Of Puppies, Wireless Cell Service, Bearbaiting and Paid Sick Leave in Ohio

I suspect you cannot even imagine how these topics relate to each other. Nor could I. Until I read Ohio Senate Bill No. 331, which passed both state legislative chambers and sits now on Governor Kasich’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto.

The bill’s initial purpose was to preempt local governments from regulating the purchase of puppies from high-volume dog breeders, often called puppy mills. Toward the end of the state legislative session, legislators larded up the bill with an olio of provisions. Recall my reference in an earlier post to Otto von Bismarck’s injunction to avoid watching sausage and law being made. This 57-page bill appears to be the product of master sausage makers.

Concerning the topics unrelated to PSL, those are for someone else’s blog. On the PSL issue, the bill has very broad preemption language. It states that unless required by federal or state law, matters relating to a laundry list of employment issues are “exclusively” the result of the employer’s policy or its agreement with its employees or its employees’ collective bargaining representative. The message to political subdivisions on these issues is unmistakable: do not even think about going there.

Photo of Arlo

The taboo areas include “[w]hether an employer will provide employees with fringe benefits and the type and amount of those benefits.” A “fringe benefit” is “any benefit for which the employer would incur an expense,” including sick pay. Other off-limits areas include the minimum wage and various scheduling issues. Cleveland had been planning to vote on increasing the minimum wage in 2017. Including the scheduling issues is an obvious effort to squelch any municipality’s thought of passing a secure schedule ordinance, which a few cities nationwide have done recently.

Governor Kasich has much to consider in deciding whether to sign the bill. He may also want to consider seeking the comfort of his puppy (if he has one) as he ponders this. If he signs it or if he does not veto it within 10 days after it was presented to him, Ohio will join the list of preemption states on my blog’s menu bar. I will let you know.