At Thomas Law Offices, we take time to learn about all the new laws being established in the states where we represent personal injury clients. In Ohio, a number of new law changes are happening in 2020. To understand the potential implications of the new laws, we’ll take a look at what’s changing January 1, including plastic bag bans, changes in the costs associated with driving electric cars, the minimum wage increase, and the taxing of certain car-sharing programs.
Banning Plastic Bags
In Cuyahoga County in northeast Ohio, shoppers will find themselves looking for new ways to transport their groceries beginning January 2020. A new ordinance bans disposable plastic bags that are made from either non-compostable or compostable plastic. Retail establishments will no longer be allowed to provide bags to customers for the purpose of transporting purchased goods. Bags that are allowed include ones that customers bring with them, bags provided by the pharmacist, and bags used to wrap perishable items like meat and vegetables.
If a retailer is found to be in violation of the new law, a first offense receives a written warning, followed by a $100 fine and a $500 fine for second and third offenses. The bans are being made to reduce litter and plastic waste in landfills.
While the plastic bag bans have not hit Cincinnati, the local Kroger grocery chain announced back in 2018 its plan to phase out single-use plastic bags in its stores by 2025.
The Cost of Driving an Electric Car
Driving hybrid and electric vehicles generally save people money because they don’t have to worry about filling up at the gas station. In Ohio, however, that savings will now be going toward higher registration fees.
Beginning January 1, 2020, owners of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are required to pay $200 a year in registration fees. Those who own standard hybrids will see an annual registration fee of $100.
This increase is happening because lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce the gap in road funding—which potentially exists because vehicles are becoming more efficient. Another way the state is attempting to increase road funds is by increasing the gas tax from 10.5 cents to 38.5 cents per gallon.
Increasing the Minimum Wage
In 2006, voters approved a constitutional amendment to adjust the state minimum wage based on the previous year’s inflation rate. Because of that, the minimum wage goes up on January 1, 2020 from $8.55 per hour to $8.70 per hour for nontipped employees. This applies to employers who gross less than $314,000 annually.
Employees under the age of 16 will make the same as the current federal minimum wage, which is $7.25. Tipped employees will go from $4.30 to $4.35 per hour plus tips. Employers must be able to show that tipped employees receive at least minimum wage when direct wages and tips are combined.
It’s estimated that this change will benefit 84,000 of Ohio’s lowest-paid working people, the majority of who are adults. Additionally, supporters of the minimum wage increase claim raises lead to economic growth as a result of customer spending.
Taxing Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing Programs
While most people use ridesharing programs like Uber or rental companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car to travel after they’ve arrived at a destination via an airplane, peer-to-peer car-sharing is a growing option. This allows nearby, existing car owners to make their vehicles available for others to rent for short periods of time.
The most popular platforms are Getaround and Turo. They work in a way similar to Airbnb because the owners get to set the rate, determine the rules, and communicate with potential drivers. The companies act as an intermediary and provide customer support to make the transactions easy.
When questions arose regarding how the companies are taxed, House Bill 166 was signed back in mid-2019. It has a number of effects on the peer-to-peer car-sharing programs, including categorizing the companies as vendors for tax purposes. This ensures the platforms that receive the customer’s money are paying applicable state taxes as a facilitating vendor. Overall, this could impact how peer-to-peer car-sharing companies operate in 2020 and beyond.
The HB also authorizes airports in Ohio to regulate peer-to-peer rental programs in a similar way to other car rental operations. This is after nearly 20 airports across the country issued cease-and-desist orders to peer-to-peer operations.
If you have questions about the laws discussed above, our Cincinnati attorneys can get you the answer you need. We pride ourselves on representing injured victims and ensuring those who come to us understand their legal rights and responsibilities.