Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Agencies and Projects Are Exempt From EHB 2805?

The State of Washington Legislature approved Engrossed House Bill 2805 in the spring of 2010.  It requires that contractors and subcontractors report on the Affidavit of Wages Paid form specific information about off-site, prefabricated, non-standard, project specific items they have purchased from out of state for public works projects in the State of Washington.

Two Exemptions to EHB 2805:  The law has the following two exemptions for public works projects that do not have to comply with the requirements:
  • Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) public works projects
  • Local transportation public works projects
Local Transportation Public Works Projects: While it is fairly easy to understand and interpret "WSDOT public works projects," I've been asked by a number of people what the phrase "local transportation public works projects" means and what public agencies and projects it applies to.

I've asked a number of questions of people involved with this legislation, including labor unions and organizations, the Department of Labor and Industries, and legislative staff.  I also e-mailed a key senator who was apparently responsible for the "local transportation public works project" exemption being added to the legislation.  No one I talked with had an authoritative or clear sense of the meaning of the phrase "local transportation public works projects."  I've researched the legislative history of the bill and didn't find any clues there either.

Interpretation of "Local" and "Transportation":  Thus, it seems to me that it is best to read and understand the exemption broadly, based on the plain wording of the language.
  • Local Agencies:  I would interpret the exemption to refer to any "local" agency, meaning any public agency that is not a state agency, including but not limited to cities, counties, transit agencies, port districts, school districts, etc.
  • Transportation:  I would interpret "transportation" to include any public works projects dealing with any form of transportation, including but not limited to roads, streets, bridges, ferry and marina facilities, bus and rail facilities, airports, etc.
The exemption would thus apply to any public works project which included improvements to any form of transportation by a local agency.

To the extent that a public works project includes only a small portion of work related to transportation, case-by-case decisions would need to be made regarding the applicability of the reporting requirements of EHB 2805.

Consult With Your Attorney:  Please keep in mind that this is only my interpretation.  Ultimately, you need to rely on the advice of your attorneys, recognizing that auditors and courts may well have a different interpretation.

Include Language in Bidding and Contract Documents:  As a reminder, public agencies are required to include language in their contracts regarding the reporting requirements. 

More Information on EHB 2805:  For additional information on suggested language and further background on EHB 2805, please refer to my previous blog entries on the subject:

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