(The Center Square) — To-go cocktails are permanently legal in Ohio and local governments cannot tax plastic bags for at least a year after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed four bills into law.
Bars and restaurants can also use more outside space on public and private property, with local government approval, and include three drinks per meal on delivery orders.
“The Business Expansion and Safety Act works to give businesses the flexibility to expand their operation with the hope of leading to maximized revenue generation and making up for lost profits after the state shutdown,” state Rep. Jeff LaRue, R-Violet Township, one of the bills co-sponsors, said. “This is truly pro-business legislation that benefits both the sellers and consumers.”
The bill received strong support from the Ohio Restaurant Association, Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, the Greater Ohio Policy Center and the Buckeye Institute.
A recent survey conducted by the Ohio Restaurant Association showed 61 percent of the state’s restaurants believe they will be forced to close within nine months if they continue to operate at their current capacity restrictions.
The same survey showed more than three-quarters of restaurants expect to lose money this year.
“I am grateful to the governor for signing this critical legislation into law,” state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, another co-sponsor, said. “This bill is going to help our main street businesses, restaurant industry and all of the waiters, waitresses, bartenders and Ohioans that rely on that industry to pay their bills.”
The law contained an emergency clause and becomes effective immediately.
Also, for at least 12 months, local governments cannot levy a tax or impose a fee on the sale, use or consumption of plastic bags.
The bill, sponsored by State Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester, sponsored the bill in an effort to help businesses trying to recover from the pandemic.
“Ohio businesses need stability as our economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lang said. “I’m proud to have sponsored this legislation that will protect our state’s small businesses and families from unnecessary taxes and fees.
“Many businesses have utilized single-use containers in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and this bill will ensure these health and safety measurers can continue.”
Those were two of four bills signed into law earlier this week. Another designates Feb. 13 as Aortic Aneurysm Awareness Day, and the fourth allows the sale of alcoholic ice cream.
An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.