On Wednesday, June 8, the Ohio Senate passed its version of the $55.7 billion, two-year state budget plan.  The Senate significantly revised the portions of the bill dealing with prevailing wages on public projects. 

   On Wednesday, June 8, the Ohio Senate passed its version of the $55.7 billion, two-year state budget plan.  The Senate significantly revised the portions of the bill dealing with prevailing wages on public projects. 

   While the proposed House budget would not require prevailing wages on new construction projects less than $3.5 million, the proposed Senate budget would initially place that threshold at $125,000 and ultimately raise it up to $250,000 by 2013.   The current prevailing wage threshold is $80,000. 

   Under the Senate budget,  K-12 school districts would be prohibited from instituting prevailing wage requirements on public improvements.   On the other hand, higher education facilities and the Ohio Turnpike would still be required to pay prevailing wages.   Port Authorities would have the option of whether or not to pay prevailing wages. 

   The Senate budget also adopts several provisions intended to reduce “nuisance” lawsuits related to prevailing wage violations and provide “safe harbor” for contractors who attempt to abide by the law.  Some of these provisions include: (1) requiring sufficient specific evidence of a violation from interested parties, (2) not issuing a violation if it involves less than $1,000/employee and the contractor makes full restitution, and (3) eliminating penalties for contractors and subcontractors who made a good faith effort to comply with the prevailing wage requirements.

    From here, the bill will go to conference committee, where lawmakers will attempt to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill so that a final bill can be passed before the current budget plan expires on June 30.