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Legislative Actions This Week:  03/26/11

HB 114 Transportation Budget

The legislature sent Gov. John Kasich a $7 billion transportation budget Wednesday after the House concurred with changes the Senate approved.  Please find attached the list of changes made to the bill while in the Senate.  Basically, the Senate kept current law which permits some trucks to exceed weight limits by 7.5%.  The Senate modified House language to permit a new slew of industries to exceed weight limits by 5%.  Furthermore, the language also states that a axle or wheel limits do not apply to a truck that does not exceed the 7.5 or 5% gross vehicle weight limit.  Please find attached the actual language from HB 114 regarding these limits.

 

HB 128 Emergency Runs - Revises the requirements for staffing ambulances and the priorities for distributing grants for emergency medical services.

This bill was scheduled for opponent testimony in the House Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee but none was offered.  The bill is scheduled for all testimony, amendments and a possible vote next Wednesday.

 

HB 69 / SB 3 Pension Reform - Revises the state pension programs.

Both the House and Senate committees heard more testimony on these bills this week.

 

This week the OTA met with a group of local governments and school groups and a House committee member to discuss pension reform.  We were informed that there is a good chance that the monthly minimum will be reduced in a substitute bill or amendment.  YOU ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO KEEP UP THE PRESSURE ON YOUR LEGISLATORS ON THIS ISSUE!  They need to continue to hear from township officials that will be impacted by this language.

 

Additionally, we reported last week that Kasichís budget proposal will include a provision that will reduce the employer OPERS share to 12% and increase the employee share to 12%.  While this will save the state and local governments money, there is concern at OPERS that this will negatively impact the pension system.  We will bring you updates as they become available.

 

SB 90 Estate Tax Repeal - Repeals the estate tax as of January 1, 2011.  (Please note that HB 3, the companion bill, repeals the tax as of January 1, 2013.)

This bill had proponent testimony this week in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  Most witnesses that testified in the House also testified before the Senate.  The bill will have opponent testimony next week.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TESTIFYING BEFORE THE SENATE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE ON THIS BILL, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL WORK WITH THE CHAIRíS OFFICE. The OTA will be testifying on the bill.

 

HB 153 Biennium Budget

We still do not have specific details regarding the budget.  We are anxiously awaiting the budget language so that we can review each and every provision to determine the impact on townships.  Again, as noted last week, the Governor is proposing a 25% cut (compared to FY 2011) to the LGF in FY 2012 and a 50% cut in FY 2013.  Additionally, he is proposing to step up the elimination of the TPP and Utility reimbursements.  To help offset the reductions, the Governor is proposing a variety of cost saving and money making ventures for local governments.  Once we see language, we will be able to share more about these items.

 

House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz announced that a substitute version of HB 153 may be accepted at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29.  A preliminary schedule for the House budget process has been released and builds in two weeks of subcommittee hearings with a second substitute bill, reflecting subcommittee reports, to be accepted on April 28 with a referral of HB 153 from the full Finance Committee by May 3.  The budget bill will then be brought to the House Floor for passage by the entire chamber on May 5.  We will be providing you with additional coverage of subcommittee hearings and announcements as soon as they begin hearing testimony next week.  IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TESTIFY ON THE BUDGET BILL WHEN OPEN TESTIMONY BEGINS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND WE WILL NOTIFY YOU.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

 

We have been provided with some additional clarification regarding the elimination of TPP and Utility reimbursements.  Please find attached a document from the Department of Taxation explaining the TPP and Utility losses.  It is our understanding that charts will be released soon outlining the projected TPP and Utility losses for each township.  We are not sure if projected LGF losses will be included.  When the charts are released, we will certainly share them with you.

 

Finally, there was an interesting commentary in the Columbus Dispatch last Sunday regarding the budget cuts to local governments.  I have attached that commentary and some other articles for your reading pleasure.

 

SB 125 Local Government Collaboration - To generally authorize political subdivisions to enter into agreements to perform services for one another and to authorize a regional council of governments to enter into unit price contracts related to buildings on behalf of member political subdivisions.

This bill was introduced this week by Senator Seitz and Senator Turner.  The OTA worked with the sponsors on the language and supports this measure.

 

 

Other Legislative Initiatives:

Hotel Tax - The OTA is working with a group of interested parties on increasing the civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance with the lodging tax.  We have received complaints from townships that have not been given their authorized lodging tax from hotels and this bill would assist them in getting payment.

EMS Charges - The OTA is working with interested parties on legislation that would permit a township to levy a fee for EMS transport and have that fee be used as payment to a contracting party to provide such a service.   

 

 

MEETINGS THIS WEEK:

The OTA, along with other local government groups, met with representatives from the Auditor of Stateís office regarding Auditor Yostís press release last week in which he called for greater accountability with public records requests.  Auditor Yost is recommending as a best practice that local governments maintain a log of all public records requests received by their office.  Per Yost, the log should include the date of the request, name of the person (if provided), records requested, records released, date of release and the legal authority for any redactions.  The Auditorís office is looking to release a bulletin on this matter in the coming weeks/months.

 

The Auditorís office is curious to know how or if you log public records requests today.  If you do, would you please share with us how you file the requests, how long you keep the files, how you respond to redactions and how your records retention policy addresses this issue? Thank you for your help with this issue!

 

 

ITEMS OF CONCERN:

Paying for prosecutor and engineer services - We have received a copy of a memo produced by the County Commissioners Association regarding their position on HB 88, which would make the county prosecutor the statutory legal counsel for tax-supported libraries.   The County Commissioners Association is seeking an amendment to require the county prosecutor charge a reasonable fee for staff and resources used to provide legal service to the tax-supported libraries.

 

This is of grave concern to us, as the County Commissioners have in their legislative platform a desire to charge townships for the use of prosecutor and engineer services.

(See Page 8 - http://www.ccao.org/LinkClick.aspx?link=Archives+MJ%2f2011-12+CCAO+Leg+Program.pdf&tabid=95&mid=465&language=en-US)

 

The OTA will be opposing any proposal to charge townships for the services of the prosecutor and/or engineer.  When the current system was established long ago, townships were to be provided these services free because it was recognized that townships have limited budgets and limited means of raising additional revenue.  Now is not the time to renegotiate these terms via legislation.  YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO SHARE YOUR OPPOSITION TO THIS IDEA WITH YOUR LEGISLATORS AND LET THEM KNOW YOU WOULD OPPOSE SUCH LEGISLATION SHOULD IT BE INTRODUCED!

 

 

Actions Next Week:

Legislative Committee Schedules beginning 3/25/2011

Tuesday, March 29

Senate Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources, (Chr. Hite, C., 466-8150), N Hearing Rm., 10:45 a.m.

HB 22 ANIMAL LIABILITY  (Bubp, D.)  Regarding the liability of owners of certain animals that are running at large.  (3rd Hearing-All testimony-Possible vote)

House Finance & Appropriations, (Chr. Amstutz, R., 466-1474), Rm. 313, 1 p.m.

             Testimony from Randy Cole, Office of Budget & Management, on shared services

HB 153 BIENNIAL BUDGET  (Amstutz, R.)  To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2011, and ending June 30, 2013, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.  (6th Hearing-Possible substitute)

House State Government & Elections, (Chr. Mecklenborg, R., 466-8258), Rm. 116, 1:30 p.m.

HB 166 EMS CERTIFICATION  (Phillips, D.)  To require the State Board of Emergency Medical Services to notify EMS and firefighter personnel in writing when their certifications are due for renewal.  (1st Hearing-Sponsor)

Senate Insurance, Commerce & Labor, (Chr. Bacon, K., 466-8064), South Hearing Rm., 4 p.m.

HB 123 BWC BUDGET  (Hottinger, J.)  To allow the Administrator of Workers' Compensation to waive criteria certain public employers must satisfy to become self-insuring employers; to require bills for medical and vocational rehabilitation services in claims that are ultimately denied to be paid from the Surplus Fund Account under specified circumstances; to make other changes to the Workers' Compensation Law; to make appropriations for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and for the Workers' Compensation Council for the biennium beginning July 1, 2011, and ending June 30, 2013; and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of the Bureau's and the Council's programs.  (1st Hearing-Sponsor)

House Health: Pension Reform Sub., (Chr. Schuring, K., 752-2438), Rm. 017, 7 p.m.

HB 69 PENSION SYSTEMS  (Wachtmann, L.)  Regarding the state retirement systems.  (All testimony)

 

Wednesday, March 30

House Public Utilities, (Chr. Stautberg, P., 644-6886), Rm. 121, 10 a.m.

HB 87 WATER/SEWER RATES  (Goyal, J., Grossman, C.)  To limit recovery of rate-case expenses for certain water-works and sewage disposal system companies.  (3rd Hearing-All testimony)

Senate Insurance, Commerce & Labor, (Chr. Bacon, K., 466-8064), Finance Hearing Rm., 10 a.m.

HB 123 BWC BUDGET  (Hottinger, J.)  To allow the Administrator of Workers' Compensation to waive criteria certain public employers must satisfy to become self-insuring employers; to require bills for medical and vocational rehabilitation services in claims that are ultimately denied to be paid from the Surplus Fund Account under specified circumstances; to make other changes to the Workers' Compensation Law; to make appropriations for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and for the Workers' Compensation Council for the biennium beginning July 1, 2011, and ending June 30, 2013; and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of the Bureau's and the Council's programs.  (2nd Hearing-All testimony)

House Health: Pension Reform Sub., (Chr. Schuring, K., 752-2438), Rm. 113, 2:30 p.m. or after session

HB 69 PENSION SYSTEMS  (Wachtmann, L.)  Regarding the state retirement systems.  (All testimony)

Public Safety & Homeland Security, (Chr. Combs, C., 644-6721), Rm. 122, 4 p.m.

HB 128 AMBULANCE STAFF  (Carey, J., Peterson, B.)  To revise the requirements for staffing ambulances and the priorities for distributing grants for emergency medical services.  (4th Hearing-All testimony-Possible vote)

 

Thursday, March 31

Senate Ways & Means & Economic Development, (Chr. Schaffer, T., 466-5838), North Hearing Rm., 9 a.m.

SB 90 ESTATE TAX  (Jordan, K.)  To repeal the estate tax for the estates of individuals dying on or after January 1, 2011.  (3rd Hearing-Opponent)

Senate Government Oversight & Reform, (Chr. Seitz, B., 466-8068), South Hearing Rm., 9:30 a.m.

SB 3 RETIREMENT SYSTEMS  (Faber, K.)  To formally state the General Assembly's intent to make changes to the laws governing the state retirement systems as necessary to modernize, update, and improve the actuarial soundness of the systems.  (3rd Hearing-All testimony)

 

Tuesday, April 5

House Health: Pension Reform Sub., (Chr. Schuring, K., 752-2438), Rm. 018, 7 p.m.

HB 69 PENSION SYSTEMS  (Wachtmann, L.)  Regarding the state retirement systems.  (General testimony & overview)

 

Wednesday, April 6

House Health: Pension Reform Sub., (Chr. Schuring, K., 752-2438), Rm. 018, 2:30 p.m. or after session

HB 69 PENSION SYSTEMS  (Wachtmann, L.)  Regarding the state retirement systems.  (General testimony & overview)


Sen Amendments.pdf    HB 114 Enacted Weight Limits.pdf    Changing Schedule for Lost TPP and Utility.pdf    Suddes.pdf    Other Budget Articles.pdf      Library Prosecutor CCAO Memo.pdf