Contact YOUR Ohio Representatives and Senators 
with your concerns, stories, and ideas
Find their contact information at https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/

Click THIS LINK weekly to register for OREIA's 6pm Friday night
Legislative & Market Update web conferences.


Week in ReviewCOVID-19 Resource Guide
Designed to provide you with an overview of the political events happening around Capitol Square. 
The review is for your benefit and we encourage you to forward it to anyone in your organization who might find its contents interesting.
These resources will be updated on a regular basis and we
will provide the revised document as necessary while indicating (highlighted in yellow) when the new information was added to the document.
May 1, 2020_Week in ReviewMay 1, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
May 8, 2020_Week in ReviewMay 8, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
May 15, 2020_Week in ReviewMay 15, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
May 22, 2020_Week in ReviewMay 22, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
May 29, 2020_Week in ReviewMay 29, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
June 5, 2020_Week in ReviewJune 5, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
June 12, 2020_Week in ReviewJune 12, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
June 19, 2020_Week in ReviewJune 19, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
June 26, 2020_Week in ReviewJune 26, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
July 3, 2020_Week in ReviewJuly 3, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
July 10 2020_Week in ReviewJuly 10, 2020_Updated Resources Guide
July 17 2020_Week in ReviewJuly 17, 2020_Updated Resources Guide

 


Monthly OREIA Legislative Activities Reports
Provided by our partners at the Governmental Policy Group, Inc
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020

July 8, 2020
The Ohio Department of Health's Order mandating masks to be worn in counties designated Red Alert Level 3 under the Ohio Public Health Advisory System can be found HERE.
This order currently applies to the following counties:
Butler 
Cuyahoga 
Franklin 
Hamilton 
Huron 
Montgomery 
Trumbull 

Those in counties designated as Red Alert Level 3 or Purple Alert Level 4 are required to wear a face covering:

- In any indoor location that is not a residence;
- When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or
- While waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle.

This order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace, and other similar measures.

Any county that increases to Red Alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate. Any county that decreases from Red Alert Level 3 to Orange Alert Level 2 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement. An interactive map showing the status of Ohio’s counties can be accessed HERE



  • The CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020
    Access the full document here:
    $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill


  • COVID-19 - Article and Updates Index 

  • Updates from 
    GOVERNMENTAL POLICY GROUP, INC.
    RH RESOURCES
    17 SOUTH HIGH STREET – SUITE 245
    COLUMBUS, OHIO 43215-3413
    PHONE: 614-461-9335
    FAX: 614-461-9336

    As you are aware, the spread of COVID-19 has had a profound impact not only on the lives of Ohioans, but equally on the day-to-day operations of workers and businesses of all sizes throughout the state. While Governor DeWine and Director Amy Acton, M.D. of the Ohio Department of Health continue to work on science-based solutions to combat the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted has been tasked with identifying ways to support the state’s small businesses and non-profits. While the Administration continues to put measures in place, we wanted to provide the following resources to you as your organization works through your business planning for COVID-19:

    The Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) has requested all Ohio businesses complete this Economic Damage Assessment Survey, designed to help determine economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. State government leaders will use the feedback as they develop response plans.

    SharedWork Ohio is a program that provides employers with an alternative to layoffs. The program allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity. The participating employee works the reduced hours each week, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) provides eligible individuals an unemployment insurance benefit proportinate to their reduced hours.

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has qualified the State of Ohio for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Under the program, businesses and non-profits economically impacted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak may apply for a low-interest loan of up to $2 million to help pay for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. Organizations can apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/, which is recommended, or by calling 1-800-659-2955 to request an application sent by mail.To expedite the application process, applicants should have ready complete copies of their most recent federal income tax return and a completed and signed IRS Form 4506T, which authorizes the release of tax information. Additional information to have available would be a schedule of liabilities, personal financial statement, monthly sales figures, a current year-to-date profit-and-loss statement, and a year-end profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet for that tax year if the most recent federal income tax return has not been filed.

    ODJFS also has a page dedicated to the new unemployment compensation benefits available under the Governor’s recent order. Employers with questions are directed to contact the ODJFS Business Line at: (614) 466-2319, though state officials are strongly encouraging employers to reference the webpage before calling in order to keep call hold times down.

    ODJFS also asked Ohio employers planning layoffs or shutdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to share the following mass lay-off number with their employees to speed the processing of unemployment benefits: 2000180.

    Governmental Policy Group, Inc. and RH Resources will continue to closely monitor the state’s response to COVID-19 and remains ready to work with you as we move through the pandemic and its aftermath.


July 9, 2020
“End of halt to water shut-offs has Appalachian counties worried”
Article published in today’s Columbus Dispatch:
“Beginning Friday, the Ohio EPA will revoke its moratorium on water shutoffs and resume allowing water companies to disconnect delinquent customers.”
Read the full story HERE.

July 7, 2020
Public water systems will be cleared to resume disconnections for nonpayment beginning this Friday, July 10th.
Additional details are contained in the article below and in this letter from OEPA Director Stevenson to Ohio Mayors.
Read the full story HERE.



  • May 15, 2020
    “Columbus to thwart evictions with federal assistance funds”
    Article published in today’s Columbus Dispatch:
    “Columbus announces a $3 million portion of CARES Act funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury, to help people avoid evictions.”
    Read the full story HERE.

    May 15, 2020
    “Columbus weighs approving 4 new tax-abatement areas”

    Article published in today’s Columbus Dispatch.
    Read the full story HERE.

  • May 15, 2020
    Responsible RestartOhio Update
    Update on the next round of entities set to reopen as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan. These were announced yesterday by the DeWine Administration during his COVID-19 update and press conference:

    -May 21
    Beginning Thursday, May 21, campgrounds in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if facilities can meet the required safety protocols developed by the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group, the full list of mandatory and recommended best practices is attached.

    -May 22
    Beginning Friday, May 22, horse racing will be permitted. Spectators will not be permitted.  To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, the Administration worked with the Ohio State Racing Commission to create a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for agricultural horse racing operations to follow. Attached you will find a document titled “Protocols for a Safe Return to Racing w/o Spectators” released by the Ohio State Racing Commission.

    A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
    This does not apply to casinos and racinos. Safety protocols for these venues are in development.

    -May 26
    Beginning Tuesday, May 26, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) locations will be permitted to reopen for certain services if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. Services that can be accomplished online should still be done online. More details on online BMV services can be found at oplates.com

    Also beginning Tuesday, May 26, gyms and fitness centers will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Gyms Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for gyms and fitness centers to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon.

    Beginning Tuesday, May 26, sports leagues in Ohio will be permitted to operate if these leagues can meet required safety protocols. This applies only to non-contact and limited-contact sports. To ensure that non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues operate in the safest manner possible, the Governor’s Adult and Youth Sports Leagues Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for sports leagues to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon. Safety protocols for high-contact sports are in development.

    Public pools and club pools that are regulated by local health departments will be permitted to reopen May 26 if facilities can meet required safety protocols. To ensure that these pools operate in the safest manner possible, the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for facilities to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.  

    This does not apply to water parks or amusement parks. Safety protocols for these venues are in development.

    -
    May 31
    Beginning Sunday, May 31, childcare providers will be permitted to reopen if they can meet the attached required safety protocols. To assist in the reopening of child care centers, Ohio will use more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide reopening grants to all of Ohio’s childcare providers, including family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers. More information on how to apply will be posted to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' website soon.

    The reopening date of May 31st also applies to day camps that can meet required safety protocols.

    Guidelines:
    Campgrounds
    Child-Care
    SB_TB_Protocols

  • May 13, 2020
    “An eviction crisis could be coming. Ohio’s courts, and localities, need to prepare and work to mitigate it.”

    Editorial from The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
    Read the full story HERE.

  • May 12, 2020
    “Evictions on hold in Dayton. But ‘surge’ is coming.”
    Article from Dayton Daily News regarding the likely forthcoming surge in evictions as courts resume hearing cases.
    Read the article HERE

  • May 10, 2020
    “Editorial: COVID-19 pandemic worsens the housing crisis”

    Columbus Dispatch editorial regarding the impact of COVID-19 on affordable housing and renter’s ability to maintain housing.  
    The editorial board urges Congress to support funds to assist renters with making rent payments.  There is a recognition of the “squeeze” placed on landlords to assist tenants in these positions. In the final highlighted statement, we believe “home” is used in the colloquial sense, not to imply they control the property, as if an owner/landlord. 
    Read the Editorial HERE

  • May 8, 2020
    “Owners put home sales on standby in pandemic”
    We wanted to share this article from today’s Columbus Dispatch.
    Read the full story HERE

  • May 7, 2020
    Protocols for Bars, Restaurants and Personal Services to Reopen
    Governor DeWine today released the attached operating requirements and best practices for reopening state’s restaurants and bars, as well as personal services such as hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, massage therapy locations, and tanning facilities. Personal services are set to reopen May 15th.

    These recommendations and best practices were produced by the advisory groups on bars, restaurants and personal services announced by Governor DeWine last week. Members of the two advisory groups were identified by relevant business associations, along with the Speaker of the House, Senate President, House Minority Leader and Senate Minority Leader.

    The restaurant advisory group developed best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants and balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers. Restaurants and bars can begin serving patrons on their outdoor patios and outside dining areas on Friday, May 15th. Inside service, including for meals, will not be permitted until Thursday, May 21st, with virus precautions such as six feet between tables. Bars are not to be treated differently than restaurants.

    The personal services advisory group developed best practices for reopening hair salons, day spas, nail salons, massage therapy locations, barber shops, and tanning facilities throughout the state. Personal service locations are permitted to reopen beginning May 15th after implementing the requirements developed by the advisory group.  Massage therapy locations will have separate guidance outlined by the Ohio State Medical Board (OSMB) because the OSMB regulates those businesses.

    Restaurant Food Establishment Guidance
    Restaurants and Bars
    Personal Services

  • May 7, 2020
    Property Appraisal Delay Sought

    The Franklin County Auditor plans to ask the state tax commissioner for permission to delay a triennial property value update. Knowing that a market downturn is likely, this is something we want to watch. Particularly where it is being asked in Franklin county, which has seen strong increases in property value over that past few years. Read the full article from the Columbus Dispatch HERE.

  • May 6, 2020
    “Lawmakers Look To Crack Down On Price Gouging, Rein In Pandemic Suit”
    We wanted to share THIS Gongwer article regarding SB 308, which received its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon. Sponsor testimony from Senator Huffman was not made available, however, a bill analysis from the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) is attached for your review.
    LSC Analysis

  • May 6, 2020
    Ohio House Passes Sub. SB 1 (Vote 58-37)
    The Ohio House has just voted to pass Sub. SB 1 by a vote of 58-37. The bill will now be sent back to the Senate for concurrence. We will update you regarding any additional action taken by the Senate on Sub. SB 1.
    Read the Gongwer article about the House passage of SB 1 HERE

    We also wanted to share the following Columbus Dispatch article regarding the House passage of Sub. SB 1 this afternoon. Prior to the floor vote this afternoon, the House State & Local Government Committee adopted the attached substitute bill that would limit any order issued by the State Health Director to 14 days unless an extension is approved by the legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) with three affirmative votes from both House and Senate JCARR members. If JCARR were not to take any action, the health order would be rescinded. The language applies to any order issued on or after April 29, 2020 and also gives any Ohio citizen standing to seek a court order requiring the director to comply with the requirement. In addition to the substitute bill, we have also attached a press release on the passage of Sub. SB 1 issued today by Speaker Householder.

    You will see from the article an amendment was also accepted to SB 55 on the House floor which would lower the penalties for violating ODH orders to a minor misdemeanor and smaller fine. The language of that amendment was not provided, but we will follow-up with a copy of the amendment when it is made available.

    The Ohio Senate must still concur with both bills before sending them to Governor DeWine for his signature. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

  • May 5, 2020
    Governor Budget Update
    In light of the economic downturn prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor DeWine today announced a $775 million budget reduction in GRF spending prior to June 30, 2020. He also announced the State will not draw down the Budget Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) over the next two months, saying that money will be needed next fiscal year and beyond. Rather, the State will make cuts in an effort to balance the budget, which is currently $776.9 million below estimates as of the end of April.

    The Governor said the spending cuts will be implemented over the next two months and will target:

    - Medicaid spending ($210 million)
    - K-12 foundation payments ($300 million)
    - Other education line-items ($55 million)
    - Higher education ($110 million)
    - All other state agencies ($100 million)

    Governor DeWine also said he is preserving hiring freezes, travel limitations, contracting restrictions and is seeking additional cuts from cabinet directors. Each agency, except Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, is subject to reductions.
    Read more details in this article from Gongwer

  • May 5, 2020
    House Protocols for Returning to Statehouse
    In quick fashion, the Legislature is returning to the Statehouse this week. Initially it was expected to be only a handful of COVID-19 related issues to be addressed, however it appears that additional committees will be scheduled by both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.
    To date there are only two hearings being scheduled by the Ohio House. In anticipation of those hearings, Speaker Larry Householder has released the attached protocols his chamber and staff will follow as they return to work. The Senate, who has been adding committees without much notice, is still working on their official protocols.
    As hearings are scheduled please know we will be reaching out regarding specific committees and legislation as more are scheduled in the days and weeks to come. In addition, GPG will be providing any relevant committee coverage for bills important to our organization.

  • May 5, 2020
    “Coronavirus in Ohio: Franklin County extending property tax deadline to Aug. 5”
    “Property owners in Franklin County will have more time to pay their midyear tax bills, with the June deadline now pushed back to August.”
    Read the full article HERE

  • May 1, 2020
    Release from our Governmental Policy Group, Inc partners

    Read the GPG’s “Week in Review”, designed to provide you with an overview of the political events happening around Capitol Square. The review is for your benefit and we encourage you to forward it to anyone in your organization who might find its contents interesting.

  • May 1, 2020
    Ohio Stay at Home Order Extended Through May 29th

    Governor Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a "Stay Safe Ohio Order." The new order, which incorporates the openings of businesses and services announced as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan, will replace the previous "Stay at Home" order, which expires. The full order from the Ohio Department of Health is attached for your review. 
    Directors-Stay-Safe-Ohio-Order

  • April 30, 2020
    “Ohio Landlords And Tenants Call For Federal Rental Assistance During Pandemic”
    An article from WKSU, by Nick Evans
    “A coalition of tenants and landlords is calling on Congress to include $100 billion for rental assistance in its next coronavirus relief measure.”

    Read the article HERE

  • April 29, 2020
    County OKs $2.3M for affordable housing plan
    Mark Ferenchik
    The Columbus Dispatch USA TODAY NETWORK

    The Franklin County commissioners approved $2.375 million Tuesday to go toward building homes on property controlled by the Franklin County Land Trust.
    The goal is to keep the price of those homes affordable through the years, as home prices in some areas escalate.

    The county hopes to build 20 homes on county land bank property with the money. Officials plan for construction to begin in the third quarter of this year, said Hope Paxson, vice president of programs and housing for the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation, the county land bank.
    “Given all the circumstances, it’s a healthy goal,” Paxson said.

    The land trust works this way: The trust owns and controls the property, with home buyers owning the home itself and having a 99-year lease on the land it’s on.
    If the owner sells the home, the buyer owns the house but the trust continues to own the land.

    “It puts affordable housing into areas for the long-term,” said James Schimmer, Franklin County’s director of economic development and planning.
    Paxson said the homes will be built with development partners in unincorporated areas of the county such as Prairie and Mifflin townships.

    The new homes would be available to families earning up to 120% of the area median income, or an annual income of about $101,040 for a family of four.
    In 2019, the commissioners approved a plan to invest about $65 million over the next decade to create more than 2,000 more units of affordable housing.
    The city of Columbus also invested $3.8 million last year into land trust projects within the city, Paxson said.

    Also on Tuesday, the commissioners voted to advance $500,000 to four groups to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic.

    The money will go through the Greater Columbus Arts Council to help the Franklin Park Conservatory, the King Arts Complex, the Lincoln Theatre and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.

    The money is critical at this time, Commissioner Kevin Boyce said. Arts organizations have been shuttered because of the crisis.
    “This is an investment in the economy,” he said.

    “As we start coming back slowly, we need the arts and cultural community,” Commissioner Marilyn Brown said.

    Last October, the commissioners approved a $2 million contract with the Arts Council to fund artists and related organizations. That was on top of the $1 million that the county already had given to the council.
    mferench@dispatch.com
     @MarkFerenchi

  • April 29, 2020
    Rural Rental Assistance
    Many of us are interested in federal funding for rental assistance to help offset property owner losses.  This update was in the federal news update of the 4-28-2020 Gongwer.  Please find the letter HERE from a bipartisan group of US Senators supporting funding for the Rural Rental Assistance Program.
     
    Rental Assistance: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Cleveland) was part of a bipartisan group of senators that penned a letter to colleagues calling for emergency funding for the Rural Rental Assistance program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "Many of these rural households were already one crisis away from losing stable housing, and now residents' incomes are likely to decline due to illness or unemployment as a result of COVID-19," they wrote. "It is more important than ever to ensure that individuals and families living in small towns and rural areas are not forgotten during this pandemic. We urge you to provide robust emergency funding for Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance in the next supplemental appropriations package to mitigate the impact of this crisis in rural communities."
     

  • April 29, 2020
    2020 Primary Election Results
    HERE is a list of the results from yesterday’s Primary Election. For your convenience, we have highlighted the winners in each race. Please note that these are the unofficial results and have not been finalized; updated percentages can be found through the following link: https://liveresults.ohiosos.gov/
     
    Results will not be finalized until all ballots have been received and counted by boards of elections in this extraordinary, nearly all mail-in primary election. Boards may still count ballots that were postmarked by April 27 and received by May 8.

  • April 28, 2020
    Responsible RestartOhio Update
    Governor DeWine announced today that the State of Ohio will not require that customers entering retail establishments wear face coverings (defined informally as something that covers the nose and mouth and is not necessarily a mask) as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan. Wearing face coverings in public is still, however, strongly recommended. He also noted that individual business owners could still choose to develop a business policy requiring face coverings for customers to enter their businesses. 

    Responsible-Protocols_Updated April 28 
    Manufacturing-Distribution-Construction - UPDATED
    General-Office-Environments - UPDATED  
    Consumer-Retail-Services - UPDATED

    After today's press conference the Governor released a statement suggesting that face coverings would still be mandated for employees unless wearing a face covering is not advisable by a healthcare professional, goes against industry best practices, or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations. Lt. Governor Husted said the Administration will be publishing an FAQ in the coming days related to questions on the Responsible RestartOhio plan. We also expect a revised Executive Order to be issued in the near future, likely before the current Order is set to expire at midnight Friday. We understand that various aspects of the face covering policy appear to be in conflict and we are awaiting clarification from the Administration. 
     (See Columbus Dispatch article)
    Additionally, the Governor announced that he will form two separate advisory groups to develop best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants, barbershops, and salons. Relevant business associations, along with leadership in both legislative chambers, are working to identify individuals to serve on the advisory groups. Legislative leaders and the Governor are specifically working to identify individuals who work in these fields every day, including small business owners. The goal of this group is to develop recommendations for these businesses to balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers as they reopen to the public.

    Governor DeWine also promised details in the near future on cost cuts in light of decreasing state revenue. He had previously called for agency heads to submit recommended cost cuts of up to 20% where possible.

  • April 28, 2020
    Legal Aid aims to fill NE Ohio needs during pandemic
    Read this article about the Legal Aid Society in NE Ohio assisting tenants in the time of pandemic. Certainly, these are just the start of stories like these incidents, but for each bad story there are surely others on the other side of the coin. And remember to always act with integrity and know your rights and responsibilities.

  • April 27, 2020
    Governor Mike DeWine Announces "Responsible Restart Ohio" Plan
    Governor Mike DeWine today announced the initial steps of his "Responsible Restart Ohio" plan to reopen businesses shuttered in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor outlined five protocols for all businesses when they re-open, including a “no mask, no work, no service, no exception” requirement for employees and clients, and limits on capacity to no more than 50 percent of fire code restrictions. Other guidelines cover daily health assessments, maintenance of sound hygiene practices including 6-foot social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, and reporting infections.
     
    Stay-at-home orders will remain in place, including limits on gatherings, but with modifications to allow additional business operations.
    Below is a timeline of the phased-in plan to reopen businesses:
     
    Friday, May 1: Lifting the bar on elective surgeries to allow procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay.
    Monday, May 4: All construction, distribution and manufacturing businesses that have not been allowed to continue operation during the pandemic can reopen. General offices also will be allowed to reopen on that date.
    Tuesday, May 12: Consumer, retail and service businesses can reopen.
     
    Below are the protocol documents released by the Administration which businesses must follow in order to reopen:

    5 Protocols for All Businesses
    Ohio’s Safe Business Practices for Getting Back to Work
    Responsible Restart Ohio - Consumer, Retail & Services
    Responsible Restart Ohio - General Office Environments
    Responsible Restart Ohio - Manufacturing, Distribution, & Construction

    There are also some continued business closures:
    Continued Business Closures

    Additional details are available on the Ohio Department of Health website:
    https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio

  • April 27, 2020 
    Ohio House - Open Ohio Responsibly Framework
    Today, members of the Ohio House released the attached framework for reopening the State’s economy based on the 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force meetings conducted over the past several weeks hearing from business owners affected by the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Currently, there are 30 members of the Ohio House that have electronically signed to agree to this framework.  It is anticipated that the attached document and specific recommendations may be subject to further revision.  Additionally, the Ohio House Minority Caucus will be presenting its own ideas on a reopening framework at 12:30 today. Any relevant documents will be distributed. 

    Open Ohio Responsibly Framework 
    Please note, this is NOT the Governor’s official phased-in approach to reopen businesses. The Governor’s outline is in the section above.

  • April 24, 2020 
    Ohio Poverty Law Center Rental Assistance Report
    As referenced in the Cleveland Plain Dealer article posted April 23rd, the Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) this week released a report which details the status of evictions in Ohio and points to the need for a broad-based rental assistance program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged the state to halt evictions on a uniform basis. Governor DeWine said that was not done because it could hinder evictions in cases of domestic violence or other dangerous situations.
     
    The report recommends the state to allocate $35 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families dollars to create a homelessness-prevention program, use more Community Development Block Grant dollars for rental assistance and use unneeded federal CARES Act money for the same.
     
    The full report from the OPLC is attached for your review.
    OPLC Rental Assistance Report

  • April 23, 2020 
    Ohio evictions will ‘spike’ in coming months, activists and landlord group predict
    We wanted to make sure you saw the following article from The Cleveland Plain Dealer on evictions. You will see that OREIA President Jeff Rickerman’s is quoted near the end of the article. Well said, Jeff!
    Click HERE to read the article

    What Happens When Eviction Moratoriums Are Over?
    “Once moratoriums end, officials say courts will likely be overwhelmed with eviction proceedings.”
    In this Route Fifty article by Emma Coleman, The city attorney for Columbus is quoted as saying there will be a “deluge of evictions” that the city might be able to “slow down around the edges” but will not be able to completely contain. “We as policymakers have to figure out how we are going to get ahead of that curve so when that moratorium lifts, we’re prepared,” he said. “If we wait … we’re going to be too late … now is the time to be talking about it.”
    Click HERE to read the article

  • April 23, 2020
    Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
    Pre-Registration Begins for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    Starting on Friday, April 24 - Part-time, Self-Employed, and 1099 tax filers can begin pre-registering for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 
    The pre-registration tool will allow individuals to get in line early and pre-register their account, so that as soon as the agency has the technical ability to process their claims in May, they can log in and complete their paperwork.

    To pre-register for PUA benefits, Ohioans should visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on “Get Started Now.” The benefit amount will be similar to traditional unemployment benefits, plus an additional $600 per week PUC through July 25. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) program started rolling out to approved unemployment recipients this week.

    Visit https://drive.google.com/open?id=1B89tVLEJ94WQNLO3iVd1e6bVjOZCh9RQ to read the news release with more details on eligibility

  • April 20, 2020
    Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
    Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Expanded Eligibility Resource Hub - Part-time, Self-Employed, and 1099 tax filers cannot apply for unemployment through the regular portal. ODJFS is building a separate site for these filers. Unfortunately, that site is still not operational. An expectation of mid-May is stated on their site. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program will also provide an additional $600 per week to those claiming unemployment through this portal. There is not a separate (or current) place for part-time, self-employed, or 1099 tax filers to go to claim their extra $600/week unemployment checks. 

    Visit https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility/ to find out more about the program.

  • April 6, 2020
    House Economic Recovery Task Force Kicks Off
    A new House task force created to get Ohio's economy back on track held its first meeting Monday, an organizational affair that members said was not subject to open meetings laws.
    The House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force is a 24-member panel appointed by Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) to facilitate the restoration of an Ohio economy derailed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
    Read the Press Release Here
    Task Force Kick Off News Coverage

  • April 1, 2020
    During the April 1st COVID-19 press conference, Governor DeWine signed an executive order that seeks to provide some assistance for small businesses with mortgage and rent payments. The order asks lenders and landlords across Ohio to work with their small businesses and suspend payments for at least 90 days in an effort to avoid foreclosures.

    Signed Executive Order - Commercial Evictions and Foreclosures

  • March 31,2020
    Today, Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson signed an order that will maintain public water service during the state of emergency. The order would prohibit water disconnections during the state of emergency and require service reconnection to those customers who had their services terminated since the beginning of the year. Guidance documents regarding reconnecting services and proper flushing procedures for homes that have their water restored are also attached. We encourage you to continue to check the following website, which will be updated by the Ohio EPA: https://www.epa.state.oh.us/ddagw/covid19

    Utility Companies Halt Disconnections For Overdue Customers
    Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
    Reconnect Implementation Guidelines - HB197

  • March 30, 2020
    The attached bulletin from ODI pertains to all insurers providing property and casualty, life, and long-term care insurance policies in the State of Ohio. The purpose of this bulletin is to notify insurers that they must provide their insureds with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums or submit information.

    Also attached you will find two documents detailing the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress last week. These documents provide information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Bulletin 2020-07 - Property and Casualty, Life, and Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Payments During State of Emergency
    CARES Act explained
    CARES Act FAQs

  • March 28, 2020
    In response to the signing of  HB 197, the Ohio Supreme Court issued the attached order. The court also issued the attached FAQ document that provides additional information about the tolling order. We hope you find this helpful, as always don't hesitate to contact us if you should have any questions.

    Tolling Supreme Court Order
    Tolling Supreme Court FAQ

  • March 18, 2020
    Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost 
    Letter of support - Courts may suspend jury trials to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Link to Resource

  • March 18, 2020
    Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
    Lifting Certain Unemployment Compensation Benefit Restrictions during an Emergency
    Link to Resource

  • March 18, 2020
    The Supreme Court of Ohio
    Guidance to Local Courts on how to operate during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
    Link to Resource

  • March 16, 2020
    Frank LaRose - Ohio Secretary of State
    Closing of Polling Places and alternatives to voting
    Link to Resource

  • March 16, 2020
    Ohio Governor Mike DeWine 
    Executive Order Declaring a State of Emergency
    Link to Resource

  • March 18, 2020
    HUD Suspends all foreclosure and evictions for the next 60 days
    Link to Resource

  • March 18, 2020
    Ohio Department of Health
    Director's Order to Limit and/or Prohibit Mass Gatherings and the Closure of Venues in the State of Ohio
    Link to Resource

  • March 18, 2020
    Treasury and IRS Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
    Link to Resource 

  • March 13, 2020
    The Supreme Court of  Ohio
    Letter to Ohio Judges Regarding COVID-19
    Link to Resource

  • March 13, 2020
    Groups Urge Human Services, Housing Changes Amid Crisis
    Link to Resource

    -PUCO - Public Utilities Commission of Ohio addresses disconnect policies during the COVID-19 State of Emergency
    Link to Resource

    -Ohio Utility Companies Halt Disconnections for Overdue Customers
    Link to Resource

    -Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
    Requirements for Public Utility Companies during the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Ohio
    Link to Resource

  • March 13, 2020
    Ohio Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation
    Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
    Allow small businesses and nonprofits in Ohio to apply for low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million
    Link to Resource

  • _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Other Legislation OREIA has been tracking 

    Forbidding More Than Three People from Living Together Violates Ohio Constitution

 

 
 Ohio cities violate property rights by prohibiting more than three unrelated people from living in the same home
 
Bowling Green, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved to strike a municipal ordinance that criminalizes greater than three unrelated individuals living in the same home regardless of the size of the home.
 
The action is filed against the City of Bowling Green on behalf of 23 Bowling Green landlords and three student tenants threatened with eviction.  The landlords own over 161 homes that, despite four or more bedrooms and ample parking, may not be occupied by greater than three unrelated people.
 
Through its Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the 1851 Center explains that the City's ordinance, which imposes a $500 per day fine, is violates the Ohio Constitution through suppressing private property rights and equal protection and imposing vague standards and excessive fines:
  • As in other states that have invalidated such occupancy limits, the Ohio Constitution is more protective of private property rights and equal protection than the federal constitution. 
  • While the regulation professes to limit population density, many homes in the City are exempt from the rule, while there are no similar occupancy limits on related individuals.
  • The regulation is unconstitutionally vague, insofar as the City maintains no list of which properties are exempt, and regulates houses based upon whether or not they were "designed for single family use."
  • Fine of $162,500 per year for permitting four individuals to live in a four-bedroom home is patently excessive. 
 
"In Ohio, many zoning regulations needlessly interfere with private property rights, drive up the cost of living, fail to accomplish their proclaimed purposes, and are used as political weapons - - often to benefit special interests or suppress disfavored minorities.  This regulation is no different," explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson.  "However, there is no coherent reason why four missionaries should be prohibited from occupying a large six bedroom house, even as an unruly family of eight lives in a smaller home next door."
 
The 1851 Center draws a distinction between zoning regulations that prohibit homeowners from using their property to directly inflict harm on others and regulations simply aimed at social engineering.
 
"This regulation is aimed at government-controlled social engineering, i.e. keeping 'the wrong kind of people' out of certain neighborhoods, rather than land use. Unruly behavior should be directly regulated, rather than regulated on the basis of the relationships between those who live together," added Thompson.  "Ohioans should not be forced to pay higher rent or endure longer commutes due to such arbitrary regulations." 
 
The case is pending before Judge Zouhary in the Western Division of the Northern District of Ohio.  The Judge has issued a temporary standstill order. 

 

The Federal Reserve Decision

 

As expected, the Federal Reserve Board decided to raise its benchmark interest rates by .25%. The reaction of the markets was tame because this action was widely anticipated and there was no surprise. While each Fed rate hike does signal an overall increase in interest rates, it also does not mean that all rates are spiking upward. For one, the Fed has steadfastly adhered to a plan that is designed to move back to what it calls normal rates in a slow and orderly fashion. The response to the recession and slow recovery was to keep short-term rates close to zero, which is something that could not be sustained forever.
 
In this regard, the markets are more likely to react to hints about the pace of future rate increases, which are likely to be detected from the minutes of the recent meeting and various public statements from Federal Reserve Board members. Right now, the markets seem to be betting on three to four rate increases during the course of 2018, and if the economy continues to perform well, that scenario is not out of the question. While facing that many rate hikes, it should also be noted that the Fed's action to raise rates directly affects short-term rates, but only indirectly affects longer-term rates, upon which home and even auto loans are based.
 

Fighting to Make “Fair” Housing Fair:
The Helen Grybosky Saga

From January to July 2008, Helen Grybosky, a then-78 year old widow from North Kingsville, Ohio, received several calls to rent out a three unit home she owned in Conneaut. 

The first caller, who came to the property, asked Helen about allowing a “therapy dog” for her brother who had anxiety and needed the dog to help him sleep. After some discussion, Helen agreed to allow the animal for an additional $100 deposit. 

During another visit Helen told a prospect that she would not rent out the second story to small children because the noise between the floors was too much for the old house.

Another caller asked about a “seeing eye” dog, which Helen stated she would allow without a deposit. 

Unfortunately for Ms. Grybosky, the callers were not bona fide applicants looking for housing, but “testers” from a local housing agency, randomly checking landlords for possible housing discrimination—a common practice throughout the United States.

Round 1: The Housing Agency Demands Cash

In September 2008 the private, non-profit housing agency filed charges of housing discrimination against Ms. Grybosky based on the “therapy dog” and not allowing children in the second story.

The agency demanded that she pay it  $6,500, undergo housing education, and pay for an advertisement in the local paper announcing her shame.  These demands were further submitted to Helen by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”) under threat that if she refused to pay the private agency the money and other terms it demanded, she would face prosecution by the State of Ohio and be subjected to even greater damages, plus mandatory attorney’s fees.

Ms. Grybosky refused to pay the settlement because she did not believe she committed any discrimination based on the testing, and the case was sent to the Ohio Attorney General. The AG filed a formal complaint against Helen and her son Gary, who was listed as owner of the property on the tax records, but whose legal status was actually as a remainderman in a life estate held by Helen.

Round 2: The Administrative Hearing

The case proceeded to an administrative hearing before an administrative judge employed by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC).

Following a three day hearing in May 2010 and briefing by the parties, the administrative judge recommended that the OCRC find that Helen and Gary (who never spoke to any of the testers and had nothing to do with the operation or management of the property) committed acts of discrimination based on the “therapy dog” testing and Helen’s not wanting to rent to children on the second story.  The administrative judge’s recommended resolution: 

  • Helen and Gary pay $12,000 in actual damages
  • Plus $10,000 in punitive damages
  • Plus roughly $80,000 in legal fees to the Attorney General and the attorneys for the agency.

In its final decision on October 10, 2013 the Commission found that Helen and Gary committed discrimination on both charges,  but modified the recommendations by their administrative judge and ordered Helen and Gary to pay:

  • $2,513.05 in actual damages to the agency
  • Attorney fees of $4,933 to the Ohio Attorney General,
  • Attorney fees of $4,185 to the attorneys for the agency.

So after a five year battle, even the Commission had to admit that there was no basis for the $6,500 demand.  The Gryboskys appealed the Commission’s decision to the Ashtabula Common Pleas Court.

What’s Really at Stake Here…
Read This Even if You Just Scanned the Rest

It’s important to understand that the key issues in this case are not about whether what Helen Grybosky said could constitute discrimination were an actual applicant involved.

What is important is that the system be changed so that landlords have the opportunity to resolve charges of discrimination in a fair and balanced manner, that they are not faced with mandatory attorney fees, and that private agencies are not permitted to manufacture discrimination as a means to create a profit.

The issues in this case will potentially affect the legal rights of every rental property owner in the United States. There are crucial constitutional and procedural questions about how fair  housing law is enforce, like:

  1. How does a private housing agency sustain any damages by sending a “tester”—a person posing as a member of a protected class to which they do not belong, and pretends to be seeking housing that they are not seeking— to investigate how a landlord might respond to hypothetical issues? In the law, damages are based on injury flowing from a person’s wrongdoing. In the random testing cases, agencies investigate potential discrimination and do not sustain any injury based on the responses. In other words, there cannot be damages when no one has actually been denied housing, and yet the Ohio Civil Rights Commission allows for the agency to recover “actual damages” where none exists.
  2. What evidence can a landlord demand to establish that a tenant has a bona fide need for an assistant animal due to a “disability” What evidence is reasonable? Every day now, we hear more stories about people who claim the need for therapy animals for a growing list of ‘disabilities’. An industry has developed that sells tenants and applicants letters (purportedly from medical or psychiatric professionals) stating that they have a need for a “helper animal”. In fact, such a diagnosis can be purchased off the internet for less than $50.

 What is not clear in the law—and thus is widely used by housing agencies to engage in testing—is whether anxiety, sleeplessness, etc rise to the level of ‘disability’, necessitating reasonable accommodations under fair housing law. Housing providers don’t deny housing to animals capriciously; animals do measurable damage to units, make multifamilies harder to rent, and present a risk of liability.

Who decides when an animal is a true service animal, necessary for a tenant’s day to day functioning, vs. a comfort animal that the tenant wants but doesn’t truly “need”?

  1. 3. Due process issues in the prosecution of fair housing offenders. In Ohio, if an accused landlord does not resolve the charge “through conference, conciliation, and persuasion” (that is, by paying the money demanded by the agency), the case goes to a hearing and if any discrimination is found, the landlord must pay “reasonable attorney fees” and is subjected to potential punitive damages. 

            As in the Grybosky case, these attorneys fees can total in the tens of thousands of dollars and guess what: there is no provision for the landlord to recover attorney fees or punitive damages if no discrimination is found—regardless of how frivolous the charges may be.

            In addition, fair housing hearings at the OCRC are different than in a true court of law. Once the case is accelerated to that level, the landlord faces prosecution for any discrimination, not limited to the allegations in the complaint and not even limited to the parties in the complaint.  The commission, while presided over by an administrative judge, is not subject to the usual rules of due process.

  1. The impossibility of following requirements that are vague and inconsistent. The statute obligates the landlord to make a “reasonable accommodation” for a “disability,” but also prohibits any inquiry about the extent of the disability and does not provide any specific standard of what is reasonable, or even what constitutes a “disability.”

            In other words, you might think you’re making a reasonable accommodation by allowing an applicant’s “anxiety pit bull” with a $500 refundable pet deposit, and still lose a claim because there is no real guidance as to the definition of disability, service animal, or reasonable accommodation.

      It’s for these reasons that OREIA, its members and member organizations, have been supporting Ms. Grybosky’s legal fund and following her case so intently for the past 3 years.

      In October, Judge Yost of the Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court ruled on her appeal against the OCRC and the housing agency with mixed results (see the text of the case at www.OREIA.com) : the judge dismissed the disability discrimination based on the therapy dog, denied the agency any attorney fees, dismissed the charges against Helen’s son Gary

      However he did find discrimination based on the statements to the tester about not renting to children on the second floor and ordered Helen to pay damages of $1,104 and attorney fees of about $5,000.

Next Steps and How You Can Help Make Fair Housing Fair for All

      The next step is to appeal the case to the 11th District Court of Appeals and eventually to the Ohio Supreme Court.  

      We are hopeful the court will find:

  1. That the procedures in the statutes (including mandatory attorney fees against landlords), which allow the OCRC to engage in such extortion to be unconstitutional
  2. That the random testing does not create any damages for which the agency can recover any monies, and
  3. That the statute’s wording for disability and reasonable accommodation is ambiguous and unenforceable in a meaningful way.

      A win on these issues will literally even the playing field for you as a housing provider, making it impossible for fair housing organizations to extort money in cases where no damage has been done, making real cases of discrimination clearer and easier to prosecute, and making it far more obvious where the “line”, particularly with animals, is.

If every OREIA attendee gave just $25, we could take care of 1/2 of the expected legal bill this weekend.

      This is a rare chance to invest a tiny amount of money and see a huge, positive effect on our entire industry, so when the hat gets passed, be generous. It’s your own future you’re buying into.

See Court Ruling HERE

A Bittersweet Victory
in the
Helen Grybosky
“Fair Housing” Case

 The long, painful saga of Conneaut widow Helen Grybosky was finally settled last month in a win for Ms. Gryboski, but a draw for the rest of us.

For those who haven’t followed Ms. Grybosky’s case, a more complete summary is available in the legislative matters secin below. But the 20,000 foot overview is this: in 2008, Ms. Grybowsky a then-78 year old owner of a 3-family in Northeast Ohio, became embroiled in a nearly decade-long battle with a private fair housing organization that claimed she had discriminated against ‘testers’ (people not actually seeking housing, but rather paid to ‘discover’ discrimination by presenting various scenarios to housing providers and seeing how they react).

After refusing to pay the $6,500 demanded by the fair housing group, she was the subject of an Ohio Civil Rights Commission hearing where she was initially told that she would have to pay over $100,000, mostly in legal fees to the Attorney General. That figure was later amended to just over $10,000, but Ms. Grybosky, believing that she had not denied housing to anyone, sued the OCRC in common pleas court.

COREE members, through OREIA, were instrumental in raising over $15,000 for her legal defense over the past 5 years, and the case has reached its conclusion: it’s been dismissed by the court because of what basically comes down to a technicality: one of the documents submitted early in the case was not submitted under oath. You can read the full opinion of the court here: 
https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/11/2017/2017-Ohio-7125.pdf

Because of this error, the court did not rule on the other issues relating to whether testing is a legitimate means to incriminate housing providers or any of the other claims that might have made fair housing fairer.

So while some in the blogosphere have declared this a victory, it’s only one in a personal sense for Helen Grybosky. She certainly deserves it, after carrying the standard in this fight for so long, but unfortunately it has no effect on the still vague and unfairly weighted area of fair housing law for the rest of us.

We appreciate the tenacity of Ms. Grybosky and her attorney, Tarin Hale in fighting for our rights as housing providers, and the financial support from OREIA's members in raising over $15,000 for the legal bills involved in the case. We look forward to the next opportunity to fight these anti-landlord regulations and to make fair housing truly fair to everyone

www.OREIA.com  (Ohio Real Estate Investors Association) does not give legal, tax, economic, or investment advice. OREIA disclaims all liability for the action or inaction taken or not taken as a result of communications from or to its members, officers, directors, employees and contractors. Each person should consult their own counsel, accountant and other advisors as to legal, tax, economic, investment, and related matters concerning Real Estate and other investments.   

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