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Ohio Legislature Passes Emergency COVID-19 Response Legislation (Ohio Municipal League)

March 25, 2020

Today, both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly approved HB 197, sponsored by Rep. Powell (R – Laura) and Rep. Merrin (R – Monclova Township), which was originally introduced as a tax conformity measure and was amended by the Senate to include several emergency measures in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The amended measure passed the Senate 26-0. The bill was then sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, where it passed 91-0.

The provisions included in the amendment are temporary and will not last after the declared pandemic emergency is over. The following provisions are the measures that impact local governments. You can read a summary of all the amendments HERE  and the full amendment language HERE.

  • Allows local governments to meet remotely with sufficient provisions for public participation (such as video or telephone communications) until December 1 or the expiration of the declaration of emergency (language HERE);
  • Aligns Ohio tax filing deadline with delayed federal July 15 deadline, and;
    • Extends date for estimated payments;
    • Waives interest payments;
    • Waives the “20-day rule” under municipal income tax for employees working from home for the duration of the health emergency plus 30 days;
    • Extends due date of the state-administered municipal net profit tax;
    • (Language for all these changesHERE.)
  • Prevents the disconnection of public water service (languageHERE);
  • Allows Ohio Public Works Commission, Ohio Water Development Authority and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to waive penalties and fees from outstanding loans (languageHERE);
  • Makes April 28 the new primary and extends mail-in voting period to allow absentee ballots postmarked by April 28 to be counted (languageHERE);
  • Extends validity of licenses issued by state agencies and political subdivisions with a 90-day window for renewal (languageHERE);
  • Allows Auditor of State to waive certain requirements regarding procedure audits if the audit period overlaps this health emergency (languageHERE);
  • Tolls statute of limitations for criminal & civil cases and administrative acts that would expire between March 9th and July 30th 2020 (languageHERE);
  • Allows public retirement system boards to delay board member elections until December 1, 2020 (languageHERE).

The bill will now be sent to Governor DeWine today for his signature. Because there was an emergency clause attached to the legislation, the bill will immediately take effect. We will continue to keep our members aware of all measures the state takes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.