Legislative Advocacy

NAWBO Columbus Applauds Rep. Anne Gonzales

NAWBO COLUMBUS APPLAUDS REPRESENTATIVE ANNE GONZALES (R-WESTERVILLE) FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF LEGISLATION CREATING THE OHIO WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Columbus, Ohio Chapter, the largest chapter in the country, applauds Rep. Anne Gonzales for the introduction this week of Ohio House Bill 492 which would create the Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program in Ohio.

According to the 2016 “State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express, an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenues.

Women-owned businesses represent 39% of all firms; however, a report entitled “Utilization of Women-Owned Businesses in Federal Prime Contracting,” prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist in the U.S. Department of Commerce, reports that women-owned companies are 21 percent less likely than their male-owned counterparts to win government contracts and only recently received just 5 percent of eligible contracts.

In addition to the underrepresentation of women-owned firms receiving government contracts, some of Ohio’s neighboring states and many other states across the country require certification in Ohio as a women-owned firm in order to use their states’ certification programs when competing for government contracts.

House Bill 492 would create a women-owned business enterprise program that asks Ohio’s agencies to establish goals to increase awareness and access to government contracts for women-owned businesses.

Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) introduced the legislation this week. “I want to bring awareness and attention to women-owned businesses which are underrepresented in government contracting. Ohio’s lack of a certification program for women businesses is placing Ohio businesses at a disadvantage.”

The bill also allows Ohio to enter into reciprocal agreements with states who have similar certification programs. 

Ohio needs to open its door to fair competition, so Ohio companies can compete fairly here and across the country”, said NAWBO Columbus President, Catherine Lang-Cline. “We commend Rep. Gonzales for her appreciation of the impact that women-owned businesses make in Ohio and look forward to working with her and the Ohio General Assembly on this important bill.”

NAWBO Columbus is Central Ohio’s premier organization for women business owners. With members earning more than $1 billion in annual revenues and employing upwards of 1,000 people, NAWBO Columbus elevates women business owners through connections, advocacy and mentorship. We believe women business owners are vital to the economic prosperity of central Ohio and beyond. For more information on membership, upcoming networking and educational events, and more, visit nawbocolumbusohio.com. 

Legislative Update - January 2018

Statehouse Highlights for NAWBO Members

Rachel G. Winder, Public Policy Advisor, Benesch Law

The Ohio General Assembly has a limited session schedule this year since 2018 is an election year. A few committee meetings and sessions are taking place during the third of the year, but then expect them to take an extended break for Spring/holiday break with only about a few session days planned before they break again for the Primary Election and the Summer/Fall campaign season.

However, if past years are an indication, we can expect a busy “lame duck” session after the election in November through the end of the year.

Expect a few items to pass in the next few months including a roughly $2.6 billion capital appropriations proposal that will fund community services, school facilities, roads, bridges, waterways and parks. They are also debating a redistricting proposal that may be competing with a ballot initiative and issues relating to renewable energy, local government funding, telecommunications and concealed carry among others.

After successfully spearheading the effort to get “Microbusiness” included and recognized in the Ohio Revised Code, NAWBO has embarked on another important legislative initiative in an effort to create a Women Owned Business Enterprise Program in Ohio.

A Women’s Business Enterprise Program would require that state agencies develop goals to hire women-owned businesses for state contracts. This is particularly important for companies that need to be certified as a woman-owned business in their home state in order to be eligible for benefits of women-owned business certification programs in another state. The NAWBO Public Policy Committee is busy meeting with legislators and interested parties to set the foundation for success with this initiative.

Please see below other issues of interest to businesses in Ohio:

Municipal Business Income Tax Reform Update – MARCH 1, 2018 DEADLINE

The budget bill that passed last year included language that would centralize collection of municipal taxes through the Ohio Business Gateway. A group of cities and villages has filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio over the new collection process and the constitutionality of HB 5, which provided municipal tax reform back in 2014. Businesses can still opt in to use the new

centralized filing process for 2018. You must register on or before March 1, 2018 by following the instructions here: www.tax.ohio.gov/MunicipalTax.aspx .

Workers' Compensation:

Another Rate Cut Proposed for Private Employers

The BWC proposed to its Board of Directors that private employer premium rates be cut by 12% starting July 1 – a move that would save businesses $163.5 million compared to current rates. They plan to vote February 23rd on the proposal.

Free Workplace Wellness Program

BWC officials announced a new, free workplace wellness program targeting workers at greater risk of on-the-job injuries, called Better You, Better Ohio! The program targets employees of businesses with 50 or fewer workers in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and other industries with high injury rates. It will be available Feb. 1.

Civil Rights Employment Law:

House Bill 2 seeks to protect Ohio employees from discrimination in the workplace while providing improved predictability, stability and administrative efficiency for Ohio employers. The bill would change to two (2) years, both the current six (6) year legal statute of limitations and the 180-day statute of limitations with respect to Ohio Civil Rights Commission complaints. It requires a complaint to first be filed in the OCRC before pursuing civil litigation. The bill was reported out of the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee in May.

You can view the legislation and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislationsummary?id=GA132-HB-2

Employers Investing in Cybersecurity

SB 220 would provide businesses that invest in cybersecurity that meet or exceed federal NIST standards with immunity from employee or consumer lawsuits. The bill is part of AG DeWine’s CyberOhio Initiative and is a way to incentivize small business to seek a higher level of cybersecurity voluntarily.

You can view the legislation and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislationsummary?id=GA132-SR-60

Taxing Plastic Bags

SB 210 would prohibit a municipality or township from imposing a tax or fee on auxiliary containers (plastic or paper bags, glass bottles and aluminum cans). A number of municipalities have introduced legislation that would prohibit or tax these items citing environmental concerns. Manybusinessesaresupportingthisbillandencouragingvoluntaryparticipationinenvironmental programs rather than imposing costlymandates.

You can view the legislation and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-SB-210

Gender Disparity Task Force

HB 403 was introduced to create a taskforce to determine the extent of the pay disparity between men and women in Ohio and develop recommendations. The bill has been referred to the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. No hearings have been scheduled to date.

You can view the legislation and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HB-403

Pay Day Lending Laws

HB 123 proposes to cap at 28 percent the amount of interest that can be charged on short-term consumer loans. Business groups have opposed the bill on the basis that such a cap would prevent lenders from charging enough on the unsecured, short-term loans they offer to cover their overhead costs and believe this industry addresses a market need. An organization calling themselves Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform have begun seeking signatures for a constitutional ballot initiative due to inactivity on HB 123.

You can view the legislation and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HB-123

Redistricting

In the 2015 election, Ohio supported a constitutional amendment that created a bipartisan, public process for drawing State legislative districts, which prevents one party from having too much control. SJR 5 is a joint resolution pending now that proposes an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to establish standards and procedures for congressional redistricting. There has been criticism on the current process for redistricting as the cause for diminished competition and increased partisanship. A group calling themselves Fair Districts=Fair Elections is pushing potential ballot action if an agreement isn’t reached in regards to SJR5

You can view the resolution and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HJR-5

Energy Efficiency Mandates

HB 114 would change the renewable energy standards for utilities to voluntary instead of mandatory. The bill would also allow programs and practices designed to promote energy efficiency to count toward compliance with the current standards. There are concerns that although the efficiency programs designed for businesses provide tangible benefits, the administrative costs for utilities adds a tremendous cost to electricity bills in Ohio. The bill passed the House in March and is currently receiving hearings in the Senate.

You can view the resolution and supporting documents from this link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-documents?id=GA132-HB-114

Business Filings

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that the state saw 117,429 new business filings in 2017, breaking the record of 105,009 set the previous year.

Please see the link below for a list of all of the bills we are monitoring for NAWBO: http://www.hannah.com/Report_Custom.aspx?sid=WMWyi3HG1gk%3d&rid=nw4C%2fPzmW6A%3d

For more information on these or any issue pending before the Ohio General Assembly, contact Rachel Winder, NAWBO Public Policy Advisor at rwinder@beneschlaw.com or 614-223-9316.

NAWBO Meets with Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate

Representatives of the NAWBO Public Policy Committee met with gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich this week. Connie is a former state representative from the Cincinnati area. She is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. A robust conversation took place ranging from the needs of micro businesses, women’s business certification, workforce development, access to capital, and more. The primary election, where Connie will face off against other Democrat candidates, will take place on May 8, 2018, with the General Election on November 6, 2018.

L to R:  Merry Corn, Mary McCarthy, Jeanne Gokcen, Christy Farnbauch, Connie Pillich, Andrea Applegate and Rachel Winder

Election Information for NAWBO Columbus Members

Please click HERE for Useful Election Information provided by the NAWBO Columbus Public Policy Committee. 

September 2017 Legislative Updates

Please click HERE to read the latest Legislative Updates, provided by Rachel G. Winder, Government Relations Manager, Benesch Law. 

Minimum Wage Increase

The Ohio Department of Commerce announced that the State's minimum wage will increase to $8.30 per hour for non-tipped employees in 2018 -- up from the current level of $8.15/hour. 
For more information, please contact:

Rachel Winder
Government Relations Manager
Benesch Law

 

September - Mobilizing Women: Ensuring Government Works for Us and Our Businesses

Click HERE to view the Presentation from September's Monthly Meeting - Mobilizine Women: Ensuring Government Works for Us and Our Businesses

Legislative Advocacy Updates from WIPP