LEGISLATURE TAKES RECESS NEXT WEEK
Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the Legislature is currently not scheduled to be in session next week and no committees are currently scheduled to meet.
Over this long weekend, when our state representatives and senators are back in their districts and are out at parades and other civic events, we strongly encourage our municipal officials to talk with their local state elected officials about issues important to their communities. Some of the most pressing issues we see that the legislature could be helpful to cities and villages include the need for greater investment by the state in our dilapidated infrastructure system; the importance of municipalities ability to control their revenues locally, not have the state collect and redistribute a community's municipal tax revenues for them; and to stop preempting the ability of our elected municipal officials to make decisions best for their own communities and remove the heavy hand of state government on the ability of local leaders to lead.
There are a host of other issues confronting Ohio's municipalities that state elected officials should be engaged in, but the important point is that our members continue to reach out and speak with those they sent to the Statehouse to represent the best interests of the communities in their district.
We hope everyone has a safe and joyful Memorial Day weekend and takes time this week to reflect on those that have gone before us and have contributed so much to our lives.
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- The Ohio House of Representatives, after two weeks of deliberation, still have yet to select someone to be the interim Speaker of the House until January 2019. The House was scheduled to vote on an interim Speaker this week, but cancelled each of the three scheduled votes. The House does not plan to meet for a voting session until a Speaker is elected.
- Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced the largest number of new business filings for one month in state history. In April, 12,874 businesses filed to do business in the state.
- Ohio's unemployment rate continues to be at its lowest in 16 years, with the rate in April dropping to 4.3%.
OML REGIONAL CONFERENCES COMING SOON
Last week, the Ohio Municipal League held the first Regional Conference in Athens and we believe it was a significant success and are grateful for all of the positive feedback we have received from our members who attended the training session. The League would like to thank each and every attendee who took the time out of their busy schedules to join us in beautiful southeastern Ohio. The day was a great success, and we are looking forward to the three remaining Regional Conferences coming up these next few months!
The goal of these Regional Conferences is to provide an opportunity for League members prevented from attending our three-day Annual Conference held in downtown Columbus, either because of distance constraints or other issues to have access to the timely information our members receive at our annual conference and to experience some of the opportunities that the conference provides. In an attempt to reach our members unable to attend the annual three day conference, we have put together a single day program of general session topics with presentations by featured speakers who are experts in their municipal sectors.
The Regional Conferences are an invaluable opportunity for municipal officials statewide to have the ability to be presented with critical information directly related to the success of their own communities, as well as connect and network with other local leaders in their area. This opportunity is not limited to League members but is a great opportunity for all municipal and local government officials to refresh their skill sets and get the most recent information on critical topics.
Registration information including the conference agenda can be accessed HERE.
The dates and locations for the remaining three Regional Conferences are as follows:
- Southwest: Friday, June 8th at the Manor House Banquet Center in Mason.
- Northeast: Friday, June 29th at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
- Northwest: Friday, August 17th at the Hancock Hotel in Findlay.
We encourage you to sign up as soon as possible, as space will be limited, and we look forward to seeing you there!
MUNICIPAL WATER SERVICES PREEMPTION BILL GETS TWO HEARINGS THIS WEEK
A former budget amendment that was vetoed last year by Governor Kasich is back as its own bill. HB 602, sponsored by Rep. Duffey (R - Worthington) and Rep. Lanese (R - Grove City), would penalize a municipal corporation for engaging in certain actions related to its provision of water and sewer services outside of its territory by reducing or withholding payments the municipal corporation receives from the Local Government Fund and rendering the municipal corporation ineligible for state water and sewer development funds.
During its first hearing on Tuesday before the House Finance Committee, Reps. Duffey and Lanese provided sponsor testimony, stating that they are concerned with municipal rates charged to township residents on water and sewer, and with cities withholding water and sewer services from townships to force annexation or "pay to play". During its second hearing on Wednesday morning, the House Finance Committee heard proponent testimony from Sharon Township Trustee Laura Kunze and the Ohio Township Association.
The League stands opposed to any preemption of municipalities by the state. We believe HB 602 violates Ohio's Home Rule authorities by interfering with a municipality's ability to charge fair and necessary fees for providing the complicated infrastructure required to allow neighboring political subdivisions to benefit from the construction and maintenance of its water and sewer lines.
We will be sure to keep our members aware of any future action on this bill and will make a call for testimony if an opponent hearing is scheduled. For those interested in testifying, please contact the League's Director of Communications, Ashley Brewster, at
GUN BILL WITH WRECKLESS MUNICIPAL PREEMPTIONS PASSED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
This week, a bill that began as "stand-your-ground" gun legislation was voted out of committee with serious preemptions on cities and villages across the state. HB 228, sponsored by Rep. Johnson (R - McDermott) and Rep. LaTourette (R - Chagrin Falls), would assign to the prosecution the burden of disproving a self-defense or related claim, expand the locations at which a person has no duty to retreat before using force under both civil and criminal law, and to modify the Concealed Handgun Licensing Law regarding a licensee's duty to keep the licensee's hands in plain sight, the penalties for illegally carrying a concealed firearm or improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, and the posting of warning signs regarding the possession of weapons on specified premises.
The bill contains numerous preemptions aimed at restricting a municipality's ability to manage access to certain firearms and ammunition and allows constituents who feel as though their Second Amendment rights have been violated by the municipality to sue for damages.
During its seventh hearing before the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, opponents from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America asked the committee to reconsider passing the bill in light of a high school shooting in Texas last week that ended the lives of 10 people. The bill was passed out of committee on "party lines" where all of the democrat members voted against the bill while republican committee members all supported the measure.
We ask that our members contact their local representative and express their opposition to HB 228 due to its clear violation of Municipal Home Rule and not support the bill in the event that the House elects a Speaker and can actually consider legislation to be passed by the lower chamber.
BILL PREEMPTING LOCAL LICENSING GETS FIRST HEARING
A bill preempting local licensing laws for municipalities received its first hearing in committee this week. HB 583, sponsored by Rep. Henne (R - Clayton), would limit the occupational license and registration requirements and fees that a political subdivision may impose on state-regulated occupations, establish a waiver exempting certain persons from paying occupational license or registration fees, and revise the licensing restrictions applicable to individuals convicted of criminal offenses.
During its first hearing before the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee, the bill's sponsor said the state would become the sole licensing entity for the professions in question. As Rep. West (D - Canton) pointed out, this will limit the ability of municipalities to deal with licensing issues at the local level.
The League is opposed to this bill and maintains that municipalities have the right to enact local licensing requirements, insuring accountability measures are in place and the best interests of the local community where work is performed are respected. This ability ensures that the needs and issues of each municipality are addressed locally.
We will continue to report on any action taken on this bill. For those interested in testifying against HB 583 in the event that it receives additional hearings, please contact the League's Director of Communications, Ashley Brewster, at
FLOOR ACTION FOR BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Below is legislation voted out of the Senate this week impactful to municipalities:
- SB 252 - VISITORS BUREAUS. Sponsored by Sen. Peterson (R - Sabina), this bill would 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. During its fifth hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill was voted out of committee unanimously. The full Senate then passed the legislation unanimously later that same day. The League is neutral on this legislation.
LEGISLATION OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST: COMMITTEE RECAP
Here are the bills that received hearings in committees this week:
- HB 643 - WATER IMPROVEMENTS. Sponsored by Rep. Arndt (R - Port Clinton) and Rep. Patterson (R - Jefferson), allow equipment for the protection and preservation of Lake Erie to be purchased with proceeds from the Parks and Recreation Improvement Fund and to appropriate funds for projects enhancing water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. During its second and third hearings before the House Finance Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the bill contains no regulations, but rather is designed to incentivize innovative solutions to address the phosphorus levels in Lake Erie. Proponents from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Nature Conservancy in Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund said the bill was a much-needed first step in understating how to decrease the lake's phosphorus levels. The League is supportive of this bill.
- HB 575 - VOLUNTEER TAX CREDITS. Sponsored by Rep. Keller (R - Middletown) and Rep. Rezabek (R - Clayton), this bill would grant income tax credits to persons who serve as volunteer firefighters or emergency medical service technicians. During its second hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, proponents from local nonprofits and firefighters said the incentives in the bill would help counter the lack of volunteer firefighters throughout the state. The League is neutral on this bill.
- HB 425 - POLICE BODY CAMERAS. Sponsored by Rep. Antani (R - Miamisburg) and Rep. Craig (D - Columbus), this bill 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 third hearing before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, an amendment was adopted which allows records that were confidential because they were part of a law enforcement investigation to be requested after the legal cases are resolved. The Ohio News Association offered proponent testimony and said that if several changes were introduced, Ohio could boast one of the best laws in the nation as far as police body cameras are concerned. The bill was then voted unanimously out of committee. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 469 - MIXED-USE TAX CREDITS. This bill, 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 seventh hearing before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, an amendment was adopted that adds a qualification requirement of 350,000 square feet of floor area to the bill. The bill was then voted unanimously out of committee. The League supports this bill and is grateful that the committee voted out legislation that promises to incentivize the economic revitalization that mixed-use buildings can bring to municipal downtown areas.
- HB 625 - AUXILIARY CONTAINERS. Sponsored by Rep. Lang (R - West Chester Township) and Rep. Lipps (R - Franklin), this bill would authorize a person to use an auxiliary container for any purpose, to prohibit a municipal corporation, charter county, or limited home rule township from imposing a tax or fee on auxiliary containers, and to clarify that the existing anti-littering law applies to auxiliary containers. During its first hearing before the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that they want to implement a ban on municipalities imposing a tax or fee on auxiliary containers, even though they explained that no municipalities have passed any such tax. The League is opposed to this legislation and will be testifying against the bill if an opponent hearing is scheduled.
- SB 296 - LAW ENFORCEMENT BENEFITS. This bill, sponsored by Sen. LaRose (R - Hudson) and Sen. Hottinger (R - Newark), would revise the payments that surviving family members receive from the Ohio Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund and to permit surviving spouses and children to participate in the health, dental, and vision benefits offered to state employees as if the survivors were employees of this state. During its second hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, proponents from local police departments, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Ohio Law Enforcement Line of Duty Death Surviving Spouses and Children and surviving members of a fallen police officer's family spoke to the need for this bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 621 - LAW ENFORCEMENT BENEFITS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Hughes (R - Columbus), would revise the payments that surviving family members receive from the Ohio Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund and to permit surviving spouses and children to participate in the health, dental, and vision benefits offered to state employees as if the survivors were employees of this state. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor explained how the bill updates Ohio law to extend the payments of a deceased police officer's benefits to his family through his full retirement date. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- SB 299 - LAKE ERIE IMPROVEMENTS. Sponsored by Sen. Gardner (R - Bowling Green) and Sen. O'Brien (D- Bazetta), this bill would allow equipment for the protection and preservation of Lake Erie to be purchased with proceeds from the Parks and Recreation Improvement Fund, and to appropriate funds for projects enhancing water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. During its second hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, proponents from organizations including the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, the Ohio Soybean Association and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio's Water Quality Task Force described the bill as "prudent" and "thoughtful." The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 482 - NUISANCE PROPERTIES. Sponsored by Rep. Lipps (R - Franklin) and Rep. Miller (D - Columbus), this bill would expedite public nuisance and blight foreclosure actions and to declare an emergency. During its first hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the legislation does not actually change Ohio's nuisance law, but rather speeds up the process by which communities can deal with nuisance properties. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 554 - DESIGN CONTRACTS. Sponsored by Rep. Seitz (R - Cincinnati), this bill would regulate the use of indemnity provisions in professional design contracts related to public improvements. During its third hearing before the House Civil Justice Committee, no testimony was given on this bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 585 - FIREARM LAWS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Henne (R - Clayton), would expand the definition of dangerous ordnance to include armor piercing ammunition and expand the definition of an automatic firearm to include any device within the federal definition of machine gun; create additional conditions under which an individual may not possess a firearm or dangerous ordnance and eliminate the process by which an individual may apply for relief from a weapons disability; generally prohibit a person from buying, purchasing, obtaining, or furnishing a firearm on behalf of a third party; provide for the entry of protection orders into the federal NCIC database and LEADS; and provide for the issuance by a court of an extreme risk protection order. During its third hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, opponents from organizations such as Ohioans for Concealed Carry, the Western Reserve Fish & Game Association and Ohio Gun Owners testified against the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.
- HB 422 - WATER SEWER ACQUISITIONS. Sponsored by Rep. Ginter (R - Salem) and Rep. Rogers (Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill would govern acquisitions of municipal water-works and sewage disposal system companies by certain larger nonmunicipal water-works or sewage disposal system companies. During its second hearing before the Senate Public Utilities Committee, Brian Barger, one of the League's third-party lobbyists, testified on the behalf of the League in support of the bill. You can read his testimony HERE.
- HB 633 - LITTER RESTRICTIONS. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Boggs (D - Columbus) and Rep. Miller (D - Columbus) would prohibit individuals who own or control private property in municipal corporations from depositing litter on that property. During its first hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, the representatives stated that this bill is meant to penalize individuals who are repeat offenders. The League is supportive of the legislation.
NEW LEGISLATION OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED
Here is the new legislation introduced this week of interest to municipalities:
- HB 662 - IMMIGRATION LAWS. Sponsored by Rep. Howse (D - Cleveland) and Rep. Ramos (D - Lorain), this bill would clarify a municipal corporation's authority to enact policies to effectively allocate its resources in order to satisfy municipal law enforcement needs and comply with federal immigration laws as appropriate.
- HB 664 - NALOXONE USE. Sponsored by Rep. Ramos (D - Lorain), this bill would cease payments to a subdivision that materially hinders or prevents its personnel from carrying and using naloxone.
- HB 668 - PUBLIC FACILITIES. Sponsored by Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville), this bill 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.
- HB 670 - MUNICIPAL TAXES. Sponsored by Rep. Barnes (D - Cleveland), this bill would enact the "Simplified Alternative Withholding Tax Compliance Act" authorizing an employer to enter into an agreement with a municipal tax administrator to prescribe, subject to certain parameters, the portion of nonresident employee wages that will be subject to the municipal corporation's income tax.
MAYORS CONFERENCE COMING SOON: REGISTER NOW!
From Wednesday, June 13
th through Friday, June 15
th, the Ohio Municipal League will be hosting the Mayors Association of Ohio's Annual Conference in Akron. After the annual golf outing Wednesday, the conference schedule will include workshops on topics ranging from gun safety and guns in schools to medical marijuana, in addition to many other important and timely topics Ohio's mayors should be aware of. We are happy to share with our members that gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray will be speaking at the conference along with a representative of the DeWine Campaign, to talk about their visions for Ohio's future and the role municipalities play in the success of our state.
The Mayors Conference is a unique opportunity to hear from expert speakers on a number of important topics, but it is also a chance to meet and trade best practices with leaders of cities and villages, rural and urban, all across Ohio. If you have yet to register, click
and be sure to save your spot. We look forward to seeing you there!
ANNUAL MUNICIPAL INCOME TAX SEMINAR APPROACHING: REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
The Ohio Municipal League's Annual Municipal Income Tax Seminar will be taking place from Wednesday, July 11
th through Friday, July 13
th. With the recent changes to municipal income tax law - most notably the centralized collection of business net profit filings and the ensuing legal challenge from hundreds of municipalities - the topics the seminar will cover are timely and crucial.
for more information, to view the tentative agenda and to register for the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!