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July 10, 2020

OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the most important things you need to know from this past week:
 
  • The League has co-drafted a letter along with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Township Association to Ohio's U.S. Senators Portman and Brown. The letter shares the critical need for Congress to provide additional emergency assistance to Ohio's local governments to offset the severe impact that the coronavirus has had on local government budgets, and to ease the current restrictions on the CARES Act phase 3 assistance currently that is available. A copy of the letter can be found HERE. We are also providing a sample letter HERE which we strongly encourage our members to consider using in their efforts to communicate this important and time-sensitive request.
 
  • The League is working with Policy Matters Ohio on a report highlighting that the budget shortfalls faced by most of Ohio's local governments are not caused by political party, size, location or even economic structure, but that every city and village in Ohio is being adversely impacted by the loss of revenue and the continuing challenge to deliver essential municipal services. We are asking our members to participate in this research project by contacting PMO's Senior Project Director, Wendy Patton at wpatton@policymattersohio.org or (614) 582-0048 and to provide concrete examples of the budget situations their communities are experiencing. Legislation in the U.S. Senate could be announced as early as July 20, so it is critical to accumulate and share as much financial impact data as we can with our congressional delegation and especially our U.S. Senators Portman and Brown.
 
  • The list of counties at Red Alert Level 3 on the Governor's Public Health Advisory Alert System which indicates where Ohio's counties are in relation to the amount of positive Coronavirus cases has expanded this week to now include Clermont, Fairfield, Lorain, Pickaway, Summit, Wood, Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Trumbull. These counties are now under a state Ohio Department of Health (ODH) order for the public use of facial coverings. A copy of the original order is HERE. When we are provided a copy of the new, expanded counties order we will share that with our members. You can read more about the new public health emergency alert system in the article below.
 
  • The Buckeye Institute has filed a lawsuit against both the City of Columbus and the State of Ohio claiming that the state law allowing municipalities to continue to collect municipal income tax from employees working from home during the Governor's declaration of emergency was unconstitutional. We will keep our members apprised as this litigation progresses.
 
  • The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has released an updated list of granted opportunities for municipalities for the week of July 7. You can access that list HERE.
 
 
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY ALERT SYSTEM
 
Last week, Gov. DeWine announced the implementation of a new warning system, the "Public Health Advisory Alert System", to provide health departments and communities with the data and information needed to identify and fight spikes in the virus. Those counties designated at Red Alert Level 3 will be subject to the Ohio Department of Health's public facial covering mandate.
 
The system has 4 alert levels determined by 7 data indicators, including:
  • New Cases Per Capita
  • Sustained Increase in New Cases
  • Proportion of Cases Not Congregate Cases
  • Sustained Increase in Emergency Room Visits
  • Sustained Increase in Outpatient Visits
  • Sustained Increase in New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions
  • Intensive Care Unity Bed Occupancy
 
The risk level for each county corresponds with a color code representing that risk. The 4 alert levels are:
 
Alert Level 1 (Yellow)
  • 0 to 1 of the 7 indicators triggered
  • 53 counties are in this category
  • Guidelines:
    • Active exposure and spread
    • Follow all current health orders
 
Alert Level 2 (Orange)
  • 2 or 3 of the 7 indicators triggered
  • 28 counties are in this category
  • Guidelines:
    • Increased exposure and spread
    • Exercise high degree of caution
    • Follow all current health orders
 
Alert Level 3 (Red)
  • 4 or 5 of the 7 indicators are triggered
  • 7 counties are in this category
  • Guidelines:
    • Very high exposure and spread
    • Limit activities as much as possible (limit travel and gatherings)
    • Follow all current health orders
 
Alert Level 4 (Purple)
  • 6 of the 7 indicators triggered
  • 0 counties are in this category
  • Guidelines:
    • Severe exposure and spread
    • Only leave home for supplies and services
    • Follow all current health orders
 
The Alert System, with an interactive county-by-county map, can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system/.
 
Current counties at Red Alert Level 3 are Clermont, Fairfield, Lorain, Pickaway, Summit, Wood, Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Trumbull. Butler, Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties are also on Ohio's Watch List as they are approaching Purple Alert Level 4. Franklin County was removed from the Watch List this week due to a decrease in hospital admissions. This week also saw Huron county downgraded from Red Alert Level 3 to Yellow Alert Level 2. No counties have yet reached Purple Alert Level 4.
 
 
EXECUTIVE ORDERS MANDATING MASKS FOR ALL RED ALERT COUNTIES TO BE ENFORCED AT LOCAL LEVEL BY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS
 
Gov. DeWine has announced new Ohio Department of Health orders that mandate face coverings in public in all counties that are designated as a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency.
 
The Governor's office has stated that it will be up to the city and county health departments to enforce this mask mandate, not law enforcement. Those local health departments will have the authority to charge people with misdemeanors and fines, and would be able to ask law enforcement for help enforcing the order in "extreme situations". According to the Governor's office, the intent behind the order is not to punish those who refuse to wear masks, but rather to made mask-wearing the norm.
 
Those in counties designated as Red Alert Level 3 or Purple Alert Level 4 are required to wear a face covering in any indoor location that is not a residence; when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or while waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
 
Any county that increases to Red Alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate, while any county that decreases from Red Alert Level 3 to Orange Alert Level 2 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement.
 
The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace and other similar measures.
 
We will continue to keep our members apprised of any new announcements regarding the Public Health Alert System.
 
 
OHIO MUNICIPALITIES ISSUE MASK ORDINANCES
 
This week, multiple municipalities passed local ordinances mandating that residents must wear masks in public places. The municipalities that have passed such ordinances thus far are the following:
 
  • Bexley
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Columbus
  • Dayton
  • Dublin
  • Grandview Heights
  • Hilliard
  • Springfield
  • Upper Arlington
  • Westerville
  • Whitehall
  • Worthington
  • Yellow Springs
 
If your municipality is looking into passing a similar ordinance, you can reference the language passed by BexleyDayton and Dublin. Additionally, you can reference Dayton's mask policies for municipal personnel HERE.
 
We will continue to track these ordinances as municipalities pass them.
 
  
 
OHIO LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATIONS SEND LETTER URGING MORE FLEXIBILTY FOR CURRENT FEDERAL COVID-19 AID AND ADDITIONAL BUDGET STABILIZATION ASSISTANCE
 
The League has co-signed a letter along with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Township Association urging Ohio's Senators Portman and Brown to ensure Congress provides immediate emergency assistance to state and local governments and an easing of restrictions on how current federal aid can be used.
 
In the letter, which you can read HERE, the local government associations outline the need for federal aid to ensure local governments can stabilize their budgets. Ohio's local communities need more funding in order to support the private sector as the economy reopens and sustain local workers on the frontlines of the pandemic response. In order to make certain the nation experiences a strong and swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress must pass a flexible emergency federal assistance package for states and local governments. The letter also shares with our U.S. senators the challenges local governments face in working with the severe restrictions imposed on the use of the federal aid that has already been distributed through the CARES Act phase 3 legislation.
 
We urge our members to use this template letter HERE to impress upon Sen. Portman and Sen. Brown the importance of sending federal funding to Ohio's local governments that can be used to stabilize local budgets and the need for greater flexibility in the use of existing aid. Congress needs to hear from local leaders about the struggles individual communities are facing and how Ohio's cities and villages play a vital role in ensuring a strong economic recovery.
 
The U.S. Senate is already considering another federal aid package and it is imperative that emergency funding for state and local governments be included in that legislation. Contact Sen. Portman and Sen. Brown to help ensure Ohio's cities and villages receive the federal aid they need.
 
  
 
SB 4 SENT TO GOVERNOR WITH PROVISIONS ON PREVAILING WAGE, TIF PAYMENTS AND COMPETITIVE BIDDING
 
A bill originally introduced as an appropriation for school funding has been overhauled and sent to the Governor with several amendments that impact municipalities.
 
SB 4, sponsored by Sen. Rulli (R - Salem) and Sen. Kunze (R - Hilliard), was originally intended to make a capital appropriation for school facilities assistance. After that language was added to the state operating budget, HB 166, the bill was instead used by the House as a smaller capital appropriations bill and a vehicle for other legislative provisions.
 
Substantial amendments were adopted into the bill that impact Ohio's municipalities, including the following:
           ·          applies prevailing wage law to certain transportation improvement projects (language HERE);
           ·          temporarily expands the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) payments (language HERE);
           ·          waives competitive bidding when purchasing persona protection equipment (PPE) when the cost exceeds $100,000 during the Governor's declaration of emergency (language HERE).
 
The House also included provisions that allocated funds for the following items:
           ·          an additional $300 million for school facilities;
           ·          $255 million for public works, including $175 million for the State Capital Improvement Program;
           ·          $37.5 million for the Clean Ohio Program;
           ·          $42.5 million for the public works loan program.
 
The changes made to the bill by the House were concurred upon by the Senate in late June and was send to the Governor for his signature last week. We will keep our members updated when the bill is signed.
 
 
 
UPDATE ON OHIO COVID-19 RESPONSE
 
  • Rep. Stephanie Howse (D - Cleveland) is the first member of the Ohio General Assembly to announce that she had tested positive for COVID-19. We will keep our members updated as she recovers.
 
  • As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 61,331 cases of coronavirus, 3,006 deaths, 8,570 hospitalizations and 2,146 ICU admissions.
 
  • Lt. Gov. Husted announced that "Presumed Recovered" is a new data point now reported in Ohio's COVID-19 data metrics. Ohio's current presumed-recovered count is 38,987.
 
Guidance to Re-Open Schools:
 
  • To help K-12 schools and institutions of higher education address increasing costs associated with the COVID-19 safety measures, Gov. DeWine and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly are requesting that the Ohio Controlling Board approve an initial request on Monday to allocate $200 million for higher education and $100 million for K-12 schools from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The funding would be available to all public and private schools and for all two and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, including adult career tech providers.
 
  • The funding request is in addition to the more than $440 million in direct federal CARES Act funding that Ohio K-12 schools are receiving and the more than $190 million in direct federal funding provided to Ohio's colleges and universities.
 
  • The Department of Education release a document "The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts", which you can access HERE, to assist schools with implementing the five guidelines. You can also read a document the Ohio Department of Health entitled "COVID-19 Health and Prevention Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools" HERE.
 
  • Basic principles behind the state's guidance:
    • The state has an obligation to educate children and keep them safe.
    • There is local control over schools.
    • It is important to get kids back into the school building.
 
  • The key provisions in the school re-opening guidelines include:
    • Vigilantly assess symptoms (take temperatures, assess health conditions, implement a testing strategy).
    • Wash and sanitize hands to avoid spread of the virus (wash hands throughout the day and provide hand sanitizer throughout the building).
    • Sanitize and disinfect the school building.
    • Practice social distancing (6 feet distance among students, teachers, interns and others as often as possible).
    • Face covering policy (each school must develop a face covering policy, school staff must wear masks with the exceptions that exist for other employers/employees, strong recommendation that children 3rd grade and up wear face coverings).
 
Guidance to Re-Open Sports:
 
  • Lt. Gov. Husted announced short-term guidelines to help sports teams continue their efforts to return to play amid the global, COVID-19 pandemic. You can read those guidelines HERE.
 
  • The Ohio Department of Health has issued a Director's Order providing guidance through July 15 for contact sport competitions. Competitive games and tournaments are now permitted for contact sports. During this period, practices and open gyms with another team or club and inter-club/team play are also permitted so long as all teams involved agree to comply with the requirements set forth in the Director's Order.
 
  • This order is extended for a short, trial basis and that the responsibility is with all Ohioans to continue exercising safe practices to slow the spread of COVID-19. You can read the order HERE.
 
  • There is also an awareness campaign to engage athletes and younger Ohioans in efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Everyone who looks forward to the return to play can join in the campaign by sharing a video or photo that emphasizes how they plan to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash their hands more regularly in order to slow the spread and keep the path open for sports to return in 2020. Those participating in the campaign should use the hashtag #IWantASeason.
 
  • Those wanting to download materials for the campaign should visit LG.Ohio.gov/IWantASeason   for tips on participating in the campaign and for access to the logo.
 
Jobs and Employment Update:
 
           ·          Lt. Gov. Husted announced the launch of the Individual Micro-credential Assistance Program (IMAP) which was created in partnership with the Ohio House of Representatives. This program will provide $2.5 million in grants to help unemployed Ohioans earn in-demand, technology-focused credentials that will give them a leg up in finding a job in the increasingly tech-focused economy. The grant application is open to training providers, such as universities, colleges, Ohio technical centers, or private sector training businesses. Training providers interested in applying can find more information at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov. The deadline to apply is July 24.
 
           ·          Gov. DeWine recently signed an executive order enabling the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to use federal funding authorized under the CARES Act to enhance the state's SharedWork program. Participating employers agree to reduce the affected employees' hours by a uniform percentage, between 10 percent and 50 percent, for up to 52 weeks. In return, those employees receive SharedWork compensation (which is a prorated unemployment benefit) and, while federally available, may also receive the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit each week. For more information visit jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio.
 
           ·          For the week ending July 4, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 33,483 initial jobless claims to the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the last 16 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $4.9 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 736,000 Ohioans. Of the more than 1 million applications the agency has received, about 94% have been processed, with about 6% pending. In addition, ODJFS has issued more than $3.8 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to more than 411,000 PUA claimants.
 
Bar and Restaurant Update:
 
  • Since May, when restaurants and bars re-opened, the Ohio Department of Commerce has been working with local jurisdictions to extend liquor permits to outside spaces next to bars (like parking lots/sidewalks) so seating capacity can expand outside to keep patrons distanced.
 
  • Gov. DeWine encouraged bar and restaurant owners to continue to work with the state and their local governments to come up with creative ways to expand their outdoor seating capacity so that everyone can stay safe and be socially distanced. So far, over 300 expansion requests have been granted.
 
  • While the Governor is "disturbed" by some of the photos circulating of crowded bars and restaurants, he emphasized that most places are very conscientious and doing a great job of following the state guidelines. He also indicated that the state will be cracking down on establishments that are not following requirements.
 
Miscellaneous Updates:
 
           ·          Gov. DeWine announced that he is awarding an additional grant of $15 million to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. The funds will be used to support homelessness prevention efforts and rapidly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness who could be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, especially those in congregate facilities such as homeless shelters. The grant funding is in addition to a $1 million grant that Gov. DeWine awarded the coalition in April.
 
           ·          Lt. Gov. Husted encouraged Ohioans who have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks to consider donating plasma. For more information or to sign up to donate, visit redcrossblood.org/plasma4covid or contact a local blood donor or plasma collection center.
 
 
 
FEDERAL UPDATE ON INFRASTRUCTURE BILL, PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM AND OTHER ISSUES IMPACTING MUNICIPALITIES
 
U.S. House Passes Infrastructure Bill:
 
  • The U.S. House passed their comprehensive infrastructure bill, the "Moving Forward" Act (H.R.2) with $1.5 trillion in provisions for transportation, water, broadband, workforce training, infrastructure financing and more. With several rounds of amendments, the debate on the floor lasted two days and dealt with several key amendments that NLC worked on to invest in workforce skills training, to replace lead water pipes, and to ensure road safety. The legislation will now be considered by the U.S. Senate. You can find more information on the bill HERE.
 
  • The National League of Cities (NLC) issued a statement applauding the passage of the bill, saying it will "make realistic investments across the country to recover from COVID-19, rebuild our essential infrastructure, and create critical jobs in a time of growing unemployment".
 
  • NLC also referenced recent survey data from over 1,100 municipalities across the country found that 65% of cities are being forced to delay or completely cancel capital expenditures and infrastructure projects, which will stifle job growth and slow local economic activity. NLC's statement continued, "Congress should quickly bring both recovery and reinvestment bills to the President's desk."
 
New Bipartisan Bill Would Reinstate Advanced Refunding Bonds:
  • The "Lifting Our Communities through Advance Liquidity for Infrastructure" (LOCAL Infrastructure) Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
 
  • The bill would reinstate tax exempt refunding to help local governments take advantage of favorable borrowing rates.
 
  • This bill is critically important to helping cities, towns and villages. Advance refunding bonds have been a longstanding tool in local governments' tool chests, allowing issuers to take advantage of lower interest rates while minimizing borrowing costs.
 
  • In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed the tax exemption for savings generated as a result of advance refunding bonds.
 
Paycheck Protection Program Loans:
 
  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to pass the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) extension deadline.
 
  • This followed action by the U.S. Senate to pass an extension for the PPP to August 8 by unanimous consent Tuesday night, just hours before it was set to close down.
 
  • The legislation would extend the deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans.
 
  • The bill gives the Small Business Administration the authority to continue
 
U.S. Jobs and Unemployment Rate:
 
  • The U.S. economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June as states continued to allow businesses shuttered by the coronavirus to reopen and more Americans went back to work, even as massive layoffs have persisted.
 
  • The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% in May, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.
 
 
EPA TO HOLD WEBINAR ON LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
 
The Ohio EPA's Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA) is hosting a series of webinars focused on environmental issues that have an impact at the local level. The next webinar in this series is next Thursday, July 16 and will include opportunities to receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs). More information below:
 
Webinar: Managing Contaminated Sites in Your Community - July 16 (10 a.m. - 11 a.m.)
Presenter: Lisa Shook & Dan Tjoelker, Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization (DERR)
Summary: It's important that local leaders are aware of how contaminated sites are regulated to keep residents safe and what redevelopment opportunities exist. This webinar will explain the basics of environmental clean-up regulations, will provide an overview of liability, due care, land and resource use restrictions, and will explain Brownfield funding and other financial assistance available. This webinar may be eligible for CEU Credits.
 
Click HERE for more information and to register.
 
 
 
CEMETARY GRANT APPLICATION AVAILABLE FOR FY2021
 
The Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the FY 2021 Cemetery Grant Program. This year's grant applications may only be submitted online. The online application can be found at https://cemeterygrants.com.ohio.gov/.
 
The FY2021 Cemetery Grant Instruction package can be found here. Please carefully review the package in its entirety. The instructions contain a worksheet to allow you to gather all of the necessary information prior to submitting the grant application online.
 
If you have any questions or require additional assistance, please contact the Division at (614) 466-5384 or CemeteryGrants@com.state.oh.us.
 
 
 
 
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
  • SB 333 - TAX PAYMENTS. Sponsored by Rep. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), would require the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to make payments in lieu of taxes to local taxing units for significant land acquisitions by the department after 2018.
 
  • HB 712 - LAW ENFORCEMENT DATABASE. Sponsored by Rep. Sheehy (D - Oregon) and Rep. Hicks-Hudson (D - Toledo),would require the Attorney General to create a database of information regarding law enforcement officers who have been terminated or resigned under certain circumstances and require law enforcement agencies to access the database to determine employment eligibility of those officers.
 
  • HB 713 - PROHIBIT QUOTAS FOR CITATIONS, ARRESTS (Rep. West (D - Canton) and Rep. Leland (D - Columbus), would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using quotas for arrests and citations.
 
  • HB 716 - LAW ENFORCEMENT STRANGULATION OFFENSE. Sponsored by Rep. Lepore-Hagan (D - Youngstown) and Rep. Galonski (D - Akron), would create the offense of strangulation by a law enforcement officer.
 
  • HB 720 - FIRE, POLICE CHIEFS' RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS. Sponsored by Rep. Ingram (D - Cincinnati) and Rep. Hicks-Hudson (D - Toledo), would allow a municipal corporation to require its fire chief or chief of police to reside within the municipal corporation during the chief's first five years.
 
  • HB 721 - MILITARY EQUIPMENT SURPLUS REQUIREMENTS. Sponsored by Rep. Weinstein (D - Hudson) and Rep. Crawley (D - Columbus), would prohibit a political subdivision from receiving certain property from a military equipment surplus program operated by the federal government and to limit the use of federal funds to purchase equipment.
 
  • SB 335 - PROPERTY TAXES. Sponsored by Rep. Craig (D - Columbus), would reduce property taxes on owner-occupied homes to the extent that property taxes increase by more than 3% from the previous year and name this act the Property Tax Relief and Local Government Support Act.
 
  • SCR 16 - LAW ENFORCEMENT. Sponsored by Sen. Gavarone (R - Bowling Green) would call for justice for victims of excessive force by police and declare opposition to efforts to defund law enforcement.


THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO BILLS SCHEDULED FOR COMMITTEE