Ever since I first joined the Ohio House of Representatives, the number-one focus of the General Assembly has been to support common-sense policies that would help strengthen Ohio’s economy, primarily by helping small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.
This week, the Ohio House passed legislation that is another helpful step in that effort. The bill itself can be summed up in one sentence: House Bill 387 doubles the monetary limit that is available for recovery in small claims courts.
So what does that mean, and why is it helpful for small businesses? First, it is important to understand that small claims courts were created in order to offer a less expensive alternative to bigger county or municipal courts. They offer a place where businesses try to recover losses and not have to pay such high attorney fees and other court costs.
However, there is a limit, or cap, of how much money a business can recover using this approach. Right now in Ohio, that limit is only $3,000. So that means if a business needs to try to recover more than $3,000, they have no choice but to go to the bigger, more expensive courts. As I alluded to before, once the higher court costs and legal fees are factored in, a business may not be any better off than when it started.
House Bill 387, sponsored by Hamilton County representatives Lou Terhar and Jonathan Dever, doubles that limit, increasing the amount of money that can be recovered by small businesses while still offering them that less expensive legal option.
Besides being a helpful tool for our small enterprises, the bill just makes sense because the law needed to be updated. This marks the first time in nearly 20 years that the cap has been raised, and the new limit reflects the rate of inflation over that time period. The bill also brings Ohio up to the same level as the national average and with our surrounding states.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.