FINAL WEEK OF LAME DUCK SESSION APPROACHES WITH SEVERAL MUNICIPAL ISSUES BEING ADVANCED
This week the League continued advocating for the issues that we discussed in last week’s legislative bulletin. Much work has been done behind the scenes and we are optimistic about how that may manifest next week in the form of amendments. Below is a quick review of some of the issues the legislature is preparing to act on next week affecting municipalities.
First, we alerted our members last week to a legislative proposal being advanced by AT&T that would eliminate local control for Ohio municipalities with respect to their rates, zoning and maintenance efforts regarding pole attachments of “small cell”wireless antennas and accessory equipment. A copy of the language can be found HERE. As you may remember, this proposal granted AT&T (and others) a ‘carte blanche”preemption allowing them to attach these wireless antennas to any municipal structure within the municipal right of way. Not only did it strip local communities of the right to decide what is best, safest and even what is most aesthetically pleasing for their municipality, but it also placed municipalities under the jurisdiction of the PUCO. Because current statue requires municipalities to grant non-discriminatory access to companies like AT&T, such a proposal was completely unwarranted and gave precedent to companies only concerned about their bottom line -at the expense of Home Rule and what is best for municipalities.
The League, along with AMP Ohio/OMEA met with legislators and interested parties (including officials from AT&T) for several hours this week to discuss the concerns of municipalities. As of this writing, both sides are working on the proposals that were discussed and may be close to agreement on multiple issues. We will be meeting throughout the next several days to hopefully work out our differences before the proposal is finalized and added to a yet-to-be-determined bill before moving through the final legislative process.
We will be sure to report the outcome of this issue in our next bulletin.
Second, Senate Bill 235, introduced by Senator Bill Coley (R-Cincinnati) and Bill Beagle (R-Dayton) continues to move forward. The bill would exempt from property tax the increased value of property on which industrial or commercial development is planned until construction of new commercial or industrial facilities at the property commences. Today, the House Finance Committee accepted a sub-bill. The Legislative Service Commission has created a comparison document that will allow you to see the changes under the amendments offered this week. It can be viewed Here. As you will see, there have been substantial improvements made to the proposal, restoring local control on important economic development agreements and providing other safeguards that will preserve the integrity of current and future compacts. The league appreciates the attention of the Finance Committee leadership, as well as the concerns our membersraised to the legislature on this is issue.
Third, Senate Bill 27-a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Patton (R-Lyndhurst) that addresses cancer in firefighters-was amended last week by a sub-bill at the recommendation of the OML. Briefly, here are the substitute version changes:
• increases from three to six years the time during which a person would have to serve as a firefighter on hazardous duty before qualifying for a presumption;
• deletes a previous list of cancers; removes language regarding the identification of health conditions in pre-employment screenings;
• establishes a rebuttable presumption if a person's tobacco use could be a cause of their cancer;
• requires firefighters to show that carcinogens to which they have been exposed are linked to cancer;
• allows a presumption to be rebuttable if it can be shown that a person was not exposed to a carcinogen.
League staff have been working closely on the final components of the substitute language and appreciates the expertise provided by our members to improve upon the bill. A final vote will not be taken until next week and more changes are expected before it is returned to the Ohio Senate for their approval. Next week, we will be able to provide a more comprehensive review of the final changes made to the bill.
Below is a list of announced committees for next week. If there are additions or changes to the schedule, we will post those to our website.
Have a great weekend~