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February 2, 2018

Here are the top three things you need to know this week:
  • Five researchers have been granted a total of $50,000 for technology concepts that could be used to combat opioid abuse and addition. The awards are part of a larger initiative of Gov. Kasich's Opioid Technology challenge, which could make available as much as $20 million to develop similar ideas. You can read more about the prizewinners HERE.

  • The Bureau of Worker's Compensation has awarded $377,000 in grants to 39 fire departments across Ohio. The grants are from a new program aiming to reduce toxic exposure to firefighters. To read about the grant recipients or to apply for next year's grants, click HERE.

  • The Tax Credit Authority has awarded $4.5 million in tax breaks to six projects that are projected to create up to 656 new jobs. There are expectations that these incentives will also retain approximately 1,365 positions, create $35 million in new payroll and attract additional investments that could total up to $30 million. You can read more about those projects HERE.

HB 478, the small cell wireless infrastructure bill, is making its way through the Ohio House on a relatively fast track. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. LaTourette (R -Chesterland) and Rep. Smith (R - Bidwell), would modify the law regarding wireless service and the placement of small cell wireless facilities in the public way. This bill, as we have reported in previous bulletins, is a months-long collaborative effort between coalitions representing municipalities and the telecommunications industry to re-write portions of the language added to SB 331, passed during last session's lame duck.

During its second hearing on Tuesday before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, opponent testimony was given by wireless network companies and cable providers, which are not regulated under the legislation as introduced. The parties voiced concern about the path forward for their respective businesses. During its third hearing on Wednesday, written testimony was submitted by Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, as a representative of the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers association, supporting the bill. The House committee is not scheduled to meet next week but we anticipate the bill being back up for hearings the following week. Although the language is not perfect, we are supportive of this legislation, and will continue to report on its progress as it moves through the legislative process.


This week, the League's Executive Director Kent Scarrett joined Greg Saul from the Ohio Society of CPAs, Executive Director Don Smith of RITA, and Patrick Walsh from Cohen & Co. on "The Sounds of Ideas", a radio show on 90.3 WCPN Cleveland. The discussion centered around the centralized collection of municipal net profit business filings as mandated in HB 49 last year's state operating budget bill. The conversation also touched on the court cases brought by municipalities from across the state challenging the mandate.

Before the discussion aired, Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa had conducted a pre-taped interview on the subject, where he talked about the initial goals of the mandate. The discussion, which you can listen to HERE, also touched on the viability of the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG), the number of businesses that have actually opted to file through the state and closed by taking calls from listeners, including gubernatorial candidate and former mayor of Cleveland Dennis Kucinich. The League is grateful for the opportunity to inform listeners as to the rationale behind the municipal opposition to centralized collection, and is looking forward to similar opportunities in the future.

Here are the bills municipalities care about that were heard in committee this week:

  • HB 281 - BROADBAND EXPANSION. Sponsored by Rep. Carfagna (R - Genoa Township), this bill establishes the residential broadband expansion program within the Development Services Agency to award matching grants for last mile broadband expansion in municipal corporations and townships and makes an appropriation. The Ohio House passed the bill 87 to 5. The bill has been sent to the Ohio Senate where it will be assigned to a committee. The League is supportive of this bill
  • HB 175 - URBAN FARMING. Sponsored by Rep. Brinkman (R - Mt. Lookout), this bill would allow an owner of residential property to keep, harbor, breed, or maintain small livestock on the property, and prohibit zoning authorities from regulating certain agricultural activities conducted on residential property for noncommercial purposes. During its second hearing before the House Agricultural and Rural Development Committee, 23 witnesses gave or submitted proponent testimony in support of the bill. Since the bill violates Home Rule by overriding local control, the League is opposed to this bill.
  • HB 351 - MILITARY TAX EXEMPTION. Sponsored by Rep. Perales (R - Beavercreek) and Rep. Butler (R -Oakwood), this bill would require municipal corporations to exempt from taxation the military pay of members of the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Public Health Service. During is fourth hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill was passed unanimously out of committee. The League is neutral on this bill.
  • SB 210 - AUXILIARY CONTAINERS. This bill, also known as the "bag tax" bill, sponsored by Sen. Coley (R - Liberty Township), would authorize a person to use an auxiliary container for any purpose, prohibit a municipal corporation from imposing a tax or fee on auxiliary containers, and clarify that the existing anti-littering law applies to auxiliary containers. "Auxiliary containers" encompass containers such as plastic or paper bags, glass bottles and aluminum cans. During its second hearing before the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee, business owners offered proponent testimony supporting the bill. As this bill is a preemption on Home Rule authority, the League opposes this bill.
  • HB 419 - EMERGENCY LIABILITY. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Henne (R - Clayton), would modify the defense to the liability of a member of a police or fire department or emergency medical service of a political subdivision for the negligent operation of a motor vehicle in response to an emergency by requiring that the vehicle has its lights and sirens simultaneously activated. During its second hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, written testimony was submitted in support of the bill by a woman whose car was hit by an undercover police officer and by the Ohio Association for Justice. The League is currently interested party on this bill and is working with the bill's sponsor on potential language. 
  • HB 382 - UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton), would modify terms describing payments made under the Unemployment Compensation Law, increase the amount of wages subject to unemployment compensation premiums, require qualifying employees to make payments to the Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fund, allow the Director of Job and Family Services to adjust maximum weekly benefit amounts, reduce the maximum number of benefit weeks, and make other changes to the Unemployment Compensation Law. During its eleventh and twelfth hearings Tuesday and Wednesday before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, no testimony was given on the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation
  • HJR 4 - UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BONDS. Also sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton), this joint resolution proposes to enact Section 2t of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio 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. During its eleventh and twelfth hearings Tuesday and Wednesday before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, no testimony was offered. The League is neutral on this joint resolution.
  • HB 422 - WATER/SEWER. Sponsored by Rep. Ginter (R - Salem) and Rep. Rogers (D - Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill would govern acquisitions of municipal water-works and sewage disposal system companies by certain larger nonmunicipal water-works or sewage disposal system companies. During its fourth hearing before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, only written opponent testimony was submitted on the bill voicing concern about citizen access to inexpensive water and sewer systems. As highlighted in the League's proponent testimony several weeks ago, the bill allows municipalities an easier process of investing in water and sewer infrastructure. The League is supportive of this legislation.
  • HB 168 - CEMETARY MAINTENANCE. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Stein (D - Norwalk), would modify duties of the Division of Real Estate in the Department of Commerce regarding cemetery registration, specify cemetery owners must reasonably maintain cemeteries, establish the Cemetery Grant Program, and make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, proponent testimony supporting the bill was given by a couple of interested parties, including the Ohio Township Association. The League is supportive of this bill.
  • HB 251 - BOND MATURATION. Sponsored by Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake), this bill would 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, a county's inactive moneys, and money in the county public library fund. During its second hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio offered proponent testimony. The League is supportive of this bill.  
  • SB 239 - COUNCILS OF GOVERNMENT. Sponsored by Sen. Dolan (R - Chagrin Falls), this bill would modify the law concerning regional councils of governments. During its first hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, a substitute bill was added to remedy what Sen. Dolan called an "unintended consequence" of the original draft. The substitute bill now extends sovereign immunity to employees who are employed solely by the council of government (COG) but not another public entity - except in the event of an Ethic's Law violation. Sen. Dolan went on to explain how the bill would "remedy problems that arise when [COGs] are used to benefit particular individuals and not serve the public's interest." The League is supportive of this bill.
  • HB 276 - UTILITY WORKERS. Sponsored by Rep. Rezabek (R - Clayton) and Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake), this bill expands the offense of aggravated menacing to prohibit threatening a utility worker with intent to obstruct the operation of a utility. It was brought before the full House this week, where it was voted out 89-3. The League is supportive of this bill.

Here are the bills that would impact municipalities that were introduced this week:

  • HB 482 - PUBLIC NUISANCE AND BLIGHT FORECLOSURE. Sponsored by Rep. Lipps (R - Franklin) and Rep. Miller (D - Columbus), this bill would expedite public nuisance and blight foreclosure actions and declare an emergency.
  • HB 484 - HEALTH DISTRICTS-CREDIT CARDS. Sponsored by Rep. Brenner (R - Powell), this bill would authorize city and general health districts to use credit cards in accordance with prescribed requirements.
  • HB 486 - EMS WORKERS-PUBLIC SAFETY OPERS. Sponsored by Rep. Antonio (D - Lakewood), this bill would specify that emergency medical services workers are public safety officers under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
  • HB 488 - PROPERTY TAX LEVY-BALLOT LANGUAGE. Sponsored by Rep. Hood (R - Ashville) Rep. Becker (R - Union Township), this bill would modify the information conveyed in election notices and ballot language for property tax levies.
  • SB 250 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. Sponsored by Sen. Hoagland (R - Mingo Junction), this bill would prohibit criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and aggravated trespass on a critical infrastructure facility, impose fines for organizations that are complicit in those offenses, and impose civil liability for damage caused by trespass on a critical infrastructure facility.
  • SB 252 - VISITORS BUREAUS. Sponsored by Sen. Peterson (R - Washington Court House), this bill would authorize local elected officers that have levied a hotel lodging excise tax, or a designee of such officers to simultaneously hold the position of officer or member of the board of trustees of a convention and visitors' bureau without constituting incompatible offices.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Wed., Feb. 7, 2018, 2:30 PM, Hearing Room 017
Rep. Anielski: 614-644-6041
LOCAL GOV ROAD IMPROVEMENT (GREENSPAN D, RYAN S) To allocate one-half of any surplus revenue to a new Local Government Road Improvement Fund, from which money will be distributed directly to local governments to fund road improvements. 
Fourth Hearing, All Testimony, POSSIBLE VOTE
Report(s): My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
LAW ENFORCEMENT TAX CREDIT (SCHAFFER T) To allow an income tax credit for law enforcement officials who purchase safety or protective items to be used in the course of official law enforcement activities. 
Second Hearing, All Testimony
Report(s): My Tracked Bills
TAX LEVY-PUBLIC LIGHTING (EDWARDS J) To authorize a property tax levy specifically to fund lighting for roads and public places. 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
Report(s): My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report

Up Coming Meetings & Events

Mayor's Court Initial Training Program
January FULL
February 14 & 15

Registration Information
Newly Elected Council Training Seminars
February 24, March 3 & 24

Ohio Municipal League

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

Website/Bulletin Issues:
Zoƫ Wade, Office Manager