We want to wish all our members and their families a safe and happy Easter weekend!
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top seven things you need to know from this past week:
· Both the Ohio House and Senate will be on spring break next week. The House is scheduled to return the week of April 12 and the Senate is scheduled to return the week of April 19.
· Budget Watch: On Wednesday, Gov. DeWine signed the $8.3 billion Transportation Budget, HB 74, into law. The bill makes a significant investment in local governments through the appropriation of $2.4 billion for local roadway improvements, $318 million for highway safety projects and $8 million for electric vehicle charging stations grants through the Ohio EPA. HB 74 also appropriation $140 million over the biennium for public transit. Combined federal and state funding for public transit is $221 million over the biennium. It also appropriates $116 million for the Public Works Commission. Language increasing the force account thresholds initiated by the Senate was removed and the bill instead establishes a Joint Committee on Force Accounts. The final version also did not include language increasing penalties for distracted driving that was in the first version of the bill introduced by the Governor. You can find a comparison document for the bill as introduced by the Governor, the House-passed version of the bill and the final Sente version HERE.
· The League wants to thank Michael Wallace, the Legislative Director for Housing and Community and Economic Development for the National League of Cities (NLC) for joining our weekly Mayors’ Association of Ohio call to present on the local aid allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). For those who were unable to join the call or wish to access the presentation, a recording of the Zoom call and the slides from the presentation are available on the members-only section of our website HERE.
· Ohio municipalities can use the National League of Cities (NLC) allocation tracker to find the estimated amount they will receive of the $65 billion in aid to local governments through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While U.S. Department of Treasury is continuing to refine the estimates for allocations from the State and Local Fiscal Relief Funds, estimations for each municipality have been released. You can use NLC's new allocation tracker HERE to find out how much your community is eligible for.
· The Ohio Municipal League Service Corporation (OMLSC) is pleased to announce that CompManagement and CareWorks Comp have merged in an acquisition by Sedgwick. For over 50 years, both companies have been helping employers navigate Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, providing services to help them control claim-related costs and reduce premiums. They have provided claims and risk management consulting solutions for decades and together, they serve nearly 65,000 Ohio employers. Learn more about Sedgwick HERE and find out more about their upcoming virtual Ohio State Fund seminar in the articles below.
· The Public Entities Pool of Ohio (PEP), also a member of the OMLSC, is asking member municipalities that have experienced a cyber incident or claim or have concerns about a possible cyber incident or claim to contact PEP immediately. Submitting an incident or claim to PEP will not automatically increase contribution or adversely impact a municipality’s membership with the Pool. PEP’s claims department is on-hand and ready to assist with investigating and processing any possible cyber incidents or claims. To learn more or submit a claim, click HERE. You can also learn more about best practices for avoiding or minimizing retaliation claims from PEP’s upcoming webinar. More details in the article below.
· On April 27 at 11 a.m., the Ohio Municipal League and the Montrose Group LLC are hosting a free webinar on project funding strategies municipalities can use for revenues from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Click HERE to register and learn more in the article below.
SB 22 COULD END COVID-19 MUNICIPAL INCOME TAX WITHHOLDING PROVISIONS AS EARLY AS THIS SUMMER
Earlier this month, the legislature overturned Governor DeWine’s veto of SB 22 with the constitutionally required three-fifths majority. SB 22 allows lawmakers to overturn via concurrent resolution state orders issued in response to a state emergency as well as orders from statewide elected officers, administrative departments and state agencies.
The veto override means that barring intervention from the courts, SB 22 will become effective 90 days after the veto override on June 23, 2021. SB 22 also terminates the Governor’s current state of emergency 30 days after the bill takes effect in June, unless extended by the legislature by concurrent resolution. If this occurs, then the Governor’s state of emergency would end mid-July and start the 30-day countdown for the end of the current COVD-19 provisions for municipal income tax withholding.
This provision, found in Section 29 of HB 197, instructs municipalities to continue withholding municipal income tax at a taxpayer’s place of work, even if the taxpayer is currently working from home in a different local jurisdiction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the provision ends 30 days after the Governor’s declaration of emergency is lifted.
If Sec. 29 of HB 197 were to end in just a few months, both municipalities and business would immediately experience substantial impacts. Municipalities would lose the revenue stability that the provision was intended to ensure for cities and villages as they continue to deliver quality local services to Ohioans. Additionally, businesses need time to ensure they are able to track, report and remit withholdings at the local jurisdiction of each employee that continues to work from home.
To avoid these substantial impacts to both businesses and municipalities, it is imperative that the legislature schedule a date certain in the future that will give municipalities and business enough time to prepare and adjust. As Ohio continues to recover from the fallout of the pandemic, it is unknown how many employers will either choose to extend their current work-from-home policies or choose to return employees to their principle place of employment within a municipality. The legislature should ensure there is enough time for municipalities gauge whether businesses choose to return employees to their offices and assess those revenue impacts to their community.
We urge our members to contact their legislators and urge them to quickly pass legislation that will set a future date for the end of Section 29 of HB 197. It is imperative that the legislature ensure that both municipalities and businesses will enough runway to prepare for the effects of permanent work-from-home policies.
WEBINAR ON AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) PROJECT FUNDING STRATEGIES
Please join the Ohio Municipal League along with the Montrose Group LLC for a free webinar to learn about how the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act can develop critical projects in your community. The webinar will take place on April 27 at 11 a.m.
The American Rescue Plan provides $350 billion dollars in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to remedy the mismatch between rising costs and falling revenues. This includes $130 billion for local governments including funding for Ohio municipal governments that can be used for four purposes: public health costs triggered by COVID 19; revenue losses caused by COVID 19; financial assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, aid to impacted industries, and support for essential workers; and investments in infrastructure, including water, sewer, and broadband services.
The American Rescue Plan Act creates a once in a generation opportunity to support those impacted by COVID-19 as well as to redevelop local infrastructure tied to critical community projects. Please join the webinar to learn how to capitalize on this billion-dollar source of federal government funding.
The webinar will be presented by David J. Robinson, Principal; Nate Green, Director of Economic Development; Tim Biggam - Director of Government Relations; and Jamie Beier, Grant-Manager of Economic and Workforce Development.
Montrose Group LLC is a national economic development and lobbying consulting firm that represents municipalities on project financing, economic development and lobbying matters throughout Ohio. Montrose Group, LLC are experts on how to use local, state and federal funding to promote economic development.
After registering (link in bullet point above) you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
BWC SAFETY BULLETIN: POWER LAWN MOWER SAFETY
The following is a safety bulletin from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) on power lawn mower safety:
Mowing the grass is a task so common most don’t give it a second thought. Unfortunately, it presents significant hazards that can lead to serious injury, even death. In 2019 alone, no fewer than five Ohioans suffered serious injuries or died on the job while mowing grass. Each incident is a chilling reminder of the hazards that come with an activity so many of us find routine.
One Ohio man who had survived three tours in Iraq was killed on the job when the lawn mower he was operating rolled over and landed on its top in Massillon. Four other Ohio workers suffered serious injuries this year while operating lawnmowers.
The four injured workers included a 21-year-old man working in North Canton and a 75-year-old man in Chillicothe injured in roll-over accidents, a 47-year-old man working in Cleveland who suffered multiple amputations from contact with a running mower blade, and a 65-year-old man in Akron who was seriously injured by a flying baseball that was run over by a mower.
Have you trained your employees on the safe operation of lawn mowers? Employers are responsible for providing workers with proper training, safe equipment and the necessary personal protective equipment before they can operate any lawn mower.
The following tips and resources can help you make lawn mower operations safer for your workers
General Riding Mower Tips:
• Train and retrain employees to maintain competency to operate a riding mower safely.
• Always start riding mowers from the operator position.
• Never mount or dismount a mower when it is running.
• Make sure every riding mower includes an operable auto shut-off when the rider is not in the seat.
• Never carry passengers. Riding mowers are one-person machines.
Slope Mowing Tips:
• Slopes are a major factor related to loss of control and tip-over accidents, which can result in injury or death.
• Operation on slopes requires extra caution. If you cannot back up the slope or if you feel uneasy on it, do not mow it.
• Never start or stop a riding mower when it is going uphill or downhill. Avoid all sudden starts, stops or turns.
• Examine all safety devices to ensure the Roll-Over Protection Structure (ROPS), guards, seat belts and shields are in place and properly used.
• To avoid injury or death from roll-over, use the seat belt and keep the ROPS fully raised and in the locked position.
• Check carefully for overheard clearance before driving under any objects and avoid contact with overhead objects. If necessary, lower the ROPS to provide safe clearance and then raise the ROPS as soon as clearance permits.
• If the tires lose traction, disengage the blades and proceed slowly straight down the slope.
• Be sure to travel side to side on hillsides. Turf conditions can affect the stability of the machine.
• Slow down and use caution when making turns and changing directions on slopes. Keep all movement on slopes slow and gradual.
• Do not mow on slopes greater than 15 degrees.
• Use caution while operating near drop-offs.
• The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) suggests the following equipment options for different terrains:
o 0° to 15° slope – riding mowers or tractor mowers are approved for these areas
o 16° to 22° slope – tractor mowers are approved for use on these areas
o 23° or more – these areas are mowed with string trimmers, push mowers or specialized equipment; specialized equipment can be riding mowers intended for use on slopes
o Within 5 feet of a drop-off – a buffer zone is maintained; only string trimmers and push mowers can be used inside this zone
• Read and understand the equipment manual.
• Survey terrain prior to mowing. Ensure mowing area is clear and free of people, debris or other potential flying object hazards.
• Identify obstacles you cannot remove in the mowing path (e.g., trees, large rocks, and manmade hazards such as signs and trash bins).
• Always wear personal protective equipment, including eye and hearing protection, and closed-toe shoes.
• Keep mower in good working order with sharp blades.
• Only use a mower that has protection over hot and sharp parts.
• Only refuel the motor when it is turned off and cooled down.
• Never insert hands or feet into mower or the discharge chute to remove grass or debris. Even if the motor is turned off, the blade could still be spinning.
• Make sure to stay away from the exhaust. A lawn mower can reach temperatures of up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyone near this exhaust could suffer a severe burn.
• Never cut grass when it is wet or damp.
• For push mowers: Only use mowers with an automatic shut-off device that stops all motion once you release or disengage the handle.
We provide on-site consultation services to private and public employers at no additional cost. You can request our services at www.bwc.ohio.gov or by phone at 1-800-644-6292.
UPCOMING WEBINAR OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH SEDGWICK AND PUBLIC ENTITY POOL OF OHIO (PEP)
· Ohio State Fund Virtual Seminar:
Sedgwick (formerly known as CompManagement and CareWorks Comp) has opened registration for the first-ever virtual Ohio State Fund seminar.
The pressure of understanding exposures and managing claims can be challenging. In times like these, extra insight makes all the difference. Members are invited to spend a half-day with industry experts from Sedgwick address current issues relating to workers' compensation, safety and unemployment. During this free event, attendees will learn about:
• BWC updates
• Unemployment during this unprecedented time
• Cost savings through coordinated claims management
• OSHA: mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace
• Taking a comprehensive approach to managed care
This half-day seminar qualifies for two-hour group/group retro safety credit through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Sedgwick has scheduled two identical sessions are available to accommodate schedules. To learn more and to register, click HERE for April 13 & HERE for April 22.
· Termination - Best Practices for Avoiding or Minimizing Retaliation Claims:
PEP is offering this webinar on Tuesday, April 6 at 1 p.m. This webinar will take a comprehensive look at the topic of termination and the best practices for employers in avoiding discriminatory and retaliatory actions. This webinar will offer employers a road map to navigating one of the more stressful responsibilities shouldered by human resources professionals. To learn more and to register copy link below into browser.
OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE
· As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 1,020,041 cases of coronavirus, 18,609 resident deaths, 53,169 hospitalizations and 7,438 ICU admissions.
Higher Education Vaccinations:
· Governor DeWine announced that the state will begin working with local colleges and universities to offer vaccination clinics on campuses across the state.
o These higher-education vaccination clinics will start on various campuses next week and will offer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
· The goal is to offer on-campus clinics to all of Ohio's college students before the school year ends in May.
· Governor DeWine also announced that Ohio will begin working with employers and other organizations to offer workplace vaccination clinics throughout Ohio.
· Beginning the week of April 12, vaccine providers can allot up to 25 percent of their vaccine allocation to be used to vaccinate their own employees or to partner with local employers, labor unions, and other organizations to vaccinate their employees at their work locations.
Increase in Cases, Variant Spread:
· For the past two Thursdays, Ohio's statewide average was just under 150 cases per 100,000 population. The two-week case rate has now risen to 167.1 cases per 100,000.
o New cases had been relatively flat through the month of March, but cases are beginning to increase once again, which demonstrates the necessity that Ohioans choose to be vaccinated.
o To date, nearly 30 percent of Ohioans have received at least one dose of vaccine.
· According to Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health, variant activity continues to rise, closely mirroring what is occurring in the rest of the nation.
o Michigan is currently experiencing an increase in cases that is more than 3.5 times what Ohio is seeing, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this increase appears to be driven substantially by variants.
o Most of Ohio's rising cases numbers and variant cases are happening in the area of the state bordering Michigan.
· Governor DeWine announced that as Ohio continues to receive increases in its vaccine allotment, the state will allot more doses to areas that are seeing case spikes or increases in vaccine demand.
Ohio Public Health Advisory System:
· New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health shows case increases in 56 counties over the past week, however, because there are not yet significant increases in healthcare utilization at the county level, most counties stayed at the same level this week.
· Level changes include:
o Van Wert County moved from yellow to orange.
o Auglaize, Paulding and Scioto moved from red to orange.
o Carroll, Mercer, and Morgan counties moved from orange to yellow.
o Clinton County dropped from red to yellow.
Case Data and Vaccine Information: