The Ohio Senate today reinstated a controversial restriction in the state transportation budget that would prohibit communities from requiring that public construction projects completed with state or federal money employ a minimum amount of local Ohioans.


The controversial prohibition returns to House Bill 53 after a House panel nixed the restriction that brought sharp criticism from Akron City officials, State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and other Democratic lawmakers. Sykes successfully drafted an amendment that removed the controversial language.


“This restriction could have a dangerous and untold reach into our urban communities which will disproportionately impact African Americans who remain unemployed at a rate three times higher than the state average,” said Rep. Sykes. “This could hurt local communities and jeopardize Ohio jobs, and we haven’t seen any information that says otherwise.”


The City of Akron currently has a local hiring target of 30 percent for the city’s sewer and water improvements, with that goal increasing to 50 percent by 2018. Akron City officials appeared before the House budget panel to testify against a similar proposed law change that was later removed in the House.


“This rush to set up roadblocks to hiring local Ohioans is a losing scenario for our economy,” added Rep. Sykes. “We should be empowering communities to make decisions locally that strengthen our families, strengthen our economic opportunity and strengthen our community and state. We shouldn’t be in the business of rushing decisions based on a whim that will affect projects across the state.”


Today’s news comes as Cleveland breaks ground on the $331 million Opportunity Corridor and the City of Akron undertakes $1.4 billion worth of updates to its sewer system.


Ohio law provides local communities can dedicate a percentage of public construction projects to employing local workers. 

 
 
 
  
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