| November 16, 2018
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- Senator Larry Obhof (R - Medina) was re-elected as Senate President for the 133rd General Assembly, which will begin in January 2019. The Senate Republican caucus also re-elected Sen. Bob Peterson (R - Sabina) as President Pro Tempore as well as Sen. Randy Gardner (R - Bowling Green) as Majority Floor Leader. The new edition to majority Senate leadership was Sen. Matt Huffman (R - Lima) as Majority Whip.
- Ohio's final election results reveal that Republicans won 73 out of the 116 races for the legislature, securing 63% of the seats and 50% of the total vote. Additionally, Republicans won 75% of the seats in the state's 16 congressional districts by securing 52% of the vote. The House membership now stands at 62 Republican and 37 Democratic, while the Senate stands at 25 Republican and 8 Democratic.
- On Wednesday, both the House and the Senate overrode a veto from Governor Kasich. Kasich had previously vetoed legislation that granted lawmakers more oversight of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The Senate voted first, approving the override 24-8, while afterwards the House approved it 69-22.
HOUSES PASSES STAND-YOUR-GROUND LEGISLATION WITH LOCAL PREEMPTION
On Wednesday, the House voted HB 228, sponsored by Rep. Johnson (R - McDermott) and Rep. LaTourette (R - Chagrin Falls), out of the House chamber. The vote, 64-26, was largely along party lines and commenced after a heated debate.
HB 228 make a variety of changes to Ohio's gun law, including:
- Modifying the state's preemption of local firearm regulations and related remedies
- Assigning to the prosecution the burden of disproving a self-defense or related claim
- Expanding the locations at which a person has no duty to retreat before using force under both civil and criminal law
- Limiting the use of the affirmative defense of self-defense, defense of another, or defense of a person's residence under both civil and criminal law
- Modifying the Concealed Handgun Licensing Law regarding the carrying of additional identification and a licensee's duty to keep the licensee's hands in plain sight
- Modifying penalties for illegally carrying a concealed firearm or improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle
- Expanding the offense and penalties for unlawful transactions in weapons
- Repealing the required posting of warning signs regarding the possession of weapons on specified premises; to provide an affirmative defense to improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle for handguns in the vehicle without the defendant's knowledge
- Barring any subsidized residential premises lease from requiring a tenant to agree to a restriction on a lawful firearm, a firearm component, or ammunition within the tenant's rental dwelling unit
- Excluding certain firearms from the definitions of "sawed-off firearm" and "dangerous ordnance"
Most notably for municipalities, the bill was amended to include a provision that preempts municipalities from enacting any kind of firearm restriction, even if that restriction does not contradict state law. Additionally, the amendment grants any citizen who feels as though a city or village has infringed on their 2nd Amendment rights to sue the city, while mandating that if the city is found guilty, it must pay damages to that citizen.
This amendment is the reason the League is opposed to HB 228. Municipalities have the right to ensure local ordinances reflect the desires and beliefs of their constituents, so long as those ordinances do not contradict state law. What works in an urban city likely does not work for a rural village. The Ohio Constitution grants Home Rule authority to municipalities in recognition that a government closest to the people governs best, and each city and village should be equipped to serve and protect their unique communities.
The League will continue to track this legislation as it moves to the Senate and we will continue our opposition of the bill. Governor Kasich has publicly stated that if the legislation reaches his desk, he will veto the measure, leaving it to the will of the legislature to pursue an override of a Governor's veto. We encourage our members to contact their state senators to educate them about this amendment and the potential consequences it would have on your community.
OML AND OTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS SIGN LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR HB 415
The Ohio Municipal League, along with the Ohio Township Association and the County Engineers Association of Ohio have signed a letter urging a hearing for HB 415, sponsored by Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake). HB 415 would allocate one-half of any surplus revenue in the state's general fund to a new Local Government Improvement Fund at the end of a fiscal year.
The letter reads in part: "HB 415 creates a new revenue source for funding transportation without raising taxes. Utilizing existing surplus funds to invest in Ohio infrastructure will create long-term, tangible capital assets. In addition to the immediate creation of jobs during construction, stronger, safer transportation infrastructure facilitates job creation, tax revenues and overall economic growth for years to come."
Additionally, the letter details the pressing need for investment in transportation infrastructure funding, such as the D+ on Ohio's infrastructure report card in 2017 from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It goes on to highlight the fact that the reduction in the Local Government Fund, combined with the loss of other revenue sources, has left local governments unable to maintain the hundreds of thousands of road lane miles in their jurisdiction.
We ask that the Senate favorably passes HB 415 and send it to the Governor's desk to grant much-needed relief to local governments. We also want to encourage our members to contact their senators and urge their support of HB 415. If you want to read the letter in its entirety, click
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES HOLDS 2018 CITY SUMMIT IN LA
Last week, the League's Executive Director Kent Scarrett and Legal Counsel Garry Hunter along with a strong contingent of municipal officials from across Ohio attended the National League of Cities' 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles, CA. Over 3,800 city leaders from all 50 states attended the four-day conference. Attendees could attend over 50 networking events or explore various city solutions from over 250 exhibitors in the Expo Hall. Additionally, NLC membership elected officers for 2019. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, IN, was elected President of NLC, while Councilmember Joe Buscanio of Los Angeles was elected Vice President.
The League expresses our condolences for those families and friends impacted by the devastating wild fires that have been so destructive in central and northern California.
During the three general sessions, attendees heard from several incredible speakers, such as Elon Musk, Maria Shriver, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, CNN's Ron Brownstein and Esri CEO Jack Dangermond. The League wants to thank NLC for an incredible experience, and we encourage our members to attend 2019's City Summit in San Antonio, TX. Ohio's local leaders should take advantage of this incredible networking, sharing and learning opportunity.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBER
The League is pleased to announce that Mayor Steve Patterson of Athens has been elected to the National League of Cities' Board of Directors. Mayor Patterson formerly served on the Athens City Council and was an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota and a PhD in Medical Psychology from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He has been Athens' Mayor since 2015.
The League congratulates Mayor Patterson to on his election to NLC's Board of Directors, and we know he will be an effective advocate for cities not just in Ohio, but across the nation.
COMMITTEE HEARINGS FOR BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
- SB 203 - MUNICIPAL TAXATION. Sponsored by Sen. Dolan (R - Chagrin Falls), would reinstate the municipal income tax "throw-back rule" used in apportioning business income among municipalities. The bill, though scheduled for a hearing, was not heard at Sen. Dolan's request. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- SB 17 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUND ALLOCATION. Sponsored by Rep. Tavares (D - Columbus), would increase monthly allocations to the Local Government Fund from 1.66% to 3.68% of the total tax revenue credited to the General Revenue Fund each month. During its first hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that the cuts to the Local Government Funding resulted in $411 million in lost revenue to local governments. Rep. Tavares said the cuts were made during the economic downturn, and now was the time to restore the fund to its previous allocations. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 654 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING. Sponsored by Rep. Smith (D - Euclid) and Rep. Boggs (D - Columbus), would make a supplemental appropriation under the budget of the Auditor of State to make disbursements to political subdivisions appearing on the Auditor of State's fiscal caution, fiscal watch, or fiscal emergency list during the FY 2018-FY 2019 biennium. During its first hearing before the House Finance Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the bill uses funds from the state's "Rainy Day Fund" to stabilize communities that are struggling financially. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- SB 269 - ROAD REPAIRS. Sponsored by Rep. Yuko (D - Richmond Heights), would make supplemental appropriations in order to provide political subdivisions with funding for road maintenance repairs. During its first hearing before the Senate Finance committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill allocated $30 million to local governments for road repairs. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 522 - LIQUOR PERMITTING. Sponsored by Rep. Lanese (R - Grove City), wouldallow an outdoor refreshment area to include temporary F liquor permit holders. During its first hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill corrects an oversight in a previously passed Open Container law and will allow people to carry alcohol to an outdoor refreshment area. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 469 - TAX CREDIT. Sponsored by Rep. Schuring (R - Canton) and Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville), would authorize a nonrefundable insurance company tax credit for contributions of capital to transformational mixed-use development projects. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the committee heard from both the bill's sponsor and several proponents. Two developers testified in support of the bill, saying that building mixed-use buildings can transform the neighborhood and catalyze both public and private funding in investment and building for the community. The League is supportive of this legislation and submitted written testimony, which you can read HERE.
- HB 425 - BODY CAMERAS. Sponsored by Rep. Antani (R - Miamisburg) and Rep. Craig (D - Columbus), would provide that specified portions of peace officers' body-worn camera recordings and the infrastructure record of a public school are not public records for purposes of the Public Records Law. During its first hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the bill establishes that police body camera footage is public record, with exceptions crafted to protect the privacy of individuals. Rep. Antanti also said, after questions from other legislators, that he is willing to look into amending the bill to allow public defenders to view exempted footage and to allow reporters to view exempted videos but not publish or broadcast them. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 291 - GOVERNMENT INSURANCE. Sponsored by Rep. Wiggam (R - Wooster), the bill would authorize counties, townships, and municipal corporations to purchase an employee dishonesty and faithful performance of duty insurance policy, instead of a bond, for protection from loss due to the fraudulent or dishonest actions of, and the failure to perform a duty prescribed by law by an officer, official, employee, or appointee for which a bond is required by law. During its second hearing before the Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs committee, proponent testimony was given by the Ohio Association of School Business Officials and the Ohio School Boards Association. The League is supportive of this legislation and submitted written testimony, which you can read HERE.
- HB 53 - UNION DUES. Sponsored by Rep. Becker (R - Union Township), would remove any requirement under the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Law that public employees join or pay dues to any employee organization, prohibit public employers from requiring public employees to join or pay dues to any employee organization, prohibit an employee organization from being required to represent public employees who are not members of the employee organization, and make an appropriation. During its first hearing before the House Finance Committee, the bill's sponsored said the bill codifies the U.S. Supreme Court ruling is Janus vs. AFSCME. Several Democratic legislators asked questions challenging the legislation, saying it weakened the negotiating power of unions and therefore weakened the ability of the unions to protect workers. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 148 - HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS. Sponsored by Rep. Patmon (D - Cleveland), would require statewide registration of home improvement contractors, create the Home Improvement Board, and make an appropriation. During its first hearing in the House Finance Committee, the bill's sponsor said the intent is to create a standard for home improvement contractors under the Department of Commerce. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HJR 16 - WATER IMPROVEMENTS. Rep. Arndt (R - Port Clinton) and Rep. Patterson (D - Jefferson) proposes to enact Section 2t of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to permit the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund clean water improvements. During its first hearing before the House Finance Committee, the resolution's sponsors explained that allows for a constitutional amendment that would fund clean water improvements across the state, allowing the legislature to ask for bonding authority in order to raise up to $1 billion over 10 years for water and wastewater treatment programs. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 668 - PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS. Sponsored by Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville), would authorize state agencies, state institutions of higher education, counties, townships, municipal corporations, school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and college-preparatory boarding schools to enter into public-private initiatives with a private party through a public-private agreement regarding public facilities. During its first hearing before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill allows public entities to focus on its mission while allowing the private sector to manage risks. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 361 - TAX COMPLAINTS. Sponsored by Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake), would increase the time within which boards of revision must decide property tax complaints. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that the bills is a response to concerns expressed by county boards of revision that say the current 90-day limit is not enough time. The bill expands the deadline to 190 days. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 343 - PROPERTY VALUES. Sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), would require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners. During its third hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, representatives from several school districts across the state testified in opposition to the bill, saying that it attempts to restrict the schools from enacting property taxes. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 656 - LAW ENFORCEMENT DATABASE. Sponsored by Rep. Sheehy (D - Sheehy), would require the Attorney General to create and operate a database of information regarding law enforcement officers who have been terminated from employment, or resigned in lieu of termination, and to require law enforcement agencies to access the database for the sole purpose of determining eligibility of those officers for employment. During its first hearing before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that it would mandate the Attorney General create a database of all officers who have been reassigned or terminated and then require law enforcement agencies to consult this database before hiring an officer. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- SB 250 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. Sponsored by Rep. Hoagland (R - Adena), would prohibit criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and aggravated trespass on a critical infrastructure facility, to impose fines for organizations that are complicit in those offenses, and to impose civil liability for damage caused by trespass on a critical infrastructure facility. During its third hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee adopted two technical amendments: one that included mining operations in the definition of "critical infrastructure", and the other deleted language prohibiting drone use. The League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, the Ohio Green Party, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Buckeye Environmental Network and other environmental groups and private citizens all testified in opposition to the bill, arguing that it would infringe the free speech rights of environmental groups opposed to the oil and gas industry. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 747 - CYBERSECURITY. Sponsored by Rep. Romanchuk (R - Mansfield) and Rep. Lanese (R - Grove City), would create the civilian cyber security reserve force. During its first hearing before the House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security committee, the bill's sponsors explained that if created, Ohio Cyber Reserve will deter, remedy and mitigate cyberattacks on government entities. Local elected officials will contact the governor's office if they cannot handle a cyberattack, in which case the governor's office can authorize the National Guard to activate the Cyber Reserve. The bill outlines the creation of 10 teams divided amongst 5 regions across the state. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 715 - WATER/SEWER FUNDS. Sponsored Rep. Schuring (R - Canton) and Rep. West (D - Canton) would authorize a municipal corporation to use up to 5% of its water and sewer funds for sewerage or water system extensions in each fiscal year when the extension is for economic development purposes. During its first hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee, Rep. Schuring explained that the bill expands upon a pilot program in Canton that successfully spurred economic development. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HJR 14 - INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS. Sponsored by Rep. Smith (D - Euclid) and Rep. Lepore-Hagan (D - Youngstown), proposes to enact Section 2t of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to permit the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund sewer and water capital improvements. During its first hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee, the resolution's sponsors explained the measure is intended to make political subdivisions eligible to use state bonds to fund sewer and water capital improvements. The League is supportive of this resolution.