The Ohio General Assembly is back in full swing this
spring. There are several bills that we
are closely monitoring that could see movement before the legislature breaks
for summer recess including legislation workers’ compensation subrogation,
small claims court reform, sales tax holiday and restricting residency
requirements on construction projects, all of which NFIB/Ohio has made a key
House Bill 207 sponsored by Representatives Mike Henne
(fellow NFIB member) and Rob McColley would bring a much-needed common sense
reform to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.
This bill would allow an employer whose employee is injured in a motor
vehicle accident in the course of employment by a third-party that has been cited
as at fault to apply to the Ohio BWC to have that claim charged against the BWC
Surplus Fund and not their experience. Currently, that claim would apply to the
employer’s experience, likely jeopardizing eligibility for discount programs
and potentially resulting in dramatic premium spikes. House Bill 207 will right this wrong and
protect employers and employees injured
by a third-party in a motor vehicle accident.
House Bill 207 passed Ohio House Insurance Committee and the entire Ohio
House of Representative unanimously.
NFIB/Ohio has long advocated for this reform.
Ohio currently allows businesses and individuals to seek
recovery in small claims courts for damages of $3,000 or less, well below the
national average of roughly $7,000.
These courts provide an affordable venue where individuals may represent
themselves pro se and avoid the many times costly attorneys’ fees that
accompany litigation. NFIB/Ohio believes
it is time to increase this threshold to $6,000,
so business owners will seek recovery
because the cost of justice will not be too great. House Bill 387 will do just
that. Business owners are too often
forced to decide whether or not an amount owed is worth pursuing when weighing
court costs and attorneys’ fees or simply settling for a lower recovery. When it costs more to pursue a recovery it is
only logical that many business owners will elect to forego this process. House Bill 387 passed with unanimous support
in the Ohio House.
Last year, Ohio enjoyed its first sales tax holiday in
August on a select group of back to school items. By nearly all accounts, it was a
success. Retailers saw a bump in sales
and consumers were able to stretch their hard-earned dollars further. According to a dynamic economic study, Ohio
recognized a bump in revenue from this holiday as sales tax receipts saw an increase, particularly in border counties. Senate Bill 264 will reinstitute the sales
tax holiday for 2016. While NFIB/Ohio
supports this bill, we would prefer a
permanent sales tax holiday instead of
one year pilots. Senate Bill 264 passed
the Ohio Senate by a 32-1 margin.
Companion bills, House Bill 180 and Senate Bill 152, have
both passed their respective chambers.
These bills would prohibit a public authority from putting residency
restrictions on public works projects. Several
municipalities have added these restrictions which inherently discriminate
against Ohio-based companies. Small
businesses in particular struggle with fulfilling arbitrary residency
requirements, leading to less qualified bids and thus driving up taxpayer costs
through limiting competition. Further,
because of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution,
public authorities cannot place residency restrictions on out-of-state
contractors giving non-residents preferential treatment. It
appears Senate Bill 152 will be the likely vehicle and passage will likely
occur before the summer recess.
There are many other bills NFIB/Ohio will be following in
the coming months. Please visit www.NFIB.com/OH for legislative updates. If you have any questions, please contact
Chris Ferruso, Legislative Director at (614) 221-4107.