OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- Ohio has placed number one in Site Selection magazine's annual Governor's Cup state economic and business attraction rankings for the number of new corporate facility projects per capita. In light of this achievement, it is important to note that 80% of all Ohio's businesses are located in municipalities.
- The Ohio Ballot Board have approved a number of proposed ballot issues, which means supporters of those issues can now collect signatures in an attempt to get their initiative on the November ballot. These initiatives include a 16-year lifetime term limit for service in the Ohio legislature, raising the minimum wage to $13 per hour, a four-part measure expanding voting rights and a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana. You can read more about this last ballot initiative in the article below.
- The Bureau of Workers' Compensation has reminded employers they have until March 31 to apply for safety grants for FY 20. The BWC's $20 million in grants fund the purchase of safety equipment for issues such as firefighter exposure to environmental elements and workplace security and wellness.
DEWINE ADMINISTRATION HOSTS SUMMIT FOR CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Local and state health officials were invited to participate in the Governor's Summit on COVID-19 Preparedness on Thursday to discuss plans for how the state will respond to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The summit was held to ensure that local health districts, as well as statewide officials, are communicating and in lockstep with the state's planned response to any confirmed cases of the virus. Those present also discussed how local officials could ensure they are reaching their community's most vulnerable citizens.
There are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio. Earlier this week, the League issued a special bulletin with resources for local officials with constantly-updated information about the coronavirus and how local communities can prepare for and prevent contamination. You can read that special bulletin HERE.
The League has also set up a section on the Ohio Municipal League webpage specifically dedicated to information and updates on the coronavirus, including any emails or special bulletins we send out on the subject. You can access that webpage HERE.
BALLOT PROPOSAL WOULD LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, ALLOCATE REVENUE TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
Signatures are currently being collected for a ballot proposal that would amend the Ohio Constitution to legalize recreational marijuana.
The ballot initiative would have the state regulate marijuana like alcohol and allow those over the age of 21 to possess marijuana without criminal penalties. If the initiative gets the requisite number of signatures to get on the November ballot, and if the voters approve the initiative, medical marijuana dispensaries would be able to sell cannabis recreationally on July 1, 2021.
Additionally, the ballot initiative would tax recreational marijuana by an amount that would be levied by the Ohio legislature. While those supporting the constitutional amendment do not specify how much the projected tax should be, they do specify where the revenues from those taxes should be allocated.
According to the proposed language, 25% of the revenues would be designated towards a special fund for commission on expungement, criminal justice reform, community investment and cannabis industry diversity and equity. 50% would be designated to the Local Government Fund (LGF) to support and in some instances, return essential services impacted by previous cuts. Finally, a minimum of 10% would be returned to the municipalities where the sale of the cannabis was made in propositional amounts based on sales tax remitted.
We will continue to report on this proposed ballot initiatives as updates become available.
BILLS PASSED BY THE OHIO SENATE
Here is a bill passed by the Senate this week that would impact municipalities:
- SB 212 - PROPERTY TAXATION. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize townships and municipal corporations to designate areas within which new homes and improvements to existing homes are wholly or partially exempted from property taxation. The Senate passed this legislation unanimously. The League is supportive of this bill.(Link: https://bit.ly/38qXZEr)
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here is a bill introduced this week that would impact municipalities:
- SB 291 - ELECTRIC VEHICLE FEES. Sponsored by Sen. Lehner (R - Kettering) and Sen. Hottinger (R - Newark), would provide for the proration of the plug-in electric and hybrid motor vehicle registration fees. (Link: https://bit.ly/2wwwZ94)
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
- SB 273 - PROPERTY TAXES. Sponsored by Sen. Williams (D - Cleveland), would reduce property taxes on owner-occupied homes to the extent the taxes increase by more than 10% per year and to prohibit political subdivisions from placing a lien on property for unpaid water charges. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that the bill is intended to protect "long-term homeowners and vulnerable citizens from unfair tax increases and discriminatory lien collection practices." The legislation would cap annual property tax increases for certain households at 10% and preempt municipalities from placing liens against properties for overdue water bills. The League is opposed to this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/3azvMMP)
- SB 286 - TAX CREDIT. Sponsored by Rep. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), would authorize an income tax credit for volunteer firefighters who purchase firefighting-related safety or protective items. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the impetus behind the bill is the shortage of firefighters in rural areas and Ohio's suburbs. Rep. Schaffer said the bill is intended to help overcome cost barriers to recruiting volunteer firefighters. The League is supportive of this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/2PQPs73)
- HB 137 - EMPLOYEE EARNINGS. Sponsored by Rep. Kelly (D - Cincinnati) and Rep. Vitale (R - Urbana), would require an employer to provide earnings and deductions statements to each of the employer's employees. During its second hearing before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, Policy Matters Ohio testified in support of the bill, saying it would help employers ensure they are compensated for the hours they work. The Central Ohio Worker Center, the Catholic Conference of Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality also provided written proponent testimony. The League is neutral on this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/38sKwvy)
- SB 277 - POOLED COLLATERAL. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would make changes to the Ohio Pooled Collateral Program (OPCS). During its second hearing before the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions, the Ohio Bankers League, the County Treasurers Association of Ohio and the treasurer of Ottawa County testified in support of this legislation due to the bill's intention to clarify liability and timing for the communications between local governments and banks. The League is neutral on this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/2PPtyBc)
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