OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE

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

·        This week, the Ohio Senate released the list of 16 standing committees for the 134th General Assembly, their chairs and member assignments. Sen. Matt Dolan (R – Chagrin Falls) is returning as the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate has added five new committees: Financial Institutions and Technology; Local Government and Elections; Small Business and Economic Opportunity; Veterans and Public Safety; and Workforce and Higher Education. You can read the full list of committee leadership HERE.

·        Budget Watch: The Ohio Attorney General’s office submitted a preliminary budget request for an increase in General Revenue Funds (GRF) of 0.2% in FY22 and 1.5% in FY23. However, the proposal decreases the office’s overall budget by over 3% over each year of the biennium due to a decrease in federal funding of 10.3% in FY22. The office’s overall budget would be $383.3 million in FY22 and $386.1 million in FY23, down from $398.6 million in FY21.

·        The Ohio House has released its session schedule for 2021 with its first if-needed session scheduled for Wednesday, February 3. The first House committee hearings will be held on Tuesday, February 16. There are two if-needed sessions schedule in July and no session scheduled for August, with sessions resuming on Tuesday, September 14. You can access the full committee schedule HERE.

·        Recently, the League hosted our 2021 Municipal Income Tax Seminar. The Seminar featured an important presentation on the current and future impacts to municipal revenues due to the shift in where workers perform their occupational responsibilities. The presentation covers the current temporary law allowing municipalities to continue municipal income tax withholding for those working remotely and is an excellent, in-depth overview of issues related to Section 29 of HB 197. The ongoing discussion on this issue, which is currently pending in the courts, has been the subject of previous and future legislation. We feel it is important for our members to be familiar with these issues and the substantial and lasting impact they could have on both the Ohio municipal income tax and the delivery of future essential municipal services. Members may access the recorded presentation HERE



PRESIDENT BIDEN UNVEILS “AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN” WITH LIMITED FUNDING FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Last week, President Biden announced his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to fund vaccinations, provide immediate and direct relief to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting struggling communities. You can read a detailed breakdown of the entire proposal HERE. The plan includes:

·        Mounting a national vaccination program and setting up community vaccination sites nationwide

·        Scaling up testing and tracing and eliminating supply shortage problems

·        Safely reopening schools

·        Sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America.

·        Providing direct housing and nutrition assistance

·        Expanding access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare

·        Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour

·        Extending unemployment insurance

·        Providing $15 billion in flexible, equitably distributed grants for the hardest-hit small businesses.

·        Modernizing federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks.

The following provisions in the plan directly impact local governments:   
 
·        Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave and reimburse state and local governments for the cost of this leave

·        Leverage $35 billion in successful state, local, tribal, and non-profit small business financing programs into $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment

·        Provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to keep front line public workers such as first responders and other essential workers on the job and paid
o   Allocate $3 billion of this funding to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Grants from EDA provide resources directly to state and local government entities, tribal institutions, institutions of higher education, and non-profits to fund initiatives that support bottom's up economic development and enable good-paying jobs

·        Allocate $20 billion in relief for the hardest hit public transit agencies

We will update our members as this proposal works its way through the federal legislative process. We encourage our members to continue to contact their Congressional delegation and urge them to include direct, robust and flexible funding for local governments in the next federal relief package.



OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE

·        As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 849,704 cases of coronavirus, 10,518 deaths, 44,315 hospitalizations and 6,564 ICU admissions. 500,176 have received doses of COVID-19 vaccine thus far.

Vaccine Distribution:

·        Governor DeWine has outlined the vaccine distribution timeline for Phase 1B of Ohio's vaccination program, which began Tuesday for those ages 80 and up. 

  • Week of January 25: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 75 and up. Vaccinations will also be available to those with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders, and who have a developmental or intellectual disability.
  • A representative from the local county developmental disabilities board will reach out to help coordinate receipt of the vaccination for Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders, as well as a developmental or intellectual disability.
  • During the week of February 15, Ohioans with any of these conditions, and do not have a developmental or intellectual disability, will be eligible to receive the vaccination. Additional information on how these individuals can choose to receive their vaccines is forthcoming.
  • Each provider will begin administering vaccines the day after they receive their shipment. All vaccines must be distributed within seven days.

  • Week of February 1: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 70 and up following the same process outlined above.

  • Week of February 8: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 65 and up following the same process outlined above.

  • The Ohio Department of Health has launched a tool on vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov to assist residents looking for a provider that has been allocated vaccines.
  • The tool is searchable by zip code and county, but it will not be uploaded in real-time. It is critical that those eligible to receive a vaccine consult local resources to determine up-to-date vaccine availability.

K-12 School Vaccinations:

  • Vaccinations will also be available for personnel in Ohio schools in Phase 1B. 
  • As of Tuesday, 96% of public school districts have committed to returning to school at least partially in-person by March 1.

  • Week of Feb 1: Vaccination administration will be coordinated with school-provider partnerships, and a majority will be closed clinics for school personnel only.

  • Schools committed to at least partially returning to in-person by March 1 have been designated a local Educational Service Center as a working partner. Additional details will be confirmed this week between the working partners and school districts.
  • School districts are also choosing a retail pharmacy partner, secured by the state, or an existing local partnership, to administer the vaccinations to school personnel. 

In-Home Rapid Test:

  • Governor DeWine announced that the state is purchasing 2 million at-home, rapid COVID-19 test using telehealth services where the results are delivered in minutes without the need to send the test to a lab for processing.
  • Developed by Abbott, BinaxNOW is an easy-to-use antigen test that detects the virus when people are most infectious.

  • To facilitate the delivery of the BinaxNOW test to the home and the guided collection and testing process, Abbott has partnered with digital health solutions provider eMed™, who will deliver people their results through Abbott’s complementary NAVICA™app in a matter of minutes. eMed™ will report the rapid test results in the electronic lab reporting system.

  • This partnership will provide at least 2 million of the BinaxNow tests for Ohioans as, Abbot, eMed™, and the Ohio Department of Health pursue innovative efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curfew Extension:

  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will extend Ohio's 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.  
  • The curfew does not apply to those going to and from work, those who have an emergency, or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries or going to the pharmacy. 
  • Picking up carry-out or a drive-thru meal and ordering for delivery is permitted, but serving food and drink within an establishment must cease at 10:00 p.m.
 
Cybersecurity Update:

  • Lt. Governor Husted outlined various resources available to Ohioans who are interested in earning a credential, or pursuing a career, in cybersecurity. Strengthening the state’s talent and workforce in this industry is a key component to improving cybersecurity efforts and protecting citizens and businesses from cyberattacks.

  • Resources include:
  • Industry-recognized credentials are offered at high schools across Ohio. Learn more at education.ohio.gov.
  • Cybersecurity programs offered at institutions of higher education: Ohioc3.org
  • The Ohio Cyber Range supports curriculum development, cyber contests for k-12 to college students, internship programs, and more. Learn more at OhioCyberRangeInstitute.org
  • TechCred: Offers tech-focused credentials, including many on cybersecurity. Visit TechCred.Ohio.Gov to learn more.

Miscellaneous:

  • Governor DeWine announced today his nomination of former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French as Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.