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: Governor Expected to Approve Civil Liability Protections for Businesses

    Governor Expected to Approve Civil Liability Protections for Businesses


    Employers clearly have reasons to hesitate before making operating decisions due to unknown risks associated with the coronavirus and the potential legal liability they may face in a lawsuit alleging their actions are the reason someone was exposed to the coronavirus.

    Thanks to expected activity that continues in Columbus this week, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) expects legislation that the business community has been advocating for will be signed by the Governor, granting civil liability immunity for businesses, schools, health-care providers and other employers, as well as health-care workers, against lawsuits claiming they helped transmit the coronavirus.  The protection would extend through September of next year.

    Click here for a recent state advocacy communication GCP signed-on to, as part of a larger effort with various, diverse Ohio groups and organizations.

    Protecting employers and our health care providers for their essential work is critical.  And, approving state legislation that tackles these challenges can serve as the foundation of Ohio’s economic rebound by affording employers more predictability about their legal risks as they operate. 

    GCP appreciates Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof and House Speaker Bob Cupp for their leadership on this issue as we continued to work with legislative leaders and stress the importance of providing the business community with appropriate liability protection from litigation arising from the pandemic.

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  • Next up: Governor Signs Business Liability Legislation

    Governor Signs Business Liability Legislation


    On Monday, Governor Mike DeWine signed HB 606 into law during a virtual event. The legislation grants civil immunity to individuals, schools, health care providers, businesses, and other entities from lawsuits arising from exposure, transmission, or contraction of COVID-19. Lawsuits are still permitted in cases where someone is accused of helping to spread the virus through intentional or wanton misconduct or reckless disregard of the consequences. The immunity takes effect in 90 days and will run through September 30, 2021.

    “Employers have reason to hesitate before making operating decisions due to risks associated with the coronavirus and the potential legal liability they may face,” said Kevin Johnson of NexGenInteractive and Chair of the COSE Board of Directors. “Protecting employers and health care providers is critical. GCP appreciates Governor DeWine, Senate President Obhof, and Speaker Cupp for their leadership on this issue. The legislation that was approved will offer necessary liability protection from litigation arising from the pandemic while we do all that we can to safeguard our employees in a very challenging environment.”

    Click here for a recent state advocacy communication GCP signed-on to in support of the legislation, as part of a larger effort with various, diverse Ohio groups and organizations.

    GCP/COSE small business leaders, Kevin Johnson and Tim Opsitnick, participated in the virtual event as Governor DeWine officially approved the bill.

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  • Next up: Happy Halloween from COSE: Enjoy These Tricks and Treats from our Members

    Happy Halloween from COSE: Enjoy These Tricks and Treats from our Members

    We asked our COSE members to share their tricks to dealing with the global pandemic, as well as some special treats for you from their small businesses.


    ‘Tis the season for tricks and treats—and they aren’t just for kids anymore. In this Halloween article our COSE experts share their secrets to handling the COVID crisis, as well as special deals and offerings from their small businesses to you. 

    Nicole Ponstingle, COO/Partner at Pandata

    TRICK: At Pandata, we were able to immediately pivot to a remote work environment, which allowed for business continuity. We put an emphasis on the mental and physical well-being of our team through an initiative we call PandataCares. Alongside that, we have put an even greater focus on learning for our team, giving them access to courses and certifications that help us grow as a company, but also help them to hone their professional craft. 

    TREAT: If you would like to learn about how to use AI for competitive advantage, Pandata is offering $100 off the course AI & Data for Beginners with code: aldhubaib100. Register here

    Nevin Bansal, President/CEO of Outreach Promotional Solutions

    TRICK: We have expanded our product and service offerings and focused on selling those solutions that are still in high demand, and have sought out partnerships with reputable organizations to get in front of more businesses. We also established more creative ways to work virtually, using Zoom,, and other tools to make sure our team stays connected. The biggest thing is that—while we had to make some expense reductions—we actually increased our investment in sales and marketing to make sure we can capture new business and replace lost revenue.

    TREAT: At Outreach Promotional Solutions, we are offering 25% off our Website Design & Digital Marketing Services—including a free consultation/assessment. Contact us today.

    Monika Moss-Gransberry, President/CEO of MKM Management Consulting

    TRICK: Applying for everything I was eligible for such as PPP, EIDL and grants was my trick for surviving the pandemic. While some of my fellow business owners felt like they didn’t really need it, my approach was to get anything we were eligible for because we just don’t know how long this is going to last. That has allowed me to give free strategy sessions to my current and past clients to support them while they figure out how to survive in the short term.

    TREAT: We are offering a free strategy session to COSE members in support of their next level pivot in 2021—especially now that we know this pandemic will be here for a while and the recovery will be even longer. Schedule your free strategy session

    Raymond Graves, Lead Lender Relations Specialist at U.S. Small Business Administration, Cleveland District Office

    TRICK: The CARES Act provided generous funding to local Small Business Development Centers to hire expert consultants to help small businesses survive during this uncertain time. This expertise could include things like human resources, accounting and finance, international trade, digital marketing, and cyber security. Look it up, check it out, and see how they can help you grow.

    TREAT: SBA Paycheck Protection Program borrowers may be able to eliminate reductions to their forgiveness—caused by laying off employees or reducing payrates—by taking advantage of certain exceptions and safe harbors. Small dollar PPP borrowers (loans $50,000 and under) don’t even have to do that much—they only have to demonstrate eligible uses of funds, and apply for forgiveness specifically on SBA Form 3508S.

    Also, don’t forget to visit the SBA website to review upcoming training programs including New Lender Orientations and SBA Basics webinars, offered monthly.

    Timothy Dimoff, President of SACS Consulting and Security Services, Inc.

    TRICK: We are focusing on offering our services and products that will help our clients to deal with the COVID situation. We are in the security business, so we have focused on expanding and offering our security services and our expertise to help clients stay safe and to keep their employees and their customers safe.
    We are also offering more of our training products via technology such as webinars, etc. instead of in-person training.

    TREAT: We have joined forces with a medical entity and are offering a Rapid COVID Antibody Test that is very cost effective and offers results in 10 minutes. It can be conducted at our location or at the employer’s location. The advantage to the employer is that it may help to enable employees to return to work safely. Contact us today.


    Jim Smith, Global Executive Coach and Some-Times Troublemaker

    TRICK: I have three tricks that I've been using to cope during this global pandemic:

    1. CoachWalks. I crave human connection, but cannot meet clients in their offices or mine. As a break from endless Zoom calls, I occasionally meet local clients in the Metroparks where we can walk (the paths are six feet wide) and talk in the fresh air.

    2. Social Hours. I’ve said yes to many unstructured social gatherings where we all show up with coffee (AM) or another beverage (PM) and just chat! Sometimes we move through a series of group breakouts, just as at a real network event. It’s a reminder that Zoom is a wonderful tool for remaining in touch. 

    3. Reduce Zoom Fatigue. Studies have shown that “looking at yourself” all the time is a huge distraction and stressful for many. Once a meeting has started and I’m certain others can see me properly, I right click on my own image and choose Hide Self View. Especially when I’m talking only to one other person, it suddenly feels more like a normal 1:1 conversation across a table. 

    TREAT: Download these 13 Principles of Happiness as a reminder that you can shift your world view.


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  • Next up: Help Determine Which Industry-Recognized Credentials are on Ohio’s List

    Help Determine Which Industry-Recognized Credentials are on Ohio’s List


    The Ohio Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation request your assistance in the industry-recognized credential review process for Ohio’s high school credential list. A survey has been developed to gather feedback that will be used in determining which credentials are valuable in their respective industries. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

    Students benefit from learning job-specific skills that can be used to verify skill mastery and educational attainment. Industry-recognized credentials are also valuable to employers, allowing them to validate the knowledge and skills of potential employees and saving valuable time in assessing the competency of job applicants.

    The process to review industry-recognized credentials requires business and industry representatives who 1) possess knowledge of the career field and 2) have some understanding of human resource and hiring needs. Reviewers are not required to have prior knowledge of the review process or experience with the list of industry-recognized credentials.

    Participate in the industry-recognized credential feedback survey here.

    If you have questions regarding the survey or review process, please contact the credential team at  Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensuring Ohio’s students are earning credentials of value.

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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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