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LB 2009 - 4

March 9, 2009

 

 

West Virginia learned last week that it is no longer immune from the recession that is engulfing the rest of the nation.  The Manchin administration announced that general revenues have missed the mark the last two months by a combined $92.2 million though officials still predict that this budget year will end June 30 without any shortfall.  West Virginia is only one of four states that is not in deficit spending.  Declining revenues in corporate net income taxes and sales and use taxes are likely prompting the governor to cut his proposed 2009-2010 spending plan and all but rule out teacher and state employee pay raises.  It also makes it difficult to seek transfers from the state’s General Fund to shore up the declining State Road Fund and to provide state dollars for water, sewer and other infrastructure projects.  The administration and legislators are studying whether budget gaps can be plugged with federal stimulus dollars.  Legislators have stated they don’t want to use the temporary stimulus funds to close budget gaps that will only reappear. “Our goal remains to use the stimulus funds to create jobs and build our infrastructure, and not to patch holes in our budget,” said Matt Turner, the governor’s spokesman.  House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, and Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, agree that stimulus funds should not be used to fund ongoing programs.

 

Southern legislators have questioned why stimulus funds are not going to be used to shore up revenues for the WV Turnpike.  Turnpike officials are projecting a $100 million shortfall which is hampering their maintenance schedules and jeopardizing bond repayments.  Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, and Senate Minority Leader Don Caruth, R-Mercer, have stated they would like to see part of the $210 million in federal stimulus highway funding be used to repair the turnpike instead of increasing tolls on the 88-mile road.  Other southern legislators support Governor Manchin’s proposal to build part of the Beckley bypass using stimulus dollars.  The turnpike authority is supposedly closer to making a decision to increase tolls on the road, which have not been increased since 1982.

  

H.B 2923 REQUIRES SUBMITTING SUB LIST WITHIN TWO HOURS

 

H.B. 2923 requires contractors to submit a list of their subcontractors within two hours of the bid opening to the contracting agency or risk being declared irregular.  While the bill only pertains to the low bidder, all bidders may be required to submit their subs list.  On projects where there are alternates, the low bidder may not be apparent, based on which alternates are selected.  In order for contractors’ bids to be responsive, all bidders who may ultimately be declared the low, responsive bidder will have to submit their sub list within two hours.  Currently, the School Building Authority of WV is the only agency that has such a policy.  H.B. 2923 would require all public agencies to mandate this policy.  The CAWV has sent a letter to all members of the House Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business Committee opposing the bill.  The CAWV wrote, “Political subdivisions and other agencies will find this unworkable and burdensome.  The WV Division of Highways, during the construction season, could bid anywhere between 25 and 50 jobs in one highway letting.  It would be nearly impossible for agencies and contractors to administer this burdensome regulation.

 

CAWV members are urged to contact House committee members in opposition to H.B. 2923.  If the bill passes this committee, it will be referred to the House Government Organization Committee.  A complete list of committee members and their contact information is available on the CAWV’s Legislative section on the CAWV website.

 

DRUG AND ALCOHOL PROGRAM AMENDMENTS PLANNED

 

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill mandating contractors working on state-funded construction projects to have drug and alcohol testing programs for their workforce.  After passage, a number of issues arose that were unintended in the bill.  One of the unforseen issues was that U.S. Department of Transportation requires a five-panel drug test for CDL licensing.  West Virginia’s law requires a nine-panel test which U.S. DOT will not recognize.  This has forced contractors to have two programs, one for CDL purposes and another for all other employees.  Another issue dealt with pre-tests and employing people on a temporary basis.  H.B. 2771 attempts to address these changes.  The bill also expands the requirement to political subdivisions.  It is referred to the Political Subdivisions Committee with a second reference to Judiciary.

 

GOVERNOR INTRODUCES BILL TO REVISE AWARD OF A/E CONTRACTS

 

Gov. Joe Manchin has introduced H.B. 2977 and S.B. 511 which change the way the WV Division of Highways and Water Development Authority procure engineering services.  The agencies currently procure engineering services through Quality Based Selection (QBS).  These bills amend State Code 5G to requiring selection by the low bid process for state-funded highway and water and sewer work.  Projects that have federal funding would continue the QBS selection process. The governor has met with architects and engineers to detail his proposal and to listen to the concerns of the a/e community.  On Friday, the bills were introduced and only change the way engineering contracts are procured. Architectural services are not included in the bills.  The a/e community has been lobbying senators and delegates to promote the preservation of the QBS system. H.B. 2977 has been referred to Judiciary Committee with a second reference to Finance.  S.B. 511 has been referred to Senate Government Organization and Finance.  The AIA-WV Chapter and ACEC-WV have been very active in preparing information and lobbying legislators on their opposition to the bills.  The governor has been very adamant in his opposition to the current QBS system and is actively pushing the legislation.

 

EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION REQUIRED IN H.B. 2871

 

H.B. 2871 would mandate employers in West Virginia to verify legal employment status of workers by requiring them to register with and utilize the electronic verification of work authorization program of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 and operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The bill requires state of West Virginia agencies and political subdivisions, public contractors and private employers to use the E-Verify program.  Those with employees of 250 or more shall use E-Verify by January 1, 2010.  Those with 100 to 250 employees, January 1, 2011, and employers with 30 to 100 employees by January 1, 2013.  E-Verify has been required since last year but implementation has been postponed for a number of reasons.  Supposedly, contractors on federal work will start complying with the requirement by May 21, but this may not be the final ruling.  H.B. 2871 would require all West Virginia employers to participate in the program.  If the federal program is not yet finalized, why would West Virginia start mandating using E-Verify?  The bill is referred to the Committee on Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business,  then Judiciary.

 

WEST VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE BILL INFORMATION

 

House and Senate bills can be accessed from the CAWV=s Legislative home page at www.cawv.org/legislative.html.  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.

 

HOUSE BILLS

 

 

HB 2917          Del. Guthrie-Giving full consideration to bicycle, pedestrian and transit ways in the

planning, development of state roads, railways and waterways-To Roads and Transportation then Finance

           

HB 2923          Del. Klempa, Givens, Martin, Argento, Swartzmiller, Walker, Manypenny and D. Poling-Requiring the disclosure of subcontractors within a certain time of the close of bids for public construction contracts-To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Government Organization

 

HB 2933          Del. Rodighiero-Prohibiting privatization of government services unless private companies can prove that they can perform those services more efficiently-To Government Organization then Judiciary

 

HB 2948          Del. Martin, Argento, Klempa, D. Poling, Varner and Stowers-Requiring the use of LEED and Green Globes standard for new construction and renovation of state buildings (FN)-To Government Organization then Finance

 

HB 2960          Del. Fleischauer, Manypenny, Marshall, Mahan, Doyle, Martin, beach, Shook, Lawrence, Longstreth and Hatfield-Relating to water pollution control-To Government Organization then Judiciary

 

HB 2976          Mr. Speaker (Mr. Thompson) and Del. Armstead [By Request of the Executive]- Requiring the State Fire Commission to promulgate rules pertaining to the State Building Code-To Judiciary then Finance

 

HB 2977          Mr. Speaker (Mr. Thompson) and Del. Armstead [By Request of the Executive]-Relating to procurement of engineering services-To Judiciary then Finance

 

HB 2997          Del. Louisos-Requiring commissioners of the public service commission to be elected-To Government Organization then Judiciary

 

HB 3001          Del. Brown [By Request]-relating to mechanic’s liens filed against corporations-To Judiciary

 

SENATE BILLS

 

SB 469             Sen Unger, Fanning, Green, Helmick and Hall-Relating to state utility construction projects-To Judiciary then Finance

 

SB 491             Sen. Kessler-Requiring handrails in handicap restrooms-To Health and Human Resources then Finance

 

SB 500             Sen. Williams-Reducing certain fuels’ wholesale tax-To Finance

 

SB 504             Sen. Tomblin (Mr. President) and Caruth [By Request of the Executive]-Requiring State Fire Commission promulgate certain building code rules-To Judiciary then Finance

 

SB 511             Sen. Tomblin (Mr. President) and Caruth [By Request of the Executive]-relating to procurement of certain engineering services-to Government Organization then Finance

 

SB 517             Sen. Unger, Fanning, Green, Helmick and Hall-Relating to state utility construction projects-To Judicial