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2011 Legislative Session Wrap-up
AGC Scores Major Victories for the Construction Industry in 2011 Legislative Session
By Michael Gifford, AGC Colorado Executive Director
AGC members continue to state that legislative affairs is the one thing they cannot do for themselves as a company, and that AGC continues to represent them effectively at the state & local level.
The 2011 session of the Colorado General Assembly concluded its 120 days of work last month. The most important bi-partisan achievement of the session was a deal to close a half-billion dollar budget deficit without raising new taxes. Nevertheless, the session ended with much partisan bickering over re-drawing the state’s congressional district lines and other last minute skirmishes.
Republicans Take the House - and businesses benefit from a divided legislature
The divided legislature – Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and Democrats controlling the Senate – made it relatively easy to kill bills that were bad for contractors and business in general. (The AGC PAC played a role in helping Republicans take control of the House by a 33-32 margin in the 2010 election). But it also made it very difficult to pass good bills. The summary results of contractor-specific and other general business bills that AGC/C worked on in 2011 is below.
Construction Industry Specific Legislation
HB11-1115 – Retainage in Public Works Projects – This bill lowers the amount of retainage that can be withheld in public projects from 10% to 5% and requires final release of retainage 60 days after a project’s final acceptance. The bill was proposed by the BuildingJobsForColorado Coalition (AGC is a founding member) and was supported aggressively by AGC. Provisions of the bill requiring release of retainage 60 days after occupancy or use of a project (before final acceptance) were deleted in the Senate after opposition from school districts. Click here to read the final version of HB1115 signed by the Governor.
HB11-1026 – Stormwater Management – AGC proposed this bill to get ahead of the stormwater issue and provide better stormwater compliance assistance to Colorado contractors. The bill permits voluntary, industry-funded organizations like AGC’s Colorado Stormwater Excellence Program to be officially recognized by state regulators as an encouragement for other contractors and local regulators to join the program. The goal is to encourage more consistency in stormwater compliance and inspection standards across the state.
SB11-264 - Clarify Lis Pendens & Liens – This bill clarified that an owner or contractor could bond around a mechanics lien – a long-established practice that had been thrown into question by an anomalous ruling from the Colorado Court of Appeals. The bill had technical problems when introduced but a member of the AGC Legal Advisory Committee authored a quick amendment and AGC supported the bill as amended.
SB11-266 - Background Check School Contractors – This bill requires background checks for contractors working in schools. AGC worked with the sponsors of the bill to exempt most construction contractors. AGC was neutral on the amended bill.
HB11-1020 – Subcontractor Pre-Lien Notices – The Colorado Association of Homebuilders proposed legislation requiring subcontractors to provide notice of their work on a job site within 20 days, or lose their lien rights. The intent was to inform the owner and GC of all the subcontractors working on a job site so they could ensure all the subs were getting paid. The bill ran into strong opposition from some subcontractors, however, and couldn’t pass its first committee in its original form. AGC met with the sponsors several times to offer amendments that would have improved the bill.
HB11- 1070 – Public Works Prevailing Wages – Required contractors doing public works projects to pay prevailing wages and benefits, provided detailed reporting of payrolls to the state, and subjected contractors to stiff penalties and private rights of action for failure to comply. The bill was killed in its first committee due to concerns about increased construction costs to the state and unfair burdens on business. AGC has a long standing policy opposing a prevailing wage on state & local public projects.
HB11-1099 – Procurement Task Force – The sponsor of this bill sought to improve and streamline the state procurement process, which is a laudable goal. But the legislation also clearly intended to tilt the procurement process toward certain groups like union and Colorado-based labor, restrictions that would tend to increase costs for both the state and for contractors. AGC pointed these flaws out to legislators who ultimately opposed the bill.
HB11-1129 – State Procurement Preferences – Created preferences in state procurement contracting for veterans, Colorado-based labor and domestic made iron, steel and manufactured goods. AGC opposed this bill as adding unnecessary cost and restrictions.
HB11-1142 - State Econ Impact Of State Procurement – Required any state contracting agencies to consider the overall “state economic impact” of bids when determining the winner. The bill directed state purchasing managers to collect information from each bidder about Colorado-based jobs and materials, state and local taxes paid in Colorado, and other factors when determining the winning bid. AGC opposed this bill as adding unnecessary cost and restrictions.
HB11-1233 - Bidder Preferences In State Contracting – Created a preference in state contractor for “resident” bidders and prevented more than 20% of subcontracted work be performed by non-resident contractors. AGC opposed this bill as adding unnecessary cost and restrictions.
HB11-1238 - Job Quality Standards – Requires any business receiving “assistance” from the state (which includes tax exemptions or procurement contracts) to prove to the state the business provides “quality jobs.” In order to be a “quality job,” it must pay 25% more than average, provide an expansive range of benefits, be full time and last at least one year. AGC opposed this bill as adding unnecessary cost and restrictions.
SB11-185 – Notice Of Outsourced Jobs In State Contracts – Required notice be provided to the state of all outsourced work performed under state contracts within 10 days. Penalties included fines of 1% of the value of the contract and loss of the contract. AGC opposed this bill as adding unnecessary cost and restrictions.
SB11-207 – Regulation of Roofers & Roofing Contractors – Required registration, testing and bonding for roofing installers. Applied to both residential and commercial contractors. AGC met with the sponsors several times to offer amendments that would have improved the bill. The bill was defeated in the Senate.
General Business Legislation
HB11-1072 – Initiative Proponents – The backers of Amendments 60 & 61 and Proposition 101 in 2010 (which the construction spent more than one million dollars to fight) used legal loopholes to hide their true identity. This bill imposes additional disclosure requirements on initiative proponents to disclose their identity and sources of funding. AGC aggressively supported this bill.
HB11-1288 -- Unemployment Insurance Solvency Reform – Reforms the premium tables for businesses paying in to Colorado’s insolvent Unemployment Insurance trust fund. While the bill will likely result in higher UI premiums for businesses, it will lessen the rate shock scheduled to occur under the old formula as Colorado tries to rebuild it’s trust fund and repay federal loans that have keep our UI system afloat. AGC had a general contractor and a specialty contractor on the team that developed the new system.
SB11-025 - Colorado Taxpayer Empowerment Act 2011 – Originally sought to expand the reach of the Colorado Open Records Act to a wider range of businesses contracting with the state. The final bill was amended (using AGC’s amendments) to simply restate that the contract and performance measures under the contract are public records, as is the case today.
SCR11-001 – Ballot Measures – This referred amendment to the Colorado Constitution would have made it more difficult to amend the Constitution at the ballot box. SCR-001 would have required a 60% supermajority of voters to approve a new Constitutional amendment (versus 50% in the current law). SCR-001 required a 2/3 majority of the legislature to approve, but strong union opposition to the measure denied the supermajority it needed to be placed on the ballot for voters to appove. AGC aggressively supported this proposal and we have not seen it for the last time.
HB11-1107 – Illegal Immigration Enforcement – In an attempt to replicate the controversial Arizona illegal immigration law in Colorado, this bill imposed high penalties on employers for failure to verify employee citizenship records and gave police greater powers to arrest illegal immigrants. AGC opposed the strict penalties on employers.
SB11-068 - Increase Consumer Protection Enforcement – Dramatically expanded the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, which imposes treble damages and attorney’s fees in cases of deceptive business practices, by making illegal “unfair” business practices and giving the Attorney General the liberty to determine, by rules, what is “unfair.” AGC opposed this bill
AGC Bill Report