OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- This week, the House Democratic Caucus elected Rep. Emelia Sykes (D - Akron) as incoming minority leader. Additionally, Rep. Kristin Boggs (D - Columbus) was elected assistant minority leader, Rep. Kent Smith (D - Euclid) was elected minority whip, and Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D - Toledo) was elected assistant minority whip.
- Due to the federal shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed across the nation. 7,000 of those workers live in Ohio and are largely located in the Dayton area.
- The Ohio Board of Pharmacy reports over 4,900 recommendations for medical marijuana registry cards have been entered into the patient and caregiver registry, while over 3,500 registry cards have been activated within the last four weeks.
ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF THE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN FOR CITIES ACROSS THE NATION
As the federal shutdown enters its second month, Americans across the nation are feeling the effects. Cities and villages are not exempt from the difficulties of a drawn-out federal shutdown. Ohio's communities, along with communities across the country, are struggling to continue to provide services that are either fully or partially funded with federal dollars. If the federal government remains shutdown for even a few more weeks, programs that impact the most vulnerable populations in our communities, low-income residents and households, could be severely curtailed or eliminated. Impacted programs would include:
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides health care referrals, supplemental foods and nutrition education to low-income families may lose funding by the end of February.
- The US Department of Agriculture is entirely closed and can only provide Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the end of February jeopardizing food stamp programs, services to seniors and families. Because of the shuttering of the USDA, funding is becoming unavailable for transportation and food storage for food panties.
- Federal grants such as Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) for crucial housing, infrastructure and disaster recovery for local governments will be delayed if the shutdown continues, either due to furloughed staff unavailable to process grant applications and extensions or due to a lack of funding.
- Grants from both the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have become inaccessible. Community non-profit organizations that depend on reimbursements from the federal government to support victims of violence, drug abuse programs such as anti-opioid centers and more will be dependent of the financial support of the communities they serve in order to continue providing services or would go out of existence.
- 90% of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) employees have been furloughed, jeopardizing local transportation grants and funding. No staff are available to activate grants, creating a cash-flow problem for municipalities across the country.
- Cash welfare programs and child welfare development programs were not renewed before the shutdown.
- School's Out, which coordinates services during school breaks, may soon be cut due to lack of funding.
CITY OF COLUMBUS INITIATES ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKERS
The loss of funding for these programs will deeply affect local communities. Municipalities are trying to mitigate these effects from their own revenues. For example, the City of Columbus has announced that furloughed federal employees will not face penalties or loss of basic utilities if they are unable to pay their bills. "Federal employees should not face penalties and potential loss of basic services like water because the federal government cannot work together to pass a budget," said Mayor Andrew Ginther. "We will do our part to support families during this difficult time, and I call on the President and Congress to reach a resolution and reopen the government." Eligible federal employees will make minimal monthly payments until the shutdown is over.
Residents of Ohio's cities and villages will continue to feel the effects as community programs that rely on these grants and funds are either delayed or halted altogether as the shutdown continues.
The Ohio Municipal League urges the federal government to alleviate the burden placed on the backs of municipalities all across the nation. We hope federal leaders come together, work out a compromise and get our federal workers and programs back on their feet. The League encourages a bipartisan effort to end the federal shutdown and put municipalities back on track towards building safer, stronger and more prosperous communities.
OML MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL PROCESS BEGINS
The League's membership renewals have begun to roll in, and we want to thank each city and village for their timely renewal of membership. We urge municipalities who have not yet submitted their membership renewals to do so soon.
League staff works hard to ensure that membership provides multiple benefits and services to each of our members. Membership with the League immediately qualifies a city or village to become members of the National League of Cities (NLC), the federal advocacy and programming organization that works tirelessly on behalf of municipalities across the nation and provides a vast array of training and networking opportunities for municipal officials. Membership also grants cities and villages access to our service corporation, which offers unique and exclusive cost-saving opportunities for services and programs municipalities need and use every day.
In addition to these partnerships and opportunities, the Ohio Municipal League gives cities and villages a voice at the Ohio Statehouse, where lawmakers are consistently creating policies that universally effect Ohio's municipalities, both for good and for ill. The League's legislative team works year-round with legislators, the administration and their staff to fight preemptions and lobby for the restoration of the funding cuts municipalities have experienced repeatedly in recent years.
Our staff also works to create programs that provide exclusive municipal training, CLE credit and other educational resources for municipal officials and their staff across the state. This past year, in addition to our annual conference, we conducted four regional conferences in each of the state's four regions to ensure those unable to travel to Columbus for our annual conference still had access to the same training and information.
These programs, among others, represent the services we strive to provide for our members to ensure they are well-equipped to govern their communities well.
Please keep an eye out for the annual membership renewal notice, if you have any questions please feel free to call.