Policy Matters slams slew of dangerous lame duck bills

- December 7, 2016
   

Proposals threaten state agencies, pre-empt local worker protection, harm consumers 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Zach Schiller

 216.361.9801

Several bills moving quickly in the Ohio General Assembly’s lame duck session threaten local governments, state agencies, workers and consumers, according to the think tank Policy Matters Ohio. The group urged that all these bills be opposed.

Changes in Senate Bill 331 would preempt cities from adopting their own minimum-wage requirements, as well as other worker protections. This would not only prohibit local minimum wage laws, an unwarranted intrusion on home-rule authority, but also ordinances that would keep workers from being called to work unreasonable hours, such as closing and opening retail stores in the same 24-hour period or being on-call and available for work at any time. It also would not permit cities to require any kind of fringe benefits, which conceivably might cover paid sick leave or family leave.

“Cities across the country have been adopting such ordinances to provide worker protections and the General Assembly should not attempt to rule them out in Ohio,” said Zach Schiller, Research Director with Policy Matters Ohio.

Senate Bill 329 is now moving in the House of Representatives. The sunset bill, opposed by Policy Matters Ohio, would subject agencies in the Governor’s cabinet to a review by a standing committee of the legislature once every four years. If the committee does not act, the agency is abolished.

“This onerous law, as passed in the Senate, could abolish agencies in the Governor’s cabinet  without a vote of the legislature,” said Wendy Patton, Senior Project Director with Policy Matters Ohio.  “Ohio’s department of transportation, universities, prisons, nursing homes and state police do not need to demonstrate a public need for their continued existence; that is self-evident.”

The lame duck session has also given rise to two pieces of legislation that would hurt Ohio’s most financially vulnerable families. House Bill 598 removes consumer protections and raises fees for installment loan products, the newest iteration of payday lending. This comes largely at the behest of Fortress Investment Group, a Wall Street Hedge Fund that owns installment loan company OneMain Financial. The company has successfully pushed similar legislation in other states. The omnibus amendment for Senate Bill 235 includes a provision that would allow pawnbrokers to increase fees to consumers from 20 percent to 150 percent. The dramatic increase in fees will make it difficult for struggling families to pay off the loans and get their possessions back.

“These legislative moves harm financially vulnerable families”, said Kalitha Williams, policy liaison of Policy Matters Ohio.  “Lawmakers should be looking for ways to give Ohio’s poorest consumers relief, not load them down with increased fees.”

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Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute

with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

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