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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.