OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top seven things you need to know from this past week:
 
·        Ohio will receive $24.7 million from a larger settlement of $573 million from a lawsuit with 46 other states against McKinsey for its role in the opioid epidemic. In March 2019, over 100 local governments agreed to join a OneOhio memorandum to distribute the funds from the settlement. The monies will be allocated based on the number of opioid deaths per capital, with 30% for local governments and 15% for the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The remaining funds are earmarked for a nonprofit OneOhio foundation for future regional grants. All revenues must be spent on treatment and other drug-addiction-related costs.
 
·        Budget Watch: On Monday, Governor DeWine unveiled his administration’s executive budget proposal, which includes $1 billion for an “Investing in Ohio’s Future” initiative. The initiative includes an investment of $450 million in Ohio’s local communities, including $200 million for infrastructure and $250 million for expanding broadband. Read more information on how the executive budget proposal would impact municipalities in the article below.
 
·        The cities of Toledo and Dayton have joined the cities of Cincinnati and Columbus in Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit against FirstEnergy to block nuclear bailout fees created by HB 6 before they are included in Ohio residents’ energy bills. HB 6, which is at the center of a $60 million federal bribery investigation, was initially passed as a $1 billion bailout for two of Ohio’s nuclear power plants.
 
  In order to foster greater communication between our members and members of the General Assembly, the League will be hosting regional virtual roundtables to 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. To learn more about this important opportunity and to register, read more in the article below. 
 
·        The Ohio House released its standing committee list along with the full list of member committee assignments. Rep. Scott Oelslager (R – N. Canton) will remain chair of House Finance Committee. You can read the standing committee list and member assignments HERE.
 
·        The League and the Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association (OMAA) is hosting a webinar on “Navigating Grants” with Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Dir. Kim Murnieks and OBM Financial Manager Stacie Massey. The webinar, which will take place on Thursday, February 11 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., will provide participants with tips on locating federal and state opportunities, as well as a best practice approach for writing a competitive grant application. To learn more and to register, click HERE.
 
·        The Ohio EPA is holding two webinars for local governments in February. The first will be held on February 11 and cover the Federal requirement for a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. The second will be held on February 23 and will cover Ohio’s universal waste rules. You can learn more about both webinars and register HERE. Additionally, Ohio EPA is continuing its partnership with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) on their Safety Congress to include several webinars on March 12 following their Congress and Expo. Several of these webinars will include Continuing Education Units (CEU). To learn more, click HERE.
 
·        Make sure you are following us on social media to receive timely updates on legislation and policy changes impacting municipalities. Click HERE to follow us on Twitter and HERE to follow us on Facebook.
 
 
GOVERNOR DEWINE RELEASES FY 2022-2023 EXECUTIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL
 
Governor DeWine released the Administration’s Executive Budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The Executive Budget includes the “Investing in Ohio’s Future” initiative, which is comprised of four major components: supporting small businesses, strengthening local communities, growing Ohio’s skilled workforce and telling Ohio’s story. The budget allocates a one-time expenditure of $1 billion. The plan creates no new taxes and does not dip into Ohio’s “rainy day” fund.
 
The proposal allocates $450 million for Ohio’s local communities. $200 million would be allocated specifically for infrastructure in Ohio’s communities, including funding to help local governments address the important issue of underground infrastructure and ensuring residents have access to clean drinking water. The budget also earmarks funding for “brownfields” or blighted properties that many local governments are financially unable to demolish and revitalize.
 
Additionally, $250 million of this funding will be allocated to expanding broadband access throughout the state. $200 million would go to in expanding broadband access to households without basic internet connectivity, and $50 million would be allocated to make broadband more affordable by paying infrastructure costs, leveraging state assets and matching Federal dollars.
 
The Executive Budget would also invest nearly half a billion dollars in relief for small businesses in the entertainment and hospitality industries, such as bars and restaurants. The plan would also protect those small businesses from tax increases and enhance minority and small-business assistance centers. $20 million would be earmarked for businesses that started in 2020.
 
The proposal allocates funding to grow Ohio’s skilled workforce, including $15 million to support targeted workforce investments in economically distressed rural and urban communities and $16 million to help high school students earn 70,000 workforce credentials each year. The budget would also fund the Industry Sector Partnership Grant to support partnerships among business, schools, training providers, and community leaders to strengthen the local workforce.
 
Finally, executive budget allocates $50 million for a marketing campaign aimed at attracting new residents and former residents that have moved away by promoting the desirability and the affordable quality of life in Ohio.
 
Other Executive Budget provisions that affect municipalities include:
 
·        Continuing Local Government Fund (LGF) funding at current statutory levels. Based on current revenue estimates, the LGF and the Public Library Fund will each provide $425 million in FY22 and $440 million in FY23 in shared revenue.
 
·        $10 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies across the state to implement or enhance body-worn camera programs, including the body cameras themselves and other associated expenses.
 
·        $8 million to help reduce violent crimes through state and local law enforcement agencies through flexible grant funding
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·        $1 million to support state and local law enforcement agencies in recruiting and hiring new peace officers.
 
·        $6.5 million to expand the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC) to further support local law enforcement and their partners.
 
·         
 
·        $92 million for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to continue improving water and wastewater infrastructure and reducing lead exposure by replacing an additional 1,500 lead service lines and more than 600 failed home treatment systems across seven counties.
 
The budget has been sent to the House to begin its journey through the legislative process. During testimony before the House Finance Committee on Friday, Ohio Office of Budget and Management Dir. Kim Murnieks said the administration projects General Revenue Fund (GRF) tax revenue at $24.8 billion for FY22 and $25.6 billion for FY23. These estimations are well above initial revenue projections.
 
Official language for the Executive Budget is expected to be released sometime next week or two. We will continue to keep our members apprised as the budget moves through the legislative process.
 
 
 
REGISTER NOW FOR THE LEAGUE’S REGIONAL LEGISLATIVE VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLES
 
In order to foster greater communication between our members and members of the General Assembly, the League will be hosting regional virtual roundtables to 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. These meetings are especially timely as the Ohio General Assembly is crafting its two-year state operating budget, which often includes policy changes that impact municipalities. 
 
In order to participate in the legislative roundtable for your region, 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. This information is crucial to our ability to connect with you with the legislative roundtable for your region.
 
Initial registration will close on Friday, February 12. We hope you join us, and we look forward to seeing you there!
 
 

OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE
 
·        As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 910,847 cases of coronavirus, 11,509 deaths, 47,110 hospitalizations and 6,800 ICU admissions. 935,383 vaccinations have been administered.
 
Vaccine Update:
   Ohio is among the top five states for delivering COVID-19 vaccine doses to long-term care facility residents.
   As a result of this aggressive effort to vaccinate those in long-term care, Ohio is beginning to see a drop in cases.
 
   Pfizer has notified Ohio that they believe they will increase their shipment of vaccine by 40 percent around mid-to-late February.
   Shipments could additionally increase even more by the end of March. Pfizer is currently shipping approximately 73,000 doses to Ohio per week.
 
   Moderna doses have increased from 73,200 two weeks ago to 105,600 doses that are expected next week.
 
   Ohio was one of the first states to draw unused doses from the long-term care program, and those 77,000 extra doses are being delivered this week to select CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.
 
Vaccine Equity:
·        Governor DeWine outlined steps that Ohio has taken and will take to address inequities in healthcare as they relate to vaccine accessibility. 
 
·        Geography
   Instead of offering the "mega vaccination sites" being seen in other states, Ohio's vaccination plan focuses on ensuring that there are multiple vaccine providers in every county in the state. This week, more than 700 providers across Ohio are receiving the vaccine to help ensure that Ohioans have access to vaccine close to home. 
   Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
   These health centers serve highly vulnerable neighborhoods. Ohio's vaccination plan offers vaccines at these facilities for equitable distribution. More than 60 of these centers are receiving vaccine this week.
   Pop-up Vaccine Sites
   Ohio is working with FQHCs, faith-based communities, and local health departments to pilot pop-up vaccination sites in at-risk communities. Two sites were hosted at an FQHC in Columbus last week and another pop-up vaccination site is scheduled this week in Cleveland.
   Transportation
   The Ohio Department of Health is working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to provide transportation options for those who want to receive the vaccine but face transportation barriers.
   Local Health Departments
   Many local health departments are prioritizing underserved populations by partnering with organizations that work to serve African American, Hispanic and Latino, and other underserved populations to provide education and offer opportunities for vaccination when vaccine becomes available.
   Education and Communication Strategies
   In addition to newspaper, television, and radio advertisements focused on reaching underserved populations, Ohio will also launch a series of virtual town hall meetings to gain a better understanding of the barriers to vaccination and develop solutions.
   The events will be coordinated in partnership with Ohio's Minority Health Vaccine Advisory Group, whose mission is to help advise the Ohio Department of Health on how to best deliver the vaccine to underserved populations and better ensure equity.
   The townhalls will be live streamed during the week of February 22. To learn how to participate in these events, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
 
·        Affordable Housing Vaccination Clinics
   Next week, the Ohio Department of Aging, in partnership with key state and local organizations, will offer on-site vaccination clinics at affordable senior housing communities as part of its Regional Rapid Response Program.
   On-site clinics will be coordinated with support from the Ohio National Guard.
 
Vaccination Status Update:
·        Governor DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine both received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine this morning from Dr. Kevin Sharrett at Kettering Health Network’s Jamestown office in Greene County.
                   The DeWines became eligible for the vaccine this week as part of the 70 and older age group.
 
·        Those currently eligible to receive vaccine in Ohio are:
   Those 70 years of age and older
   Teachers and school personnel who are necessary for in-person learning in specified counties
   Individuals with severe congenital, early-onset, or inherited conditions and with developmental or intellectual disabilities
 
·        Individuals with severe congenital, early-onset, or inherited conditions and developmental or intellectual disabilities should have been contacted by their local county board of developmental disabilities to schedule their vaccination.
   If you believe that you or a loved one falls into this category and hasn't been contacted, please contact your county board of developmental disabilities.
 
Nursing/Assisted Living Facilities:
·        Of Ohio's 920 skilled nursing facilities, Ohio has administered first doses of vaccine in 100 percent of these facilities. The second dose has been given in 89 percent of facilities. 
 
·        Of Ohio's 645 assisted living facilities, Ohio has administered first doses in 86 percent of these facilities, and second doses have been administered in 48 percent of facilities.
 
·        Plans are in place to continue vaccinating in these facilities as new residents move in.
 
Long-Term Care Revaccinations:
·        Today, Walgreens Pharmacy alerted the Ohio Department of Health that vaccines that had not been stored under the proper cold storage conditions were administered yesterday to some residents in five long-term care facilities.
 
·        Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, residents who received these vaccines will be revaccinated.
   The impacted facilities are:
o  Ashtabula County Residential Services Corp "The Maples" in Kingsville
o  Ashtabula Towers in Ashtabula
o  Heather Hill Care Communities in Chardon
o  Six Chimneys in Cleveland
o  Willow Park Convalescent Home in Cleveland
 
Ohio Department of Education – DataOhio:
·        Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced that the Ohio Department of Education is the latest agency to join the DataOhio portal, with seven key datasets and visualizations added on January 29, 2021
 
·        The DataOhio Portal launched in December of 2020 to the public and features more than 200 datasets and over 100 visualizations from four State of Ohio agencies.
   Nearly half of the datasets added to the portal are available to the public for the first time.
 
·        Users can view these newest datasets and visualizations under “Recent Datasets” at Data.Ohio.Gov.
   The DataOhio Portal team continues to add additional agency datasets, visualizations, and portal features, with a new Agency being announced in the coming weeks, including additional Ohio Department of Education datasets and visualizations.
 
ODJFS Public-Private Partnership Team: 
   Governor DeWine announced the formation of a new Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Public-Private Partnership Team to improve Ohioans’ experiences with the unemployment system. 
 
   Members of the team will include highly skilled experts, most of whom are on loan from some of Ohio’s top banking and insurance companies:
   Fifth Third Bank
   Nationwide
   Western & Southern Financial Group
   Encova Insurance
   KeyBank
 
   Pat Tiberi, President and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, worked with business leaders to identify the best talent for the partnership team who have experience in large organizations’ call centers, claims processes, and fraud detection.
 
   The team currently has around 16 members but is expected to grow.
 
Unemployment Update:
   This week, Ohio has paid out nearly $100 million to more than 110,000 Ohioans receiving traditional unemployment.
 
   This represents some extended weeks of benefits plus an additional $300 a week, which were included with the new federal aid.
 
   Starting this Saturday, more than 155,000 Ohioans will also start seeing benefits from this new federal aid package.
 
   This includes Ohioans who recently lost a job as a result of the pandemic as well as Ohioans who continue to be impacted due to the pandemic.
 
   By the last week in February, all Ohioans impacted by unemployment will have the ability to claim all the weeks and supplements available under the law and receive the benefits they are owed.
 
 
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
   SB 8 - Broadband. Sponsored by Sen. McColley (R - Napoleon), is regarding broadband expansion, including access to electric cooperative easements and facilities, and make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, proponents testified in support of the bill, including joint testimony from the League and the Ohio Township Association. You can read the testimony in full HERE .
            (Link: https://bit.ly/39S3Kis)
 
   SB 15 - Fiscal Officers. Sponsored by Sen. Wilson (R - Maineville), would change the circumstances in which certain fiscal officers may be held liable for a loss of public funds. During its first hearing before the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee, the bill’s sponsor explained the bill ensures fiscal officers would not be held liable if they perform “all their official duties with reasonable care.” The League is supportive of this legislation.
            (Link: https://bit.ly/3ttG63m)
 
   SB 16 - Civil Actions. Sponsored by Rep. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), is regarding a civil action for an emergency service responder based on a civil rights abridgement or false complaint, and certain crimes regarding conduct directed at an actual or perceived emergency service responder, public servant, family member, co-worker, or BCII investigator or at a public emergency. During its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill’s sponsor explained that the legislation is intended to enhance protections for forest responders. The League is supportive of this legislation.
            (Link: https://bit.ly/2YUjxXn)
 
 
 
BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED THIS WEEK
 
·        SB 39 – Officer Assault. Sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R – Lancaster), would eliminate the 20-year statute of limitation for felonious assault and aggravated assault if the victim is a peace officer, modify the law regarding records retention schedules developed by counties, municipal corporations, and townships, modify the penalties for aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, falsification, and falsification in a theft offense, and name this act Cooper's Law.
 
 
 
NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER OFFERING 2021 RESILIENCY IN ELECTIONS GRANTS
 
The National Cybersecurity Center is excited to share a grant opportunity for jurisdictions holding elections in 2021 around improving resiliency and accessibility in elections.
 
As 2020 highlighted, contingency planning and resiliency preparations for elections is a must for election administrators – especially for those who may be more prone to facing disasters such as hurricanes or wildfires that can displace voters.
 
However, the technological capacity of jurisdictions to hold elections in emergency situations is not always there, nor are policies and procedures in place to hold those elections without significant security vulnerabilities.
 
To support jurisdictions as they deal with these challenges, the National Cybersecurity Center is pleased to announce a grant opportunity to pilot electronic ballot return technologies to better understand how these technologies might help advance resiliency and accessibility.
 
The grant will be conducted on a rolling basis through 2021. However, there are limited funds and priority will be given to jurisdictions that have a clear problem statement of a challenge they wish to solve through better electronic ballot return practices and access.
 
You can learn more and can apply HERE.