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March 9, 2018

OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE

Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:

  • This Sunday marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Please remember to set your clocks forward one hour!
     
  • This week, the Office of the Solicitor General publicly urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a South Dakota law that would allow the state to collect sales tax on sales from Internet retailers even if those retailers don't have brick-and-mortar nexus within the state. The Court is scheduled for the next hearing on the case April 17th. According to a 2009 University of Tennessee study, revenues lost by the state due to the inability to collect sales tax on remote internet sales is roughly $307,900,000. (These figures are nearly a decade old. Imagine what the revenue loss would look like for today's sales tax collection.)
     
  • According to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, between 2012 and 2017, the number of opioids prescribed to Ohio patients decreased by 28.4%. Govern John Kasich approximately quoted the statistic in his final State of the State address Tuesday

 
GOVERNOR KASICH DELIVERS FINAL STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

 
This Tuesday, Governor John Kasich and the Ohio State Legislature traveled to the Governor's hometown of Westerville. During the day, the schedule was filled with various press conferences, meetings and roundtable discussions. The Legislature stayed behind on Capital Square to conduct state business before heading to the central Ohio suburb that evening for Gov. Kasich's final state of the state address.

 
The speech did not contain much in the way of concrete policy ideas or initiatives. Gov. Kasich spoke at length about his personal philosophy and the thinkers who have influenced him. He talked about the importance of creating a culture of loving one's neighbor throughout the State, and gave Courage Awards to three people to recognize their achievements in overcoming personal struggles to better their communities.

 
Kasich did touch on a few policy points during his speech, including the creation of prison alternatives to advance criminal justice reform, building new mental health facilities throughout the state and how the opioid prescribing guidelines that went into effect last August have will helped decrease the number of prescribed opioids in the state by 30% through the end of this year. He praised efforts to decrease human trafficking, create jobs and further workforce development. However, he did not speak to any specific policies or programs regarding these efforts.
 
There were no specific mentions of municipalities (or plans to refund the Local Government Fund or drive more financial support to our beleaguered municipalities to support infrastructure and other critical needs) during the speech. Kasich did mention the importance of rehabbing drug offenders within their local communities instead of sending them to prison, as well as creating environments where small businesses can thrive. You can read the text of the speech in full HERE.
  

ATTORNEY GENERAL 'S OFFICE ANNOUNCES CREATION OF NEW MARSY'S LAW CARD

Last week, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the creation of palm-sized cards to be created by his office as a resource for helping law enforcement agencies to inform crime victims about their rights. The announcement of the creation of these cards is a result of the passing of Marcy's Law, which was State Issue 1 on last November's ballot. Law enforcement can give crime victims the card to help them learn about their rights and to write down details about the crime they experienced.

Marsy's Law offers victims increased protection from harassment from their offenders by giving them more rights and granting them more access to proceedings within the criminal justice system. Attorney General DeWine says these cards are another tool to help victims of crimes understand exactly what their rights are. Local law enforcement agencies interested in obtaining these cards can contact the Attorney General's Crime Victims office at 614-466-5610.


OHIO RANKS TOP THREE FOR ALL CATEGORIES OF SITE SELECTION' S GOVERNOR ' S CUP 2017 RANKINGS

Since 1988, Site Selection magazine has awarded the Governor's Cup to the state who can claim both the greatest number of new and the most expanded corporate facilities within its jurisdiction. 2017 marks the fourth straight year Ohio has been awarded the second spot overall for total projects. The state ranked third in projects per capita.

Meanwhile, Ohio's individual municipalities also earned recognition. Both Columbus and Cincinnati ranked in the top 10 for Tier 1 Metros, which are cities with a population over million. Toledo, Akron and Dayton placed in the top 10 for the Tier 2 Metros, which have a population between 200,000 and 1 million. Findlay claimed Number 1 micropolitan (cities with a population of 10,000-50,000), with 18 other Ohio municipalities landing spots in the list of Top 100 Micropolitans. Those cities include Ashtabula, Celina, Sidney, Norwalk, Bellefontaine, Greenville, Marion, Sandusky, Urbana, Wapakoneta, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Van Wert and Wilmington.

The League is proud to see Ohio municipalities earn national recognition. With 80% of Ohio businesses electing to locate within a municipality, cities and villages play a crucial role in making Ohio business friendly. Ohio municipalities truly are the "economic engines" of this state, and the League congratulates all the awardees for doing their part to ensure Ohio's economy continues to grow and thrive.

 
SENATE COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST HEARING ON SMALL CELL LEGISLATION

After being passed out of the full House, the small cell wireless infrastructure legislation was sent to the Senate for consideration. HB 478, which is sponsored by Rep. Smith (R - Bidwell) and Rep. LaTourette (R - Chesterland), would modify the law regarding wireless service and the placement of small cell wireless facilities in the public way.

During its first hearing before the Senate Public Utilities Committee, Rep. LaTourette explained how the bill is a compromise that allows wireless companies to deploy small cell technology across the state to grow 5G data speeds while still allowing municipalities to control infrastructure within their rights of way. She also said local communities stood to benefit due to the projected "$160 billion in estimated benefits and savings from wireless-enabled smart city solutions", which she explained included reduced traffic and lower fuel costs, better public safety abilities and lower energy usage.

The League is supportive of this bill and will continue to report on this legislation as it moves through the Senate. If you have any interest in testifying before the Senate on this bill, please contact the League's Director of Communication Ashley Brewster at abrewster@omlohio.org or 614-634-8466.

 
LEAGUE TESTIFIES ON BILL REGULATING REGIONAL COUNCILS OF GOVERNMENT

This week, the League testified in support of a bill seeking to regulate regional councils of government. SB 239, which is sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan (R - Chagrin Falls), makes several modifications in the law concerning regional councils of governments. During its fourth hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, the bill was amended adjusting the provision regarding sovereign immunity for council employees, while stating that names of representatives and governments involved in regional councils of government are public record. 
 
The League's Executive Director, Kent Scarrett, submitted written testimony supporting the bill. "Regional councils of government can be useful tools that municipalities and other political subdivisions can use to work on areas of common interest by sharing services and pooling resources," he said. "However, problems arise when individuals elect to use regional councils of government to benefit themselves rather than the public. SB 239 closes many of the gaps in the current law those individuals can use presently to prevent that scenario from occurring in the future."

 
You can read his testimony in its entirety HERE The League will continue to report on this bill as it moves through the legislative process.


OHIO EPA TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RULES CHANGES
 
The Ohio EPA will be holding public hearings on proposed changes to rules regarding lead and copper in public water systems at the central office hearing room at 50 W. Town St. in downtown Columbus. To submit a comment or find out more, click HERE.
 
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: HEARINGS FOR BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST

Here are the bills that impact municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
 
  • HB 378 - BROADBAND GRANTS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Smith (R - Bidwell) and Rep. Cera (D - Bellaire), would create the Ohio Broadband Development Grant Program and make an appropriation. During its seventh hearing before the House Finance Committee, an amendment was adopted into the bill that encourages the director of the Department of Transportation to work with providers in laying fiber optic cables along highway projects. The League is supportive of this bill.
 
  • SB 266 - CAPITAL BUDGET. Sponsored by Sen. Oelslager (R - Canton), this bill would make capital appropriations and changes to the law governing capital projects and to make re-appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2020. During its third hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, no testimony was heard on this bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
 
  • SB 225 - BROADBAND GRANTS. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Schiavoni (D - Boardman) and Sen. Eklund (R - Chardon), would create the Ohio Broadband Development Grant Program and make an appropriation. During its first hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, both sponsors spoke to the bill as modeled on a Minnesota grant program, which has invested $85 million and expanded internet to roughly 34,000 households. This bill would appropriate $50 million, which is already available through the Third Frontier Program, and would target expanding internet access to the 300,000 rural households in Ohio without high-speed internet access. The League is supportive of this bill.
 
  • HB 382 - UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION LAWS. Sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton), this bill 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 sixteenth hearing 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. This joint resolution, also sponsored by Rep. Schuring (Canton), would 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 is sixteenth hearing before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, no testimony was heard on this bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.
 
  • HB 469 - MIXED-USE TAX CREDIT. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton) would authorize a nonrefundable insurance company tax credit for contributions of capital to transformational mixed-use development projects. During its third hearing before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, the Ohio Insurance Institute praised the low rates Ohioans experience with property and auto insurance rates, saying it was due to the industry's "strong competition" and the "regulatory atmosphere." The League is supportive of this bill.
 
  • HB 312 - POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS CREDIT CARDS. Sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton) and Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake), this bill would change the laws regarding use of credit cards and debit cards by political subdivisions. During its second hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, an amendment was adopted into the bill regarding a gap in the state's public records law due to recent Ohio Supreme Court rulings stating the court will not consider damage requests in open records cases in events where the initial public records request was made electronically instead of by either certified mail or by hand. The Ohio News Media Association wrote in support of the amendment. The committee then heard from State Auditor Dave Yost, who detailed some of the provisions in a substitute bill interested parties are creating. This substitute bill would, in part, allow the Auditor's office to continue publishing statistics of local governments financial data online, allow the Auditor's office the authority to appoint additional deputy inspectors to the Public Integrity Assurance Team, and will nullify the current requirement that fraud complaints be recorded in the fraud log if it is an ongoing investigation. The League is supportive of this legislation.
 
  • HB 122 - ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Sponsored by Rep. Hambley (R - Brunswick) and Rep. Rogers (D - Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill would establish a Regional Economic Development Alliance Study Committee to study the benefits and challenges involved in creating regional economic development alliances. During its third hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, no testimony was heard on this bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
 
  • HB 486 - EMS WORKERS. 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. During its first hearing before the House Aging and Long Term Care Committee, Rep. Antonio explained that EMS workers face a fatality rate that is roughly twice that of other emergency occupations, and often must enter early disability retirement because of the demands the job. She cited Cleveland's mayor and city council, who initially expressed reservations about the proposal but then learned that savings for each employee who retires at 25 years as opposed to 32 is roughly $100,602 with an increased contribution rate of 18.1%. The League is currently reviewing this legislation.
 
FLOOR ACTION FOR BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
  • HB 529 - CAPITAL BUDGET. Sponsored by Rep. Ryan (R - Newark), this bill would make capital appropriations and changes to the law governing capital projects and to make re-appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2020. During its third hearing before the House Finance Committee, the bill was voted out of committee unanimously. The bill was then sent to the full House floor for a vote before the full chamber, where it was passed 90-2 with Rep. Brinkman (R - Mt. Lookout) and Rep. Dever (R - Madeira) opposed. The League is supportive of this bill.
 
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED

Here are the bills introduced this week that would impact municipalities:
  • HB 538 - TAXES TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUND INCREASE. Sponsored by Rep. Cera (D - Bellaire) and Rep. Rogers (D - Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill would increase the proportion of state tax revenue allocated to the Local Government Fund from 1.66% to 3.53% beginning July 1, 2019.



COMMITTEE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 11, 2018
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
SENATE FINANCE
Tue., Mar. 13, 2018, 2:30 PM, Senate Finance Hearing Room
Sen. Oelslager: 614-466-0626
 
CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS (RYAN S) To make capital appropriations and changes to the law governing capital projects and to make reappropriations for the biennium ending June 30,2020. 
 
First Hearing, All Testimony, PENDING REFERRAL/POSSIBLE VOTE
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
SENATE WAYS AND MEANS
Wed., Mar. 14, 2018, 9:00 AM, South Hearing Room
Sen. Eklund: 614-644-7718
 
LOCAL OFFICES-OTHER POSITIONS (PETERSON B) To 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. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
Thursday, March 15, 2018
SENATE PUBLIC UTILITIES
Thu., Mar. 15, 2018, 9:00 AM, Senate Finance Hearing Room
Sen. Beagle: 614-466-6247
 
SMALL CELL WIRELESS (SMITH R, LATOURETTE S) To modify the law regarding wireless service and the placement of small cell wireless facilities in the public way. 
 
Second Hearing, Proponent Testimony
 
CHECK OUR WEBSITE MONDAY FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE COMMITTEE SCHEDULE
Up Coming Meetings & Events

OML/OMAA Webinar
Beyond Sexual Harassment 
March 22, 2018
10:00 am ~ 11:00 am

Registration Information
Newly Elected Council Training Seminars
March 24th 

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