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Ginter offers amended LGF bill

COLUMBUS –State Rep. Tim Ginter has offered an amendment as a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee that would correct a state law that cuts state Local Government Fund (LGF) money in 2021 for Columbiana County communities, according to a news release.

Last year, the state transportation budget legislation that became law contained wording that was later interpreted to require communities with traffic cameras to report to the state the fine money generated. The amount would then be deducted from the community’s annual state LGF allocation if the fines from the cameras exceeded the LGF allocations received by the communities.

If the law is left as is, eight Ohio counties with communities that have or had traffic cameras –which includes Columbiana and Trumbull counties –would see their LGF allocation cut by the state. As a result, the county’s 2021 LGf allocation would be cut from $2.29 million to $944,972.

“While I did support the transportation budget that brought an additional $2 million to our county, I was unaware of the consequences from this additional amendment that was thrown into this massive piece of legislation,” said Ginter. “Once I was made aware of the impact of this error, I immediately moved to begin drafting measures to correct this issue.”

The original intent was to punish only those communities with speed cameras by cutting LGF allocations to them equal to the amount of fine money generated by traffic citations. Ginter’s amendment would fix the problem by, among other things, deducting LGF funding only from communities that made money from traffic cameras and reimburse communities without cameras should they experience a deduction in LGF payments come 2021.

Ginter, R-Salem, said the conference committee on Tuesday agreed to support the amendment as a part of Senate Bill 163 and then passed the legislation out of the conference committee. The measure has the support of Ohio Department of Taxation, Ohio Township Association, and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

The amendment contains an emergency measure and would become effective immediately if signed into law. The legislation is expected to be on the House floor during today’s session.

Ginter has been criticized by some for not knowing the details of what he was voting on, but apparently there were conflicting legal interpretations. State Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren who also voted for the original bill, has said the analysis provided to lawmakers by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) reached a different conclusion than the state taxation department, which interpreted the law to mean every community in the county should be penalized by receiving less LGF money. He said the differing opinion was left out of the analysis provided by the LSC to legislators because it disagreed with the taxation department’s interpretation.

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