|Legislative News By David W. Field, CAE, Hon. AIA AIA Ohio Executive Vice President
As the 128th Ohio General Assembly heads toward an expected late May recess, many legislators have already focused on summer campaigns and the fall election. Some House members have filed for Senate seats and vice versa. Others are seeking jobs outside the legislative arena.
Here’s a current summary of architect’s issues:
All indications are that further construction reform has been sidetracked by language in the compromise Budget-fix bill that created three University pilot projects (large, medium and small) using different alternative construction methods (Design/Build, Construction Manager at Risk, General Contracting and Design Assist) all of which will be LEED certified, use maximum EDGE requirements and be monitored throughout. However, some legislative leaders are talking about further revision, even yet this year. Senate President, Bill Harris would like to consider a separate bill later this year. Some have even suggested adding further revision to the upcoming Capital Bill. But Rep. Szolllosi, a union lawyer has said much more work needs to be done and the issues are too complex to be considered in conjunction with the Capital Bill. Bottom line: another construction reform bill could be introduced and studied in the Senate later this year, but, even if it passed the Senate, unless Rep. Szollosi changes his mind, the House wouldn’t be expected to act… especially if the unions and the Legislative Black Caucus remained opposed further change.
The following projects have been announced as construction reform pilots:
Central State University – Emery Hall Renovations – Phase IV: $1.75 Million
This project is to preserve and restore Emery Hall, one of two remaining historical structures on the original campus of Wilberforce University. Constructed as a women’s dormitory in 1913, the building is included in the national historical register to preserve Emery Hall’s significant place in history.
This portion of the project will use the construction delivery method of “construction manager at risk.” Contracts for mechanical, electrical and plumbing will be awarded using an open competitive bid process based on complete design documents.
Ohio State University – ProjectONE Core Phases: $658.3 Million
ProjectONE is a $1 billion undertaking that will transform the medical center campus with a central tower housing a new Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute; a new Critical Care Center designed to facilitate better patient care and enhanced by integrated research and education space.
Each phase will use one or more alternative methods of construction delivery authorized by HB318, including construction manager at risk and “design assist.”
University of Toledo – Center for Biosphere Restoration Research – Bowman Oddy Laboratories Building and Wolfe Hall Renovations: $7.8 Million
The University of Toledo (UT) plans to renovate a 21,291 square foot space in the Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Building and Wolfe Hall to create a facility for the Center for Biosphere Restoration Research (CBRR) and related “domino moves.” The CBRR will house the research teams of 13 faculty from UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences, dedicated to research and education “needed to secure an environmentally sustainable future.”
The entire project will use the construction delivery method of construction manager at risk. Renovation will include new air and plumbing systems and wholesale reconfiguration of non-load-bearing walls, new finishing work, and new laboratory cabinets and office furniture.
The three Construction Reform Demonstration Project proposals will go before the Controlling Board on April 5, 2010.
House Bill 7, which would set sustainability standards for state construction projects, passed the House by a party-line vote of 54-42. As it cleared the House, it contained an amendment suggested by AIA-Ohio’s Committee on the Environment. The amendment broadened the scope of the bill by setting multiple standards. During the House floor debate, Republican representatives raised concern about applying the proposed new standards to rehabilitation projects as well as new construction, which they contended would prohibitively raise rehabilitation costs. Some lawmakers said they felt the proposed new standards were excessive and others wanted to clarify that they only applied to projects funded by at least 20% state money. The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee has held one hearing on the bill. Currently AIA-Ohio’s COTE Committee and Executive Committee are reviewing AIA-Ohio’s position on the bill.
Registration Board Licensing Bill
The Senate passed SB 183 and the House Civil and Commercial Law Committee is currently holding hearings on it. The bill would move a grandfather exemption within the requirements of the Architects Law granted to certain corporations. The provision allows firms operating for many years to be passed to relatives of original founders without having to meet the strict ownership requirements.
SB183 would move the grandfathering provision to the section dealing specifically with ownership requirements. This will narrow the grandfathering provision to make sure that a company can keep passing down a firm from parents to children. However, the new location of the grandfathering provision will still ensure that a company uses licensed architects to provide architecture services.
Park District Building Departments
The Ohio House Local Government/Public Administration Committee took sponsor testimony January 20 on SB 151 which would add park districts to the existing list of political subdivisions permitted to create a building department. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Grendell says the bill would save taxpayer money by allowing park districts to avoid the lengthy process of having building projects approved by a state, county or city building department. He acknowledges that most park districts would be too small to take advantage of the bill, but larger ones, like the Lake County Metroparks District, which operates a working farm, could benefit from the bill.
However, Rep. Chandler, the chairwoman of the committee, isn’t buying that. She says that creating a building department would be duplication of effort, and that the cost of filing fees isn’t likely to exceed the cost of training or hiring a building inspector. She also says that sometimes the reason the application process is delayed is because the proposed building doesn’t meet code requirements, and suggests that allowing parks to approve their own buildings would be like “asking the fox to guard the henhouse.” Chandler says the committee should look at current building codes and consider revising them so as not to prohibitively affect parks.
Renewable Energy Bills
The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee is considering bills that would affect the future energy use.
SB 232 introduced by Sen. Chris Widener, FAIA is aimed at making Ohio more competitive with surrounding states in attracting renewable energy projects that create “green-collar” jobs. A similar bill was introduced in the Ohio House by the Strickland administration March 15 as HB 464 and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s not identical to SB 232, but negotiations aimed at folding some of the House bill’s provisions into SB 232 are on-going.
During the past four years, Ohio has built no wind farms while neighboring states have been hard at work with these totals: Michigan, three; Indiana, six; Pennsylvania, 11 and West Virginia, two. One reason: Ohio’s current effective tax rate for renewable energy technologies is up to eight times higher than neighboring states competing for the same projects, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Widener’s plan would allow companies that want to build renewable energy generation facilities such as wind projects to pay an annual fee based on how much energy they generate instead of tangible personal property taxes. This would bring Ohio tax rates for such projects in line with other states.
SB223 would expand the municipal solar energy revolving loan program to include alternative energy projects such as wind, solar, geothermal and weatherization.
HB113 is another energy bill that passed the House in December and is awaiting Senate hearings. It would authorize school boards to treat on-site renewable energy generation measures in the same manner as they treat energy conservation measures and to enter into installment contracts subject to specified terms of payment.
DAS Adopts Revised Energy Rules
The State Architect’s Office has adopted rules that modify Chapter 123:4 of the Ohio Administrative Code. These rules respond to H.B. 251 passed by the 126th General Assembly that required energy efficiency standards for state-funded buildings.
In the proposed rules, standards have been established for energy consumption of buildings owned and leased by state agencies, life-cycle cost analysis, certification of building operators, tracking of energy consumption, and procedures to authorize building managers to administer energy installment payment contract projects.
The consumption standard utilizes the Architecture 2030 goals, which were recently adopted by the National Governors Association. This standard for new construction starts with the effective date of the rules at 50 percent reduction from the average commercial building energy efficiency and increases the reduction percentage incrementally until the year 2030, when the standard stipulates buildings must be designed as net zero fossil fuel emitting. The standard for renovations establishes a 50 percent reduction and does not increase over time.
Re-appropriations Bill Passes Without Major Changes
By the time you read this the Capital Re-appropriations will have passed both the House and Senate and either on its way for the Governor’s signature or already signed. The bill mostly reauthorizes spending for ongoing capital projects during fiscal years 2011 and 2012, but also includes $525 million in new appropriations for bond-backed expenditures by the Ohio School Facilities Commission and $145 million for the Ohio Public Works Commission.
The bill, which impacts some 1,200 projects, was enacted without any major changes or controversial provisions. Indeed, Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said that was the gist of an agreement between the Senate president, House speaker and governor.
The Capital Bill, which will provide state construction financing for the next biennium, won’t be acted upon until fall.
Two Bills that Aren’t Expected to Move Include:
HB 37, which would require DAS to maintain a list of irresponsible bidders.
SB 14, which would establish licensure for home inspectors.
Widener named Vice Chairman of Powerful Senate Finance Committee
AIA-Ohio Past President, Senator Chris Widener, FAIA, has been named Vice Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee. Chris also serves as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee and sits on the Senate’s Insurance, Commerce and Labor and Ways and Means and Economic Development Committees.
Because of Chris, the voice of architecture is present on most important statewide issues!
Prevailing-wage penalty required
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled March 2, that the Penalties for Violations of Ohio Prevailing Wage Law are Mandatory, unless the violations were clerical errors (Bergman v. Monarch). Justice Cupp (former State Senator) wrote the majority opinion.
AIA-Ohio component volunteers are now soliciting contributions to the AIA-Ohio Political Action Committee (PAC). Total contributions received via this program to date are $5,235. Kudos to AIA Toledo, for raising the largest dollar amount: $1,840, or 35 percent! Dollars contributed will fund the “Triple Play” program that introduces architects to their elected representatives on a favorable basis. This effort has been led by Dave Brehm, AIA, from Columbus. Other committee members include: Rob Habel, AIA; Marcene Kinney, AIA; Jack Bialosky Sr., AIA; Alan Moody, AIA; Gregg Strollo, AIA; Joe Vetter, AIA; and Tony Damon, AIA.
The “Triple Play” program leverages Ohio’s campaign finance law that allows individuals to take up to a $50 tax credit (or $100 on joint returns) for personal contributions made to the campaigns of state office holders. Our AIA-Ohio PAC matches the member’s contribution and sends a letter to the candidate asking him/her to use the contributing architect as a sounding board for design/construction legislation.
Your contribution to the PAC will assure the continuation of this important program.
You may send your personal check for any amount to AIA-Ohio PAC at the AIA-Ohio office.