State leaders reassure BG chamber members about unemployment issues

Unemployment dominated Friday’s Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce call-in forum to update businesses on
the the most recent government responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m a small business owner myself. I have a business on Main Street in Bowling Green. I certainly
understand the impact over the last couple of weeks. You just realize the ripple effect and how it is
impacting people,” said Ohio Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green. “As a small business owner I know
this is a scary time.”
Along with Gavarone, Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, answered questions and updated listeners on
recent changes for businesses made by the state. House Bill 197, the COVID-19 Response package, which
was signed by the Gov. Mike DeWine Friday afternoon.
The wide-ranging legislation also addresses many facets of life that are affected by the coronavirus,
including education issues related to K-12 school testing and EdChoice. It also includes the 2020
primary elections, business loan issues, tax deadlines, new open meetings options for public bodies and
public water systems.
But unemployment compensation dominated the questions from listeners.
Gavarone said that DeWine has asked for disaster relief funds for self-employed individuals who file a
1099 tax form and would be otherwise ineligible for unemployment benefits.
She also explained some of the many facets of the the Shared Work Ohio program. She called it a voluntary
lay-off program in which an employer may reduce an employee’s work hours and have the balance of
unworked hours compensated by a Job and Family Service’s funding mechanism.
There were questions about not being able to file for unemployment because of access problems on the
website.
“What I was told by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is your unemployment benefits would
be retroactive to the date that you became unemployed,” Ghanbari said.
Gavarone said the Small Business Administration, which is a federal loan program, has new reduced loan
rates available.
Ghanbari outlined some of the challenges of the SBA loan issue that have not yet been resolved, as it is
currently going through the federal legislative process.
A number of other issues business leaders had with the COVID-19 Response package were also briefly
addressed.
It extends Ohio’s tax filing deadline to July 15, to bring it in line with federal guidelines.
Additionally, it extends the date for estimated payments, and waives interest payments in addition to
already waived penalties.
According to Gavarone, on the municipal level, the state-adjusted net profit tax has also been extended
to July 15.
It removes barriers to unemployment compensation The bill waives the first week waiting period, changes
eligibility to include COVID-19 related unemployment situations and waives the work search requirement.

The bill ensures Ohioans’ water supplies will not be cut off. The bill prohibits public water
disconnections during the emergency, or until Dec. 31.
The COVID-19 Response Package would extend the window for the mail-in ballots to April 27 for the 2020
primary election that was to have been held March 17.
The bill permits state boards and commissions, local and county governments and higher education boards
to operate meetings electronically so long as the public is aware and can participate electronically.

Friday’s event was broadcast over online video chat.
Both Gavarone and Ghanbari reiterated the need for the public to maintain safe health practices, such as
maintaining social distancing, hand washing and cleaning practices.
“What is so important to me is that Ohioans stay safe,” Ghanbari said.
He also put out the request to business leaders from the Wood County Emergency Management Agency for
donations of personal protective equipment.
Kristie Peek, from United Way, and listener Amber Hawkins asked about how unemployment payments will
affect those with part-time jobs with reduced hours and those sporadically employed with part-time jobs.

Ghanbari referred to a call his office had received from a man who was laid off from a factory job but
was also a volunteer firefighter.
“The earnings from the volunteer fire work,” read Ghanbari, “should be reported each week when the
claimant files their weekly benefits. Earnings may reduce the amount of benefits received for the week.
Earnings up to and including 20% of the weekly benefit amount do not reduce for the week. Earnings over
20% of the weekly benefit amount reduce the weekly amount dollar for dollar.”