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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Relief for Ohio Under the Federal American Rescue Plan Act

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) — a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package — a significant portion of which will be directed to the State of Ohio to support economic recovery, as outlined below.

Generally, the Act seeks to provide state and local governments with the resources needed to stabilize their economies following the shutdowns and COVID-19-related deficits incurred in 2020. As such, the Act directs these authorities to fund businesses, programs, and support infrastructure projects and related economic development.

Specifically, a total of $11.2 billion has been allocated to Ohio from the Act, half of which will go directly to the state government with the balance to be divided among Ohio’s municipalities.

The five (5) largest benefactors of the funds include the following counties:

  • Franklin County: $255,380,000
  • Cuyahoga County: $239,530,000
  • Hamilton County: $158,540,000
  • Summit County: $104,930,000
  • Montgomery County: $103,120,000

The stimuli do not, however, come without caveats as to collection requirements and spending boundaries.

Each state or territory intending to collect their share of the funds is required to certify to the U.S. Treasury that it will use any payment in compliance with the use of fund restrictions, discussed below, before any distribution is made. Once the U.S. Treasury receives this certification, the department must make payment to the certifying entity within 60 days.

Counties, metropolitan cities and states as agents for non-entitlement units of local government will not, however, be required to complete certifications, and will instead receive funds in tranches, with the first tranche to be paid within 60 days of the American Rescue Plan becoming law, and the second tranche to be paid at least 12 months after the date on which the county, metropolitan city or state as an agent for non-entitlement unit of local government received its first payment.

The Act leaves broad authority to the state and local governments as to how the money may be directed with the main caveat requiring the ultimate support of COVID-19 economic recovery (e.g., vaccine distribution and other public health efforts, support for low-income citizens, small business relief, and aid to public education). Notably, there is a deadline to use the funds by each applicable jurisdiction — December 31, 2024.

For any questions on the American Rescue Plan Act, or for more information on allocations across the State of Ohio, please contact BMD Government Affairs Law Member Victoria Ferrise at 330.374.5184 or vlferrise@bmdllc.com.

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.