The Latest


OASBO Bills of Interest - Updated 9/11/2020


HB606 - CIVIL IMMUNITY - COVID-19 TRANSMISSION (GRENDELL, D)  
To grant civil immunity to a person who provides services for essential businesses and operations for injury, death, or loss that was caused by the transmission of COVID-19 during the period of emergency declared by Executive Order 2020-01D, issued on March 9, 2020, and to declare an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS
09/03/2020 - Sent to Governor for Signature

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COMMENTS
Through September 30, 2021, HB 606 provides immunity for schools, health-care providers and other employers against lawsuits related to the transmission of the coronavirus. While current sovereign immunity laws under ORC Chapter 2744 afford school districts extensive liability coverage, HB 606 provides an additional protection by specifically noting that there is “no cause for action” if a student, staff member, or visitor contracts the virus. However, HB 606 still allows for claims of "reckless disregard of the consequences or intentional or willful or wanton misconduct."


HB305 - FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING PLAN (CUPP B, PATTERSON J)
To create a new school financing system, and to make an appropriation.

CURRENT STATUS
Updated bill expected to be introduced week of September 14, 2020

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COMMENTS
The Fair School Funding Plan is a bipartisan bill created primarily by practicing treasurers and superintendents—those who know what it takes to educate a child in Ohio. Approximately 70 members of the House signed on to the original bill introduced in 2019. The group has “fine-tuned” the bill since then, with the LSC expected to release the Analysis and Fiscal Notes for the substitute bill the week of September 14, 2020. In addition to an updated bill being introduced in the House, a companion bill is expected to be released in the Senate. 


SB358 - EDUCATION LAW-COVID RESPONSE (FEDOR, MANNING) 
To make changes to education law for the 2020-2021 school year in response to implications from COVID-19 and to declare an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS
09/02/2020 Senate Education, (First Hearing)

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COMMENTS
The bill addresses several COVID-related education issues for the 2020-21 school year. Despite its recent introduction, the legislation could be incorporated into another bill further along in the legislative process like HB 9 or SB 89, both of which could adopt the provisions in a conference committee.
  
Key provisions of SB 358, which extend several items from HB 197 and HB 164, include:
  • Allowing for teacher and principal evaluations to be completed without the use of student growth measures;
  • Providing flexibility for students should they be unable to take an end-of-course exam by allowing them to meet graduation requirements through the use of the final course grade in the associated class; 
  • Eliminating state-required assessments (with the exception of diagnostic assessments) and requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to seek a waiver from administration of all federally required assessments;
  • Prohibiting ODE from issuing state report cards for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, and establishes a safe harbor from report card-related penalties for those school years; 
  • Giving districts local control in making decisions regarding promotion to fourth grade, free of third-grade reading guarantee mandates; and
  • Providing local control in determining if a student is on track to graduate. 

OASBO joined the other education associations in providing joint proponent testimony in the Senate Education Committee on September 3, 2020. Click here for a copy of the joint testimony. We made several legislative requests in addition to what is currently provided in the bill, including:
  • Additional provisions related to EdChoice;
  • Extension of waiver authority for ODE;
  • Extension of the flexibility to hold virtual board meetings under the Ohio Open Meetings Act;
  • Elimination of the new territory transfer law; and 
  • Elimination of the academic distress commissions.
 

HB450 - FISCAL OFFICERS - SUCCESSION GUIDELINES  (STEPHENS J)
To require fiscal officers of certain political subdivisions to provide certificates of transition to their successors when leaving office and to modify language regarding the duty of a treasurer of a board of education to deliver to the treasurer's successor all papers related to the affairs of the district.

CURRENT STATUS
07/21/2020 - Referred to Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs
06/09/2020 - PASSED BY HOUSE; Vote 92-0

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COMMENTS
This bill was introduced at the request of State Auditor Keith Faber. We were asked to provide feedback on the first version of the proposal, and changes were made after we submitted our input and before the bill was introduced. The bill is improved over the original version, but the members (from the OASBO AOS and Legislative Committees) who have responded to our request for feedback on the bill, indicates there are still concerns. 

School treasurers are already required by law to turn over information, etc., when they leave office. HB 450 makes reference to that statute for school treasurers as we had suggested, but still adds a new requirement for a Certificate of Transition. 

One point of interest is regarding that statute from current law. ORC Section 3313.28 still refers to the treasurer being required to turn over information related to teachers. Since we no longer possess/collect those records, we indicated to the AOS that the section needs to be amended. The AOS agreed and that change is reflected in HB 450.

SB 244 is a similar bill that was introduced in the Senate, however, the change to current law section 3313.28 is not yet included in the Senate bill. 

OASBO provided written testimony on HB 450 outlining members' concerns. However, the House State and Local Government Committee voted unanimously to recommend the bill to the full House. The House passed the bill (vote 92-0) on June 9, 2020. The bill has been referred to the Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.


SB 293 – OPEN MEETINGS LAW COMPLAINTS (MANNING, BLESSING)
To create a procedure within the Court of Claims to hear complaints alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Law.

CURRENT STATUS
08/31/2020 - Referred to House Civil Justice
06/10/2020 - PASSED BY SENATE; Vote 32-0

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COMMENTS
The bill creates a procedure through which a complaint may be filed with the Court of Claims alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Law similar to the process for Public Records violations created by S.B. 321 of the 131st General Assembly. 

Under current law, a person may bring an action to enforce open meetings law in a court of common pleas. Under the bill, a person may either bring an action for injunction in the court of common pleas in the county where the public body is located or file a complaint to be adjudicated by the Court of Claims.


SB89 - CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION -- EDCHOICE (HUFFMAN M)
With regard to career-technical education and the compensation of joint vocational school districts located in enterprise zones, to make changes regarding STEM school report cards, to prohibit the use of value-added data for evaluations of career technical educators, to revise the law on community school fiscal officer liability, to make changes regarding school financing studies by the Department of Education, to revise the eligibility and operation of the Educational Choice Scholarship program, to dissolve existing academic distress commissions, to place a moratorium on the creation of academic distress commissions, to establish the School Transformation Board, to rename the income-based expansion of the Educational Choice Scholarship program as the Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship program, and to declare an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS
08/27/2020 - Senate Appoints Managers; B. Peterson, M. Huffman & T. Fedor Named as Senate Conferees
2/12/2020 - Consideration of House Amendments; Emergency Clause 7-24, Senate Does Not Concur

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COMMENTS
This bill had been used by the House to propose changes to the EdChoice voucher program, phasing out the district-paid, building performance-based program. New vouchers going forward would be income-based and paid for directly by the state. The income threshold would be raised to 250% of the Federal poverty level (up from the current 200%). 

Other provisions added to the bill were the elimination of the three current Academic Distress Commissions and the sunset of the territory transfer law adopted last spring in the budget bill that allows township residents to vote to move from one district to another. 

SB 89 is now sitting in a Conference Committee awaiting agreement between the House and Senate. It is unclear whether the bill will move once the legislature returns, and if so, which provisions will remain in the bill.


SB212 - AUTHORIZE TOWNSHIPS-EXEMPT PROPERTY TAX (SCHURING K)
To authorize townships and municipal corporations to designate areas within which new homes and improvements to existing homes are wholly or partially exempted from property taxation.

CURRENT STATUS
05/19/2020 - House Ways and Means, (First Hearing)
05/12/2020 - Referred to House Ways and Means
03/04/2020 - PASSED BY SENATE; Vote 29-1

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COMMENTS
  1. SB 212 permits townships and municipalities to designate Neighborhood Development Areas (NDAs) where tax exemptions can be granted for 70% or 100% of the increase in value when residential development and/or renovation occurs. The exemption can be granted for up to a 10-year period for new development, or a 5-year period for a renovation. Again, only the increase in value would be exempt; the original value of the property would not be exempt.
  2. Before establishing an NDA, the township or municipality would need to show findings that there is a lack of adequate, affordable housing, and that residential development or needed renovations would not otherwise occur without the tax exemption.
  3. The township or municipality must notify each affected school district (along with other public notice/meeting requirements) before passing a resolution designating an NDA. The school district must agree to the exemption covering 100% of the increase in value, otherwise the exemption percentage defaults to 70%.
  4. Property already covered by a TIF or a CRA cannot become part of an NDA.

Our testimony on this legislation:
  1. Requested that schools be part of any decision to designate an NDA, rather than only the power to agree to a 100% exemption, or to keep the exemption at 70%
  2. Urges a better definition of 'affordable housing' to avoid tax exemptions on high-end property
  3. Requests that a report that estimates the additional cost to the school district because of the potential increase in the student population be included in the findings required of the township or municipality (see #2 above)

In our discussions with bill sponsor Senator Schuring, he has indicated that the intent of this legislation is to provide incentives for affordable housing development in those areas that truly need it. In many areas of the state, there is not an issue with a lack of housing. The state's population numbers are relatively constant, so the bill is not needed on a statewide basis. Residential development flourishes in areas where economic development is already occurring. SB 212 is not meant to be used in those areas. We are seeking ways to shore up the bill language so this intent is spelled out more clearly. Senator Schuring has promised to work with us as the bill goes through the House. 

OASBO joined with OSBA and BASA for interested party testimony in the Senate Ways & Means Committee February 25th. 


SB248 - SCHOOL STORM SHELTERS (SCHAFFER T)
To extend until November 30, 2022, the moratorium on the building code requirement for storm shelters for school construction projects.

CURRENT STATUS
06/10/2020 - House Primarhttps://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-documents?id=GA133-SB-293
and Secondary Education, (First Hearing)
06/03/2020 - Referred to House Primary and Secondary Education
05/20/2020 - PASSED BY SENATE; Vote 32-0

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COMMENTS
The bill extends from September 15, 2020, to November 30, 2022, the existing moratorium on the building code requirement for storm shelters in school buildings operated by a public or private school or in any such school building undergoing or about to undergo construction, alteration, repair, or maintenance financed prior to the end of the moratorium. 

For the latest news on legislation visit members can visit the OASBO Advocacy Hub.