Unemployment debt repayment – The state of Ohio will pay off the outstanding loan owed to the federal government that was used to pay unemployment claims. Ohio employers will recognize over $400 million in savings on penalty payments. This loan will be repaid through a per-employee surcharge in 2017. Ohio employers will see an estimated $80 per employee savings as a result of this measure.
Workers’ compensation subrogation – Motor vehicle accidents caused by a third-party where a citation is issued or fault is accepted, and insurance is present, will no longer be charged to an employers’ experience. This long advocated for fix will prevent employers from having their discount program(s) status jeopardized and premiums potentially spiking. The savings could be thousands of dollars.
Sales tax holiday – Ohio will once again have a three-day sales tax holiday the first weekend in August on certain back-to-school supplies and clothing. Last year’s holiday was a resounding success according to a university economic study seeing a bump in sales tax receipts and a boon for retailers across Ohio, particularly in border counties.
Small claims court – The legislature recently doubled the maximum amount of recovery available in small claims court from $3,000 to $6,000. In lieu of foregoing chasing debt or settling for less, this law will allow for higher recoveries as these venues provide a lower-cost alternative to other levels of courts, as significant savings can be recognized on both filing fees and attorney costs. This puts Ohio close to the national average for recovery.
Municipal income tax withholding – An erroneous provision of the municipal tax reform package of 2014 moved quarterly business filers from the last day of the month to the 15th. This created confusion and led to employers facing penalties for late payments. This has been corrected and will return to mirror the dates for state tax filings.
Utility services tax – This antiquated, never-used law, has been repealed. Counties had the ability to levy a utility services tax of up to 2% on residents and 3% on commercial users. Although never used, one county proposed saddling its residents with this tax. Passage of this legislation now prohibits counties from levying this outdated tax.
Unemployment compensation reform – Debt repayment is a huge victory but short of benefit and systemic reforms contained in House Bill 394, Ohio will likely be borrowing again during the next economic downturn. Ohio must join the vast majority of other states who have reformed their unemployment benefit levels.
Pregnancy discrimination – Federal laws already provide protection to pregnant employees. Senate Bill 301 would allow a pregnant employee “veto power” over any accommodation an employer makes. This bill adds pregnancy to the list of protected classes in Ohio, and likely lead to an increase in employment lawsuits.
PTSD – Senate Bill 5 would permit a workers’ compensation claim for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for first responders, absent an underlying physical injury, something that has been required in the system for decades. The bill is projected to double premiums for public employers and coverage is likely to be expanded to private employers once an equal protection challenge is filed. This coverage has the potential to bankrupt the system or lead to massive increases in workers’ compensation premiums.
Autism mandate – House Bill 350 would require large-group fully-insured and grandfathered plans to provide comprehensive coverage for autism in their health plans. This is the state piling on to the mandates required by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).