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Senate to take up exception to single-prime bidding, wetlands bills

Among the dozens of bills on its plate Wednesday, the Wisconsin Senate will be taking up Legislation that would make approvals of state projects easier.

Current law requires state projects estimated to cost more than $185,000 to be bid out using the state’s single-prime system.

That system requires the state to first bid out mechanical, plumbing, electrical and heating-and-cooling work to subcontractors before inviting general contractors to submit their own bids. Assembly Bill 675 would increase the single-prime threshold to $300,000.

The legislation is up for a vote before the full Senate on Tuesday. It has already been approved by the state Assembly and won a favorable recommendation from Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

Should the bill pass the Senate, it would next head to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk for a signature.

In addition to increasing the single-prime threshold, Assembly Bill 675 would also:

  • Let state officials forgo the single-prime system for projects costing more than $300,000 if at least 85 percent of the work involved were related to a single trade, such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical or fire-protection. In those cases, the state Department of Administration would be able to skip selecting subcontractors and could instead deal directly with a single-trade contractor. The change would eliminate at least one step in the state’s sometimes complex bidding processes.
  • Increase from $760,000 to $1 million the threshold at which a project must first be added to the state budget before it could go before the Building Commission for approval.
  • Require the secretary of the DOA to establish a committee charged with selecting an architect or engineer for any given state building project. If the value of the project was estimated to be $7.4 million or more, the selection of engineers or architects would have to be made using a request-for-proposals process.

AB 675 has support from the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Society of Architects.

AB 675 aside, the Senate will be up these pieces of legislation on Tuesday:

    • AB 118, which would set up a new procedure for contesting decisions made by the director of the Wisconsin Historical Society to record sites in a catalog listing known burial sites. The bill would also require property owners, starting on July 1, to disclose to prospective buyers whether they are are aware of any burial sites on the property they are offering up for sale. The legislation passed the full Assembly on Nov. 9.
    • AB 904, which would change state rules governing how many carbon-monoxide detectors must be installed in homes. The bill’s requirements are similar to those found in the International Building Code. The bill passed the Assembly on Feb. 20.
    • AB 935, which would allow owners of waterfront property to remove certain material from inland navigable waters without a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources.
    • AB 926, which would exempt people from having to get permits from the DNR in order to do certain types of shoreline-maintenance work in certain parts of the state. The types of work in question include mowing, leveling sand and removing debris. The bill passed the Assembly on Feb. 22.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected because Assembly Bill 935 was misidentified as Assembly Bill 926 in the original version.

About Erika Strebel

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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