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January 12, 2018

OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:

  • 186 local fire departments throughout 54 Ohio counties have been awarded Multi-Agency Radio Communications (MARCS) grants. MARCS radios are high-tech radios for first responders, and the $3 million in awarded grants are intended to help offset the cost of purchasing one.

  • Over the course of 2018, Ohio revenues are expected to grow by 0.9% while expenditures are projected to drop by 1%. While this growth is positive, it still ranks below the national average of 3.9% in revenue growth with a drop of 3.3% for state expenditures.

  • Two Republicans have been selected to fill the vacant seats in the 81st and 87th House Districts.  Former State Representative Jim Hoops will replace Sen. Rob McColley, while former Rep. Jeff McClain's son, Riordan McClain, will replace former Rep. Wes Goodman. Both men will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 17th. The League wants to congratulate both candidates on their appointments, and we look forward to working with them!
 
OML STANDS WITH COALITION IN OPPOSITION TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAX BILL

A coalition of local government organizations testified on a bill that would seize local control from political subdivisions with regard to increased property tax on developing residential plots. HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), had its sixth hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee this week. This bill would exempt from property taxation the increased value of land subdivided for residential development until construction commences or the land is sold. A coalition of local government organizations, including the League, the County Auditors' Association, the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio, the Ohio Township Association, the Ohio School Boards Association, among others, submitted a letter of opposition citing the many other local tax incentives that render this bill unnecessary. You can read that testimony HERE.


In addition, the League's Executive Director Kent Scarrett submitted its own written testimony, which you can read HERE, stating if a provision was added allowing a local option, the League would move from opponent to neutral on the bill. This bill was not voted out of committee, and we are hopeful that this delay in action indicates the House is seriously considering giving political subdivisions the local control they need to ensure the best decisions are made for each individual community and their unique needs.

 
BILL SHIELDS SPECIFIC POLICE BODY CAMERA FOOTAGE FROM PUBLIC RECORDS LAW

A bill providing policies for police departments using body cameras by supplying specific guidelines on when to either restrict or make recorded footage public got its first hearing before committee. Introduced November 21, 2017, HB 425, sponsored by Rep. Antani (R - Miamisburg) and Rep. Craig, (D - Columbus), would not permit certain portions of body camera recordings that depict violent or disturbing content and/or violate someone's privacy to be subject to public records law.

This bill has been in the works for a long time with the input of many interested parties. Rep. Antani said during sponsor testimony before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee that he believed the bill was the "exact balance of privacy protections and public transparency." Rep. Antani sought to achieve this balance by clarifying in the bill that the recordings are generally public record, but also by carving out very specific exceptions to protect people's privacy


The kinds of recordings excepted from public record law in the bill include: the audio or visual recording of a death; grievous bodily harm or acts of violence; protected health information; information that would identify the victim of a sex offense; personal information of a person who has not been arrested; cited or charged; and personal conversations that do not concern law enforcement activities. A full list of all excepted portions is in the bill analysis, which you can read HERE. The bill also specifies that it in no way mandates that police departments have to implement body camera programs if they are not currently using one.

The League is supportive of the bill will continue to track and report on the bill as it moves through the legislative process.

 
BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST RECEIVE COMMITTEE HEARINGS

Here are the bills impacting municipalities that were heard in committees this week:

  • HB 342 - SPECIAL ELECTIONS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), would permit local tax-related proposals to appear only on general and primary election ballots and not on an August special election ballot, while modifying the information conveyed in election notices and ballot language for property tax levies. The League submitted written testimony in opposition of this bill, which you can read HERE.
 
During its third hearing before the House Accountability and Oversight Committee, a substitute bill was adopted that made a number of changes: it allows local tax authorities to place tax and bond measures on August ballots provided the measure would only last 5 years or less (i.e. emergency or temporary levies). It allows local taxing authorities to create, expand or dissolve a taxing jurisdiction on an election ballot, while stipulating JEDZs can only be included on August ballots if that tax or bond will last 5 years or less. The bill would modify ballot language by describing levies and measures in terms of fair market value as opposed to taxable value. Finally, the bill will apply to tax levies and bond measures from January 1, 2019 and going forward. The League remains opposed to this bill.
 
  • HB 343 - PROPERTY VALUES. Sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), this bill would require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners. During its sixth hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill was amended to allow local school boards to vote just once on multiple resolutions, as opposed to requiring they vote to approve each and every resolution. Despite being marked for a vote the bill remains in committee. The League is opposed to this bill.
  • HB 281 - BROADBAND GRANTS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Carfagna (R - Genoa Township), would establish the residential broadband expansion program within the Development Services Agency (DSA) to award matching grants for last mile broadband expansion in municipal corporations and townships, as well as making an appropriation. During its fourth hearing in the House Finance Committee, several amendments were adopted. The five amendments were largely technical, specifying the bill applies to both satellite broadcasting and wireless internet providers; allowing providers to use letters of credit to prove financial assurance; clarifying broadband facilities will have to operate indefinitely; making areas receiving Connect America funds ineligible; and changing language regarding a broadband provider's ability to provide services. The League is in support of this bill.
  • HB 221 - WATER AND SEWER. Sponsored be Rep. Holmes (D - McDonald), this bill would include water and sewer laterals located on private property as eligible projects under the State Capital Improvements Program administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission. During sponsor testimony before the House Finance Committee, Rep. Holmes explained how his bill allows owners of private property, who are currently financially responsible for repairing or replacing water and sewer lines, to qualify for state funding provided they grant an easement. Rep. Holmes noted that damaged or aging water and sewer lines, wherever they are located, have an effect on the public health and safety of a community. The League supports this bill.
  • HB 122 - ECONOMIC STUDY COMMITTEE. Sponsored by both Rep. Hambley (R - Brunswick) and Rep. Rogers (D - Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill establishes a Regional Economic Development Alliance Study Committee to study the benefits and challenges involved in creating regional economic development alliances. During its second hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, a proponent from the Greater Ohio Policy Center spoke to the bill's necessity in helping political subdivisions in regional areas consolidate efforts to advance economic development. The League is in support of this bill. 


COMMITTEE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF JANUARY 14, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
SENATE FINANCE
Tue., Jan. 16, 2018, 1:00 PM, Senate Finance Hearing Room
Sen. Oelslager: 614-466-0626
 
CEMETERY MAINTENANCE AND REGISTRATION (STEIN D) To modify duties of the Division of Real Estate in the Department of Commerce regarding cemetery registration, to specify cemetery owners must reasonably maintain cemeteries, to establish the Cemetery Grant Program, and to make an appropriation. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
BOND AND OBLIGATION MATURATION (GREENSPAN D) To increase from five to ten years the maturity period of other political subdivision's bonds and obligations eligible for investment of a subdivision's interim moneys. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
 
HOUSE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, COMMERCE AND LABOR
Tue., Jan. 16, 2018, 1:30 PM, Hearing Room 113
Rep. Young: 614-644-6074
 
BEE KEEPERS-IMMUNITY (STEIN D) To grant specified apiary owners immunity in personal injury or property damage cases. 
 
Fourth Hearing, All Testimony, AMENDMENTS
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
 
HOUSE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Tue., Jan. 16, 2018, 2:30 PM, Hearing Room 018
Rep. Landis: 614-466-8035
 
MUNICIPAL WATER-WORKS ACQUISITIONS (GINTER T, ROGERS J) To govern acquisitions of municipal water-works and sewage disposal system companies by certain larger nonmunicipal water-works or sewage disposal system companies. 
 
Second Hearing, Proponent Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
HOUSE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY AND OVERSIGHT
Wed., Jan. 17, 2018, 1:45 PM, Hearing Room 114
Rep. Blessing III: 614-466-9091
OR AFTER SESSION
 
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION LAW (SCHURING K) To modify terms describing payments made under the Unemployment Compensation Law, to increase the amount of wages subject to unemployment compensation premiums, to require qualifying employees to make payments to the Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fund, to allow the Director of Job and Family Services to adjust maximum weekly benefit amounts, to reduce the maximum number of benefit weeks, and to make other changes to the Unemployment Compensation Law. 
 
Eighth Hearing, All Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BONDS (SCHURING K) To allow the General Assembly to provide by law for the issuance of bonds to pay unemployment compensation benefits when the fund created for that purpose is or will be depleted or to repay outstanding advances made by the federal government to the unemployment compensation program. 
 
Eighth Hearing, All Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills
 
PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE TUESDAY FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE COMMITTEE SCHEDULE 

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Mayor's Court Initial Training Program
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February 14 & 15

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Newly Elected Council Training Seminars
February 24, March 3 & 24
Webinar: Marsy's Law
January 25, 2018
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Ohio Municipal League

Legislative Inquires:
Kent Scarrett, Executive Director
Edward Albright, Deputy Director
Ashley Brewster, Director of Communications
Rachel Massoud, Legislative Advocate

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