Boston leads in Energy Conservation. http://t.co/D9vIFqjedA
AIA Ohio News
Preservation Ohio Adds 13 Historical Sites to Endangered Registry
House Committee Approves School Door Barricade Bill (HB114)
The Ohio House State Government Committee approved HB 114 May 20 after the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police endorsed the bill.
The bill requires the Board of Building Standards to adopt rules for the use of a barricade device on a school door in an emergency situation and would prohibit the State Fire Code from prohibiting the use of the device in such a situation.
No opposition to the bill has surfaced. It was amended in committee to include Ohio's College and Universities as well as K-12 schools.
BWC Approves Flexible Payment Plans
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.
Construction, Engineering Groups Support Bill Banning Residency Requirements
Representatives from six stakeholder groups spoke Tuesday in support of a bill that would ban residency requirements for construction and engineering projects.
Others submitted written testimony before the House Commerce and Labor Committee relaying opposition to the practice, which one speaker likened to "discrimination by Zip Code" that the bill (HB 180) seeks to outlaw.
"Employee residency mandates imposed by public entities limit the mobility of the construction workforce and discriminate against those tradespeople living in the wrong zip code or just outside the city limits," said Andrea Ashley, vice president of government relations for the Associated General Contractors of Ohio. "Ohio residents should have the right to live and work where they choose and residency requirements infringe on that right by placing barriers around a city."
One after another the witnesses argued that enacting such restrictions can harm local workers and result in an advantage for out-of-state companies who legally cannot be bound by those in-state ordinances.
One driver behind those ordinances is the idea that communities will see an economic benefit if the workers originate within that community. But Greg Stewart, CEO of Superior Electric Group, said in written testimony that communities will see an economic benefit from workers on a project for more than 20 days regardless of where they live.
"Finally, the restrictions are unfair to the workers themselves," he said. "As this state struggles with unemployment and underemployment, it is astonishing to me that any government entity would construct barriers to employment as opposed to pathways to employment."
The practice can also hamper recruiting efforts, said Don Mader, executive director of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio. Unlike construction companies, engineering firms compete for work based on professional qualifications rather than low bids, he said.
Such measures would make it challenging for firms to recruit outside talent, he said, and could "do real, long-term economic damage to Ohio's construction and design industries."
"So as an engineering firm manager, I not only have to make sure 30% of my office staff lives in the city, I've somehow got to make sure that two-thirds of the hours worked on any given project are performed by city income taxpayers," he said. "I have been associated with this industry for nearly 35 years and I'd like for someone to explain to me how - on any engineering project - one might reasonably manage this."
A chief concern among those that have testified in support of the bill is that residency restrictions shackle in-state businesses and give out of state workers an unfair advantage.
Rep. Mike Duffy (R-Worthington) asked Mr. Mader, "How common is it for out of state workers to work on construction projects in Ohio?"
"In the engineering industry it's very common," Mr. Mader replied.
The same is true on the construction side, said Mark Totman, legislative director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18.
"We cover two states basically," Mr. Totman said. "You could have a crew of people from Kentucky that could come to Cincinnati and work on this project without having to meet the requirements. If I were large enough and I had crews in two, three states, if there's not work here they're willing to mobilize to keep their business running."
Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) asked Mr. Totman how burdensome the new law would be on his association's operations.
Mr. Totman responded by asking him to imagine how much added time it would take to screen each potential worker based on their place of residence each time a contractor calls looking for employees.
"It's very burdensome," Mr. Totman replied. "It would slow down our process of us putting people to work, slow down the process of doing jobs. It would definitely impact our business."
Also testifying in support of the bill were representatives from the Ohio Contractors Association, Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio, Allied Construction Industries, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Transportation Advocacy Group of Northwest Ohio and the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association.
Controlling Board to Hear $100 Million School Projects Request
An Ohio commission will ask the Controlling Board on Monday for release of $100 million from lottery profits to finance more than 30 school district projects.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (SFC) is asking for approval of $100 million from a larger $350 million sum approved in a mid-biennium review (MBR) bill and the previous capital budget. Bills 130-HB497 (Amstutz) and 130-HB492 (Scherer) provide for the commission to receive the money for the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program through the Lottery Profits Education Fund.
The commission is seeking release of the $100 million that will come partially from video lottery terminal licensing fees from the Ohio Lottery, according to the request. The requested amount “will be used to provide the state share of basic project costs” to school districts approved by the SFC.
A district’s relative wealth “as measured through its three-year average adjusted valuation per pupil and the need to replace classroom facilities as assessed by SFC” are the determinants for its eligibility and priority in the program. The appropriation would fund 38 school districts.
Latest AIA News & Information
- Article Count:
AIA Ohio’s Legislative affairs program provides information and leadership through advocacy and monitoring of legislation and regulations at the state level. By collaborating with allied professionals, industry representatives, code officials, and state and local representatives, AIA Ohio strives to build strategic alliances to address issues of public health, safety and welfate, design excellence and in advancing the quality of life through the built environment.
As advocates of innovative approaches to legislation, AIA Ohio advances state regulations that benefit the practice of architecture and promotes good design that positively affects the quality of life of for all citizens of Ohio. Through our efforts, AIA Ohio works to educate the public and legislators on a wide facet of issues relating to architecture including:
- Qualification Based Selection
- Historic Preservation
- Sustainable Design
- Building Code development and regulation
- Statute of repose
Working through our highly qualified staff and experienced membership, AIA Ohio proposes regulations, positions architects as leaders, and tracks and responds to legislation that benefits both architects and users of the built environment alike. Additionally, through our Political Action Committee, we strive to support legislation, and allies in the legislature, that advances the needs of our members.
- Article Count: