Right to Cure
House Bill 275 recently was signed into law by Governor Kasich. This legislation allows a business to make an offer to a consumer who has filed a consumer sales practices act (CSPA) lawsuit against a business for a product or service that did not meet the expectation of the consumer. The cure offer must clearly indicate the proposed remedy. A consumer can elect to accept the cure offer or reject the cure offer. Should a consumer reject the cure offer and a jury or judge issues an award that is equal to or less than the business's cure offer, the consumer is not entitled to triple damages or attorney's fees and court costs from the date of the filing of the cure offer. This bill incentivizes employers to make fair offers and consumers to take the offer in lieu of hoping to pile on triple damages. The Ohio Attorney General still retains the right to bring suit against any company. House Bill 275 has the potential to prevent drawn out court proceedings saving all sides time and money.
Statute of Limitations on Written Contracts
Senate Bill 224 was recently signed into law by Governor Kasich. This important piece of legislation reduces the statute of limitations (SOL) on written contracts from 15 years to 8 years. Ohio was one of two states that had a SOL of 15 years, the longest in the country. Ohio’s SOL is a vestige of our statehood in 1803, a time when communication was both limited and slow. With communication now instant, it makes sense to update Ohio’s SOL law. The plurality of states have 6 years or fewer. Although Ohio remains an outlier, 8 years is significantly better than 15. Think about where you were 15 years ago and how much your remember about that time with specificity. Memories fade and people move on. Senate Bill 224 brings Ohio closer to the majority of other states with respect to the statute of limitations on written contracts. This common sense bill helps reduce lengthy liability for business owners.
Trespasser Liability Act
Senate Bill 202 was recently signed by Governor Kasich. This important piece of legislation codifies Ohio’s long existing common law protections afforded to private property owners. Recent suggestions to amend trespasser rights at the American Law Institute through the Restatement Third of Torts would create a new category of trespasser known as a “flagrant” trespasser. It is suggested that landowners owe a duty of care to trespassers not deemed flagrant that has never before existed. Should Ohio adopt these restatements, private property owners would be subjected to significant liability to individuals who are illegally on their property. Ohio’s common law exceptions for attractive nuisance and individuals in peril remain in place. Senate Bill 202 simply codifies the longstanding protections to landowners and makes these protections the public policy of Ohio.
Regulatory reform legislation passed
Small businesses spend 36 percent more to comply with government regulations than larger businesses. NFIB helped pass Senate Bill 2 in the 129th General Assembly as a means of improving Ohio’s regulatory environment for small business. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Jim Hughes (Columbus), codifies Governor Kasich’s Common Sense Initiative Executive Order. The bill aims to create a more customer service oriented, small business friendly environment and will seek the input of the small business community on how a proposed rule may impact their businesses before the rule is enacted. Senate Bill 2 will raise awareness amongst regulators of the impact their rules have on the small business community.
The passage of this legislation is an important gesture to Ohio’s small businesses that government is going to try to work with them and not against them as they strive to grow businesses and create more jobs for Ohioans.
Repealed Ohio's Death Tax - After 119 years Ohioans will no longer pay estate tax
House Bill 153, the state of Ohio's biennial operating budget contained a significant victory for the small businesses, family farmers and individuals through the elimination of Ohio's onerous estate tax. Ohio's threshold for exemption is the lowest in the nation of the roughly 19 states that levy a tax on estates or inheritance. After January 1, 2013, Ohio's small businesses will no longer take their assets to another state in order to preserve the passing of their legacies to their families. NFIB worked to include this in the state budget.
Personal Income Tax Reduction - Final phase-out takes place
The state of Ohio elected to fill an estimated $850 million hole in the operating budget by withholding the promised final phase out of the personal income tax, part of the overall tax reform package of 2005-06. NFIB was the only major business group to oppose this measure and fought to ensure Ohio did not once again try to balance the budget on the backs of small businesses and individuals. Approximately 75 percent of NFIB members are pass-through entities, many of whom pay their business taxes at the personal income tax levels.
JobsOhio – A renewed focus in job growth and creation
House Bill 1 sponsored by Representative Mike Duffey (Worthington) created a new non-profit, public-private entity, JobsOhio, to replace many of the functions of the Ohio Department of Development. JobsOhio will be led by private sector business leaders with experience in growing successful business. Who better to interact with Ohio’s existing businesses and potential new businesses than those who have been in their shoes?
JobsOhio will respond quicker to the needs of the business community and look to attract private investment to provide grants and loans, much as the Department of Development did. JobsOhio will eliminate the many layers of the bureaucratic processes currently in place that cause a slow response to Ohio’s job creators. With decision makers serving as the first point of contact, JobsOhio will move at the speed of business, not government. This is an excellent example of a government function that could be more effectively managed by a private entity.
Preserved workers' compensation group rating program
Ohio's small-business owners have faced uncertain economic times. As one of the highest costs of doing business in Ohio, workers’ compensation premiums should reflect the safety of the workplace. As such, NFIB has been a strong advocate for the preservation of the group rating program which has saved our members over $800 million in workers' compensation premiums. Although the maximum discounts have been reduced from 95% to 53%, employers still have the opportunity to recognize significant discounts on their workers’ compensation premiums. Additionally, NFIB has worked to help bring about an overall 4 percent base rate reduction for 2012.
Defeated additional healthcare mandates
NFIB members’ number one issue since 1986 has been affordable healthcare. NFIB was successful in beating back 15 healthcare mandates in the 128th General Assembly and is continuing to defeat the same mandates this legislative cycle. These mandates target small businesses because large corporations have a federal exemption. They also limit an employer's ability to design an insurance plan they and their employees want and can afford. NFIB/Ohio is fighting to provide policies that are consumer-driven, require more employee responsibility, and provide more options to small employers.
Preserving legal reform legislation
Lawsuits increase the costs of health insurance, property and casualty insurance, and workers' compensation. Lawsuits cost every man, woman and child in Ohio more than $800 per year. Although tort reform initiatives have been struck down in the past by the Ohio Supreme Court, the provisions of SB 80, comprehensive tort reform supported by NFIB in the 125th General Assembly, that have reached the Ohio Supreme Court and been upheld as constitutional. NFIB has submitted several amicus briefs in support of upholding the provisions of SB 80 and will continue to do so as appropriate to preserve the fair, predictable civil justice environment in Ohio.
Ohio's Legal Climate
Ohio has made great strides in creating a business friendly legal climate where our civil justice system is both fair and predictable. Efforts to repeal comprehensive tort reform are ongoing. NFIB continues to educate members of the Ohio Legislature on preserving civil justice reforms. Challenges are ongoing as legislation continues to be introduced that would peel back some reforms, potentially opening up new fronts for business owners to be sued.
Healthcare in Ohio
The cost of healthcare continues to be the No. 1 concern for small business owners, not only in Ohio, but also across the nation. State lawmakers continue to introduce mandated health insurance benefits that are paid for exclusively in the small group and individual markets which could cause individual business premiums to increase by 40 percent! NFIB has and will continue to take the lead on fighting against costly healthcare mandates. With so much uncertainty in the marketplace, small businesses and individuals are burdened with higher costs.
Workers' Compensation in Ohio
Ohio's dividend credit on workers' compensation premiums masked systemic problems within the workers' compensation system. Furthermore, Ohio Supreme Court rulings during the 1990s expanded benefits and increased costs while allowing for a greater amount of abuse. NFIB/Ohio is working on a number of reforms aimed at improving the performance of the workers' compensation system while reducing costs for small business. Although three workers’ compensation bills have been introduced in the 129th General Assembly, they have seen little activity. NFIB/Ohio will be working in the waning days of the 129th GA to amend these bills to include more substantive reforms to bring about relief for the small business owners of Ohio.
Municipal Tax Reform
NFIB/Ohio has joined the Municipal Income Tax Uniformity Coalition to be part of the effort to bring uniformity and consistency to Ohio's convoluted municipal income tax structure. Ohio is home to around 570 municipalities that levy an income tax with approximately 300 different, inconsistent definitions. In addition there are other issues like allowance or disallowance of net-operating losses, inconsistent treatment of various business types, varying interpretations of bright-line standards for time worked in municipalities, to name a few. All of these things lead to significant costs to track employees, pay practitioners to file returns and keep paperwork. NFIB supports creating a uniform definition of income, increasing the number of days worked in a municipality to trigger reporting and filing to 30 with reporting beginning on day 31, defining a day so an employee can’t be in more than one city in a day, and establishment of a 10 year net-operating loss carry forward (state and federal are 20), among many other business-friendly changes. Our goal is not to reduce the tax burden but simply to ease compliance.
Taxes in Ohio
The Ohio Legislature is currently reviewing the overall tax structure in Ohio. Given the trying economic times, state and local governments face mounting challenges in covering the costs of government obligations. NFIB will continue to fight for a business-friendly tax climate.