If you were hoping that a Construction Reform proposal (that the Senate tacked onto the Governor’s $850 million Budget Bill) would quickly authorize alternative construction methods for state projects, you’ll be disappointed. Though construction reform started life as a giant, last night it shrank to a pigmy.
Instead of authorizing design build, construction manager at risk and other alternative delivery systems, the Budget Bill agreed to Thursday evening merely authorizes three (3) pilot university projects selected by the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents that will use different alternative methods of construction delivery, but all qualifying for LEED certification.
The alternative methods of construction are defined as: construction manager at risk; design build; general contracting & design assist.
The pilot projects will not be exempt from prevailing wage, bonding, EDGE, retainage, prompt pay, equal opportunity, affirmative action, domestic steel or public notice and advertising laws currently on the books.
The projects will establish maximum EDGE contracting obligations and all minority business enterprises will be considered EDGE business enterprises. Compliance check-points will be established and a “Stakeholder Advisory Board” will include two representatives of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, two minority contractors and the Chancellor to monitor compliance.
The participating universities will provide the Chancellor with “all requested information in order to facilitate the Chancellor’s study of the cost effectiveness and efficiencies associated with the use of the alternative construction delivery methods.” The Chancellor will submit semi-annual reports of the findings to the Governor as well as the House and Senate. Lacking is any required way to benchmark “cost effectiveness.”
Nothing in the language appears to prevent litigation; lawsuits will simply move from to the Common Pleas Court instead of the Ohio Court of Claims. Because Budget Bills may not contain but a Single Subject, the entire Bill could be subject to challenge by anyone as Unconstitutional.
Following the final compromise meeting with Senate President, Harris, and House Speaker, Budish, Governor Strickland stated again that he is the governor who brought Construction Reform to the forefront.
“I’m the governor who chose to set up the study committee to work toward bringing about construction reform, so it’s my issue, and I believe it’s something that will be good for Ohio,” he said.
Before either chamber acted, Budish had said he had hoped the bill would pass in a clean form (delaying for two years the scheduled income tax roll-back), without construction reform and all-day kindergarten delays, but understood that Harris would have had trouble gathering the needed votes. He had opposed putting full construction reform in the bill, rather than the pilot project, because his caucus felt it was too large of an issue at this time, Budish said. He noted a separate bill was in the works, and that now the state will be able to test various options through the pilot project.
“We have felt this is a very complicated issue and should not be done haphazardly without public hearings or public input,” he said.