By Steve Rizer
Undergoing consideration in state legislatures across America right now are at least 20 bills that in some way would promote the design-build method of construction project delivery. Among the more important proposals of that bunch, which ones have the best chance of being passed into law this year? In which states will approval of such legislation have the most difficult road? And, where will measures of this sort be introduced next? In an interview with ConstructionPro Week (CPW), Richard Thomas, the Design-Build Institute of America’s director of state and local legislative affairs, answered these questions and several others.
In discussing the key design-build bills that are most likely to become law this year, Thomas singled out proposals in New York and California. The New York legislation (S. 06357/A. 08557) would extend by six years the sunset dates for terminating the design-build authority that the Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, and four other state agencies have. Such authority, originally granted in 2011, is scheduled to expire this year for the six agencies. He believes state lawmakers will extend design-build authority “in some fashion.” The legislation, which already has cleared the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, also would expand design-build authority to local governments for certain projects. “We’re expecting some resolution on that bill probably within the month.”
Thomas also is encouraged by the progression of California’s S.B. 785, which the Senate passed in late January. This measure is intended to consolidate and streamline existing design-build statutes into a single statute for use by public agencies. “It would standardize their design-build laws for any project over $1 million,” Thomas explained. “I think it would make it very clear what design-build authority is in California.”
Bills to promote design-build in Oklahoma (H.B. 2898) and Missouri (H.B. 1945) probably will prove to be the “toughest ones” to get passed, Thomas predicted. And although several design-build bills are undergoing review in New Jersey, that state’s legislature traditionally has presented a “very challenging environment” for such proposals. “We’ve never been able to make much headway there.”
Thomas mentioned two states where design-build legislation could be introduced soon. He expects a comprehensive measure to be offered in Louisiana. In Illinois, “the state Department of Transportation right now only can do design-build low-bid. There have been a lot of folks who have been pushing to get best value. A bill has been introduced -- just kind of a shell bill (H.B. 4732) -- but [another bill] will be forthcoming.”
The ConstructionPro Network version of this article contains a transcript of CPW’s interview with Thomas and provides links to design-build bills that 11 states are considering.