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Ohio Lawmakers Move to Ban Cities from Hiring Quotas for Their Construction Projects

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M.L. SCHULTZE
/
WKSU

  State lawmakers could vote this month on a bill that would forbid cities from requiring contractors to hire a certain percentage of residents to work on their public construction projects. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports on a bill that arose after Akron tried to ensure its residents were trained and hired to work on its massive sewer project.

  Supporters of a ban on local hiring quotas say they reduce the number of companies that bid on projects, that they give an advantage to out-of-state companies, and that they drive up the costs of projects. Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron has been fighting this bill.

Akron hoped to ensure a third or more of the workers on its massive sewer project were residents; contractors balked and went to the Statehouse

“I don’t think that argument stands up when you start looking at communities across the state that have been very strategic and smart about making sure they can meet these local hiring requirements and be on budget or under budget.”

Democrats have tried to amend the Republican-backed bill to allow for some residency requirements. But the one exception adopted is for ODOT to be able to comply with state and federal job training rules.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.