Tuesday, July 01, 2008

UPDATED - Businesses begin to speak out against Healthy Families Act

UPDATE: The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce has a bullet point sheet explaining some of the provisions of the proposed Healthy Families Act and a few of the reasons why it's bad for Ohio.

Original Post:
The other day I got an email from our insurance company. No - it wasn't an appeal to purchase more insurance...

The subject line was "The so-called 'Healthy Families Act'" and I immediately opened it as that's what I call this misguided, 'not business friendly' ballot initiative.

It's starts with this:

If you haven't heard about this one, learn the facts. Here's a synopsis from the Ohio Professional Insurance Agents Association:

it says:

A coalition of business groups, Ohioans to Protect Jobs, is leading the effort to oppose the measure. The coalition includes PIA, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio Restaurant Association and Ohio Farm Bureau, among others.

PIA’s board of directors voted to formally oppose this proposal, which if enacted, would be detrimental to Ohio’s business community – negatively impacting Ohio’s already struggling economy and discouraging new employers from locating businesses within the state.

It is important to educate your family and peers about the ramifications of this proposal if passed, as well as to discourage them from signing the petition to help place this issue on the ballot. No other state in the country requires employers to offer paid sick leave. While the proposal sounds appealing, it will ultimately result in employers being forced to make difficult decisions to meet the requirements of the proposal, such as modifying other benefits already offered (such as health insurance) or making staff cuts. Additionally, if the issue passes, it will open the door for more government mandates and interference.

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 71 percent of people surveyed support mandated paid sick leave. Ironically, many of the same people (58 percent) said state requirements have made it too costly for business, resulting in Ohio's economy suffering. Thirty-three percent of respondents also indicated it is very likely or somewhat likely they or a family member will eventually leave the state for better opportunities. With numbers like these, now is not the time to saddle our economy with a surefire job killer.

Let me know if you'd like more information about this proposal. Many proposals sound good on their face, but when you read the document language, it's very different. The Toledo Chamber of Commerce reports that under this proposal, employees could take the time off in hour-increments. So, an employee could come in an hour late and leave an hour early, and the employer would have no recourse. This not only puts a wrench in getting the work done, but it puts an unfair burden on those workers who have to fill in without notice.

Interestingly, today I was sent a copy of a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland from Alan Brass, Chief Executive Officer of Promedica Health Systems, one of Northwest Ohio's largest employers. He, too, opposes this initiative and called on the governor to oppose it as well. He writes:

"As you know, this effort would be extremely detrimental for businesses in our state, prohibiting them from functioning effectively and productively. Several production-based corporations have publicly stated that passage of this act would, in effect, signal a death knell for their company to continue to do business in Ohio.
I urge you to take a strong stand in opposition of this initiative and work toward the defeat of any semblance of this proposal. I also stand ready to assist in that effort, and will encourage my colleagues throughout the state to do the same."

A copy was sent to 18 representatives and senators who cover the area in which Promedica has facilities.

Additionally, Dennis Lehman, Executive Vice President of Business for the Cleveland Indians, has also weighed in. In a letter to State Rep. Barbara Sears, he writes:

"The State of Ohio, if this law passes, would be the lone state with type of law. This law will work contrary to all the efforts that have been made to create economic development throughout Ohio. We would have a difficult time attracting new business, creating another obstacle for growth."

He also says the bill would be costly and his organization could be forced to reduce wages, increase ticket prices, increase other employee contributions or decrease benefits to make up the difference. He also says they would have to hire an additional staff member just to handle the administrative duties the new law would require for their 2,000 full- and part-time employees.

One problem with the initiative is that it 'sounds' so good - who could be against 'healthy families'?

Another problem is that it is being pushed by many unions and left-leaning groups as an initiative that will help drive Democrats to the polls in November.

But the bigger problem is that many voters will base their decision about the issue on how it sounds or makes them feel - rather than evaluating the policy itself with the corresponding fiscal and economic impact, both of which are very negative.

I'm glad Ohio businesses are beginning to speak out against a bad policy that will negatively impact the business climate in Ohio. Considering our economic condition, we really don't need any more anti-business policies and laws.


Tami N. said...

The Toledo Chamber has some information on this program at the following link:

Maggie Thurber said...

Thanks, Tami - I've added the link to the main post.

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