By Staff report editor@news-herald.com

State Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, along with Parma Democrat Rep. Jeff Crossman have introduced several legislative proposals they say are “aimed at assisting with the economic well-being of Ohioans impacted by the spread” of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The state lawmakers said their package would temporarily modify the tax code, other statutes and state funding “in an effort to protect Ohioans who are at risk of significant personal financial loss as this crisis moves forward.”

“This week marks the first opportunity that Ohio’s General Assembly has been scheduled to convene in response to COVID-19 which is affecting all of our lives,” Rogers said in a statement March 23. “These legislative proposals are urgently needed and will provide an economic safety net immediately for some of the most vulnerable Ohioans.”

Their package of six legislative proposals are:

  • Extending the state tax filing and payment deadlines to match the extended federal tax deadline of July 15
  • Increasing the amount of state funding that villages, townships, cities and counties will be receiving from the Local Government Fund.
  • Creating a partially refundable earned income tax credit for Ohioans with a low to moderate income for the 2019 tax year. Those eligible for the refund having already filed their state income taxes would be allowed to file an amended return.
  • Delaying for six months any filing of an In Rem Foreclosure for property tax delinquencies while also delaying any tax certificate sales for the same period. No penalties or interest would be applied for this period.
  • Price Gouging: This amends Ohio’s Consumer Protection Statute to include protection against persons or businesses that attempt to artificially inflate the cost of their goods, services, and dwellings during a state of emergency. This adds provisions that other states already have but Ohio does not.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This would prohibit the denial of insurance claims made by small businesses for “pandemic” or “viral epidemic” reasons and allow small businesses to obtain insurance to cover their losses due to the public health emergency closures.

“The goal of the legislation we are introducing today is to bring clarity to our tax schedule, bring relief to individuals who might already be feeling a financial strain, and assist our local governments on the front lines of this public health crisis” Crossman said in a statement.

“In addition, we are offering legislation to address concerns over price gouging and relief to small businesses by assisting with their insurance claims,” he continued. “All of this legislation is designed to help Ohioans across the board as we work our way through a pandemic that threatens to create a financial crisis in the near term.”

The legislative proposals have been submitted with emergency clauses and would go into effect immediately upon enactment. The Ohio General Assembly is currently set to meet for multiple days this week to pass emergency legislation in response to COVID-19.