Ohio Municipal League Legislative Bulletin

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July 29, 2016

The Ohio Legislature will return next week to take care of a few “housekeeping” issues including welcoming new members to the Ohio General Assembly and Resolutions recognizing the passing of past members. As of now, there is only one committee scheduled to meet next week while reps and senators are back on Capital Square. If more committees are added to the schedule, we will be sure to alert our members. 
On Monday, the League added another member to the OML family through the hiring of Ashley Brewster as our new Legislative Advocate. Ashley is Westerville native who served as Legislative Aide for State Senator Jay Hottinger both during his service in the Ohio House and when he was elected to the senate. In addition to her lengthy legislative experience, Ashley brings to the league experience as a Public Relations Consultant for another Ohio nonprofit, the Military Veterans Resource Center.
Graduating Cum Laude from Grace College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Journalism, Ashley will assist in many policy areas with a focus on municipal and state taxation policy as well as advancing the OML’s mission of fostering a productive partnership between Ohio state and municipal governments.
Ashley is a big part of the League’s ambition to further strengthen the partnership between Ohio’s state government and its municipalities. At the Ohio General Assembly, Ashley demonstrated tremendous savvy, an understanding of the needs of Ohio’s local communities and an ability to communicate effectively with lawmakers and state agencies. We are very excited to have Ashley join our team and look forward to our members working with her to address the needs of their communities.
On July 6-8th, the League hosted our annual OML Municipal Income Tax Conference at the Marriott NW in Dublin. Over 300 municipal finance officials from across the state attended the three-day seminar reviewing critical aspects of HB5, the municipal tax reform legislation which became effective January 1, 2016.
In addition to the review of the reform changes now incorporated into ORC718, the conference attendees also heard from a panel of legislators who are key policymakers on tax related issues at the Ohio Statehouse and from officials from the Department of Taxation The discussion centered on the NOL Impact Review Committee’s methodology for municipalities to provide impact analysis related to the new 5 year carry forward mandate for all Ohio cities and villages. We are grateful for the time Senator Bob Peterson and Representatives Gary Scherer and Jack Cera spent with our attendees before and after their presentations and for sharing their views as they relate to local and state tax issues.
We also want to thank all the exhibitors who set-up booths and offered their services and to the regional tax groups for their monetary support including the Ohio Association of Tax Administrators (OATA) and Southwest Ohio Tax Administrators (SWOTAA).
Finally, no conference could be a success without the intellectual firepower of those recruited to be session presenters. The 2016 tax conference covered some of the most difficult to interpret changes to the administration of the municipal income tax via HB5, so our presenters had their work cut out for them. We greatly appreciate the hours they spent to prepare the information and help our officials better understand the updated requirements of the continuing revisions of the municipal income tax.
On March 31, 2016, Kent Scarrett moved from being OML’s Director of Communication to its Executive Director. Since that time, the OML has begun the process of reviewing its operations to determine what it can do better to serve its members. On June 7-8, 2016, the OML held its inaugural Executive Board Retreat in Dublin, Ohio. There, the OML Board of Directors sat for two and a half days examining all OML functions and considering what it could do better.
The first session of the retreat began with a review of “where we are.” The OML Board and staff discussed the OML’s mission, key legislative accomplishments and activities, as well as image, perceptions and effectiveness.
Overall, the Board agreed with staff recommendations on rebranding the League and accepted several recommendations about improving communications and providing our members and legislators additional resources for communication and planning more strategic engagements. New projects in the development stages include a Local Government Legislative Alumni Caucus of past municipal officials now serving in the legislature; a Legislative Leadership Project where the League will facilitate meetings with legislative leaders and their district municipal officials; a New Legislator Orientation Project where league staff will arrange meetings with new members of the Ohio legislature to introduce them to issues relevant to Ohio cities and villages; and a robust Legislator Information Database providing our members and league staff with greater insight into legislators previous experience and issues where they have taken interest.    
With these new initiatives being developed, the retreat produced a number of other directions for improvement, including the development of our new logo (which you may have noticed on our bulletin letterhead above) and tag line: “Partnering for Stronger Cities and Villages.”
Second, the League will be introducing a new website and has already increased its social media presence. Third, the Board agreed that the League should send shorter, more frequent email communication through the League’s bulletin email list, rather than longer, but less-frequent emails. These communication changes will take effect when the legislature returns to their legislative schedule after the November general elections.
Lastly, a robust discussion was held on how the League can facilitate the relationship between the League’s members, members of Ohio government and the League’s staff. In addition to the items mentioned previously, OML Board members will develop stronger lines of communication between each other and will have more organizational responsibilities. 
Overall, it was agreed that the retreat was an enormous success and that the OML has the information and direction it needs from the Board to move forward. We would very much appreciate our member’s feedback, so please call or email us with your input on these issues.
The OML has retained Capital Partners, a public policy and management strategy consulting firm, to provide analysis that accurately describes the fiscal, operational, policy, and political condition of Ohio’s municipal sector, including its relationship with the State of Ohio. Capital Partners is headed by former Director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management Dr. Greg Browning. The League feels Dr. Browning has the respect and attention of key leaders in the Ohio General Assembly.
Over the last several years, the League feels that many key leaders on Capital Square would benefit from a meaningful data project concerning municipalities in Ohio. The lack of reliable information has been a challenge for leaders in making policy that affects municipalities. The Capital Partners project will serve as the foundation and framework for actionable policy and management recommendations designed to enhance the stability and performance of Ohio municipalities. The project will also provide the OML with greater strategic clarity in regard to enhancing member services.
This project will accurately and honestly tell the story of Ohio’s municipalities over the last several years. It will offer specific, concrete policy proposals via graphics that portray a “dashboard” of metrics that will help stakeholders better measure and enhance municipal government performance.
Since our last legislative bulletin, the following legislation affecting municipalities has been signed into law by Governor Kasich:
  • Senate Bill 321, signed on June 28, 2016, which will be effective September 28, 2016. The bill was introduced by Senate Leader Keith Faber (R-Celina) which will create a procedure within the Court of Claims to hear complaints alleging a denial of access to public records and will modify the circumstances under which a person who files a mandamus action seeking the release of public records may be awarded court costs and attorney's fees. The bill protects higher education institutions from liability for disclosure of public records. We anticipate multiple complicated issues related to this bill and so the Ohio Association of Public Safety Directors (an OML affiliate) has scheduled a live seminar/webinar on this subject on August 26, 2016 from 9am to 12pm. Please contactjbrown@omlohio.org to register and get more information.
  • House Bill 387 was signed into law on June 28, 2016 and goes into effect September 28, 2016. The bill was introduced by Representatives Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati) and Jonathan Dever (R-Cincinnati) and will raise the maximum allowable limit of the monetary jurisdiction of small claims divisions of municipal courts.
  • House Bill 277, which was signed on June 28, 2016 and went into effect immediately on that date. The bill was introduced by Representative Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and will authorize a county, township, or municipal corporation to impose a 9-1-1 system levy in only the portion of the subdivision that would be served by the 9-1-1 system.
Senate Bill 340 was introduced July 25, 2016 by Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and would re-regulate the use of indemnity provisions in contracts related to public improvements.
House Bill 585 was introduced July 14, 2016 by Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) which would provide that a record created by a body camera that is worn or carried by a law enforcement officer who is engaged in the performance of the officer's official duties generally is a public record, to provide in the specified circumstances in which such a record is not a public record that there are conditions under which the record becomes a public record, to provide that the portions of a record that contain personal information or information that is not relevant to the offense or delinquent act are exempt from inspection and copying under the Public Records Law and are subject to redaction, and to require a local records commission to maintain records from a body camera for a minimum of one year unless the law enforcement agency is subject to a records retention schedule that establishes a longer period of time. 
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger announced two resignations and replacements of member of the General Assembly. First, Derek Merrin, a former Mayor of Waterville, Ohio will replace, in the 47th House District, Rep. Barbara Backus Sears (R-Sylvania) (a former Sylvania councilwoman herself) who is leaving to become Assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Health Transformation. This area represents suburban and rural areas southwest of Toledo.
Second, Theresa Charters Gavarone, a member of Bowling Green City Council, will replace Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green), who is leaving to become president of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.

The League has recently created a new Facebook page. We hope OML members will use this page to keep up to date on our training and policy matters, and to communicate with our organization. Ohio state officials and staff can use this page to become better educated on municipal affairs, as we will be constantly using this forum to discuss state policy as it relates to municipalities.
Please “Like” our  and subscribe to our page HERE
We want to remind our members that the OML annual conference will be held at the downtown Columbus Renaissance Hotel, October 26-28th.
The schedule is just about complete and we are very excited that in addition to the list of timely issues that will be part of our workshop schedule including topics addressing issues related to “drones”; downtown redevelopment and other economic development tools; topics related to open meetings, public records management, grant funding opportunities and more, the 2016 OML annual conference will once again host a nationally recognized speaker to provide our conference attendees with an in depth critique of the political world right before voters go to the poll in the November General Election.
And of course, we will have another great exhibitor show to provide our members with an opportunity to learn more about services and products available to make the administration of their communities run more efficiently. 
We are looking forward to a very strong, educational and fun annual conference later this year and look forward to seeing everyone there!    
TO: Mayors, County Commissioners, Regional Authority Officials, Consulting Engineers, and Interested Citizens
RE: Final 2017 Drinking Water Assistance Fund Program Management Plan Available
Director Butler, of Ohio EPA is pleased to announce the availability of the "Final" 2017 Drinking Water Assistance Fund (DWAF) Program Management Plan. You will find the documents by following this link: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/defa/ofa.aspx#169544612-documents. Thank you for your continuing interest in improving Ohio's drinking water.
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