This week's “Government Affairs Update” is dedicated entirely to the Regulatory and Government Affairs impact from COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As you’ve likely personally experienced, everything is changing hour-by-hour and day-by-day. As we get information, we will certainly pass it along to you in a timely manner.
1) City of Westerville Announces “Payment Holiday”
a. The City of Westerville announced it is offering a payment holiday for all residential and business utility accounts for bills due on April 15, 2020. The decision was discussed and unanimously approved by Westerville City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, March 17.
Based on economic uncertainties associated with the spread of COVID-19, the City will enact this relief program to waive fees for the current month’s payment of electric, water, sanitation and trash/recycling.
If residents and businesses are able, City officials encourage paying-it-forward by making a donation to a Westerville-based nonprofit or charitable organization that can provide further assistance for food, housing, financial assistance or mental health counseling needs during these challenging times.
b. Read more here
2) Columbus City Council Sets Aside $1 Million in Emergency Funding for Families During COVID-19 Outbreak.
a. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbus City Council committed $1 million to Emergency Human Services to support families in need of housing or food support.
“COVID-19 is going to hit Columbus families hard, especially parents working hourly jobs,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “Council is acting now to put emergency money on the table to address food access and housing stability.”
Council will work with community partners to finalize the details and administration of the program. The goal is to get much-needed resources into the hands of the community as quickly as possible.
3) PUCO asks utilities to suspend disconnections
a. Last week the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio took action to ask utilities to suspend disconnection, and waive any requirements for reconnections for all types of customers (both residential and business). According to the PUCO, all of the utilities are doing so, however, many are unable to quickly edit their automated billing systems to stop sending disconnection notices. Columbia Gas of Ohio was able to stop sending them, but apparently most others still are. However, PUCO says utilities are not following through with those disconnections. For more information, click here.
b. This content is copyright 2020 Ohio REALTORS. Read more at: https://www.ohiorealtors.org/blog/1258/puco-asks-utilities-to-suspend-disconnections/.
4) Who has authority to change Ohio election date? Via Columbus Dispatch
a. The Ohio Democratic Party and Kiara Sanders, a Reynoldsburg woman, filed suit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose in the Ohio Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon, arguing only lawmakers — not LaRose — could set an election date.
b. The action asks the high court to order “adequate” opportunities for Ohioans to vote via absentee ballot by April 28.
i. The litigation contends there should not be another primary election day, just an extension of absentee balloting until late April.
c. General Assembly plans to reconvene next week to officially set a new election date.
d. House Speaker Larry Householder said in a memo Tuesday, “The date of Ohio’s primary election is set by state law and, as the secretary of state has acknowledged, the legal authority to change the date rests with the Ohio General Assembly — not the courts and not via executive fiat. So too does the process and manner in which the election is conducted.”
5) Impact of H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on NAR Members
a. Early in the morning of March 14, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6201 by a wide margin.
b. The Senate passed it yesterday with The President signing it into law late last night.
c. Major Provisions Affecting REALTORS®, Brokers, and Real Estate Associations
i. Read those here
6) Trump says HUD will suspend foreclosures and evictions until end of April amid coronavirus response via CNBC
a. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will temporarily suspend “all foreclosures and evictions” amid the coronavirus crisis.
b. That “immediate relief” for renters and homeowners will last through the end of April, Trump said at a press briefing at the White House.
7) Treasury and IRS to delay tax payment deadline by 90 days via CNBC
a. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that taxpayers can delay paying their income taxes on as much as $1 million in taxes owed for up to 90 days.
b. Ordinarily, individual income taxpayers must submit their 2019 tax returns and pay amounts owed by April 15.
c. The postponement on payments applies to federal returns. Double-check your state’s tax deadlines to see if there are any delays.
8) NAR to Deliver Virtual Solutions for 2020 Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo
a. WASHINGTON (March 18, 2020) – Due to recent restrictions and recommendations implemented by the federal and Washington, D.C. governments, the National Association of Realtors® announced Wednesday that it will deliver previously-planned programming and committee meetings virtually.
b. Read more here