February 21, 2023
Ohio Chamber Announces Policy Priorities
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has posted its Top Ten list of policy priorities for Ohio’s 135th General Assembly. The list, which can be found here, is a diverse array of budget initiatives, legislative concepts, and reintroduction of bills which would greatly enhance the state’s economic competitiveness and provide opportunity for Ohioans. 

These concepts, while certainly not exhaustive of the Chamber’s numerous legislative ideas and priorities, were developed after extensive discussions with Chamber members, policymakers, and staff. The list will be updated quarterly though-out the 135th General Assembly, as bills are passed.

Each of these priorities also has a stated nexus to the Ohio Chamber’s Blueprint for Ohio's Economic Future, our comprehensive, long-range policy vision that focuses on key areas for economic growth and improvement for the state of Ohio. The Blueprint identifies six strategic areas of opportunity to increase Ohio’s competitiveness, including:

  • Education & Workforce
  • Sense of Place
  • Taxes & Costs
  • Business Friendliness
  • Innovation & Collaboration
  • Infrastructure

The Ohio Chamber’s Government Affairs team is actively discussing these policy priorities, along with a number of additional legislative concepts, with both chambers of the Ohio Legislature and the DeWine/Husted Administration. As always, we welcome your thoughts, questions, and suggestions as to how the state can better accommodate the business community. Please do not hesitate to contact our Government Affairs Team below:

Lawmakers Have First Hearing on BWC and IC Budgets
On Wednesday, lawmakers got their first preview of the workers’ compensation and Industrial Commission budgets for fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Testifying before the Ohio House Insurance Committee was BWC Administrator John Logue and Industrial Commission Chairman Jim Hughes. Administrator Logue highlighted aspects of the BWC budget bill – House Bill 31 – including the proposed agency name to the Department of Workforce Insurance and Safety. He also highlighted the BWC’s safety grant programs which makes available $35 million to employers for investments in equipment and other technologies that help reduce the frequency and severity of workplace injuries. Additionally, he focused portions of his testimony on the BWC’s continued investments in research and development of personal protective equipment through the agency’s Workforce Safety and Innovation Center. 

In all, the BWC budget proposes spending approximately $755 million over the next biennium which represents a less than 2% increase from the current year.  

Industrial Commission Chairman Jim Hughes shared highlights from the Industrial Commission budget bill – House Bill 32 – and how the Commission is responsible for hearing appeals of workers’ compensation claims from both employees and employers alike. The Industrial Commission budget proposes spending a total of $111.11 across the next two years which is an increase of slightly more than 2% from the current year. Operating expenses such as of employee salaries, information technology infrastructure, and rental costs account for a vast majority of the Commission’s budget.
House Speaker and GOP Caucus Outline Priority Bills for the Ohio House
Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) was joined last Wednesday by several members of the House Majority Caucus to unveil priority bills for the 135th General Assembly. Under the theme “Ohio is Our Home”, the House announced 12 priority bills under the banner of “growing our economy, protecting Ohio families, and educating our communities.” Details on each of the bills are as follows:

House Bill 1 – A measure to “lower and flatten” state taxes involving an end to the state-funded 10% rollback on local property taxes while also lowering the taxable value of those properties. General Revenue Fund dollars freed up through this elimination would then be used to lower state income taxes.
House Bill 2 - Invest in projects across the state to foster economic growth and community development.
House Bill 3 – The creation of a workforce housing state tax credit program to develop new housing units and allow Ohio to draw down additional federal funds for multifamily development. This measure is also one of the Ohio Chamber’s Top Ten Policy Priorities.
House Bill 4 – Legislation designed to prevent financial institutions or other businesses from boycotting or discriminating against certain companies or customers, primarily through environmental, social or governance standards.
House Bill 5 - Makes adoption more accessible and affordable for Ohio families.
House Bill 6 – Also known as the “Save Women’s Sports” bill in the last general assembly, HB 6’s stated intent is to “protect the integrity of girls’ sports and make certain that biological males cannot compete in female-only athletics.”
House Bill 7 – A bolstering of the state’s infant and maternal health efforts in their first 1,000 days to address mortality rates.
House Bill 8 – A codification of parental rights in K-12 education.
House Bill 9 - Address the K-12 teacher retention crisis through the creation of a loan repayment program.
House Bill 10 - Secure commitment for the ‘Fair School Funding Plan’ that is based on the cost of providing a quality education. This bill reaffirms the state’s intent to continue phase-in of the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan.
House Bill 11  – A reintroduction of the “Backpack Bill” from the last general assembly, which allows students to have their state educational funding follow them to the school that best suits their needs, including towards private school tuition.
House Bill 12 – Companion legislation to Senate Bill 1, which restructures both the Ohio Department of Education and State Board of Education to provide stronger emphasis on workforce skills and career readiness. This measure is also one of the Ohio Chamber’s Top Ten Policy Priorities, and the OCC has already testified in favor of Senate Bill 1.

Aside from House Bills 3 and 12, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has taken no positions nor made any judgement on the remaining House priority bills. We encourage all of our members to communicate any feedback on these and other pieces of legislation to our OCC Government Affairs Team to ensure we are properly engaged and advocating in the best interests of Ohio’s business community.
Transportation Update
A substitution budget was unveiled on Sunday. The substitution language includes $1 billion for rural highways among other changes. The transportation budget must pass by March 31, 2023 to ensure funding is available by the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2023.
Tax Update
A quiet week on the legislative front. The Ohio Chamber Tax Committee met on Friday and discussed several ideas for improvements to the current tax code. The Tax Committee also mapped out the program for the August 2023 Ohio Tax Conference. The preliminary agenda will be circulated to the meeting attendees for final edits. A final program agenda will be ready for publication by April. There is still time to send in nominations for the Tax Hall of Fame.