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Legislative Action Alert: Ohio House Puts QBS In Jeopardy: Contact your Senator Today!

Qualification Based Selection (QBS) of architects is in jeopardy from an amendment that the House of Representatives added to the state's Budget Bill, Sub. HB 49.  Please contact your state Senator today asking that the Senate remove this amendment.

In 2012-2013, comprehensive construction reform provided the most significant change to Ohio’s public construction law in more than 130 years.  One positive result of this collaboration between industry and government was the centralization of construction authority into OFCC, creating consistency and transparency in Ohio’s public construction projects. 

This House amendment to the state’s Budget Bill, Sub. HB 49, takes a step backward by allowing for the establishment of a second construction authority in the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS), causing confusion, inconsistency and the potential of significant legal entanglements.

The language would allow DAS to award its own design and construction contracts as “supplies” or “services” contracts under R.C. Chapter 125, thereby circumventing R.C. Chapter 153 construction law.  Using this language, DAS could authorize a private third-party administrator to bid and award construction contracts, without the transparency and fair processes required under ORC 153.  Further, DAS could use its cooperative purchasing authority to extend this same contract to all political subdivisions.  The state’s construction authority, OFCC, could not challenge these contracts since “a contract awarded by DAS takes precedence over the commission’s authority” according to the bill.

AIA Ohio Believes:
This language is not in the best interests of public construction in Ohio because:

·  It bypasses the competitive processes and protections of standard construction under ORC Chapter 153, including advertising, bonding, subcontractor protections, etc.;

·  It creates a path for all political subdivisions to avoid competitive bidding for construction;

·  It makes the award of construction contracts less transparent;

·  It breeds confusion and a sense of unfairness within the design and construction industry in Ohio;

·  It provides no legal recourse to challenge the appropriateness of a construction contract awarded by a non-construction agency (DAS).

The Ask:
AIA Ohio has uploaded the parts of Sub. HB 49 that include this language here.  Please ask your state Senator to remove the language that is shown Please ask your state Senator to remove the language that is shown highlighted in red boxes.

Township Building Code Bill Gets Hearing (SB43)

Pro and con testimony regarding SB43 was heard March 28 by the Senate Local Government Committee.  SB43 would enable limited home rule townships to adopt building codes regardless of any similar codes adopted by the county in which the township resides.

Testimony against SB43 was given by Brad Cole, managing director of research for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). Testimony in support of the bill was given by Vincent Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association (OHBA). Written proponent testimony was submitted by Andrew Glenn, a trustee for Springfield Township in Lucas County.

Cole said, "CCAO is concerned about the duplication of services ... Encouraging townships to establish parallel building departments that compete against existing county building departments for the limited business of performing inspections and issuing building permits would appear to be contrary to the overall objective of achieving greater efficiency in local government services... Another potential issue is the consistency of services ..."

Chairman Uecker pointed out that Hamilton County has a robust building department despite multiple municipalities with their own departments. Sen. Terhar said Hamilton County also contains charter townships. Cole admitted he had not reached out to all counties, and agreed to meet with Uecker to discuss CCAO's concerns further.

Squillace said OHBA wants the bill to make clear that charter townships must have exactly the same standards and rules as the county building department. Uecker requested that he submit a written copy of his testimony.


Glen wrote, "We have a very business friendly approach in our township ... The building department in Lucas County treats people exactly opposite from how they are treated in our office... Several cities and villages in Lucas County have exercised their option to get away from the Lucas County Building Department by either creating their own department, or contracting with another department for permitting and inspections within their jurisdictions. It makes perfect sense to give townships that same option... another benefit of SB43 would actually be to improve the level of customer service within the county building departments through competition." 

Board of Building Standards Proposed Code Revisions

The Ohio Board of Building Standards will convene for a public hearing in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, at 10:00 A.M., Friday, April 14, 2017 in Hearing Room #1, at 6606 Tussing Road, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068.  The purpose of the hearing is to solicit testimony on proposed actions taken on select rules of the Administrative Code, identified as Amendments Group XCIII (93) pursuant to Chapters 119., 3781., 3791., and 4104. of the Revised Code.

 A synopsis of the proposed rule changes is attached.  The full text of the public hearing draft containing the proposed rules can be viewed on the Board’s website at the following link:http://www.com.state.oh.us/documents/bbs_CombinedPHDraft-AG93.pdf

Due its size, it may take a few moments to download. 

Please contact the Ohio Board of Building Standards at 614-644-2613 with any questions.

Ohio Architects Board Budget Hearing

The Ohio House Finance Committee took testimony March 7 regarding the Ohio Architect Board's proposed budget.  John Rademacher, AIA, a member of the Ohio Architects Board and a past president, gave testimony on behalf of Amy Kobe, the director of the Ohio Architects Board and the Landscape Architects Board, who was unable to testify because she was also recovering from knee replacement surgery. Kobe submitted written testimony that Rademacher read.

In the FY18-19 biennium, the board projects total revenues of approximately $1.24 million. It has a FY18 of $576,916, a 5.2 percent increase over FY17 and $604,765 for FY19, for a total request of $1.18 million.

Rademacher noted a number of cost increases, including a 12 percent payroll increase from FY16 to FY18; an increase in rent by 10 percent, going from $14,000 in FY14 to an estimated $33,000 in FY19; the cost of eLicense increasing from $3,122 in FY17 to $18,771 beginning in FY19; and the cost of the FY18-19 audit going up to $12,300, compared to an FY12 cost of $6,500.

He said the board is thought of as one of the top architectural boards in the country, and is focused on customer service and making business easier to do in the state.

Building Code Bill Gets Hearing (SB 43)

The Senate Local Government, Public Safety & Veterans Affairs Committee took testimony, March 7 regarding SB43 which would enable limited home rule townships to adopt building codes regardless of any similar codes adopted by the county in which the township resides.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) said his proposal would let residents and businesses in certain limited home rule townships obtain building permits at the township level, which would be more convenient than seeking permits from county departments.

He said the change was requested by Blendon Township, which would like to adopt its own codes.

He said that township has a commercial building department because Franklin County doesn't have one, but is unable to open a residential building department because the county does have a residential operation.

Having both departments, he said, would make the process more efficient because Ohioans would only have to visit one jurisdiction to address all their permit needs. The change, he added, would allow builders to work with a single inspector on all projects.

Sen. Bacon told Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London) that the bill would not address any local zoning restrictions.

Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) questioned whether counties and townships could come to different decisions on permit applications. Sen. Bacon said the codes would be similar, but acknowledged that different people could have different views on code interpretation.

The sponsor also told Sen. Sykes that there is nothing in the bill that lets counties object to qualifying townships creating their own departments.

Responding to Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland), Sen. Bacon said the proposed structure is similar to the process that many cities already follow, in which the county is not involved.

Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Adena) said he has experience in residential and commercial construction, and raised concerns that the shift could "muddy the waters" in terms what governmental entity is responsible for permitting. "This could become an extreme nightmare if we make it more convoluted than it already is," he said.

Sen. Bacon said it is his goal that the bill makes the process go more smoothly, not create confusion. "We're changing nothing about the process," he added, noting that the bill only creates new township authority.

Sen. Sykes said he wanted to avoid potential conflicts between counties and townships, and asked why the bill declares that township codes will prevail.

Sen. Bacon said that issue would be reviewed.

Budget Bill Would Mitigate Registration Board Anti-Trust Vulnerabilities

Ohio's Budget Bill (HB49) contains provisions that address the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision against the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners that ruled they violated federal antitrust laws because members of the state’s dental board were active participants in the profession they regulated.

Due to this Supreme Court ruling, certain vulnerabilities have been identified in Ohio’s current licensing system. HB49 proposes the creation of a third-party review process by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), in which the DAS would review any action taken by or on behalf of a board that could be subject to antitrust laws. Not only would this protect boards from costly legal action for antitrust-related concerns, it would also prevent unnecessary delays in business decisions the boards make and promote better coordination and efficiency within the licensing boards structure.  

Following are the details governing DAS Antitrust review: 


  • Requires the Director of Administrative Services to review and approve or disapprove actions or proposed actions that have been referred to the Director and that may have antitrust implications taken by boards and commissions.
  • Voids an action or proposed action disapproved by the Director.
  • Allows a board or commission that has taken or proposes to take an action, person who is affected or is likely to be affected by an action taken or proposed to be taken by a board or commission, or a person granted a stay in court under the bill to refer an action for review by the Director.
  • Allows a party adversely affected by the Director's approval or disapproval to appeal to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Requires a person to obtain a determination from the Director before pursuing a court action for a violation of antitrust laws and grants the state, a board or commission, or a member of a board or commission the right to request a stay of antitrust proceedings pending in a court that lasts until the Director approves or disapproves the action.
  • Requires the Director to adopt rules under the Administrative Procedure Act to implement and administer the bill's review provisions. 

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Webinars

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST, with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is offering design and construction webinars this spring in addition to their in-person training seminars.  Click the links below for information on how to register.  

April 12, 2017, 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM CT - Dwelling Unit Requirements

April 26, 2017, 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM CT - Accessible Routes

May 10, 2017, 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM CT - Accessible Public and Common Use Areas

June 14, 2017, 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM CT - Common Design and Construction Violations and Solutions

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