OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has opened a coronavirus (COVID-19) public hotline, reachable seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) or they can visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
- Today Attorney General Yost released a letter providing guidance to public officials on how to comply with Open Meetings Act (OMA) in light of the precautions that are being taken to discourage or actively limit contact due to the coronavirus outbreak. You can read this letter HERE.
- Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost have announced that local governments representing approximately 9.8 million Ohio residents, or 85% of the population, unanimously voted to sign on to the "OneOhio," plan in which Ohio local governments can jointly approach settlement negotiations in the litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
MUNICIPAL, STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TAKE ACTION AGAINST SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS
As the state's largest employer, many members are creating staff-related policies such as telecommuting and outlining responsibilities employees have related to their own health status. Below are a couple of examples:
- Members can use this template for a flexible work policy for their employees, which they can access HERE.
- In developing updated internal employment administrative practices, members can use this template employee notification form when an employee is sick. You can access that HERE.
Ohio's municipal leaders are responding to the coronavirus to help ensure their communities are able to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here are some examples of how Ohio's cities and villages are responding:
- The City of Columbus has released their managing operations policies, which include working with employees under the terms of their respective collective bargaining contract to ensure they can take leave as necessary, prohibiting international travel and only approving domestic travel in a case-by-case basis, and directing the Department of Technology to maximize Columbus' ability to allow employees to work from home if greater measures are needed in the near future.
- The City of Bexley has alerted city employees that all rec programming will be suspended for 3 weeks while all community events will be cancelled through the end of April, municipal buildings will not be open to visitors except by appointment, and council chambers seating arrangements will be changed to create more distance between council members while a remote online system will be set up for testimony and attendance.
- The City of Grandview Heights has announced that senior and community centers are closed, rec programming is cancelled indefinitely, parks but not park restrooms will be opened as planned, and city facilities and staff will be limited from non-essential public access.
In the wake of the thirteenth confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio, Gov. DeWine and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton have taken a number of actions in response to the growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Gov. DeWine issued a letter to community leaders emphasizing his continued concerns. The letter can be found HERE.
On Thursday, a statewide order, which you can read HERE, was signed involving the following measures the state is taking to slow the spread of the coronavirus through Ohio's communities:
- Mass gatherings over 100 people are prohibited. This does not include religious gatherings, grocery stores, forms of transit, athletic events that exclude spectators, weddings, funerals, or religious gatherings.
- Guests will no longer be permitted in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
- All schools (public & private) will be closed at the end of the day Monday until April 3, 2020. This currently only applies to K-12 institutions.
- The Governor has also recommended that places of higher learning move classes online and that religious institutions adjust practices such as shaking hands or sharing a single communion cup to prevent the spread of the virus.
U.S. Government Response:
This week, the League participated in a White House briefing call to provide updates related to federal actions being taken in response to the coronavirus. The following are resources for local governments provided by the U.S. Government:
- You can find the follow-up email HERE with all the information that was shared during the conference call. It includes resources and recommendations from most of the major departments in the federal government.
- An important resource that has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a document titled "Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission", which you can access HERE. This framework contains important information for local leaders on available interventions community leaders can take to help slow the spread of the virus before a vaccine or treatment becomes readily available.
- Congress has passed an $8.3 billion spending bill, which the President signed March 6, that earmarked over $3 million for vaccine research and development, $2.2 billion for public health preparedness and response, and approximately $1 billion for medical supplies and capacity as well as Community Health centers. $560 million from this bill will be allocated to state and local efforts to mitigate the coronavirus. Ohio has been awarded $15.6 million. The CDC has broken down this federal funding by state, which you can access HERE.
Here are the other resources our members are encouraged to use:
The League is committed to ensuring our members have up-to-date information and best practices on protecting their communities and we will continue to send updates as they are made available.
CORONAVIRUS AND THE PRIMARY ELECTION: A MESSAGE FROM THE
SECRETARY OF STATE
With the primary election coming up on Tuesday, March 17, Secretary of State Frank LaRose has released a message to local leaders in light of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to help ensure voters still cast their ballots while keeping elections secure, safe and healthy. You can read that message below:
"Ohio is less than one week away from Election Day and I am working with Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and our 88 county boards of elections to ensure a safe, secure, and healthy election.
In light of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, I wanted to highlight some important public service announcements that you can share with colleagues, friends, and family:
Be a Poll Worker
Every election day, over 35,000 Ohioans serve as poll workers. A majority of our poll workers are patriotic senior citizens and with concerns about the exposure of vulnerable populations to Coronavirus/COVID-19, now is the time to step up and defend democracy by serving as a poll worker next Tuesday, March 17th. Talk to your employer, learn more and sign up here. By exercising best practices from the Ohio Department of Health, our polling locations and voting machines will be clean, but we need the people necessary to run a safe and secure election.
Mail or Vote Early
If you haven't already, please consider requesting your absentee ballot today, or going to your county's early vote center. Request an absentee ballot from your county board of elections by this Saturday then postmark the completed ballot by Monday, March 16th, or drop it off curbside at the county board of elections on Tuesday, March 17th. Every valid absentee ballot is counted just like a vote cast at the polling location on election day.
Don't Sit This Election Out
As some polling locations that were in senior living centers are relocated, visit
VoteOhio.gov/CoronaFacts to find your polling place and review best practices for a healthy voting experience.
Unlike large events like a concert or baseball game, election day polling locations are spaces where neighbors who live in the same community come together to spend just a few minutes. In partnership with the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio's 88 boards of elections will take every step to make voting a safe, secure, and accessible experience for every eligible Ohioan."
LEAGUE NEW COUNCIL TRAINING POSTPONED
In light of the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are postponing both the March 21st and April 4th New Council Training Seminars in Worthington and Independence. We are working on rescheduling both of these seminars for a future date and will alert our members when the new dates are set. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the OML office. If you are not available for the new dates once they are set, let the OML office know and we will issue a refund.
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here are two bill impacting municipalities that were introduced this week:
- HB 542 - OP&F DISABILITIES. Sponsored by Rep. Carfagna, R - Genoa Twnp.), Rep. Cera (D - Bellaire), would revise Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund disability determination procedures. (Link: https://bit.ly/33iW0Rj)
- HB 546 - ELECTRIC VEHICLES. Sponsored by Rep. Miller (D - Amherst) and Rep. Weinstein (D - Hudson), would alter the definitions of "plug-in electric motor vehicle" and "hybrid motor vehicle" under the motor vehicle law and to halve the additional registration fees for those two types of motor vehicles. (Link: https://bit.ly/3aTKBdm)