News and Analysis
OMA Connections Partner CliftonLarsonAllen has posted this on-demand webinar and these slides to help businesses solidify their cybersecurity strategies, including identifying developing trends, boosting cybersecurity preparedness, and managing a breach. The firm has also published this list of 10 ways to help protect computer networks from viruses and attacks.
Similarly, OMA Connections Partner GBQ Partners will host a free webinar to discuss current cyber risks and how to protect your company. 7/7/2021
A new study by Bankrate.com finds Ohio is a top 10 state in which to retire. The study examined five categories: affordability, wellness, culture, weather, and crime. The full rankings can be seen here. 7/8/2021
Before breaking for its summer recess, the General Assembly this week approved, and Gov. Mike DeWine signed, a $74.1 billion, two-year state operating budget (House Bill 110). This compares to roughly $70 billion in general-fund spending under the previous two-year budget.
The 3,300-page measure received strong bipartisan support, with an 84-13 vote in the House and a 32-1 vote in the Senate. Among the highlights and key provisions impacting manufacturers are the following:
- Elimination of Ohio’s sales tax on employment services used by businesses to hire employees. Repeal of this tax has been a longtime priority for Ohio manufacturers. The provision will save employers an estimated $303 million over the biennium. It’s one of the most beneficial pieces of tax reform since the landmark reforms of 2005, when Ohio eliminated the tangible personal property tax and corporate franchise tax. (Read the OMA’s statement.)
- Invests significant funding in Ohio’s workforce development. This includes $5 million in grants for Ohio’s industry sector partnerships, $25 million for Ohio’s innovative TechCred program, and additional support payments to public schools whose students earn industry-recognized credentials. (See separate story.)
- Settles the municipal income tax withholdings question for 2021. The budget extends through the end of this year the temporary law that allows municipal income tax withholdings to be based on an employee’s principal work location, not where he/she has worked remotely during the pandemic. Employees who worked remotely will be able to file for refunds for the 2021 tax year. (Read this summary by OMA Connections Partner Vorys for more details.) During the early days of the pandemic, the OMA worked with members to allow the continuation of withholding from a principal place of business — and throughout the past year, the OMA Tax Committee and staff have worked with the legislature to find an administratively acceptable solution.
Regarding the pro-manufacturing provisions in the budget, OMA President Ryan Augsburger said: “Manufacturers thank Ohio’s policymakers for adopting a responsible and balanced budget, while at the same time focusing on strategic investments to propel the state’s predominant industry.”
The governor vetoed 14 items from the budget, but none impacted OMA priorities. (See separate story.)
For more details regarding budget provisions that are important to manufacturers, see separate stories elsewhere in this Leadership Briefing, as well as this updated memo from the OMA Public Policy Services team. 7/1/2021
Before signing the Fiscal Year 2022-23 state budget, Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed 14 items, including a provision that would have returned about $100,000 to businesses that were fined for violating COVID-19 health orders. None of the line-item vetoes impacted OMA priorities. Read the governor’s veto messages, as well as the boxed text from the budget itself. 7/1/2021
Unrelated to the budget — but still a priority for manufacturers — Gov. Mike DeWine this week signed House Bill 168, which, among other things, authorizes the repayment of Ohio’s federal loan that funded the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system throughout much of the pandemic. Without action by the General Assembly, Ohio would have owed the federal government as much as $1.6 billion — all of which would have eventually been paid by Ohio employers since employers fully fund the UI system.
As authorized by HB 168, the loan will be repaid with federal COVID-19 relief dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The OMA, which has urged lawmakers for years to address the solvency of Ohio’s UI trust fund, strongly supported the use of ARPA funds to repay the loan. OMA President Ryan Augsburger said: “By repaying Ohio’s UI debt with federal relief dollars, legislators have prevented a massive tax hike on manufacturers and other job creators.” 6/28/2021
Ohio’s new budget includes $250 million to fund the state’s broadband expansion grant program, which helps cover the costs of laying internet cables in underserved areas of the state. This is the amount proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine. The final budget agreement does not include a Senate proposal that would have effectively banned municipalities from operating their own broadband programs. 6/30/2021
Kevin Miller was sworn in this week as the new representative for the 72nd House District, succeeding expelled former Rep. Larry Householder. A Republican from Newark, Miller most recently served as a legislative liaison for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Prior to that, he served as commander of the Patrol’s Granville Post. 6/29/2021
On Tuesday, June 22, the OMA testified before the House Health Committee in opposition to House Bill 248, which would ban employers from requiring vaccines. Ross McGregor, a former state representative and president and owner of Pentaflex Inc., testified on behalf of the OMA against the legislation. (Here’s coverage from the AP and Statehouse News Bureau.)
While his company doesn’t currently mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, McGregor told lawmakers his business should have the right to require a vaccinations, especially considering manufacturing’s designation as an essential industry. When questioned about employer rights versus those of the employee, McGregor responded, “I offer employment. I do not mandate it. I offer it. It is up to an individual to decide whether they wish to accept my offer of employment.”
After Tuesday’s hearing, Committee Chair Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) told reporters that HB 248 lacked the necessary votes to advance the bill, while Gov. Mike DeWine said he would not sign the legislation. The bill was presumed dead.
But on Thursday, the House GOP inserted elements of HB 248 into an unrelated measure (Senate Bill 111) that allocates federal COVID-19 relief funds. SB 111 passed the House on a 60-34 vote. The House-approved language would ban private and public entities from requiring individuals to get a vaccine that hasn’t received full approval from the FDA. This would include the COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency approval.
SB 111 now heads to the Senate, where Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has said he’s opposed to the anti-vaccination measure, adding that government should not impose mandates on private businesses. Even if passed with the House language, Gov. DeWine could line-item veto the change. 6/25/2021
This week, Ohio lawmakers took another step towards enacting Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to repay the federal loan used to fund the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic. Ohio is expected to owe the federal government as much as $1.6 billion for the assistance — debt that would eventually need to be repaid by Ohio employers, which fully fund the state’s unemployment insurance system.
Under OMA-supported House Bill 168 — which was passed unanimously this week by the Senate — the debt would be repaid with federal COVID-19 relief dollars. Without Statehouse action, interest would start accruing on the federal loan — and Ohio employers — in September.
Before passing HB 168, the Senate inserted language to allocate $422 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to local governments. This provision is similar to the one in Senate Bill 111 — the vehicle the House used to approve an anti-vaccination provision — putting pressure on the House to pass the loan repayment plan without the vaccine changes. (See separate story.) 6/25/2021
The clock continues to tick toward the June 30 deadline for lawmakers to pass Ohio’s new, two-year operating budget (House Bill 110). Next week, the OMA will report on the key provisions impacting manufacturers when a final budget deal is reached. 6/25/2021