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February 13, 2012

 

The 2012 Regular Session has passed its halfway point and committees are meeting regularly on bills that impact the construction industry.  Governor Tomblin’s bill relating to Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB), the state’s last unfunded liability, passed the Senate unanimously and the House of Delegates approved the measure 83-17 Thursday.  S.B. 469 provides a long-term plan to payoff an estimated $5 billion liability for future health care benefits for retired state and public employees.  The bill sets up payments of $30 million per year beginning in 2016 and ending 24 years later.  Funding for the effort will come from money currently being set aside annually to pay down the state’s workers’ compensation debt.  In a press release Friday, the governor said, “With the passage of S.B. 469,West Virginia takes a monumental step forward and leads the nation in addressing OPEB.  This legislation has been years in the making.”  He added, “The passage of [the bill] is proof we have adopted a mind set of fiscal responsibility and it has and will continue to make all of the difference as we work together to move West Virginia forward.”

 

COMMENTS REQUESTED ON BILL REQUIRING SUBMISSION OF SUB LIST WITHIN TWO HOURS

 

S.B.36 requires contractors to submit a list of their subcontractors within two hours of a bid opening to the contracting agency or risk being declared irregular.   A Senate subcommittee will be discussing the bill this week.  CAWV members are requested to email their comments and questions by Wednesday, February 15, to Mike Clowser at mclowser@cawv.org.

 

Currently, the School Building Authority of WV is the only agency that has such a policy. The state Purchasing Division has included this requirement on a few select projects. S.B. 36  would require all public agencies to mandate this policy. 

 

Many contractors have commented they like the requirement because, for one thing, it may prevent bid shopping, especially among non-West Virginia contractors who normally don’t bid in the state.  Other contractors have stated they may not know at the time of bidding who the successful subcontractor is, especially if there a numerous alternates that may affect which subs are ultimately selected.  The subcommittee is going to consider a number of issues, including whether the two-hour requirement should only apply to vertical building projects and not highway, bridge, water or sewer projects; whether the two-hour limit should be changed to a longer period such as 24 hours; what the reasons should be for substituting a sub whose name was submitted after the bid; and what happens if the awarding agency won’t accept the low bidder’s designated subcontractor.

 

Please send any comments by February 15 to Mike Clowser at mclowser@cawv.org.

 

BUDGET HEARINGS CONTINUE IN FINANCE COMMITTEES          

 

The latest agency to present its budget to the Senate Finance Committee is the Community and

Technical College (CTC) system of West Virginia.  James L. Skidmore, chancellor, reported to lawmakers on the progress of the community and technical college system and requested additional funding.  CTC is requesting a $5 million appropriation which would generate approximately $75 million to $80 million for construction of new capital facilities and renovations of aging facilities.

 

 

Samples of project to be funded, if the dollars are appropriated, include:

 

$12.5 million for a Health Sciences, Technology and classroom building at Blue Ridge CTC

$7 million for an Applied Technology Center at Bridgemont CTC

$2.7 million for a Nursing Addition at the Eastern CTC

$4 million for Building 2000 4th Floor Acquisition and Renovation at Kanawha Valley CTC

$7 million for a Workforce Development Center at Mountwest CTC

$10.3 million for a Nicholas County Campus Renovation and Expansion at New River CTC

$15.5 million for a Headquarters Building at Pierpont CTC

$7 million for a Logan Campus Renovation at Southern CTC

$4 million for WV Grant Building Renovation at WVU at Parkersburg

$3 million for a Jackson County Center Renovation and Addition for WVU at Parkersburg

 

SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES 10-HOUR OSHA BILL

 

The Senate Labor Committee Wednesday passed out S.B.37, the bill requiring public works construction employees complete the 10-hour OSHA safety program.  It now goes to the Senate Government Organization Committee.   H.B. 2545 and S.B.37  will require every worker on public works projects to complete the OSHA 10-hour safety program prior to starting work, and it mandates that workers carry a card showing successful completion of the program. The bills would also require contractors to submit a copy of each employee’s card with their first certified payroll submitted to the contracting agency.  The Commissioner of Labor, under the rule, may assess a civil penalty of up to $3,000, and, an employer shall be assessed a civil penalty of $500 per employee for each day of noncompliance. For more information on the bill, click here to see the January 16 CAWV Legislative Bulletin.

 

WV CRANE CERTIFICATION STATUTE TO CHANGE TO CONFORM WITH NEW OSHA REGULATION

 

The new OSHA regulation that goes into effect November 2014 is necessitating a change to West Virginia’s crane operator statute.  When West Virginia’s certification went into effect in 2000, there were two licenses created; Class A and Class B. The Class A license allows operators to pass the NCCCO certification and be certified on a national basis.  The Class B license, which has a lower threshold for passage, allows operators to meet West Virginia requirements.  In review of the new OSHA rules, it appears all crane operators must meet national standards and Class B licenses will no longer be applicable after November 2014.  The OSHA rule applies to cranes more than 2,000 pounds whereas West Virginia’s statute deals with cranes 10,000 pounds and over.

 

H.B. 4422, introduced last week, attempts to make West Virginia’s crane operator certification come into compliance with the new OSHA rule.  CAWV members helped provide input into the drafting of the bill but all members are asked to review the bill.  Click here to view the Committee Substitute for H.B. 4422.

 

H.B. 4447 REDUCES GAS TAX TO 15 CENTS PER GALLON; STATE ROAD FUND REVENUE WOULD DROP 65 PERCENT

 

A bill by six Republican delegates reduces the state’s retail gas tax from 20.5 cents a gallon to 15 cents per gallon and eliminates the wholesale gas tax, currently 12.9 cents a gallon.  H.B. 4447 would reduce the current gas tax from 33.4 cents per gallon to 15 cents per gallon, a reduction of 18.4 cents.  At approximately $14 million for each one cent of gas tax, this would result in a loss of approximately $257 million annually to the State Road Fund. Last year, gas tax revenue collections totaled $398 million.  This bill would result in 65 percent decrease in highway revenues.  The sponsors of the bill include: Delegate Joe Ellington (R-Mercer), John Overington (R-Berkeley), Eric Householder (R-Berkeley), Erikka Storch (R-Ohio), Marty Gearheart (R-Mercer) and Rick Snuffer (R-Raleigh).  The bill is referred to the House Finance Committee. There is no expectation this bill will ever be debated but it is discerning that this bill is being introduced at a time when most everyone is recognizing that current gas revenues are hundreds of millions short of what is needed to maintain the state’s current highway system.

 

BILLS REQUIRE PUBLIC CONTRACTS TO INCLUDE BUY AMERICAN PROVISIONS

 

Bills have been introduced that would require state agencies to purchase products manufactured in the United States.  H.B. 4263, the Procurement of Domestic Products Act, would require all contracts by a public agency or school board to include a provision requiring products be manufactured in the United States. An agency can waive the requirement it determines that such products are not available or are not available in the quantities needed.  If a contractor is awarded a project and does not use domestically manufactured products, the bill states the contractor is barred from obtaining any state contract for a period of five years.  The agency may also void the contract and recover damages in a civil action in the amount three time the value of the contract.  The bill is referred to the Judiciary Committee with a second reference to Finance.

 

S.B. 381, the West Virginia Buy American Act, requires public agency construction contracts for public buildings contain a provision that the iron, steel, manufactured goods, coal and timber used or supplied be manufactured or produced in the United States.  An agency can waive the requirement if the products are not available, or when the domestic material increases the cost of the overall project contract by more than 25 percent.  The bill is referred to Senate Government Organization and Finance.

 

Both H.B. 4263 and S.B. 381 require the agency to present data on why a waiver is being granted and allow public comment to refute the agency’s claim.

 

WEST VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE BILL INFORMATION

 

House and Senate bills can be accessed from the CAWV’s Legislative home page at www.cawv.org/legislative.  Members can view status updates on bills of interest to the construction industry and see what legislation is introduced that affects the construction industry.  A summary of each day’s activities will be uploaded each afternoon.

 

Below is a list of bills that have been introduced this week that have an impact on the construction industry or some CAWV members.  Anyone needing further information can contact Mike Clowser at (304) 342-1166 or email mclowser@cawv.org.

 

SENATE BILLS

 

SB 528                         Sen. Snyder, Kessler (Mr. President), Unger, Palumbo, Browning, Laird, D. Facemire, Edgell and Miller. Creating Scrap Metal Theft Prevention Act (FN). To Judiciary.

 

SB 529             Sen. Barnes.  Relating to compliance credit requirements for use of alternative and renewable energy sources.  To Energy, Industry and Mining then Economic Development.

 

SB 540                         Sen. McCabe, Green and Barnes.  Relating to subdivision land development plans or plats. To Government Organization.

 

SB 544             Sen. D. Facemire, Klempa and Beach. Extending expiration date for certain diesel-powered motor vehicle idling restrictions. To Transportation and Infrastructure.

 

SCR 27            Sen. Snyder, Miller, Beach, Yost, Laird, Klempa, Stollings, Foster, Unger and Jenkins. Urging support for WV Buy American Act.

 

HOUSE BILLS

 

HB 4439          By Del. Morgan and Stephens. Permitting a Class I city to use the design-build process. To Political Subdivisions then Government Organization.

 

HB 4447          By Del. Ellington, Overington, Householder, Storch, Gearheart and Snuffer. Reducing the motor fuel excise tax (FN). To Finance.

 

HB 4455          By Del. Caputo, Manchin, Longstreth, Hunt, Barill, Marshall, Talbott and Moore. Requiring that handicap restroom facilities and stalls in all colleges and universities be constructed with automatic doors (FN). To Education then Finance.