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Ohio Modernizes and Improves its Laws Governing Limited Liability Companies

Effective Feb. 11, 2022, the Ohio Revised Limited Liability Company Act (“Revised Act”) now governs all limited liability companies formed under Ohio law. The law updates and replaces the existing LLC Act and has important implications for business owners in Ohio. Passage of the Revised Act makes Ohio one of only 16 states that permits the formation of “Series” LLCs. The legislation is intended to be one of the most progressive LLC acts in the country, but retains the terminology used in Ohio’s current LLC act. A summary of important changes is provided below.

Governance of Ohio LLCs

The Revised Act grants LLC members more control over conducting the LLC’s affairs. The Revised Act eliminates the distinction between member-managed and manager-managed LLCs and allows members of an LLC to organize their business as they see fit. The LLC’s governance structure may be set forth in the operating agreement or by decision of the members in accordance with the operating agreement. Under the Revised Act, LLCs may implement a structure similar to for-profit corporation governance, such as a board of directors.

‘Series’ LLCs Permitted in the Revised Act

The Revised Act makes asset protection simpler and more flexible for Ohio investors. The Revised Act reduces shared liability among multiple properties or assets because of its acceptance of Series LLCs. A Series LLC creates one “parent” LLC and several "children" sub-LLCs among which to split assets. Practically, if one of the sub-series LLCs gets sued, the assets held by the other children sub-LLCs and the parent LLC are shielded from any shared liability. While investors obtain the same asset protection that comes with using multiple, traditional LLCs, in a Series LLC model, only one parent LLC is opened. Assets owned by one Series are shielded from the risk of liability of others within the same Series LLC. 

Practically, a Series LLC structure is useful in a limited set of circumstances.  Real estate investors are primary users of Series LLCs because of the ease and applicability of Series LLCs to investment property portfolios. Rather than creating multiple companies to own investment property, each Series LLC adds inherent investment protection by isolating one property from the others.

Cancellation for Failure to Maintain Statutory Agent

The Revised Act also imposes statutory penalties on LLCs that fail to maintain (or fail to update) their statutory agent’s name and address. The Revised Act directs the Secretary of State to cancel an LLC’s registration, after providing the LLC with notice and a 30-day opportunity to cure. The Revised Act provides for the ability to reinstate a cancelled LLC by submitting the appropriate form and paying a fee.

Cost and Tax Benefits

The Revised Act has strong cost and tax benefits, too. For example, investors will pay fewer registration fees for multiple LLCs when using the Series LLC model. Additionally, only one federal employer identification number is needed for a Series LLC and each sub-series is listed on one singular tax return.

The incorporation of Series LLCs into state law represents a noteworthy change in the law pertaining to limited liability companies in Ohio. To ensure compliance with the Revised Act, to examine how the Series LLC may benefit your business, or for strategic planning for your business, contact Brandon Pauley, btpauley@bmdllc.com or 614-246-7510 or any member of the BMD Business Law team.

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.