Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association
Ohio Legislative Report - 132nd General Assembly Review
Print Icon Apr 04, 2019

THE LEGISLATIVE REPORT

OPBA Attorney Brian Holb

It was a busy session for the 132nd General Assembly.  There were several pieces of legislation signed into law by Governor Kasich that impact members of the OPBA.  This article provides a description of each bill and any pertinent information.  All of these bills take effect March 20, 2019 unless otherwise noted. 

BILLS SIGNED BY GOVERNOR KASICH

State Representative Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) put forth HB 38 providing that purposely causing the death of a first responder or military member is aggravated murder when the offender knows or has reasonable cause to know the person is first responder or military member, and it is the offender’s specific purpose to kill a member of these classes.  State Representative Bernadine Kent (D-Columbus) put forth HB 137 making peace officers mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect and expanding the types of peace officers authorized to receive reports of child abuse and neglect. 

State Representatives Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) put forth HB 425 providing the visual or audio portion of a body-worn camera or dashboard camera recording showing, communicating, or disclosing any of the following is exempt from the Ohio Open Records Law:  

  • The image or identity of a child or information that could lead to the identification of a child who is a primary subject of the recording when the law enforcement agency knows or has reason to know the person is a child based on the law enforcement agency's records or the content of the recording;
  • The death of, act of severe violence against, or grievous bodily harm to a person or a deceased person's body, unless the death was caused by a peace officer or the consent of the decedent's executor or administrator has been obtained;
  • The death, grievous bodily harm to, or act of severe violence resulting in serious physical harm against a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, or other first responder, occurring while the person was engaged in the performance of official duties, unless, the consent of the person’s executor or administrator has been obtained;
  • A person's nude body, unless, the person's consent has been obtained;
  • Protected health information, the identity of a person in a health care facility who is not the subject of a law enforcement encounter, or any other information in a health care facility that could identify a person who is not the subject of a law enforcement encounter;
  • Information that could identify the alleged victim of a sex offense, menacing by stalking, or domestic violence;
  • Information, that does not constitute a confidential law enforcement investigatory record, that could identify a person who provides sensitive or confidential information to a law enforcement agency when the disclosure of the person's identity or the information provided could reasonably be expected to threaten or endanger the safety or property of the person or another person;
  • Personal information of a person who is not arrested, cited, charged, or issued a written warning by a peace officer;
  • Proprietary police contingency plans or tactics that are intended to prevent crime and maintain public order and safety;
  • A personal conversation unrelated to work between peace officers or between a peace officer and an employee of a law enforcement agency;
  • A conversation between a peace officer and a member of the public that does not concern law enforcement activities;
  • The interior of a residence, unless the interior of a residence is the location of an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a peace officer; or
  • Any portion of the interior of a private business that is not open to the public, unless an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a peace officer occurs in that location.

State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) put forth HB 572 which is effective March 22, 2019 and revises service credits under the Public Employees Retirement System, the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, the State Teachers Retirement System, and the School Employees Retirement System.

Senate Bill 33 put forth by Senator John Eklund (R-Chardon) takes effect March 23, 2018 and allows disclosure of information from LEADS to a defendant or defendant’s counsel when formally requested pursuant to the rules of discovery in a traffic or criminal case.  Senate Bill 37 put forth by Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) requires the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to develop and conduct a chief of police training course for newly appointed village, city, and township chiefs.  SB 37 applies to those chiefs appointed on or after January 1, 2018.

VETOES OVERRIDDEN

In an unusual turn of events, Governor Kasich vetoed two bills impacting OPBA members which were overridden by both chambers of the General Assembly. 

House Bill 228 was put forth by State Representatives Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chagrin Falls) modifying the law governing the authority of a law enforcement officer or investigator to carry a weapon.  A law enforcement officer or investigator who is authorized to carry a firearm but is NOT acting within the scope of their duties may possess a firearm in any room in which any person is consuming beer or intoxicating liquor in a premises for which a D permit has been issued under O.R.C. 4303 or in an open air arena for which a permit of that nature has been issued so long as ALL of the following apply:

  • The officer or investigator is carrying validating identification;
  • If the firearm the officer or investigator possesses is a firearm issued or approved by the law enforcement agency served by the officer or by the bureau of criminal identification and investigation with respect to an investigator, the agency or bureau does not have a restrictive firearms carrying policy; and
  •  The officer or investigator is not consuming beer or intoxicating liquor and is not under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse.

In a contentious battle, Senate Bill 296 was originally put forth by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) to revise the payments that surviving family members receive from the Ohio Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund.  The bill would also permit surviving spouses and children to participate in the health, dental, and vision benefits offered to state employees as if the survivors were employees of this state.  The bill was subsequently amended in the House Finance Committee by Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) as a vehicle to increase the compensation of elected public officers through 2028; to create the Public Office Compensation Advisory Commission; to create the Office of InnovateOhio; to allow the Lieutenant Governor to receive the salary of the head of an office within the Governor's office in lieu of the Lieutenant Governor's statutory salary; and to declare an emergency. 

Under the pay language, legislators and statewide nonjudicial elected officers will experience a three-year phase in receiving raises of 4% in 2019 and 2020, and 3% in 2021.  Annual adjustments after that of 1.75% will sunset in 2028.  Additionally, committee leaders will receive a $9,000 per year stipend, up from $6,500.  Leaders of non-finance subcommittees will receive $6,750 per year, up from $5,000.  Finally, judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs will see raises of 1.75%.  Other county officeholders will receive 5% raises in 2019 and 2020 and then revert to the 1.75% yearly increase.  Township and board of elections officials will receive annual 1.75% raises from 2019-2020. 

These amendments caused Senator LaRose to remove his name from sponsorship of the bill as this was a large departure from the initial intent of the bill.  The bill, as amended drew criticism from Governor Kasich who was not in favor of pay raises during the lame duck session of the legislature.  Governor Kasich vetoed the bill, sending it back to the House and Senate for override votes.  The Senate voted 25-6 and the House voted 71-16 to override the Governor’s veto.

ANTI-LABOR BILLS

There were a slew of anti-labor bills put forth in the 132nd General Assembly by State Representative John Becker (R-Union Township, Clermont County) that did not make it out of committee.  Some of the bills sought to enact a new section of the Ohio Constitution and amending Ohio’s Public Employee Collective Bargaining Law (O.R.C. 4117) which would prohibit laws, rules, and agreements requiring public sector employees to join or pay dues to a union and prohibiting unions from representing nonmember public sector employees in employment related matters.  Other offerings from Rep. Becker included enacting a new section of the Ohio Constitution subjecting any public employee collective bargaining representative to an annual election to remain certified as the exclusive representative. This change could also prohibit dues and other fees payable to an employee organization from being deducted from the payroll check of a public employee and to prohibit those dues and fees from being used for political purposes unless authorized by the public employee. 

Finally, Rep. Becker sought to enact the "Double Dippers Inappropriately Privileged (DDIP)" to provide that an individual retiring on or after the effective date of this act from one of the state's public retirement systems who is re-employed as a public employee will not receive the pension portion of the retirement allowance for the period of employment.

THE 133RD OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The 133rd General Assembly convened January 7, 2019.  The OPBA believes several pieces of legislation that did not make it out of committee in the previous General Assembly will be introduced again.  Some of the possible legislation we are watching include bills:

  • Making peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury eligible for compensation and benefits under Ohio's Workers' Compensation Law for up to one year.  These employees would be prohibited from receiving a disability benefit from a state retirement system for post-traumatic stress disorder arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury during the time period the person receives compensation and benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law for the disorder.
  • Authorizing a township peace officer who serves a population of greater than 5,000 to make arrests for specified traffic offenses on interstate highways within and adjacent to the officer's territory. Townships would be prohibited from using traffic law photo-monitoring devices on interstate highways.
  • Making negligently causing serious physical harm to a law enforcement officer while operating a motor vehicle or other specified mode of transportation a violation of the offense of vehicular assault.
  • Allowing an income tax credit for law enforcement officials who purchase safety or protective items to be used in the course of official law enforcement activities.
  • Increasing the penalty for assaulting a police dog or horse and to include search and rescue dogs and horses in the prohibition against assaulting or harassing a police animal.
  • Classifying resisting arrest as an offense of violence and to increase the penalties for certain resisting arrest offenses.
  • Enhancing the homestead exemption for surviving spouses of peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel killed in the line of duty.
  • Authorizing a law enforcement officer to arrest a driver of a motor vehicle if the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver committed a moving violation and that the moving violation was a contributing factor in a motor vehicle accident that caused serious physical harm to or the death of another person.  Authorizing the officer to request a warrant to conduct a chemical test to determine whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol if there is probable cause to do so.  Authorizing the officer to order the administration of a chemical test under specified circumstances.  Requiring the mandatory bind over (for trial as an adult rather than a juvenile) of a 16 or 17-year-old who is alleged to have committed aggravated vehicular homicide.
  • Eliminating the Bureau of Motor Vehicles administrative fee for nonstandard license plates related to firefighters and police officers.
  • Requiring the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund Board of Trustees to elect a retiree as chairperson every third year.

The OPBA will actively advocate for legislation that will make your job safer.  Please direct any feedback or suggestions you have on legislation to Brian Holb at bholb@opba.com.


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