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As the legislative holiday break is coming to an end, members are expected to return to the Statehouse next week as session and committee schedules resume, next week.
 
 
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top three things you need to know about the past week:
 
  • The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) approved a plan this week that will scale back monthly health care cost subsidies for retirees, as well as end the group plan for retirees who are not old enough to qualify for Medicare. These changes will take effect in 2022. You can read more in the article below.
  • The DeWine Administration and the Ohio Department of Agriculture announced this week that $30 million in funding will be made available to farmers in 14 counties for the implementation of strategies proven to reduce agricultural phosphorus runoff. You can learn more HERE.
  • The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health will be rolling out a schedule for testing 1,500 public water sources for PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals." We will notify our members once this information become available.
 
 
OPERS APPROVES CUTS TO HEALTH CARE BENEFITS
 
On Wednesday, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) trustees approved to lower the base amount for monthly health care subsidies for retirees, while those who have not reached Medicare age will lose access to the OPERS-sponsored group plan.
 
OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher stated that unless these changes were approved, the system's $11 billion health care fund would run out in 11 years. Once the changes take place in January 2022, the system will be solvent for the next 18 years. These changes will also reduce the system's unfunded health care liabilities from $6.2 billion to $27 million.
 
The law deems retiree health care coverage as a discretionary benefit. OPERS says these changes will help ensure the health of the system's underlying pension fund, which currently has major unfunded liabilities and as a result has not been able to send any monies to the health care fund, which is separate. Even with these changes, OPERS does not anticipate it will be able to send contributions to the health care fund for another 15 years.
 
Individual retirees will see varied changes to their health care subsidies dependent upon their age when they retired and how long they'd worked for the state before their retirement. When OPERS makes more information available, we will send that information to our members.
 
 
OPERS REQUESTS LEGISLATURE FREEZE COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS (COLA) FOR RETIREES
 
In addition to the changes to health care subsidies for retirees, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) is asking the legislature to pass a bill that would freeze cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for all of the system's retirees for two years as well as a two-year delay of the yearly COLA increase for all new retirees.
 
OPERS currently has $24 billion in unfunded liabilities. The purpose of the proposed COLA freeze is to reduce that by $3.44 billion. The freeze cannot happen without legislative approval, but no sponsor has been found for the bill. The League will continue to update our members as this issue progresses.
 
 
 
BILLS IMPACTING MUNICIPALITIES EXPECTED TO MOVE IN 2020
 
Last week, the League covered the major bills we are currently tracking that would affect municipalities if passed. The following bills are the ones the League expects will move in early 2020 as the legislature resumes its usual legislative schedule next week.
 
We encourage our members to track these bills along with us and to contact their legislators in support of the bills that invest in Ohio's cities and villages and promote healthier municipalities, as well as to express their opposition to the bills that would curtail local control.
 
There were other bills impacting municipalities introduced last year that the League expects will move, and more such bills will be introduced in the future. The list below outlines bills we believe will be receiving immediate attention and should therefore be on our member's "radar".  
 
  • SB 206 - NONRESIDENT MUNICIPAL TAX CREDIT. Sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), would require municipal income tax credit for nonresident taxpayers. This is currently pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The League opposes this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2FWTTrI)
 
  • HB 242 - (BAG TAX) AUXILIARY CONTAINERS. Sponsored by Rep. Lang (R - West Chester Township) and Rep. Jones (R - Freeport), would authorize the use of an auxiliary container for any purpose, prohibit the imposition of a tax or fee on those containers, and apply existing anti-littering law to those containers. This was voted out of the full House before the holiday break. The League opposes this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/37croSE)
 
  • SB 222 - (BAG TAX) AUXILIARY CONTAINERS. Sponsored by Sen. Rulli (R - Salem), is the Senate companion legislation to HB 242. This is currently pending in Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee. The League opposes this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/38dSAk8)
 
  • SB 39 - MIXED USE DEVELOPMENTS. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize an insurance premiums tax credit for capital contributions to transformational mixed-use development projects. This is pending in House Economic and Workforce Development Committee. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/38e5Kh7)
 
  • SB 8 - OPPORTUNITY ZONES. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize tax credits for investments in an Ohio Opportunity Zone. This is pending in the House Economic & Workforce Development Committee. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/38h9yOP)
 
  • HB 312 - CROWDFUNDING. Sponsored by Rep. Powell (R - Arcanum), would permit intrastate equity crowdfunding under certain circumstances. This was voted out of the full House and is now pending in the Senate Finance Committee. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/30ubIYp)



COMMITTEE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF JANUARY 19, 2020
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
SENATE FINANCE
Tue., Jan. 21, 2020, 2:30 PM, Senate Finance Hearing Room
Sen. Dolan: 614-466-8056
 
INTRASTATE EQUITY CROWDFUNDING (POWELL J) To permit intrastate equity crowdfunding under certain circumstances. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
 
HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE
Tue., Jan. 21, 2020, 3:00 PM, Hearing Room 114
Rep. Hambley: 614-466-8140
 
STATUTORY IMMUNITY-HOSPITAL POLICE (SMITH J, BLAIR G) To provide a municipal corporation or county immunity from civil and criminal liability in any action that arises from a hospital police officer acting directly in the discharge of the person's duties as a police officer and that occurs on the premises of the hospital or its affiliates or subsidiaries or elsewhere in the municipal corporation or county. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  Bill Track, My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
HOUSE COMMERCE AND LABOR
Wed., Jan. 22, 2020, 1:30 PM, Hearing Room 114
Rep. Manning: 614-644-5076
 
STATE-LOCAL MINIMUM WAGE (KELLY B) To increase the state minimum wage and to allow municipalities, townships, and counties to establish higher minimum wage requirements. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report, Thomas Leg Tracker
 
SENATE GENERAL GOVERNMENT AND AGENCY REVIEW
Wed., Jan. 22, 2020, 3:15 PM, North Hearing Room
Sen. Schuring: 614-466-0626
 
BALLOT LANGUAGE UNIFORMITY (MERRIN D) To enact the "Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act" to modify the form of election notices and ballot language for property tax levies. 
 
Fourth Hearing, All Testimony
 
Report(s):  Bill Track, My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report, Thomas Leg Tracker
PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE TUESDAY FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE COMMITTEE SCHEDULE.
Ohio Municipal League Meetings & Trainings

Mayors Court 2020 Initial Training
February 20 & 21

Newly Elected Council Training Programs
Saturday February 29, Mason Area
Saturday March 21, Columbus Area
Saturday April 4, Independence Area


OML/OMAA Webinar
January 23, 2020 11:00 am ~ 12:00 pm
"Managing Employees in  an Election Year"

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