Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

124 th General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Service Commission

77 South High Street, 9th Floor, Columbus, OH 43266-0342 ² Phone: (614) 466-3615

² Internet Web Site:


Sub. S.B. 106


November 14, 2001


As Reported by Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Affairs


Sen. Hottinger



No local cost



Make various revisions to the Political Subdivision Sovereign Immunity Law 


State Fiscal Highlights


·        No direct fiscal effect on the state.

Local Fiscal Highlights



FY 2002

FY 2003


Political Subdivisions (including counties and municipalities)


- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -


Potential substantial savings

Potential substantial savings

Potential substantial savings

Counties and Municipalities (for court system effects)


Potential minimal loss

Potential minimal loss

Potential minimal loss


Potential minimal savings

Potential minimal savings

Potential minimal savings

Note: For most local governments, the fiscal year is the calendar year. The school district fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.


·        Generally the bill increases the situations where political subdivisions have immunity from liability for harm caused by an act or omission of a political subdivision or one of its employees in connection with a government or proprietary functions.

·        Since certain civil cases would not occur under the bill (that might otherwise occur), counties and municipalities would be saved the expense (and would not receive filing revenue) associated with court hearings in common pleas, municipal, and county courts.





Detailed Fiscal Analysis


Under Current law


Political Subdivision Sovereign Immunity (PSSI) Law, found in R.C. Chapter 2744, classifies the functions of political subdivisions as governmental functions and proprietary functions.  Under the PSSI Law, political subdivisions have immunity from liability in various circumstances.


Under the Bill


The bill expands or limits the circumstances under which political subdivisions possess sovereign immunity as follows:


Sub S.B. 106 Provisions

Net Fiscal Effect

A. Expands the definition of “governmental function” to include a school’s athletic facility, school auditorium, or gymnasium (that may or may not be owned by the school) while that facility and its property is under construction, repair, renovation, or is already built and is operated by a political subdivision.  

Potential reduction in damages for liability costs for school districts.

B. At railroad crossings in “quiet zones” or for a public road rail crossing in regards to designation, establishment, design, construction, implementation, operation, repair, or maintenance – political subdivision is generally not liable for damages in a civil action.

Potential reduction in damage for liability costs for counties, municipalities and townships.

C. Expands liability to defend an employee who is operating a motor vehicle anywhere that employee is operating the vehicle – not just on a public road, highway, or street – if the act or omission occurred or is alleged to have occurred while the employee was acting in good faith and not manifestly outside the scope of employment or official responsibilities.   

Potential increase to political subdivisions in settlements or damages if the act or omission involving the employee occurred off employment property. 

D. Limits the political subdivision’s obligation to defend employees for negligent acts or omissions actually performed when these employees are acting both in good faith and not outside the scope of employment.

Potential reduction in costs for legal counsel and litigation for political subdivisions.

E. Construction at each end of a county bridge, viaduct, or culvert more than five feet high (as opposed to the current measurement of six feet high) of steel guard rails (not hedge rails) by counties. The new height stipulations potentially increase the number of bridges, etc. that would require the installation of guardrails.  The provision also creates the need to replace hedge rails with steel guards.  

Potential increase in roadway costs to counties.  Lower liability exposure for counties.

F. Reduction in the types of roadway surfaces that the political subdivision is liable for – eliminates berms, shoulders, rights-of-way and certain traffic control devices.  Political subdivisions would be immune from liability in cases involving these roadways areas.

Potential reduction in damage and settlement costs for political subdivisions. 

G. Brings port authority directors, officers, and employees under the provisions of the PSSI law so that they are included under the political subdivision’s obligation to defend employees in situation involving liability and indemnification.  Net effect is that there could be an increase in defense costs based on an increased number of individuals that fall under the defense rights provided by the political subdivision to its employees. 

Potential increase in legal counsel and litigation costs.

H. Reduction in the areas of liability within which political subdivisions must provide defense of an employee for acts or omissions to those times when the employee is both on the job and carrying out their duties.   


Potential reduction in settlements and damages, and reduction in defense costs for political subdivisions. 


I. Limits the liability of political subdivisions, to injuries, deaths, or losses that are due to physical defects within or on the grounds of governmental buildings.

Potential reduction in settlements and damages, and reduction in defense costs for political subdivisions. 




Overall, this bill could reduce the damages and settlement costs associated with lawsuits against political subdivisions. Court cases could be minimally affected.  Political subdivisions may still continue to defend themselves against some allegations of liability. 






LSC fiscal staff:  Carol Robison, Budget Analyst