The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors on April 24 approved a plan to allow private employers to pay for their annual workers’ compensation premiums in two, four, six or 12 installments as part of its move to a new prospective billing system.
Under the new system, businesses will be billed prior to receiving coverage instead of the previous system of billing employers after they have received coverage. The signing of 130-HB493 (Sears-Henne) allowed for the transition to the new system.
“Prospective billing is not only the standard across the insurance industry, it will bring a number of benefits to Ohio employers, including the $1.2 billion in premiums BWC will pay on their behalf as we make the transition,” BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer said. “We’re pleased to offer more flexibility as part of our ongoing efforts to modernize our operations and provide the quality service that Ohio employers expect.”
Businesses can expect to receive their first notice of estimated annual premium in early June for the 2015 policy year, according to a news release from BWC.
“Beginning July 1, businesses will pay an estimated premium for the upcoming coverage year and undergo a payroll ‘true-up’ process after the policy year ends to ensure the proper premium was paid,” BWC said. “As part of the previously announced $1.2 billion premium credit to ease transition costs for employers, BWC will pay businesses’ previous six months coverage, or final payroll report, under the old system, as well as one-sixth of the policy year 2015 premium due. Therefore, their first payment under prospective billing won’t be due until Aug. 31.”
In addition to payment flexibility, the switch to prospective billing is expected to provide a number of benefits to Ohio employers, according to an executive summary of the plan. Those include an overall base rate reduction of 2 percent for private employers and 4 percent for public employers, as well as an increased ability for BWC to detect employer non-compliance and fraud.
Buehrer said BWC’s “strategic direction” staff has been working to educate employers on the upcoming changes, noting 1,898 attendees representing 1,502 distinct employers have signed up for training.
“This is a huge accomplishment,” he said. “Furthermore, our staff has conducted our first employer seminar in Spanish to a group of Spanish-speaking employers. We are excited to be reaching out to as many employer as possible, and even going the extra mile to speak to them in their own language when we can.”
Also discussed at the meeting was a new initiative to provide workers’ compensation coverage for Ohio employers who have employees temporarily or regularly working outside the state. Kendra DePaul, special assistant to Buehrer, explained that BWC’s extraterritorial coverage generally covers claims of Ohio employees temporarily working out of state as long as the claim is filed in Ohio, but cannot cover claims filed in other states.
“For example, if I was going to a conference up and Michigan, and got in car accident in Michigan, as long as filed the claim back in Ohio, there would be no issue. BWC would process like any other claim,” DePaul said. “If I filed that claim in Michigan, BWC can’t respond to it, they’re not a licensed insurer there, so Michigan would not recognize BWC’s coverage in that state.
“That can lead to some issues for employers,” she continued. “If an employee files a claim in another state, and the employer doesn’t have coverage there, they’re considered uninsured for the purposes of workers’ comp by that state. That can lead to some great fines and penalties and generally they have to pay the claim dollar-for-dollar. So it’s an exposure risk for the employer.”
She said the plan is to offer two types of coverage: limited other states’ coverage, for Ohio employers who have employees temporarily working outside the state; and other states’ coverage, for Ohio employers who have regular or full-time employees working outside the state.
She said the new plan will include the following components:
– Employer would apply directly to BWC.
– BWC would determine eligibility by the following criteria: the employer must be in good standing; have an experience modifier under two; and have 80 percent of its payroll in Ohio.
– Vendor will issue a policy to cover out-of-state exposures.
– Vendor will respond to any claims filed out-of-state.
She said more details would be forthcoming after BWC finds a vendor to respond to the RFP, which is expected to be issued Tuesday, April 28.
Board Chairman Nicholas Zuk said this is an important issue to address, as it was the “No. 1 question” at recent board forums.
“This will allow our employers to bid on jobs out-of-state that they are now prohibited from bidding on because they don’t have group coverage,” Zuk said.
Ohio’s school construction program has reached the 200 mark for facilities earning certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) said Wednesday that Violet Elementary in Pickerington schools is the 200th such facility.
According to the commission, Ohio’s certified schools are on average 33 percent more efficient in energy usage and 37 percent more efficient in water usage. “All of the OSFC projects encourage the use of products and components that are at least partially recycled and are recovered or manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the project,” OSFC stated.
In addition to the 200 certified schools, 140 are registered with LEED, meaning they are at some stage of the design, construction or review process, according to the commission. Ohio has required each project design to seek at least a LEED Silver certification since 2007. Three schools in Ohio have attained the highest certification, Platinum, said OSFC.
“These 200 projects, which represent a commitment to both our school children and the future of our environment, are the direct result of innovative team work from architects, construction managers, trade contractors, and our project partners, the local school districts. I commend them for their accomplishments,” OSFC Interim Executive Director David Chovan said in a statement.
“On behalf of the entire USGBC community, I commend the state of Ohio for certifying its 200th school under the LEED green building rating system,” Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, said in a statement. “This achievement demonstrates determination and commitment to create a healthy, sustainable environment for all of Ohio’s children. Schools are the centers of their communities and the positive impact these LEED-certified schools will have on the state and its children will be felt for years to come.”
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors gave formal approval Feb. 27 to another rate cut totaling $500 million in private employer savings under the Kasich administration.
Directors voted to approve the 10.8 percent, $153 million estimated rate reduction after an initial hearing last month and a final recommendation from the Actuarial Committee. BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer attributed ongoing premium cuts to a several factors including lower-than-expected claim frequency and this year’s adoption of prospective billing, under which the bureau will bill in advance rather than in arrears. The switch will save employers money and free up state investment dollars for BWC.
“The environment for employers operating in Ohio is improving along with the state’s economy, and BWC is certainly part of that story,” Buehrer said. “We’ve targeted improvements that will yield positive improvements to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, and are conducive to business growth. Lower rates, along with a focus on workplace accident prevention and care for those who are injured, all support the state’s continued economic recovery.”
The Electrical League of Ohio is proud to announce the Electro Expo 2015 – Powering Innovation & Technology will be held on Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12, 2015. The event will be held at the brand new state-of-the-art Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland. Registration & More Information
The Electro Expo attracts over 350 manufacturers displaying the latest technology and services for the electrical, lighting, clean energy and low voltage system industry. The Electro Expo educational conference has over 40 presentations with FREE continuing education for industry license holders. Admission to the trade show and conference is FREE, sponsored by our distributors!
The Electro Expo 2015 will kick off with a cocktail reception on Tuesday, March 10, 6:00 p.m. at Pickwick & Frolic Entertainment Club located on East 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland. The reception includes entertainment, announcements of 2014 Product Achievement Award Winners, hors d’oeuvre stations and plenty of networking! Visit our website at http://www.electroexpo.org/ for information and registration. Hope to see you the Expo!
Working off a light agenda Monday, Controlling Board members approved 45 requests, including one that will provide millions of dollars in lottery profits to three school districts.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission was approved for $5.3 million in lottery profit funds for school districts making master facility plan amendments.
Amanda Clearcreek Local School District in Fairfield County is set to receive more than $3.1 million, Arcanum Butler Local School District in Darke County will receive nearly $2 million and East Palestine City School District in Columbiana County will receive $160,000, according to the request.
The project budget of Amanda Clearcreek’s new K-2 and 3-12 facilities is insufficient because of post-construction issues related to shingle roofs, the request stated. In addition to the state share increase of the project, the request would require a local share increase of $561,275.
The additional Arcanum Butler project funding, meanwhile, will cover the costs of masonry repairs and roof repairs at the new K-12 facility and the East Palestine City Schools project requires a funding increase because of an extended design schedule. The districts will be required to chip in an additional $1.1 million and $15,912, respectively.
OFCC Interim Executive Director David Chovan said in the proposal that the state is looking to recover funds from contractors involved with the Amanda Clearcreek project and will initiate litigation in response to the Arcanum Butler project’s roofing issues.
The Ohio School Facilities Construction Commission and Ohio Facilities Construction Commission met to reorganize for the biennium January 22nd, voting to keep Budget Director Tim Keen as chairman and Administrative Services Director Robert Blair as vice chairman.
Keen said while the commissions previously authorized him to direct the process of naming a permanent replacement for now-retired Director Richard Hickman, he’s not made much headway given his work on Gov. John Kasich’s third biennial budget proposal, due in less than two weeks.
Keen said he expects to be able to do more once the budget is released, and said the panels are being well-served now by David Chovan, the interim director.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) said Thursday a new Columbus City Schools building is the 150th public education facility in the state to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Columbus’ new Scioto middle-high school is a LEED Gold-certified building, the 67th to receive that designation. Ohio has three buildings with the highest designation, LEED Platinum; 77 LEED Silver designees; and 3 LEED Certified, the most basic rating.
OSFC has started requiring all building projects to seek LEED Silver certification at minimum.
The commission said Ohio has the most certified public school buildings in the nation, leading the more populous California, which has 108. An additional 190 projects are in the pipeline in Ohio, the commission said.
“These projects, which represent a commitment to both our school children and the future of our environment, are the direct result of innovative team work from architects, construction managers, trade contractors, and our project partners, the local school districts. I commend them for their accomplishments,” OSFC Executive Director Richard Hickman said in a statement.
LEED designations are derived from a points-based system focused on such design elements as water and energy efficiency, sustainable site development, material selection, and indoor environmental quality.
This spring, AIA Ohio sponsored the second annual Schools of Architecture Competition Charrette. The goals included:
- increasing interaction between the 4 schools of architecture and the profession by engaging students, professors and professionals in the charrette and jury process and
- increasing interaction between the students of local school programs by promoting team submissions that foster collaboration.
The competition was for an “Architectural Congress of Ohio Pavilion” in Kent for inter-institutional collaboration between the State’s schools of architecture, its professional design organizations, and the spaces they collectively influence. The site included a 15,000 sf program with work space, resource space and exhibition space.
The competition resulted in 82 students participating on 28 teams representing the four schools of architecture. Entries this year were all juried by the AIA Ohio Jury after the AI AIA Ohio Board meeting at Kent State University on March 14th. The AIA Ohio Jury reviewed all 28 submissions and selected First, Second and Third Place winners and five Honorable Mentions. The professors and professionals who volunteered their time are to be commended, and the winning students and schools congratulated:
AIA Ohio Jury:
Bruce Sekanick, AIA, Chair
Paul Hollenbeck, AIA
Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA
Sandy Bresler, AIA
Udo Greinacher (University of Cincinnati)
Bart Overly (Ohio State University)
John Weigand, AIA (Miami University)
Bill Willoughby (Representing Kent State University)
The Ohio School Facilities Commission adopted changes to its design manual Thursday, including the decision to publish a separate “educational facility planning guide” to encourage districts to consider their educational vision before thinking about space, materials and other concerns.
“You should be looking at how you’re going to teach and how you’re going to educate students,” commission planning chief William Ramsey told commissioners while presenting manual updates.
State Superintendent Richard Ross asked how the commission ensures districts are thinking about future technology needs when building new schools. Melanie Drerup, deputy planning chief, said the commission has four consultants who lead educational planning sessions with school officials to review the direction of education, innovative practices and experiences across the country.
“We will continue to look at this one an annual cycle and more frequently if needed. We know the world is changing,” Drerup said.
The commission also adopted changes to the process for officially closing the books on completed school projects, the result of internal efforts to simplify and accelerate an operation that had taken more than four years on average.
New guidelines should see projects closed within four months of districts’ occupying a new building, said project chief Craig Weise.
Weise said the commission undertook a Kaizen process-improvement review with internal staff as well as outside representatives including school treasurers, architects and construction managers. The process had been averaging 4.7 years, with some closeouts taking as long as a decade and the fastest-ever closing completed in just over than a year.
Changes presented Thursday eliminated 40 percent of the steps in the old process and removed 65 percent of the reasons for common delays, and also addressed taking some actions concurrently rather than sequentially.
Richard Hickman, commission executive director, said the prolonged closings usually tied up funds that could otherwise be redirected to new projects.
“This really will help us in that regard as well,” Hickman said.
Jeff Westhoven, facility and program services chief for the commission, gave an update on school security grants, a program created in the FY14-15 biennial budget to install secure doors and emergency radios in Ohio schools.
Westhoven said $10 million of the $12 million allocated for grants has been approved based on applications submitted so far, with 581 districts in 86 Ohio counties served.
While the commission had planned to open a second round of applications in June, Westhoven said he anticipates all the funding will be committed in the first round. However, as schools have been spending an average of $4,200 on secure doors, compared to the $5,000 grant maximums, funding could be freed up for a second round that could open in September, he said.
At the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission meeting following the school facilities meeting, Hickman and Director Gary Mohr of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) said they were undertaking a strategic planning effort to assess the construction needs of Ohio’s prison system.
The construction commission also adopted a resolution giving Hickman authority to request issuance or refinancing of bonds for cultural facilities projects, mirroring his existing authority for K-12 and state agency projects.
John P. Rademacher, AIA, Cincinnati has been appointed to the Ohio Board of Architects for a term ending October 1, 2017. Rademacher is a past president of AIA Cincinnati, a past member of AIA Advocacy Committee, an alternate director of AIA Ohio and a member of the AIA Ohio Advisory Committee to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).
Kent State University’s (KSU) Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) will have its “Pop Up City” initiative featured at the Chicago Cultural Center for the “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good” exhibit. The exhibit will run through Sept. 1.
According to KSU, “Pop Up City” is a temporary-use project intended to catalyze the use of some of Cleveland’s underutilized vacant places as havens for cultural arts and activities. The KSU CUDC project is one of 84 projects on display in the Chicago exhibit.
Terry Schwartz director of KSU’s CUDC said in a news release, “Short-term interventions allow us to activate the city and transform vacant buildings and sites, which are abundant in Cleveland.” Schwartz also said, “There is quite a lot of work involved in some of our temporary interventions, but we have a network of partners and friends who help us envision and implement pop-up projects in response to specific opportunities and needs.”
The “Pop Up City” initiative was also featured as a part of the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in Italy last year.
July 25 – Cincinnati
July 30- Columbus
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission announces its first conference since the consolidation of the Ohio School Facilities Commission and the State Architects Office.
The annual conference, now known as the OFCC Conference, combines A/E-CM Regional Meetings, SAO College, and Ohio Construction Reform.
The OFCC Conference will bring together public owners, school districts, architects, engineers, landscape architects and planners, construction managers, design-builders, contractors and suppliers, consultants and specialty service providers, and construction attorneys.
Stay tuned for more information.