December 28, 2020 Monday Message from the McDonald Hopkins Public Law Team

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Monday, December 28, 2020

To our friends, clients and colleagues in local and regional government, higher education and the nonprofit sector, welcome to our latest Monday Message from the Public Law Group at McDonald Hopkins. In today’s email, assembled by attorneys Kelsey Smith, Amy Wojnarwsky and Kevin Butler, you’ll find insights into areas of law we’re watching on your behalf.

In today’s edition:

  • Ohio benefit corporations now enshrined into law
  • Congress reaches deal on stimulus package: Who’s in and who’s out?
  • Ohio legislation that failed to make it to the Governor’s desk

Exploring benefit corporations as a new type of Ohio entity

We wrote on October 26, on the advent of new entities known as benefit corporations, or “B corps,” around the country and their introduction in Ohio via S.B. 21. Benefit corporations are those whose stated purposes must include having positive effect artistically, charitably, culturally, economically, educationally, environmentally, literarily, medically, religiously, scientifically, or technologically for those other than their shareholders.

On Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed S.B. 21 into law to allow for-profit corporations to be classified as benefit corporations. S.B. 21 amends Ohio corporation law, set forth in Revised Code Chapter 1701, to allow corporations and directors the flexibility to pursue beneficial activities in any of these areas. Senator Matt Dolan championed this initiative in Ohio, arguing in our Q&A last month he wanted to ensure Ohio does not miss out on potential investor funds and potential economic growth the B corp model can bring.

Learn more about the passage of Ohio’s benefit corporation legislation here – the latest post by Amy Wojnarwsky of our Business Department, who’s leading the firm’s work in this emerging area.

Congress reaches deal on stimulus package: Who’s in and who’s out?

Now that the U.S. House and Senate brokered an agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and the President has signed it into law, finally breaking the stalemate that had been hampering relief efforts since late spring, there’s much to digest. Kelsey Smith outlines the expected deal in her alert and identifies those who stand to benefit. Of particular note, the deal hints at the following relief:

  • 11 weeks of additional unemployment at $300 per week
  • Direct $600 stimulus payments to adults making $75,000 or less
  • Extended moratorium on evictions with an additional $25 billion in rental assistance
  • $280 billion in new Paycheck Protection Program money
  • $15 billion for airline industry payroll relief
  • $15 billion in grants for theater operators and small venue owners
  • $82 billion to schools and $10 billion to child care assistance
  • A tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave

Notably, the stimulus measure will not provide any direct relief for state or local government or establish a national framework for COVID-related tort liability protection, as Ohio did with the passage of H.B. 606 this summer. Efforts at negotiating a deal on those items are expected to reemerge after the new administration takes office, and we’ll continue to provide updates. Meanwhile, read Kelsey’s latest post here, and read our separate take on the aspects of the deal that expand and extend the Paycheck Protection Program here.

Ohio legislation that failed to make it to the Governor’s desk

Since we began our Monday Messages in April 2020, we’ve written on a number of bills introduced in the Ohio Legislature that if signed into law would impact our readership in various ways – from public safety issues to economic development to COVID-19 immunity and aid.

Several bills have since been adopted, and we’ve reported on those throughout the year. Others failed to clear both houses now that the last session of the 133rd General Assembly has ended. Among the bills that died on the vine:

  • H.B. 253, which we wrote about on June 29 and June 15. Would have decriminalized the use of consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio and regulated certain aspects of the state’s consumer and commercial fireworks trade. Passed by the House; amended version passed by the Senate but no final bill adopted.
  • H.B. 218, which we wrote about on November 23. Would have allowed municipalities, townships, counties, state higher education institutions, school and library districts, port authorities and other entities to execute public-private partnership agreements – a government procurement model that permits a private investor to finance, design, build and maintain a public asset for up to 40 years before transferring it to the public entity. Passed House committee but failed to clear House.
  • H.B. 754 and S.B. 352, which we wrote about on August 17, September 21, and November 9. Would have eliminated the income-tax-withholding provision in H.B. 197 that preserves the city in which an employer is located as the usual place of employment for those telecommuting during the coronavirus pandemic. Each measure failed to clear its respective committee.
  • S.B. 293, which we wrote about on June 15. Would have created a process for resolving allegations of Open Meetings Act violations within the Ohio Court of Claims, similar to the process for alleged Public Records Act violations. Passed by the Senate but failed to clear House committee.

We’ll continue to report on legislative items of interest to our friends and clients in the government, education and nonprofit worlds when the next General Assembly returns.

We ourselves return in January with more Monday Messages. Meanwhile, we wish you a restful holiday and a happy new year. Feel free to contact any member of the McDonald Hopkins Public Law team if you have questions or need assistance on any of the matters we’ve covered above or with your legal needs in general.

Teresa Metcalf Beasley
Chair, Public Law

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This Publication is designed to provide current information for our clients, friends and their advisors regarding important legal developments. The foregoing discussion is general information rather than specific legal advice. Because it is necessary to apply legal principles to specific facts, always consult your legal advisor before using this discussion as a basis for a specific action.

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