In 2022, the second year of the 134th Ohio General Assembly, NFIB will continue to work with both the legislature and the administration on workforce issues, particularly our members’ inability to fill open positions. Reviewing existing licensure barriers to allow more individuals to get to work quicker and right-sizing our regulatory scheme will also be priorities.
The operating budget passed in June of 2021 continues the successful TechCred program which allows employers to seek reimbursement for employee training/certification in “tech” related fields is of top importance. This important program helps to upskill current and future employees to meet our members’ skilled workforce needs. There have been thousands of credentials approved for reimbursement and NFIB is a participant in the review and recommendation process.
Healthcare also continues to be a policy area that is receiving a great deal of attention. Numerous health insurance mandates have been introduced and pressure will be increased for passage. Of particular note are cost-cap bills where providers or benefits are capped to the consumer, like insulin for example, but ultimately passed on to fully insured policyholders (i.e. you, our members) through higher premiums.
Unemployment compensation continues to be a ticking time bomb and needs to be addressed. Ohio used federal relief dollars to repay the over $1.4 billion unemployment loan avoiding an employer tax increase. We will continue to educate members of the legislature and administration on the necessary steps to modernize Ohio’s system.
2022 Areas of Interest in the Ohio Legislature
Unemployment Compensation – NFIB will keep pursuing our efforts to modernize Ohio’s system through the following policy changes: reasonably adjusting the taxable wage base to remain competitive with neighboring states, elimination of dependency allowance, freezing of automatic benefit escalator until solvency is achieved, and a reduction in weeks from 26 to 20. We expect conversations to continue on legislation that would put a constitutional amendment before voters to allow the bonding of any unemployment compensation debt. NFIB could only support this if it is done in conjunction with benefit adjustments.
Licensure/Regulatory Reform – The 2021 operating budget included a provision that requires state agencies to jettison two regulatory restrictive rules for every new one put in place. What did not get accomplished, at that time, was a 30 percent reduction in regulatory restrictions by state agencies. Senate Bill 9, accomplishes this clean-up of Ohio’s regulatory scheme. It has passed the Ohio Senate and is close to a vote out of committee in the Ohio House. Senate Bill 9 is a top priority for NFIB. Licensure reform is also a frequently discussed topic. Legislation reducing barriers of entry to occupations, including recognition of out-of-state licenses, to meet the growing concern of open positions with few to no qualified candidates is pending before both legislative chambers. We will continue to advocate on both of these issues as workforce needs remain a top concern amongst NFIB members.
Workforce Development – Ohio’s TechCred program is into the third year of operation. The state has a goal of 60 percent of the workforce having a degree or credential by 2025, and TechCred helps progress toward that goal. TechCred allows businesses to submit recommendations for new state-recognized credentials and receive reimbursement for employee training/credentialing. This program aims to meet the needs of Ohio’s employer needs with the added benefit of upskilling employees making them more in demand as well. We continue to participate in the credential review process and encourage all our members to submit recommendations for new credentials for approval.
Civil Justice/Tort Reform – Preserving Ohio’s positive civil justice climate will be another focus. Efforts will continue to carve out certain exceptions to existing tort caps. We are working through our civil justice group in Ohio to enact third-party litigation funding (TPLF) framework that requires third-party lawsuit funders to register with the state and disclose their interests. There is a growing industry where entities inject themselves into litigation by providing advancements to plaintiffs in hopes of a bigger return during settlement or court verdict. This can unnecessarily prolong litigation and thus costs to defend lawsuits.
Healthcare/ Health Insurance Policy – Multiple health insurance mandate bills have been proposed to expand or increase coverages on the small-group and individual markets. Education for the new members of the legislature on the negative consequences of health insurance mandates on the small-business community will continue. Pressures continue to build on providing relief for consumers through cost-cap bills especially on the heels of the pandemic and the economic hardships some have endured.
You can also look at the successes of the seven NFIB Key Votes signed into law by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine here.