education foundation

State Issues & Resources

  • The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) worked with business groups around the state for passage of House Bill 444, which would allow businesses to give away free samples of beer and alcohol. With the growing number of craft alcohol products on the market, consumers want to have the ability to sample before purchasing a full-size drink. ​

  • Senate Bill 331 has given more certainty to Ohio restaurants by setting one set of standards in Ohio for laws dealing with wages and labor. A growing number of cities across the country have been passing much higher minimum wages rates than the state starting wage. The legislation, which Gov. John Kasich signed into law in December of 2016, preempts cities from passing their own minimum wage rates. This law also preempts cities from passing restrictive scheduling laws that have already passed in only Seattle and San Francisco.

  • Ohio ProStart® - In a very tough biennium budget year, ORA asked for and received a state grant to help us grow our workforce development program. Now, even more students will learn valuable culinary arts and restaurant management skills, increasing your pool of qualified employee prospects.

  • Health Insurance – ORA worked to remove a significant financial burden on Ohio’s small employers to provide health insurance to their employees by raising from 25 to 30 hours per week group of employees to whom insurance must be offered. This brings Ohio insurance law into compliance with federal health care law.

  • Taxes – We worked to get an Ohio sales tax holiday passed. It’s for a three-day weekend in August in which certain retail items are exempt from sales and use taxation. Therefore creating a ‘black Friday-like’ excitement for those three days. 

  • Rebates - Ohio employers received $1 billion rebate and worked benefited from major new investment in worker safety research and training. The rebate, like last year’s, is possible because of sound fiscal management that led to strong investment returns. BWC’s annualized return of investments was 8.9 percent over the last three fiscal years, including 13.3 percent in 2014 

  • Municipal Tax Reform – ORA is part of a statewide coalition driving reform of Ohio’s municipal income tax code. The result of years of debate between business groups and local governments aims to standardize and streamline parts of the state’s patchwork system of 300 different local tax forms.

  • Taxes - The administration proposed to lower personal income and small business taxes by significantly expanding the application of the state sales tax. The net effect on a typical ORA member would have meant an annual tax increase of more than $5,500. The ORA opposed the proposal. Ultimately, the sales tax measure was removed from the legislation and the small business tax cut remained.

  • Ohio ProStart® - For the first time in its history, the ORA asked for and received a state grant to help us grow our workforce development program. Now, even more students will learn valuable culinary arts and restaurant management skills, increasing your pool of qualified employee prospects. 

  • Industry Presence at the Capitol - The ORA’s first-ever Lobby Day and Legislative Luncheon took place in June. It was a huge success. Sixty-four members participated in pre-scheduled appointments with their respective lawmakers and helped the association host 60 legislators at a luncheon catered by five ORA members. Our message: Foodservice employs 535,000 Ohioans, making our industry the third-largest private sector employer in Ohio. 

  • Defending Attacks on the Restaurant Industry - Led by well-financed labor unions, activists began attacking the restaurant industry’s reputation and business model. Some of their proposed changes ($15 minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave) would also impact others in the retail sector. The ORA proactively reached out to the statewide news media and also organized a coalition of like-minded trade associations to better prepare for the attacks in the future.


  • Promoting Ohio Tourism – After three years, working with administrations from both political parties, the ORA and its allies helped pass a sustainable funding mechanism to generate more dollars to promote Ohio tourism. Tourism promotion results in more spending on hospitality, which means more customers in Ohio restaurants.

  • Blue Signs – The Ohio Department of Transportation wanted to significantly increase the rates to advertise on the “blue signs” located on interstate highway exists. Through the ORA’s leadership, ODOT decided to spread the increases over five years instead of an unacceptable and immediate jump. Ohio rates are still lower than the national average. 

  • Utility Rates – AEP tried to raise electric rates on small businesses by as much as 30 percent. The ORA intervened in the rate case and argued against the increases. Ultimately, the state approved much-reduced rate increases, saving restaurants in AEP’s service area thousands of dollars annually. 

  • Retail Food Safety Advisory Council – The ORA’s Director of Government Affairs was appointed to a position on the council that recommends restaurant inspection rules. He joined an ORA member already serving on the council to ensure that the perspective of the restaurant owner is well-represented. 

  • Coalitions – There is power in numbers, which is why the ORA participates in a variety of coalitions to maximize our industry’s voice in public policy debates. The ORA is a member of coalitions dealing with shale oil/gas development, municipal income taxes, alcoholic beverage issues, workers’ compensation, legal reform, food scraps, recycling and more.

  • HB 153 - Preempting local political subdivisions from implementing laws that hurt business owners and prohibit consumers from having consistent dining experience across the state of Ohio. To learn more about Ohio’s local preemption law, CLICK HERE.

  • Repeal of the Estate Tax – Restaurant people are entrepreneurs, often as part of a family business. Not only was it unfair to owners wanting to keep their business in the family, Ohio’s estate tax also discouraged restaurateurs from investing in Ohio. The ORA was part of a small business coalition that passed legislation to repeal the “death tax.” 

  • HB 1 - JobsOhio - Privatizing Ohio's job-creating function. More jobs equals more customers. 

  • SB 2 - Common Sense Initiative- CSI focuses on eliminating costly government regulations, which will strengthen the economic climate for your businesses. An ORA board member serves on the Small Business Advisory Council. 

  • State Budget - The ORA participated in a coalition to protect the Kasich budget, which resulted in no new restaurant taxes and the phasing out of the estate tax.

  • Regulatory Reform - Supported 2 pieces of legislation that will streamline the State's regulatory process. Importantly, proposed regulations will now have to pass a small business cost/benefit analysis.

  • Bottle Bill - Joined with other associations and producers to fight expensive proposals mandating bottle deposits and bottle/can recycling. 

  • Casino Competition - Effectively encouraged the General Assembly to resist pressure from casino developers to give casinos business opportunity advantages over restaurants. 

  • Meeting New Legislators - ORA’s lobbyist traveled the state to meet candidates who were expected to win election November 2, 2010. Developing such personal relationships is one of ORA’s strongest tools for effective advocacy.

  • Taxes and Fees - Helped keep new restaurant taxes and fees out of the state's 2010-2011 budget.

  • Health Care Mandates - Helped persuade the Senate to remove or limit three expensive health care mandates from the state budget. 

  • Liquor Permit Transfers - Blocked 2 pieces of legislation that would have significantly lowered the economic value of restaurants with liquor permits. 

  • Sunday Alcohol Sales - Changed state law to allow members to sell wine and spirits beginning at 11:00 am instead of 1:00 pm on Sundays, putting restaurants on a level playing field with competitors. 

  • Workers' Compensation - Worked with a business coalition to fight for continued discounts for members in ORA's group rating program. 

  • Smoking Ban Exemptions - Continued to stall persistent efforts to add exemptions to the statewide smoking ban that would create competitive disadvantages for most members.


Paid Sick Leave - As a leader in a statewide coalition, helped persuade proponents of an expensive paid leave mandate to withdraw their ballot initiative.

Menu Labeling - Kept it off the state legislative agenda. 

Trans Fats - Blocked a proposal to ban trans fats from restaurant food. 

Ignition Interlock - Helped stop legislation that would have mandated the imposition of ignition interlock devices on all first time OVI offenders, which would depress legal and responsible social drinking.

For more information about ORA's government affairs program, contact Joe Rosato at (614) 246-0130 or