News and Analysis
It was reported this week that the White House is working with seven pharmaceutical companies as part of its “Warp Speed” coronavirus vaccine program. Some of that work is being done here in Ohio as the AstraZeneca plant in West Chester is working quickly to produce its own vaccine. The West Chester plant is being retrofitted for scaled-up production, according to Cincinnati.com. 6/4/2020
This week, the OMA provided proponent testimony on Senate Joint Resolution 4. The resolution proposes to enact Section 18 of Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution, which would allow the General Assembly to ask Ohioans in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election to approve obligations to repay a loan from the federal government to the Ohio unemployment compensation fund.
While not a silver bullet in solving Ohio’s unemployment insurance insolvency woes, the resolution would provide a second option for Ohio to repay the federal government. Bonding would only be used if it proves to be the most cost effective option for employers. 6/4/2020
This week, the House Ways and Means Committee accepted Substitute House Bill 614. The new sub bill provides substance to the ongoing hearings regarding the administration of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The bill would create the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council, which would devise a plan to improve Ohio’s unemployment system. 6/4/2020
This week, a report on U.S. manufacturing showed a slight improvement for the sector. Reports note that the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) latest data showed that among the six largest manufacturing sub-sectors, food, beverage and tobacco products showed expansion. Sub-sectors that continued to contract at strong levels included transportation equipment, petroleum and coal products, and fabricated metal. 6/1/2020
The U.S. Commercial Service — part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration — is hosting a virtual trade show for the automotive industry from June 29 through July 17. This online event aims to connect U.S. exporters with pre-screened international buyers and potential partners recruited by U.S. officials from around the world. More details are available here, or email Darren Srebnick or call (614) 273-5157. 6/4/2020
As policymakers at both the state and federal level explore ways to enhance America’s manufacturing potential, Indiana University has published this easy-to-read summary of public policy ideas drawn from other nations, individual states, and Congress. Among them: develop a national strategy, subsidize advanced technology, enhance financing of innovation, further refine the tax code, invest in workforce skill development, and fund competitiveness programs. 6/3/2020
Manufacturers Marketplace — a collaboration of the National Association of Manufacturers and state manufacturing associations, including the OMA — is a searchable database intended to help U.S. manufacturers find and do business with one another in this era of supply chain disruption. Manufacturers Marketplace is available for free to all OMA members until June 30 using code “COVID-19.” It will continue to be free as long as your company uses the platform and updates your profile. Contact the Marketplace’s David Smart to learn more. 6/1/2020
This week, the Ohio House completed action on House Bill 606 — legislation granting civil immunity to businesses during COVID-19 — and sent the measure to the Senate. Passed on an 83-9 vote, the immunity bill bars civil action related to deaths, injuries or losses tied to transmission of COVID-19 in cases without reckless or intentional conduct. The latest version of HB 606 includes manufacturers making pandemic-related protective equipment. The OMA supports the bill overall.
House negotiators had to win Democratic votes in order to obtain a supermajority, needed to trigger the bill’s emergency clause and provide immediate effectiveness upon enactment. Before approving the measure, the chamber accepted a floor amendment that classifies COVID-19 as an occupational disease that qualifies first responders, food workers and corrections officers for workers’ compensation benefits. (See story below.)
Across the Rotunda, the Senate is nearing completion on a similar legislation, Senate Bill 308. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) this week reviewed an updated version of the legislation. Further negotiations are to be expected in the next week to reconcile the versions. Supportive manufacturers can add their voice to the debate by sending a letter of support to your state legislators. 5/28/2020
The OMA has called for passage of immunity legislation for Ohio businesses during COVID-19. (See above story.) On Thursday, May 28, a surprise floor amendment was added to House Bill 606 to designate that COVID-related injuries experienced by employees would be presumed to have been caused by the virus being contracted at the workplace — and therefore compensable under an employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), applies to all sorts of food industries, including food and beverage manufacturers. OMA members in the food and beverage industry are invited to participate in a special conference call later today (Friday, May 29) to assess the amendment. Please contact OMA staff to be included in the call. 5/29/2020
Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Judge’s E-Signature Ruling Impacting Statewide Ballot IssuesMay 29, 2020
Last week, a U.S. district court judge dealt a blow to Ohio business interests by issuing an unprecedented ruling to allow electronic signature collections (instead of in-person signatures) for several pending ballot measures, while extending the signature deadlines. This would provide a lifeline to out-of-state interest groups seeking to change the Ohio Constitution to legalize marijuana, impose a $13/hour minimum wage, allow for same-day voter registration, among other actions.
Here is what has developed since the judge’s controversial ruling:
- On May 21, Attorney General Dave Yost and Secretary of State Frank LaRose appealed the judge’s decision, correctly pointing out that the existing petition requirements are “set in Ohio Constitution and decisions on changing them belong to the General Assembly and the people.”
- The OMA, which has long fought against efforts to erode the petition process and validity of ballot security, led an effort to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief with five other statewide business groups to support the state’s appeal.
- On May 26, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the judge’s ruling, providing a short-term legal victory for Ohio’s business community. The order blocks the lower court decision only while the appeals court continues its review of the case, which has been expedited.
The OMA will continue to follow this development and members will be fully briefed at the OMA’s June 3 Government Affairs Committee meeting. 5/27/2020