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LEGISLATIVE ALERT

 January 21, 2021

Advocate Today for Full Indigent Defense Reimbursement

In the coming days, Gov. Mike DeWine will introduce his budget proposal for State Fiscal Years 2022-2023. The state budget process is always a busy time for county advocacy on key policy priorities; this budget cycle is no exception. The policy team is calling upon CCAO members to engage now with the governor’s office and their state lawmakers on CCAO’s number one policy priority – full indigent defense reimbursement.

Earlier this month, CCAO President Tim Bubb sent the following letter and briefing document to Gov. DeWine, requesting that full indigent defense reimbursement funds be included in the governor’s upcoming budget proposal.

Indigent defense is a constitutional obligation of the state. As many of you know, the state has pushed this mandate down to the counties to provide this service without fully funding the cost. This has left counties to pick up tens of millions of dollars per year in unfunded indigent defense expenses.

In the most recently enacted state budget, Gov. DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly significantly increased state funds for indigent defense reimbursement, although COVID-19-related budgetary restrictions have limited the availability of a portion of those funds.

CCAO is asking for Gov. DeWine and the General Assembly to take the final step in the upcoming state budget and fully fund indigent defense reimbursement to alleviate counties of this long-running unfunded mandate. This policy goal is only possible if we have broad member engagement with the governor’s office and state lawmakers. With the budget slated to be introduced in the coming days, timely advocacy is critical.

If you have not already done so, please take a minute to contact your local regional liaisons for Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted and ask that the governor include full indigent defense reimbursement in his upcoming budget. A list of regional liaisons and their contact information can be found below.

Gov. DeWine Regional Liaisons

Lt. Gov. Husted Reginal Liaisons

Also, please contact your state lawmakers and share your support for full indigent defense reimbursement. The governor’s budget introduction is just the first step in the budget process, and state lawmakers will need to hear of your support for full indigent defense reimbursement throughout the long legislative process.

We thank you for all your advocacy efforts thus far. CCAO is most effective when we have a broad array of members advocating together for key county priorities like indigent defense.

If you have any questions about indigent defense reimbursement or how you can best advocate to the governor’s office or your state lawmakers, please feel free to contact any member of the CCAO policy team. Also, please share with the policy team the outcome of these conversations so we can keep tabs on our support within the General Assembly. Thank you!