OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- Commissioners in Clermont, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs and Scioto counties, as well as the trustees of Jackson Township in Perry County, have declared themselves as "Second Amendment sanctuaries." Read more about this in the article below.
- The City of Columbus has been ranked fifth in the world for quality of life by numbeo.com. The site has ranked 227 cites based on cost of living, the ratio of property prices to income, traffic commute time, purchasing power, safety, health care, pollution and climate. You can read the full list HERE.
- The Bureau of Workers' Compensation has announced that public employers will save approximately $18 million in premiums in 2020 due to a rate cut that went into effect January 1st. Roughly 3,700 cities, counties, schools and other public taxing districts are projected to save an average of 10% on their premiums compared to last year.
PTSD BILL AMENDED TO REMOVE ONE-YEAR CAP ON SERVICES
This week, HB 308 was amended to remove a guardrail capping services at one year for PTSD coverage for first-responders without an accompanying physical injury.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville), concerns workers' compensation and disability retirement for peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury. (Link: https://bit.ly/2RFXuBb). During its third hearing before the House Insurance Committee, an amendment was adopted 13-2 to remove the one-year cap on PTSD services that would be covered by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC).
The Fraternal Order of Police testified in support of the bill, while the Ohio Chamber of Commerce testified in opposition, saying the physical injury requirement is the "foundation of Ohio's workers' compensation system."
The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) projects that without any parameters around PTSD coverage for first responders, it would cost approximately $70 million each year to provide that coverage. That analysis was done by the BWC when the same PTSD provision was in HB 80, the BWC budget. The League, along with other local government organizations, expressed concerns about the lack of parameters around the provision and at our request, it was removed so it could be considered in separate legislation.
HB 308 changes the precedent the BWC system is based upon, which is the coverage only of physical injuries and mental conditions resulting from physical injuries. Another concern is that the one-year cap for coverage has now been removed, which the League opposes. The one-year cap and additional guardrails are needed when considering breaking with precedent that has been set since the BWC was created and establishing an entirely new kind of coverage.
We will continue to provide updates to our members regarding this legislation.
COUNTIES, TOWNSHIPS DECLARE THEMSELVES "SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARIES"
Clermont, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs and Scioto counties, along with Jackson Township in Perry County, have declared themselves "Second Amendment sanctuaries" while commissioners in Crawford, Muskingum, Pike, Preble, Ross and Winton counties are reportedly considering doing the same. This begs the question: what is a "Second Amendment sanctuary"?
These political subdivisions have passed resolutions stating they will not enforce any gun control laws that may be passed by the state or the federal government. These declarations have largely been in response to Gov. DeWine's STRONG Ohio legislation, SB 221, and similar bills currently pending in the legislature.
Much like the declaration by a political subdivision that they are a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants, the declarations by these counties and Jackson Township are symbolic political statements as commissioners and township trustees cannot pass ordinances that contradict state or federal law.
Thus far, no Ohio municipality has passed such a resolution. SB 221 and other gun control bills are still pending in the legislature, so we will notify our members with any updates on this issue.
LEAGUE TO HOST NEWLY ELECTED COUNCIL TRAINING PROGRAM
This spring, the League will be hosting regional training seminars for newly-elected council members. In addition to local leaders starting their first terms in office, these seminars are a great opportunity for current municipal leaders as well.
The seminars will focus on topics such as home rule and local control, city and village financing procedures, council powers and procedures, public records and liability for municipalities and municipal officers. The seminar will also feature an overview of the unique opportunities municipal leaders have access to through the League's service corp.
The seminars will be held on Saturday, February 29 at the Cincinnati Marriott Northeast; Saturday, March 21 at the Columbus/Worthington Doubletree; and Saturday, April 4 at the Rockside Embassy Suites. To find out more information and to register, click HERE.
HERITAGE OHIO TO HOST WEBINAR ON MUNICIPAL PLANNING AND ZONING
On Wednesday, February 12 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Heritage Ohio will host a webinar called "Municipal Planning and Zoning Fundamentals." Kimberly Burton and Kyle Ezell from The Ohio State University's City and Regional Planning Program will be the webinar's featured speakers.
The webinar is an opportunity for attendees to learn how city planning and zoning can be used as practical tools for municipal governance. Topics will include municipal governance fundamentals, plans and codes, communicating with the public, negotiating conflict, community revitalization and a host of other important issues in which local leaders should be well-versed.
You can register for the webinar by clicking HERE. Those who register will receive a link to the recorded webinar after its conclusion.
COMMITTEE UPDATE: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
- SB 33 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. 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 seventh hearing before the House Public Utilities Committee, 45 opponents submitted written testimony against the bill, which was passed unanimously out of committee. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2Ocl1Ye)
- HB 163 - WATER/SEWER SERVICE. Sponsored by Rep. Brinkman (R - Cincinnati), would create a process for withholding local government funds and state water and sewer assistance from municipal corporations that engage in certain water and sewer practices with respect to extraterritorial service. During its sixth hearing before the House Public Utilities Committee, a technical amendment was adopted to set the standard for the presumption of reasonableness at 125% of rates set in other areas. Representatives from Ballville Township and Delaware Township testified in support of the bill. The League opposes this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/38W42BA)