GCP Testifies in Support of House Bill to Prohibit Bag Ban

Last week, the GCP Advocacy team submitted written testimony in support of Ohio House Bill 242 (HB 242), which prohibits the imposition of a tax or fee on auxiliary containers like plastic grocery bags. In its testimony, the GCP urged lawmakers to further study how to reduce the use of non-reusable auxiliary containers while preserving the economic vitality of Ohio’s small business and retailer communities. HB 242 was introduced in May and has been heard twice in the House State and Local Government Committee.

When Cuyahoga County introduced and later passed an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags countywide, the GCP supported an amendment to delay the implementation of the ban pending further examination. In the case of this ban, the GCP was concerned about the potential impact on retailers that make up membership. For example, Heinen’s, a Cleveland-based, family-owned grocery store, could see costs for bags increase by $2 million per year because of the switch to paper bags. Lawmakers owe a commitment to Ohio’s small businesses and retailers—as well as to everyday consumers and families—to further study the potential environmental and economic impacts of local bag bans, fees, or taxes.

The GCP Advocacy team will continue to be a part of discussions related to HB 242 as it moves through the legislature. To read the GCP’s testimony on HB 242, click here. You can read additional coverage of HB 242 here.

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  • Next up: GCP Backs Occupational License Review, Anti-Predatory Business Claim Legislation

    GCP Backs Occupational License Review, Anti-Predatory Business Claim Legislation

    As “lame duck” session kicks into high gear in Columbus, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is advocating on behalf of the Northeast Ohio business community on various fronts.  Among the many initiatives being considered, before the 132nd Ohio General Assembly breaks by the end of the year, are two separate bills GCP recently presented proponent testimony on.

    The first would offer a regular review of Ohio occupational licensing boards and regulations and another responds to the issue of individuals filing predatory claims against businesses for technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    SB 255 would require the legislature to review occupational licensing boards regarding their sunset and the non-partisan Legislative Service Commission could perform assessments of occupational licensing bills and state regulation of occupations.  Licensing in Ohio has resulted in business people spending hundreds, in some cases, thousands of dollars to earn a license to begin their career.  This can be damaging – particularly for small businesses – for entry into the market and competition.  Click here to read GCP’s testimony on SB 255.

    HB 271 seeks to protect its original intent, which is to provide ADA accessible facilities.  GCP unequivocally supports the ADA’s mission and charge.  In addition, this legislation strives to prevent abuse of the ADA, particularly in instances where demand letters are sent to businesses for minor and unnoticeable violations of the act.  Click here for our full statement on HB 271. 

    Want to learn more about how you can get involved on the policy issues that impact your business?  Click here.

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  • Next up: GCP CEO Joe Roman Moderates Discussion With U.S. Small Business Administrator

    GCP CEO Joe Roman Moderates Discussion With U.S. Small Business Administrator

    On February 7, Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), took part in a discussion with Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) President and CEO Joe Roman at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).  Among the GCP small business members in attendance were National Small Business Association Board Chair Sharon Toerek, SBA Regulatory Fairness Board member Keith Ashmus, and Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) Advisory Board Chair John Young.

    Dr. Alex Johnson, Tri-C President and GCP Board member, got the conversation started by welcoming the SBA Administrator back to Cleveland.  Roman moderated the conversation with Administrator McMahon which covered topics ranging from the recent State of the Union address to the empowerment of some of northeast Ohio’s most valuable resources – entrepreneurs that innovate and contribute to a thriving economy.  In Ohio, nearly 945,000 small businesses employ 2.2 million people or 46 percent of the private workforce.

    Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose were also on hand to provide remarks, discussing the importance of the regular inspection of government regulations for small businesses and the relatively low cost associated with filing and starting a business in Ohio.  

    The group capped off an informative morning with a tour of the college’s Manufacturing Technology Center.  The center houses workforce, community and economic development programs associated with manufacturing and health care industry solutions.

    Want to learn more about GCP small business advocacy priorities in 2019 and beyond?  Click here

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  • Next up: GCP-Commissioned Tax Analysis Released

    GCP-Commissioned Tax Analysis Released

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s (GCP) strategic plan, ForwardCLE, calls for a better understanding of our collective tax climate and today data from a GCP tax analysis was released.  GCP members commissioned EY to analyze our region’s tax environment and its impact on growth and competitiveness as compared to ten similar markets in the Great Lakes region:  Buffalo, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.  The information included in the tax study resulted in GCP members calling for increased community collaboration and the exploration of potential systematic solutions.

    “The study shows our residents face a disproportionate tax burden,” said Scott Chaikin, Executive Chairman of Dix & Eaton and Chair of GCP’s Board of Directors.  “It also points to the need for systemic solutions.  We will do additional research to better understand specific opportunities to improve our systems and structures and will convene future conversations with other community stakeholders to explore what changes are possible.”

    The study concludes most of Cleveland’s advantage is a result of state-level tax competitiveness.  While absolutes cannot be surmised from any one tax study, no matter how comprehensive it is, the initial data also explains Cleveland’s per capita state and local tax collections ($5,426) exceed the average burden ($4,794) levied on comparable cities in our region.  At the state level, Ohio’s taxes are relatively competitive with peer states, with per capita taxes of $2,469, or 7% lower than the $2,646 benchmark city average per capita tax burden.  In contrast, Cleveland’s local taxes averaging $2,958 per capita are 38% higher than the $2,148 average per capita tax collections in the benchmark cities.  The study did not examine the level of revenue sharing between state and local governments.

    “Initially, the study was intended to help us better understand our voting decisions and their collective impact, but the stark difference in our tax levels with neighboring peers shows that a ballot-by-ballot approach isn’t sufficient to create a positive competitive trend for the future,” GCP President and CEO Joe Roman stated.

    Feedback from GCP members will continue to be the key part of decision-making going forward, as GCP uses the data compiled in the tax study to analyze specific proposals when an institution or campaign is seeking GCP’s endorsement of a specific issue.

    “The purpose of this crucial exercise is not to single out any one tax or entity, but to better understand how our community should critique and properly question levy requests in the future,” added Kevin Johnson, Managing Partner at NexGen Interactive and the Chair of the GCP study group.  “Thankfully, we live in a generous region and GCP members understand the strong need for many of these worthy initiatives.  Frankly, we’ve been supportive of most of them. We also recognize, however, that we need more information, our fellow citizens are depending on our support, and our cumulative ability to raise taxes is not limitless.”

    GCP will strongly encourage entities that seek to alter a tax structure to clearly communicate their objectives early in each election cycle and adhere to GCP’s member-driven review process and new protocols on awarding campaign funds. Included among the many factors our business leaders will continue to consider, when analyzing future tax proposals that could harm our progress, are: the purpose of the tax levy; the services or benefits it aims to provide the taxpayers; the precedent in other communities for the type of levy and a comparison of rates; alternatives considered by the proponents; and, accountability measures built into the proposal.

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  • Next up: GCP Members Recommend 2019-2020 Advocacy Priorities

    GCP Members Recommend 2019-2020 Advocacy Priorities

    The mission of the Greater Cleveland Partnership is to mobilize private-sector leadership, expertise, and resources to create attractive business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve economic prosperity in the region. GCP releases a member-driven public policy agenda every two years.

    Growth and innovation will require a continued focus on fundamental priorities:

    1.) An Adaptable Government and Public Sector;

    2.) A Sustainable & Predictable Tax & Regulatory Environment, and

    3.) Talent Development & Retention to Advance Business Growth.  Forging an inclusive and equitable region will continue to be a fundamental part of GCP’s priorities. Below is a summary of the 2019 – 2020 GCP Public Policy Agenda.

    An adaptable government and public sector

    • Protect and renew the Ohio Third Frontier program.
    • Provide grant assistance for brownfield redevelopment based on site strategies and connection to major job hubs.
    • Explore possible JobsOhio enhancement in Cleveland and other metro areas of Northeastern Ohio—built off the complimentary approach established between JobsOhio, TeamNEO, and GCP in 2017.
    • Maintain investments in the Ohio New Market and Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.
    • Create a statewide Opportunity Zone to compliment the federal program in underserved communities.
    • Restore state general revenue funding for public transit.
    • Encourage municipal shared services policies to continue and evolve.
    • Protect Ohioans’ data and transactions with sustainable, user-friendly processes for government interactions – permits, certificates, licenses – through secure technologies.
    • Guard the Ohio Constitution via greater petition transparency.

    Sustainable and predictable tax and regulatory environment

    • Implement greater government efficiencies without shifting tax burdens from one group of businesses to another.
    • Preserve the Ohio small business tax deduction on the first $250,000 in business income.
    • Lower or maintain the commercial activity tax (CAT) rate and uphold the exemption level.
    • Encourage entities that seek to alter a tax structure to adhere to GCP’s new levy protocol.
    • Reduce the complexity of regulatory compliance utilizing new or existing processes.
    • Expand the Ohio Common Sense Initiative (CSI) with proper legislative oversight.
    • Support and monitor the public review of occupational licensing boards.
    • Ensure employers are not prohibited from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace policy, or zero-tolerance drug policy.

    Talent development and retention to advance business growth

    • Audit Ohio’s workforce development and job training programs to assess performance and determine what “flex” funding is available to steer towards priority opportunities.
    • Support the scale and growth of industry sector partnerships through an RFP process in core industries like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, infrastructure, and information technology.
    • Maintain the Job Creation Tax Credit program.
    • Increase funding for incumbent workforce training.
    • Develop a population growth agenda to assist in retaining Ohio’s best talent, including supporting the creation of immigration hubs in key regions of the state.
    • Reestablish the Minority Business Advisory Council (MBAC) and include representation from JobsOhio leadership.
    • Review the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) programs for necessary legislative and regulatory reforms.
    • Encourage state funded organizations to achieve a minimum of 15% spending with minority businesses.
    • Create additional opportunities and improve access to early-stage and working capital—particularly for small and minority businesses statewide.
    • Support long-term immigration reform at the federal level in addition to comprehensive H-1B visa reform that increases the number of visas for highly skilled talent.

    Fundamental priorities

    • Advocate for LGBTQ protections that add gender identity and sexual orientation to the protected classes under civil rights laws.
    • Continue to support the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools.
    • Oppose any efforts by the legislature to discontinue the Historic Preservation Tax Credit or convert it into a block grant.
    • Support reauthorization of the EB-5 program in the short-term and permanency long-term.
    • Support the development of transformational public projects, such as development along the lakefront and Cuyahoga River, including Irishtown Bend and the Flats; Opportunity Corridor and the W. 25th Street Corridor, including the MetroHealth Campus Transformation project; and support for the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
    • Support business expansion and development opportunities at NASA Glenn Research Center.
    • Create a state Office of Military and Federal Affairs to ensure a single point of contact for Ohio on defense and federal asset issues.
    • Obtain commitments for an international air service attraction fund to attract a direct flight to Europe on a full-service airline.
    • Preserve Ohio’s CyberOhio Advisory Board and enhance technology industry support services and resources.
    • Encourage policies that provide incentives for utilities to offer businesses opportunities that leverage energy efficiency programming; recognize it is equally important utilities are provided the level of elasticity needed to meet state mandated energy benchmarks.
    • Support Medicaid expansion in Ohio.
    • Study health care mandates that limit an employer’s ability to offer coverage.
    • Improve the solvency of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system.
    • Guard workers’ compensation safety education assistance and transitional work programs.

    Collective action and partnerships

    • Continue to lead and engage with state and national coalitions that advance GCP’s work.
    • Grow the GCP Political Action Committee (GCPPAC) by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government.

    Read the full agenda.

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  • Next up: GCP Offers Testimony in Support of the Ohio Fairness Act

    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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