News and Analysis
Negotiations remain unresolved over a pair of bills (House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 308) that would provide businesses and health care professionals with temporary legal protections during COVID-19. As of late Thursday afternoon, lawmakers had not yet agreed to strip a harmful worker’s compensation provision from pending legislation. As a result, the timely passage of a final immunity package is uncertain. There is still time to take action. 6/11/2020
The Senate this week unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 4, which would authorize bonding as an alternative to borrowing from the federal government when Ohio’s unemployment insurance system fund has been exhausted. The OMA is a proponent of the resolution.
During the last recession, Ohio borrowed nearly $3.4 billion. Now the state is looking to borrow $3 billion to cover unemployment benefits issued during the current pandemic. Ohio’s woefully inadequate unemployment compensation fund is one of the least solvent in the country. The OMA for years has pushed for a comprehensive overhaul of the system, including the option of a bonding mechanism. 6/11/2020
This week, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 614. The legislation, which the OMA provided testimony for this week in committee, is designed to provide a review the state’s unemployment compensation system. It would establish a board charged with making comprehensive suggestions to enhance the administrative operations, while also allowing additional avenues to provide an efficient and transparent service to employees and employers. 6/11/2020
This week, the Senate held its first hearing on Senate Bill 282. Sponsored by Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction) would create an online system in which employers could file complaints with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) to report that an applicant for (or a recipient of) unemployment benefits has failed or is failing to meet the non-monetary requirements for benefit eligibility.
As Sen. Hoagland stated in his sponsor testimony, “Through ODJFS, there is a process in which employers can report fraud, but there is currently not a means for businesses to report employment activity or other actions that are not necessarily considered fraud.” 6/11/2020
IBISWorld, a global industry research firm, reports that “the PPE manufacturing industry has become one of the most important industries in the U.S. nearly overnight.” The firm projects that now, after the coronavirus restrictions, the industry’s revenue will increase at an annualized rate of 3.8% to $5.7 billion over five years.
Meanwhile, this updated compilation of more than 100 news stories (all of which have appeared on OMA social media) spotlights Ohio manufacturers that have produced or donated protective equipment and related goods in the fight against COVID-19. 6/8/2020
The COVID-19 crisis has opened new doors for fraud schemes and cyber scams to divert funds from your business. Join the experts at OMA Connections Partner Plante Moran for a free webinar at 10 a.m. (ET), June 16, as they discuss methods of fraud detection and how to proactively fight cyberthreats. 6/10/2020
This week, the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) sent a reminder that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) takes effect on July 1, 2020. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced it has opened the USMCA Center in Washington, D.C. to work with the private sector to coordinate implementation of the updated agreement. If you are an exporter with questions about the USMCA, call DSA’s export assistance office at (614) 466-4996 or use this email. 6/10/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed many businesses’ day-to-day operations. Learning how to lead your team through a crisis — and how to navigate and adapt through an ever-changing landscape — is vital. OMA Connections Partner RSM will host a free webinar at 2 p.m. (ET), Wednesday, June 17, to discuss the financial, tactical and transformative strategies that will equip business leaders to be more resilient and successful in this environment, as well as in the future. 6/11/2020
This week, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the Ohio PPE Retooling and Reshoring Grant Program. This $20 million program will provide awards of up to $500,000 to help small and medium-sized manufacturers repurpose existing facilities to make needed personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as to reshore PPE production to Ohio. Up to 20% of funding will be reserved for manufacturers with fewer than 25 employees.
Grant funds can be used to offset costs incurred to acquire equipment necessary to manufacture PPE, retool, or construct facilities to manufacture PPE and make technological upgrades. Expenses dating back to March 21 (the date of Gov. DeWine’s emergency declaration) will be eligible for reimbursement.
This funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so quick action is recommended. To learn more, see this press release. Also announced was a new grant program for small businesses that are owned and operated by minorities or women, as well as a loan program for businesses in Ohio’s Appalachian region. 6/2/2020
Following last week’s House approval of House Bill 606 — a bill to grant civil legal immunity to Ohio businesses during COVID-19 — the OMA and other statewide business groups raised concerns regarding a last-minute amendment that seeks to shift the burden of proof and leave food and beverage manufacturers vulnerable to a wave of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims that would be impossible to contest. This letter to Senate President Larry Obhof details the coalition’s concerns.
If the HB 606 provision is enacted, claims against food and beverage manufacturers will only be the beginning, as other types of manufacturers and businesses will also experience the impact of this harmful policy change.
This week, the Senate completed its action on its version of the immunity bill, Senate Bill 308. It is expected that a conference committee will soon be appointed to negotiate the differences between HB 606 and SB 308. We encourage all Ohio manufacturers to contact their state lawmakers and urge support for the overall immunity legislation, while requesting the removal of the floor amendment added to HB 606. Here is sample language for members. 6/4/2020