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    June 8, 2018

    OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE

    Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
     
    • On Wednesday, the House of Representatives elected their new Speaker of the House after several weeks delay. The new speaker, Rep. Ryan Smith (R - Bidwell) will serve as interim Speaker until January, when the next General Assembly will begin and the next Speaker will be elected.
     
    • The Ohio Department of Transportation has entered into a public-private partnership with Portsmouth Gateway Group to construct State Road 823 near Portsmouth for $420 million. The company must comply with public information requests and will have to follow state hiring and labor laws. And while ODT will be plowing the road during snowfall, the private company will be in charge of maintaining the road.
     
    • Two announcements were made this week regarding Ohio's forthcoming Medical Marijuana program: first, the Dept. of Commerce announced it will not make its original September 6th deadline. Second, 56 provisional licenses were awarded to medical marijuana dispensaries. You can access the full list of awarded dispensaries HERE.
     
     
    OHIO SUPREME COURT RULING UPHOLDS MUNICIPAL IMMUNITY
     
    This week the Ohio Supreme Court weighed in on an important sovereign immunity issue for municipalities. The state's highest court ruled that municipalities are not liable for accidents caused in an instance when a driver claimed a stop sign was obscured by roadside foliage. A driver in the City of Campbell sued the city after running a stop sign, resulting in a collision with another vehicle. In the lawsuit, the driver claimed that her view of the stop sign was obstructed by foliage.
     
    The Court explained in their ruling that according to statute, local governments are only required by law to remove foliage and other similar obstructions "from" public roads. The Court found the city of Campbell had no legal liability. The League will continue to monitor and report on court rulings that impact Ohio's municipalities.

     
    HB 571 GETS FIRST COMMITTEE HEARING
     
    This week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a first hearing on HB 571. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Greenspan (R - Westlake), requires all entities selling hotel accommodations to remit the tax they already collect at the full rate for the price the consumer pays for the room. The bill had its first hearing this week before the House Ways and Means Committee.
     
    Currently, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are collecting tax on the full rate a consumer pays for hotel room they book through the OTA online. However, the OTA is not remitting that full tax to the local governments. This results in a loss of millions of dollars for Ohio's municipalities. It is important to make clear that this bill is in no way creating a new tax, nor is it increasing the price a consumer will have to pay for a hotel room when they book through an OTA. The price the consumer currently pays already includes full tax on the full price. The issue lies with the OTA, who is not remitting that tax to the local governments.
     
    HB 571 will guarantee fairness by ensuring OTAs must remit the full tax they are currently collecting. It will protect local governments and Ohio's travel economy from being denied the taxes they are rightfully owed. HB 571 will generate millions of dollars in revenue for Ohio's local governments without creating any new tax.
     
    The League is asking our members to call their representatives and express their support of this legislation. Furthermore, we invite local leaders to come to Columbus and testify in support of HB 571 when it is scheduled for proponent testimony in committee. For questions on testifying or to confirm your availability, please contact the League's Director of Communications, Ashley Brewster, at abrewster@omlohio.org.

     
    UPDATE ON BILL PREEMPTING LOCAL LICENSING
     
    HB 583, sponsored by Rep. Henne (R - Clayton), would limit the occupational license and registration requirements and fees that a political subdivision may impose on state-regulated occupations, establish a waiver exempting certain persons from paying occupational license or registration fees, and revise the licensing restrictions applicable to individuals convicted of criminal offenses. The bill received its first hearing two weeks ago in the House Economic Development, Commerce, and Labor Committee.
    The League is opposed to this bill and maintains that municipalities have the right to enact local licensing requirements, ensuring accountability measures are in place and the best interests of the local community where work is performed are respected. According to the Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report, there are 1,262,229 active licenses in Ohio. As currently written, this bill would limit the authority of municipalities to impose any requirements on all 298 types of occupational licenses, and any future licenses that the State may create. The ability to enact requirements ensures that the needs and issues of each municipality are addressed locally, and HB 583 is a major attack on Home Rule authority.
     
    We will continue to report on any action taken on this bill. For those interested in testifying against HB 583 in the event that it receives additional hearings, please contact the League's Director of Communications, Ashley Brewster, at abrewster@omlohio.org.


    SMALL CELL WIRELESS DESIGN GUIDELINES WORKSHOP JUNE 18

    The City of Dublin and the Ohio Municipal League are hosting a free workshop to discuss best practices for municipal design guidelines following the passage of HB 478, the small cell wireless bill. The workshop will include an overview of HB 478 guidelines, presentation of sample guidelines and a panel discussion with a telecom industry representative, with time for discussion. You can see the full agenda HERE.
    The workshop will take place on Monday, June 18, 2018 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Dublin Integrated Education Center (6805 Bobcat Way, Dublin, OH 43016-1407). Please RSVP by 5 pm on Thursday, June 14 to Cjones@dublin.oh.us.
     
    FLOOR ACTION: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST

    Here are the bills that were heard in the Ohio Senate this week:
     
    • SB 182 - DOGS ON PATIOS. Sponsored by Sen. Coley (R - Liberty Township), this bill would generally allow an owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog to take the dog in an outdoor dining area of a retail food establishment or food service operation. The bill was heard before the full Senate committee, this week, where was passed unanimously. The League is neutral on this legislation.
    • SB 296 - LAW ENFORCEMENT BENEFITS. This bill, sponsored by Sen. LaRose (R - Hudson) and Sen. Hottinger (R - Newark), would revise the payments that surviving family members receive from the Ohio Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund and to permit surviving spouses and children to participate in the health, dental, and vision benefits offered to state employees as if the survivors were employees of this state. During its third hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, a technical amendment was added to the bill and no testimony was heard. The bill was then brought before the full Senate Chamber, where it was passed unanimously. The League is supportive of this legislation.

    • SB 299 - WATER IMPROVEMENTS. Sponsored by Sen. Gardner (R - Bowling Green) and Sen. O'Brien (D - Bazetta), this bill would allow equipment for the protection and preservation of Lake Erie to be purchased with proceeds from the Parks and Recreation Improvement Fund, and to appropriate funds for projects enhancing water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. During its third hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, the bill was amended to become Substitute SB 299 and makes largely technical changes. Those who testified, including EPA Director Craig Butler, mostly voiced support of the bill but urged that more resources be directed towards the problem in the years to come. The bill was passed unanimously out of committee. The full Senate chamber then voted on the bill, where it was again passed unanimously. The League is supportive of this legislation.
     
    REGISTER NOW FOR OML'S TWO REMAINING REGIONAL CONFERENCES
     
     
    The League has held two Regional Conferences thus far this year, and we are looking forward to the two remaining conferences. The goal of these Regional Conferences is to provide an opportunity for League members prevented from attending our three-day Annual Conference held in downtown Columbus, either because of distance constraints or other issues to have access to the timely information our members receive at our Annual Conference and to experience some of the opportunities that the conference provides. We have put together a single day program of general session topics with presentations by featured speakers who are experts in their municipal sectors.
    The Regional Conferences are an invaluable opportunity for municipal officials statewide to have the ability to be presented with critical information directly related to the success of their own communities, as well as connect and network with other local leaders in their area. This opportunity is not limited to League members but is a great opportunity for all municipal and local government officials to refresh their skill sets and get the most recent information on critical topics.
    Registration information for next week and the forthcoming conferences, including the conference agenda, can be accessed HERE
    The dates and locations for the remaining Regional Conferences are as follows:
    • Northeast: Friday, June 29th at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
    • Northwest: Friday, August 17th at the Hancock Hotel in Findlay.
    We encourage you to sign up for these remaining conferences as soon as possible, as space will be limited, and we look forward to seeing you there!

     
    MAYORS CONFERENCE COMING SOON: REGISTER NOW!
     
    From Wednesday, June 13th through Friday, June 15th, the Ohio Municipal League will be hosting the Mayors Association of Ohio's Annual Conference in Akron. After the annual golf outing Wednesday, the conference schedule will include workshops on topics ranging from gun safety and guns in schools to medical marijuana, in addition to many other important and timely topics Ohio's mayors should be aware of. We are happy to share with our members that lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich from the Cordray Campaign will be speaking at the conference along with a representative of the DeWine Campaign, to talk about their visions for Ohio's future and the role municipalities play in the success of our state.
     
    The Mayors Conference is a unique opportunity to hear from expert speakers on a number of important topics, but it is also a chance to meet and trade best practices with leaders of cities and villages, rural and urban, all across Ohio. If you have yet to register, click HERE and be sure to save your spot. We look forward to seeing you there!

     
    COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
    • HB 575 - VOLUNTEER TAX CREDITS. Sponsored by Rep. Keller (R - Middletown) and Rep. Rezabek (R - Clayton), this bill would grant income tax credits to persons who serve as volunteer firefighters or emergency medical service technicians. During its third hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill was amended with a technical change clarifying the status of firefighters eligible for the tax credit. The League is supportive of this bill.
     
    • SB 250 - CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. Sponsored by Sen. Hoagland (R - Adena), this bill would prohibit criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and aggravated trespass on a critical infrastructure facility, to impose fines for organizations that are complicit in those offenses, and to impose civil liability for damage caused by trespass on a critical infrastructure facility. During its second hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill was amended to become substitute SB 250. The changes include making criminal trespassing apply only to those who knowingly enter a critical infrastructure facility and allowing property owners to file a civil action lawsuit to cover the damages done by a trespasser. Proponents such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council supported the bill, saying the bill would protect job growth as well as local communities and their constituencies. The League is supportive of this bill.
     
    • HB 278 - VEHICULAR ASSAULT. Sponsored by Rep. Patton (R - Strongsville) and Rep. Kelly (D - Cincinnati), this bill would include negligently causing serious physical harm to a law enforcement officer while operating a motor vehicle or other specified mode of transportation as a violation of the offense of vehicular assault. During its fourth hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee, the bill was amended to become Substitute HB 278 and includes largely technical changes. No testimony was heard. The League is supportive of this legislation.
     
    • SB 225 - BROADBAND GRANTS. Sponsored by Sen. Schiavoni (D - Boardman) and Sen. Eklund (R - Chardon), this bill would create the Ohio Broadband Development Grant Program and to make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, many different proponents voiced their support of the bill, from teachers to CEOs to local officials. The League offered joint proponent testimony with the Ohio Township Association. You can read that testimony HERE.
     
    • HB 263 - DOGS ON PATIOS. Sponsored by Rep. Lanese (R - Grove City), this bill would generally allow an owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog to take the dog in an outdoor dining area of a retail food establishment or food service operation. During its third hearing before the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce voiced support for the bill due to its intention to allow businesses to have full discretion regarding whether or not they should allow dogs on patios. The League is neutral on this legislation.
     
    • SB 210 - AUXILIARY CONTAINERS. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Coley (R - Liberty Township), would authorize a person to use an auxiliary container for any purpose, to prohibit a municipal corporation from imposing a tax or fee on auxiliary containers, and to clarify that the existing anti-littering law applies to auxiliary containers. During its fourth hearing before the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee, the Ohio Township Association testified in opposition to the bill due to an amendment that was added which applies the preemption to home rule townships as well as municipalities. The League is opposed to this bill.
     
    • SB 181 - MUNICIPAL GARBAGE FEES. Sponsored by Sen. O'Brien (D - Bazetta), this bill would authorize all municipal corporations that charge a garbage collection fee to certify unpaid amounts to the county auditor, who must enter the fees on the property tax list to be collected in the same manner as real property taxes. During its fourth hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill was amended to extend the authorization to townships as well. The bill was then passed out of committee with three dissenting votes. The League is supportive of this bill and is glad to see legislation that benefits municipalities voted out of committee.
     
    • HB 351 - MILITARY TAX EXEMPTION. Sponsored by Rep. Perales (R - Beavercreek) and Rep. Butler (R - Oakwood), this bill would require municipal corporations to exempt from taxation the military pay of members of the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Public Health Service. During its third hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bill was unanimously voted out of committee. The League is neutral on this legislation.
     
    • SB 75 - PROPERTY LIENS. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Brown (D - Toledo), deals with property liens for unpaid county or municipal water service charges. During its first hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that the legislation would require county auditors to not file liens against property owners due to unpaid water bills until water authorities certify several facts to prevent liens being filed due to a previous resident's water bills. The League is still reviewing this legislation.
     
    • HB 422 - WATER SEWER ACQUISITIONS. Sponsored by Rep. Ginter (R - Salem) and Rep. Rogers (D - Mentor-on-the-Lake), this bill would govern acquisitions of municipal water-works and sewage disposal system companies by certain larger non-municipal water-works or sewage disposal system companies. During its third hearing before the Senate Public Utilities Committee, both opponents and interested parties testified on the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.