RMC-NECA Industry/Governmental Affairs Update

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Prepared by Ralph Lufen
Creative Training Services

The following are highlights of the  quarterly meeting with representatives of the Building Jobs 4 Colorado Coalition and representatives of the City and County of Denver on 9/9/14:

 

1. Chris Martinez – Director of the Division of Small Business Opportunity

 

Director Martinez noted that recommendations provided to his agency by Denver’s Office of Economic Development suggesting reforms to the Minority/Women Business Enterprise program will soon be adopted. This is in response to the recent controversy over the $39.6 million contract awarded to Burgess services for mechanical work at the DIA hotel and RTD transit center projects. He noted that only work performed by “certified” MBE/WBE businesses that relates to the area of their expertise and which is under their control can count toward the percentage of  a contract set aside for disadvantaged businesses. Work that may be subcontracted by a “certified” firm to a “ non-certified” firm cannot be counted toward set aside goals. Certification must be done through the Office of Economic Development.

 

Martinez also noted that the three “Goals Committees” one of which sets WBE/MBE goals for the construction industry will open up for replacement appointees in the near future.

 

The Mentor Protégé Program has been put on hold until a full time staff person can be hired to oversee this effort. This should be finalized in January 2015.

 

Martinez reminded those present that those firms wishing to be prequalified to provide services or perform work on City projects need to complete all data being requested on the applicable forms. When data is lacking they may forfeit the opportunity to submit a bid.

 

Should contractors have any questions regarding the above issues or other concerns they should contact his Office at 720-913-1999.

 

2. Stuart Williams – Project Manager for the South Terminal Redevelopment Program (Westin Hotel and RTD Rail Station)

 

Mr. Williams indicated that the Hotel project is scheduled for completion in the Fall of 2015. The RTD Rail Station in the Fall of 2016. He noted that substantial mechanical system work for DIA buildings has been scheduled for next year as well. Information on future project opportunities at DIA can be found at www.flydenver.com under “Business Opportunities”. A DIA Day will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 (The Renaissance Denver Hotel 3801 Quebec St.) from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm to explore upcoming business opportunities at DIA. Registration starts at 8:00 am. A workshop on how to do business at DIA is scheduled for Oct. 8th – details can be found at www.flydenver.com as well.

 

3.  Brighton Boulevard Redevelopment and North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative Projects

 

Projects are proceeding and preliminary design will be presented Spring 2105. One of the first phases will be utility relocation. Different project delivery options are being explored as this will be a fast track project.

 

4. Workforce Issues

 

Several comments made with respect to current and future shortage of workers in the construction industry. Need for collaboration among public and private sector leadership to address this issue. Manager of Public Works Jose Cornejo suggested that those present form a subgroup to offer solutions to this problem. Legislation at the State level to fund promotion of opportunities in construction and enhancement of vocational training via community colleges and high schools was discussed. Apprentice programs currently in operation for various trades were discussed. Janice Sinden, Chief of Staff for Mayor Hancock, noted that the City had recently hired Denise Bryant as Director of Workforce Development and she should be included among the members of the proposed subgroup.

 

5. Payment Issues

 

Jenn Penn noted that BJ4C and ASA have been discussing payment issues in the construction industry at the request of State Representatives Williams and Kraft-Tharp. City representatives indicated they would like to be included in any future meetings called by the aforementioned  State Representatives.

 

If you are having construction related issues with the City please inform the Chapter so that we can follow-up with our City Agency/Department leaders.

 

The following is an update on recent developments covering Industry/Legislative/Regulatory issues and Building Jobs 4 Colorado Coalition activity through 5/13 /14:

Colorado General Assembly

SB-197 (Jones/Herpin;Foote/Kraft-Tharp) “Concerning High-Performance Transportation Enterprise Transparency”. This Bill which now awaits the Governor’s signature increases accountability and transparency with respect to surface transportation infrastructure projects funded through public-private partnerships (P3’s). Nothing wrong with that but unfortunately the Bill also establishes certain requirements related to the terms and conditions of such “partnerships” that discourage private sector participation. With a lack of funding for public infrastructure projects that appears to be growing due to other budgetary demands faced by state and local governments this legislation only exacerbates the problem. The Coalition as well as its individual members including NECA has requested that Governor Hickenlooper veto this Bill. A recent study by the Brookings Institute points out that such projects not only create “shovel-ready” types of jobs but also support long term employment for decades based on maintenance, renovation and expansion requirements. Such jobs also pay well and tend to have lower educational barriers to entry.

SB-220 (Ulibarri/Scheffel;Singer/Del Grosso) “Construction Defects Litigation”. This Bill was an effort to shift the resolution of construction-defect claims toward arbitration rather than litigation. If an HOA decided to pursue litigation rather than arbitration, the Bill would require majority approval by owners prior to litigation. The Bill had support from developers, contractors,BJ4 CO, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and numerous mayors from various municipalities. It also had stiff opposition from several homeowners, community managers and trial lawyers (including Senate President Morgan Carroll).
Politics entered the picture as the Bill was not introduced until late in the session and assigned to two Committees. While it was passed out of the Senate Affairs Committee time ran out before it could be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Whether similar legislation will be introduced during the 2015 General Assembly is unclear at this point.

HB-1165 (Fischer/Tochtrop) “Retention for Private Construction Contracts”. This Bill was again proposed by ASA of Colorado. As in the past a variety of opposition including Architects, Bankers, Developers, Owners and General Contractors lined up to testify against the Bill. NECA monitored the Bill but it was clear from the start it was not going to make it out of House Business, Labor and Economic Development Committee. It was Postponed Indefinitely by that Committee on 2/27/14.

Our Chapter Governor Craig Clark is continuing discussion of this issue among the AGC Specialty Contractors group in an attempt find a solution that the major stakeholders can agree upon. The BJ4 CO Coalition based on input from its contractor members also plans to meet with ASA this summer to once again discuss retention and payment issues.

HB-1383 (Williams; Tochtrop/Ulibarri) “Concerning the Required Number of Physicians That Must Be Provided to an Injured Employee for Selection of a Treating Physician in Workers’ Compensation Cases”. This Bill which now awaits the Governor’s signature provides that an employer must furnish a list of 4 physicians and corporate medical providers to an injured employee from which to select a treating physician. Exemptions to allow for less than 4 physicians/medical providers are allowed for rural areas.

HB-1387 (Szabo;Schwartz) “Concerning Revisions of Capital Related Statutes in the C.R.S.” This Bill which now awaits the Governor’s signature was generated by the Capital Development Committee as required to review the executive budget and budget requests of each state agency and institution as related to capital expenditures. Part of this Bill allows CU and CSU as State Institutions of Higher Education to conduct their own electrical and plumbing inspections for certain campuses.

With respect to electrical inspections, the Bill requires that CU and CSU adhere to all the current requirements applied by the State Electrical Board with respect to local entities who elect to conduct their own inspections. Both Universities argued that as a matter of practice they have historically been conducting such inspections even though such activity was not in conformity with the State Electrical statute. There was a lot of discussion among the Universities, NECA and the IBEW regarding this issue but the end result appears to be something that our industry can live with.

Building Jobs4Colorado Coalition:

Coloradans for Responsible Reform – Energy Related Ballot Measures. Based upon input from our Board of Directors the Chapter along with other members of the BJ4 CO Coalition has signed the Resolution of Support as drafted by CFRR to oppose the various anti-growth and energy related ballot measures that may appear in this year’s general election. Organized Labor has joined the opposition as well and has committed a substantial amount of financial support. It remains to be seen which measure will actually appear this November but in the interim expect to see a lot of media attention given to these issues.

As in the past BJ4 CO will be interviewing candidates for State offices most likely in late July or early August. Please contact the Chapter should you be interested in participating in the interview process.

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