Ohio lawmakers handed modifications to make sure if Kroger is allowed to promote flowers throughout a pandemic, the native florist can, too.
Senate Bill 134, also referred to as the Enterprise Equity Act, handed the Ohio Senate 31-0 on Wednesday. The invoice would stop Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration from closing small companies whereas their bigger opponents stay open, assuming everybody can comply with the identical security pointers.
“I’d argue you might be safer in a small enterprise the place chances are you’ll be the one buyer in that enterprise at the moment,” Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester, mentioned on the ground Wednesday.
This disparity got here to mild in March 2020 when DeWine’s state well being division closed a slew of companies to stop the unfold of COVID-19, however allowed groceries, pharmacies and different companies to stay open. The end result: Wal-Mart and Kroger remained open whereas the native jeweler needed to shut.
“The enjoying discipline have to be stage,” mentioned Chris Ferruso, a lobbyist for Ohio’s Nationwide Federation of Impartial Enterprise. “The federal government shouldn’t be selecting winners and losers.”
And small companies have been among the many losers final 12 months. A survey of NFIB members discovered 1 in 3 closed due to COVID-19 orders. Of these companies, 54% remained closed for between one and three months. One other 75% have taken a federal Paycheck Safety Mortgage to make ends meet.
Will this arrange one other battle with DeWine? The Ohio Home passed a similar bill last year, nevertheless it stalled within the closing months of rapid-fire legislating and by no means grew to become regulation. DeWine initially mentioned he would veto that bill if it reached his desk, however softened to the proposal when he was facing a veto override on different well being division restrictions.
“The administration is prepared to have interaction in a dialogue with the Basic Meeting on these points and prepared to work on compromise language,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney mentioned final week.
If handed by the Home and signed by DeWine, the modifications would take impact instantly due to an emergency clause on the invoice. The same invoice, House Bill 215, handed the Home 77-17 final week.
Lawmakers might want to decide one model to advance to DeWine’s desk.
In March, lawmakers voted to override DeWine’s veto of Senate Bill 22, which permits legislators to finish well being orders, together with the state’s masks mandate. That regulation takes impact June 23.
USA Right now Community Ohio reporter Anna Staver contributed to this story.