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UI for striking workers advances; tower crane and idling bills still alive

UI for striking workers advances; tower crane and idling bills still alive — The legislative session is at about the halfway mark, providing an opportunity to take stock of key bills affecting the construction industry and which are “alive” or “dead”.  AGC staff encourages members to be on the lookout for action alerts to contact legislators on bills that are coming up, and to join us for Legislative Huddle virtual meetings every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. (email Michele Willms).

AGC thanks the many members who have provided input, met with legislators, completed an action alert or testified at a hearing on these and other bills!While there are many bills still in play, here are some highlights.

BILLS STILL ALIVE:

Unemployment for striking workers (SHB 1893). This AGC-opposed bill would allow striking workers, and those in locked-out situations, to receive unemployment insurance benefits, which they cannot do today.  AGC strongly opposes and is concerned that such a move would upset the traditional balance in CBA negotiations, prolong strikes and add costs to projects, and damage the unemployment insurance trust fund.  The bill recently passed the House 53-44 with significant amendments also passing:  Benefits paid to striking workers will be charged to the employer of record, rather than spread across all employers (“socialized”); benefits limited to four weeks; benefits won’t be paid if strike is prohibited by law.  The bill now moves to the Senate. 

Tower crane regulation (2SHB 2022). Among other things, this measure requires a prime contractor to obtain a permit before performing any work involving the operation, assembly, disassembly, or reconfiguration of a tower crane, creates criminal penalties for certain violations, and requires local governments to align permit issuance for street closures.  AGC supports some elements of this bill but has concerns about the permit language.  AGC has been urging lawmakers to allow the permit requirement to be developed in rulemaking, rather than prescribed via legislation, so stakeholders including construction and safety professionals can participate in its development.  The bill has passed the House and is in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

Sanitary conditions for construction workers (EHB 2266).  This bill requires L&I to adopt rules that require employers in the construction industry to provide reasonable accommodations for workers performing construction activities who menstruate or express milk.  AGC has worked to make the bill more workable for the industry, but still has concerns about a uniform approach that might not work for the wide variety of types of jobsites.  The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

Idling prevention (SSB 6304).  Although its title refers to “transportation electrification”, the bill has an AGC-opposed provision that says: Beginning January 2, 2025, every diesel-fueled commercial motor vehicle licensed to operate within the state with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds may not idle for more than five consecutive minutes at any location, and every diesel-fueled auxiliary power system may not be operated for more than five minutes at any location within 100 feet of a restricted area (housing, hotels, motels, hospitals, or senior or child care facilities). Among concerns expressed by AGC are the fact that the rules could run counter to the efficient (less emissions) operation of newer diesel models, and the fact that it doesn’t fully account for the operation of tools powered by a PTO.  The bill awaits action on the Senate floor.

Change orders (SSB 6192).  AGC supports this bill that adds private construction projects to the statute requiring issuance of a change order no later than 30 days after satisfactory completion of any additional work on public works projects; adds subcontractors and suppliers to the change order statute; provides that a contractor or subcontractor that requests a change order from the project owner is not liable for any interest on unpaid amounts for additional work if the project owner has not issued the requested change order.  It has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House.

Prompt pay (SSB 6040). This bill requires payment — regardless of when the prime contractor receives payment — to subs that are small businesses certified with the state OMWBE, or recognized as a women or minority owned business enterprise in a port, county, or municipal small business or women or minority-owned business enterprise program to be paid no later than 30 days after the work is satisfactorily completed or materials delivered.  AGC has expressed concerns and its view that prompt pay issues should be addressed holistically, starting with prompter pay from the owner.  This measure would be detrimental particularly to smaller generals who would have to be the “the bank” for the project.  The bill awaits action on the Senate floor.

DEAD BILLS (The Legislature can always “resurrect” a bill at any time, but it would be unusual).Responsible bidder/training agent (SSB 5133). Among other things, this AGC-opposed bill said that, in order to be considered a responsible bidder for projects with apprenticeship utilization requirements, a bidder must be listed as an active training agent in L&I’s tracking system.  AGC was concerned that such a requirement will prevent many small general contractors from participating in public projects.

Prevailing wages on private projects (SHB 1067). AGC opposed this measure which would have required certain workers in petroleum refining or petrochemical manufacturing to be paid at least the prevailing wage.  AGC was concerned that, among other things, this would have set a precedent for applying prevailing wage to private work.

Apprenticeship program objections (HB 2087).  This AGC-supported bill would have reformed and established statutory processes for competitor objections to the approval of apprenticeship programs and standards by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.  AGC argued that this bill would have reduced the time taken to approve or disapprove new programs.

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood.

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