Current Legislative Bulletin
April 12, 2019
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
- This week, Gov. DeWine signed SB 23, also known as the "Heartbeat Bill." This legislation bans all abortions after a detectible fetal heartbeat and is notable as it is one of the toughest restrictions on abortions in the country. Various civil liberty groups have already begun the process of challenging the enactment of this legislation in the courts.
- Since the beginning of the 133rd General Assembly in January, League staff has had 79 meeting with members of the Ohio House of Representative and Senate to impress upon members the important issues facing Ohio's cities and villages. League staff will meet with legislators we have not had an opportunity to sit down with to continue to emphasize the need to rebuild the partnership between the state and Ohio's municipalities
- U.S. News has ranked Cincinnati as "one of the best places to live" in the country, ranking 39th on the 125 Best Places to Live in the USA.
BUDGET BILL CONTINUES HEARING PROCESS
This week, various House Finance Subcommittees once again held hearings for different aspects of HB 166, the State Operating Budget Bill. The League testified before the House Finance Subcommittee on Agriculture, Commerce and Development. You can read that testimony in full HERE.
The League's Legislative Advocate Thomas Wetmore, who delivered the testimony, outlined the measures in the executive proposal that the League supports, including the H2Ohio fund allocating $900 million for water quality issues across the state and funding local crisis services from the General Revenue Funds (GRF) rather than diverted Local Governments Funds (LGF).
The League's testimony also explained our opposition to several provisions in the executive budget proposal. The foremost issue for municipalities in the budget proposal is language dealing with net profit estimated payments being centrally collected by the state via the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG). The language states that when a municipality receives a negative distribution from the state, the municipality must pay the amount of the deficiency to the state to balance the state's books or else the state will seize other municipal funds.
In testimony, the League urged that the language be removed from the budget bill and placed in separate legislation. The issue is complex and the language as written does not adequately parse out both the true source of the problem and the correct solution. This complicated situation deserves to be vetted separately rather than be drowned out by the rest of the budget bill.
President of the League's Municipal Income Tax Committee and Dublin Tax Administrator Kevin Robison also offered testimony arguing that the net profits estimated payments language be removed from the budget bill and be vetted properly through the legislative process as a separate bill. His testimony explains that one of the primary causes of negative distributions to municipalities is the result of poor programming in the OBG. You can read his testimony in full HERE.
The League also testified in opposition to a provision in the budget bill that zeros out fee offsets for local governments participating in Multi-Agency Radio Communication (MARCS). These fee offsets allow small cities and villages to participate in MARCS. If these municipalities cannot participate, the result would be a lack of connectivity across the state that would endanger Ohio lives in emergency situations. The League asked that funding for the fee offset be restored.
HB 166 will continue to receive hearings next week, and we will continue to keep our members apprised of any updates as the budget bill moves through the legislative process.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES CONDUCTS CENSUS SURVEY FOR CITY LEADERS
The National League of Cities (NLC) is conducting a very short survey to identify Census leads in cities and villages across the nation and to understand what stage they are at in their work.
The League is encouraging our members to fill out this survey as it is an important part of adequately preparing municipalities for the 2020 Census. NLC is committed to supporting a fair and accurate 2020 Census, which will be underway in less than twelve months. This survey will help capture how municipalities are preparing for 2020 and help inform NLC how to better target their resources to support cities, towns and villages.
The survey can be found at NLC Local Census Preparedness Survey. For more resources on how to prepare your municipality for the 220 Census, read "Five Ways to Prepare Your City for Next Year's Census." and this blog post HERE.
RARE PAGANINI VIOLIN TO VISIT COLUMBUS FROM SISTER CITY GENOA, ITALY
The Greater Columbus Sister Cities International (GCSCI), along with the Columbus City Council, the Harold C. Schott Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, will be hosting the Paganini violin from Columbus's Sister City of Genoa, Italy. Paganini's "Il Cannone" violin will be held at the Columbus Museum of Art from May 11-19.
This 276-year-old violin is the world's most famous violin and has only visited the United States twice before, once in New York City and once in San Francisco. It has not been in the United States since 2003. It is famous for being owned by Niccolò Paganini, who is sometimes referred to as the "devil's violinist" because people thought he had made a deal with the devil to play so well. The violin got its nickname, "Il Cannone", because its sound as powerful as a cannon
Paganini's violin will also be played during a public performance by the Columbus Symphony on Wednesday, May 15 at the historic Ohio Theatre. The concert will be directed by Music Director Rossen Milanov with the Columbus Symphony and will feature Joanna Franke, Concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony. Franke is one of few female concertmasters in the United States and was selected during a very competitive process to be chosen to play this priceless instrument.
This is a once in a lifetime chance to both see and hear this violin in Columbus as it is extremely fragile and rarely travels outside of Italy. Columbus was selected for the honor thanks to the strong sister city connection between Genoa and Columbus. The Mayor of Genoa, Mayor Marco Bucci, will be traveling with the violin to attend this historic concert along with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.
Tickets will start at $10 and can be purchased at www.columbussymphony.com. Visit www.columbussistercities.com to learn more about this unique exchange.
BILLS PASSED BY OHIO SENATE
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that were passed by the Ohio Senate this week:
- SB 31 - PUBLIC RECORDS LAW. Sponsored by Sen Roegner (R - Hudson), would include emergency service telecommunications as individuals whose residential and familial information is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Law. The bill was passed unanimously and now heads to the House for consideration. The League is neutral on this legislation.
BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED THIS WEEK
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that were introduced this week:
- HB - FIBER BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT. Sponsored by Rep. Smith (R - Bidwell), would create the OhioBroadband Development Grant Program, encourage the Department of Transportation to work with telecommunications providers to lay fiber optic cable, and make an appropriation.
COMMITTEE UPDATE: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
Here are the bills of municipal interest that received hearings in committee this week:
- 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 first hearing before the House Public Utilities Committee, the bill's sponsor said the bill would prevent municipalities from "rate gouging" municipal water works by allowing townships or municipalities to file a civil action to declare a municipal water system "non-compliant." The League is opposed to this legislation.
- HB 143 - TAX CREDIT - PEACE OFFICERS. Sponsored by Rep. Keller (R - Middletown) and Rep. Cera (D - Bellaire), would grant income tax credits to persons who serve as volunteer peace officers, firefighters, or emergency medical technicians. During its first hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill's sponsors explained the bill both shows current volunteers the state's appreciation and incentives volunteerism in others. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 75 - PROPERTY VALUE CONTESTS. Sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), would require local governments that contest property values to formally pass an authorizing resolution for each contest and to notify property owners. During its fourth hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, joint opponent testimony was heard from the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Ohio School Bard Association and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators. Opponents objected that the bill would politicize the process of re-evaluating property values and create bureaucratic hurdles for local governments. The bill was passed out of committee by a vote of 11-9.
- HB 76 - ELECTION NOTICES. Sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township) would enact the "Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act" to modify the form of election notices and ballot language for property tax levies. During its fourth hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill was amended to clarify language prohibiting bolded words or different text sizes on ballots. Joint opponent testimony was given by the League, the Ohio Township Association and the Ohio Library Council. You can read that testimony HERE. Opponents said the bill will create situations where voters miscalculate what taxes they as an individual will owe if a levy would pass. The bill as passed out of committee by a vote of 12-7.
- SB 33 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. Sponsored by Sen. Hoagland (R - Adena), would modify certain criminal offenses with respect to critical infrastructure facilities and impose fines and civil liability for damage to a critical infrastructure facility. During its fourth hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, multiple opponents testified against the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.
- HB 149 - TAX EXEMPTION. Sponsored by Rep. Merrin (R - Monclova Township), would enact the "Affordable Homebuilding and Housing Act" to temporarily exempt from property tax the increased value of land subdivided for residential development. During its second hearing before the House Economic & Workforce Development Committee, representatives from the Ohio Home Builders Association and the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association testified in support of the bill. The League is opposed to this legislation.
- HB 152 - TAX LEVIES. Sponsored by Rep. Brinkman (R - Cincinnati), would require certain subdivisions to obtain the approval of the body that created the subdivision before levying a tax. During its first hearing before the House State and Local Government Committee, the bill's sponsor said the bill prevents political subdivisions from placing levies on the ballot with "zero checks and balances." The League is still looking into this legislation.
- SB 10 - THEFT IN OFFICE. Sponsored by Sen. Wilson (R - Maineville), would expand the penalties for theft in office based on the amount stolen and include as restitution audit costs of the entity that suffered the loss. During its first hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee, the bill's sponsor once again explained the bill's intention to ensure proper penalties are dealt to those who steal from taxpayers while in office and ensure the thief must pay restitution once penalized. The League is supportive of this legislation.