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May 31, 2019 

OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
 
Here are the top three things you need to know from this past week:
 
  • This week, the House seated Republican Rep. Diane Grendell to fill the 76th House District seat vacated by former Rep. Sarah LaTourette. Rep. Grendell had served in the House from 1992-2000, was an 11th District Court of Appeals judge for 16 years and was a JAG officer in the Ohio Military Reserve. 
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has ranked America's 150 largest cities by population density. Cleveland is 38, Columbus is 60, Cincinnati is 69, Toledo is 82 and Akron is 89.
  • As of last week, 18 of the 56 preliminarily-approved medical marijuana dispensaries have received certificates of operation.
 
 
 
PTSD COVERAGE FOR FIRST RESPONDERS ADDED TO BWC BUDGET
 
This week, the House Finance Committee adopted an amendment expanding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to Sub. HB 80, the Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC) Budget. 
 
According to the amendment language, peace officers, firefighters and Emergency Medical workers (EMS) would be eligible for workers' compensation if diagnosed with PTSD, even if the individual has not suffered an accompanying physical injury. In current Ohio law, coverage cannot be allocated without an accompanying physical injury.
 
The amendment does not create any time limits for workers' compensation coverage, nor does it provide any other similar parameters. It is unknown what kind of fiscal impact this will have on local governments. The amendment language and accompanying documents do not provide details on cost projections, estimated increases in claims or even how the coverage will specifically be funded.
 
During its second hearing in the House Finance Committee, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce expressed these concerns in their interested party testimony on Sub. HB 80.
 
The League's attorneys are currently examining the language and we will keep our members apprised on the fiscal impact this amendment would have on our municipalities. The League maintains the importance of not increasing the financial burden on Ohio's municipalities, and we will continue to communicate this in meetings with legislators. We will also alert our members in the event there are opportunities to testify on this provision.
 
 
 
 
LEAGUE, CITIES TESTIFY AGAINST MUNICIPAL WATER PREEMPTION BILL
 
The League offered opponent testimony this week against HB 163, which preempts a municipality's authority to charge what they deem fair and reasonable rates for the cost of building out and maintaining water and sewer infrastructure to neighboring political subdivisions. (Link: https://bit.ly/2MjkCEY). Brian Barger, testifying in opposition on behalf of the League, said HB 163 was a "litigator's dream come true."
 
"This legislation preempts municipal Home Rule authority, increases the cost burden on municipalities that build and maintain water infrastructure to neighboring communities and opens municipalities up to arbitrary and costly litigation," he said. You can read his testimony in full HERE.
 
The League's Board President and Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst offered written opposition testimony as well, protesting the bill's violation of municipal Home Rule authority. You can read his testimony in full HERE.
 
Opposition testimony from cities was given by Columbus, Akron, Toledo, Springboro and Delaware. Keary McCarthy of the Ohio Mayor's Alliance also testified against the bill, saying it would reduce fairness and increase costs. Further opposition testimony included the Ohio Municipal Electrical Association, the Association of Ohio Metropolitan Wastewater Agencies and American Municipal Power, Inc. You can access all of the May 29th testimonies HERE.
 
The League wants to thank all the cites that offered testimony opposing HB 163. We also want to thank all our members who responded to our Call to Action with calls and emails to their legislative delegation. Local voices carry weight at the Ohio Statehouse, and it is important that legislators hear from the communities in their district on the issues that impact their municipalities. We will continue to oppose HB 163 and we will keep our members apprised of any updates on the bill as it moves through the legislative process.
  
 
 
LOCAL BAG TAX PREEMPTION BILL RECEIVES FIRST HEARING

A bill preempting municipal Home Rule authority had its first hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee. HB 242 is sponsored by Rep. Lang (R - West Chester Township) and Rep. Jones (R - Freeport) and would authorize the use of an auxiliary container for any purpose, prohibit the imposition of a tax or fee on those containers, and apply existing anti-littering law to those containers. (Link: https://bit.ly/2Vp9WUn).
 
This bill not only preempts a municipality from passing a plastic and paper bag tax, but also any tax on straws, plastic utensils, aluminum cans, glass bottles, Styrofoam cups and carry-out food containers. Additionally, the bill prohibits municipalities from discontinuing the use of plastic products, such as banning the use of plastic bags.
HB 242 is a blatant preemption on local control and usurps the will of the 8.5 million residents of Ohio's municipalities who would wish to levy these kinds of taxes. The League encourages our members to reach out to their legislative delegation and express their opposition to this violation of local control. We would also urge that our members either submit testimony or come testify in person in the even the bill receives hearings in committee. We will be keeping or members apprised of this bill as it moves through the legislative process.
 
 
 
 
ODOT ANNOUNCES FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
 
The Ohio Department of Transportation has announced the dates for the opening of the application process for several funding program for local infrastructure projects. These funding opportunities are as follows:
 
Small City Program - The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is currently accepting applications through June 15 for the Small City program. Applications are currently being accepted for state fiscal construction year 2023.
 
The Small City program provides federal funds to small cities with populations from 5,000 to 24,999. In order to be eligible for the program, the small city cannot be located within Metropolitan Planning Organizations' boundaries. This program may be used by the small cities for any road, safety, or signal project on the Federal-aid system. A funding limit of $2 million per project is set. Currently, there are 54 small cities that meet the program criteria.
 
The program has an annual budget of $10 million. Additionally, the use of Toll Revenue Credit (TRC) is available for projects awarded through 2024. TRC minimizes the percentage of the project the local is responsible for. It does this by increasing the federal share from 80% to 95% so the local is responsible for a 5% match rather than a 20% match on eligible construction and construction engineering activities.
 
Municipal Bridge Program - The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will begin accepting applications for the Municipal Bridge program on July 1 and all applications are due by August 15. Applications will be accepted for state fiscal construction year 2023. There may be a small amount of money available for construction year 2022.
 
The Municipal Bridge program provides federal funds to municipal corporations and Regional Transit Authorities for bridge replacement, bridge rehabilitation, or bridge demolition projects. A funding limit of $2 million per project is set. Currently, there are about 105 bridges that meet the criteria for the Municipal Bridge program.
 
The program has an annual budget of $10 million. Additionally, the use of Toll Revenue Credit (TRC) is available for projects awarded through 2024. TRC minimizes the percentage of the project the local is responsible for. It does this by increasing the federal share from 80% to 95% so the local is responsible for a 5% match rather than a 20% match on eligible construction and construction engineering activities.
 
Local Major Bridge Program - The Ohio Department of Transportation will begin accepting applications for the Local Major Bridge program on September 1. All applications are due by October 1. Applications will be accepted for state fiscal construction year 2023.
 
The Local Major Bridge Program provides federal funds to counties and municipalities for bridge replacement or major bridge rehabilitation projects. A local major bridge is defined as a moveable bridge or a bridge having a deck area greater than 35,000 square feet. To be eligible for funds, projects must have a General Appraisal of 4 or less or legally posted for load restriction. The project must also be open to vehicular traffic and structurally deficient. A funding limit of $20 million per project is set. Currently, there are 57 bridges identified statewide as local major bridges.
 
The program has an annual budget of $20 million. Additionally, the use of Toll Revenue Credit (TRC) is available for projects awarded through 2024. TRC minimizes the percentage of the project the local is responsible for. It does this by increasing the federal share from 80% to 95% so the local is responsible for a 5% match rather than a 20% match on eligible construction and construction engineering activities.
 
To learn more about any of these programs and to check your municipality's availability, click here: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Planning/LocalPrograms/Pages/LocalFundingOpportunities.aspx

For any question, please contact Nichole Lawhorn at (614) 752-6581 or Nichole.Lawhorn@dot.ohio.gov.
 
To stay updated on announcements regarding funding cycles, register for ODOT's ListServ communications. To register, click here: https://odot.formstack.com/forms/mailing_list_sign_up.
 
 
 
 
NLC RELEASES 2019 STATE OF THE CITIES REPORT
 
The National League of Cities (NLC) has released its sixth State of the Cities report. The Report analyses over 150 speeches given by mayors from cities and villages all over the nation to discern what the most pressing issues are concerning local leaders, how municipalities are tackling those issues and emerging local trends.
 
As highlighted in the report, economic development is the leading issue for municipalities across the country, followed closely by infrastructure. Much like Ohio, 57% of 2019 state of the city speeches given by mayors across America included substantial coverage of infrastructure issues within their communities. 55% were concerned about improving roads, stress and signs and 37% discussed water, sewer and waste infrastructure.
 
Other topics covered in the report include health and human services, housing, public safety and energy. You can read the report in full HERE.
 
 
 
 
MAYORS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES LT. GOVERNOR JOHN HUSTED AS CONFERENCE GUEST SPEAKER

From Wednesday, June 12 through Friday, June 14, the Mayors Association of Ohio Annual Conference will be held at the downtown Columbus Renaissance Hotel. Mayors will have the opportunity to network and share best practices, mingle with exhibitors, attend session and workshops on the most pressing issues facing Ohio's local leaders.
 
The League is grateful that Lt. Governor John Husted will be joining our mayors as our guest speaker Thursday. To ensure you don't miss out on this unique opportunity, click HERE to register and find more information.
 
 
 
 
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR MUNICIPAL INCOME TAX SEMINAR

From Wednesday, July 10 through Friday, July 12, the League will be hosting our annual Municipal Income Tax Seminar at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus. The seminar is a unique and important experience for municipal tax administrators across the state as a chance to network, hear from state officials and attend workshops and seminars covering a wide range of topics.
 
The League is also grateful that Ohio Tax Commissioner Jeff McClain will be our guest speaker Thursday to talk about news regarding the centralized collection of the municipal net profit taxes. To register for this important event and to see more details, click HERE. We look forward to seeing you there!
 
 
  
NEW BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST INTRODUCED
 
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that were introduced this week:
  • HB 264 - WATER DEVELOPMENT. Sponsored by Rep. Wilkin (R - Lynchburg) and Rep. O'Brien (D - Warren), would allow the Ohio Water Development Authority to provide for the refinancing of loans for certain public water and waste water infrastructure projects.(Link: https://bit.ly/2EIKUKl)
 
 
 
 
COMMITTEE RECAP: BILLS OF MUNICIPAL INTEREST
 
Here are the bills impacting municipalities that received committee hearings this week:
 
  • HB 10 - DRUG POLICY OFFICE. Sponsored by Rep. Brown (D - Canal Winchester) and Rep. Stolzfus (R - Minerva), would establish the Governor's Office of Drug Policy and make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the House Health Committee, the Ohio Township Association offered proponent testimony on the bill. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2YzTtP7)
 
  • SB 52 - CYBER SECURITY. Sponsored by Sen. Gavarone (R - Bowling Green), would create the civilian cyber security reserve forces, make the Secretary of State a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, require the Secretary of State to appoint a chief information security officer, require the boards of elections to audit election results, and make an appropriation. During its fourth hearing before the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee, the bill was unanimously reported out of committee. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2GS59FJ)
 
  • HB 7 - WATER FUND. Sponsored by Rep. Ghanbari (R - Perrysburg) and Rep. Patterson (D - Jefferson), would create the H2Ohio Trust Fund for the protection and preservation of Ohio's water quality, create the H2Ohio Advisory Council to disburse money from the Fund for water quality programs, and create the H2Ohio Endowment Board to make recommendations to the Treasurer of State regarding the issuance of securities to pay for costs related to the purposes of the Fund. During its third hearing before the House Finance Committee, those testifying supported the bill with some urging for more funding. The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2JLfXse)
 
  • HB 13 - BROADBAND EXPANSION. Sponsored by Rep. Carfagna (R - Genoa Township) and Rep O'Brien (D - Warren), would establish the residential broadband expansion program and make an appropriation. During its second hearing before the House Finance Committee, the League along with the Ohio Township Association offered joint proponent testimony supporting the bill. You can read our testimony in full HERE.(Link: https://bit.ly/2JL2aTz)
 
  • 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 fifth hearing before the House Federalism Committee, opponents including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police testified against the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2DNudwX)
 
  • SB 72 - FIREWORKS LAW. Sponsored by Sen. Burke (R - Marysville), would revise the Fireworks Law. During its third hearing before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, representatives from Prevent Blindness and the Ohio Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics testified in opposition to the bill. The League is neutral on this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2HkbmvN)
 
  • 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 first hearing before the House Public Utilities Committee, the bill's sponsor explained that the bill "encourages citizens to exercise their right to free speech in the proper manner." The League is supportive of this legislation.(Link: https://bit.ly/2GSjRN8)