FEBRUARY 3, 2017
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Legislative, Regulatory and Other News at a Glance for Grassroots Action
Currently forty-six legislatures are in session:  Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Federal, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio,  Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 
In This Issue:
fed
Federal Report
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee begins to lay the foundation for an infrastructure spending bill

On February 1, 2017 the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted a hearing entitled, "Building a 21st  Century Infrastructure for America," as a means to showcase the necessary infrastructure improvements needed to rebuild our country's roads, bridges, waterway systems, and airports. Improving our nation's infrastructure was a key platform issue for President Trump, and he was the first President to mention infrastructure spending during his inauguration speech. This was the first hearing of the 115th Congress, which indeed sends a strong signal that Congress is serious about enacting a meaningful infrastructure spending bill. According to Chairman Shuster (R-PA-9), "this election raised the profile of infrastructure in the minds' of the American people and policymakers." Chairman Shuster told reporters after the hearing, "we're going to be working with the administration very closely. They can shape things downtown at the White House, but it's got to come up here to pass."

The sentiment amongst committee members seemed bipartisan. However, the challenge will be how Congress and the White House can reach a consensus concerning the means to pay for a $1 trillion infrastructure package. This might include increasing the federal gas tax, which Congress has not increased since 1993, enacting a vehicle user fee tax, and allowing U.S. multi-national companies to repatriate cash they are currently storing in overseas financial markets at a discounted tax rate. An increase in the federal gas tax seemed to garner bipartisan support, even though some House Republicans may be reluctant to cast such a vote. Witnesses were asked for their opinion relating to public-private partnerships (P3s) agreements. All of the witnesses seemed to agree that P3s are a valuable tool, but relying solely on them will not solve the nation's infrastructure needs. During the question and answer period, witness Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, urged lawmakers to adhere to the "Buy America" rules and to follow Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protections. Please take the opportunity to review Chairman Shuster's opening statement and the statements from the witnesses as well.


statereport
State Report
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Bond Threshold Increase
New Hampshire House Bill 371

NH HB 371 (Danielson) increases the amount of a public works contract for which a bond is required from $35,000 to $150,000. HB 371 was referred to the House Public Works and Highways Committee, where a hearing was conducted on January 25, 2017. NASBP sent a letter in opposition. The surety community is reaching out to Members of the House Public Works and Highways Committee to educate them on the surety product. NASBP will continue to keep it's members apprised.
North Dakota Senate Bill 2146

ND SB 2146 (Kannianen) increases the current bond threshold for construction contracts from $100,000 to $150,000. Since we last reported on this legislation, SB 2146 passed the Senate and is now in the House. NASBP previously sent a letter in opposition.
LMA
Little Miller Act
Hawaii House Bill 1415 / SB 1280

HI HB 1415 / SB 1280 (Holt / Rhoads) amends the Little Miller Act to require the following: 1) sureties be independent from the companies awarded bids; 2) sureties cannot be revoked or dismissed until 90 days after project completion; and 3) sureties be listed on the U.S.Treasury's Circular 570. A hearing was conducted on February 2, 2017 on both bills in the House Labor and Public Employment Committee and Senate Government Operations Committee, respectively. A number of groups and entities weighed in on the legislation, among them: Subcontractors Association of Hawaii, the Electrical Contractors of Hawaii, anjd the AGC of Hawaii. NASBP is working with local members and the contracting community to monitor and provide guidance on these bills. 
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Prequalification
Virginia HB 2017

VA HB 2017 (Villanueva) allows a locality to waive the requirement for prequalification for a bidder with a current Class A contractor license for non-transportation contracts between $100,000 and $500,000. According to Va. Code § 54.1-1100, Class A contractors "perform or manage construction, removal, repair, or improvements when (i) the total value referred to in a single contract or project is $120,000 or more, or (ii) the total value of all such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by such person within any 12-month period is $750,000 or more." The performance and payment bonding requirement for these projects was previously removed from statute in 2011, and this prequalification requirement remained the fnal protection for localities. NASBP wrote a letter in opposition to this bill. HB 2017 was introduced at the request of the City of Virginia Beach. 
p3
Public-Private Partnerships
Kansas Senate Bill 55

KS SB 55 (Committee on Federal and State Affairs) would authorize the state to utilize P3s for public construction projects. A performance bond and payment bond in amounts equal to the full contract amount are required for contracts over $25,000. SB 55 is supplemental to Kansas Statutes Annotated, Chapter 16, Article 19, Kansas Fairness in Public Construction Act. SB 55 is scheduled for a hearing on February 7, 2017. NASBP will continue to monitor this legislation and provide the membership with updates. 
Mississippi House Bill 1185

MS HB 1185 would create the Mississippi Public-Private Partnership Act of 2017, which establishes P3 authorization for infrastructure projects that "provide economic and social value."  Bonds shall be required of the successful bidder in an amount equal to the contract price. According to the bill language, the contract price shall mean the entire cost of the particular contract let. MS HB 1185 was recommended "DO PASS" by the House Committee on Public Property.  
New Mexico Senate Bill 143 / House Bill 275

NM SB 143 / HB 275 would authorize state and local governments to enter into P3 agreements. The legislation requires the private partner to provide, either directly or through the principal contractor who is in charge of the project, performance and payment bonds as required by Section 13-4-18 NMSA 1978, New Mexico's Little Miller Act, for those components of a public project that involve construction. The Senate bill received multiple committee referrals. 
Focal Point is an e-bulletin sent to members and friends of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers when most state legislatures are in session and as needed thereafter. To obtain copies of Bills or other materials discussed above, contact advocacy@nasbp.org. Copyright © 2015. NASBP. All rights reserved.
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