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August 17, 2020
August 2020 Legislative Report

LEGISLATIVE REPORT

By Mark Totman, Legislation Representative

We were recently successful in our lobbying efforts to get an amendment in SB-4, adding prevailing wages to an ODOT program referred to as Transportation Improvement Districts, otherwise known as TIDs.

I’ll try to explain this issue in layman’s terms as much as possible. TIDs came about in the early 1990s during the Voinovich administration. They were devised, supposedly, to assist communities and businesses increase commerce and economic development by helping with their infrastructure needs and by directing the motoring public into these communities and businesses, using private funding and limited state funds for these projects.

The problem with the TIDs from the beginning has been that someone within the administration or the general assembly slipped language into a budget bill that exempted TIDs from Ohio’s prevailing wage law and competitive bidding law. This put our contractors at a disadvantage bidding projects. We have always believed that the creation of TIDs was just a political gift to nonunion contractors who have never been able to get a foothold in Ohio’s infrastructure industry.

Originally, there were just five TIDs in the state. Over the years, we had been very successful at working with the various administrations to get these TID projects to use the competitive bidding and the prevailing wage law. In the last couple decades, we have seen the different General Assemblies expand the original TID law, and increase Ohio’s TIDs from the original five to present-day 47.

Then ODOT placed over $100 million of TID projects on the TRAC Program Tier 1 list, with another $200 million-plus worth of projects on the TRAC Tier 2 list. This could mean over $300 million worth of ODOT projects could be bid without prevailing wages (your wages), and no competitive bidding requirements!

In the Fall of 2019, it came to our attention that Delaware County let a $10 million project through their TID. To the best of our knowledge, the project had $3 million of private funding, with the remaining $6.5 million of funding that came from other tax dollars and gas tax monies from ODOT. The additional tax dollars were funneled through the TID allowing the $10 million project to be bid without using Ohio’s prevailing wage and competitive bidding laws.

It had now become abundantly clear what the plan for expanding Ohio’s TID law was all about, circumventing prevailing wage and competitive bidding laws by funneling tax dollars into these projects. Local 18, the Laborers District Council, and the OCA lobbyists went to work immediately on this issue. Local 18 had language drafted to stop the funneling of other tax dollars through a TID without triggering the payment of prevailing wages on these projects.

“Supporting our friends on both sides of the aisle to accomplish our goals and protect our issues!”

After months of stops and starts in getting this amendment into a bill and actually passing it twice in the Ohio House, we were finally successful in getting it passed by both houses in late June. This is just another example of the model of politics Local 18 has adopted over the last couple of decades: supporting our friends on both sides of the aisle to accomplish our goals and protect our issues!

We thank the members of Local 18 for your continued support of our PEP PAC program. THIS VICTORY IS YOURS!

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