I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is? Do you know? Oh, yeah, he’s just a bill … he’s just a bill on capitol hill.
You knew that Nashville was the Music City, right? Reminiscent of the "Schoolhouse Rocks" days, last night I attended the kick off dinner for the AGC of Tennessee’s “Day on the Hill”… an event where AGC members attend hearings and meet with state senators and representatives about various bills relating to the construction industry in the state of Tennessee. Although there are reported to be more than 1300 bills introduced for consideration by the General Assembly in the 2010 regular session, approximately 15-20 of those impact or affect the construction industry in some manner. The top five bills for which the AGC of Tennessee has stated their position include the following:
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance Reform. There have been a number of bills introduced in the session of the General Assembly regarding the issue of subcontractors not having workers compensation insurance coverage. I previously blogged about Public Chapter 1041, who’s implementation date was recently deferred until March 28, 2011. The law would have required all contractors to obtain workers compensation coverage, even on themselves if they were sole proprietors. Rather than taking a position on the individual bills that were introduced in this session, the AGC of Tennessee suggests that any legislation proposed on this issue consider the following recommendations:
- Allow up to three officers of a company to “opt out” from being required to have coverage;
- Require the filing of an affidavit with the Department of Labor that specifically names the individuals who have opted out of coverage;
- Proof of at least 10% ownership;
- Submission of a federal employer identification number with any filing;
- An acknowledgment of a waiver of all rights of recovery, including workers compensation and tort claims, if the opt out individual is injured on the job; and
- A provision that any individual who opts and files a claim would be guilty of fraud.
- Drug Free Workplace. This legislation was first introduced by 2008 by the AGC of Tennessee. SB 1524 and HB 1604 make certain changes for denying workers compensation claims involving drugs or alcohol. By changing the burden of proof by the injured employee from a “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing” evidence. This legal language change would make it more difficult for the employee to prove that drugs did not contribute to the cause of the accident. AGC of Tennessee strongly supports this change to the current legislation.
- Listing of Masonry Contractors. SB 2722 and HB 2794 requires information concerning those bidding for masonry contractor work be included on the outside of the envelope containing a bid, in addition to those contractors currently required to be listed. AGC of Tennessee strongly opposes this legislation, consistent with the position taken by the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors. Currently, masonry contractors are not required to have a license in Tennessee. Adding this requirement to current legislation as suggested by the AGC, would be put an additional burden on the general contractors bidding a project.
- Electronic Bidding. SB 3607 and HB 3158 revise the current requirements concerning information that must be contained on the outside of the envelope containing a bid to also require the same information be included in an electronic bid. AGC of Tennessee strongly supports this legislation because it brings the bid process into the electronic technological arena.
- Local Bid Preferences. AGC of Tennessee strongly supports SB 3607 and HB 3160, which clarifies that the only bid preferences that are permissible in public construction projects of local governments are those created by the General Assembly by general law. This legislation is intended to prevent local jurisdictions and governments from creating special bidding rules for construction projects.
Although there are numerous other bills before the General Assembly, these are the main ones being discussed by AGC members this morning at the “Day on the Hill” program.
I once worked as a staff member on Capitol Hill more than 15 years ago and I truly miss being involved in the legislative process. Whether you support or oppose any of the above measures, the real lesson is to get involved to help shape the laws that can (and will) affect your business.