Bill for Local CARES Act Funding and Capital Reappropriation (Without Amending Government Contracting Laws) Reaches Gov. DeWine's Desk

Alerts / June 17, 2020

On June 11, 2020, after a month of legislative wrangling, Ohio’s General Assembly passed House Bill 481, which provides for (1) the distribution of $350 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to defray expenses incurred by local communities of fewer than 500,000 residents in response to COVID-19; and (2) capital reappropriations of approximately $1.28 billion. The passing of the Ohio Senate’s amendments to HB 481 rather than the Ohio House’s amendments to Senate Bill 310 avoids the House’s proposed changes to how government contractors seek and perform work for Ohio’s local governments and transportation districts.

On May 6, 2020, the Senate had unanimously passed SB 310 in an effort to distribute CARES Act funding. On June 4, 2020, however, the House sent amendments back to the Senate for consideration. Two of those amendments would have had significant implications for prospective government contractors in Ohio.

The House’s proposed amendments to SB 310 would have (1) exempted counties, townships, villages, and hospitals from competitive bidding requirements by simply declaring a contract necessary to respond to the COVID-19 emergency; and (2) required contractors performing work in Ohio’s public-private transportation improvement districts to comply with costly and burdensome prevailing wage laws, regardless of a project’s relation to COVID-19.

Instead of accepting the House’s amendments, the Ohio Senate rolled SB 310’s CARES Act provisions into HB 481, which was introduced in January 2020 as a simple bill allowing the transfer of certain state-owned property. The House conceded right before summer recess, in its late-night June 11 session, approving the Senate’s funding legislation without affecting government contract law.

HB 481 now awaits Gov. DeWine’s signature.

Authorship Credit: Rob Razzano

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