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New 12/13/09

Dear Township Officials:
The General Assembly was quite busy this week.  Please find below along with other issues, some pertinent information about several bills moving through the legislative process.
Bill passed the House mostly along party lines by a vote of 54-42 with 3 people not voting.  Attached is the roll call vote for the bill. (House Roll Call Vote)  The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for committee hearings.  Once the bill is assigned to a Committee, we will let you know.  As you know, the OTA is opposed to this bill.

HB 344  WATER/SEWAGE FEES (Goyal, Harris, M.) To limit recovery of rate-case expenses for certain water-works and sewage disposal system companies.

This bill had sponsor testimony this week in the House Public Utilities Committee.  The bill was introduced to protect consumers in certain areas from upwards of a 70% increase in water rates over a 4 year period of time.

This bill was voted out of the Senate and now goes back to the House for concurrence of Senate changes.  It is important to note that language was added to this bill to extend the moratorium on HSTS rules through July 1, 2010.  Current moratorium expires January 1, 2010.  The OTA is still working with all interested parties to put new workable HSTS rules in place and this bill provides more time to do this.
This bill, as introduced and as passed by the Senate, did not have anything in it that pertained to townships.  However, the House Civil & Commercial Law Committee amended SB 124 to include language that will impact all local governments financially.  The amendment to the bill created the Tax Appeals Administration Fund in the State Treasury by earmarking for the Board of Tax Appeals a portion of the state reimbursement to local taxing units for the 10% real property tax rollback.  What this means is that townships will receive less money.  The amount in many cases is very small but the OTA objects to this language being included without any of the local governments input on the matter. (BTA Fee by Subdivision attachment)
Furthermore, the legislature reduced the funding for the Tax Appeals Board in HB 1(budget bill) and now is asking local governments to pay for the administration and operations of the Board.  If this continues, what else will local governments be asked to pay for due to state budget cuts.  Local governments, such as townships, are hurting financially just like the state and pushing the costs of things, like the Tax Appeals Board, on to local governments will only increase the financial strain at the local level.
Township officials are encouraged to call their State Representatives to express opposition to this provision in SB 124.  The bill will likely be on the House floor for a vote next week.  Should the House vote on the bill as is, the bill then would have to go to the Senate for concurrence on House changes to the Senate bill.  This means that you should also contact your State Senator to express opposition to this measure.
Bill passed the Senate Committee on Wednesday morning.  The only amendment to the bill was language that permits local authorities to conduct public hearings on proposed lease agreements. Senator Grendell offered a variety of amendments but all were tabled or rejected.  The bill passed committee by a vote of 7-2 with Senators Grendell and Miller voting in the negative.  The bill will likely be voted on by the full Senate next week.
Introduced this Week

HB 393 ABATEMENT CONTROL (Gerberry, Blessing)  To revise the notice required to be provided by a board of township trustees to a landowner for the abatement, control, or removal of vegetation, garbage, refuse, or other debris from the owner's land. Am. 505.87

Health Care Coverage

HB 8 AUTISM COVERAGE (Celeste, Garland) To prohibit health insurers from excluding coverage for specified services for individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

57-39 (Amended)

HB 81 DIABETES COVERAGE (Boyd, Gardner) To require certain health care policies, contracts, agreements, and plans to provide benefits for equipment, supplies, and medication for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diabetes and for diabetes self-management education.

58-38 (Amended)

The Ohio House passed these two bills this week and both of these bills will impact the cost of health insurance.  Both bills now go before the Ohio Senate for committee hearings.  The OTA will continue to monitor the bills and update you as information becomes available.
Please find attached a monthly update from our national association.  The newsletter provides pertinent information relative to townships and small governments.  If you have any questions about the information contained in the Washington Report, please contact Jennifer Imo at the Ferguson Group at JImo@tfgnet.com.  (Washington Report- November 2009)
Looking for Township Input on Surveys

Ohio township trustees/personnel in semi-rural and rural areas

Attached below is an invitation to participate in a national survey relating to unpaved/gravel roads.  This survey is being conducted by Montana State University under sponsorship from the Federal Highway Administration.  If your township manages and maintains any unpaved roads, please consider participating in the survey using the web link listed below.  Also, please forward this e-mail request to any other townships or local agencies in your area that may have responsibility for unpaved roads.


This survey takes approximately 20 minutes and was developed by a diverse team of stakeholders under the sponsorship of FHWA and the coordination of the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. Your participation in this anonymous survey will greatly assist FHWA in identifying future research and documentation needs pertaining to effective and sustainable use of chemical treatments on unpaved roads.


Take the survey at www.roaddustinstitute.org.  Thank you for your help and participation!

MORPC - Take the Shape the Future of Central Ohio survey!
Central Ohio Townships Only (Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Pickaway, Ross & Union Counties)
Shaping our Future is a plan the Mid Ohio Regional Planning is spearheading for 12 counties in central Ohio. Expected to be completed in 2012,  Shaping Our Future will integrate elements that impact the region including the transportation system, land use patterns, air quality, energy security, water quality, food production, and economic development.  The mission is to have a regionally accepted plan that ensures major public infrastructure expenditures and public development decisions are made with a focus on sustainability to secure a competitive advantage for central Ohio. 

The survey takes 10 minutes. There are questions about energy, environment, transportation, the economy and your neighborhood. Most importantly, itís an opportunity for you to say what you like about central Ohio and what you think would make it better. Itís anonymous, itís fast, and itís important. Get involved in Shaping Our Future!  Use this link: http://regionalplan.questionpro.com/

Urban Forestry Survey
Urban Forestry Advisory Committee is seeking input from townships on what they think are issues that ODNR should address in its continuing efforts to improve and maintain the stateís forestry program.  As many know, DNRís budget has been cut for many years to the point that dollars that went to natural areas and preserves are gone and that program no longer exists; insurance dollars to rebuild Zaleski State Parkís lodge went to operating, and so on.
The Committee is asking for suggestions as to how the Dept. of Natural Resources can meet the challenges facing this department in the future.  Attached is list of issues the Committee has put together.  If you have any thoughts, concerns or suggestions, please contact Drew Todd, ODNR Urban Forestry Coordinator, at drew.todd@dnr.state.oh.us

Heidi M. Fought
Director of Governmental Affairs
Ohio Township Association
6500 Taylor Road, Suite A
Blacklick, OH 43004
(614) 863-0045
(614) 863-9751 Fax