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VILLAGE OF NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, ET AL. v. STATE OF OHIO
Case Number: Nos. 109106 and 109114
Judge: MARY J. BOYLE
Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO
EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA
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Defendant's Attorney: Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, and Halli Brownfield Watson, and Renata Y. Staff, Assistant Attorneys General
Cleveland, Ohio - Civil attorney represented Village of Newburgh Heights and the city of East Cleveland with appealing from a trial court judgment denying their motion for a preliminary injunction.
On June 27, 2019, Newburgh Heights filed a complaint in the
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, seeking a declaratory judgment and a
motion for preliminary and permanent injunction against defendant-appellee, the
state of Ohio, asking the court to enjoin the enforcement of certain provisions of
2019 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 62 (“H.B. 62”), which was set to become effective on July 3,
2019. Newburgh Heights alleged that the challenged provisions impermissibly
infringed upon Ohio municipalities’ home rule authority to enact and operate traffic
photo enforcement programs.
On August 14, 2019, East Cleveland filed a motion to intervene, a
complaint, and a motion for preliminary and permanent injunction, also challenging
provisions of H.B. 62. The state did not object to East Cleveland intervening, and
the trial court granted East Cleveland’s motion to intervene.
The plaintiffs challenged the following provisions of H.B. 62: (1) the
requirement that a law enforcement officer be present at every photo enforcement
device location at all times during operation, (2) reducing the local government fund
allocation by amounts collected from drivers who paid their traffic photo citation
and eliminating local government funds for local authorities that fail to report
revenues from a photo enforcement program, (3) conferring “exclusive jurisdiction”
over such actions to municipal and county courts that eliminated a local authority’s
ability to appoint administrative hearing officers to adjudicate photo enforcement
tickets, and (4) requiring local authorities to provide advance and non-recoverable
court deposits to cover “all applicable court costs and fees” for civil actions related
to the photo enforcement programs.
After a hearing on the parties’ motions for preliminary injunction, the
trial court denied them in part and granted them in part in October 2019. The trial
court granted the motions with respect to the first contested provision, i.e., the
requirement that a law enforcement officer be present at every photo enforcement
device location at all times during operation. The trial court denied the motions
regarding the remaining contested provisions.
B. Appellate Background
The cities appealed the trial court’s decision denying their motions for
preliminary injunction with respect to their second, third, and fourth contested
provisions. This court consolidated the cases. The cities requested a stay in the trial
court, which the trial court denied. The cities also requested this court to issue an
injunction pending appeal. On December 4, 2019, this court issued the following
Motion by appellant City of East Cleveland for injunction pending
appeal is granted in part. The state of Ohio is enjoined, pending the
resolution of this appeal, from enforcing the contested provisions in
H.B. 62 concerning (1) conferring exclusive jurisdiction over traffic
camera tickets to municipal and county courts and (2) requiring local
authorities to provide advance and non-recoverable court deposits to
cover all applicable costs and fees pertaining to the tickets. The
provision reducing the local government fund allocation does not
become effective until July 25, 2020; therefore, there is no immediate
irreparable harm as to that provision. The trial court has already
granted an injunction regarding the requirement that a law
enforcement officer be present at every traffic camera location. Once
briefing is complete, the appeal shall be set for hearing at the earliest
In early July 2o20, plaintiffs requested that this court reconsider the
“irreparable harm determination” with respect to the second contested provision (a
reduction in the local government fund allocation by the amounts collected from
drivers who paid their traffic photo citation and eliminating local government funds
for local authorities that fail to report revenues from a photo enforcement program)
because the state would act on the provision on July 25, 2020.
This court granted plaintiffs’ motions on July 22, 2020, treating them
as renewed motions for an injunction pending appeal due to new circumstances that
We will discuss the cities’ assigned errors and arguments out of order
where necessary for ease of discussion.
II. Preliminary Injunction
The purpose of a preliminary injunction ordinarily is to preserve the
status quo pending a trial on the merits. Mears v. Zeppe’s Franchise Dev., 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 90312, 2009-Ohio-27, ¶ 23. “An injunction is an extraordinary
remedy in equity where there is no adequate remedy available at law. It is not
available as a right but may be granted by a court if it is necessary to prevent a future
wrong that the law cannot.” Garono v. State, 37 Ohio St.3d 171, 173, 524 N.E.2d 496
(1988). Because an injunction is an extraordinary remedy, “‘the moving party has a
substantial burden to meet in order to be entitled’” to a preliminary injunction. KLN
Logistics Corp. v. Norton, 174 Ohio App.3d 712, 2008-Ohio-212, 884 N.E.2d 631,
¶ 11 (8th Dist.), quoting Ormond v. Solon, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 79223, 2001 Ohio
App. LEXIS 4654, 4 (Oct. 18, 2001). The party seeking the preliminary injunction
must establish a right to the preliminary injunction by showing clear and convincing
evidence of each element of the claim. Id., citing Vanguard Transp. Sys., Inc. v.
Edwards Transfer & Storage Co., Gen. Commodities Div., 109 Ohio App.3d 786,
790, 673 N.E.2d 182 (10th Dist.1996).
When ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction, the trial court
must consider whether: (1) the movant has shown a strong or substantial likelihood
or probability of success on the merits, (2) the movant has shown irreparable injury,
(3) third parties will be harmed if the injunction is granted, and (4) the public
interest would be served by issuing the preliminary injunction. KLN Logistics Corp.
at ¶ 12, citing Vanguard Transp. Sys. at 790. No one factor is dispositive. Cleveland
v. Cleveland Elec. Illum. Co., 115 Ohio App.3d 1, 14, 684 N.E.2d 343 (8th Dist.1996).
When there is a strong likelihood of success on the merits, preliminary injunctive
relief may be justified even though a plaintiff’s case of irreparable injury may be
weak. Id. Conversely, where a party’s likelihood of success on the merits is low,
there must be a high likelihood of irreparable harm to justify injunctive relief. Aids
Taskforce of Greater Cleveland v. Ohio Dept. of Health, 2018-Ohio-2727, 116
N.E.3d 874, ¶ 23 (8th Dist.).
In Ohio, a statute cannot be invalidated or enjoined unless it is
unconstitutional. This is because Article II, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution
confers all legislative power of the state on the General Assembly. “The General
Assembly has plenary power to enact legislation[.]” Tobacco Use Prevention &
Control Found. Bd. of Trustees v. Boyce, 127 Ohio St.3d 511, 2010-Ohio-6207, 941
N.E.2d 745, ¶ 10. Therefore, it may “enact any law that does not conflict with the
Ohio or United States Constitution.” Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Prods. Co., 125 Ohio
St.3d 250, 2010-Ohio-1027, 927 N.E.2d 1066, ¶ 60. For this reason, “‘[b]efore any
legislative power, as expressed in a statute, can be held invalid, it must appear that
such power is clearly denied by some constitutional provision.’” Boyce at ¶ 10,
quoting Williams v. Scudder, 102 Ohio St. 305, 307, 131 N.E. 481 (1921).
The power to invalidate and enjoin a statute is further “circumscribed
by the rule[s] that laws are entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality and
that a party challenging the constitutionality of a law bears the burden of proving
that the law is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.” Yajnik v. Akron Dept.
of Health, Hous. Div., 101 Ohio St.3d 106, 2004-Ohio-357, 802 N.E.2d 632, ¶ 16.
The decision as to whether such an injunction should be issued rests
in the sound discretion of the court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of that
discretion. Garono, 37 Ohio St.3d at 173, 524 N.E.2d 496. “Essentially, ‘abuse of
discretion’ describes a judgment neither comporting with the record, nor reason.”
In re S.E., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 96031, 2011-Ohio-2042, ¶ 13, citing In re Wiley,
11th Dist. Lake No. 2007-P-0013, 2007-Ohio-7123, ¶ 17.
A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits
We will address the cities’ second assignment of error first, i.e.,
whether the cities were likely to succeed on the merits of their motion with respect
to the three contested provisions that are before us on appeal. In their motions for
preliminary injunction, the cities raised several constitutional arguments. But their
first argument was that the contested provisions of H.B. 62 violate the Home Rule
Amendment. The trial court, however, largely ignored these arguments.1
Nonetheless, the trial court stated that any arguments not addressed in its opinion
“are not well taken by this [c]ourt for purposes of these motions.”
1. Home Rule Amendment
The Home Rule Amendment, set forth in the Ohio Constitution,
Section 3, Article XVIII, empowers municipalities to “exercise all powers of local
self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police,
sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.”
The phrase “as are not in conflict with general laws” in Section 3,
Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution, has been universally construed to place a
limitation on a municipality’s power to “adopt and enforce * * * local police, sanitary
and other similar regulations,” but not on the power of local self-government. Hills
& Dales, Inc. v. Wooster, 4 Ohio App.3d 240, 242, 448 N.E.2d 163 (9th Dist.1982),
citing State ex rel. Canada v. Phillips, 168 Ohio St. 191, 151 N.E.2d 722 (1958).
“Police powers” encompass the areas of public health, safety, morals, and general
welfare. Hills & Dales at id.
In Mendenhall v. Akron, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881
N.E.2d 255, the Ohio Supreme Court explained that courts use a three-part test to
evaluate claims that a municipality has exceeded its powers under the Home Rule
1 The trial court only addressed the cities’ home-rule argument with respect to the
first contested provision, which requires a police officer to be present at every automated
traffic camera. This provision is not before us on appeal because the trial court granted
the cities’ motions with respect to this provision.
Amendment. First, courts must determine if the ordinance at issue is an exercise of
the city’s “police power,” rather than of local self-government. Id. at ¶ 17, citing
Canton v. State, 95 Ohio St.3d 149, 2002-Ohio-2005, 766 N.E.2d 963, ¶ 9. “If an
allegedly conflicting city ordinance relates solely to self-government, the analysis
stops, because the Constitution authorizes a municipality to exercise all powers of
local self-government within its jurisdiction.” Id. at ¶ 18, quoting Am. Fin. Servs.
Assn. v. Cleveland, 112 Ohio St.3d 170, 2006-Ohio-6043, 858 N.E.2d 776, ¶ 23.
The second step of the Mendenhall test is necessary only if the city
ordinance involves an exercise of police power. This step requires a court to
determine whether the state law is a general law under the four-part test set forth in
Canton. Mendenhall at ¶ 17, citing Canton at ¶ 9.
The final step of the Mendenhall test is to determine whether the
ordinance conflicts with the statute, i.e., whether the ordinance permits that which
the statute forbids, and vice versa. If the ordinance conflicts with the general law, it
will be held unconstitutional. Id. at ¶ 28. If there is no conflict, the municipal action
is permissible even though the statute is a general law. Id.
To qualify as a general law under the Canton test, a statute must
(1) be part of a statewide and comprehensive legislative enactment, (2)
apply to all parts of the state alike and operate uniformly throughout
the state, (3) set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations, rather
than purport only to grant or limit legislative power of a municipal
corporation to set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations, and (4)
prescribe a rule of conduct upon citizens generally.
Id. at syllabus. If a statute meets the Canton general-law test, then the statute takes
precedence over any conflicting municipal ordinances. Dayton v. State, 151 Ohio
St.3d 168, 2017-Ohio-6909, 87 N.E.3d 176, ¶ 15. If, however, “the general-law test
is not satisfied, then the statute is ‘an unconstitutional attempt to limit the legislative
home-rule powers’ of municipalities.” Id., quoting Canton, 95 Ohio St.3d 149, 2002-
Ohio-2005, 7676 N.E.2d 963, at ¶ 10.
The Supreme Court of Ohio has found that photo enforcement
programs do not exceed an Ohio municipality’s home rule authority provided the
municipality does not alter statewide traffic regulations. See Mendenhall, 117 Ohio
St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d 255, at the syllabus. The Supreme Court
reaffirmed the holding of Mendenhall in Walker v. Toledo, 143 Ohio St.3d 420,
2014-Ohio-5461, 39 N.E.3d 474, explaining that “Ohio municipalities have homerule authority to establish administrative proceedings, including administrative
hearings, related to civil enforcement of traffic ordinances, and that these
administrative proceedings must be exhausted before offenders or the municipality
can pursue judicial remedies.” Walker at ¶ 3.
There is no question that under the Mendenhall test, the local
ordinances encompass the police power. “[T]he regulation of traffic is an exercise
of police power that relates to public health and safety, as well as to the general
welfare of the public.” Mendenhall at ¶ 19, citing Linndale v. State, 85 Ohio St.3d
52, 54, 706 N.E.2d 1227 (1999).
With respect to whether a conflict exists between the cities’ local
ordinances setting forth their photo enforcement programs and the contested
provisions of H.B. 62, the state contends that the cities did not and cannot show that
a conflict exists. We disagree. The state statutes in this case indirectly prohibit what
the local ordinances permit. The Supreme Court of Ohio has recognized conflict by
implication. See Mendenhall at ¶ 31-32. In Mendhall, the Supreme Court found no
conflict by implication because the issue was whether the state “had exclusivity in
the area of speed enforcement,” which the court held it did not. Id. at ¶ 33. Here,
however, the state is attempting to exclusively control (1) the funds local authorities
receive from photo enforcement programs, (2) where citizens can challenge a photo
enforcement citation, and (3) who pays the court costs with respect to challenges to
a photo enforcement citation. We therefore find that a conflict exists between the
contested provisions of H.B. 62 and the local ordinances.
Thus, the only question remaining is whether the state statutes
qualify as a general law under the four-part test in Canton. The first two criteria are
easily met. The contested provisions of H.B. 62 (1) are part of a statewide and
comprehensive legislative enactment and (2) apply to all parts of the state alike (if a
local ordinance enacts a photo enforcement program).
Therefore, with respect to the contested provisions of H.B. 62, we
must determine only the last two Canton factors: (3) do the state statutes at issue
set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations or do they grant or limit the
legislative power of a municipal corporation to set forth its own police, sanitary, or
similar regulations, and (4) do the state statutes prescribe a rule of conduct upon
a. Dayton v. State
The Ohio Supreme Court’s opinion in Dayton, 151 Ohio St.3d 168,
2017-Ohio-6909, 87 N.E.3d 176, is instructive here despite being a plurality opinion.
Three justices found the traffic-camera laws at issue were not general laws (and
therefore unconstitutional) because they violated the third prong of the Canton test.
Two justices found the camera laws at issue were not general laws (and therefore
unconstitutional) because they violated the fourth prong of the Canton test. We
therefore find Dayton to be instructive to our analysis.
The lead opinion in Dayton analyzed several Revised Code
provisions that were passed by the General Assembly in 2014 Am.Sub.S.B. No. 342
(“S.B. 342”). These provisions regulated “local authorities’ use of automated trafficenforcement programs.” Id. at ¶ 4. The three contested provisions of S.B. 342 were
set forth in R.C. 4511.093(B)(1), 4511.0912, and 4511.095. R.C. 4511.093(B)(1)
required the presence of a full-time law-enforcement officer at each traffic camera.
R.C. 4511.0912 provided that local authorities shall not issue a ticket for a speeding
violation unless “the vehicle involved in the violation is traveling at a speed that
exceeds the posted speed limit by not less than” 6 m.p.h. in a school zone or park
area or 10 m.p.h. in other locations. And R.C. 4511.095 required local authorities to
conduct safety studies and a public information campaign, educating and notifying
the public about the location of the cameras. The “sole issue” in Dayton was
“whether the contested provisions of S.B. 343 qualif[ied] as general laws” under the
Canton test. Dayton at ¶ 15. In doing so, the lead opinion focused only on the third
prong of the Canton test because it found it to be dispositive. Id. at ¶ 15.
Regarding the third prong of the Canton test, the general-law test, the
lead opinion in Dayton explained that it had to consider “whether the statute sets
forth police regulations or whether it merely grants or limits municipalities’
legislative power to set forth police regulations.” Dayton at ¶ 16, citing Canton, 95
Ohio St.3d 149, 2002-Ohio-2005, 766 N.E.2d 963, at ¶ 33. The Supreme Court
Under this court’s precedent, so long as a statute serves an overriding
state interest with respect to police, sanitary, or similar regulations,
then the third prong of the Canton general-law test is satisfied, even if
the statute limits the legislative authority of municipalities. However,
when a statute expressly grants or limits the legislative power of a
municipal corporation to set forth police, sanitary, or similar
regulations, without serving an overriding statewide interest, then the
statute, or a portion of it, violates the Home Rule Amendment.
Id. at ¶ 20.
The lead opinion reviewed previous cases where the Supreme Court
had analyzed the third prong of the Canton test:
In Canton, the court considered whether R.C. 3781.184, which related
to the zoning of property for manufactured homes, violated the Home
Rule Amendment. R.C. 3781.184(C) provided that political
subdivisions must allow manufactured homes to be placed in areas
where single-family residences were permitted. R.C. 3781.184(D)
created an exception to division (C) that allowed private-property
owners to prohibit manufactured homes on their land by way of
restrictive covenants in deeds. The court determined that “R.C.
3781.184(C), on its face, appears to serve an overriding state interest in
providing more affordable housing options across the state.” Canton
at ¶ 33. It then determined, however, that “the exception contained in
R.C. 3781.184(D) defeats this purpose.” Id. According to the court,
R.C. 3781.184(C) would have “very little, if any, impact in areas of
development having effective deed restrictions or active homeowner
associations. Instead, the statute [would] effectively apply only in older
areas of the state, i.e., cities where residential areas no longer have
effective deed restrictions or no longer have active homeowner
associations.” Id. at ¶ 30. Because the statute did not serve an
overriding state interest, the Canton court determined that R.C.
3781.184(C) “purports only to grant or limit the legislative power of a
municipal corporation to set forth police, sanitary, or similar
regulations.” Id. at ¶ 33.
This court confronted the third prong of the Canton test in Ohioans for
Concealed Carry, Inc. v. Clyde, 120 Ohio St.3d 96, 2008-Ohio-4605,
896 N.E.2d 967. In Ohioans for Concealed Carry, the court considered
whether a municipal ordinance that prohibited licensed gun owners
from carrying a concealed gun within a city’s parks was constitutional
under the Home Rule Amendment. The municipal ordinance
conflicted with a state statute that allowed a licensed gun owner to carry
a gun anywhere in the state, subject to several exceptions that did not
include municipal parks. In analyzing the third prong of the Canton
general-law test, the court determined that the statute went beyond
preventing cities from enacting conflicting legislation because the
statute “provide[d] a program to foster proper, legal handgun
ownership in this state.” Id. at ¶ 50. The court determined that “[t]he
statute therefore represents both an exercise of the state’s police power
and an attempt to limit legislative power of a municipal corporation to
set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations.” Id.; see also
Mendenhall, 117 Ohio St. 3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, at ¶ 24, 881 N.E.2d
255 (determining that R.C. 4511.21 “has extensive scope and does more
than grant or limit state powers”).
This court confronted the third prong of the Canton test again in
Cleveland v. State, 138 Ohio St.3d 232, 2014-Ohio-86, 5 N.E.3d 644.
The city of Cleveland sought a declaration that former R.C. 4921.25,
2012 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 487, was unconstitutional under the Home Rule
Amendment. Former R.C. 4921.25 vested the Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio (“PUCO”) with the authority to regulate towing
entities as for-hire motor carriers, but the second sentence of the
statute provided that “[s]uch an entity is not subject to any ordinance,
rule, or resolution of a municipal corporation, county, or township that
provides for the licensing, registering, or regulation of entities that tow
motor vehicles.” Cleveland challenged the second sentence of the
statute as unconstitutionally infringing on local authorities’ abilities to
regulate towing companies. This court determined that the statute,
when read as a whole, did not merely limit the legislative power of
municipalities to set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations,
Cleveland at ¶ 13; nevertheless, the court isolated the second sentence
of the statute, analyzed it separately, and determined that it was
unconstitutional, id. at ¶ 16-17. According to the court, “[u]nlike the
first sentence of R.C. 4921.25, which subjects towing entities to PUCO
regulation, the second sentence fails to set forth any police, sanitary, or
similar regulations.” Id. at ¶ 16.
Dayton at ¶ 17-19.
After applying the reasoning of those three cases to the contested
provisions of S.B. 342, the lead opinion of Dayton held that the three traffic-camera
statutes failed the third prong of the Canton test and improperly infringed upon
municipal power. Id. at ¶ 21-27. The lead opinion found that the three contested
provisions of S.B. 342, R.C. 4511.093(B)(1) (required police presence at the location
of a traffic camera), R.C. 4511.0912 (prohibited a municipality from issuing a fine for
speeding based on a traffic camera unless the driver’s speed exceeded the speed limit
by six or ten miles per hour), and R.C. 4511.095 (required a municipality to perform
a study and public-information campaign before using the cameras) did not serve
an overriding statewide interest. Id.
Two justices in Dayton agreed with the lead opinion that the three
contested provisions of S.B. 342 were unconstitutional, but for a different reason.
See id. at ¶ 40-41 (French, J., concurring in judgment only (“CJO opinion”)). The
CJO opinion found the three contested provisions to be unconstitutional under the
fourth prong of the Canton test. The CJO opinion reviewed previous cases where
the Supreme Court had analyzed the fourth prong:
Under the fourth prong of the Canton test, a statute must “prescribe a
rule of conduct upon citizens generally” to qualify as a general law. Id.
at ¶ 21. The statute at issue in Canton — forbidding political
subdivisions from prohibiting or restricting the location of
permanently sited manufactured homes in any zone or district in which
a single-family home was permitted — did not satisfy that requirement
because it “applie[d] to municipal legislative bodies, not to citizens
generally.” Id. at ¶ 2, 36. In contrast, a statute that established speed
limits and stated, “‘No person shall operate a motor vehicle * * * at a
speed greater or less than is reasonable or proper,’” prescribed a rule of
conduct upon citizens and satisfied the fourth prong of the Canton test.
Mendenhall v. Akron, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d
255, ¶ 25, quoting R.C. 4511.21.
In Linndale v. State, 85 Ohio St.3d 52, 1999 Ohio 434, 706 N.E.2d 1227
(1999), this court considered a home-rule challenge to former R.C.
4549.17, which prohibited local law-enforcement officers from issuing
speeding and excess-weight citations on interstate freeways when (1)
less than 880 yards of the freeway were within the locality’s
jurisdiction, (2) local officers had to travel outside their jurisdiction to
enter onto the freeway, and (3) local officers entered the freeway with
the primary purpose of issuing the citations. Linndale predates
Canton, but the court nevertheless addressed factors that it would later
incorporate into the Canton general-law test. Linndale at 55. The court
held that R.C. 4549.17 was not a general law but was simply a limit on
the legislative powers of municipalities to adopt and enforce police
regulations. Id. As relevant here, the court stated that the statute did
“not prescribe a rule of conduct upon citizens generally.” Id.
We reached a similar conclusion in Youngstown v. Evans, 121 Ohio St.
342, 7 Ohio Law Abs. 703, 168 N.E. 844 (1929). The statute at issue
there limited municipalities’ authority to set punishments for
misdemeanor violations of a municipal ordinance. This court stated
that the statute was “not a general law in the sense of prescribing a rule
of conduct upon citizens generally. It is a limitation upon law making
by municipal legislative bodies.” Id. at 345.
The CJO opinion found that unlike the speed-limit statute in
Mendenhall, the contested traffic-camera provisions at issue in Dayton did “not
dictate a rule of conduct applicable to the citizens of the state.” Id. at ¶ 44. The CJO
Indeed, nothing in S.B. 342 directs citizens’ conduct with respect to the
operation of a motor vehicle. Driving in excess of the speed limit and
running a red light are violations of the law, whether or not a traffic
camera exists to record the violation and whether or not a lawenforcement officer has authority to issue a citation. The contested
provisions are phrased in terms of what a local authority shall or shall
not do. They apply not to citizens but to municipalities. Like the statute
in Linndale, the contested provisions of S.B. 342 merely limit
municipal authority to enforce other substantive laws.
We now turn to the three contested provisions under H.B. 62 t0 apply
the third and fourth prong of the Canton test to determine if the contested
provisions are general laws.
i. The Second Contested Provision — Reduction of Funds
The second contested provision, reduction of the local government
funds from the state, is set forth in R.C. 5747.502. Under H.B. 62, this provision
states that any local authority “that operated, directly or indirectly, a traffic law
photo-monitoring device during the preceding fiscal year” must annually “file a
report with the tax commissioner that includes a detailed statement of the civil fines
the local authority * * * collected from drivers for any violation of any local ordinance
or resolution during that period that are based upon evidence recorded by a traffic
law photo-monitoring device.” R.C. 5747.502(B). A local authority’s payments from
the state local government fund are then reduced by an amount equal to one-twelfth
of the gross amount of all fines indicated on the report. R.C. 5747.502(C)(1). If the
fines exceed the amount of state funds the local authority would otherwise receive,
its future funds are reduced as well. Id. If the local authority does not file a report
as required, all payments of local government funds to the locality will cease until a
report is filed. R.C. 5747.502(D). An amount equal to the payments withheld
(except for fines incurred in school zones) are then deposited into an Ohio highway
and transportation safety fund and used in the transportation district in which the
local authority is located. R.C. 5747.502(F).
The cities contend that there is no overriding state interest in R.C.
5747.502 and that it “serves merely to penalize municipalities that operate photo
enforcement programs without any overriding state interest, as the [s]tate simply
reallocates the local government funds that it takes away from offending cities.” R.C.
5747.502(F). The cities further maintain that R.C. 5747.502 does not prescribe a
rule of conduct applicable to the citizens of the state.
The state maintains that the Ohio Constitution provides that state
spending lies within the General Assembly’s exclusive power. It argues that nowhere
in the Constitution is a mandate that the state even have a local government fund,
nor does the Constitution impose a duty on the state to appropriate funds to
municipalities. The state further contends that although the Home Rule
Amendment “protects municipalities’ ‘authority to exercise’ the ‘powers of local selfgovernment,’ and to enforce ‘local police * * * regulations[,] * * * it does not confer
a right to receive state money.’ ” According to the state, the Ohio Constitution
expressly authorizes the General Assembly to pass laws “requir[ing] reports from
municipalities as to their financial condition and transactions,” which the General
Assembly has done on “other occasions.” Therefore, the state argues that this power
“implies a power to withhold funding based on what is reported when the General
Assembly exercises its authority to pass laws appropriating funds.”
After review, we agree with the cities. Indeed, we see no overriding
state interest in R.C. 5747.502, and the state has failed to set forth viable one. Just
because the state has the power to control state spending does not mean that it has
the power to penalize local authorities who are operating traffic-camera programs,
something the Supreme Court stated local authorities had the authority to do under
the Home Rule Amendment. See Mendenhall, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270,
881 N.E.2d 255; Walker, 143 Ohio St.3d 420, 2014-Ohio-5461, 39 N.E.3d 474.
We further find that R.C. 5747.502 fails the fourth prong of the
Canton test because it fails to prescribe a rule of conduct applicable to the citizens
of this state. Rather, the provisions are directed solely at the local authorities.
Therefore, R.C. 5747.502(C), (D), and (F) fail to satisfy the third and
fourth prongs of the Canton test.2 Accordingly, they are not general laws and are
unconstitutional attempts to limit the legislative home-rule powers of
ii. The Third Contested Provision — Exclusive Jurisdiction
2 We note, however, that R.C. 5747.502(B) is permissible because the state is
merely requesting reports from the municipalities, which it is authorized to do under the
The third contested provision, conferring “exclusive jurisdiction” over
such traffic-camera actions to municipal and county courts and eliminating a local
authority’s ability to appoint administrative hearing officers to adjudicate photo
enforcement tickets, is set forth in R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) and 1907.02(C).
R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) as enacted by H.B. 62 sets forth criminal and
traffic jurisdiction in relevant part, stating:
The municipal court has jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases
committed within its territory and has jurisdiction over the violation of
any ordinance of any municipal corporation within its territory,
including exclusive jurisdiction over every civil action concerning a
violation of a state traffic law or a municipal traffic ordinance. The
municipal court does not have jurisdiction over a violation that is
required to be handled by a parking violations bureau or joint parking
violations bureau pursuant to Chapter 4521. of the Revised Code.
However, the municipal court has jurisdiction over the violation of a
vehicle parking or standing resolution or regulation if a local authority,
as defined in division (D) of section 4521.01 of the Revised Code, has
specified that it is not to be considered a criminal offense, if the
violation is committed within the limits of the court’s territory, and if
the violation is not required to be handled by a parking violations
bureau or joint parking violations bureau pursuant to Chapter 4521. of
the Revised Code.
R.C. 1907.02(C) as enacted by H.B. 62 sets forth jurisdiction for
criminal cases and parking violations. It provides, “A county court has exclusive
jurisdiction over every civil action concerning a violation of a state traffic law or a
municipal traffic ordinance, if the violation is committed within the limits of the
The cities make the same arguments with respect to the third
contested provisions, i.e., that R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) and 1907.02(C) do not serve any
overriding state interest and do not prescribe rules of conduct for the citizens of
The state contends that the General Assembly has the exclusive power
to define the jurisdiction of the lower courts and to provide for their maintenance.
It maintains that the Home Rule Amendment does not limit the plenary powers of
the General Assembly over inferior courts. The state cites to, inter alia, Cupps v.
Toledo, 170 Ohio St. 144, 163 N.E.2d 384 (1959), in support of its argument. In
Cupps, Toledo sought to deprive a lower court of its jurisdiction through a charter
provision that made decisions of the city’s civil service commission final. State law,
however, made such decisions appealable to the common pleas courts. The Ohio
Supreme Court held that “the authority granted to municipalities by [the Home Rule
Amendment] * * * does not include the power to regulate the jurisdiction of courts
established by the Constitution or by the General Assembly thereunder.” Id. at 149-
Mendenhall, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d 255,
Walker, 143 Ohio St.3d 420, 2014-Ohio-5461, 39 N.E.3d 474, and State ex rel.
Magsig v. Toledo, 160 Ohio St.3d 899, 2020-Ohio-3416, 156 N.E.3d 899, are
instructive. Mendenhall hit and killed a child in a hit-and-run accident in a school
crosswalk. Akron subsequently passed an ordinance implementing an “automated
mobile speed enforcement system.” Mendenhall at ¶ 4. The ordinance created a
system that was purely civil in nature and did not modify any state speed limits.
Violators received notices of civil liability and could pay the civil fines or pursue an
administrative appeal. Mendenhall received a notice of liability for speeding, which
was dismissed on administrative appeal. Mendenhall filed a class-action suit against
the municipality for a declaratory judgment, an injunction, and a monetary award.
Mendenhall asserted that the Akron ordinance conflicted with Ohio’s general laws
regulating traffic, thereby exceeding Akron’s home-rule authority and violating due
The Ohio Supreme Court examined the following question in
Mendenhall: “Whether a municipality has the power under home rule to enact civil
penalties for the offense of violating a traffic signal light or for the offense of
speeding, both of which are criminal offenses under the Ohio Revised Code.” Id. at
¶ 2. The Supreme Court concluded: “[Akron’s] ordinance provides for a
complementary system of civil enforcement that, rather than decriminalizing
behavior, allows for the administrative citation of vehicle owners under specific
circumstances. Akron has acted within its home rule authority granted by the
Constitution of Ohio.” Id. at ¶ 42.
In Walker, the Ohio Supreme Court cited to Cupps and
“acknowledge[d] that home-rule authority does not include the power to regulate
the jurisdiction of courts.” Id. at ¶ 20, citing Cupps at paragraph one of the syllabus.
But the Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Mendenhall “that municipalities
have home-rule authority under Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution to impose
civil liability on traffic violators through an administrative enforcement system.” Id.
at ¶ 3. It further held that the “Ohio Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, which
authorizes the legislature to create municipal courts, and R.C. 1901.20, which sets
the jurisdiction of municipal courts, do not endow municipal courts with exclusive
authority over civil administrative enforcement of traffic-law violations” and that
“Ohio municipalities have home-rule authority to establish administrative
proceedings, including administrative hearings, related to civil enforcement of
traffic ordinances, and that these administrative proceedings must be exhausted
before offenders or the municipality can pursue judicial remedies.” Id.
Recently, however, in State ex rel Magsig v. Toledo, 160 Ohio St.3d
899, 2020-Ohio-3416, 156 N.E.3d 899, the Ohio Supreme Court addressed its
holding in Walker as well as the application of Walker to the exclusive-jurisdiction
provision in H.B. 62. The Supreme Court explained:
The version of R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) that was in effect at the time of our
Walker decision did not give municipal courts exclusive jurisdiction
over cases involving traffic-camera citations. Id. at ¶ 1-3. The previous
version of R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) stated: “The municipal court has
jurisdiction of the violation of any ordinance of any municipal
corporation within its territory[.]” Am.Sub.S.B. No. 98, 147 Ohio Laws,
Part IV, 7357. We held that “any” did not mean the same thing as
“exclusive,” and that the statute could therefore not be read as
conferring exclusive jurisdiction over civil traffic-law violations on
municipal courts. Id. at ¶ 25. But as amended by H.B. 62 in 2019, R.C.
1901.20(A)(1) now states that municipal courts have “exclusive
jurisdiction over every civil action concerning a violation of a state
traffic law or a municipal traffic ordinance.” (Emphasis added). The
current version of R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) clearly and unambiguously
reserves for municipal courts exclusive authority to adjudicate every
civil traffic-law violation. And that statutory grant of jurisdiction
“cannot be impaired or restricted by any municipal charter or
ordinance provision.” Cupps v. Toledo, 170 Ohio St. 144, 151, 163
N.E.2d 384 (1959).
Id. at ¶ 11.
The Supreme Court explicitly noted in Magsig that Toledo did not
challenge the constitutionality of the exclusive-jurisdiction clause of R.C. 1901.20(A)
as enacted by H.B. 62. Id. at ¶ 16. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court stated that
although Toledo did not do so, “the authority of the General Assembly to set the
jurisdiction of the municipal courts is undisputed.” Id.
After review, we agree with the state that the exclusive-jurisdiction
provision in H.B. 62 does not violate the Home Rule Amendment or any other
section of the Ohio Constitution. The cities’ authority under the Home Rule
Amendment to regulate local police, sanitary, and other similar regulations does not
include the power to regulate the jurisdiction of courts. The power to regulate the
jurisdiction of courts is established by the Constitution or by the General Assembly,
and, thus, the Home Rule Amendment does not apply to R.C. 1901.20(A)(1) and
1907.02(C). But see Akron v. Ohio, Summit C.P. No. CV-2015-07-3666 (found that
these provisions failed the third prong of the Canton test because they limited the
city’s police power without serving an overriding state interest).
iii. The Fourth Contested Provision — Advance Court Deposit
The fourth contested provision, requiring local authorities to provide
advance and nonrecoverable court deposits to cover “all applicable court costs and
fees” for civil actions related to the photo enforcement programs, is set forth in R.C.
4511.099(A). This deposit is not required in a school zone and is nonrefundable.
R.C. 4511.099(A) and (B). R.C. 4511.099(A) states:
[W]hen a certified copy of a ticket issued by a local authority based on
evidence recorded by a traffic law photo-monitoring device is filed with
the municipal court or county court with jurisdiction over the civil
action, the court shall require the local authority to provide an advance
deposit for the filing of the civil action. The advance deposit shall
consist of all applicable court costs and fees for the civil action. The
court shall retain the advance deposit regardless of which party prevails
in the civil action and shall not charge to the registered owner or
designated party any court costs and fees for the civil action.
The cities again argue that this provision does not have an overriding
state interest and does not prescribe a rule upon the citizens of the state.
The state contends that it has an overriding state interest in making
sure that municipal courts are properly funded. The state further maintains that
because “R.C. 1901.026(A) has long made cities responsible for contributing to the
‘operating costs’ of municipal courts whose jurisdictions include more than one
city,” the advance-deposit requirement of R.C. 4511.099(A) “prevents other cities
from having to share the costs associated with one city’s traffic-camera program.”
After review, we agree with the cities that R.C. 4511.099(A) is not a
general law and is therefore, unconstitutional. Even if we assume that the state’s
interest satisfies the third prong of the Canton test, R.C. 4511.099(A) still only
prescribes rules for the local municipalities and not citizens of the state. Therefore,
R.C. 4511.099(A) is not a general law and is an unconstitutional attempt to limit the
legislative home-rule powers of municipalities.
After review, we sustain the cities’ second assignments of error in part
(because the cities are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the second
and fourth contested provisions of H.B. 62 violate the Home Rule Amendment) and
overrule them in part (because the cities are not likely to succeed on their claim that
the third contested provision violates the Home Rule Amendment).
2. Other Constitutional Challenges
Because we found that the second and fourth contested provisions
(reduction of funds and advance court deposit) violate the Home Rule Amendment,
we will address only the likelihood of success of the cities’ other constitutional
arguments with respect to the third contested provision, i.e., the exclusivejurisdiction provision. We will also address only the other constitutional arguments
that the cities raise on appeal.
East Cleveland contends in its third assignment of error that the
exclusive-jurisdiction provision is unconstitutional because it violates the
separation-of-powers doctrine. It claims that H.B. 62 is an unconstitutional
“attempt to circumvent the [Ohio Supreme] Court’s holding” in Mendenhall, 117
Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d 255, and Walker, 143 Ohio St.3d 420,
2014-Ohio-5461, 39 N.E.3d 474, that “Ohio municipalities have home-rule authority
to establish administrative proceedings, including administrative hearings, related
to civil enforcement of traffic ordinances[.]”
As we already explained, however, the Ohio Supreme Court recently
stated in Magsig that the statute at issue in Walker did not grant exclusive
jurisdiction over civil traffic-law violations to municipal courts. Magsig, 160 Ohio
St.3d 899, 2020-Ohio-3416, 156 N.E.3d 899, at ¶ 11. Now, however, the General
Assembly has amended the statute to do so. Therefore, because these cases
addressed a different version of the statute, they do not support East Cleveland’s
argument that the exclusive-jurisdiction provision as enacted in H.B. 62 violates the
separation-of-powers doctrine. East Cleveland’s third assignment of error is
overruled because it is not likely to succeed on the merits of this claim.
b. One-Subject Rule
East Cleveland further argues in its fourth assignment of error that
the exclusive-jurisdiction provision violates the one-subject rule of the Ohio
Constitution. East Cleveland asserts H.B. is an appropriations bill with a stated
purpose to “increase the rate of and modify the distribution of revenue from motor
fuel excise taxes, to make appropriations for programs related to transportation and
public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021,
and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.”
East Cleveland maintains that the contested provisions (although the exclusivejurisdiction provision is the only one at issue now) of H.B. 62 “attempt to regulate
photo enforcement programs funded by municipalities.” Specific to the exclusivejurisdiction provision, East Cleveland argues that this provision “does not belong in
a budget bill as the adjudication process for photo-enforcement cases does not
impact the state’s budget.”
The one-subject rule is contained in Section 15(D), Article II of the
Ohio Constitution, which provides, “No bill shall contain more than one subject,
which shall be clearly expressed in its title.” This provision exists to prevent the
legislature from engaging in “logrolling,” i.e., ““the practice of several minorities
combining their several proposals as different provisions of a single bill and thus
consolidating their votes so that a majority is obtained for the omnibus bill where
perhaps no single proposal of each minority could have obtained majority approval
separately.”” State v. Bloomer, 122 Ohio St.3d 200, 2009-Ohio-2462, 909 N.E.2d
1254, ¶ 47, quoting State ex rel. Dix v. Celeste, 11 Ohio St.3d 141, 142-143, 464 N.E.2d
A reviewing court’s role in the enforcement of the one-subject
provision is limited. As explained by the Ohio Supreme Court:
To avoid interfering with the legislative process, we must afford the
General Assembly “great latitude in enacting comprehensive legislation
by not construing the one-subject provision so as to unnecessarily
restrict the scope and operation of laws, or to multiply their number
excessively, or to prevent legislation from embracing in one act all
matters properly connected with one general subject.”
State ex rel. Ohio Civ. Serv. Emps. Assn., AFSCME, Local 11, AFL-CIO v. State Emp.
Relations Bd., 104 Ohio St.3d 122, 2004-Ohio-6363, 818 N.E.2d 688, ¶ 27, quoting
Dix, 11 Ohio St.3d at 145, 464 N.E.2d 153. Every presumption in favor of the
enactment’s validity should be indulged. Hoover v. Franklin Cty. Bd. of Commrs.,
19 Ohio St.3d 1, 6, 482 N.E.2d 575 (1985).
Only “[a] manifestly gross and fraudulent violation of the onesubjection provision contained in Section 15(D), Article II of the Ohio Constitution
will cause an enactment to be invalidated.” Bloomer, at ¶ 49, citing In re Nowak,
104 Ohio St.3d 466, 2004-Ohio-6777, 820 N.E.2d 335, paragraph one of the
syllabus. As long as common purpose or relationship exists between the topics, the
mere fact that a bill embraces more than one topic will not be fatal. Id. It is the
disunity of subject matter, rather than the aggregation of topics, that cause a bill to
violate the one-subject rule. Id. The one-subject rule is not directed at plurality but
at disunity in subject matter. Ohio Civ. Serv. Emps. Assn. at ¶ 28.
In this case, we must determine whether there is an alleged violation
of the one-subject rule within the context of an appropriations bill. “[T]he analysis
of the one-subject rule with respect to appropriation bills can be complicated
because appropriations bills ‘encompass many items, all bound by the thread of
appropriations.’” Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Ohio, 184 Ohio App.3d 135,
2009-Ohio-4888, 919 N.E.2d 826, ¶ 16 (1st Dist.2009), quoting Simmons-Harris v.
Goff, 86 Ohio St.3d 1, 16, 711 N.E.2d 203 (1999).
After review, we find that the exclusive-jurisdiction provision directly
relates to the authorization and conditions of the operation of photo-enforcement
programs. Moreover, East Cleveland’s photo-enforcement program is explicitly
related to transportation safety, which is also directly related to the stated purpose
of the appropriations bill set forth in H.B. 62. Therefore, East Cleveland was not
likely to succeed on the merits of this claim, and its fourth assignment of error is
The cities do not raise any other constitutional arguments on appeal.
B. Irreparable Harm
The second factor a trial court must consider is whether the movant
has shown irreparable harm. KLN Logistics Corp., 174 Ohio App.3d 712, 2008-
Ohio-212, 884 N.E.2d 631, at ¶ 12, citing Vanguard Transp. Sys., 109 Ohio App.3d
at 790, 673 N.E.2d 182. In their first assignments of error, the cities argue that the
trial court erred when it determined that they would not suffer irreparable harm if
the court did not enjoin the enforcement of the contested provisions.
The trial court found that the cities’ evidence was not sufficient
because “[e]conomic harm is not sufficient to satisfy the element of irreparable
harm.” The trial court further found that the cities did not establish that the denial
of the injunction would adversely affect driver safety.
First, as we stated earlier, the trial court failed to analyze whether the
cities were likely to succeed on the merits of their Home Rule Amendment claims
(except with respect to the first contested provision, i.e., requiring an officer to be
present). Had it done so, it would have presumably recognized that the cities’
preliminary injunction could still be justified even if their evidence of irreparable
harm was weak. See Cleveland Elec. Illum. Co., 115 Ohio App.3d at 14, 684 N.E.2d
343. Because we have already determined that the cities were likely to succeed on
the merits of their claims that the reduction-of-funds provision and the advancedeposit provision violated the Home Rule Amendment, we find that their evidence
of irreparable harm (even if we assume, for the sake argument, is weak) was
sufficient to justify a preliminary injunction.
The cities presented evidence through testimony or affidavit that
since having photo enforcement programs, there have been significantly less redlight and speeding violations per camera. They also presented evidence that their
cameras have generated significant funds for the city, which helps fund city services
including the police and fire departments. Further, they presented evidence
establishing that complying with H.B. 62 would make it difficult for them to
continue to operate their photo enforcement programs.
After review, we conclude that the cities established that they would
suffer irreparable harm if the second (reduction of funds) and fourth (advance-court
deposit) contested provisions of H.B. 62 were not enjoined. Again, if they
established that they were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, their
showing of irreparable harm did not have to be as strong. Accordingly, we sustain
the cities’ first assignments of error.
C. Harm to Third Parties and Public Interest
The third and fourth factors that a trial court must consider when
deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction motion are whether third parties
will be harmed if the injunction is granted and whether the public interest would be
served by issuing a preliminary injunction. KLN Logistics Corp., 174 Ohio App.3d
712, 2008-Ohio-212, 884 N.E.2d 631, at ¶ 12, citing Vanguard Transp. Sys., 109
Ohio App.3d at 790, 673 N.E.2d 182. In its third assignment of error, Newburgh
Heights maintains that the trial court erred because there was “no possibility of
substantial harm to the state of Ohio or other third parties” and that “granting of the
preliminary injunction was clearly in the public interest.”
The state counters that anytime “its duly enacted laws do not go into
effect,” it is harmed. It further contends that only the General Assembly “has the
authority to determine what the public interest is.”
After review, we agree with Newburgh Heights. First, the state cannot
be harmed when an unconstitutional law does not go into effect. We previously
found that the second (reduction of funds) and fourth (advance court deposit)
provisions of H.B. 62 are unconstitutional because they violate the Home Rule
Amendment. Therefore, the state cannot be harmed by the preliminary injunction
enjoining enforcement of those provisions. We further agree with Newburgh
Heights that there is no evidence that any other third party will be harmed by the
Second, Newburgh Heights and East Cleveland presented evidence
showing that if they had to follow the mandates of H.B. 62, the cost of complying
would curtail their ability to maintain their photo-enforcement programs, which
would, in turn, make their roadways less safe. The state did not counter this
evidence. Accordingly, we agree that granting the preliminary injunction benefited
the public’s interest.
Newburgh Heights’ third assignment of error is sustained.
Outcome: Judgment affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The trial
court’s judgment denying the cities’ motion for preliminary injunction with respect
to the third contested provision giving municipal courts exclusive jurisdiction is
affirmed. The trial court’s judgment denying the cities’ motion for preliminary
injunction regarding the second contested provision reducing the cities’ funds and
fourth contested provision requiring the cities to pay advance court deposits is
reversed. This case is remanded for further proceedings.