Testimony House Bill 263

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

June 4, 2018

Chairman Burke, Ranking Member Tavares, and members of the Senate Health, Human Services
and Medicaid Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on House Bill 263, legislation to authorize a
food service operation or retail food establishment to allow a person to bring a dog in an outdoor
dining area of the establishment or operation under specified conditions.

Founded in 1884, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce is the leading voice of business within
the 11-county Columbus Region, representing over 1,600 members employing over 500,000
workers. Our goals related to H.B. 263 are to ensure businesses can operate efficiently in a
competitive business environment that allows them to grow and thrive, and to grow the region’s
economy.

Approximately 37% of pet owners take their animals on the road, up 19% from 10 years
ago. Not only is the Columbus region home to numerous events that are geared towards
pets, but Experience Columbus has also launched a new dog-friendly travel program that
helps residents and visitors identify dog-friendly lodging, shopping, and attractions
throughout the city. Many establishments, including those within the growing
microbrewery industry, have expressed the desire to welcome dogs on their patios and
promote access through the Experience Columbus program. However, current law under
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3717-1-06.4 prohibits them from doing so.

Many states and municipalities across the country have already enacted or are working towards
changing their health code to allow restaurants this option, including California, Denver,
Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. The Columbus
Chamber opposes varied, local, piecemeal ordinances that create a patchwork of regulations that
are complicated and difficult for businesses operating in multiple jurisdictions to comply with.
Therefore, we would oppose efforts granting authority to municipalities to create their own
regulations and variances relating to dogs on patios, as well as the creation of a permitting
process that would add an additional layer of costs and bureaucracy on businesses. We support
one uniform statewide statute that will provide clarity and consistency. We request a robust
general law that leaves the least amount of discretion to the agencies to interpret through the
rulemaking process, without burdening restaurant owners with overregulation that fails to
recognize their desire and ability to ensure the utmost health and safety for their guests.
A myriad of differences exist between the House and Senate proposals on this topic, both of
which are pending before this committee. Of primary importance to the Chamber and our
members are the following:

Broad business owner discretion that allows businesses to:

1. Decide if they will allow dogs on their premises
2. Impose limits on the size and breed of dog permitted on their premises
3. Deny entry to the premises to any patron accompanied by a dog
4. Refuse to serve the owner of a pet dog if the owner fails to exercise reasonable control
over the pet dog or the pet dog otherwise is behaving in a manner that compromises or
threatens to compromise the health or safety of any person present in the restaurant
5. Implement any other limitations or restrictions relating to dogs that may accompany a
patron onto the premises

Protection from liability:

1. The dog owner is liable for any damage or injury caused by dog to the premises, fixtures
and furniture, employees and patrons
2. The dog owner must be a responsible adult in control of the dog

With summer rapidly approaching and patio season already in full swing, the Chamber
encourages swift action on legislation to support the small business constituencies that H.B. 263
and S.B. 182 (Coley) aim to assist.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have questions or require additional
information.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Holly Gross
Vice President, Government Relations