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Project delivery bill withers in Legislature

By Paul Snyder

The state Building Commission probably will have the rest of the year to decide whether Wisconsin’s bidding process is as efficient as it could be.

The state Legislature is unlikely to vote Thursday on a bill that would expand Wisconsin’s project delivery method to include single-prime and construction manager at risk contracts.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Jim Boullion, government affairs director for the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin. “It was a way to improve efficiency rather than looking at each project on a case-by-case basis.”

Wisconsin law now requires multiple-prime contracting, in which the state contracts with each major construction discipline on a project and opens all bids at the same time to ensure the project is fairly awarded.

In single-prime contracting, the state contracts with one primary contractor that accepts and manages the bids, contracts and work of each subcontractor. In construction manager at risk, a contractor would serve as a consultant before construction and general contractor bidding, and would be required to meet a guaranteed price offered to the state.

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State Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, a member of the Building Commission, said continuing to allow single-prime and construction manager at risk contracts by waivers only will increase project debates.

“Especially when bids are coming in so low,” he said. “You want to be careful about doing waivers because you don’t want to upset the bidding process.”

Kaufert said he’s not concerned about keeping the process as is, but said if the commission wants to revisit a bill allowing different methods, much of the legwork is already done.

“At the very least,” he said, “we have a head start for next year.”

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Construction bills

A glance at where industry-related measures stand in the Wisconsin Legislature

Green building (AB 843/SB 616)
PURPOSE: Sets green building standards for new construction of public buildings measuring at least 10,000 square feet
SPONSORS: State Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point, and Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison
STATUS: Senate approved bill Tuesday on 19-14 vote, Assembly scheduled to vote Thursday

Engineering licenses (AB 288)
PURPOSE: Changes Wisconsin’s licensing procedure for engineers to require four years of study at approved schools plus four years of experience in preparation for managing projects before taking exam
SPONSORS: State Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point
STATUS: Passed Assembly in October, available for Senate vote Thursday

Qualifications-based selection (AB 654/SB 442)
PURPOSE: Requires qualifications-based selection whenever a local government hires a consultant to plan a project with a value of at least $250,000 and using any amount of state money
SPONSORS: State Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point, and Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee
STATUS: Available for vote in Assembly Thursday, but no vote expected in Senate

Ironworkers (AB 660/SB 476)
PURPOSE: Requires ironworkers be licensed in Wisconsin and defines ironwork
SPONSORS: State Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, and Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee
STATUS: A vote Thursday in the Assembly or Senate is unlikely, said Darryl Teske, Jorgensen’s chief of staff.

Worker misclassification (AB 939/SB 672)
PURPOSE: Requires Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to enforce penalties against contractors who list workers as independent and not qualified for worker’s compensation or other benefits
SPONSORS: State Rep. Joe Parisi, D-Madison, and Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie
STATUS: Available for votes Thursday in the Senate and Assembly

Indemnification (SB 589)
PURPOSE: Voids provisions in construction contracts that require one company protect or insure another company
SPONSORS: State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee
STATUS: Senate and Assembly votes unlikely, according to Taylor’s chief of staff, Eric Peterson

Project delivery (AB 427/SB 298)
PURPOSE: Changes preferred delivery method for state building projects from multiple-prime to include single-prime and construction manager at risk contracts
SPONSORS: State Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, and Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, at the request of the state Building Commission
STATUS: Available for vote in the Senate but not in the Assembly

DNR wetland notification (AB 818/SB 557)
PURPOSE: Requires the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provide information about wetlands to landowners, builders and local governments that issue building permits
SPONSORS: State Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, and Sen. Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls
STATUS: Senate approved bill last week 33-0, Assembly scheduled to vote Thursday

Prevailing wage changes (AB 829/SB 696)
PURPOSE: Repeals prevailing wage law changes made in the 2009-11 state budget, including $25,000 project threshold and monthly reporting requirements
SPONSORS: State Rep. Mary Williams, R-Medford, and state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau
STATUS: No public hearings or votes scheduled in Assembly Committee on Ways and Means or Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs

Crane/heavy equipment operators (AB 928/SB 665)
PURPOSE: Requires licensing of operators of cranes or certain pieces of heavy equipment weighing more than 26,000 pounds on public works project where prevailing wages are paid
SPONSORS: State Rep. Joe Parisi, D-Madison, and Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee
STATUS: No votes are expected Thursday on the bill in the Senate or Assembly

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