Today, the Ohio House is moving a bill that radically undermines the notion of local control and ties the hands of communities to set standards for the treatment of workers.
Enshrined into the constitution is a strong commitment to local control, or “home rule”:
Municipalities shall have authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.
Ohio lawmakers appear ready to throw that notion out the window with the adoption today of a major overhaul to Substitute Senate Bill 311, which would block the authority of communities around Ohio to, among other things:
- Regulate the sale of puppies from unlicensed breeders at pet stores
- Adopt a minimum wage rate higher than the state minimum
- Adopt any ordinance that regulates worker benefits, schedules or work locations.
The bill was originally written when lobbyists for Petland sought to block ordinances adopted in Grove City and Toledo that would crack down on the sale of puppies at pet stores. The fix contains a “hobby breeder” loophole that experts say could be used by unethical breeders to sell their dogs at pet stores.
More recently, the business community jumped in with a wish list of its own, getting the following language added to the bill:
No political subdivision shall establish a minimum wage rate different from the wage rate required under this section.
The move is an attempt to undermine a measure on the ballot in Cleveland that would have asked voters whether to gradually raise that city’s minimum wage, but also blocks any other city from doing so.
And, reacting to a movement from progressive cities around the U.S., special interests saw a measure adopted that would block cities from requiring local employers to provide earned sick time, family leave or regulate practices that require workers to be on call for shifts without pay and by which employers can make last minute scheduling changes that leave workers in the lurch – especially if they need child care or want to hold down a second job. From the proposed amendment:
Except as otherwise expressly provided in state or federal law, the following matters are exclusively the result of an employer’s policy, an agreement between an employer and the employer’s employees, a contract between an employer and the employer’s employees, or a collective bargaining agreement between an employer and the employer’s employees:
(1) The number of hours an employee is required to work or be on call for work;
(2) The time when an employee is required to work or be on call for work;
(3) The location where an employee is required to work;
(4) The amount of notification an employee receives of work schedule assignments or changes to work schedule assignments, including any addition or reduction of hours, cancellation of a shift, or change in the date or time of a work shift;
(5) Minimizing fluctuations in the number of hours an employee is scheduled to work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis;
(6) Additional payment for reporting time when work is or becomes unavailable, for being on call for work, or for working a split shift;
(7) Whether an employer will provide advance notice of an employee’s initial work or shift schedule, notice of new schedules, or notice of changed schedules, including whether an employer will provide employees with predictive schedules;
(8) Whether an employer will provide additional hours of work to employees the employer currently employs before employing additional workers;
(9) Whether an employer will provide employees with fringe benefits and the type and amount of those benefits.
SB 331 was reported favorably by the House Finance committee this morning, and is expected to be voted on by the full House this afternoon.