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Governor Signs Bill to Repay COVID-19 Unemployment Debt

July 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

$250 Million Dedicated to Broadband Expansion

July 1, 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 Sworn in to Fill Householder Seat

July 1, 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

Anti-Vaccine Measure Gets Second Chance; OMA Continues to Oppose

June 25, 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

Senate Moves to Repay Ohio’s Unemployment Debt

June 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

State Budget Deadline Approaches

June 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

Householder’s Son Is Among 19 That Applied for Vacant Seat

June 25, 2021

A week after former Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was voted out of the legislature by his House colleagues for “disorderly conduct” related to the House Bill 6 scandal, his son — Derek Householder — has applied to fill the legislative seat. He’s one of at least 19 candidates who want to be the next 72nd House District representative. House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has said his caucus will move quickly to fill the vacant seat. 6/24/2021

National Study Gives Lima High Marks for Manufacturing

June 25, 2021

Lima, Ohio has been ranked as the nation’s No. 3 smaller city for manufacturing by a new study. AdvisorSmith Solutions Inc. compared nearly 300 cities with 150,000 or fewer residents and found that Lima’s manufacturing output per capita was $43,687, compared to the U.S. average of about $7,200. Lima had 108% more manufacturing jobs than the average city. And among the top 50 cities of all sizes, Lima ranked fifth. 6/23/2021

Biden: Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Reached

June 25, 2021

President Joe Biden announced this week that the administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have reached an infrastructure deal worth $1.2 trillion over eight years. Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) attended the announcement. According to reports, the plan would fund transportation programs — including roads, bridges, airports, and electric vehicle infrastructure — as well as water infrastructure, broadband, environmental remediation, power infrastructure, and other areas.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said the announcement “shows that governing with big ideas is still possible in America” — and that “bold infrastructure investment will secure a better future for our nation and industry.” 6/24/2021

At a Glance: China’s Share of Global Exports Over 40 Years

June 25, 2021

Forty years ago, China produced less than 1% of the world’s exports. But as illustrated by this animated infographic by Visual Capitalist, the communist nation now accounts for nearly 15% of all exports — spurred by decades of tax incentives and foreign investment, as well as China’s membership in the World Trade Organization. 6/21/2021