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April 8, 2022
A publication of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio                         Printer Friendly Version
Senator Cecil Thomas, Senator Hearcel Craig, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, Fayette County Commissioner James Garfield, Senator Nickie Antonio and Senator Bob Peterson at the annual OCCO legislative reception

OCCO reception brings together CCAO members, state policymakers to discuss key county priorities
The Ohio Council of County Officials held its annual legislative reception this week at the Ohio Statehouse atrium, bringing together hundreds of county elected officials with state lawmakers and state executive officials. CCAO was well represented at the event, with commissioners, county council members and executives from across the state.
CCAO would like to thank Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine for their attendance at the reception and taking the time to speak with so many CCAO members. Their investment of time into the state-county partnership is truly appreciated. CCAO also thanks OBM Director Kim Murnieks for providing remarks to attendees on the many investments made into the state-county partnership in recent years. Also attending the reception were many members of the Ohio House and Senate. CCAO is grateful for their attendance and engagement with CCAO members.
CCAO members had much to discuss with lawmakers during the reception. County priorities included:

  • Opposition to House Bill 488. HB 488 seeks to allow judges to acquire outside legal counsel with less involvement from county commissioners and the county prosecutor. CCAO is opposed to this legislation which reduces local checks and balances. CCAO recently sent out a legislative alert on this bill to its membership.
  • Continued support for state capital funding for county jails. Counties strongly urge the General Assembly to continue and expand capital funding for county jails as part of the upcoming state capital budget.
  • Remove unfunded mandates. CCAO strongly opposed unfunded mandates places on county government. Of particular interest to counties is the looming second primary election. This election, created by events entirely outside counties’ control, will cost counties between $20 to $25 million. CCAO asks that the state fully fund these costs.
  • Preserving county revenue streams. The sales tax is the lifeblood of county government. Continued exemptions and carveouts to the sales tax base further erode this critical county revenue source. CCAO asks that the sales tax base be kept broad, free from further exemptions.
  • Showing thanks for recent successes. The past several years have brought significant advances in the state-county partnership. Investments in indigent defense reimbursement, children’s services, jail funding, water and sewer grants, demolition and brownfield remediation grants, broadband expansion and more have all been significant victories which are worth celebrating and are much appreciated.

House Bill 126 amends law governing valuation challenges
The Conference Committee report for House Bill 126, sponsored by Rep. Derek Merrin, was approved by the House (61-35) and Senate (24-8) on Wednesday and will be sent to the Governor for his review. CCAO was opposed to the Senate version of the legislation, which prohibited school boards and all other political subdivisions from filing property tax challenges for property they do not own. The Conference Committee report reflected a compromise that removes the authority of school boards and other political subdivisions to challenge the valuation of residential property but allows challenges to commercial property under certain circumstances. The legislation also makes significant changes to the process that is used to initiate challenges in the Board of Revision (BOR) process. The amendments apply to challenges filed for tax year 2022 and after. 
Procedurally, if the school board is filing an “original challenge” (i.e., not a counter-complaint) to a property it does not own, it must adopt a resolution authorizing the complaint for each property it wishes to challenge after providing notice by certified mail to the property owner. Alternatively, notice may be provided by regular mail if electronic notification is also sent. 
The Board of Revision may accept the complaint only (1) if the property was sold in an arm’s length sale in the year before the tax lien date for the tax year for which the complaint is to be filed, and (2) the sale price was at least 10% higher than the auditor’s true value and exceeds the value by least $500,000. The “filing threshold” of $500,000 will be adjusted for inflation each year. 
The legislation also prohibits the use of a settlement agreement between a school board and a property owner that requires the use of payments to the school board in return for the board ending its challenge at the BOR. This prohibition applies to agreements that might be entered into after the bill’s effective date. 
Other changes made by the bill include:

  • The political subdivision may not appeal a BOR decision to the Board of Tax Appeals for property that it does not own. 
  • The BOR is not required to notify a board of education that a property owner has filed a complaint. 
  • A board of education may file a counter-complaint only in cases involving overvaluation or incorrect valuation of at least $17,500 in taxable value. The cases may be filed without first adopting a resolution.  
  • The BOR must dismiss a complaint made through an original challenge if it has not made a decision within one year after the complaint was filed.    

Members with questions should contact Jon Honeck,, 614-220-7982. 

House Civil Justice Committee passes HB 488
This week, the House Civil Justice Committee passed House Bill 488, sponsored by Representatives Grendell and Galonski, by a vote of 10-2 with Representatives Kick and Lampton voting against passage. CCAO Assistant Director John Leutz testified in opposition to the bill. CCAO President and Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman and Greene County Commissioner Richard Gould also submitted written opposition testimony to House Bill 488.
As a reminder, House Bill 488 makes numerous updates to Ohio’s guardianship laws. Many of these changes are non-controversial, and CCAO has taken no position on these provisions of the bill. However, CCAO opposes the provisions in the bill that create a new process allowing a judge to retain outside legal counsel at their discretion for the following purposes:
  • The prosecuting attorney, the board of county commissioners, or both, have a conflict of interest and failed within a reasonable time, or refused, to make an application to the court of common pleas or county court for the employment of outside legal counsel despite having been requested to do so;
  • Represent the court in the prosecution of any action or proceeding against any county public officer or board; and
  • To seek legal advice or legal representation concerning writ of mandamus or writ of prohibition actions.
House Bill 488 is currently awaiting a full floor vote of the Ohio House of Representatives. The next scheduled session date for the House is May 18th, and we would encourage you to contact your state representative to express your concerns about this new process to retain outside legal counsel. Earlier this week, CCAO sent out a legislative alert outlining concerns with House Bill 488 and provided several talking points for your conversations with state legislators.
Members with questions should contact CCAO Legislative Counsel Kyle Petty at 614-220-7977 or
August 2nd most likely date for second primary election
With early voting starting this week for the May 3rd primary, Ohio will officially have a split primary election. The date of the second primary, featuring state legislative and state central committee races, remains undetermined at this time, but most signs point to August 2nd as the likely date.
The General Assembly may establish the date for the second primary, or a federal three-judge panel could set the date. In speaking with reporters following House voting session this week, House Speaker Bob Cupp indicated that the House would not take action prior to the April 20 deadline set by federal courts. Thus, it will be in the federal court’s hands to establish the election date.
The limits of the election administration process shape much of the discussion regarding when the second primary may be held. The ongoing May 3rd primary election needs to be fully completed prior to beginning the next election. The primary cannot be scheduled too late either, at it would interfere with preparations for the November general election. This leads many to believe August 2nd will be the most feasible and likely election date.
CCAO maintains that whatever date it set, full funding be provided by the state for administering this additional election.
County advocacy needed for state capital funds for county jails
With the state capital appropriations process expected to begin in the coming weeks, now is the perfect time to share with state lawmakers the need for continued support for county jails in the state capital appropriations budget.
For a number of years through the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the state invested in county jails for capital expenses. When this funding ended, counties were left alone to fund the needs of their jail capital expenses. This underinvestment left county jails inadequately prepared to handle the growing inmate populations we see today, especially jail populations with mental health and addiction treatments needs.
CCAO was pleased to see the state resume support of county jail facilities during the previous capital budget bill in 2020, making available $50 million in competitive grant funds. It is CCAO’s goal to continue and expand this support for county jails as part of the upcoming capital appropriations process.
Please take time to contact your state lawmakers and ask them to continue and expand support for county jail construction. Please utilize the resources below in your state lawmaker advocacy.
CCAO Capital Appropriations Request – One Pager
Capital Appropriations Request – Supporting Documents
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