Both the Ohio House and Senate have passed companion bills designed to wipe out rules in Cleveland, Akron and elsewhere requiring that a certain amount of local workers be hired for publicly funded design and construction projects.
The Ohio House passed a ban 61-31 on June 30, five days after the Senate passed its own identical version. The legislature will wait until the fall to decide which of the two bills to send to Gov. John Kasich.
A local hiring quota ban was previously added to the state’s two-year budget plan (HB64). But state Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, reportedly got that language removed at the last minute as a condition of voting for the budget bill
For 11 years, Cleveland’s “Fannie Lewis” law has required that local residents perform 20 percent of work on all city construction projects costing $100,000 or more. Akron requires contractors bidding on its $1.4 billion sewer project to hire half of their workers locally by 2018.
Opponents of such quotas say they often make it harder to hire the best people. And because out-of-state companies don’t have to abide by such rules, residency quota critics say they put Ohio contractors at a disadvantage.
Labor organizations argue that non-residents will crowd out local residents on local construction jobs and that many of the losers will be from low income neighborhoods.
Both House and Senate bills passed mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor.