Ohio Municipal League Legislative Bulletin

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February 17, 2017

This week the General Assembly held hearings on multiple budget areas as it continued to plow through the budget bill. So far, House committees have not taken out the language creating state centralized collection of municipal business filings and revenue, the elimination of the "throwback" rule or the means testing proposal for the LGF, but we have been in talks with members about specific proposals to do just that. We are optimistic at this point that we are making good progress. Throughout this week's bulletin, you'll see examples of our interactions with the members and how we have gotten our members' message across.
We still need members to contact their legislators to discuss these proposals that will affect municipal revenues and Home rule authorities. We have provided a template for letters HERE and Resolutions HERE that can serve as a basis for these communications. These documents are also available on our website.  
On Monday, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) announced  the release of their simulations for proposed redistribution of a portion of the Local Government Fund (LGF). We included an overview of this proposal in previous bulletins. Generally, the administration is proposing to means-test a portion of the LGF based on a local jurisdiction's capacity to raise tax revenue locally. The simulated tables can be found here:
Explanation of Proposed LGF Reforms: http://www.obm.ohio.gov/Budget/operating/doc/fy-18-19/lgf/Steps_used_to_derive_LGF_capacity-driven_distributions_13-Feb-2017.pdf
Distributions for Cities: http://www.obm.ohio.gov/Budget/operating/doc/fy-18-19/lgf/City_LGF_simulation_table_10-Feb-2017.pdf
Distributions for Villages with Income Taxes: http://www.obm.ohio.gov/Budget/operating/doc/fy-18-19/lgf/Villages_with_income_tax_LGF_simulation_table_13-Feb-2017.pdf
Distributions for Villages with NO Income Taxes: http://www.obm.ohio.gov/Budget/operating/doc/fy-18-19/lgf/Villages_without_income_tax_LGF_simulation_table_13-Feb-2017.pdf.
OML staff  has been having extensive conversations with members of the Ohio House and Senate concerning challenges the Governor's LGF proposal would place upon those communities that will have state aid redirected away from their budgets, based on the factors that determine the capacity based measurements. We continue to talk about alternative approaches to support municipalities that have been adversely affected by the cuts to the LGF, the repeal of Ohio's Estate Tax and the accelerated phase-out of the Tangible Personnel Property Tax in 2011, that does not include a scheme that creates financial "winners and losers."  
On Monday, Governor Kasich requested that the General Assembly authorize him to hold the annual State of the State Address in Sandusky, Ohio this year. This continues his trend of holding these addresses around the state. He requested to hold the speech at the Erie County community at the State Theatre, at 7pm on April 4th, 2017. The speech will be available at www.ohiochannel.org . As part of the events related to the Governor's bi-annual address, members of the legislature will accompany the Governor and members of his cabinet to Sandusky where committee hearings will be held and other legislative activity will move out of Columbus and to the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. 
On Wednesday morning the League hosted over two dozen legislators, lobbyists, and other capital square parties for the first Municipal Policy Study Group breakfast. The inaugural meeting was held at the Sheraton Hotel across the street from the Ohio Statehouse. Our goal in forming this roundtable opportunity is to give interested parties an opportunity to openly discuss issues that are related to municipal law and policy in Ohio and especially create a forum where legislators with municipal experience can come together to share ideas and other legislative initiatives. We wanted this to be a true participatory study group, and not just an opportunity for the League to reiterate our own talking points.
At the meeting, Dr. Greg Browning reviewed the issues included in the recently completed Strategic Framework report followed by a discussion of the Governor's proposed budget, especially the municipal income tax centralized collection, the throwback tax provisions, and the new LGF formula. The discussion was largely driven by the attendees and we are very happy with the results. We also received multiple requests for follow-up information from multiple members of the General Assembly. Due to the success of this first breakfast, we plan on doing this on a roughly quarterly basis going forward and greatly appreciate the attendance and participation of those that were able to join us. We have posted a picture of the meeting on our Facebook page.
On February 14, League Executive Director Kent Scarrett testified before the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee, Chaired by Representative Marlene Anielski, a former Mayor of Walton Hills, Ohio. The Director's testimony focused on introducing new members to the League and providing updates and important information for experienced members. The Director discussed the role and mission of the League, many basic facts about municipalities, and our new Legislative Policy Statement and the Strategic Framework report.  A copy of his testimony is available HERE.
Budget hearings continued this week, as members from various committees heard testimony from multiple agencies and organizations. Below, we provide an overview of some of the testimony that affected municipalities.
The County Engineers Association offered testimony on the Transportation Budget. Testimony was given by Delaware County Engineer and Association President Chris Bauserman. Bauserman testified that County Engineers are unable to keep up with the costs of maintaining roads and bridges throughout the state. He discussed multiple options for raising revenue, some of which the League has been part of. He suggested the vehicle registration permissive tax/license plate fee could be increased. Additionally, he suggested the state could reduce the percentage of the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement Program set aside from 15 to 10%, or one of three possible "efficiency" plans: bridge inspection modifications; assignment of all civil forfeitures from county weight enforcements to road and bridge maintenance; or moving motor fuel tax collection to the 'rack.'
Also, on the Transportation Budget, the Committee heard testimony about the proposal to tax Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) at $.28 per gallon. Industry experts made multiple arguments, testifying that: the industry is already taxed twice, once at the wholesale level and another at the retail level; CNG is less than 1% of the market so little revenue will be raised; the state and industry have not had time to adequately study the impact of imposing this tax; that Ohio is rich in natural gas and would benefit from developing a robust CNG industry; current contracts (including contracts maintained by some cities and villages) could be undermined by the tax because they are based on current rates; and that other states are taxing CNG at a lower level.
Finally, the Committee heard testimony about public transit. The League has advocated for increased investment in public transit, especially considering the tremendous loss of dollars the industry will experience from the Medicaid sales tax loss. The Committee heard testimony first from Jason Warner Manager of Government Affairs at the Greater Ohio Policy Center. He testified that the state needs to do more to support public transit. He suggested that the state could offer an additional $17 million annually for transit-related capital investments. The Committee also heard testimony on this same subject from Akshai Singh of the Brookings Institution. Nathan Alley of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club testified that the state should "reallocate no less than 10% of transportation budget away from  new roadway construction and toward public transportation and complete streets that are accessible for people regardless of age or ability and regardless of whether they are walking, riding a bike, bus or train, or are driving."
On Corrections, Director Gary Mohr spoke at length about the Department's desire to see a "paradigm shift" in financing of this area, where funds would be reallocated to community settings for low-level, non-violent offenders. He said the funds should largely focus on increasing GED attainment. He believes that educational attainment is the single biggest predictor for successful reentry to lower recidivism. Ohio's prison population has not lowered as much as other states, despite efforts by the administration to modernize and  reform Ohio's criminal justice system. In this budget the administration will continue the increase in community corrections funding to 71% over 2011 levels. Also, community treatment pilot projects will be substantially expanded into eight counties: Clinton, Ross, Medina, Lucas, Williams, Defiance, Henry, and Fulton.
In addition, various committees heard testimony from the Liquor Control Commission, the Ohio State Racing Commission, the Ohio Sea Grant Program, the Embalmers and Funeral Directors Board, Sanitarian Registration Board, and the Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs.
Last month, many of our members received letters from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding requirements in HB 512 (effective Sept. 9, 2016) mandating community and nontransient, noncommunity public water systems identify and map areas of their distribution system that are known or are likely to contain lead services likes, piping, solder or fixtures. (A copy of the guidelines can be found HEREThe deadline for the mapping submissions is March 9, 2017.
Several of our members contacted OML citing that the unreasonableness of such a close deadline, as well as the cost-prohibitive nature of such a mandate. OML reached out to EPA and received a detailed concern-and-response outline, answering multiple specific questions from specific municipalities in one document. OML encourages are members to read through the document, provided  HERE If you have further questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to either us or the EPA directly for answers.
The Ohio Attorney General's TWO DAYS IN MAY Awards recognize the outstanding services of individuals and/or organizations empowering victims of crime in Ohio.  Individuals and/or programs of any public or private nonprofit organization, whose mission is to assist, protect, or empower victims of crime, are eligible for consideration. Awards will be presented at the Attorney General's Awards Luncheon at the 2017 Two Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance on May 16, 2017.
A new award debuts at this year's conference: the Special Courage Award. This award will be presented to an individual who has demonstrated strength, resiliency and perseverance in serving crime victims. Nominations are also being accepted for the Promising Practice Award and the Robert Denton Special Achievement Award. 
Nominations and Deadlines
Please complete the nomination form in its entirety.  All entries must be received by the Attorney General's Office by March 10, 2017.  Each nomination must be signed and dated by the nominator.  You may submit more than one nomination, but each nomination must be submitted using a separate nomination form.  The nomination form may be duplicated.  
This year's conference will be held May 15 -16 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Registration begins March 6 through May 5, 2017. This year's fee is $85 and payable by credit card or check.
For more information on the 2017 TWO DAYS IN MAY Awards, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/TDIM, or contact:
Venica Miller, Conference Director
Phone 614-644-1234
Are you a local public agency (LPA) or ODOT Office/District? Interested in applying for up to a $100,000 grant to try out your innovative idea?  We have a webinar for you!
Ohio's State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) is accepting applications through March 15th for incentive funding (up to $100,00 with an 80/20 split) to try out new, innovative ideas for local and state transportation projects. Learn what types of innovations can be approved for funding and what won't or doesn't qualify for funding. Also learn how innovations will be reviewed based on the type of agency submitting it - innovations for local agencies can and definitely are different than innovations for ODOT!
The webinar will be delivered by Adam Johnson, PE, Federal Highway Ohio Division Office and co-chair of Ohio's STIC. 
How to Register:  Please complete the registration information on the form at the link below. You will receive an email confirming your registration upon submission of the form. Also, please include any questions you would like to submit ahead of time for the presenter to answer during the webinar.
There were hearings on three bills that we identified as being important to municipalities this week. First, is HB 34, introduced by Representatives Hambley (R-Brunswick) and Scott Ryan (R-Newark) which would authorize certain state agencies, local governments, and other boards, commissions, and officers to deliver certain notices by ordinary mail and electronically instead of by certified mail. The pair gave sponsor testimony on the bill. They testified that the bill would create an efficiency for local governments by allowing them to serve official notices electronically.
Second, is SB 33, introduced by Sen. John Eklund (R-Munson Township) which would allow disclosure of information from the law enforcement automated data system (LEADS) to a defendant in a traffic or criminal case. Senator Eklund said the bill "makes it clear that a defendant has a right to see and have a copy of his or her traffic and criminal record [from the law enforcement automated data system (LEADS)] during a traffic or criminal case . . . Criminal Rule 16(B)(2) ... requires the prosecution provide the defendant 'a copy of the defendant's prior criminal record.' However, I have been made aware that a number of prosecutors feel that if they provide of such records to defendants they may be violating statutes related to the LEADS. In order to properly represent a defendant it is necessary for defense counsel to have all the information so that a defense or plea can be appropriately pursued. Otherwise ludicrous situations occur ... such as a person ... being told he is not allowed to see the 'secret' records which purportedly establish (culpability) ... In addition, it is not unheard of for such records to contain errors." The League would appreciate feedback on this bill, as we have had inquiries from municipal prosecutors who are concerned about the effect the bill will have.
Third is SB 37, introduced by Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) which would require the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to develop and conduct a chief of police training course for newly appointed village, city, and township chiefs of police. Senator Hite gave proponent testimony, saying that the bill is necessary because many police chiefs are unprepared for the task.
Faber (R-Celina)
DEPARTMENT REVIEW SCHEDULE - To require standing committees of the General Assembly to establish a schedule for the periodic review and sunset of state departments that are currently in the Governor's cabinet, and to require that Auditor of State performance audits be scheduled to coincide with the periodic review.
Referred to State and Local Government Committee  
Becker (R-Union Township)
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES-MEMBER DUES - To remove any requirement under the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Law that public employees join or pay dues to any employee organization, to prohibit public employers from requiring public employees to join or pay dues to any employee organization, to prohibit an employee organization from being required to represent public employees who are not members of the employee organization, and to make an appropriation.
Referred to Finance Committee          
Blessing III, L (R-Colerain Township)
STATE REVENUE OBLIGATIONS - To authorize the Treasurer of State to issue revenue obligations of the state for the purpose of making loans to qualifying public entities for their acquisition of permanent improvements through the Treasurer of State's purchase of public obligations of those qualifying entities.
Dever (R-Maderia) Gavarone (R-Bowling Green)
EXPUNGEMENT-HUMAN TRAFFICKING - To permit a person who is found not guilty or is the defendant in a dismissed case to apply for an expungement of the person's records in the case if the complaint, indictment, or finding of not guilty resulted from the applicant having been a victim of human trafficking, to permit a person convicted of certain prostitution-related offenses to apply for the expungement of any record of conviction of an offense, with certain exceptions, if the person's participation in the offense was a result of having been a victim of human trafficking, and to authorize intervention in lieu of conviction for persons charged with committing an offense while a victim of compelling prostitution.
Patterson, J (D-Jefferson) Sheehy (D-Toledo)
WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT - To require the Director of Agriculture to adopt rules establishing the Ohio Water Quality Improvement Program, to exempt land enrolled in the Program from taxation, and to reimburse local taxing units for revenue lost due to that exemption.
Merrin (R-Waterville)
FUEL TAX TRANSPARENCY - To enact the "Fuel Tax Transparency Act" requiring stickers to be placed on retail service station pumps displaying the rates of federal and state taxes applicable to gasoline and diesel fuel.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Tue., Feb. 21, 2017, 9:30 AM, North Hearing Room
Sen. Bacon: 614-466-8064
SB20    PERMANENTLY DISABLING CRIME SPECIFICATION (HACKETT R) To require an additional prison term of 3 to 8 years for an offender who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony offense of violence if the offender is convicted of or pleads guilty to a specification that the victim suffered permanent disabling harm.
            Third Hearing, All Testimony, POSSIBLE VOTE
SB40    DEATH PENALTY SENTENCING (EKLUND J, WILLIAMS S) To provide that a person convicted of aggravated murder who shows that the person had a serious mental illness at the time of committing the offense cannot be sentenced to death for the offense and to provide a mechanism for resentencing to a life sentence a person previously sentenced to death who proves that the person had a serious mental illness at the time of committing the offense.
            First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
SB42    DRUG OFFENSE PENALTIES (EKLUND J) To expressly provide that drug offense penalties that refer to a particular type of drug also apply to a compound, mixture, preparation, or substance containing a detectable amount of that drug and to declare an emergency.
            First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony
SB32    CRIMINAL TRIAL PROCESS (EKLUND J) To provide a prosecutor an additional fourteen days to commence a trial after a person charged with a felony has been discharged because the person has not been brought to trial within the required amount of time and to authorize the court to release the person from detention in connection with those charges pending trial.
            Second Hearing, Proponent Testimony
SB33**            LEADS DISCLOSURE (EKLUND J) To allow disclosure of information from the law enforcement automated data system (LEADS) to a defendant in a traffic or criminal case.
            Second Hearing, Proponent Testimony
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Wed., Feb. 22, 2017, 9:00 AM, Hearing Room 116
Rep. Cupp: 614-466-9624
Testimony from the following:
- Legislative Service Commission presentation on school funding
- Casino Control Commission
- Commission on Service and Volunteerism
- Lottery Commission
- Joint Education Oversight Committee
HB49**           OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) Creates FY 2018-2019 main operating budget.
            First Hearing, Invited Testimony
Wed., Feb. 22, 2017, 10:15 AM, South Hearing Room
Sen. LaRose: 614-466-4823
Governor's Appointments:
- Capri Cafaro to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
- Joseph Denk Jr. to the Board of Building Standards.
- Earl Dohner to the Ohio Board of Motor Vehicle Repair.
- Eric Richter to the Ohio Rail Development Commission.
- Frederick Treuhaft to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Board of Directors.
SB6**  OHIO BRIDGE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM (HOAGLAND F) To extend the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program through the end of fiscal year 2019 and to require the Director of Transportation to submit a report to the Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives recommending ways to continue to fund the program.
            First Hearing, Sponsor Testimony


Committee Schedule

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