2017 Legislative Session Preview

The 2017 Legislative Session began at NOON on January 10th.  The AGC HHU's first weekly legislative phone call will be Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.  The first written weekly legislative report will be issued on Friday, January 20th, see more details below!

As bills of interest are filed, we will email you a link to the bill and an analysis of the bill.  From this information and from discussion during our weekly phone call, AGC's stance on each bill of interest will be set.

Some bills of interest have been shared with AGC already.  Since none of these bills has actually been drafted at this point, we are providing a brief synopsis.  When actual draft legislation is available, you will receive the bill draft and analysis.

Technical Institute Oversight Bill
This bill is a result of Amendment R passing on the November ballot.  The oversight bill would transfer state oversight of postsecondary technical education from the Secretary of Education and Board of Education to a newly-created Board of Technical Education.  This board would be comprised of stakeholders in technical education, and they would make technical institute decisions at the state level.  The Board's focus will be postsecondary education and producing graduates who are ready to meet workforce needs.

Comparative Negligence
AGC, other business groups and many insurance and attorney organizations opposed this bill in the past.  Comparative negligence is a defense to a claim based on negligence, relevant to the determination of liability.  It is applicable when claimants/plaintiffs have, through their own negligence, contributed to the harm they suffer by actively ignoring warnings or failing to take reasonable steps for their own safety.  An example would be a person ignoring warning signs posted at a construction zone that causes an accident due to speed.  Defenses of comparative negligence provide protection for business owners because of the "slight" standard used now to measure negligence.
The SD Trial Lawyers want to shift the measure of negligence from "slight" to "greater than" with this bill.  If it passes, the plaintiff would only be barred from recovery if their negligence was greater than the defendant.  Passage would lead to increased litigation, more money paid by jury verdicts and lead to increased insurance premiums.

Amendment to International Energy Conservation Code
South Dakota has adopted the 2015 International Building Code, and updates the most recent version in code every three years.  Next update will be in 2018.
The IBC requires that "Buildings shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the International Energy Conservation Code."  Each state gets to decide which version of the IECC to use:  2006, 2009, 2012 or 2015.
The bill to be brought by the SD Chapter of ASHRAE will amend this site in codified law to state that:  "For the purposes of this section, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code will be the required version of the International Energy Conservation Code within the International Building Code."
The bill seeks to amend 11-10-5 and 11-10-6, which govern public improvement projects bid by local governments.

Unemployment Insurance Assessment
Last year, AGC opposed the Department of Labor when they attempted to pass a bill that would assess employer contributions .02 to fund the administration of the Unemployment Insurance program.  AGC members felt it was wrong to take any amount of money from employee benefits, and also opposed the fact that the assessment amount would not credit to the employers experience rating.  AGC defeated that bill.
And the DOL will be back again with a similar bill.  They have tried to set a baseline to regulate the size of the unemployment trust fund by instituting a trigger.  This trigger, or AHCM, is a ratio of trust fund reserves compared to the average of the three highest benefits to total wages ratios for the last three recessions or past 20 years.
The new UI tax rates will be based on the AHCM.  If the AHCM is below 1.60 on June 30, the UI tax rate drops .02 from its current rate, and .02 is diverted from employer contributions to fund the administrative fund.  If the AHCM is above 1.60 on June 30, the tax rate is .10 less than current rate and .02 is diverted from employer contributions to fund the administrative fund.
AGC has the same concerns with this proposed legislation; money is taken from employer benefit contributions and cannot be credited to their experience rating.  Most employers feel that any tax break offered is negligible.  Another concern is that the "zero based" employers, those who do not pay into the trust fund, are not assessed the .02 administrative fee.

Revision to Construction Manager-Agent Scope  
For several years, one contractor has bid and won projects as an architect and construction manager-agent.  The issue received some local news coverage, was the subject of an attorney general's opinion, and was mentioned in a SD Supreme Court ruling.
Now a handful of local architects and contractors want to clarify the law so that an architect or engineer cannot act as contractor or construction manager on the same project.  
No draft bill is available yet.
Weekly Legislative Conference Call
The first weekly  Legislative  Conference Call will take  place  this Tuesday, January 17th! We look forward to a productive discussion on the latest happenings at the capitol. The call will be held at 2:00 p.m. CT. 

To participate in the Dial 1-800-377-8846, Participant code is 91637021#.
2017 Legislative Day & Annual Dinner
Mark your calendars for Monday, February 27th, which is the AGC Legislative Day & Annual  Dinner! Busses will run to and from Rapid City & Sioux Falls  Register Today!  Please make plans to attend and learn more about how the Legislative process works in Pierre and visit with your  legislators.  
Call the AGC of SD office at (605) 224-8689 for more information or email: deb.mortenson@pie.midco.net