
March 25, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
 
Program Description: We will examine different options for maximizing the benefits of your TIF and what to do with anticipated cash flows. Benefits and costs of using TIF cash flows to secure bonds, reimburse incurred costs or be banked for future uses will be discussed.
PRESENTERS: Aaron Berke, Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLP
 
·        WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA BECOMES ANTI-SOCIAL
April 7, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
 
Program Description: This webinar will focus on practical advice to help municipalities deal with unintended consequences of having a social media presence. These include disclaimers, permissible and impermissible edits to online content, when to block participants, dealing with records requests, and other challenges that go along with using social media to promote your community.
PRESENTERS: Joelle Khouzam, Bricker & Eckler LLP, Aubrey Hale, Strategy & Engagement Officer, Grandview Heights
 
·        EMPLOYEES: LAWS AND NEW FRONTIERS
April 21, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
 
Program Description: Trends and challenges face employers. The constant is change. This session reviews recent decisions and laws impacting the workplace, presenting a view of the recent past to a view of the horizon. The scope of the presentation includes vaccination to free speech, discrimination, and federal rules on leaves.
PRESENTERS: Jonathan Downes, Zashin & Rich
 
·        STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS THAT CAN DIRECTLY BENEFIT MUNICIPALITIES
May 6, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
 
Program Description: We will review programs from ODSA and other state entities that can benefit municipalities, such as Abandoned Gas Station, Energy Loan Fund, Energy Loan Loss Reserve, Rural Industrial Park loans, Revolving Loan Fund and other non-entitlement eligible CDBG programs, 629, and Brownfield, Alternative Stormwater/OWDA programs.
PRESENTERS: Jon Stock, Sean Byrne, Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLP
 
 
Register online for these webinars HERE
  
 
 
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR GLENN COLLEGE MANAGEMENT ADVANCEMENT FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE (MAPS) ONLINE TRAININGS
 
The Management Advancement for the Public Service (MAPS) program at the Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs has released its course offerings for March, April and a few remaining courses in February.
 
MAPS courses provide professional training in leadership, personal development, diversity equity and inclusion, program management, and more. These one-day, online, facilitator-led, skill-based training courses are specifically designed for public and nonprofit employees at all career levels. Each one-day course results in six hours of continuing education unit (CEU) credit. Classes are 100% online through March 2021.
 
You can access the full course schedule and register HERE.
 
 
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
·        SB 38 – Tax Credit. Sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R – Lancaster), would allow an income tax credit for law enforcement officials and volunteer firefighters who purchase safety or protective items to be used in the course of official law enforcement or firefighting activities. During its second hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the League along with the Ohio Fraternity of Police and the Ohio Township Association testified in support of the bill. You can read the League’s testimony HERE.
 
·        SB 45 – Tax Inducements. Sponsored by Sen. Peterson (R – Sabina) and Sen. Kunze (R – Hilliard), would enhance state and local tax inducements for businesses making substantial fixed asset and employment investments and their suppliers. During it second hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, proponents including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the Dayton Development Coalition, the Oho Manufacturers’ Association and others testified in support of the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.
 
     HB 23 – EMS Personnel. Sponsored by Rep. Plummer (R – Dayton) and Rep. West (D – Canton), would require emergency medical service personnel and peace officers to undergo dementia-related training. During its second hearing before the House Commerce and Labor Committee, proponents including the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors' Association and the Ohio Alzheimer's Association testified in support of the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.