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Automotive Service Association of Ohio Legislative Activities Report February

Ohio’s legislators returned last month to begin the second half of the 131st General Assembly. Not surprisingly, the 2016 legislative agenda has been based around this year’s elections. Legislators are only scheduled to hold a few legislative sessions prior to Ohio’s March 15th Primary Election. Lawmakers will then face a busy April and May before breaking for summer recess in early June to prepare for the General Election on November 8th. It can sometimes be difficult to predict what legislative initiatives will be pushed during an election year; however, leaders in both the House and Senate have indicated that they intend to pass a number of substantial bills before the summer recess including a state capital budget and HB 394, which calls for a massive overhaul of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The Kasich Administration has also indicated that they are working on a mid-biennium budget review, or MBR, however it is unclear if the legislature will attempt to pass such a proposal before the November election.

Many of the members of ASA Ohio may recall an amendment submitted in the budget last year that called for the elimination of the Motor Vehicle Repair Board. Despite being added at the last second, ASA Ohio was able to mobilize its membership and generate enough support for the Board to defeat the amendment. While the Board was preserved, the budget language did subject the board to being reviewed by the Sunset Review Committee. This panel meets every six years and reviews every board and commission in Ohio. Upon the completion of its review, the committee submits recommendations on what boards should be eliminated and what boards should be preserved. These recommendation are then drafted as legislation. On February 9th the Motor Vehicle Repair Board received its hearing before the committee. ASA Ohio had two representatives testify on the importance of the Board. We also had members contact their state legislators and urge their support for the Board. The Sunset Review Committee is still in the process of reviewing other state boards and commissions. According to Senator Kris Jordan, chairman of the committee, he would like the committee to finalize its review by the end of April. This means legislation will likely be drafted and developed by the end of the year. While ASA Ohio’s testimony before the committee went well, we will need to continue to monitor the legislation that is developed from the committee’s recommendations to insure the Board is persevered.

While we have been forced to focus our attention on the Sunset Review Committee process, there are still two bills (SB 37 and HB 199) pending before the General Assembly that would expand the Board’s jurisdiction to include mechanical repair facilities under the jurisdiction of the Board. SB 37 has received four hearings before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee and, with no opponents testifying, appeared ready to be reported by the committee. The late budget amendment caused some concerns from the committee, which decided to wait until after the Sunset Review Committee conducted its review of the Board. Once the Sunset Review Committee issues its recommendations, we will need to persuade the committee to take the bill up once again.

Sticking with the topic of the Motor Vehicle Repair Board, every five years all state boards must review their administrative rules. This year the Board initiated its review and filed rules with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The review was needed, since the Board’s responsibilities were changed a number of years ago to register window tint operators in addition to collision repair facilities. Since that time, the Board has not updated its rules to reflect window tint operators coming under its jurisdiction. The Board included these changes in the rules filed with JCARR. While these changes are not substantial, they are needed to reflect the changes that were made in the Ohio Revised Code.

In other legislative news, legislation (HB 341) has been introduced that would build upon the reforms made last session to Ohio’s towing laws. During the last legislative session, state lawmakers attempted to crack down on predatory towing practices. While the original intent of the legislation was specifically tailored to predatory towing, the end result was a massive bill that made substantial changes to Ohio’s towing laws. ASA Ohio was in the middle of these negotiations because one aspect of the bill involved obtaining titles to unclaimed vehicles. ASA Ohio was able to make some significant changes to the unclaimed affidavit process, including increasing the threshold value as well as adding additional deductions from the value of the vehicle being repaired. HB 341 would further improve the affidavit process by allowing repair facilities to deduct up to 65 days of storage. Additionally, ASA Ohio fought for language that would create a new process for dealing with unclaimed vehicles. If a vehicle is left unclaimed on your lot and that vehicle is inoperable and valued less than $1,500 the vehicle would qualify for a new salvage title affidavit process. The repair shop owner would still need to notify any lienholders and the vehicle owner of the vehicle being left unclaimed, but instead of paying the clerk of courts for the value of the vehicle, the shop owner would only need to pay $4 and would then be able to obtain a salvage title labeled “for destruction.” This new process could be extremely helpful to ASA Ohio members who have problems with inoperable vehicles being left on their property. Hopefully, the new affidavit option will provide a cheaper approach to removing vehicles from repair shops’ property.

One issue that has been around for a number of years is an attempt by the insurance industry to change how they go about notifying customers about the use of non-OEM parts. This legislative effort was developed after a number of insurance companies were being sued by customers for not obtaining a signature when the insurance company requested the use of non-OEM parts. In late December of 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in Dillan v. Farmers Ins. that laws protecting consumers from deceptive practices do not apply to repair estimates provided by insurance companies. The Court determined that the estimate provided by an insurance company is not a consumer transaction and therefore, an insurance company is not in violation of the Consumers Sales Practices Act. Despite this ruling the issue of whether insurers need to obtain a signature from the consumer when they recommend the use of non-OEM parts remains unclear. We will need to watch closely to see if the insurance industry tries to amend language to specifically exclude them from this requirement.

Also of note, ASA Ohio has been involved in the development of legislation that would allow automotive repair technicians and their employers to qualify for funding under the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program. The Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program was designed to provide direct financial assistance to train workers and improve the economic competitiveness of Ohio’s employers. Unfortunately, when the program was created it was tailored to just a few industries and automotive repair facilities were not eligible for funding. HB 429, introduced by Reps. Antani and Reineke, would revise the voucher program to make automotive repair facilities and their technicians eligible to receive funding under the program. Jamie Chilcoat represented ASA Ohio and testified in support of the legislation before the House Economic and Workforce Development Committee. Dean DeRolph of Kumler Collision and Automotive Inc. also provided testimony in support of the bill.

Legislation and administrative policies often take time to develop before they are implemented. This has never been more true than with ASA Ohio’s work with the Ohio EPA on administrative rules that set the standards for permits-by-rule and permits-to-install and operate. Well over a year ago ASA Ohio provided suggestions to the Ohio EPA on ways to improve the administrative code language. Specifically, ASA Ohio advocated for language that would allow repair facilities to qualify for the permit-by-rule, even if they use spray guns with a capacity of three ounces or less outside of a spray booth. Currently, repair shops that use a spray gun outside of a spray booth are required to obtain a permit-to-install and operate. This is a common sense change that also brings Ohio in line with the federal 6H rule. We were happy to see our recommendations used in the final version of the rule package that was submitted to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).

In legislative news, hearings continue on HB 394, which would make major reforms to Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Sears, says her bill would improve the solvency of the system through a combination of increasing the taxable wage base for employers, while reducing workers’ benefits. Rep. Sears also argued that her proposal will better prepare the state for another downturn in the economy. Despite these claims, labor representatives and advocates for the poor have adamantly opposed the measure, saying it disproportionately impacts workers while sparing employers from tax increases. The House Democratic Caucus has sided with opponents of the bill, labeling it the biggest attack on working people since Senate Bill 5. Republicans in the House have made passing HB 394 a priority; however, Republicans in the Senate have already voiced concerns about provisions in the bill that would cut certain benefits to workers. Senator Bill Seitz indicated “the concern is that benefit reductions are permanent while the increases in the employer taxable wage base is only temporary.”

ASA Ohio’s success in the legislative process depends largely on the participation of its members. As we engage in issues it will be important to have members volunteer to testify and offer to contact their legislators on issues that are important to the automotive repair industry. ASA Ohio also manages a Political Action Committee. We encourage you to make donations to the ASA Ohio PAC so we can effectively advocate on behalf of the industry. You can learn more about the PAC as well as our legislative initiatives through the following link: http://www.asaohio.org/government-affairs/

We have been tracking the following legislation that has been introduced in the 131st General Assembly:

 

HB1

WORKFORCE GRANT PROGRAM (SCHURING K, MANNING N) To establish the Workforce Grant Program, to authorize an income tax credit equal to 25% of the student loan payments a grant recipient makes per year, and to make an appropriation.

 

Current Status:   

4/14/2015

Re-Referred to Committee

 

HB53

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET (GROSSMAN C) To make appropriations for programs related to transportation and public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.

 

Current Status:   

4/1/2015

SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Eff. 7/1/2015; certain provisions effective other dates

 

HB64

OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.

 

Current Status:   

6/30/2015

SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Eff. 6/30/15; certain provisions effective 9/29/2015, other dates

 

HB104

FRONT-LICENSE PLATE DISPLAY (DEVITIS A) To specify that failure to display a license plate on the front of a motor vehicle that is required to display a license plate on the front and rear of the vehicle is a secondary traffic offense, and to establish a maximum fine of $25 for such an offense.

 

Current Status:   

5/19/2015

House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee

Second Hearing

 

HB199

MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIR BOARD (BLESSING III L, REZABEK J) To extend the jurisdiction of the Motor Vehicle Repair Board to persons who perform motor vehicle mechanical repairs, to require motor vehicle repair facilities to register with the Board, and to make other changes to the Motor Vehicle Repair and Window Tint Operator Law, and to further enact new section 4775.03 and repeal section 4775.03 of the Revised Code on January 1, 2016, to dissolve the existing Motor Vehicle Repair Board and replace it with a new board of the same name.

 

Current Status:   

6/9/2015

House Commerce and Labor Committee

First Hearing

 

HB205

SELF-INSURING EMPLOYERS (HENNE M, RETHERFORD W) To modify the requirements for an employer to become a self-insuring employer for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law, to transfer authority over the workers' compensation self-insurance program to the Superintendent of Insurance, and to allow certain employers and groups of employers to obtain workers' compensation coverage from a private workers' compensation insurer.

 

Current Status:   

2/9/2016

House Insurance Committee

Third Hearing

 

HB206

INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION-CLAIM STATISTICS (HENNE M) To require the Industrial Commission to keep statistics on individual hearing decisions of contested workers' compensation claims.

 

Current Status:   

6/9/2015

House Insurance Committee

First Hearing

 

HB326

TAX LAW-JOINT FILING (AMSTUTZ R, MCCLAIN J) To make technical changes to the state income tax law, to modify the requirements for receiving the joint filing credit, and to provide that, for the 2015 taxable year, any taxable business income under $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately or $250,000 for other taxpayers is subject to the graduated tax rates applicable to nonbusiness income, while business income in excess of those amounts remains subject to the existing 3% flat tax.

 

Current Status:   

10/26/2015

House Ways and Means Committee

Fifth Hearing

 

HB332

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE-REPLICA VEHICLES (PATTERSON J) To provide that when a certificate of title is issued for a motor vehicle, the owner may request that the certificate indicate that the motor vehicle is a replica vehicle.

 

Current Status:   

9/30/2015

Referred to the House State Government Committee

 

HB341

TOWING FEES (YOUNG R, SWEENEY M) To require the Public Utilities Commission to raise the existing statutorily designated towing and storage fees annually by the percentage increase in the consumer price index.

 

Current Status:   

2/3/2016

House State Government Committee

Third Hearing

 

HB388

OVI OFFENDERS-IGNITION INTERLOCK (SCHERER G) To authorize a court to grant unlimited driving privileges with an ignition interlock device to first-time OVI offenders, to expand the penalties related to ignition interlock device violations, to modify the law governing the installation and monitoring of ignition interlock devices, to extend the look back period for OVI and OVI-related offenses from six to ten years, and to modify the penalties for OVI offenses.

 

Current Status:   

1/26/2016

House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee

Second Hearing

 

HB389

SEXUAL ORIENTATION-ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (ANTONIO N, DRIEHAUS D) To enact the Ohio Fairness Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, to add mediation to the list of informal methods by which the Ohio Civil Rights Commission may use to induce compliance with Ohio's Civil Rights Law before instituting a formal hearing, and to uphold existing religious exemptions under Ohio Civil Rights Law.

 

Current Status:   

11/16/2015

Referred to the House Community and Family Advancement Committee

 

HB394

TAXABLE WAGE-UNEMPLOYMENT (SEARS B) To temporarily change the taxable wage base under Ohio's Unemployment Compensation Law, to remove dependency classes for unemployment compensation benefit eligibility, to temporarily freeze automatic increases for weekly unemployment compensation benefit amounts.

 

Current Status:   

1/19/2016

SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED

House Insurance Committee

Fifth Hearing

 

HB429

AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICIANS-TRAINING (ANTANI N, REINEKE W) Regarding employers of automotive technicians and motor vehicle technicians participating in the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program.

 

Current Status:   

2/10/2016

House Economic and Workforce Development Committee

Second Hearing

 

SB25

MINIMUM WAGE (YUKO K) To raise the minimum wage; to raise the salary threshold above which certain employees are exempt from the overtime law; and to create a uniform standard to determine whether an individual performing services for an employer is an employee of that employer.

 

Current Status:   

6/24/2015

Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee

First Hearing

 

SB37

MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIR BOARD JURISDICTION (UECKER J) To extend the jurisdiction of the Motor Vehicle Repair Board to persons who perform motor vehicle mechanical repairs.

 

Current Status:   

10/21/2015

Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee

Fourth Hearing

 

SB87

MINIMUM WAGE (TAVARES C) To require that domestic workers be paid the minimum wage, as provided in Section 34a of Article II, Ohio Constitution.

 

Current Status:   

3/4/2015

Referred to the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee

 

SB208

STATE INCOME TAX (BEAGLE B) To make technical changes to the state income tax law, to modify the requirements for receiving the joint filing credit.

 

Current Status:   

11/15/2015

SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Eff. 2/15/2016, Certain provisions effective 11/15/2015

 

SB242

MOTOR VEHICLE-FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS (UECKER J, COLEY W) To revise the law governing new motor vehicle franchise agreements.

 

Current Status:   

1/27/2016

Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee

Second Hearing

 

SB268

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS-EMPLOYER (SEITZ B) To modify Ohio civil rights laws related to employment and the statute of limitations for other specified claims against an employer.

 

Current Status:   

2/10/2016

Referred to the Senate Civil Justice Committee