Recently, Ohio's biennial "budget bill" was introduced. Among many other provisions, Substitute House Bill 153, the technical name given to the budget bill, contains some significant changes to the state's prevailing wage law. Some of the changes to the prevailing wage law that are proposed in the bill are (for ease of reference, line numbers in the bill where these changes are found are noted parenthetically):
- Increasing the "total overall project cost" threshold to $5 million, adjusted biennially for inflation (62897-62913).
- Setting a separate, and substantially lower, cost threshold for public improvement projects related to roads, streets, and the like (62914-62932).
- Providing that some public improvements that are neither constructed by a public authority or for the benefit of a public authority do not trigger prevailing wage requirements, even if the improvement receives certain funding from a public authority (62953-62957).
- Excluding public improvements undertaken by a state institution of higher education from the obligation to pay prevailing wage (63091-63093).
- Altering the enforcement mechanism of the statute (63205-63243).
In addition to these changes, the bill also deletes a provision requiring payment of prevailing wage on projects receiving certain economic development incentives (11108-11128).
For the labor professional, House Bill 153 is yet another public policy development to track as it makes its way through the legislative process. If the bill passes in its present form, the number of projects to which the prevailing wage might apply will decline. Indeed, the bill seems particularly focused on excluding from prevailing wage exposure "public/private partnership" projects that are often seen in the economic development arena.