Governor Signs Cyber Legislation

Senate Bill 220 – legislation that would provide a legal safe harbor opportunity for covered entities that willingly implement a specified cybersecurity program – was signed into law by the Governor on Friday, August 3. GCP was in strong support of the legislation because it provides an incentive to encourage businesses to achieve a higher level of cybersecurity. The initiative is not a mandate. 

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    Over the course of the last year, GCP and our members have had encouraging dialogue, resulting in the introduction of this legislation. 

    Language was also included in the bill that generally states: 

    • "A record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be … an electronic record.”

    • “A signature that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be … an electronic signature.”

    “We have increasingly identified cybersecurity as a critical issue and significant challenge,” said Tim Opsitnick, VP & General Counsel at Technology Concepts & Design, Inc. “We applaud this legislation because it is a voluntary action that recognizes the difficulty businesses have in protecting their ventures, their workforce, and those with whom they do business. In addition, provisions in the bill clearly begin to signal Ohio is “open for business” with blockchain technologies.” 

    Tim Opsitnick serves as Vice Chair of the Greater Cleveland Partnership Government Affairs Council and Chair of the COSE Small Business Caucus.

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    Next up: Governor's Budget Proposal Places Priority on Small Business Income Tax Relief

    Governor's Budget Proposal Places Priority on Small Business Income Tax Relief

    Governor John Kasich unveiled the priorities of his biennial budget proposal, “Blueprint for a New Ohio”, on Monday and more detailed language is coming in the days ahead.  While the pillars of the Governor’s plan looks to address many important issues – K-12 education, college affordability, health care, job placement, and job retention to name a few – his proposal to eliminate tax on income from all small businesses with annual gross receipts under $2 million has to be considered the headlining issue for many small business owners.  

    Governor John Kasich unveiled the priorities of his biennial budget proposal, “Blueprint for a New Ohio”, on Monday and more detailed language is coming in the days ahead.  While the pillars of the Governor’s plan looks to address many important issues – K-12 education, college affordability, health care, job placement, and job retention to name a few – his proposal to eliminate tax on income from all small businesses with annual gross receipts under $2 million has to be considered the headlining issue for many small business owners.  

    According to the Governor’s Office, elimination of state income taxes on Ohio’s 971,000 owners of small businesses (defined as those with gross annual receipts less than $2 million) retroactive to the beginning of 2015, would save those filing as pass-through entities an estimated $696 million over two years.  For those businesses larger than $2 million, the governor's budget would maintain Ohio's 50 percent tax deduction on the owner's first $250,000 of net business income.

    “At a minimum, the Governor’s budget is a strong signal that he views small business vitality as a priority and that he believes that creating an environment in which we can continue to grow Ohio’s current small businesses is key to Ohio’s future,” said COSE President and Executive Director Steve Millard. “Like the focus on reducing outdated and ineffective small business regulation through the Common Sense Initiative in his first term, we appreciate the fact that the Governor is leading the discussion to double down and recognize the economic potential of our state’s smallest companies.” 

    “The Governor’s proposal would result in almost a million small businesses in Ohio that will have additional resources to invest in the growth of their companies and employment of Ohio’s residents,” said Millard.  In addition, the Governor is calling for personal income tax rates to be cut for all Ohio taxpayers by an additional 23 percent over two years and tax cuts for low- and middle-income Ohioans by increasing the state income tax personal exemption.  

    “Beyond the specific cuts to small business income tax, the governor’s budget is aimed at moving Ohio to a tax system based on consumption instead of income,” said Millard.  “COSE has been a supporter of similar approaches to taxation, like the Fair Tax, that encourage savings and tax purchases beyond necessities based on consumption.”

    So, how does the Governor propose the income tax cuts be paid for?

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    Ohio's cigarette tax would go from $1.25 to $2.25 per pack; the tax on other tobacco products would rise to a level equivalent to the cigarette tax. The link between wellness and smoking cessation is clear and this change would continue to push our state in the right direction.

    • Ohio's current severance tax is 20 cents on a barrel of oil and 3 cents on an MCF (thousand cubic foot) unit of natural gas.  The Governor proposes fixed rates for crude oil and natural gas of 6.5 percent when sold at the wellhead, and a lower rate of 4.5 percent for natural gas and natural gas liquids when sold downstream.
    • The commercial activity tax (CAT) exemption level would remain the same under the Governor’s proposal as it is today, but the CAT rate would increase from 0.26 to 0.32 percent.  It’s also worth noting that the annual minimum fee would decrease from $800 to $150 for those small businesses with gross receipts of $2 million or less, effectively mitigating the costs those small businesses would be subjected to by a CAT rate increase. The CAT increase proposal on businesses over $2 million per year is noted as the key funding vehicle for small business tax relief.
    • The sales tax “hold back” of 0.75% to cover administrative and reporting costs is also being capped for companies at $1,000 per month.  This is equivalent to what a company would hold back for those costs at $2 million of sales per month.  Above that, the Governor’s budget states that technology tools make additional reimbursement unnecessary.
    • A sales tax adjustment from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent.  This means consumers would pay an additional 50 cents on a $100 purchase (while maintaining tax exemptions for groceries, prescriptions and other necessities).  The budget proposal also seeks to broaden Ohio's sales tax base to include additional services such as cable TV subscriptions, parking, lobbying, public relations, market research/opinion polling, management consulting, travel packages and tours, and debt collection services.

    “While we know the Governor’s proposal is merely the beginning of Ohio’s budget process, COSE will work to ensure the entirety of any tax package proposal does not lead to unintended consequences incurred on small business,” stated Millard.  “Good tax policy considers all the potential ramifications associated with any reforms that are made and we look forward to discussing the importance of a strong small business community in this state with our elected officials in Columbus.  The strong statement of support for the smallest businesses in our state reflected in this budget proposal is consistent with an emerging realization that growth for our state or any community is tied more strongly to the continued opportunity and growth of its current companies.”  

    The Ohio House of Representatives will consider the budget bill first through mid-April while the Ohio Senate is expected to complete its work in June. The Governor must sign the new budget into law by June 30, 2015. 


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    Next up: Greater Cleveland Partnership Hosts CSI Ohio

    Greater Cleveland Partnership Hosts CSI Ohio

    Having reviewed thousands of rules that impact the business community since its inception, Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI) has provided a model for addressing dated regulations. Last Tuesday, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) hosted CSI’s third Small Business Advisory Council meeting of the year. The goal?  Shine additional light on a necessary, but often overlooked part of government—state regulatory requirements—and support the Northeast Ohio business community through continued representation on the CSI Small Business Advisory Council.

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    Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor attended the morning session and provided an update on the progress of the Ohio Business Gateway Modernization Project and previewed CSI’s year-to-date results ahead of its pending 2018 Mid-Year Report. The afternoon session featured speakers from JobsOhio, JumpStart, and the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

    Our members have been active advocates for regulatory reform and simplification to ensure they are not disproportionately weighed-down by requirements that inhibit growth. The GCP has generated communication and understanding between the legislative and executive branches of government and business owners on legislative proposals that aim to reform state regulatory practices. And, our membership played a lead role in developing and designing an electronic state regulatory toolkit to help Ohio’s small businesses navigate regulatory matters.

    The GCP continues to advocate for that work and encourages federal and local authorities to take similar steps to support challenges for small business owners. To read more about some of the GCP’s latest advocacy work related to state rules and regulations click here.

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    Next up: Greater Cleveland Partnership Joins Coalition Committed to Non-discrimination

    Greater Cleveland Partnership Joins Coalition Committed to Non-discrimination

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s board leadership has voted for the organization to become a member of Ohio Business Competes, a non-partisan coalition of businesses committed to achieving non-discrimination policies to add protections in housing and employment for the LGBTQ community statewide. More than 200 businesses and organizations are a part of the coalition, including many GCP member companies. The driving factor for participating is the economic case—Ohio cannot truly be competitive in attracting the best and brightest talent if basic civil rights are not available for all current and future employees.

    “GCP cannot truly drive successful business and economic development goals for the region without the development and implementation of clear diversity and inclusion strategies that advance productivity, innovation and economic growth,” says GCP’s President and CEO Joe Roman. “We have heard our member companies loud and clear on this issue and are proud to be a member of Ohio Business Competes.”

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    Next up: Webinar: Grow Your Business with Email and Social Media

    Webinar: Grow Your Business with Email and Social Media

    Understand what you need to do to leverage the power of email marketing and social media campaigns to engage with customers.


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    Next up: Guest Columnist: Lt. Governor Mary Taylor

    Guest Columnist: Lt. Governor Mary Taylor

    On May 12th, and as part of our annual COSE Day at the Capitol event in Columbus, small business owners honored Lt. Governor Mary Taylor with a COSE Small Business Advocate Award in recognition of her commitment to create a more-effective regulatory climate for Ohio’s small business community through Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI). To learn more about CSI, how it can help you, and other initiatives the Lt. Governor is working on, we hope you enjoy the following guest column from Lt. Governor Mary Taylor

    On May 12th, and as part of our annual COSE Day at the Capitol event in Columbus, small business owners honored Lt. Governor Mary Taylor with a COSE Small Business Advocate Award in recognition of her commitment to create a more-effective regulatory climate for Ohio’s small business community through Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI). To learn more about CSI, how it can help you, and other initiatives the Lt. Governor is working on, we hope you enjoy the following guest column from Lt. Governor Mary Taylor…in her words…

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    A Commitment to Ohio’s Small Businesses 

    By Lt. Governor Mary Taylor

    As the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) hosted their Legislative Day this month at the Statehouse, I had the opportunity to join the organization for a discussion regarding the progress we have made over the past four years in making Ohio more small business friendly. 

    Governor John R. Kasich and I believe that Ohio and communities cannot be strong without equally strong, financially healthy hometown businesses.  That is why we have been so focused on helping our small businesses succeed.

    As a small business owner alongside my husband, I know firsthand that our small businesses face too many headwinds – from federal health care mandates, to unpredictable situations, regulations, challenging bank loans, you name it.  In Ohio, we are determined instead to have state government be a positive force, a wind at the backs of small businesses, moving them forward. 

    Our recent proposal to eliminate income taxes for small businesses with less than $2 million in gross receipts builds upon our progress to help all types of businesses in Ohio – including a 50 percent small business tax deduction we instituted two years ago for all businesses on their first $250,000 of business income.

    When I became Ohio’s Lt. Governor four years ago, I very quickly saw evidence of Gov. Kasich’s commitment to help small businesses thrive.  One of his first acts in office was to ask me to lead Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI). This initiative is a comprehensive effort to reform and improve Ohio’s regulatory environment, helping clear roadblocks that make it difficult for businesses to succeed.

    Our goal was simple: improve the regulatory rule-making process by encouraging more interaction with stakeholders, while requiring a common-sense justification for any regulatory impact on job creators. Through CSI we have created a Small Business Advisory Council to maintain our focus on small businesses. We are fortunate to have two COSE members, Mike Baach (Philpott Solutions Group) and Michael Canty (Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding) serving on this Council to provide guidance as we continue to streamline the regulatory process.  I’m pleased to report that we’ve made a lot of progress with CSI and will continue to focus on this important mission up until our last day in office.

    Other Administration accomplishments to help small business include: $2 billion in Workers Compensation rebates, lower workers compensation rates, new workforce programs, infrastructure improvements, and reforms to Ohio’s health care system – all designed to help businesses have the right economic climate for success. 

    As the governor likes to say, “It’s only halftime in Ohio.” It’s a game our state is winning, but we hope you can help us advocate on new reforms that will further advance Ohio’s progress and take us to the next level for a prosperous future.



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