After nearly four months of meetings, discussion and hard work, the legislature has introduced a bill that would govern the implementation of small cell wireless infrastructure in a municipality's right-of-way. As many will recall, SB 331 (Sen. Peterson's "Petland" bill) was passed during last General Assembly's lame duck session and included an amendment sharply curtailing municipality's Home Rule rights to manage the deployment of small cell wireless infrastructure in their right-of-way. Several municipalities challenged the provision in court, resulting in several judges granting injunctions that cited the provision's violation of the Constitution's single-subject rule.
The Ohio Municipal League, along with a coalition of multiple municipal leadership groups and individuals representing municipalities large and small, was approached by Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger to join conversations with representatives from wireless telecommunication companies that operate in Ohio to work on new legislation both parties could live with. The exercise was geared to address objections brought forth by Ohio municipalities across the state concerning the small cell infrastructure language in SB 331 while ensuring a level of predictability for the telecommunication companies as new technology is deployed throughout the state. The League is grateful for the opportunity to work with the industries' interested parties and our extremely talented delegation of municipal officials as the compromise language was hammered out through a spirit of cooperation and transparency.
Attached is the most recent draft version of the language assembled by LSC
in addition to a Memorandum
from Lindsay Miller of IceMiller law firm outlining authorities being granted municipalities in the bill and the restrictions placed upon cities and villages when administrating the installation of the telecommunications infrastructure. In general, the legislation contains both "wins" and compromises for both coalitions while neither side received everything that was asked for.
The bill will be formally introduced today and committee hearings have already been scheduled for this week in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. So far, the yet-to-be-introduced bill will receive a sponsor's hearing today in Hearing Room 313 at 1:00 pm, and a proponent hearing tomorrow at 2:30 pm in the same hearing room. As you will notice, the bill appears to be on a "fast track" to swift passage, at least in the Ohio House but we expect the Senate to act on the proposal in a timely manner also when they receive it.
If any of our members would like to testify on behalf of the bill, please contact OML Director of Communications Ashley Brewster at
to receive assistance with coordination and details concerning testifying.
The League wants to extend our gratitude to the many organizations on both sides working many long hours to achieve a bill that both Ohio's municipalities and the "big four" wireless service providers can move forward with. We thank the Ohio House Speaker Rosenberger and his staff for their leadership in bringing the parties together to address concerns and to work towards solutions.