AIA Ohio Government Affairs Update
By Luther Liggett

Budget BillHouse Bill 33, the Governor exercised a Line-Item Veto of House Bill 65 and Senate Bill 67’s attempt to circumvent the Ohio Building Code permitting process.  Reflecting AIA’s argument, the Governor’s Veto Message states in relevant part, “Ohio’s building and fire codes are based on model codes developed by experts on fire science and risks.*** Our current system is designed to have strict standards with the ability for local inspectors to issue variances from certain codes when appropriate, and this [vetoed] provision could result in a significant life safety risk to Ohioans.”

The Budget Bill also changes the composition of the Architect’s Board to designate one of the five members as “a member of the general public and who is not an architect”, R.C. 4703.01.

The Budget Bill also amended R.C. 153.12 to allow local governments to award a construction contract bid in excess of the cost estimate by not more than 20%, instead of the historical 10% excess.

Issue One: Construction Bonds at Risk.  The Special Election on August 8, 2023 defeated an Ohio Constitutional amendment to increase the vote to at least 60% to approve any future Constitutional amendment.  Historical infrastructure, housing, and the Third Frontier programs would not have passed with that super majority requirement.  

Eliminating Competitive BidsSenate Bill 23 and House Bill 145 would allow any Ohio political subdivision to avoid competitive bidding for construction merely by joining with another subdivision that participates in a “joint purchasing program” operated by a trade association. 

Occupational License Review.  The Architects Board and Landscape Architects Board received notice that in the Fall of 2023, the House State and Local Government Committee will review these licenses this spring, to determine whether the Boards should be terminated as an unnecessary obstacle to employment. 

Expedited Building AppealsSenate Bill 41 passed the Ohio Senate unanimously, to provide for expedited hearings before the state or local Boards of Building Appeals, to provide variances to the Building Code. 

Senate Bill 9, Administrative Rule Reduction. All agencies must reduce administrative rules by a third over the next three years. This is difficult for the Board of Building Standards to develop a strategy for updating Ohio’s uniform commercial codes.

SB 131, Unilateral “Reciprocity”.  Effective April 3, 2023, this legislation requires an occupational licensing authority, including the Architect’s Board, to issue a license to an applicant who holds a license, government certification, or private certification or has satisfactory work experience in another state. 

Construction Statute of Repose.  A Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the Statute of Repose for the construction industry, dismissing an architect and contractor from a public school lawsuit brought more than ten years after completion.  Martins Ferry City School Dist. v. Colaianni Constr., Inc, MKC Architects, Inc., 7th Dist. Belmont, Case No. 19-CV-0132, 0133, 2023-Ohio-2285.

AIA Political Action Committee.  AIA Ohio raises funds and contributes to Representatives and Senators of the General Assembly, at events attended by membership, to foster AIA’s working relationships.  Please consider donating to help us with this important advocacy work: