Legislative Update - March 2019

Transportation Budget Passes the Ohio House and Heads to the Senate
The Ohio House passed a $7.94 billion dollar transportation budget this week by a 71-27 margin.  The main focus of debate dealt with an increase to the gas tax. The initial bill, drafted by Governor DeWine, proposed an 18 cents per gallon motor vehicle fuel user fee. After much debate, the House changed the request to a 10.7 cents per gallon fee to be phased in over two years. The funding would be for road and bridge repair. HB 62 now goes to the Senate for more debate and more changes.
 

Other provisions in the bill:

  • Raise diesel fuel fees to 20 cents per gallon over a three year period. Once full phased in, the fees (gas and diesel) will raise an additional $872 million annually.
  • Change the split of gas fuel fees to a 55%-45% between the state and the counties giving locals more funding.
  • Levy a fee of $200 on electric vehicles and a fee of $100 on hybrid vehicles.
  • Allow cities and townships with permissive authority to levy an additional $5 motor vehicle registration fee.  
  • Raise public transportation funding from $40 M per year to $100 M per year.
  • Remove the 150-mile radius restriction for travel under a special regional heavy hauling permit, thus allowing vehicles under the permit to travel further distances in excess of standard size and weight restrictions.
  • Authorize the Director to enter into IDIQ contracts for not more than two projects in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
  • Make permanent a current temporary exemption from statutory vehicle size and weight limits that applies to towing vehicles that are traveling to or returning from removing a motor vehicle from an emergency on a public highway.
  • Expand the Director of Transportation’s authority to establish variable speed limits to all highways (current law allows variable speed limits only on certain interstate highways) but requires the Director to adopt rules pertaining to variable speed limit criteria and the parameters of any necessary engineering study.
  • Set up a study committee to further explore transportation funding
Prevailing Wage Amendment Defeated
During the transportation budget bill debate on the House floor, an amendment was offered to double the threshold for prevailing wage on public projects. CEA is happy to report that amendment was voted down (tabled) by a 71-27 vote margin. Local legislators who voted to defeat the measure were Representatives Robinson, Patton, Smith, K, Boyd, Upchurch, Howse, Brent, Skindell, Sweeney, Crossman, Greenspan, DeVitis, Hambley, Callender, LaTourette, Manning, G, Oelslager, Rogers, Sykes, Galonski, Roemer, Patterson, Clites, J. Miller, Stein, West, Stoltzfus, and Weinstein.  Speaker Larry Householder also voted to table the amendment.
 
Governor DeWine State of the State Speech
Governor DeWine delivered his first State of the State speech at the Ohio Statehouse on March 5th.
 
The Governor spoke about his priorities which included:
  • Advocating for an 18 cents gas tax that would be indexed for inflation.
  • Helping businesses though enhanced opportunity zones.  
  • Taking an aggressive approach towards workforce development and worker re-training.
  • Investing more in career-tech centers and two-year community colleges, and creating at least 10,000 new industry certificates.
  • Moving forward with InnovateOhio, whose mission is to look at every state service through the eyes of our customers—Ohio citizens and our job creators. InnovateOhio will take a leading role in technology projects across the state. The goal is to better collect and use data across agencies in important areas involving the opioid crisis, workforce development, and children’s initiatives.
  • Making a major push to clean up Lake Erie.

To read the entire speech, please click here..

County Legislation Proposes Raising Competitive Bid Thresholds for Cuyahoga County
Ordinance 2019‐0003 amends Chapter 501 of the Cuyahoga County Code to allow county departments to take bid threshold from $25,000 to $50,000 and the threshold for the Board of Control from $500 to $5,000.

This week the bill had a hearing in the Public Works Committee.  The bill was voted out to the full council. There is discussion of some possible amendments. The sponsor, Councilman Michael Gallagher, has cited the impetus for the bill is long delays and projects being months behind schedule.

The $5,000 raised threshold takes Cuyahoga County to levels of Franklin, Summit and Montgomery counties according to testimony.  These Counties can spend $5,000 or less without getting separate approvals. The state of Ohio also allows for awarding contracts up to $50,000 without competitive bidding.

Contracts between $5,000 and $500,000 will still require Board of Control approval, and contracts above $500,000 must still be approved by County Council.  The bill will now go to full Council for review.

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