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Week in Review: Jan. 9, 2022

Written on Jan 7, 2022

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

Ohio small businesses continue to struggle with labor shortages and supply chain delays, according to a survey conducted by NFIB Ohio and released Dec. 29. More than 55% say they have open positions, and almost 60% of them said it was "extremely" difficult to fill them. A similar number said they have lost sales opportunities as a result, and 31% have changed hours of operation. Asked what they have done to attract or retain employees, 47.8% said they had increased wages, 21.89% said they had done that and would do so again within six months and 21.02% have increased other employee benefits. Almost four percent have not raised wages but will within six months. Almost one-third of respondents said they have asked employees about their COVID-19 vaccination status.

ECONOMY

The Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) hosted a discussion on the economic forecast for 2022 Wednesday, with panelists offering their views on how the local economy could recover from the pandemic as well as the challenges that may impede growth. Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, predicted there will be a 2.8% growth in local employment, totaling 30,100 new jobs. He expects increases in professional and technical services, transportation and the "catch-all" field of other services. State government employment declined in 2021 and is expected to drop again, though he said there may be less of a decline in 2022. National forecasts expect growth between 3.8 and 4%, but LaFayette said that implicitly assumes a level of workforce growth which could be "overly optimistic." The "workforce problem," along with the continued pandemic, remains "the big question mark" for area recovery after COVID.

ELECTIONS 2022

The gubernatorial primaries continued to take shape this week as Republican Joe Blystone announced that Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Marine Jeremiah Workman is his running mate. An author who was born in Marion County, Workman is a political newcomer like Blystone. In addition, former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Wednesday morning announced his selection of Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), a veteran of the General Assembly for more than 20 years, as his running mate, while former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced her selection of Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Cheryl Stephens, a former mayor of Cleveland Heights, as her lieutenant governor.

With new districts created through the redistricting process to take effect this year, many incumbents will see new constituents, or will have to face off against one of their fellow lawmakers to keep their seat. Hannah News compiled a roundup of the new districts for the Ohio House, Senate, and Congress as created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission as it pertains to the General Assembly and SB258 (McColley) for the congressional districts. The information was based on home addresses of lawmakers that were filed with the secretary of state's office to run for their seats in 2020. It includes the current districts as they stand for the 134th General Assembly and 117th Congress, as well as the districts for the 135th General Assembly and the 118th Congress. Incumbents are listed for the next session to illustrate how the district would look today, though the filing deadlines are not until Wednesday, Feb. 2 for the General Assembly and Friday, March 4, for Congress. Some incumbents are also term-limited or have announced an intention to seek another office.

Cincinnati Councilman Greg Landsman is expected to launch a campaign for the 1st Congressional District, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. Landsman is seeking to take on U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), who has held the seat for all but two of the last 27 years.

FEDERAL

A recent analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts found that federal grants to the states increased 93% from fiscal years 2008 to 2020, with much of that growth coming in the last year of that span due to federal COVID-19 relief funds. The analysis said that with relief packages passed in FY20 and FY21, COVID-19 funding is likely to "significantly alter state and local revenue and spending for years to come."

According to Pew, pandemic-related spending made up the largest share of federal grants in FY20 in eight states and was the second-largest in the rest. The coronavirus relief funding, which states used to address urgent needs such as coronavirus testing and housing assistance, supplemented the normal federal grants states receive. Those normal grants typically make up a third of state revenue and help pay for education, transportation, public safety, social services, environmental protection, and other programs, Pew said.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

The House Democratic Caucus will meet next Wednesday, Jan. 12, to select a new minority leader, according to a caucus spokesperson. The leadership position opened after Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) announced last month that she would step down at the end of the year. She is term-limited at the end of this session and has reportedly been considering a run for Congress. Media reports indicate the Reps. Allison Russo (D-Columbus) and Thomas West (D-Canton) are vying for the position.

GREAT LAKES

More than 55% of the region's residents are prepared to pay at least $5 more on their monthly water bill to fund efforts to achieve swimmable, fishable and drinkable water in the Great Lakes, according to the International Joint Commission's (IJC) Great Lakes Water Quality Board (WQB) 2021 Great Lakes Regional Poll.

HIGHER EDUCATION

President Joe Biden announced his administration is extending through May 1 the pause on repayment of federal student loans. Biden initiated the pause at the outset of the administration in light of the economic damage to the economy from the COVID pandemic, initially through September 2021, then through January 2022.

A release from the Ohio Department of Development encourages Ohio businesses to participate in the state's Export Internship Program, which links them with knowledgeable college students who can help start or expand international initiatives. DOD will also reimburse half the interns' wages. The application period is open now and submissions will be reviewed through Tuesday, Feb. 1, with the internships running from May to August 2022.

MARIJUANA/HEMP

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's (CRMLA) first signature submission fell short, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office. The group will now need to collect 13,062 more valid signatures by Thursday, Jan. 13 in order to transmit its initiated statute to the General Assembly, Secretary of State Frank LaRose wrote in a letter to campaign attorneys Don McTigue and John Oberle. In late December 2021, CRMLA submitted 206,943 signatures supporting its proposed law, which would legalize the use of cannabis by individuals age 21 and older.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said recently that early in November, Ohioans broke the annual new business filings record set in 2020 with almost two full months remaining to create a new business. The total number of new businesses created in November is 13,754, a 13% increase over last November's filing numbers. Ohioans have so far submitted a total of 184,494 new business filings this year. Last year's record for all of 2020 was 171,073 new filings.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Effective Saturday, Jan. 1, Ohio's minimum wage rose to $9.30 per hour for non-tipped employees and $4.65 per hour for tipped employees at businesses whose annual gross receipts exceed $342,000 per year. Workers at companies below that amount and those age 14 or 15 must be paid at least $7.25, in line with the federal minimum. The increase is the result of the 2006 constitutional amendment and based on the increased Consumer Price index.

TAXATION

The Ohio Department of Taxation announced Monday that it was ready to receive W-2 files from employers and payroll providers and 1099-R files from retirement system administrators. These are required to be electronically submitted on the Ohio Business Gateway, and ODT said there is a new simplified upload process available. W-2 files can also be submitted through the "EFW2 layout utilized by the Social Security Administration, with certain modifications" for ODT. The 1099-R file must be submitted using the layout required by the IRS in its Publication 1220. Users who sign into the gateway should have the option to access the W-2/1099-R upload service, ODT said. Information is also available at https://tinyurl.com/4y5xm69x.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

The Bureau of Workers' Compensation said that public employers in Ohio will save nearly $17 million in workers' compensation premiums through a 10% rate cut that went into effect Jan. 1. BWC's board approved the cut in September. BWC has lowered rates for public employers 13 times since 2009, and 11 times for private employers since 2008.

WORKFORCE

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, announced the latest round of Industry Sector Partnership grants Thursday, with 13 workforce partnerships receiving a total of $2.58 million. They focus on "multiple in-demand industry sectors, including information technology, manufacturing, health care, transportation and aerospace," according to OWT.

This feature was provided by Hannah News Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations staff.