The first two weeks of session started fast with several bills proposing to change current public works procurement law being heard in committee. The most significant changes would include requiring the payment of the current prevailing wage on the date work is performed, adding apprenticeship requirements to qualify as a responsive bidder, and updating the Small Works Roster to allow direct contracting with certified small businesses for projects under $150,000.

HB 1099 would require that wages in public works contracts be paid at the prevailing wage in effect when the work is performed. This bill was heard Wednesday, January 11 in the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards and WSACE testified with concerns regarding how the bill might impact bid calculation, leading to overall price increases, who will be responsible for tracking and ensuring the correct wage is paid, and will it lead to more change orders?

HB 1050 would expand apprenticeship utilization requirements for municipalities. This bill was heard Thursday, January 19 in the House Capital Budget Committee and WSACE is monitoring with concerns. The bill would require that municipalities awarding public works contracts of more than one million dollars now have to ensure that at least 15% of the hours are performed by apprentices. It also requires that subcontracts of public works contracts with an initial subcontract price of $200,000 or more include specifications that no less than 15% of the labor hours be performed by apprentices.

SB 5133 modifies responsible bidder criteria for public works projects. The bill adds requirements that contractors must meet related to apprenticeships before they can be considered a qualifying and responsive bidders on projects. It was heard on Friday, January 13 in the Senate State Government & Elections Committee. WSACE testified expressing concerns focused on how the changes might impact or lower the total number of bids we are able to receive, leading to overall price increases and how it will impact small contractors’ ability to bid on public works projects.

On all three of these bills, we are working with our other local association partners and labor representatives to resolve concerns and find possible amendments that we can work on as they move through the process.

Finally, SB 5268 addresses equity and efficiencies in public works procurement by modifying the Small Works Roster. This bill was heard Friday, January 20 in the Senate Committee on State Government & Elections. The bill significantly changes the Small Works Roster process to reduce barriers for small businesses. It allows jurisdictions to direct contracts with certified small businesses for projects under $150,000. It creates a new definition of small business and a new certification process as well as tasking MRSC with establishing and managing a new state-wide roster system for jurisdictions to use. The Capital Projects Advisory Review Board reached a consensus on these proposed changes and recommended the legislation. WSACE has been tracking developments and participating in the process and signed in “Pro” for the hearing. We will continue monitoring for any proposed amendments.

Policy Contact:
Axel Swanson
WSACE, Policy Director