GCP-Supported Hemp Cultivation Legislation Now Law

Ohio Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) was introduced in late February and the bill will formally decriminalize hemp in Ohio by excluding it from the definition of marijuana that is used to enforce controlled substance laws.  The latest federal farm bill, enacted by Congress, removed hemp from listing under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to regulate hemp through their departments of agriculture. 

A vast majority of states have now enacted legislation to establish industrial hemp cultivation and production programs.  Ohio did not have any specific laws in place regarding hemp or hemp products, and hemp and hemp products were prohibited in Ohio because hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana – cannabis.  Therefore, hemp was considered a Schedule I controlled substance under Ohio law.

SB 57 – a bill GCP supported – passed in July and was recently signed by the Governor with a clause that specifies that it will go into effect immediately, instead of roughly 90 days after the Governor signed it.  The reason is because Ohio is behind other states and the Department of Agriculture needs to set up the program so farmers can plant and have a harvest next spring.  Also, the law includes provisions allowing the release of CBD products that authorities have seized under some circumstances, and the legislature wants people to be able to get their products back quickly.

In line with federal law, SB 57 allows for the sales of hemp, clearly defining hemp and marijuana as different.  Our membership sees merit in aligning state and federal laws – as it relates to hemp – allowing for a responsible, reputable hemp market with the potential to expand jobs and increase prosperity in Ohio.

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  • Next up: GLMCC Leads Congressional Staff Briefing on Business Case for Immigration

    GLMCC Leads Congressional Staff Briefing on Business Case for Immigration


    Last week, leaders from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) held a congressional staff briefing in Washington DC in partnership with the New American Economy (NAE), a research and advocacy organization that promotes smart immigration policies that help grow the economy. The GLMCC supports long-term immigration reform that will enhance the region’s talent pipeline, grow the population, contribute to the local tax base, and create new businesses.

    During the briefing, which focused on the business case for immigration, the NAE highlighted its latest research about the impact of immigrants on the Great Lakes regional economy. Notably, Alesha Washington, Vice President of Advocacy at GCP and Director of the GLMCC, unveiled the Coalition’s white paper, Supporting Place-Based Immigration in the Great Lakes Region.

    For the small business community, place-based immigration policies are key to retaining and growing a talented workforce in emerging industries. The GLMCC continues to engage federal lawmakers on immigration reform that will infuse highly skilled newcomers into communities that need strengthened talent pipelines.

    To view the NAE’s latest research on immigrant impact in the Great Lakes region, click here. To learn more about the work of the GLMCC, click here.

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  • Next up: GLMCC Supports Passage of USMCA

    GLMCC Supports Passage of USMCA


    Last week, the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) announced its support for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), after careful vetting with coalition members. GCP serves as a leading chamber of the GLMCC—a growing collective of chambers of commerce across the Great Lakes region that jointly advocate on core policy issues.

    The USMCA modernizes NAFTA to be more compatible with the economic environment of the present. It is especially crucial for the Great Lakes region that North American countries maintain strong trade relationships. Eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces make up the region and are responsible for 50 percent of the goods transported across the northern border, making it a $6 trillion economy.

    North American trade supports 12 million U.S. jobs, and the GLMCC recognizes the absolute necessity of preserving those positions. GLMCC has long held a "do no harm" position on any trade policy. In this case, upholding that policy prompts urging the Trump Administration and Congress to approve the USMCA.

    The legislatures of all three countries involved in the USMCA must approve the changes before it can be implemented. Mexico was the first do so in June 2019. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made efforts to have discussions with President Trump concerning the deal. The Trump Administration is set on passing the USMCA with Congress this year.

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  • Next up: Governor DeWine Chief of Staff Meets with GCP Members

    Governor DeWine Chief of Staff Meets with GCP Members


    Last week, members of the GCP Government Affairs Council met with Laurel Dawson, Chief of Staff for Governor Mike DeWine. The meeting was a chance for leaders in the Northeast Ohio business community to express their policy priorities and talk about the economic vitality of our region. It also served as a valuable touchpoint for businesses and government to connect, discussing a wide range of issues like workforce development, transportation, and innovation.

    Laurel has led a highly respected professional career in public administration and management, with over 40 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She served as Cabinet Director to former Ohio Governor George Voinovich and as Chief of Staff to Congressman and later U.S. Senator Mike DeWine. Laurel is a graduate of Miami University and holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from American University.

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  • Next up: Governor DeWine Signs Biennial State Operating Budget

    Governor DeWine Signs Biennial State Operating Budget

    Ohio’s process for a biennial spending bill that sets the state FY2020 – 2021 budget has concluded.  The GCP Public Policy Agenda, based on feedback from the NE Ohio business community, focuses on three leading areas to allow for and advance growth and innovation in Northeast Ohio: An Adaptable Government & Public Sector; A Sustainable & Predictable Tax & Regulatory Environment; Talent Development & Retention to Advance Business Growth. Below is a summary of a few of the headline policy issues that are of importance to GCP members – many of which, the GCP advocacy team have been deeply engaged in – and how these issues were addressed in Ohio’s new budget.

    Business Income Deduction (BID) / Taxes

    Since its inception a few years ago, GCP members have maintained that preserving Ohio’s small business tax deduction on the first $250,000 in business income allows entrepreneurs greater ability to plan and invest in their companies and workforce. 

    The future of the BID was in jeopardy as state budget talks progressed, but in the end the deal kept the first $250,000 of income for limited liability corporations and other business entities tax-free and maintained an existing 3% flat rate on income above that.  Language was included that make lawyers and lobbyists ineligible for the BID; this change was supposedly meant to guard against individuals who utilize the BID and form businesses without hiring any employees.

    Over the years and consistently throughout the budget process, GCP members continued to provide examples of the importance of the BID and urged against shifting the tax burden from one group of taxpayers to another.  GCP applauds elected leaders for their support of the business community on this key issue.

    The new budget also mirrored other GCP tax priorities by maintaining today’s sales tax base, the current commercial activity tax (CAT) rate, and upholding today’s CAT exemption level.

    The bill effectively eliminated taxes for people in Ohio’s lowest two tax brackets and cut other tax rates by 4%.

    Lastly, the legislation set a threshold of $100,000 in Ohio sales or 200-plus transactions in Ohio for sales tax collection by online sellers, as proposed by the House, while adopting Senate changes to the conditions under which a "marketplace facilitator" must collect sales taxes.

    Regulatory Reform

    Ohio’s signed budget includes provisions that would require state agencies to review and repeal regulatory restrictions over the course of the next four years. GCP submitted testimony numerous times, on behalf of our members, in support of this effort over the course of the last two years.  Congruent with the GCP Public Policy Agenda, our members believe regulatory restrictions should continually be evaluated and focus on consistency and predictability – especially for small or middle-market businesses that may struggle to comply. 

    Qualified Energy Project Exemption

    The state budget extends, by two years from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2022, the deadline by which the owner or lessee of a qualified renewable energy project may apply for a property tax exemption. And, it clarifies the calculation of payments-in-lieu-of taxes, paid by solar energy projects that receive the exemption.

    Medical Marijuana

    A GCP Board member serves on the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, continually looking out for the interests of employers. Ohio’s budget requires the Ohio State Highway Patrol to purchase drug testing equipment for the purpose of determining the level of THC in marijuana or hemp.

    Opportunity Zones

    The final bill creates an Opportunity Zone Investment tax credit equal to 10% of an individual’s investment in Ohio Opportunity Zone investment funds, up to $1 million per biennium. GCP supported an amendment—to create an Opportunity Zone Study Committee to study impact investment strategies that support more highly distressed rural and urban communities—that was not included in the final bill.

    School Funding

    Governor DeWine vetoed a minimum per-student funding guarantee for all school districts, which would have set the minimum at the amount of $1,300 per student. The final bill appropriated $275 million in FY2020 and $400 million in FY2021 for wraparound student wellness and success services.

    Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation / Industrial Commission Budgets

    GCP offers a group rated workers’ compensation program that can provide savings on premiums and safety discount programs.  Ultimately, contentious provisions were removed from a state workers’ compensation funding bill that supports administrative costs to help injured workers receive care needed.  The Governor also recently signed into law a non-controversial $109.5 million two-year budget for the Ohio Industrial Commission, which handles appeals for workers’ compensation disputes. 

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  • Next up: Help Ensure our Community is Counted in 2020 Census

    Help Ensure our Community is Counted in 2020 Census


    Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau undertakes a mammoth task: counting all the people residing in the United States. This count affects the allocation of funding for our community’s public resources (e.g., roads, hospitals, schools), how we plan for the future, and our voice in government.

    Learn more here about the importance of the 2020 Census for you, your business and community.

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