Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Proposed Bills Affecting Public Contracting in Washington State

The following bills affecting public contracting have been introduced into the Washington State Legislature this session: 

Allow local agencies to waive prevailing wages:  House Bill 2299 would allow "a county, municipality, or political subdivision of the state" to waive prevailing wage requirements for public works contracts estimated to cost less than $5 million dollars.  The waiver could also apply for public building service maintenance contracts (janitorial, shampooer, window washer, waxer).  In order to opt out of the prevailing wage requirements of Chapter 39.12 RCW, the governing body of the public agency would need to approve such a waiver by a majority vote.  The legislation specifically would permit public agencies to subdivide public works projects in order to come in under the $5 million threshold.  

Require certified payrolls prior to paying contractors:  House Bill 2331 would require a public agency to obtain certified payroll records from the contractor and all subcontractors prior to making any payment to the contractor, and would also require the payrolls prior to final payment and release of retainage to the contractor. 

Relax various prevailing wage requirements:  Senate Bill 6186 would do the following:
  • Apprentice use on WSDOT projects:  Reduce apprenticeship percentages required on WSDOT projects from 15% to 13% and increase the threshold of which projects apprenticeship applies to from $2 million to $4 million.
  • Electronic surveys:  Require the Department of Labor and Industries to provide contractors with the option of completing prevailing wage surveys electronically.
  • On-Site work only:  Restrict the applicability of prevailing wages only to workers "employed directly on the site of work," eliminating the impact of court decisions requiring prevailing wages for off-site prefabrication of work performed specifically for a public works project.
Change methodology for establishing prevailing wages:  The following three bills address how the Department of Labor and Industries should establish the prevailing wage rates:
  • Statistical analysis vs. wage surveys:  House Bill 2210 would require the Department of Labor and Industries to use a "stratified random sampling methodology," instead of the "wage surveys" currently conducted to establish prevailing wages.  It would also exempt data collected by Labor and Industries through this process from disclosure under the state's public records laws.
  • Survey only non-public works projects:  House Bill 2209 would restrict prevailing wage surveys conducted by the Department of Labor and Industries to only "nonpublic work" projects.  Behind this bill is the assertion that public works projects, on which prevailing wage must already be paid, artificially inflate prevailing wage rates.  The bill would also exempt data collected by Labor and Industries through wage surveys from disclosure under the state's public records laws.
  • Use only union wage rates to establish prevailing rates:  House Bill 2527 would require the Department of Labor and Industries to establish prevailing wages based on collective bargaining agreements, instead of through conducting wage surveys.  For trades where there are no collective bargaining agreements, L&I would be required to conduct wage surveys or use "other appropriate methods" to establish the prevailing wage rates.
Civil construction on GC/CM projects:  House Bill 2208 would define a "heavy civil construction project" for GC/CM (General Contractor/Construction Manager) projects and permit the 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 public body, provided that at least 30% of the work is competitively bid.  The current law requires that a GC/CM must bid to self-perform any of the work and such self-performed work is limited to 30% of the construction cost.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

No comments: