January 31, 2023
Making Ohio More Business Friendly
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted recently made an announcement regarding their plans to eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements within the Ohio Administrative Code. 

The Ohio Chamber’s Blueprint for Ohio’s Economic Future, a comprehensive report that focuses on key areas for economic growth and improvement in Ohio, highlights the importance of removing excessive or unclear regulations at the state level. 

The Ohio Chamber believes that this will make Ohio a more business-friendly state, which will in turn improve its economy and overall quality of life. Thank you to Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted for the steps they are taking toward making Ohio a better state for business and for Ohioans as a whole.
Tax Update
It was another quiet week on the legislative front. The Senate caucuses were on retreat and the House of Representatives is still organizing committees and will be on retreat this week. For tax professionals we do know who will lead the House Finance Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee. The Finance Committee will hold hearings on the two-year budget and will be led by Representative Edwards; Representative LaRe will be vice-chair; and Representative Sweeney will be the ranking member. In the Ways & Means Committee, Representative Roemer will be the chair; Representative Merrin will be the vice-chair; and Representative Troy will be the ranking member.
While news on the legislative front was mostly quiet, a permanent Tax Commissioner was announced last week. Patricia Harris will be the new Tax Commissioner once confirmed by the Ohio Senate. According to a Governor DeWine press release, Harris began her career at BWC in 1991 as a claim representative, then throughout her career she took on multiple leadership positions. Since becoming the chief operating officer in September 2020, Harris has been responsible for projects that impact overall agency performance, customer service, budgeting and legislation. The Ohio Chamber congratulates Commissioner Harris on her new role. We hope she will attend an upcoming Ohio Chamber Tax Committee meeting.
BWC Poised to Lower Workers’ Compensation Premiums by 8%
Employers in Ohio are likely to receive another cut in their workers’ compensation premiums following the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Director’s first read on the proposed fiscal year 2024 premiums. During the Actuarial Committee meeting held on Thursday, BWC actuaries announced the proposal that would lower employer premiums 8 percent.  

This move is projected to save employers more than $90 million next year and follows a 10 percent reduction last year that saved employers more than $100 million in premium payments. 
Employer premiums for workers’ compensation are at historic lows thanks to shifts in the types of jobs performed in Ohio, safer manufacturing processes, and Bureau investments into safety grants. In fact, according to a national survey of workers’ compensation premiums, Ohio achieved their best ranking ever jumping to the 5th lowest rate of any state. In the same survey from 2008, Ohio had the third highest premium rates of any state.  

Following Thursday’s first read of the fiscal year 2024 premium rates at the Actuarial Committee, the BWC Board of Directors is likely to approve the premium reduction at their February Board meeting. Once approved, the new rates will take effect on July 1. 

If you are an employer in Ohio looking to save more money on your workers’ compensation premiums, you can join one of the Ohio Chamber’s group rating programs. These programs are available to employers of any size and may save you more than 50% on workers’ compensation costs. You can find out more about these programs by reaching out to Candace Frank at cfrank@ohiochamber.com.
Ohio Chamber Lends Voice to Housing Concerns
With the statewide housing shortages remaining a critical workforce challenge, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce was honored to participate in a panel discussion for members and staff of the new 135th Ohio General Assembly. The breakfast event, hosted by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), punctuated the need for affordable housing and state incentives to aid in new construction.
OCC Senior Vice President Rick Carfagna outlined the importance of housing stock as both an attraction tool to lure companies to Ohio, and as a retention tool for Ohio-based companies looking to expand their operational footprint.  He referenced several proposals the OCC supports, including the creation of a state-level Low Income Housing Tax Credit to stimulate new construction, a homebuyer savings act to assist Ohioans with down payments or closing costs, and reforms at the local level surrounding referendum abuse on zoning decisions.
Per the Ohio Housing Council, due to the shortage of affordable rental housing, nearly 400,000 Ohio households are rent burdened, meaning they spend over half their income on rent.  According to National Church Residences, the lack of available and affordable housing is especially problematic among Ohio’s population of older adults.  From 2015-2021, the number of senior households experiencing severe housing cost burdens rose 14.5%.  The number of Ohioans ages 65+ grew by the largest amount of any population group from 1970 to 2020, from 9.4% of the total population to 17.0%, and is anticipated to rise further in the coming decades.
The Ohio Chamber’s ongoing message to policymakers at all levels of government is to promote new construction and availability of housing stock across the board.  Additionally, workforce housing at affordable price points allows Ohioans to meet other household needs such as food, transportation, utilities, and personal services. The opportunity cost of these savings translates into new money spent locally that supports jobs and generates tax revenue.