|Ohio Senate rejects House ban on project labor pacts
Local governments can continue to use project labor agreements on construction projects after the state Senate on Tuesday squashed a House-passed bill that would have largely banned them.
A House chamber voted 51-42 for a union-related bill that would have prevented state and local governments from requiring the use of project labor agreements on projects that include state funding.
The Senate voted 25-8 less than an hour later to reject changes to Senate Bill 152.
The overwhelming Senate vote, combined with the narrow House vote, means the bill is probably dead.
11 House Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill, which also would have prohibited cities from imposing residency requirements for workers on public construction projects.
The vote followed a long, debate in which supporters argued that project labor agreements increase costs and reduce competition among those bidding on a project.
"The purpose of this is to put government in the position where it's unbiased," said Rep. Ron Young, R-Leroy. "They are simply saying, `Show us your bid. All we're going to look at is the actual elements of the bid.' "
Rep. Kevin Boyce, D-Columbus, said labor agreements secure a better workforce, add safety to the project and prevent work stoppages over labor disputes.
Rep. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, said a labor agreement got new Euclid schools opened on time and under budget.
"Why would we want to remove this as a possible tool for all of those local governments?" Smith said. "Let's let the local communities decide."
They also debated the use of local residency requirements, such as Akron's requirement of 30 percent local hiring on its $1.4 billion sewer project.
"People who live in these communities want to access economic benefits of construction in their neighborhoods," said Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron.
But some Republicans argued that local hiring quotas are a burdensome requirement and give out-of-state contractors an unfair advantage because they don't have to follow them.