DAVID'S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE


David Ducharme
NUCA of Washington Lobbyist
 

Overview

The 2014 legislative session opened for business on Monday, January 13th and is scheduled to run for 60 days.  Unlike last year where lawmakers worked in excess of 160 days through one regular and three special sessions, it is anticipated the Legislature will complete its work on time.  This is largely due to the fact that the 2013 legislature was ultimately able to pass a bi-partisan budget critical for funding state operations over the next two fiscal years with no projected budget deficits.

The composition of the Legislature changed slightly since last year.  The House remains the same at 54 democrats to 44 republicans, but the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) added one new member.  Jan Angel (R) defeated incumbent Nathan Schlicher (D) in a 16th district special election in November.  This gave the MCC a 26 (24R – 2D) member majority over the remaining 23 democrats.  Given this dynamic, any controversial bills, good or bad, will likely not pass this year.  On an historic note, the 2014 Legislature has seen an unusual influx of new members given 2013 was an off-election year.  Fully 10 percent of the House and Senate are new members due to retirements, resignations and special elections. 

NUCA WA Legislative Priorities

County Venue Provisions

State law provides that any lawsuit by or against a county may be filed in that county or in either of the nearest two judicial districts.  However, several county public owners have stipulated in public works contracts that any action brought by a contractor must be brought in the county of the public owner.

NUCA WA has two bills introduced in the Legislature (HB 2602 and SB 6384) that would void any contract provision restricting an action against a county to the superior court of that county and not allow a contractor to file a lawsuit in an adjacent county or judicial district.

While we have these two bills in the legislative system we have not yet been able to get either scheduled for a public hearing.  Given the short term of the 60 day session we may not be able to move these bills much further this year, but will keep working to get them scheduled prior to the first deadline on February 7th.

Public Works Trust Fund

In 2013 the legislature diverted the majority of the PWTF and its revenue sources into the state general fund.  NUCA WA has joined with local governments, labor and the business community to fight back and restore the PWTF.  The following three pieces of legislation have been introduced this year to accomplish this purpose:

HB 2244Restoring Resources to the Capital Budget

This bill will restore revenue streams to the Public Works Assistance Account in 2015 that were diverted by the 2013 Legislature.

HJR 4215Requiring all revenues from any state taxes levied for the purpose of funding local government public infrastructure to be paid into the state treasury, deposited into the public works assistance account, and used exclusively for funding local government public works projects.

Proposes a Constitutional amendment requiring revenues from any state taxes levied to fund local government public infrastructure to be deposited into the Public Works Assistance Account and used only to fund local public works projects.

·         Authorizes legislative appropriations from the Public Works Assistance Account only to fund local government public works projects, unless the monies are appropriated for another purpose by a two-thirds vote of each house.

SB 6120Funding the Public Works Assistance Account.

This bill is similar to HB 2244, but restores the PWFT revenue stream beginning in 2017 as opposed to 2015.

Transportation Revenue

A transportation revenue package remains a key topic of discussion but it seems as though the parties are not getting any closer to a solution.  As the 2014 elections become more visible on the horizon, fewer legislators are showing interest in taking a gas tax vote; particularly in light of continuing headlines highlighting Department of Transportation failures in delivering projects on time and on budget.  In addition, there is concern governor Inslee will issue an executive order implementing greenhouse gas emissions standards estimated to add an average on one dollar per gallon to the price of fuel.  Both parties agree such a maneuver would be the end of any transportation package. 

HB 2208 - Civil Construction on GC/CM Projects

Modifies self-performed work provisions by General Contractor/Construction Managers for heavy civil construction work.  Allows a GC/CM to self-perform as a negotiated amount up to 50% of the cost of the work, and to bid on other portions of the work agreed to with the owner, provided that at least 30% of the work is publicly bid. 

This bill was brought by the Capital Project Advisory Review Board as consensus legislation and has been endorsed by NUCA. 

Other Bills of Interest

There have been several bills introduced into the legislature dealing with public works contracting this session.  Most of them are supported by either one party or the other which means they are controversial and will likely not pass the politically split House and Senate.  They are attached for your review and you may click on their respective links should you wish further information. 

HB 2682/SB 6326Increasing bid limits for Water-Sewer Districts.

These bills would increase bid limits for water-sewer districts from $20K to $90K.  NUCA WA will oppose.  No hearings have been scheduled at this time. 

HB 2299 - Permitting local governments to opt out of prevailing wage requirements.
This bill would allow local governments to opt-out of prevailing wage requirements for projects under $5 million.  NUCA WA will monitor but generally does not support measures that would create a patch work of regulatory requirements differing from one jurisdiction to another.  ACG opposes this legislation. 

HB 2578/SB 6454 - Exempting from public inspection certain public works proposals and documents.

These bills would exempt from public disclosure proposals and documents submitted on GC/CM, Design-Build and Job Order Contracts prior to a contract being entered into.  Because a contractor loses any right to challenge the award of a public works contract once the contract is entered into, exempting disclosure of these documents prior to the award would be harmful. 

SB 6186Relaxing apprenticeship utilization requirements.

·         For WSDOT public works projects, the cost trigger for apprentice utilization requirements is changed from $2 million to $4 million, and the apprentice utilization rate is changed from 15 to 13 percent of the labor hours.
 
The language directing the Secretary of Transportation to establish an apprenticeship utilization advisory committee and report back to the Legislature by January 1, 2008, is removed.
 
L&I must provide registered contractors the option of completing a wage survey electronically.

HB 2210/SB 6317 - Improving the accuracy of the prevailing rate of wage.

These bills would require that wage surveys be submitted mandatorily from a random sample of contractors for purposes of establishing prevailing wage for all scope of work classifications (as opposed to making the determination based on those who voluntarily submit wage information).   NUCA will support these bills. 

HB 2209 - Improving the accuracy of the prevailing rate of wage.

Provides that the Department of Labor and Industries may use only data from nonpublic works in establishing the prevailing rate of wage.  

HB 2527Requiring union wage rates to establish prevailing wage.

Requires the prevailing wage rate to be established by adopting the hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime pay established in collective bargaining agreements for trades and occupations that have collective bargaining agreements.  This is a bad bill.  NUCA will oppose.

HB 2331Requiring certified payroll records on public works.

Requires contractors and subcontractors on public works projects to submit certified payroll records to the awarding agency before any payment or final payment is made or retainage is released to the contractor.  This bill creates a new burden under a system that already requires the filing of an affidavit of wages paid.  NUCA will oppose. 

HB 2332Providing damages for wage violations.

·         Provides that an employer that unlawfully collects a rebate from an employee's wages or willfully pays an employee lower wages than required is liable for triple damages, rather than double, in a civil action.

·         Removes the provision in the damages statute that bars an employee from obtaining higher damages if the employee knowingly submitted to the wage violation.

This is a bad bill.  NUCA will oppose.

 

This is just a summary of some of the key issues being addressed in the legislature by the NUCA Legislative Committee.  Should you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, please feel free to contact Dave Ducharme at:  david@ducharmeinc.com 
Member Login
Username:
Password:
I Forgot My Password
Events Calendar
Check It Out!
The 2015 Focus

Advertising Opportunities
Available!
 


Secure Online Payments

Online Payment Service