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February 14, 2020  

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 launched a new online interactive dashboard that will track data from hospital emergency rooms across Ohio. One of the main intents of the dashboard is to track the number of suspected overdoses per county each month with accompanying demographic data. You can view the dashboard HERE.
  • Last week, Gov. DeWine announced that over $2 million in grants from the RecoveryOhio Law Enforcement Fund were awarded to 27 local drug task forces to help in their efforts in combatting drug trafficking. You can read a list of those drug task forces HERE.
  • The Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) has announced that Ohio tax revenues are 1% ahead of estimates for this fiscal year and beat projections by approximately $45 million in the month of January.
 
 
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS MEET TO DISCUSS OPIOID SETTLEMENT
 
A meeting was held this week to discuss the division and allocation of prospective settlement dollars from a multidistrict litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The meeting, which was organized by the attorneys representing the state and local governments in the litigation, was another in a series of discussions held among local leaders across the state that were first held in the Governor's mansion.
 
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a proposed allocation of the funds from a future settlement. The current proposal would allocate 30% of the money directly to local governments for anything related to addressing the opioid epidemic, including past incurred expenses.
 
55% of the money would be allocated to a foundation managed by a board made up of members from local governments. Those members would include appointments by the Governor, the Attorney General and the Legislature. The foundation would allocate the funds to regions in Ohio that were drawn up based on factors including population and the number of drugs distributed. The funds would be allocated to those regions for the purposes of addressing efforts regarding abating the opioid epidemic, substance abuse, mental health and addition.
 
Since the Foundation is controlled by local governments, 85% of the settlement money would be distributed to local governments. The remaining 15% would be allocated to the state of Ohio to combat the opioid epidemic. Thus, 100% of the funds would be earmarked for opioid abatement efforts.
 
According to the lawyers litigating the case, other states also involved in the lawsuit are currently considering a different split: 15% would go to the local governments, 70% would be allocated to the Attorney General of that State and the remaining 15% would be directed to the state and an opioid abatement foundation.
 
If a distribution formula for the settlement money is agreed to by the vast majority of local governments, Ohio would be the first state thus far to present a united front when negotiations over the settlement begin, according to the attorneys that organized the meeting. Local leaders were also informed that the state has a trial date set for October. Once that trial begins, the window of opportunity for the state to work together will have closed. Additionally, attendees learned that of the 279 Ohio local government cases in this litigation, only two of those cases are currently moving forward. It was communicated that the agreement would ensure that all local government claims became relevant.
 
Attendees were told to provide feedback to the attorneys so that changes could be made and considered. We will keep our members informed as these discussions continue.
 
 
 
 
HOUSE PASSES POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) LEGISLATION
 
This week, the House passed HB 308 in a 74-22 vote. HB 308, which is sponsored by Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville), requires workers' compensation coverage for first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without the current accompanying physical injury requirement. (Link: https://bit.ly/2vusTOo)
 
Before its consideration on the House floor, the bill was passed out of the House Insurance Committee by an 11-3 vote. Last week, the bill had been amended to remove a one-year cap for coverage. The League is supportive of the one-year cap, and submitted written testimony in opposition to HB 308 due to the bill's lack of guardrails.
 
The League's testimony explained that historical precedent for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) has only ever made coverage available when there is an accompanying workplace injury. "Because this would be a substantial departure from historic precedent," said Dir. Scarrett in the written testimony, "coverage for PTSD for first responders without a workplace injury should have extensive guidelines." You can read the League's testimony in full HERE.
 
Additionally, a letter was submitted by the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, NFIB, the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants expressing concern regarding the increased cost for both private and public employers in Ohio due to the expanded coverage.
 
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The League will continue to update members as this bill progresses.
 
 
 
A MESSAGE TO MUNICIPALITIES FROM OHIO ADJUTANT GENERAL, MAJ. GEN. JOHN HARRIS, JR.
 
In the past year, the Ohio National Guard has responded to multiple cyber incidents across the state of Ohio. The constant nature of these dynamic and evolving threats on our local governments require an innovative approach to create a stronger, more resilient Ohio.
 
One of those approaches is the creation of the Ohio Cyber Reserve (OhCR), a volunteer civilian force drawn from private sector cybersecurity experts. The OhCR will be a part of the state defense force under the command of the adjutant general, and will be available for the governor to assist eligible municipalities with cybersecurity vulnerabilities and provide recommendations to reduce cyber threats. OhCR teams will be tasked with three missions: to deter, mitigate, and protect critical infrastructure across Ohio.
 
Upon request, OhCR members will be available to provide information and recommendations for improving cyber operations such as best practices, emerging threats, and conducting vulnerability assessments. In the event of a cyber incident, local governments should proceed just as they would in the event of civil unrest or a natural disaster by notifying the county emergency management agency. Once the appropriate vetting and response has been determined, Ohio National Guard cyber teams may be deployed and augmented by the OhCR.
 
After the cyber threat is eliminated, our team will conduct post incident activities, such as lessons learned, and help organizations identify tools or resources needed to detect, analyze, and mitigate future incidents.
 
Ohioans with cybersecurity experience who are interested in finding out more about serving on the OhCR should contact Mark Bell, cybersecurity outreach coordinator for the Adjutant General's Department, at mark.a.bell16.nfg@mail.mil or 614-336-4903. There's additional information and a registration form available online. (HERE)
 
Ohio is leading the way with a unified strategy to strengthen the state's cybersecurity in order to protect critical infrastructure and, most importantly, protect the citizens of our great state.
 
 
 
APRIL IS NATIONAL DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH
 
This year, the League is encouraging municipalities to participate in National Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April. According to the National Safety Council, using a cell phone while driving results in 1.6 million crashes per year. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting while driving, an activity that is six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving.
 
Studies are showing that any cell phone usage, not just texting, dramatically increases the risk of an accident. It has become increasingly important to remind motorists that distracted driving is not only dangerous, but potentially deadly.
 
Here are some things a city or village can do to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving:
 
  • Hang a banner on municipal buildings to remind drivers to drive alert.
  • Put "drive alert"-type bumper stickers/magnets on municipal vehicles.
  • Put notices on doors of municipal buildings reminding people to complete cell phone use before starting the car and driving away, both during April and throughout the year.
  • Have a police officer write a guest column for the local newspaper about the frequency with which he or she sees drivers using cell phones.
  • Erect the road signs at entrances to the municipality that indicate your city or village expects alert driving.
  • Put "April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month" posters or signs on community bulletin boards.
  • Put a notice on both the city or village website home page as well as the municipal police page.
  • Consider introducing an ordinance making the use of cell phones while driving a primary offense, with incremental penalties for repeat offenses and for amount of harm caused or modernizing whatever local law already exists.
  • Consider signing on as a supporter or co-sponsor of actions taken by the state or other multi-jurisdictional entities.
  • Ask local businesses - especially gas stations, auto dealers or repair shops, insurance agents, deputy registrars, and medical offices and clinics - to display similar materials warning against the dangers of distracted driving.
 
Municipalities can look at the websites for the National Safety Council and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety for additional ideas and possible access to posters and other materials.
 
 
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
Here are the bills introduced this week that impact municipalities:
 
  • HB 17 - HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION. Sponsored by Rep. Ginter (R - Salem), would allow an enhanced homestead exemption for surviving spouses of public safety personnel killed in the line of duty. During its first hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill enhances the homestead exemption for the surviving spouses of public service officers who were killed in the line of duty from the current amount of $35,000 to $50,000. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/31W5Vfg)
 
  • SB 212 - PROPERTY TAXATION. 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. During its fifth hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the Ohio Association of County Boards testified as an interested party and asked the committee to consider giving county boards of developmental disabilities the same ability to review the percentage of valuation that the bill extends to school districts. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2OQwuNy)
 
  • 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 Buckeye Firearms Association testified in support of the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/31RGgUM)
 
  • 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 seventh hearing before the House Economic Development Committee, the bill was amended to do the following:
    • reduce the building height requirement for projects outside major cities;
    • extend the length of the program through the end of FY 2023;
    • allow existing buildings within 10 miles of a major cities to qualify;
    • clarify the application deadlines and rule adoption;
    • establish that applicants in an alternative process can receive the full credit once the project is completed;
    • allow the Tax Credit Authority to interview applicants;
    • allow buildings within 10 miles of a major city to qualify even if they do not meet the height and area requirements so long as they lead $4 million in annual payroll.
           The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2P7wYPB)
 
  • HB 462 - HEALTH COVERAGE. Sponsored by Rep. Ghanbari (R - Perrysburg), is regarding health care coverage for law enforcement and public safety officers who have retired under the Public Employees Retirement System. During its first hearing before the House Insurance Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill would adjust eligibility requirements for law enforcement for health coverage through the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2uLl7zr)
 
  • HB 91 - LEAVE BENEFITS. Sponsored by Rep. Boggs (D - Columbus) and Rep. Boyd, (D - Cleveland Heights), would establish family and medical leave insurance benefits. During its first hearing before the House Insurance Committee, supporters including the president of Geben Communication, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Central Ohio Chapter, the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio and the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio testified on behalf of the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2UQOdbw)
 
  • HB 295 - ELECTRIC SCOOTERS. Sponsored by Rep. Hoops (R - Napoleon), would establish requirements governing low-speed electric scooters. During its sixth hearing before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, the bill was amended to do the following:
    • apply the bill to "low-speed micromobility devices," which are electric motor devices that weigh less than 100 pounds, has handlebars and can move up to 20 miles per hour;
    • prohibit anyone under 16 years old from renting a low-speed micromobility device;
    • adjust the weight limit for personal delivery devices regulated in the bill to those less than 200 pounds
    • exempt electric bicycles operated by law enforcement from the bill's regulations;
    • clarify liability insurance language;
    • allow the director of the Department of Natural Resources to prohibit operation or use in any division of the agency.
The bill was then unanimously voted out of committee. The League is neutral on this legislation. (Link: https://bit.ly/322rZVD)
 
  • SB 249 - ADULT CHANGING STATION. Sponsored by Rep. Lehner (R - Kettering), would enact Matthew's Law, requiring public buildings to have at least one rest room facility with an adult changing station and authorizing an income tax credit for installation. During its first hearing before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the bill addresses the lack of adult changing tables in rest rooms. The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/31PeSH9)
 
  • HB 476 - EMINENT DOMAIN. Sponsored by Rep. Manning (R - New Middletown) and Rep. Hambley (R - Brunswick), would amend the law regarding eminent domain and declare an emergency. During its first hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the bill allows landowners to make eminent domain appeals to the governing bodies of local jurisdictions. The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/3bz8lVm)
 
  • HB 450 - FISCAL OFFICERS. Sponsored by Rep. Stephens (R - Kitts Hill), would require fiscal officers of certain political subdivisions to provide certificates of transition to their successors when leaving office and to modify language regarding the duty of a treasurer of a board of education to deliver to the treasurer's successor all papers related to the affairs of the district. During its first hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, the bill's sponsor explained the legislation's intention to ensure a "clear auditable trail to protect both outgoing and incoming fiscal officers." The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2wfFPYN)
 
  • HB 444 - TOWNSHIP LAWS. Sponsored by Rep. Baldridge (R - Winchester) and Rep. Abrams (R - Harrison), would make various changes to township law. During its first hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, the bill's sponsors explained that the bill makes multiple changes to township law, including nuisance statues, cemeteries, Industrial Development Bonds, pole installations, EMTs and levies. The League is still looking into this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2ORzLMl)
 
  • HB 178 - CONCEALED WEAPONS. Sponsored by Rep. Hood (R - Ashville) and Rep. Brinkman (R - Cincinnati), would modify the Weapons Law by renaming a concealed handgun license as a concealed weapons license, allowing a concealed weapons licensee to carry concealed all deadly weapons not otherwise prohibited by law, repealing a notice requirement applicable to licensees stopped for a law enforcement purpose, authorizing expungement of convictions of a violation of that requirement, and allowing a person age 21 or older and not prohibited by federal law from firearm possession to carry a concealed deadly weapon without needing a license subject to the same carrying laws as a licensee. During its first hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee, [FILL IN ONCE INFO BECOMES AVAILABLE.](Link: https://bit.ly/3bDl0GH)

CURRENTLY NO MUNICIPAL BILLS OF INTEREST HAVE BEEN SCHEDULED PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE TUESDAY FOR AN UPDATED COMMITTEE SCHEDULE