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February 7, 2020  

OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
 
  • The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) has announced the board has approved a substantial expansion of the Safety Grants program. The grants will be increased by 75%, or an additional $30 million for FY 20-21. Both public and private employers are eligible for up to $40,000 for training and equipment to reduce risk of workplace illness and injury. To find out more, click HERE.
  • Seven grants totaling approximately $7 million have been awarded by the Ohio Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant (DERG) Program to replace 29 older diesel transit buses with buses powered either by electricity or compressed natural gas. For more information about the grant program, click HERE.
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that 80 of all 88 Ohio counties are now 100 percent compliant with his election security directive, while seven more intend to become compliant over the next two weeks before the start of early voting. The Van Wert County Board of Elections has been placed under administrative oversight due to its lack of a plan to become compliant.
 
 
 
HOUSE PASSES BILL OVERHAULING SCHOOL VOUCHERS AND ELIMINATING SCHOOL TAKEOVERS BY STATE
 
This week, the House passed SB 89, sponsored by Sen. Huffman (R - Lima), with amendments creating a new school voucher system and dissolving all academic distress commissions. (Link: https://bit.ly/3biveMI ). This is the most recent bill in a series of legislative efforts to make substantial changes to school vouchers in Ohio.
 
Much of the ongoing debate centers around the Ohio Education Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program, which gives students in designated public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools while also providing scholarship opportunities to low-income students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
 
Currently, 517 public schools are eligible for EdChoice vouchers list. Eligibility is determined by school performance; if a school is identified as failing, students are able to instead attend private school. If the legislature does not make any changes to the current program, 1,227 schools will become eligible for the voucher program in the next school year.
 
In late January, HB 9, sponsored by Rep. Jones (R - Freeport) and Rep. Sweeney (D - Cleveland) and written to modify eligibility for the EdChoice Program, was amended in Conference Committee by the Senate. (Link: https://bit.ly/2H38qCA). The number of eligible schools was capped at 420 schools and the qualifying limit of income-based vouchers was increased to 300% of the Federal poverty level, which is $78,000 for a family of four. The House then refused to concur on the Senate's changes.
 
Also in late January, the Governor signed another education bill, SB 120, sponsored by Sen. McColley (R - Napoleon) and Sen. Rulli (R - Salem). (Link: https://bit.ly/378XUUV ). That bill was initially drafted to allow the Auditor of State to conduct performance audits on institutions of higher education. Before it was signed, several amendments were passed by the House, including a temporary 60-day delay for the voucher application process and a $10 million appropriation to cover new vouchers if a fix to the EdChoice program is not made.
 
The House-passed version of SB 89 replaces the EdChoice program with the Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship Program, which determines eligibility by family income instead of school performance grade. The bill would also dissolve the academic distress commissions (ADCs) for Easy Cleveland, Lorain and Youngstown, thus preventing the state takeover of those school districts. No more ADCs could be created until 2024. The Senate has adjourned for the near future and it is not clear what action they will take on these changes. We will continue to keep our members updated as this issue progresses.
 
 
 
 
BILL ENABLES MUNICIPALITIES TO ENCOURAGE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
 
This week, a substitute bill was adopted for a bill that would allow municipalities to encourage new home construction and existing home renovations.
 
SB 212, sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize townships and municipal corporations to designate areas within which new homes and improvements to existing homes are wholly or partially exempted from property taxation. (Link: https://bit.ly/389b5GM ). During its fourth hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, a substitute bill was adopted that does the following:
 
  • Stipulates the ordinance or resolution adopted by the municipality or township designating the Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) must include findings that demonstrate that there is a current lack of adequate housing and that the NDA will encourage new construction and home improvement that would not have occurred without it;
  • Requires the ordinance or resolution to provide a projection of how the NDA will enhance property values and thereby ultimately generate additional tax revenues;
  • Mandates that the municipality or township must notify the school district within the NDA that it is seeking a 100% property tax exemption for qualified projects within the NDA. It also requires that the township or municipality to attempt in good faith to negotiate with the school district a mutually acceptable agreement for the 100% exemption. If after 60 days of the notice to the school district an agreement hasn't been reached, the exemption shall be 70%.
The executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association, Vince Squillace, said during his proponent testimony that the bill would generate the construction of affordable housing. His testimony cited statistics demonstrating a drop in Ohio housing over the decade from 2007 to 2017 and said that in central Ohio alone, there is an approximate shortage of 50,000 houses.

The League is grateful to Sen. Schuring for his work helping Ohio's cities and villages encourage the construction and renovation of affordable housing. We will continue to update our members as this bill moves through the legislative process.
 

 
ODOT EXPANDS FUNDING FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SAFETY PROJECTS
 
Thanks to July's increase in the motor fuel tax, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will no longer require a 10 percent local contribution for safety projects, but will now cover 100 percent of the project costs.
 
While funding requests usually range from $200,000 to $5 million, ODOT will consider funding requests up to $10 million. Eligible projects include adding turn lanes, reconstructing rural curves and upgrading signs, signals and pavement markings.
 
Applications are accepted twice a year with deadlines on April 30 and September 30. Abbreviated applications are accepted any time during the year for projects totaling $500,000 or less. For more information and to apply, click HERE.
 
ODOT will also allocate an additional $10 million to the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Program, which targets safety improvements for pedestrians or bikers in large urban areas. Eligible projects could include improvements to curb ramps, raised crosswalks, pedestrian refugee islands, pedestrian countdown signals, street lights, pavement markings and signage for crosswalks. Interested applicants should contact the safety coordinator in their ODOT district.
 
 
 
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
Here is a new bill that would impact municipalities that was introduced this week:
 
  • HB 490 - VEHICLE FEES. Sponsored by Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake) and Rep. Sheehy (D - Oregon), would provide for the proration of the plug-in electric and hybrid motor vehicle registration fees. The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/387fom1)
 
 
 
COMMITTEE UPDATE: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
Here are the bill impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
 
  • SB 190 - INCOME TAX CREDIT. Sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), would allow an income tax credit for law enforcement officials who purchase safety or protective items to be used in the course of official law enforcement activities. During its third hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill was amended to narrow the list of items law enforcement could use the tax credits to purchase. Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler also testified in support of the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2H1uSMy)
 
  • HB 421 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Sponsored by Rep. Smith (R - Germantown), and Rep. Blair (D - Weathersfield), would 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. During its second hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, a representative from the UC Health system testified in support of the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/2Svfw8y)
 
  • HB 425 - CONCEALED WEAPONS. Sponsored by Rep. Wiggam, (R - Wooster), would modify the requirement that a concealed handgun licensee must notify a law enforcement officer that the licensee is authorized to carry a concealed handgun and is carrying a concealed handgun when stopped. During its second hearing before the House Federalism Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill changes the law to require a carrier of a concealed handgun to notify law enforcement that he has a concealed handgun license when asked to produce state identification. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/31BfIaq)
 
  • SB 39 - INSURANCE TAX. Sponsored by Sen. Schuring (R - Canton), would authorize an insurance premiums tax credit for capital contributions to transformational mixed use development projects. During its fifth hearing before the House Economic and Workforce Development Committee, a substitute bill was adopted make the Ohio Tax Credit Authority the program administrator instead of the director of the Development Services Agency, sunset the law on June 30, 2022 and grant lien rights to commercial real estate brokers. The League is supportive of this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/39aVlTZ)
 
  • HB 137 - EMPLOYEE EARNINGS. Sponsored by Rep. Kelly (D - Cincinnati) and Rep. Vitale (R - Urbana), would require an employer to provide earnings and deductions statements to each of the employer's employees. During its first hearing before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, the bill's sponsors explained the bill would require employers to provide pay statement access to employees. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2SkVuNM)
 
  • HB 253 - FIREWORKS LAW. Sponsored by Rep. Manning (R - New Middletown) and Rep. O'Brien (D - Warren), would revise the Fireworks Law. During its third hearing before the House Commerce and Labor Committee, opponents including the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Prevent Blindness testified in opposition to the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/2Sngu6t)


COMMITTEE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 9, 2020
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
SENATE WAYS AND MEANS
Tue., Feb. 11, 2020, 11:15 AM, Senate Finance Hearing Room
Sen. Roegner: 614-466-4823
 
SURVIVING SPOUSES-HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION (GINTER T) To allow an enhanced homestead exemption for surviving spouses of public safety personnel killed in the line of duty. 
 
First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
AUTHORIZE TOWNSHIPS-EXEMPT PROPERTY TAX (SCHURING K) To authorize townships and municipal corporations to designate areas within which new homes and improvements to existing homes are wholly or partially exempted from property taxation. 
 
Fifth Hearing, All Testimony, POSSIBLE VOTE
 
Report(s):  My Tracked Bills, OML Legislative Report
CHECK OUR WEBSITE MONDAY 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
February 12, 2020 11:00 am ~ 12:00 pm
"Top Errors Municipalities make in the Discipline Process "

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