Despite Pandemic, Business As Usual At The Statehouse – Part II

The following is an article written by Ohio Chamber of Commerce Vice President, Government Affairs Keith Lake. This piece wraps-up the legislative session from January to July 2020. It appears in full in the July/August issue of Ohio Matters. This is the second part of a three-part series.

On March 15, then-Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, issued her order limiting restaurants and bars to carry out or delivery only. This was the first order directly impacting business operations in Ohio, but it was soon followed by other similar ones impacting other types of businesses. Finally, one week after the restaurant closing order, came Dr. Acton’s order directing all Ohioans to stay at home except to participate in what the order deemed “Essential Businesses or Operations.”

Anticipating that this order might, at some point, be forthcoming, the Ohio Chamber had been working with our members beforehand to figure out how such a plan might be workable. We shared several concerns and recommendations with the DeWine Administration, urging flexibility when the order was finalized.

By allowing businesses that perform essential operations, and those in their supply chains, to continue to operate, the order seemed at the time to strike the right balance between protecting Ohioans and keeping the economy moving as much as possible, given the circumstances.

Between mid-March and the first week of May, the legislature was in Columbus for just one day, returning in late March to pass HB 197, a comprehensive package of emergency measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Primarily focused on providing the Administration and state agencies with additional tools to fight the outbreak and flexibility to deliver more assistance and relief to Ohioans and Ohio businesses, HB 197 incorporated several provisions sought by the Ohio Chamber to assist struggling employers with the immediate and substantive threats to their businesses.

During the height of the pandemic, in March and April, the Ohio Chamber’s focus was on helping businesses understand and navigate the various new programs and resources that Ohio and the federal government (Families First Coronavirus Act, CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program, etc.) created to help preserve jobs and provide hard-hit employers with the financial assistance they need to survive.

To read Part I, click here.

To read Part III, click here.