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Utility location law changes passed as curtain drops on legislative session

Before bringing the curtain down on the 129th Ohio General Assembly last week, legislators gave their approval, as expected, to changes in Ohio's underground utility location laws.

House Bill 458 was one of several dozen bills passed in the "lame duck" period that began just after the November election, and when senators and representatives headed home for the holidays they brought an end to one of the most transformational legislative sessions in memory.

Consider that in the two-year legislative session that ended in December 2010, only 31 bills were enacted into law.  As of December 21, Governor John Kasich had signed 130 bills into law, more than four times as many.

As significant as this session has been for the state of Ohio, it was just as game-changing for the construction industry.

Two years ago no one was predicting that major changes in state public works construction law would be enacted, ending the mandatory use of multiple-prime contracting and giving state and local agencies the ability to use alternate project delivery systems, such as design/build and construction manager at-risk.

And who could have foreseen the elimination of the Office of the State Architect, which was merged with the Ohio School Facilities Commission and the state Office of Energy to form a new "super" construction agency, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

ACEC Ohio got in on the act, as well, persuading legislators to adopt language that eliminated the exemption from the state's Qualifications-Based Selection law for design projects of less than $25,000, and putting in its place a new process that makes it easier for contracting officials to award design projects under $50,000.

One thing's for sure: the effects of the work of the 129th Ohio General Assembly will be felt for many years to come.

View ACEC Ohio's final legislative status report for selected bills considered by the 129th General Assembly.

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