End of Year Legislative Session Sees Flurry Of Activity

Date: January 05, 2021

After Election Day, the 133rd Ohio General Assembly saw a flurry of activity on a host of issues during the “lame duck” session which concluded the biennial legislative cycle in mid-December. Over the past two years, there were nearly 1,200 different bills introduced and considered on a wide range of issues from workforce development to taxes to healthcare. In this session, we followed over 100 bills, all of which have a potential impact on small businesses. During the waning days of the General Assembly, NFIB supported multiple pieces of important legislation that we believe will help move Ohio’s business climate in a positive direction.

SENATE BILL 9 – Health Insurance Transparency

Senate Bill 9 requires health insurance plans to provide aggregate claims data to businesses with 50 or more employees. This information is critical to empowering small businesses when shopping for health insurance plans for their employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are community rated and as such would not recognize a benefit from receiving such claims data.

“Cost of health insurance” continues to be small business owners’ top concern. Senate Bill 9 provides another tool for our members to use when shopping for health insurance.

HOUSE BILL 352- Employment Law Reform

Ohio had the longest statute of limitations for discrimination claims in the nation at six years. House Bill 352 reduces that to two years, normalizing Ohio with most other states. This important provision ensures the tail of liability for employers is not excessively long. House Bill 352 requires filing with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and exhausting that process before going to court which saves small business owners having to combat the same claim in multiple venues. Further, the bill adds the same non-economic damage caps in place under existing tort law. House Bill 352 received bi-partisan support in both chambers.

State and local paperwork continue to be a top concern amongst NFIB members in Ohio. These bills reduce the timeframe in which records must be retained freeing up resources to be put toward growing your business.

HOUSE BILL 606 – Liability Protection COVID-19 Claims

The Ohio General Assembly convened a conference committee to work out differences in early September. House Bill 606 ultimately passed without detrimental workers’ compensation policy. House Bill 606 provides employers with protection against lawsuits for COVID liability claims so long as they did not act with reckless conduct or willful or wanton or intentional misconduct. These protections remain in place until September 1, 2021. The bill became effective on December 14, 2020.

Nearly three out of four of NFIB members identified fear of a lawsuit as a major concern during the COVID pandemic. Small business owners are doing all they can to keep their employees and customers safe and should not be subject to frivolous and costly lawsuits.

NFIB was productive tracking more than 100 pieces of legislation and seeing multiple pro-small business bills and policies enacted in this session of the Ohio General Assembly. We also were successful in combatting numerous bills that would have saddled our members with new costs, tax increases, and regulatory burdens.

A few issues did not make it across the finish line and will need to be addressed in the next general assembly. House Bill 621, the Business Fairness Act, would allow any small business that can demonstrate they can meet safety protocols and/or orders to remain open. This bill will level the playing field ensuring businesses are not forced to close while competitors selling some of the same or similar products and services remain open. Next, Senate Bill 1, major regulatory reform requiring a significant reduction in state agency rules with regulatory restrictions. Finally, House Bill 251 reduces the statute of limitations on written contracts shortening liability and bringing certainty to business owners. We will continue to push these pro-business policies for enactment in the 134th General Assembly which convenes in January.

As we begin a new year and new legislative cycle, there will be many bills that impact your bottom line. NFIB will continue to be your voice in the halls of the Ohio General Assembly and with the administration. We ask that you monitor your inbox, read our publications, and respond to our “action alerts.” Thank you for your membership!

If you have any questions, please contact Ohio Legislative Director Chris Ferruso at [email protected].

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