GCP Offers Testimony in Support of the Ohio Fairness Act

Last week, GCP submitted proponent testimony supporting the passage of Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), or the Ohio Fairness Act, to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 11 was introduced by Senator Nickie Antonio, who represents the western third of Cleveland and some nearby westside suburbs, in early February and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Speaking of the bill, Antonio stated, “It is a fair proposal that will simply give people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender the same freedom to work, the same freedom to live where they choose, and the same full, equal participation in society, just as anyone else in Ohio.”

In its testimony, GCP highlighted its history of support for statewide protections of the LGBTQ community. For example, GCP joined Ohio Business Competes, a non-partisan coalition of more than 600 companies and organizations—including member companies like Eaton, Sherwin-Williams, and KeyBank—that is committed to achieving nondiscrimination policies at the state level in order to attract the best talent, to increase business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships, and to grow Ohio’s economy. GCP believes that the Ohio legislature acting to ensure that basic civil rights of all Ohioans are protected remains a critical part of the work we must do to create the economic conditions for our state, and its residents, to thrive.

Read GCP's full testimony here.

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  • Next up: GCP Presents Small Business Award to Governor Mike DeWine

    GCP Presents Small Business Award to Governor Mike DeWine

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and its small business division the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) work daily to advocate on behalf of small businesses in Ohio and we depend greatly on public officials to work in partnership with the small business community to promote the wealth and success of a strong economy and infrastructure. When a policymaker performs an act that has a known positive benefit for small businesses, our small business members have historically believed it is important for those officials to be recognized for their support of our cause.  The purpose of recognizing public officials in this manner is to reward elected officials hard work and public service when they provide tools, resources, and incentives that aim to assist small businesses in a meaningful way.

    On May 2, the GCP’s volunteer leaders had an opportunity to meet with Governor Mike DeWine to discuss various, crucial public policy issues that impact Northeast Ohio. The meeting provided John Young (Chair, COSE Board of Directors) the chance to present a Small Business Advocate of the Year Award to the Governor for his leadership. 

    Tim Opsitnick (Chair, COSE Small Business Caucus) serves on Ohio’s CyberOhio Advisory Board and last year our members worked closely with then Attorney General DeWine to craft legislation—the Data Protection Act—that effectively became law in 2018 providing a legal safe harbor to covered entities that implement a specified cybersecurity program. The GCP strongly supported the opportunity for covered entities that implement a specified cybersecurity program because the legislation provides an incentive to encourage businesses to achieve a higher level of cybersecurity through voluntary action. The Data Protection Act encourages more businesses to properly protect their business ventures, their workforce, and those with whom they do business. 

    The former Attorney General and current Governor Mike DeWine was responsible for the strong promotion of the Data Protection Act—via the CyberOhio program—since its inception.

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  • Next up: GCP Questions Timing on Bag Ban

    GCP Questions Timing on Bag Ban

    GCP is supporting an amendment to delay the implementation of the Cuyahoga County Council proposal to ban retailer use of plastic single-use bags.  Last month, Cuyahoga County Council members introduced an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags countywide—with specified exclusions. The ban is poised to pass Council later this month with an effective date of October 2019. This action follows an emerging trend in the states of California and New York and municipalities across the country with similar bans. Meanwhile, many states (including Michigan and Indiana) have preempted local authority to regulate these types of containers. An amendment is expected in Council this week that would delay implementation of the ban pending further examination.    

    Cuyahoga County needs to do more work to study the potential impact of this ban, including the environmental and pollution impact. Alternatives to plastic bags may be more harmful to the environment and there needs to be more analysis on whether a ban would reduce pollution, particularly in Lake Erie. Cuyahoga County needs to do more to educate the public and retailers need more time to address the administrative burden of operating under a different regulatory framework in Cuyahoga County and to address the new associated costs on their business.

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  • Next up: GCP's Federal Tax Reform Priorities

    GCP's Federal Tax Reform Priorities

    Leadership in Washington continues to signal that Congress will attempt to tackle the first set of comprehensive tax reforms since the 1980’s. The final results are far from a finished product, but House and Senate Republican leaders recently crafted and unveiled their nine-page tax reform framework, in coordination with the Administration.

    Members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership believe a thoughtful, balanced, and competitive tax environment is critical to the success of our economy and that any reforms made must be all-inclusive and benefit all sectors of the business community.

    Corporate tax reform is essential to growth. And the GCP was encouraged the tax plan aims to cut the corporate rate and lower the top individual rate.

    It is equally important to recognize most small businesses are organized as pass-through entities—they file taxes through the individual income tax code instead of the corporate income tax code.  Therefore, the GCP is optimistic that the proposed tax framework strives to cut the rate for pass-through entities.        

    A tax overhaul and a long-term federal tax plan that results in parity for all business sizes and that incentivizes investment and employment must be realized. Having the tools—such as the New Market Tax Credit—to advance transformational physical development in the City of Cleveland is also crucial. Our membership recognizes the importance of this resource as the GCP has partnered with organizations in the past to secure the successful passage of a five-year extension of the federal New Market Tax Credit program, a financing option that has been instrumental for development in low-income communities.   

    The House Ways & Means Committee has set an ambitious timeline and will aim to mark-up and vote on legislation before Thanksgiving. The GCP will continue to represent our members’ interests throughout the debate and advocate for comprehensive federal tax and entitlement program reform.  

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  • Next up: GCP Small Business Member Testifies in Support of Business Income Deduction

    GCP Small Business Member Testifies in Support of Business Income Deduction

    On May 23, GCP member Michael Stanek, co-owner of Hunt Imaging and Cleveland Cycle Tours, testified in support of preserving the small business income deduction, which is slated to be reduced by 60% in the current biennial budget proposal, House Bill 166 (HB 166). Under the proposal, the amount of business income entities may deduct from their Ohio taxes would be reduced from $250,000 to $100,000. In addition, the proposal eliminates the flat 3% rate for qualified income above $250,000 and increases the rate to almost 5%. Stanek, who also served as the former Board Chair of the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), reiterated GCP’s support for various other budget proposals, but urged the Senate Finance Committee to consider the growing amount of feedback that GCP continues to receive from members related to this policy.

    GCP has supported the business income tax deduction since its inception because it allows small businesses to reinvest in their companies and employee compensation. GCP has also been a long-standing advocate for a sustainable and predictable tax and regulatory environment. From the time this deduction was enacted in 2013, it has undergone a series of legislative changes that have continually altered its impact on small business owners and their ability to plan for the future and grow. “My companies have consistently used our tax incentives to try to position ourselves for long-term success and stability,” Stanek stated in his testimony, highlighting several investments that have allowed both his companies to grow and expand into new markets. 

    GCP has called on its small business members to consider signing a letter to demonstrate their concern over the proposed changes. If you would like to show your support for the preservation of the small business tax deduction, you can opt-in to sign GCP’s letter here.

    You can read Michael Stanek’s full testimony here.

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  • Next up: GCP Testifies in Support of Benefit Corporations

    GCP Testifies in Support of Benefit Corporations

    Senate Bill 21 (SB 21), supported by Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and introduced by Sen. Matt Dolan, allows a business to be classified in Ohio as a benefit corporation—a corporation whose purposes includes having a positive effect or to reducing one or more negative effects of an artistic, charitable, cultural, economic, educational, environmental, literary, medical, religious, scientific, or technological nature for the benefit of persons, entities, communities, or interests aside from shareholders. 

    Benefit corporations often consider and balance the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders, but also on their stakeholders and their communities.  In addition, many benefit corporations offer annual benefit reports that assess their overall social and environmental impact.  According to provisions within SB 21, benefit corporations would not receive special government incentives to operate for a beneficial purpose and they are subject to all the other requirements imposed by Ohio law on for-profit corporations.

    More than 30 states have passed legislation related to benefit corporations.

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