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Two GCP priorities sent to Governor for signature; work remains

In the waning days and hours of a lame-duck session, many new initiatives bubbled up that would impact the business community. The Ohio General Assembly took action on two crucial Greater Cleveland Partnership priority issues, but work remains.

Legislation passed that includes provisions aimed at prohibiting Cleveland and other political subdivisions from establishing minimum wage rates that are different from the rate required by state law.

A related amendment also was included to grant a private employer the exclusive authority to govern matters concerning work hours, location of work, scheduling, and fringe benefits. The legislation, Senate Bill 331, was approved by the legislature and is awaiting Governor Kasich’s signature. The GCP supported these proposals since they could better help ensure that Cleveland is not placed at a significant disadvantage.

Separately, it is clear that Ohio’s current unemployment system must be re-structured for it to be viable in future generations. Earlier this year, the GCP supported and helped secure legislation that allowed the state to pay federal debt a year ahead of schedule, saving Ohio job creators millions of dollars in 2017.

However, reforms still need to be implemented that allow the unemployment fund to achieve a path toward solvency. While the legislature ended its session without fixing the state's unemployment compensation system as planned, some progress could have been made to that end.

The plan, which the legislature approved late last week via Senate Bill 235, calls for an actuary be hired to analyze various long-term solvency proposals going forward. The legislation—now headed to the Governor for possible approval—also would direct lawmakers, labor leaders, and business officials to negotiate a permanent agreement by April 1, 2017.