News and Analysis
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
This week, the OMA Government Affairs Committee met virtually for its second meeting of 2020. Members were briefed on the OMA’s legislative activity since the start of the COVID-19 emergency. A key focus of the meeting was civil liability immunity legislation (House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 308) for businesses, which is currently moving through the Ohio Legislature. Members raised numerous concerns about a provision in the House-approved bill that classifies COVID-19 as an occupational disease. (See story above.)
OMA members also heard updates on matters affecting Ohio’s ballot initiatives, unemployment compensation, workforce development, and energy laws, as well as a report from OMA General Counsel Chris Slagle of Bricker & Eckler. The committee will meet again Aug. 26. (Note: This is a change from the originally published date.) 6/3/2020
Gov. Mike DeWine has announced new health orders to allow entertainment facilities to re-open beginning Wednesday, June 10. This includes aquariums, art galleries, country clubs, ice skating rinks, indoor family entertainment centers, indoor sports facilities, laser tag facilities, indoor movie theaters, museums, outdoor playgrounds, public recreation centers, roller skating rinks, social clubs, trampoline parks, and zoos. Day camps and residential camps may open at any time. 6/4/2020
Last week, the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19 announced that Ohio firms have worked together to produce 750,000 isolation gowns to protect frontline health care workers and first responders. Isolation gowns, typically available through overseas sources, have been in short supply since the start of the pandemic. 6/1/2020
The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) this week reported on yet another Ohio success story in the fight against the coronavirus. In this article, CDME highlights the university’s efforts to boost production of Ohio-made 3D-printed swabs used in COVID-19 test kits.6/3/2020
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