OML UPDATE AT A GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- The League has created a resource on our website for our members to utilize during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. We are collecting policies from municipalities related to declarations of emergency, HR policies and other relevant topics in addition to state and federal directives and policy guidelines. We will be continually updating this page so our members can use it as a source for the most recent developments in this ongoing crisis. You can access all this information at http://www.omlohio.org/167/Coronavirus-Disease-Resource-Page.
- Governor DeWine activated approximately 300 Ohio National Guard and Military Reserve members to mobilize Monday, March 23 to support the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks in the transportation, packaging and distribution of food to homes and community organizations in vulnerable and rural areas.
- Under the President's National Emergency Declaration, local governments are eligible to apply for public assistance and potential reimbursement for expenditures related to COVID-19 response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You can find more about eligibility and how to apply HERE.
LEAGUE PREPARES FOR RETURN OF LEGISLATURE, ESTABLISHES WEEKLY CONFERENCE CALLS WITH GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
The Ohio legislature will come back to Columbus to pass several emergency legislative measures next weekend then recess again for the foreseeable future. There are several immediate legislative issues that the House and the Senate will address pertaining to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
As the League prepares to begin working with and alongside the legislature to assist local governments in their response on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, we will continue to have standing conference calls several times per week with the Governor's office via the Local Government Impacts of COVID-19 Strike Force.
The force was formed to identify immediate and long-term challenges facing local governments as they respond to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, make recommendations for the Governors consideration and ensure fast communications between the Governor's office and local governments. The League has appointed the League's Board of Trustees Pr
esident Sharon Cassler
, Clerk of Council for the City of Cambridge, and past board president Mike Barhorst, Mayor of the City of Sidney, to serve on this strike force as well.
This past week, the League produced a list of needs that was generated from conversations with League members that are facing their communities as they deal with the impact of the coronavirus. This brief list can be accessed HERE. We will continue to keep members of the Ohio General Assembly and the DeWine Administration apprised of the challenges facing local leaders across the state and ensure municipal efforts to respond to COVID-19 are recognized and supported by the state.
Here are the following updates on the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak:
- Ohio now has 169 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Friday afternoon. Cases are now found in 28 counties and have resulted in 39 hospitalizations, as well as one death in Lucas County.
- The League wants to make our members aware that we have cancelled the annual Mayors Association of Ohio conference in June. We will let our members know when we are able to reschedule once that information is available.
- We also want to make our members aware that the COVID-19 Employment webinar hosted by the League and the Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association is available for download HERE.
- The Ohio Attorney General has issued an opinion regarding the suspension of jury trials during the pandemic. You can access this opinion HERE.
- Before the Tuesday primary election, Dr. Acton ordered all polling locations to be closed. A copy of the order is attached. Additionally, Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive to county boards of elections that primary election day will be on June 2nd. From now until May 26th, voters may request absentee ballots on VoteOhio.gov and submit absentee ballots by June 1st.
- The majority of Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices to have been ordered to close. Five centers will remain open and some online services will continue to operate. To comply with this order, law enforcement officers have been instructed not to issue tickets for expired drivers licenses.
- Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor announced the Supreme Court will issue $4 million dollars to courts for technology improvements. The Supreme Court is staying open and local courts have been urged to do the same. Courts should also prioritize work, suspend non-essential jury trials, refrain from foreclosure hearings and use discretion to release non-violent offenders who are highly at-risk.
- Gov. DeWine signed an executive order authorizing the Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to issue temporary pandemic child care licenses to help ensure childcare is available for children of parents employed in fields providing health, safety, and other essential services.
- Fitness centers, gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, water parks, trampoline centers were ordered to close.
- All spas, tattoo parlors, barber shops, beauty salons and internet cafes have been ordered to close.
- Effective on close of business on Monday, March 23, Gov. DeWine signed an executive order closing senior citizen centers as well as senior daycare centers.
- The National League of Cities (NLC) has submitted a $100 billion ask for direct funding in block grants to cities. You can read the letter that was sent to all Senate and House offices HERE. Members are encouraged to contact their Congressperson to voice their support of this ask.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendation to limit gatherings to 50 people, while the White House recommends limiting gatherings to 10 people.
- The President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, a bill that will bring relief to workers and families. You can read a fact sheet about the bill HERE.
- Separately, the White House has a current proposal to stabilize the economy that includes sending $250 billion in checks directly to Americans in two waves. An additional $300 billion would be made available for small business loans, and another $200 billion for unspecified stabilization funds. The proposal would also defer tax payments. In all, the proposal could cost over $1 trillion.
- Senate Democrats are working on a separate proposal, which is reported to be a package of $750 billion that includes additional emergency aid for hospitals, expanded unemployment insurance, additional small business funds, childcare support, and food assistance for seniors.
- The U.S. Treasury has announced taxpayers will get a three-month extension from filing their taxes, while the Pentagon is preparing Navy Hospital Ships Mercy and Comfort for Coronavirus Response and has also announced it will give 5 million respirators and 2,000 ventilators to Health and Human Services.
- Gov. DeWine recently issued an executive order granting ODJFS the ability to approve requests to suspend the normal one-week waiting period for unemployment compensation. You can access an FAQ regarding COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits HERE.
- Ohioans can apply for unemployment online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at unemployment.ohio.gov or by phone at (1-877-644-6562) or via text at (888) 642-8203, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved the request to allow small businesses and nonprofits in Ohio to apply for low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million through the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Loan applications can be completed online at disasterloan.sba.gov or applicants can obtain a paper application by calling 1-800-659-2955.
- Additional information about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov for assistance.
- Employers are strongly encouraged to screen employees and check temperatures daily to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.
- Gov. DeWine recommends that businesses take an aggressive approach to clean and sanitize all surfaces. He also recommends that employees' temperatures be taken on a daily basis and that if an employee has a high temperature, they should be sent home.
- Ohio Department of Health Director (ODH) Dr. Amy Acton announced an order limiting elective surgeries. This applies to animals and exempts procedures for preservation of life, organ, or limb; procedures to stop the progression of severe symptoms and procedures to stop the metastasis of cancer.
- Gov. DeWine has issued an executive order that will expand access to medical and behavioral health services using telehealth. Patients will not need to have an existing relationship with a healthcare professional to utilize these services.
UPDATE ON ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OPINION ON OPEN MEETINGS
The Governor's Emergency Orders, which preclude in-
meetings, has created a conflict with the Ohio Open Meetings statute which requires Council Meetings and Committee meetings to be in person. The Ohio Attorney General issued a letter saying in this time of emergency, video conference or live streaming could be used. You can read this letter HERE.
The Ohio Municipal League feels that since the statute is very specific with no exceptions, the state legislature needs to enact an exception to the in person requirement in this time of governor declared emergency. The Ohio Municipal League and Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association have been in contact with the Governor, the Ohio Attorney General and the State Legislature to communicate concerns that that since the statute is very specific with no exceptions, the state legislature needs to enact an exception to the in person requirement in this time of governor declared emergency.
We expected legislation
will most likely be introduced early next week and we will share any new developments with our members as they occur.
PUBLIC UTIITY COMMISSION OF OHIO (PUCO) GUIDANCE ON UTILITY SUSPENSION
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) requested l
that utilities to suspend disconnection, and waive any requirements for reconnections for both residential and business customers.
The PUCO is requesting that utilities ensure they edit their automated billing systems to stop sending disconnection notices even though they are not following through with those disconnections.
Utilities and customers can access the following resources:
- PUCO extends utility reconnect order HERE.
- Utility companies directed to review disconnection and social contact policies HERE:
- Utility customers are encouraged to contact the PUCO online with any questions or concerns HERE.
LEAGUE MOURNS THE PASSING OF FORMER LEGAL COUNSEL JOHN GOTHERMAN
The League regrets to inform our members of the passing of our formal legal counsel John Gotherman.
Born in 1933 in Port William, Ohio, John graduated from University High School, Columbus, Ohio in 1951. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1955 from The Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Capital Law School) in 1961. He began practicing law in
in 1961 and joined the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Calfee, Halter and Griswold as a partner in 1980.
John joined the League as a research associate in 1957 before becoming research director in 1960. In 1965, he became legal counsel for the Ohio Municipal League and continued in that position until his retirement inn September 2015. In 1993, he helped create the Ohio Municipal League Joint Self-insurance Pool and also served as the secretary-treasurer to the Ohio Municipal Attorney's Association.
John was a vital part of the Ohio Municipal League and an incredible advocate for Ohio's cities and villages. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and he will be sorely missed.
OHIO EPA OPENS DRAFT RULE ON RECYCLING FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued a draft rule for public comment. The draft rule contains requirements for solid waste management districts for achieving recycling and reduction goals established in Ohio's 2020 State Solid Waste Management Plan. The Agency is seeking comments from interested stakeholders (public, local officials, industry sectors, other state agencies, consultants and environmental organizations) who may be impacted by these rule revisions.
General comments and specific factual information are welcome. In addition to the draft rule amendments, Ohio EPA is also seeking comments and feedback on the draft Common Sense Initiative (CSI) Business Impact Analysis (BIA) form, which is being released with these draft rules during interested party review. You can access the draft rule HERE.
Please submit your comments by email to
or by postal mail to:
Michelle Mountjoy - Rules Coordinator
Ohio EPA, Division of Materials and Waste Management
P.O. Box 1049 Columbus, OH 43216-1049
Comments on the draft rules must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on April 13, 2020.
NEW LEGISLATION OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
- SB 293 - OPEN MEETINGS. Sponsored by Sen. Manning (R - N. Ridgeville) and Sen. Blessing (R - Cincinnati) To create a procedure within the Court of Claims to hear complaints alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Law.