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06/03/2016

ACEC-backed bill banning cities from imposing residency quotas is signed into law

ACEC Ohio-backed legislation that prohibits political jurisdictions from imposing local hiring quotas on engineers and contractors has been signed into law by Governor John Kasich.

House Bill 180 was signed by Kasich on May 31 and takes effect September 1.  ACEC Ohio, working with many other groups, including the Ohio Contractors Association and the Associated General Contractors of Ohio, sought the legislation to combat a growing trend in which Ohio cities require engineers and contractors to employ a minimum percentage of their residents in order to compete for municipal contracts.

The immediate impetus for the legislation was a program launched last year by the city of Akron.  It  required that an engineering firm seeking to design water or wastewater projects must have a workforce comprised of at least 31 percent Akron residents.  Further, the city required that "at least 66 percent of all hours worked on a particular project be performed by employees paying city of Akron income tax."

Identical bills to prohibit the imposition of such requirements were introduced in both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate and ACEC Ohio testified in favor of the bills on several occasions.  The Senate passed the House bill May 11, sending it to the governor's desk.

It is possible the law could face a court challenge from one or more municipalities on the basis that it infringes on their rights of home rule.  However, in 2009 the Ohio Supreme Court upheld legislation enacted by the General Assembly providing that "no political subdivision shall require any of its employees, as a condition of employment, to reside in any specific area of the state."

That decision effectively struck down as unconstitutional an ordinance passed by the city of Cleveland that required city police and firefighters to live within the city.

Alluding to that decision, HB 180 provides that, "The General Assembly finds, in enacting section 9.49 of the Revised Code in this act, that it is a matter of statewide concern to generally allow the employees working on Ohio's public improvement projects to choose where to live, and that it is necessary in order to provide for the comfort, health, safety, and general welfare of those employees to generally prohibit public authorities from requiring contractors, as a condition of accepting contracts for public improvement projects, to employ a certain number or percentage of individuals who reside in any specific area of the state."

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