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February 22, 2019

OML UPDATES AT-A-GLANCE

Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation has released a spreadsheet detailing the change in distribution of gas tax revenues to local governments that would occur if the Governor's 18-cent increase becomes law. The spreadsheet details the estimated distribution change for each municipality. You can access the spreadsheet HERE
  • J.P. Nauseef has been named by Governor DeWine as the new president and chief investment officer of JobsOhio. Nauseef is a business executive and economic development official from Dayton.
  • Sen. Brian Hill (R - Zanesville) has announced he is leaving the Senate to become CEO of the Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative. Rep. Hill was appointed to the 20th Senate District seat early in December to succeed Congressman Troy Balderson.
 
LEAGUE APPLAUDS GOVERNOR DEWINE'S PROPOSED GAS TAX INCREASE

Yesterday, Governor Mike DeWine unveiled his transportation budget with an 18-cent increase to Ohio's current 28 cents-per-gallon motor vehicle fuel tax that would be indexed to inflation. If passed into law, the gas tax increase and the indexing would become effective on July 1 st, 2020. You can read an analysis of the proposed increase in Sub. HB 62 HERE. Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks introduced Sub. HB 62 to the House Finance Committee, where it is pending an adoption into HB 62. You can read Dir. Marchbanks's testimony HERE.
The League applauds Governor DeWine and greatly appreciates his leadership, for recognizing the urgent need and voices of local governments across the state and for recommending a tangible, feasible solution to begin closing the millions of dollars in funding shortfalls for Ohio's transportation infrastructure. You can read the League's official statement of support HERE.
This proposal will provide millions of dollars more in critically needed resources directly to our municipalities to make important transportation investments. It is a great step forward in rebuilding the state and local partnership to rebuild our communities together while promoting safety and economic development. We also applaud the Governor's indexing of this increase to ensure proper funding for years to come. In addition to this welcome proposed increase to Ohio's gas tax, the League will be asking the legislature for the permissive authority to allow municipalities to raise their licensing fees by $5, as was granted to counites during the last General Assembly.
The Governor's gas tax increase mirrors the suggestion of his Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure. The committee, which held hearings we covered in previous bulletins, released their report last Friday afternoon. A portion of the executive summary echoes the committee's February 6 th recommendation to legislate an, "increase in the motor fuel user fee to maintain and improve Ohio's transportation system." You can read the report in full HERE.
According to Dir. Marchbanks's testimony, by fiscal year 2020 this increase will give ODOT an additional $750 million in revenue. Each of Ohio's 88 counties will receive an additional $1.6 million. Dir. Marchbanks then said cities, village and townships would receive a "significant" but unspecified increase to their revenues, which is usually the $350 million ODOT historically gives local governments in addition to their portion of the gas tax.
The League strongly encourages our members to contact their Statehouse delegation, both House and Senate members, with your support of this gas tax increase and encourage them to favorably support the Governor's efforts for our communities.
There will be opportunities to testify next week; however, the chairman's office has yet to release next week's hearing dates and times. We will send out a "Call-to-Action" to our members to come and testify before the House committee once next week's committee hearing schedule for HB62 is released. Those unable to make the trip to Columbus have the opportunity to submit written-only testimony, which will be read by all members of the committee.
For question regarding testifying or for assistance in drafting testimony, please contact the League's Director of Communication Ashley Brewster at 614-221-4349 or abrewster@omlohio.org.
 
LEAGUE DIRECTOR KENT SCARRETT AND LOCAL LEADERS TESTIFY ON TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING BEFORE THE HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE

The House Finance Committee held three hearings this week on HB 62, the Transportation Budget FY 2020-2021. The League's executive director Kent Scarrett, along with several local leaders across the state of Ohio, took this opportunity to testify on the impact of repeated cuts to municipal revenues rendering them unable to properly repair and maintain existing roads and bridges. You can watch the first three testimonies HERE on the Ohio Channel website. Mayor Flaute's testimony begins at 1:09; Dir. Scarrett's testimony begins at 1:45; and Mayor Barhorst's testimony begins at 2:01.
During his testimony, Scarrett detailed the 70,000 lane miles and nearly 2,500 bridges municipalities maintain, explaining that those roads and bridges account for over 100 million vehicle miles traveled annually and carry over a quarter of all vehicle miles traveled in Ohio."Our municipalities are home to over 8.5 million citizens and over 80 percent of Ohio businesses," said Scarrett. "Our roadways provide critical first- and last-mile connections for employment, commerce, social services, culture and recreation, hospitals and healthcare." You can read his testimony in full HERE.
Scarrett's testimony was accompanied by testimony from the League's Board President, Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst. He spoke on the specific needs Sidney is facing and difficulties caused by cuts to the Local Government Fund."We need to create a partnership that begins to address infrastructure needs and stop kicking the can down the road," he said, "or the need will be so great that we will never catch up." You can read Mayor Barhorst's testimony HERE.
The House Finance Committee also heard testimony from the president of the League's Mayor's Association of Ohio, Mayor William Flaute, who urged the committee to increase the motor vehicle user fee. "Adjusting for inflation, the 28-cent fee has the purchasing power of just 18 cents in 2019 dollars," he said. "This is simply not enough to support adequate funding to invest in Ohio's Transportation System." You can read his testimony in full HERE.
Finally, on the last day of the week's hearings, the City of Norton's Administrative Office Robert Fowler testified as a representative of the Ohio Public Safety Directors Association, a subset of the League. Fowler spoke to the funding challenges Norton is facing with regards to maintaining and reconstructing roads, including associated equipment costs. You can read his testimony HERE.
We want to thank all the local leaders who took time out of their schedules to testify in Columbus. We encourage local leaders from cities and villages from across Ohio to follow their lead and testify at the Statehouse in support of the gas tax increase in Sub. HB 62 to ensure safe, stable infrastructure for years to come. As a reminder, we will be sending out a Call-to-Action once committee chairman releases the days and times of next week's committee hearings.
 
 
Pictured left to right: League Board President and Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst &
President of the League's Mayors Association of Ohio and Riverside Mayor William Flaute.

BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED THIS WEEK

Here are the bills that would impact municipalities introduced this week:
  • HB 81 - WORKERS COMP-BODILY FLUID EXPOSURE. Sponsored by Rep. Perales (R - Beavercreek), is regarding Workers' Compensation coverage of post-exposure medical diagnostic services for a detention facility employee's exposure to another person's blood or bodily fluids.
 
  • HB 84 - CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS-SEWER LATERALS. Sponsored by Rep. Homes (D - McDonald), would expressly include, as eligible projects under the State Capital Improvements Program, water and sewer laterals located on private property.
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST

Here are the bills impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
  • HB 27 - SUBDIVISION LIABILITY. Sponsored by Rep. Ingram (D - Cincinnati), would modify political subdivision liability for an employee's negligent operation of a motor vehicle. During the bill's first hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, the sponsor said bill was prompted by an incident in 2015 in Cincinnati where a local police officer lost control of his vehicle and struck a parked car, injuring the driver. The League is still looking into this legislation.
 
  • SB 16 - PEACE OFFICERS-PROPER INTERACTION. Sponsored by Sen. Williams (D - Cleveland), is regarding instruction for peace officers, students, and new or student drivers on proper interactions with peace officers. During its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill's sponsor said it "comes as a direct result of concerns of several law enforcement officers and local groups." The League is neutral on this legislation.
 
  • SB 33 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES OFFENSES. Sponsored by Sen. Hoagland (R - Adena), would modify certain criminal offenses with respect to critical infrastructure facilities and to impose fines and civil liability for damage to a critical infrastructure facility. During its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill's sponsor wanted to clarify that the bill would not restrict any individual's Frist Amendment rights and that the bill would only apply to those who entered sites "maliciously with intent do anything that would disrupt". The League is neutral on this legislation.
 
  • SB 8 - TAX CREDITS-OHIO OPPORTUNITY ZONE. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize tax credits for investments in an Ohio Opportunity Zone. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bills sponsor said the legislation would allow investors to receive a 1% tax creed on project investments exceeding $250,000 with a potential additional 2% in five years. Sen. Schuring said the bill is about "incentivizing investment in Ohio". The League is still looking into this legislation.
 
  • SB 35 - ENHANCED HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION. Sponsored by Sen. Brenner (R - Powell), would allow an enhanced homestead exemption for surviving spouses of public safety personnel killed in the line of duty. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor said the legislation, which is a reintroduction from the previous GA, would increase the homestead exemption maximum from $25,000 to $50,000. The League is supportive of this legislation.
 
  • SB 52 - CYBER SECURITY. Sponsored by Sen. Gaverone (R - Bowling Green), would create the civilian cyber security reserve forces, to make the Secretary of State a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, require the Secretary of State to appoint a chief information security officer, to require the boards of elections to audit election results, and make an appropriation. During its first hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, the sponsor explained that under this bill, "a local mayor, elected official or private business will contact the governor's office if they are unable to handle a cyber-security threat with their resources alone." The League is supportive of this legislation.
   

OHIO EPA LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADVISORY COMMITTTEE SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR SUBCOMMITTEE

EPA's Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) provides critical advice on the development and implementation of Agency programs at the local level. The EPA is looking for nominations for LGAC members and for the Small Community Advisory Subcommittee (for communities under 10,000) by March 15th for consideration for Spring 2019 appointments. They anticipate that they will fill 10-12 vacancies in 2019. For more information, go to: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-21/html/2019-03000.htm.
EPA will consider candidates from local, state, and tribal government elected and appointed officials. They are strongly encouraging representation from diverse backgrounds: demographics, geographic, cultural, ethnicity and political. (see attached). Nominees must be willing and able to attend 2-3 meetings a year and fully participate in the Subcommittee or workgroup activities (usually via teleconference). The LGAC has one standing subcommittee which is the Subcommittee on Small Communities (SCAS), focused on small communities under 10,000.
The credentials of all applicants/nominees will be fully considered, but viable candidates must - at a minimum - fall within the vocational/experiential parameters outlined in the summary above. In addition to experience in local and/or state government, additional criteria to be considered may include:
  • Experience with public-private partnerships; coalition-building and grass-roots involvement; implementation of environmental regulatory programs, whether federally-delegated, state-required or locally-mandated, including permitting programs;
  • Brownfields, Superfund clean-up, air and water quality, and solid waste management; and, rural and/or small community economic development;
  • Diversity in vocational/career background, including private sector/industry experience, agricultural sector experience, professional affiliations; and,
  • Demonstrated familiarity with local, regional and national environmental issues, also may be considered.
 
 LGAC members are appointed for 1-2 year terms and are eligible for reappointment. The Committee meets several times a year, and the Administrator may ask members to serve on Subcommittees and Workgroups to develop reports and recommendations to address specific policy issues. The average workload for members is approximately 4 to 6 hours per month. While the EPA is unable to provide compensation for services, official Committee travel and related expenses (lodging, etc.) will be fully reimbursed.   
If you are interested in being nominated by the Ohio Municipal League, please send the requested information along with your name, full resume, and short biography March 13th, 2019 to Director of Communications Ashley Brewster at abrewster@omlohio.org.  

Ohio Municipal League Meetings & Trainings

Integrated Risk Management for Ohio Public Entities Seminars
January 23, January 24 & February 27
Registration Information
HERE
OML/OMAA Webinar: Feb 28th 
Dealing with people you can't stand - Commuincation in the workplace
Registration Information 

Ohio Municipal League

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

Website/Bulletin Issues:
Zoë Wade, Office Manager