Transportation, Other Legislative Details: NC DOT estimates that the new distribution formula will result in an increase in jobs created from 110,000 to 232,000 under the new plan. This is accomplished mostly by reallocation of existing revenues from DOT programs. Projects already in the pipeline and scheduled to be let prior to July 1, 2015 will stay on current schedules.
CAGC believes the inclusion of quantifiable data input and the transparency of the ranking system should help reassure the Legislature and the public that DOT is operating with a minimum of political influence in project selection and is truly dealing with the greatest transportation needs of the state based on existing revenues streams which by most everyone's assessment are inadequate for the future. Recently, after review, the Board of Transportation appears supportive of this new concept.
Tax Reform Package: Throughout the session of the GOP-led Legislature, leaders noted that North Carolina had the highest tax rates in the Southeast and what they said was one of the worst business climates and unemployment rates in the country. High taxes, they said, remained North Carolina's greatest roadblock to economic recovery and prosperity. With tax reform now becoming law though certainly less than favored by Sen. Bob Rucho, North Carolina reportedly will move from the 44th to the 17th best tax climate in the nation - putting the state on the road to economic recovery, legislative leaders say. The package, among other things:
Design Build-PPPs-Prequalification Study: H857 authorizes the use of qualification-based selection of design-build; design-build using bridging; and public-private partnerships where the developer must put up at least half of the financing. The bill also calls for a study of prequalification methods and requirements for hiring general contractors.
CAGC was able to help lead efforts at keeping at bay proposed legislation that could have allowed for unsolicited bids and design-build with no new funding sources. Click on the links for a look at the final version of H857 and for a legislative analysis of an earlier version of the bill (which was done before CAGC was successful in amending the bill on the Senate floor to protect the construction industry by not having unrelated contracts declared null and void as a result of a public owner not complying with reporting requirements). The bill takes effect 30 days after it becomes law and applies to projects bid on or after that date and public-private development contracts entered into on or after that date.
Other Items of Interest:
Double Payment/Liens: On Jan. 30, the first day of the Legislature's long session, CAGC put together a coalition on lien legislation that included Raleigh attorney Matt Bouchard of Lewis & Roberts, Ricky Vick of S.T. Wooten Corporation, Scott Bengal of Shelco and Dave Simpson of CAGC. The four testified in favor of not having new lien legislation, which took effect on April 1, 2013, apply to commercial construction - only one- and two-family residential construction, similar to a Virginia law. While the lien legislation did become law, a new online system makes the process much simpler. The lien legislation followed CAGC's successful effort last year to lead efforts to enact legislation which took effect Jan. 1, 2013 that helps solve the double payment problem where contractors unfairly had to pay twice for the same work or materials.
Local Bidding Preference: CAGC put together a coalition to oppose successfully H284 (S232), which would have given a bidder whose principal place of business was in in the jurisdiction of the local government unit a bidding preference - that is, be able to match a low bid from the low bidder as long as the local bidder's bid was within 5 percent or $10,000, whichever was less, of the low bid. CAGC strongly favors open, competitive bidding and the free market. CAGC also led efforts, which were not always successful, to water down a handful of design-build bills which would not result in a level playing field for the construction industry.
UNC Self-Liquidating Projects: S480 will help the construction industry with many UNC construction projects funded in the new law.
Certificate of Merit: CAGC worked closely with, and commends, the Professional Engineers of NC in its efforts to help us try to improve from our standpoint H739, which, as initially written CAGC opposed because it would make it very cumbersome and costly to take legal action against the designer. A revised version of the bill, which CAGC did not oppose, was not successful.
Roofing, Irrigation Contractors: H880, which CAGC helped exempt general contractors from concerning roofing licensure, was not successful. S71, which CAGC was able to exempt building/utility contractors from, was successful.
Public Contracts/Project Labor: H110, which CAGC worked closely with Rep. Tom Murry on, will provide in the new law for fair and open competition in government contracts, strengthening NC's open-shop status.
Career Technical Education: CAGC, which last year testified in favor of this legislation before a legislative study commission that made related recommendations, strongly supported S14. The bill, the first signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, gives better recognition of vocational education by recognizing on high school graduate diplomas, beginning in 2014, whether the student is career or college ready - or both.
Wake County Responsible for School Construction/Net Zero Energy Schools: H726 passed the Senate but not the House. The bill would allow Wake County to be responsible for construction instead of the schools, a precedent-setting bill. Meantime, S474 never made it out of the Senate concerning energy savings on school construction.
State Building Commission: Susie Lewis of Beam Construction, current vice chair of CAGC's Building Division, was appointed to the State Building Commission, along with Aaron Thomas of Metcon.
Onslow County PPPs: H75, which CAGC was heavily involved with in providing for more competition and bonding requirements on a construction project there, was approved and served as a template of some of the language in H857.
Energy Code: CAGC was successful in amending legislation that would have required the state building code for commercial construction to have to be updated at least every three years. Following member input, CAGC began efforts to try to water down metal building energy requirements, which were much more stringent than those of neighboring states.
House-passed H201 would have rolled back the energy code to the 2009 edition, including metal building requirements. After H201 began moving, the State Building Code Council did weaken those metal building requirements, as supported by CAGC. H201 is in Senate Rules and still alive for next year.
LEED: H628 was rewritten from its original version which would have disallowed the use of LEED on state projects if wood was involved. It was signed by the Governor on July 3.
Regulatory Reform: H74, supported by CAGC, has workers' comp and other badly needed bureaucratic reforms. (More info in transportation report.)
Tax Modernization/Immigration: H998 was supposed to be a complete rewrite of the state's tax code and prolonged the length of the long session. But like the sweeping immigration legislation, H786 (Reclaim NC Act), the final versions of both bills that were sent to the Governor were much less sweeping than initially planned.
Next Legislative Session: While there are expected to be many legislative committee meetings in coming months, the NC General Assembly is not expected to begin the so-called short session until May 14, 2014. Then, one of CAGC's top priorities will be infrastructure. We have plans in the making now.