OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top seven things you need to know from this past week:
· The authority for Ohio local governments to hold virtual public meetings will expire on July 1 as stated in HB 404 from the 133rd General Assembly. There was a provision granting an extension of this authority in a previous version of Sub. HB 110, the state operating budget bill. We will alert our members if an extension is provided.
· This week, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation to allocate America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to non-entitlement units of local government (NEUs). The Ohio House concurred on changes made by the Senate to HB 168, which was amended to include the distribution of the first tranche of the $844 million in ARPA funds to NEUs, which have a population under 50,000. The bill will now head to the desk of the Governor for his signature. Read more in the article below.
· As we covered in two Member Alerts earlier this week, which you can find HERE, the state has determined that townships qualify as an NEU, making them eligible to receive funding through the ARPA program. You can find the new projections generated by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) that include distributions to townships HERE. The League sent a letter to the legislature, which you can find HERE , that outlines our concerns and requests that the state use its revenues to make whole the initial ARPA allocations to smaller cities and village. Read more in the article below.
· Budget Watch: The Conference Committee on Sub. HB 110, the state operating budget bill, is continuing to meet and work out the differences between the budget language and appropriations proposed by the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and the DeWine Administration. The legislature has until June 30 next week to complete the budget process in order to ensure the Governor can sign the budget into law by July 1. We are anticipating the Conference Committee report early next week, followed by concurrences by both the House and Senate. We will keep our members apprised on all budget bill proceedings.
· The Ohio Senate is sending a bill preempting municipal authority to the Governor for his signature. HB 201 prohibits local governments from limiting natural gas use and is a clear violation of municipal Home Rule authority as established in the Ohio Constitution. That bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 7 and will now head to the desk of Governor DeWine for his signature. You can read the League’s letter urging the Governor to veto the legislation HERE . Read more in the article below.
· The Ohio General Assembly passed SB 113, sponsored by Sen. Rulli (R – Salem) and Sen. Johnson (R – McDermott), which permits local governments to restrict the dates and times that individuals may discharge consumer-grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer-grade fireworks. The House adopted several amendments while the bill was in committee, which you can read HERE. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. Read more in the article below.
· This week, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) hosted a webinar covering the latest updates on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The webinar provided important information for local governments regarding Local Fiscal Recovery funding such as reporting requirements, eligible uses of funds, and details for non-entitlement units of local government (NEUs).You can find a copy of the presentation and the slides in a few days on the OBM website HERE .
OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES LEGISLATION ALLOCATING AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) FUNDS TO NON-ENTITLEMENT UNITS (NEUs)
The Ohio General Assembly voted to pass legislation that would allocate America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to non-entitlement units of local government (NEUs). The Ohio House concurred on changes made by the Senate to HB 168, which was amended to include the distribution of the first tranche of the $844 million in ARPA funds to NEUs, which have a population under 50,000. The bill will now head to the desk of the Governor for his signature
Prior to the House’s concurrence on the Senate changes to HB 168, both chambers passed two separate bills yesterday with language to distribute the first tranche of ARPA funds to NEUs. On Thursday afternoon, the Ohio House passed Sub. SB 111, which had amended in committee earlier this week to allocate $422 million in ARPA revenues to NEUs, which included townships after only cities and villages were the only qualifying local governments. The House had amended Sub. SB 111 on the House floor to include an amendment to prohibit private and public organizations from requiring coronavirus vaccines.
The Senate did not concur on the House changes to SB 111 and instead passed HB 168 after amending it with several substantial provisions, including the distribution of the first tranche of the $844 million in ARPA funds to Non-Entitlement Units (NEUs) of local government, which have a population under 50,000.
HB 168 was sponsored by Rep. Frazier (R – Newark) and Rep. Loychik (R – Cortland) and was originally drafted to provide aid to coronavirus-impacted small businesses, childcare providers, local fairs and Ohio Veterans’ Homes.
The Senate eliminated those provisions and replaced it with the allocation of the ARPA funds to NEUs and with language to return over $1.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the Federal government to cover revenues borrowed by Ohio for unemployment compensation payments following the coronavirus pandemic.
Two other amendments were also adopted into HB 168 before it was passed by the Senate. The first amendment appropriates in state ARPA funding $250 million for local sewer and water projects, which the League strongly supports. The second amendment would allocate $84 million in ARPA funding to support infrastructure work at pediatric behavioral health care. You can find the summary by LSC of all the Senate floor amendments HERE.
HB 168 includes the determination that townships qualify as an NEU and are now eligible to receive funding through the ARPA program where previously only cities and villages met the federal standards to be eligible. As we covered in our Member Alerts earlier this week, this has resulted in a reduction in the amount of federal aid previously dedicated to Ohio’s smaller municipalities.
Earlier this week, we provided our members with the new projections generated by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) for the ARPA allocations NEUs. You can find the new allocation projections for Ohio NEUs HERE .
The League is strongly urging that if the legislature includes townships in the NEU distribution of ARPA funds to the detriment of the allocations for cities and villages, then the state must make our smaller municipalities financially “whole” by providing supplemental funding to those municipalities that will experience a reduction in their originally projected ARPA allocation.
As a reminder, the state is receiving $5.6 billion in ARPA funding itself and has realized an additional $3 billion over state tax revenue projections that provides the state with ample financial flexibility to not have to “rob Peter to pay Paul” and thus not rob municipalities across the state of the federal aid that is dedicated for their support. It is critical that Ohio’s smaller cities and villages receive the full amount of federal aid to ensure they can address budget shortfalls and continue to fund our first responders and the other critical local services Ohioans and businesses depend upon.
The League urges municipal leaders to immediately communicate any concerns about the revenue impacts of these allocation changes with your legislators in the Ohio House and Senate and with the office of Governor DeWine. We will continue to update our members on all legislative action related to ARPA allocations to NEUs.
OHIO HOUSE AND SENATE PASS SEPARATE BILLS ON SPORTS BETTING AND NAME, IMAGE AND LIKENESS (NIL) PERMISSION FOR COLLEGE ATHLETES
Legislators worked well into the evening on Thursday in a last-minute flurry of activity as the Ohio General Assembly attempts to pass several major bills before the legislature recesses for the summer.
On Thursday afternoon, the House passed SB 187, which is sponsored by Sen. Antani (R – Miamisburg) and was drafted to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). However, Republicans amended the bill on the House floor to include a provision banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports, which eliminated bipartisan support for the legislation. The bill was then sent back to the Senate for concurrence on the changes.
The Senate did not concur on the House changes and instead amended HB 29 to include the NIL permission. They also amended HB 29 to include legislation legalizing sports gambling. HB 29 was sponsored by Rep. Wiggam (R – Wooster) and Rep. Miller (D – Columbus) and was originally drafted to modify laws affecting state military IDs. HB 29 passed the Senate unanimously and now heads back to the House for concurrence on the changes.
The language that was amended into HB 29 to allow for sports betting was originally SB 176, which was sponsored by Sen. Antani and Sen. Manning (R – N. Ridgeville). The language amended into HB 29 had differences from the latest version of SB 176. Some of the provisions in HB 29 regarding sports betting would now do the following:
· Expands the number of sports-gaming licenses that could be obtained by casinos and racinos in large counties
· Allocates a portion of the 10% tax on proceeds earmarked for education to also fund sports activities
· Requires the Casino Control Commission and Development Services Agency (DSA) to determine economic impact before issuing licenses
· Allows fraternal and veterans group to have seven electronic bingo machines instead of 10 and bans fraternal organizations established after July 1 from receiving electronic bingo licenses
· Contains a placeholder section for the addition of a provision regarding E-sports in the future
· Allows official league data to be used in sports betting operations
The Ohio legislature will recess for the summer after they pass Sub. HB 110, the state operating budget bill, which has the constitutional requirement that it must be signed into law by July 1.
OHIO LEGISLATURE PASSES LEAGUE-SUPPORTED LEGISLATION PROVIDING LOCAL CONTROL OVER FIREWORK DISPLAYS
This week, the Ohio House passed SB 113, sponsored by Sen. Rulli (R – Salem) and Sen. Johnson (R – McDermott). The bill permits local governments to restrict the dates and times that individuals may discharge consumer-grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer-grade fireworks. The Senate then concurred on the House changes, sending the bill to Governor DeWine for his signature.
Although the legislation allows for more use of fireworks by the general public, the bill prohibits discharging fireworks while in possession of, or under the influence of, alcohol or a controlled substance, or on the property of another without the property owner’s permission.
Certain provisions in the bill will become effective 90 days after the bill is signed, while other provisions will become effective 351 days after the Governor’s signature.
The following are the provisions that will become effective 90 days after the Governor’s signature:
· Requires the State Fire Marshal to:
o adopt rules regulating the time, manner, and location of consumer fireworks use
o adopt rules for and enforce the new provisions for fountain device retailers.
o establish the Ohio Fire Code Rule Recommendation Committee to review the Fireworks Law and make recommendations to the State Fire Marshal.
· Extends a general moratorium on the issuance of new, and geographic transfer of existing, fireworks manufacturer or wholesaler licenses from December 31, 2021, to January 1, 2023.
· Establishes a one-time license application and issuance date, outside of the normal fireworks manufacturer and wholesaler licensing timeline, at the end of the new license moratorium.
· Increases from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet the maximum floor area of a retail sales showroom that a licensed fireworks manufacturer or wholesaler uses to sell consumer grade fireworks but requires expanded showrooms to be equipped with sprinkler systems.
· Creates a new license allowing retailers to sell ground-based or hand-held sparklers called “fountain devices,” which the State Fire Marshal may begin to issue in 2022.
· Imposes a 4% fee on the retail sale of consumer grade fireworks, beginning 100 days after the bill’s effective date.
· Credits revenue from the new fee to fund firefighter training programs and the State Fire Marshal’s regulation and enforcement of the fireworks industry.
The following provisions become effective 351 days after the Governor’s signature:
· Permits local governments to restrict the dates and times that individuals may discharge consumer-grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer-grade fireworks.
· Allows individuals to possess consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio, eliminating a requirement that purchasers transport consumer-grade fireworks out of the state within 48 hours of purchase.
· Allows any person authorized to possess consumer grade fireworks to discharge them on their own property or on another person’s property with permission on the following days:
▪ New Year’s Day
▪ Chinese New Year
▪ Cinco de Mayo
▪ Memorial Day weekend
▪ July 3, 4, and 5, and the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding and following
▪ Labor Day weekend
▪ New Year’s Eve.
· Prohibits discharging fireworks (1) while in possession of, or under the influence of, alcohol or a controlled substance, or (2) on the property of another without the property owner’s permission.
· Prohibits the State Fire Marshal from unreasonably withholding a hobbyist variance that would allow hobbyists to manufacture, possess, and use individual display-grade and consumer-grade fireworks and requires cause for revocation of a hobbyist variance.
· Requires hobbyists seeking variances to demonstrate that they can engage in the hobby safely and legally and limits hobbyists to possession of five pounds of raw materials and finished fireworks produced through the hobby.
· Requires a licensed wholesaler, manufacturer, or retailer who is selling consumer grade fireworks to have safety glasses available for free or at a nominal charge.
· Requires licensed fireworks wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers to distribute a safety pamphlet with certain minimum information to each consumer purchaser of fireworks.
The House amended the bill with the following provisions before passed the bill out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee:
Effective 90 days after enactment:
· Modifies language regarding fountain devices and fountain device retailers such as limiting retailer display space, prohibiting smoking at licensed locations, and prohibiting the sale of fountain devices to those obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
· Changes the definition of fountain devices to state they are non-aerial and non-report producing and that they may produce effects beyond sparks such as colored flame, audible crackling or whistling effects, an audible whistle effect, or smoke.
· Allows the State Fire Marshal to suspend a fireworks wholesaler or manufacturer license for violating relevant laws or administrative runs and specifies that the state militia exemption applies to the state militia as recognized by the Adjutant General.
· Requires fireworks showrooms exceeding 5,000 square feet after the bill’s effective date to have a sprinkler system compliant with National Fire Protection Association standard.
Effective 351 days after enactment:
· Modifies hobbyist variances including by limiting hobbyist activities to the manufacture, possession or use of consumer-grade or commercial-grade fireworks and limiting variance holders to five pounds of explosives, pyrotechnics or similar raw materials or finished fireworks at one time.
· Adds “legal holidays” as defined in current law to the list of days that consumer-grade fireworks may be discharged under the bill.
You can find the complete amendment language HERE and the analysis of the full bill HERE.
BILL PREEMPTING MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY OVER NATURAL GAS USE SENT TO GOVERNOR FOR SIGNATURE
On Thursday, the Senate passed legislation preempting municipal authority over natural gas use by a vote of 25-7. The bill will now be sent to Governor DeWine for his signature. The League is sending Governor DeWine a letter urging him to veto this bill. You can read the letter in full HERE.
HB 201, which is sponsored by Rep. Stephens (R – Kitts Hill), would prevent local governments from limiting use of natural gas by any consumer within its local jurisdiction. You can find the bill analysis HERE. During an earlier committee hearing, the League offered opponent testimony outlining how HB 201 would unconstitutionally preempt municipal Home Rule authority. You can read that testimony in full HERE.
We encourage our members to contact the DeWine Administration and urge that the Governor veto this bill as a violation of local control.
TREASURY ISSUES UPDATED FAQS ON USE OF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) FUNDS
The U.S. Treasury has released updated an FAQ on the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which you can access HERE.
Treasury has stated it intends to update its FAQs periodically to help clarify questions about the ARPA Interim Final Rule, and these updated documents do not reflect all of Treasury’s planned clarifications regarding ARPA guidelines.
The updated FAQ now includes additional clarification on points that have been raised by a number of stakeholders, including:
· Demonstrating negative economic impact for household and business assistance
· Use of funds for investment in outdoor spaces
· Use of funds to address a backlog in court cases
· Use of funds to assist business startups
· Use of funds to prevent and respond to crime and support public safety
· Use of funds for pre-project development for water/sewer/broadband infrastructure
· Treatment of federal funds in intergovernmental revenue when calculating general revenue for the purpose of identifying revenue loss
· The updated document also includes an appendix with a diagram of the Interim Final Rule’s definition of General Revenue within the Census Bureau’s classification structure, and an FAQ focused on how funds can support a holistic approach to public safety.
The new questions added to the FAQ are listed below:
CSFRF/CLFRF FAQs Added June 23
· In order to receive and use Fiscal Recovery Funds, must a recipient government maintain a declaration of emergency relating to COVID-19?
· The Interim Final Rule states that “assistance or aid to individuals or businesses that did not experience a negative economic impact from the public health emergency would not be an eligible use under this category.” Are recipients required to demonstrate that each individual or business experienced a negative economic impact for that individual or business to receive assistance?
· Would investments in improving outdoor spaces (e.g. parks) be an eligible use of funds as a response to the public health emergency and/or its negative economic impacts?
· Would expenses to address a COVID-related backlog in court cases be an eligible use of funds as a response to the public health emergency?
· Can funds be used to assist small business startups as a response to the negative economic impact of COVID-19?
· How can I use CSFRF/CLFRF funds to prevent and respond to crime, and support public safety in my community?
· In identifying intergovernmental revenue for the purpose of calculating General Revenue, should recipients exclude all federal funding, or just federal funding related to the COVID-19 response? How should local governments treat federal funds that are passed through states or other entities, or federal funds that are intermingled with other funds?
· May recipients use Funds for pre-project development for eligible water, sewer, and broadband projects?
· [New appendix] Diagram of Interim Final Rule Definition of General Revenue within the Census Bureau’s Classification Structure of Revenue
We will continue to keep our members up to date on all ARPA guidance as it is released.
VIRTUAL ANNUAL TOWN AND GOWN SUMMIT TO BE HELD IN JULY
The 5th Annual Ohio Town & Gown Summit, hosted by the City of Athens and Ohio University, will be held virtually July 14 – 15. This event is an opportunity for City and University staff to meet, identify common challenges, share best practices, and learn from one another.
The summit provides an opportunity for networking and learning more about successful strategies and best practices for universities and their host communities to work together to create a cohesive and thriving community. Discussions and presentations will be designed to strengthen the relationships between Ohio higher education institutions and their respective municipalities, along with focusing on the unique opportunities and challenges that have been minimized with specific approaches.
To learn more and to register, click HERE.
OHIO EPA TO HOST WEBINAR OR WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLAN COMPLIANCE
The Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance will be holding a webinar on Thursday, July 1 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. that will offer a more in depth examination of the assistance offered to help municipalities keep their wastewater treatment plant in compliance with Federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). To learn more and to register, click HERE.
BILLS IMPACTING MUNICIPALITIES PASSED BY THE OHIO HOUSE
· HB 184 – OPF Disability. Sponsored by Rep. Carfagna, R – Genoa Twp.), would revise Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund disability determination procedures. During its second hearing before the House Financial Institutions Committee, the Ohio Police and fire Pension Fund testified in support of the bill. The bill was then voted out of committee and sent to the House floor, where it passed unanimously. The League is neutral on this legislation.
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
· SB 115 – Pooled Collateral. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring, (R – Canton), would make changes to the Ohio Pooled Collateral Program. During its first hearing before the House Financial Institutions Committee, proponents including the League testified in support of the bill. You can read the League’s testimony in full HERE.
· HB 232 – Wage Disparities. Sponsored by Rep. Howse (D – Cleveland) and Rep. Miranda (D – Forest Park), would enact the Ohio Equal Pay Act to address wage disparities in public and private employment. During its first hearing before the House Commerce and Labor Committee, the bill’s sponsors explained that the legislation is intended for public employers and businesses that receive public dollars. The League is still looking into this legislation.
· SB 56 – Design Contracts. Sponsored by Sen. Blessing (R – Colerain Twp.), would regulate the use of indemnity provisions in professional design contracts related to public improvements. During its first hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, the bill’s sponsor explained that the legislation would clarify indemnity provisions in the contracts between design professional and public agencies. The League is neutral on this legislation.
· SB 83 – Brownfield Sites. Sponsored by Sen. Williams (D – Cleveland) and Sen. Rulli (R – Salem), would require the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study to determine where brownfield sites are located in this state and make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, proponents including the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium and the Greater Ohio Policy Center testified in support of the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
· HB 175 – Water Pollution. Sponsored by Rep. Hillyer (R – Urichsville), would deregulate certain ephemeral water features under various water pollution control laws. During its fifth hearing before the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, the committee chair said the bill will stay in committee over the summer so interested parties and the bill’s sponsor can work on the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
· HB 146 – Prevailing Wage. Sponsored by Rep. Riedel (R – Defiance) and Rep. Manchester (R – Lakeview), would allow political subdivisions, special districts, and state institutions of higher education to elect to apply the Prevailing Wage Law to public improvement projects. During its second hearing before the House Commerce and Labor Committee, proponents including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB testified in support of the bill. The League is still looking into this legislation.
· HB 327 – Education Curriculum. Sponsored by Rep. Grendell (R – Chesterland) and Rep. Fowler (R – Rock Creek), would prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts. During its second hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, proponents including the Protect Ohio Children Coalition and Ohio Value Voters testified in support of the legislation. The League is opposed to this legislation as a violation of municipal Home Rule authority.