OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- The House is now in recess as of this week until Monday, March 23, and next week the Senate is expected to recess from Thursday, March 5 until Monday, March 23. During this legislative break, we will only be sending out legislative bulletins if there is legislative activity to report.
- Ohio's EdChoice Scholarship Program is being discussed by both legislative chambers in a conference committee on HB 9, which held several hearings this week. The Senate-passed plan limited the number of schools eligible based on performance while increasing the eligibility threshold for family income-based vouchers. The initial House plan replaced all performance-based vouchers with income-based vouchers. If both chambers cannot come to a compromise before April 1, the number of eligible schools will increase from approximately 500 to over 1,200.
- The DeWine Administration has announced the release of a draft water quality report from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The report demonstrates improvements to Ohio water quality since 2002. You can read the report and submit comments HERE.
MUNICIPALITIES HAVE TWO WEEKS TO VOTE ON AGREEMENT FOR OPIOID SETTLEMENT DOLLARS
Local governments are being asked to vote by March 6 on whether to accept or reject a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would determine how monies would be divided from a prospective multidistrict litigation settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
While not all local governments in Ohio are a part of this multidistrict litigation, all local governments have the opportunity to access funds from the prospective settlement for the purpose of covering expenses incurred by opioid abatement efforts.
As we reported last week, attorneys for the local governments involved in this litigation held a meeting open to all local government leaders where they distributed the initial MOU and asked for input. They released an updated version of the MOU based on that input. You can read the updated MOU HERE.
The main components of the MOU remain the same: 30% of the settlement funds would be distributed directly to local governments for costs related to opioid abatement efforts. 55% would be sent to a foundation governed by a board made up of local government leaders that would then regularly vote to distribute the monies among 19 regions. Those regions would be drawn up based on factors including population, opioid overdoses and the number of opioids distributed. The remaining 15% would be distributed to the office of the Ohio Attorney General also for the purposes of covering costs related to opioid abatement efforts.
Local legislative bodies have the next two weeks to vote to either accept or reject this MOU. This can be done via resolution. You can access a sample resolution HERE. The municipality can then send a record of their vote to the League, which will in turn send the record of the vote to the attorneys handling the litigation on behalf of Ohio local governments. The League must relay a record of all votes before March 6, which is the deadline by which all votes must be finalized.
Both Gov. DeWine and Attorney General Yost have publicly urged local governments to agree to the MOU to ensure all local governments benefit from the settlement, not just the ones in the litigation. The counsel representing Ohio's local governments in the litigation have pointed out that if the state cannot unite and seek a settlement before the state of Ohio's October trial date, the deadline will have passed for local governments to work together on this issue.
If your municipality passes a resolution accepting or rejecting the MOU, please let the League know immediately due to the upcoming March 6 deadline.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, STATE AGENCIES OUTLINE PRIORITIES FOR UPCOMING CAPITAL BUDGET BILL
Local governments and state agencies have finalized their requests for the upcoming capital budget bill, which is typically introduced by the end of February and passed by the end of March.
Approximately $100 million is designated within the bill for local and regional community projects. These include convention centers, drug treatment facilities, parks and sports projects. Those requests had to be finalized and submitted last month. State agencies have requested investments for projects involving state parks, prisons and psychiatric hospitals.
Projections for the bill are similar to last year's capital budget, which allocated $2.63 billion in capital appropriations and $1.26 billion in reappropriations. Also similar to last year, legislative leaders anticipate that two identical bills will be concurrently introduced in both legislative chambers so they can undergo committee hearings at the same time. The DeWine Administration will presumably work with leaders in the state legislature to ensure the bill is mostly agreed-upon before it is introduced.
The League will keep our members apprised once the bills start working through the legislative process.
FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE:
NEW BUSINESS NUMBERS STARTING STRONG IN 2020
After another record-setting year in 2019, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose today announced 12,069 new businesses filed here in Ohio in January, an increase of 2,998 from December.
"Ohioans are utilizing our strong economy to pursue the American dream, and they're choosing to do it right here in Ohio," said LaRose. "As we begin the new year, we'll continue our efforts to provide the resources they need to succeed."
January's numbers indicate a strong start to 2020 for Ohio entrepreneurs, building off yet another record setting year in 2019 that had more than 130,000 new business filings.
Ohio is also seeing greater number of Ohioans taking advantage of quick-and-easy online filings through Ohio Business Central. Last month, online filings made up 85% of all business filings.
NOTE: New business filings are classified as forms filed with the Ohio Secretary of State that declare the formation of a business entity, including for-profit, non-profit and professional corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships. Filing as a business in Ohio does not guarantee the company will begin operations, be profitable or create jobs.
- 12,069 new entities filed to do business in Ohio throughout January 2019, and increase of 2,998 from the previous month and 2,054 from the same month in 2018.
- Compared to the monthly average last year, new business filings are up 11% in January.
- 85% of all business filings were done online in January 2019.
- Ohio entrepreneurs can visit OhioSoS.gov/BusinessResources to discover the helpful opportunities available to them that can help them grow their business.
U.S. DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES WEBINAR ON APPLYING FOR BROADBAND FUNDING
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently taking applications for the second round of $550 million in ReConnect Program loan and grant funding for rural broadband expansion. That window will close on Monday, March 16.
Ohio University and Connected Nation Ohio have partnered to help local leaders understand how this program can help connect residents, businesses, and communities. They will be hosting a webinar on Monday, February 24 from 10am to 12pm for a conversation with USDA officials. Municipal leaders can learn how the program works and ask questions about applying for the available funds. To take part in or watch the webinar, click HERE. The link will not go "live" until 10am on Monday when the webinar starts.
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here is a bill impacting municipalities that received a committee hearing this week:
- HB 425 - CONCEALED WEAPONS. Sponsored by Rep. Wiggam (R - Wooster), would modify the requirement that a concealed handgun licensee must notify a law enforcement officer that the licensee is authorized to carry a concealed handgun and is carrying a concealed handgun when stopped. During its third hearing before the House Federalism Committee, gun rights advocates took a variety of stances, including advocating that the notification requirement be done away with entirely or that amendments be made to the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/3bWEGWb)