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February 20, 2012

LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO SPEED UP

 

Work on bills will be at a rapid pace this week as legislators work to meet prescribed deadlines. Today is the last day to introduce bills in the House and Senate.  February 26, the 47th day of the session, is the last day to get bills out of committees in their house of origin to ensure three full days for reading.  The 50th day is cross over day.  If a bill does not pass its house of origin by February 29, it is dead for this session.  The session wraps up at midnight on Saturday, March 10.

 

GOVERNOR’S INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCING BILL PASSES SENATE

 

S.B. 390, the West Virginia Infrastructure Modernization and Development Special Revenue Fund, introduced by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Finance Committee.  The Governor’s bill provides additional highway funds, as noted in his State of the State address.  “It is essential that we don’t forget the importance that modern infrastructure plays in West Virginia’s economic future,” he said.  “We must find innovative ways to invest in safe water and sewer systems, invest in new and improved schools, in roads and broadband access.”  S.B. 390 calls for 50 percent of surplus revenues to be placed in an infrastructure fund once the Rainy Day Fund reaches 15 percent of the General Revenue fund.  “We have to invest in ourselves if we expect others to invest in us,” the governor stated.

 

It is unclear what monies will be available in the future to go into an infrastructure fund.  The Rainy Day Fund, which currently has a balance of $820 million, is based on 10 percent of the General Revenue Fund.  The state needs a good surplus to get to the 15 percent.  In the past, the state has run a surplus but the budget outlook is not as promising.  Based on this year’s budget surplus, about $75 million would have gone to the State Road Fund and about $75 million would have gone for water and sewer projects, the governor told the CAWV.

 

$1.5 BILLION ROAD BOND AMENDMENT INTRODUCED

 

Senate Joint Resolution 11 would give voters the opportunity to vote on a $1.5 billion bond amendment for highway construction projects.  The resolution is in response to Secretary Paul Mattox’s proposal at Transportation Day at the Capitol to present a $1 billion to $1.5 billion road bond on the ballot for voters’ ratification.  He outlined about 17 projects that would be funded by the amendment.  If Corridor H is to be completed within eight years, $1.5 billion would be needed.  Based on a 5 percent interest rate, the 25-year debt service would be $71 million annually for $1 billion in bonds and $117 million for $1.5 billion.  The secretary proposed raising registration fees and the privilege tax on vehicles as the mechanism to provide the $117 million annually needed for debt service.  Even if the bond is approved and the Legislature increases fees in order to provide the debt service, the issue of how to provide additional revenues to maintain and preserve the state’s existing highway system remains. The resolution is referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee with a second reference to Finance.  Given the lateness of the legislative session, it is doubtful the amendment will receive much action.

 

TWO-HOUR SUB BID SUBMISSION BILL CONTINUES TO BE MODIFIED

 

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.  The CAWV requested comments from members last week.  As a result of input from members the bill has gone through a number of transitions.  Currently, the School Building Authority of West Virginia is the only agency that has such a policy. The state Purchasing Division has included this requirement on a few select projects. As introduced, S.B. 36  would require all public agencies to mandate this policy. 

 

S.B. 36 will now be a one year pilot project for State of West Virginia building construction contracts awarded by the state Purchasing Division.  S.B. 36 does not included highway, water, sewer, reclamation or other non-building projects.  The bill addresses only state projects, not municipalities, counties or other political subdivisions.  S.B. 36 also extends the sub list submission time frame from two hours to one business day. Last year, the state Purchasing Division bid about six projects in which the subcontractor bid submission provision would have applied. Making this a one-year pilot program, the Purchasing Division can evaluate it to see if subcontractor bid submission is beneficial to the state and contractors.

 

Contractors have commented that 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 are numerous alternates that may affect which subs are ultimately selected.   The bill now goes to Senate Government Organization Committee.

 

H.B. 4592 REQUIRES SEPARATE PRIME BID ON CONTRACTS OVER $500,000

 

H.B. 4592 requires all public building contracts over $500,000 to have multiple prime contracts. Del. Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, introduced the same bill last year.  He notes that this bill would give more West Virginia contractors an opportunity to bid on public projects.  He also noted the School Building Authority of West Virginia has used multiple prime contracts for years.  The CAWV explained that the SBA uses multiple prime contracts on large projects when it is prudent to do so, but it is not mandated.  The CAWV also noted the SBA has had much experience in managing multiple prime contracts but many state agencies, counties and cities don’t do many construction projects and don’t have much construction experience.  The bill is referred to the House Government Organization Committee.

 

WV CRANE CERTIFICATION STATUTE TO CHANGE TO CONFORM WITH NEW OSHA REGULATION; MODIFIED TO ADDRESS OPERATORS ON MSHA PROJECTS

 

The new OSHA regulation that goes into effect in 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 initial review of the new OSHA rules, it appeared all crane operators must meet national standards and that West Virginia Class B licenses will no longer be applicable after November 2014.  H.B. 4422 eliminated the Class B license.  However, contractors who work on coal sites and are only governed by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rules contacted the CAWV to state that their crane operators currently have a Class B license and the new OSHA rules will not impact their operations. After much discussions with the WV Division of Labor, UMWA officials, CAWV and legislators, the bill was amended on the House floor to reflect that Class B licenses will still be available for operators who are not covered by OSHA rules. 

Remaining is the section that changes the need for a license from 10,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds. The OSHA rule applies to cranes more than 2,000 pounds whereas West Virginia’s statute deals with cranes 10,000 pounds and over.

 

Use the following link to view a copy of the Engrossed H.B. 4422. The bill now goes to the Senate for debate.

 

ALTERNATIVE REVENUE IDEAS FOR HIGHWAYS SOUGHT

 

S.B. 630  would direct the Commissioner of Highways to conduct a study on alternative revenue mechanisms for the development and maintenance of state roads and highways.  It is introduced by Senators Plymale, McCabe, Browning, Unger, Miller, Tucker, Stollings and Senate President Jeff Kessler.  The bill notes that fuel efficient vehicles will reduce future gasoline tax revenues and states that “it is the intent of the Legislature to establish the governance structure and groundwork needed to adopt alternative source of revenue collection for road development and maintenance that will supplement the current system of motor vehicle fuel taxation.  To this end, this section provides for a study, conducted by the Commissioner of Highways, to guide the first stages of the transition, focusing on determining the feasibility and optimal methods of implementation for a road user assessment.” 

 

S.B. 630 requires the DOH to make recommendations by November 1, 2013 on the design for a pilot project or projects.  Senator Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, wants to look at the Oregon study which sets a Vehicle Mile Tax (VMT) which is based on the number of miles driven verses the consumption of gasoline.  The bill is referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure then Government Organization.

 

BONDS BILL FOR COURTHOUSE IMPROVEMENTS ON SENATE CALENDAR

 

S.B. 468  will give the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority the ability to issue bonds to raise funds for paying costs of approved modifications or construction of courthouse facilities. Currently, courthouse improvements are funded on a pay-as-you-go basis. S.B.468, and companion bill H. B. 4534, allows bonds to be issued to pay for improvements.  The bill is on first  reading today on the Senate calendar. To learn more about the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority and their construction program, click here to see the September/October 2011 issue of West Virginia Construction News.

                                                                       

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 592             Sen. Unger. Requiring certain public construction projects comply with International Energy Conservation Code.  To Government Organization.

 

SB 597                         Sen. Palumbo, Wills, D. Facemire, Edgell and Snyder. Requiring installation of carbon monoxide detectors in certain facilities. To Judiciary.

 

SB 604             Sen. Unger. Authorizing State Fire Commission propose legislative rules relating to green plumbing and mechanical systems design and construction standards. To Government Organization.

 

SB 609             Sen. Unger. Establishing complete streets policy. To Transportation and Infrastructure then Government Organization.

 

SB 615                         Sen. Kirkendoll, Hall, Wells and Stollings. Conforming WV Water Pollution Control Act with federal Clean Water Act. To Natural Resources then Judiciary.

 

SB 621                         Sen. Unger.  Requiring DOH concurrence that major subdivisions or land developments provide sufficient access.  To Government Organization.

 

SB 623                         Sen. Sypolt.  Providing for affordable housing rate differential in water and sewer systems' capital improvement fees. To Government Organization then Judiciary.

 

SB 624             Sen. Browning and Unger. Permitting transfer of certain alternative-fuel motor vehicles tax credit (FN). To Economic Development then Finance.

 

SB 625                         Sen. Kessler (Mr. President), Boley, Edgell, Hall, Jenkins, Klempa, McCabe, Plymale, Yost and Browning. Reducing capital improvement original cost and new investment cost requirements for qualified capital additions to manufacturing facilities (FN). To Economic Development then Finance.

 

SB 630                         Sen. Plymale.  Directing Commissioner of Highways study alternative revenue sources for funding roads and highways. To Transportation and Infrastructure then Government Organization.

 

SB 631                         Sen. Beach. Permitting Monongalia County Commission levy special district excise tax (FN). To Government Organization then Finance.

 

SB 651                         Sen. Tucker.  Requiring DOH construct Lou Tabit Freeway between Chelyan and Montgomery (FN). To Transportation and Infrastructure then Finance.

 

SB 652             Sen. Plymale. Relating to comprehensive agreements for public-private transportation facilities. To Transportation and Infrastructure then Finance.

 

SB 653             Sen. McCabe and Browning. Creating WV Innovation and Development Act. To Economic Development then Government Organization.

 

SB 670                         Sen. Plymale. Allowing consulting engineer preparing highway design-build pilot program development products participate in project construction. To Transportation and Infrastructure then Finance.

 

SJR 11             Sen. Beach, Klempa, Hall and Browning. Proposing constitutional amendment   designated WV Highways Construction Jobs Amendment. Judiciary then Finance.

 

SCR 43            Sen. Edgell and Kessler (Mr. President). Requesting  DOH  name bridge in Roane County "Corder Bridge".

 

HOUSE BILLS

 

HB 4508          By Del. Hunt. Requiring certification of correctness as to design, construction and performance of domestic and commercial liquefied petroleum gas-consuming equipment and appliances.  To Judiciary.

 

HB 4525          By Del. D. Poling, Hamilton, Caputo, M. Poling, Canterbury, Boggs, Storch and Morgan.  Increasing the tax credits for apprenticeship training in construction trades. To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Finance.

 

HB 4534          By Del. Morgan, Perry, Boggs, Pethtel, Hall and L. Phillips.   Providing the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority with the ability to issue bonds to raise funds for paying the costs of approved modifications. To Finance.

 

HB 4537          By Del. Varner, Cann, Craig, Ferns, Hall, Nelson, Perdue, Skaff, Andes and T. Campbell.  Reducing the original cost requirement for a capital improvement, and the amount of required new investment (FN). To Finance.

 

HB 4552          By Del. J. Miller.  Requiring employer verification of the legal status of workers using an electronic verification program, the "E-Verify program".  To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Judiciary.

 

HB 4563          By Del. Householder, Overington, J. Miller, Gearheart, Michael, Cowles and Kump. Relating to the calculation of prevailing wages (FN). To Judiciary then Finance.

 

HB 4585          By Del. Armstead. Exempting volunteer fire departments from the definition of "public authority" if they are constructing a facility to replace one that has been destroyed. To Judiciary.

 

HB 4592          By Del. Householder. Creating a requirement for multiple prime contract bids on certain public works projects. To Government Organization.

 

HB 4619          By Del. Canterbury.  Relating to alternative fuel initiatives.  To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Government Organization.

 

HB 4623          By Del. Skaff, R. Phillips, Marcum, Stowers and Pasdon. Relating to the time final wages are required to be paid to discharged employees. To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Judiciary.

 

HB 4629          By Del. Skaff, Doyle, Reynolds, Pasdon, Staggers, Guthrie, L. Phillips, Nelson, Ferns, Barill and Marshall. Permitting the transfer of tax credits for the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles (FN).  To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Finance.