OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE

Here are the top four things you need to know from this past week:

·        After members of the 134th General Assembly were sworn in this week, Senate President Matt Huffman (R – Lima) outlined several of the Senate’s legislative priorities, which include the repeal of controversial nuclear bailout legislation HB 6 and reform regarding criminal justice, health orders, public benefits and education funding. Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R – Lima) outlined the Ohio House’s priorities, which include reopening schools and the economy with a system of “checks and balances” for the future, a fix to Ohio’s school funding formula and the reintroduction of the broadband expansion plan from the previous General Assembly. Both chambers will also be tasked with the challenge of redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries in Ohio.

·        Budget Watch: The Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) has released tax collection revenue reports for the first half of the fiscal year. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released its preliminary budget proposal for the upcoming biennial budget, which will be unveiled by Governor DeWine next month. Read more in the article below.

·        The League and the board of the Mayors’ Association of Ohio sent a letter to Governor DeWine this week to urge that he add law-enforcement officers to the list of those who will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You can read the letter HERE and read more in the article below.

·        Ohio’s local governments will see an average 10% rate reduction in Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) premiums for 2021. The rate reduction for public employers took place on January 1. Cities and villages, counties, public schools and other political subdivisions will pay nearly $15 million less in premiums this year.




OBM REPORTS TAX REVENUES BEAT ESTIMATES FOR FIRST HALF OF FISCAL YEAR AS ODOT RELEASES PRELIMINARY BUDGET REQUEST

This week, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) has released data regarding revenue collections for the state of Ohio for December 2020 and for the halfway point for fiscal year 2020-2021, which began July 1, 2020.

Both year-to-date revenue collections and revenues for December 2020 have beaten projected estimates, which according to OBM Dir. Murnieks is thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic shifting people’s spending from non-taxed services to taxable goods.

This trend is especially clear in the revenue reports for non-auto sales and use tax. Dir. Murnieks stated that 40% of the non-auto sales tax revenues are averaged over the first half of the fiscal year, while 45% of the revenues came in during July 2020 thanks to pent-up demand and the federal stimulus package led to a surge in consumer spending on goods that then moderated over the following months.

As the DeWine Administration plans their preliminary biennial budget proposal and finalizes future revenue estimates, Dir. Murnieks stated that continued vaccinations may mean spending could shift back to services as life starts to normalize. While this may cause a decrease in sales and use tax, it could also potentially result in an increase in payrolls.

You can read the full summary of state tax collections below:

Total Tax Collections:
·        Year-to-Date: 3.7% or $457.7 million over estimates. Ohio reported 8.8% or $1,032.3 million more than last fiscal year.
·        December 2020: 3.3% or $64.2 million over estimates. Ohio reported 5.4% or $102.2 million more than the previous December.
Sales Tax:
·        Year-to-Date: 6.3% or $356.5 million over estimates.
·        December 2020: 4.9% or $50 million over estimates.

Income Tax:
·        Year-to-Date: 1.5% or $75.3 million over estimates.
·        December 2020: 1.7% or $5.4 million over estimates.
Non-Auto Sales and Use Tax:
·        Year-to-Date: 5.2% or $251.1 million above estimates.
·        December 2020: 4.8% or $41.9 million above estimates.
Auto Sales and Use Tax:
·        Year-to-Date: 6.2% or $7.7 million above estimates.
·        December 2020: 13.5% or $105.4 million above estimates.
Commercial Activity Tax (CAT):
·        Year-to-Date: 1.9% or $15 million below estimates.
·        December 2020: 61.9% or $6.4 million above estimates.
Cigarette and Tobacco Tax:
·        Year-to-Date: 9.8% $38.5 million above estimates.
·        December 2020: 17.9% or $12.5 million above estimates.
Casino Revenues:
·        Year-to-Date: Total $643.4 million, down from $851 million the previous year.
·        December 2020: Total $59.9 million, down from $74.4 million the previous December.

ODOT Preliminary Budget Proposal:

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has submitted a preliminary budget request to OBM proposing a budget of $6.5 billion over FY22-23, with none of the money going towards new expansion projects. The proposal would reduce ODOT’s current budget by $174 million or 9% in FY22, followed by a reduction of $159 million, or 8%, in FY23. The Governor’s biennial budget proposal is expected to be unveiled next month.



MAYORS’ ASSOCIATION OF OHIO URGES GOV. DEWINE TO ENSURE LAW ENFORCEMENT AMONG FIRST TO RECEIVE COVID-19 VACCINE

The board of the Mayors’ Association of Ohio sent a letter to Governor DeWine to urge that he add law-enforcement officers to the list of those who will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Governor DeWine has determined that law-enforcement officers will not be on the list of those who will receive the vaccine during the first phase of the rollout. The letter details the Mayors’ Association’s concerns about the impact this decision will have on law enforcement and on Ohio’s local communities.

We encourage our members to voice these concerns and contact Governor DeWine, urging him to ensure Ohio’s law enforcement are among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It is imperative that our safety personnel are adequately equipped to serve and protect our residents and our local communities.



GOVERNOR DEWINE SIGNS CAPITAL BUDGET, “STAND YOUR GROUND” BILL AND OTHER BILLS IMPACTING MUNICIPALITIES

After lame duck for the 133rd General Assembly ended before the new year, the Governor has since signed multiple bills that impact municipalities.

One of the bills the Governor signed is SB 310, sponsored by Sen. Dolan (R – Chagrin Falls), the $2.1 billion capital budget allocation funding for state and local capital projects. Additionally, the bill granted the Ohio Controlling Board the authority to extend the deadline for local governments to spend their CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) in the event Congress allowed the deadline to be extended. Congress did approve the deadline extension in their recent coronavirus relief package. The Controlling Board then approved the extension of the deadline to December 31, 2021.

Another bill signed by the Governor was SB 175, which was sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R – Lancaster) and was amended to include “duty to retreat” language that expands the locations at which a person has no duty to retreat before using lethal force when they believe their life to be in danger if they are legally allowed to be in that location and they are not the aggressor.

The Governor also signed SB 39, which was sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton) and authorizes insurance premium tax credits for certain mixed-use development projects, and HB 312, which was sponsored by Rep. Powell (R - Laura) and permits some intrastate equity crowdfunding. Finally, Gov. DeWine most recently signed HB 7, which was sponsored by Rep. Ghanbari (R – Perrysburg) and former Rep. Patterson and creates the Statewide Watershed Planning and Management Program.

There are two other bills impacting municipalities that were passed by the 133rd General Assembly and sent to the Governor’s desk, but have not yet been signed: SB 10, which is sponsored by Sen. Wilson (R - Maineville) and increases penalties for theft in office, and HB 264, which is sponsored by Rep. Wilkin (R - Hillsboro) and Rep. O’Brien (D - Warren) and allows the Ohio Water Development Authority to provide for the refinancing of loans for certain public water and waste water infrastructure projects.

We appreciate that Governor DeWine has signed several pieces of legislation that will positively impact in Ohio’s cities and villages, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership with him and the DeWine Administration to ensure a continued investment in municipalities.




OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE

·        As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 753,068 cases of coronavirus, 9,462 deaths, 40,469 hospitalizations and 6,092 ICU admissions.

·        All 88 counties have a level of spread that is at least three times more than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers high incidence. A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website HERE.

Vaccine Rollout Updates:
·        Because the availability of the vaccine remains limited in Ohio and across the country, Ohio is taking a phased approach that prioritizes the most vulnerable citizens, Phase 1, which is currently underway, includes those in the healthcare field, including firefighters and EMS, as well as school staff members, which is approximately 1 million Ohioans.
·        Individuals in Phase 1B will be able to receive vaccinations beginning on Tuesday, January 19. This will include those 80 years of age and older, roughly totaling 420,000 Ohioans. Ohio is expected to receive 100,000 doses during the first week of distribution to Phase 1B.

·        Vaccines for Ohioans 80 years of age and older will be administered by physicians, local health departments, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, in-home health service providers, and some retail pharmacies. As of today, the Ohio Department of Health has approximately 1,700 providers registered to distribute vaccines.

·        Vaccinations will be available to Ohioans 75 years of age and older beginning Monday, January 25. The following week, vaccinations will be available to those 65 years of age and older.

·        The week of January 25 will also include vaccinations for Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders. Additional details about distribution for this group will be forthcoming.

·        During the week of February 1, vaccinations will be available for personnel in Ohio schools. The Ohio Department of Health will send forms to Ohio superintendents to indicate their school plans to go back to in full in-person and hybrid learning by March 1, as well as indicate the number of staff they believe will choose to take the vaccination. Superintendents will also be asked if a community partner has been identified to help with the administering of the COVID-19 vaccines to school personnel.

·        As of last Sunday, approximately 61% of nursing homes in Ohio have been visited by a pharmacy vaccine provider. Of those locations, only approximately 40% of staff members have chosen to receive the vaccination. Of nursing home residents, approximately 75 to 80% of residents have decided to receive the vaccine.

·        Nursing home staff and residents who have received their first dose of vaccine will begin receiving second doses on Friday. Governor DeWine encouraged those in nursing homes who initially declined to receive the vaccine to get their first dose as part of this second round. Following this opportunity, it may be some time before a first dose is available again.

·        The Ohio Department of Aging will be hosting live discussions to help educate long-term care providers about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. State and community vaccine experts will be available to answer questions about the vaccine, and participants will have the opportunity to offer input to help state leaders make decisions to guide Ohio out of the pandemic.

·        The Ohio Department of Health will be issuing a directive requiring vaccine providers to develop a surplus vaccine redistribution plan. Vaccine redistribution plans will prioritize recipients based on Phase 1A and 1B vaccine distribution criteria. If a significant number of doses remain, vaccine providers must contact the Ohio Department of Health for immediate redistribution assistance.

Business and Employment Updates:

·        The seventh round of TechCred – a program that helps businesses upskill their current and incoming workforce with tech-focused credentials – is now open until January 29. To learn more and apply, businesses can visit TechCred.Ohio.Gov.

·        The deadline to apply for the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund has been extended to January 31. Eligible businesses can visit businesshelp.ohio.gov to apply, which requires them to simply enter their liquor permit number and federal tax information.

·        The deadline for the BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant, which provided $50 million to schools to help them purchase equipment for students to access the internet, has been extended an additional year, until December 31, 2021. More information about the grant program can be found at ohio-k12.help.

·        Ohioans filed 29,709 initial and 274,460 continued jobless claims last week, according to statistics the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported to the U.S. Department of Labor today. In addition, 171,706 Ohioans received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) last week.

·        Over the last 42 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $7.7 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 886,000 Ohioans. ODJFS has issued more than $7.6 billion in PUA payments to more than 820,000 Ohioans.


UPCOMING OML/OMAA WEBINARS
The League is excited to announce two upcoming webinars that will be of interest many of our members.

The first webinar, entitled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t”, will be held on Thursday, January 28 from 11 a.m. through 12 p.m. Attendees will learn about HR tips for employee selection, evaluation and discipline and will be presented by Brad Bennett from Bricker & Eckler LLP. Learn more and register for this webinar HERE.

The second webinar, entitled “Navigating Grants”, will be held on Thursday, February 11 from 11 a.m. through 12 p.m. Attendees will learn tips about how to locate and apply for grants and will be presented by Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks, Director and OBM Financial Manager Stacie Massey. Learn more and register online for this webinar HERE.