The Legislature might be in a special session to deal with the big budget issues but that hasn’t prevented a flurry of bills affecting the construction industry from being passed and signed into law. Below are some of them; contact AGC’s Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood 360.352.5000 if you have questions.
Permit reform/bridges: SHB 1851 expedites the permitting and contracting for structurally deficient bridges owned by local governments. Directs DOE to amend SEPA rules for local bridges and create a categorical exemption from the SEPA that is consistent with an exemption available to WSDOT projects for the repair and replacement of structurally deficient bridges. Also it authorizes cities towns and counties to use an expedited contracting process to repair or replace bridges deemed structurally deficient. AGC supported this bill.
Vocational rehabilitation: SHB 1496 backed by AGC provides financial benefits such as partial wage reimbursement for employers – including employers of injury – who employ an injured worker receiving vocational services. It also makes permanent the provisions of the vocational rehabilitation pilot program with some changes.
Concrete recycling: Among other things ESHB 1695 requires all WSDOT transportation projects to use at least 25% construction aggregate and recycled concrete materials by 2016 and big cities to give bidding preference to the contractor proposing to use the highest percentage of recycled material if it is at no additional cost. It also requires WSDOT local governments and construction associations to develop criteria and objectives for the reuse and recycling of commonly defined coarse- and fine-aggregate cement and concrete mixtures. AGC supported this measure.
Public works contracts/county of venue: Current law says that any person or entity commencing a lawsuit against a county may file the lawsuit in the county itself or in either of the two nearest judicial districts. However counties in Washington State have been including contract clauses in public-works contracts that require the contractor to consent to having the dispute resolved in the same county that is issuing the contract. This AGC-backed bill HB 1601 prevents local governments from including this county-of-venue waiver in public contracts.
Apprenticeship/labor hours: The definition of labor hours in the apprenticeship utilization statutes is changed by HB 1595 to mean the total hours of workers employed upon (rather than on the site of) the project. The bill is meant to affect truck drivers for whom it is common to spend an entire day working on the project but not on the site. The bill clarifies that off-site as well as on-site hours can count toward apprenticeship-utilization requirements.