As the legislature gears up for 2020, we look back business-related legislation we followed in 2019 and what will be carried over into this new year. We begin with Part 1.
The most significant pro-business legislative accomplishments of 2019 were not actions that enhanced Ohio’s business climate. Instead, the Ohio Chamber’s major 2019 accomplishments preserved the status quo; specifically, saving the small business income deduction (BID) and defeating a proposed expansion of workers’ compensation benefits.
State lawmakers spent most of the first half of 2019 fashioning the state’s operating budget for the next two fiscal years, and it was during this process that the House tried to limit the BID, which allows owners of sole proprietorships and pass-through entities to deduct 100% of their business income up to $250,000 on their Ohio personal income tax return and taxes any remaining business income at a flat 3% rate. The Ohio Chamber and our Ohio Small Business Council mobilized against this plan that would have raised taxes on small business owners by $528 million per year. Reacting to vocal grassroots opposition from small business owners across the state, the legislature ultimately removed most of the BID changes from the final version of the state budget it delivered to Gov. Mike DeWine.
The problematic workers’ compensation proposal to give first responders coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder was also put forward by the House, which included it in legislation establishing the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s two-year budget. While it was stripped from the bill by the Senate, this issue is far from settled.
While these issues dominated the Ohio Chamber’s attention through July, the remainder 2019 has seen the legislature tackle several issues that would benefit employers. This has been a welcome change and hopefully indicates a desire to prioritize the need to foster a competitive business climate that makes Ohio a great place to conduct business. Right before Christmas, lawmakers finalized House Bill 2, creating the new TechCred program which the governor signed into law on January 13, 2020. This innovative program, supported by the Ohio Chamber, is designed to help employers with one of their most pressing needs: overcoming workforce challenges. TechCred will assist employers in “upskilling” their existing workforce and gives employees the ability to earn industry-recognized, technology-focused credentials, better preparing them for a job in today’s advanced, technology-infused economy. Through this program, businesses can identify the specific qualifications they need and can be reimbursed by the state for up to $2,000 of training once an employee earns a credential. The next online application period opens on January 2, 2020; visit techcred.ohio.gov or read our All for Ohio blog for information on this program including how to apply.
For Part 2, click here.