Ohio Supreme Court, in split decision, declines to reconsider Fannie Lewis case

Laura Hancock - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has declined to reconsider its September ruling that struck down Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law requiring public construction contractors hire city residents.

The ruling isn’t entirely a surprise, as the Supreme Court rarely reconsiders its decisions.

Republican Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, Patrick F. Fischer and R. Patrick DeWine were in the majority. Democratic Justices Michael P. Donnelly and Melody J. Stewart, along with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, were in the minority.

Their decision on the city’s request to reconsider the case was split similarly to how the court originally decided the case.

The court didn’t release any paperwork with its decision explaining its reasoning.

Cleveland’s motion for reconsideration was just simply denied — meaning the reasoning for the denial goes back to the majority opinion and dissents.

The Fannie M. Lewis Cleveland Employment Law, enacted in 2003, required companies with contracts over $100,000 to provide city residents at least 20 percent of the total construction hours on the project or the city could reduce payment by up to 2.5 percent of the contract’s price.

Other city ordinances allowed Cleveland to terminate contracts or disqualify contractors from future bidding if they failed to meet the hiring standard.

But in 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 180, which sought to prohibit residency requirements in public improvement contracts. It was sponsored by many rural Ohioans and Republicans from the Cincinnati and Dayton areas where the Cleveland Building Trades Council said at the time many contractors were located.

Cleveland sued after the bill passed, arguing it violated the Ohio Constitution’s right to self-governance, known as home rule.

Previously, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said Cleveland workers earned more than $232 million in the first 10 years of the Fannie Lewis law, named after a revered city councilwoman who died in 2008.

A spokeswoman for Jackson didn’t return a message requesting comment. Jackson had said in September he was looking for strategies to ease the effects of the ruling.


Laura Hancock

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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