Commerce Uniformity Bill Passes Senate Committee with a Transformative Amendment

Wednesday afternoon, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce gave proponent testimony on House Bill 242 in Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee. HB 242 would preempt local government attempts to impose a ban or assessment of a tax, fee or other charges on auxiliary containers. This statewide preemption would stop the development of a cumbersome patchwork of local ordinances that would negatively impact Ohio businesses and consumers

Local ordinances that impose a tax or ban on these containers result in added costs that directly impact the bottom line for many businesses, both large and small. They also can create compliance problems for a business, as the ordinances often mandate strict measuring, counting, record-keeping and reporting rules with which a business is forced to comply. These added costs not only impact a business’ bottom line, but the extra tax also impacts consumer purchasing power by making every trip to a store, restaurant or establishment that utilizes auxiliary containers more expensive.

During this coronavirus pandemic, many stores have prohibited the use of reusable bags, and restaurants are relying heavily on single-use carry-out containers to provide meals to customers and prevent potential contamination. This virus could change the way stores and restaurants do business in the future; therefore, it is important that all auxiliary container materials are permitted statewide.

The original version of HB 242, if passed, would have had an implementation date of 90 days after the governor’s signature. However, the Senate committee voted to amend the bill with language to sunset its provisions in 12 months from the bill’s passage. By a 7-3 vote, the committee favorably reported the amended bill. While this amendment changes the urgency of this bill, the Ohio Chamber is still supportive of this business-friendly piece of legislation.

In the coming weeks, HB 242 is expected to receive a full Senate floor vote, after which it will be sent to the House for concurrence. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce urges passes of this bill.