Senate Bills Offer Over $400 Million in Relief to Ohio Businesses
I recently received my COVID-19 vaccine. Like I do anytime I receive a shot or get my blood drawn, I absolutely refused to look at the needle. Although I know it is all in my head, somehow the sting does not seem quite as bad if I just avert my gaze.
Unfortunately for many Ohio businesses, avoiding the “sting” caused by COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus) is not as simple as turning your head or squeezing your eyes shut. Many businesses still are struggling financially and need relief. Thankfully, two bills have passed the Ohio Senate that, if signed into law, would provide, as presently written, over $400 million of state and federal funding for grants to certain businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first bill, Senate Bill (SB) 108, is slated to appropriate $125 million for fiscal year 2021 to the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) to support bars, restaurants and the lodging industry. One hundred million of the appropriation would be devoted to grants for bars and restaurants in amounts of $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000. The amount awarded to eligible bars and restaurants could be based on factors such as loss of revenue and the number of people employed. The remaining $25 million in grants would be awarded by the DSA to lodging industry businesses. The grants would be in the same amounts as those provided to bars and restaurants, and factors considered in their award could include loss of revenue and occupancy rates. SB 108 passed the Senate on March 17, and it was referred to the House Committee on Economic Workforce and Development for consideration on March 24.
Senate Bill 109 also passed the Senate on March 17. The bill proposes to make $292.2 million in grants available for fiscal year 2021 to various businesses and child care providers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty million would be appropriated for $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants to indoor entertainment venues that demonstrate COVID-19-related hardships such as loss of revenue due to cancelled events or performances. Another $10 million would be set aside for $10,000 grants for new businesses opened after January 1, 2020. SB 109 also would appropriate $150 million to the Ohio Small Business Grant Relief Program for certain grant applicants that were not funded. The program’s initial $125 million in grants quickly depleted when applications were accepted last November. SB 109 could provide applicants that had requested funding through the program before December 12, 2020, but were denied, could receive a $10,000 grant. The foregoing $180 million worth of grants would be awarded by the DSA. An additional $112.2 million appropriation would be made by the bill to the Department of Job and Family Services. The funds would be used to reimburse child care providers for expenses incurred due to the pandemic and to support workforce retention. SB 109 was referred to the House Committee on Economic Workforce and Development on March 24.
The House has released two companion bills to SB 108 and SB 109. House Bill (HB) 168 and HB 169 include the same measures as the Senate bills, allowing the respective committees of both the Senate and the House to conduct their review at the same time. HB 168 and HB 169 were referred from the House Committee on Economic Workforce and Development to the House Committee on Rules and Reference on March 24.
Eastman & Smith will continue to monitor these bills and other opportunities for businesses to find COVID-19 relief. Please reach out to Ms. Schroeder or one of our other business attorneys to discuss options for your business.
At the date of publication, the above information was correct. It is quite possible the information above has changed as COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation.
The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.