Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

125 th General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Service Commission

77 South High Street, 9th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6136 ² Phone: (614) 466-3615

² Internet Web Site: http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/

BILL:

Am. Sub. H.B. 316

DATE:

May 18, 2004

STATUS:

As Passed by the House

SPONSOR:

Rep. Wolpert

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT REQUIRED:

No —

Offsetting savings

 


CONTENTS:

Provides sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, municipal police officers, county and municipal correctional officers, community-based correctional facility officers, and halfway house facility officers and counties, municipal corporations, and townships in which prisoners work on a detail and that employ the officers supervising the work detail with qualified immunity from damages caused by outside work details consisting of prisoners or adult offenders imprisoned or residing in a halfway house facility for nonviolent offenses who volunteer for the work detail and adopts the public duty rule for lawsuits against the state in the Court of Claims pursuant to which the state is generally immune from liability in any civil action or proceeding involving the performance or nonperformance of a public duty

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

STATE FUND

FY 2005

FY 2006

FUTURE YEARS

General Revenue Fund (GRF)

     Revenues

Potential loss, likely to be no more than negligible

Potential loss, likely to

be no more than

negligible

Potential annual loss, likely to

be no more than

negligible

     Expenditures

Potential decrease, possibly exceeding minimal in one-time judgment or settlement payments

Potential decrease,

possibly exceeding

minimal in one-time judgment or settlement payments

Potential annual decrease,

possibly exceeding

minimal in one-time

judgment or settlement payments

Other State Funds

     Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

 0

     Expenditures

Potential decrease, possibly exceeding minimal in one-time judgment or settlement payments

Potential decrease,

possibly exceeding

minimal in one-time judgment or settlement payments

Potential annual decrease,

possibly exceeding

minimal in one-time

judgment or settlement payments

Note:  The state fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.  For example, FY 2005 is July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005.

 

·        Court of Claims.  If there were in fact a reduction in the number, or a more timely resolution, of certain civil actions, a potential expenditure savings may be realized by the Court of Claims resulting from a somewhat smaller judicial docket and reduced workload for other Court personnel.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not collected any evidence suggesting that the magnitude of any savings would produce more than a minimal decrease in the amount of funds that might otherwise have been disbursed annually from the Court’s GRF line item 015-321, Operating Expenses.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “minimal” means an expenditure reduction estimated at less than $100,000 per year for the Court of Claims. 

·        Office of the Attorney General.  If there were in fact a reduction in the number, or a more timely resolution, of certain civil actions, a potential expenditure savings may be realized by the Office of the Attorney General’s Court of Claims Defense Section, as the number of civil matters that it might be litigating at any given moment would theoretically at least be reduced.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not collected any evidence suggesting that the magnitude of any savings would produce more than a minimal decrease in the amount of funds that might otherwise have been disbursed annually from the Attorney General’s GRF operating budget.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, minimal means an expenditure reduction estimated at less than $100,000 per year for the Office of the Attorney General. 

·        Judgment and settlement payments.  As a result of the bill’s waiver of immunity provision, the total amount that the state expends annually in the form of one-time judgment and settlement payments may be less than would otherwise have been the case under current law.  As of this writing, the magnitude of this potential annual savings or expenditure reduction is uncertain.

·        Filing fee revenues.  A decrease in the civil actions commenced against the state also likely means that filing fee revenues that might otherwise have been collected and deposited to the credit of the GRF could be lost.  As of this writing, however, LSC fiscal staff has not gathered any information suggesting the magnitude of that revenue loss would be more than negligible annually.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated revenue loss of less than $1,000 per year for the GRF.  In all likelihood, any future expenditure savings would more than offset any associated annual loss of filing fee revenues.


Local Fiscal Highlights

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2004

FY 2005

FUTURE YEARS

Counties and Municipalities

     Revenues

Potential negligible

loss, likely to be more than offset by related expenditure reduction

Potential negligible

loss, likely to be more

than offset by related expenditure reduction

Potential negligible annual loss, likely to be more

than offset by related expenditure reduction

     Expenditures

Potential savings, possibly exceeding minimal in some jurisdictions

Potential savings,

possibly exceeding

minimal in some jurisdictions

Potential annual savings,

possibly exceeding

minimal in some

jurisdictions

Townships

     Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

     Expenditures

Potential savings, possibly exceeding minimal in some jurisdictions

Potential savings,

possibly exceeding

minimal in some jurisdictions

Potential annual savings,

possibly exceeding

minimal in some

jurisdictions

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

 

·        Local expenditure effects generally.  A county or municipality in which a civil action affected by the bill’s qualified civil immunity would have been tried may realize a reduction in adjudication costs, including those associated with jury trials, as certain civil actions may not be initiated or come to trial.  Annual county, municipal, and township expenditures for legal services could drop, as fewer civil actions may materialize in which one of those political subdivisions is a defendant.  The bill may also reduce the amount that certain political subdivisions would otherwise have to pay out annually to settle such matters.  (A potential indirect fiscal effect should some formal civil actions be prevented or curtailed may be that the growth in annual insurance premiums that certain political subdivisions might otherwise experience could be reduced or constrained.)

·        Potential local expenditure savings.  The size of these potential decreases in the annual expenditures of certain political subdivisions related to adjudicating, defending, and settling civil actions for damages under certain circumstances is impossible to predict with much precision at this time, but presumably could exceed minimal on occasion.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal expenditure decrease means an estimated annual savings of no more than $5,000 for any affected political subdivision.

·        Certain county and municipal revenues.  Counties and municipalities may lose some revenues, as fewer civil actions may be initiated or move into the trial phase.  As the bringing of such civil actions under the circumstances specified by the bill appears to be relatively infrequent, there should be very few civil actions affected by the bill in any given county or municipality and the potential loss in related annual filing fee and court cost revenues for that county or municipality would be unlikely to exceed negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a negligible revenue loss means an estimated annual decrease of no more than $1,000 for any affected county or municipality.  The lost annual filing fee and court cost revenues in any given county or municipality would likely be more than offset by a related expenditure reduction.

·        Work detail notification requirement.  The bill’s requirement that certain individuals be given prior written notice with regard to a prisoner or adult offender work detail should not require a significant amount of additional work for certain officers that utilize prisoners or adult offenders on work details outside of their facility.  Presumably, this type of prisoner or adult offender work detail information can be provided within the normal scope of everyday administrative duties, and any related increase in annual administrative or operational costs would be negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated expenditure increase of no more than $1,000 for any affected county or municipality per year. 

.


 

 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

Provisions of the bill

 

            Civil immunity

 

The bill provides sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and certain other officers, and counties, municipal corporations, and townships in which prisoners or adult offenders work on a work detail and that employ the sheriffs or officers supervising the work detail with qualified immunity under certain circumstances for injury, death, or loss to person or property caused or suffered by a prisoner or adult offender voluntarily working on the work detail.  According to the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, a civil action is occasionally brought against a political subdivision or a political subdivision employee to recover damages under these specified circumstances, but in general the bringing of such civil actions is relatively infrequent.

 

            State sovereign immunity

 

The State Sovereign Immunity Law provides that, with certain exceptions and qualifications, the state waives its immunity from liability and consents to be sued, and have its liability determined, in the Court of Claims in accordance with the same rules of law applicable to suits between private parties.  If a claimant proves in the Court of Claims that an officer or employee would have personal liability for the officer's or employee's acts or omissions but for the fact that the officer or employee has personal immunity, the state will be held liable in the Court of Claims in any action that is filed in a timely manner and that is based upon the acts or omissions.

 

The bill provides another exception to the state’s waiver of immunity by specifying that, unless a special relationship can be established, the state is immune from liability in any civil action or proceeding involving the performance or nonperformance of a public duty, including the performance or nonperformance of a public duty that is owed by the state in relation to any action of an individual who is committed to the custody of the state. 

 

State fiscal effects

 

There are at least three readily apparent expenditure effects that could occur as a direct result of the bill’s exception to the state’s waiver of immunity provision. 

(1)   Fewer civil actions may be commenced against the state than might have been the case absent the bill. 

(2)   Some plaintiffs may still file civil action despite the bill’s waiver of immunity provision, but such civil actions would presumably be resolved much more quickly than if such matters were to be litigated under current law. 

(3)   If the state is able to more successfully defend itself in such civil actions than might have been the case absent the bill’s waiver of immunity provision, then the state theoretically at least realizes some savings in one-time judgment or settlement payments.

 

Court of Claims

 

The cost of adjudicating civil actions commenced against the state is borne by the Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction in all civil actions against the state. 

 

If there were in fact a reduction in the number, or a more timely resolution, of certain civil actions, a potential expenditure savings may be realized by the Court of Claims resulting from a somewhat smaller judicial docket and reduced workload for other Court personnel.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not collected any evidence suggesting that the magnitude of any savings would produce more than a minimal decrease in the amount of funds that might otherwise have been disbursed annually from the Court’s GRF line item 015-321, Operating Expenses.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “minimal” means an expenditure reduction estimated at less than $100,000 per year for the Court of Claims. 

 

Office of the Attorney General

 

The cost of defending the state in all civil actions is borne by the Office of the Attorney General, specifically its Court of Claims Defense Section, which represents all branches of state government – elected officials, agencies, boards and commissions, universities – in lawsuits brought against the state for money damages including contract, personal injury, premises liability, medical malpractice, and employment actions. 

 

If there were in fact a reduction in the number, or a more timely resolution, of certain civil actions, a potential expenditure savings may be realized by the Court of Claims Defense Section as the number of civil matters that it might be litigating at any given moment would theoretically at least be reduced.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not collected any evidence suggesting that the magnitude of any savings would produce more than a minimal decrease in the amount of funds that might otherwise have been disbursed annually from the Attorney General’s GRF operating budget.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “minimal” means an expenditure reduction estimated at less than $100,000 per year for the Office of the Attorney General. 

 

            Judgment and settlement payments

 

As a result of the bill’s waiver of immunity provision, the total amount that the state expends annually in the form of one-time judgment and settlement payments may be less than would otherwise have been the case under current law.  As of this writing, the magnitude of this potential annual savings or expenditure reduction is uncertain.


            Filing fee revenues

 

A decrease in the civil actions commenced against the state also likely means that filing fee revenues that might otherwise have been collected and deposited to the credit of the GRF could be lost.  As of this writing, however, LSC fiscal staff has not gathered any information suggesting the magnitude of that revenue loss would be more than negligible annually.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated revenue loss of less than $1,000 per year for the GRF.  In all likelihood, any future expenditure savings would more than offset any associated annual loss of filing fee revenues.

 

Local fiscal effects

 

Civil actions

 

To the extent that the bill’s provision of a qualified immunity from damages to certain officers and counties, municipalities, and townships under certain circumstances limits or curtails the bringing of civil actions for damages, several potential fiscal effects on the revenues and expenditures of certain political subdivisions are possible as noted in the paragraphs immediately below.

 

Expenditures.  On the expenditure side, a county or municipality in which such a civil action would have been tried may realize a reduction in adjudication costs, including those associated with jury trials, as certain civil actions may not be initiated or come to trial.  Annual county, municipal, and township expenditures for legal services could drop, as fewer civil actions may materialize in which one of those political subdivisions is a defendant.  The bill may also reduce the amount that such political subdivisions might otherwise have to pay out annually to settle such matters.  (A potential indirect fiscal effect, should some formal civil actions be prevented or curtailed, may be that the growth in annual insurance premiums that certain political subdivisions might otherwise experience could be reduced or constrained.)

 

The size of these potential decreases in the annual expenditures of certain political subdivisions related to adjudicating, defending, and settling civil actions for damages under such circumstances is impossible to predict with much precision at this time, but presumably could exceed minimal on occasion.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal expenditure decrease means an estimated annual savings of no more than $5,000 for any affected political subdivision.

 

Revenues.  Counties and municipalities may lose some revenues, as fewer civil actions may be initiated or move into the trial phase.  As the bringing of such civil actions under the circumstances specified by the bill appears to be relatively infrequent, there should be very few civil actions affected by the bill in any given county or municipality and the potential loss in related annual filing fee and court cost revenues for that county or municipality would be unlikely to exceed negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a negligible revenue loss means an estimated annual decrease of no more than $1,000 for any affected county or municipality.  The lost annual filing fee and court cost revenues in any given county or municipality would likely be more than offset by a related expenditure reduction.


Notice of prisoner or adult offender work detail

 

            The bill requires that certain officers having charge of certain local facilities who intend to have prisoners or adult offenders work outside the facility on a work detail to provide advanced written notice of certain information relating to the work detail to the chief executive officer of any municipal corporation and township clerk of any township in which the prisoners or adult offenders will be working.  This information would include the expected date or dates on which the work will be performed, the approximate location, the nature of the work, and the approximate number of prisoners or adult offenders who will be working on the work detail.

 

This written notice requirement should not require a significant amount of additional work for certain officers that utilize prisoners or adult offenders on work details outside their facilities.  Nor should this written notice requirement necessitate the hiring of additional personnel or result in increased overtime for a given local facility.  Presumably, this type of prisoner or adult offender work detail information can be provided within the normal scope of everyday administrative duties, and any related annual increase in administrative or operational costs would be negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated expenditure increase of no more than $1,000 for any affected county or municipality per year. 

 

 

 

LSC fiscal staff:  Joseph Rogers, Budget Analyst

 

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