The General Assembly has now recessed, and lawmakers have returned to their districts to begin focusing on their fall re-election campaigns. The Senate is scheduled to be back in Columbus for two weeks beginning in late September, while the House won’t return until after the November 8 General Election.
Our Legislative Wrap-Up blog series will recap the accomplishments and also highlight a few things that the Ohio Chamber will continue to push for when the legislature returns later this year. There will be seven blog posts, each focusing on specific policy areas. Part five will cover public policy specifically impacting small businesses.
Small businesses face a greater burden as it pertains to harmful government agency rules and regulations. The fact is, smaller businesses do not have the resources that many large employers have to interpret and implement the required changes that are often associated with imposed rules. For that reason, the Ohio Chamber and its Ohio Small Business Council (OSBC) have been pushing for more regulatory reforms, including Senate Bill 303 and House Bill 503. These companion pieces of legislation are aimed at streamlining and improving the state’s rule making process.
Several provisions contained within SB 303 and HB 503 were recommended by OSBC:
•Expanding the existing definition of an adverse impact on business to include any rule that is likely to reduce revenue or increase expenses.
•Require state agencies to make any external document referenced in a rule available at no cost.
•Allow for a rule to be invalidated if a fee imposed by an agency is not reasonable or related to the cost incurred by the agency.
•Any rule that has an unforeseen, negative impact on business after it is issued would be subject to immediate review and possible revision.
•Prevent state agencies from circumventing the rule review process by issuing policy documents that have essentially the same force as rules.
These bills have yet to be passed by the legislature. However, we will keep you updated on their progress when the legislature resumes in the fall.
Additionally, a small business victory was achieved with the passage of House Bill 387. This legislation increases the maximum amount that can be awarded by small claims courts from $3,000 to $6,000. This increase is long overdue, as the current $3,000 limit has been the same for more than twenty years. Small claims court provides a less costly venue for small businesses to adjudicate certain disputes, and its relaxed rules and quick decisions provide small businesses with an easier and more efficient method to resolve claims that otherwise may not be filed. It also cuts down on filing fees, time away from the business, and attorney’s fees. HB 387 was finalized right before the legislature adjourned for its summer recess.
Part six will detail Tax and Economic Development.