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Legislature Tweaks Contracting Statutes

June 8, 2015  by  John W. Carpita, PE
Category:  Purchasing and Contracting

Legislature Tweaks Contracting Statutes

Washington Legislative Building courtesy of Gerald Hawkins.

Each legislative session, there are changes – some substantial, some not – to statutes affecting contracting for public works, services, materials, supplies, etc., that affect all or some local government agencies. The 2015 legislative session tweaked several statutes, but overall it was a quiet session for purchasing and contracting issues. Below are some of the more significant changes to contracting statutes.

ESHB 1695: Recycled Aggregate and Concrete

Effective Date: January 1, 2016

Summary: ESHB 1695 establishes a priority for the use, reuse, and recycling of construction aggregate and recycled concrete materials in Washington. It requires the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), together with local governmental entities and Washington-based construction industry associations, to develop criteria and objectives for the reuse and recycling of commonly-defined coarse and fine aggregate cement and concrete mixtures.

How it affects local governments:

  • Local governments with 100,000 or more residents are required to solicit bids from contractors that propose to use recycled content and give bidding preference to the contractor proposing to use the highest percentage of recycled material if it is at no additional cost.
  • Local governments with jurisdiction over a public works transportation or infrastructure project are required, by the year 2016, to adopt standards as developed by WSDOT for the use of recycled materials as shown in WSDOT's standard specifications for road, bridge, and municipal construction.
  • Local governments located in counties with less than 100,000 residents are required to review and determine their capacity for recycling, establish recycling strategies to reuse construction aggregate and recycled concrete materials for projects in their jurisdiction, and implement those strategies.

SHB 1575: Retainage Bonds on Public Works Projects

Effective Date: July 24, 2015

Summary: SHB 1575 authorizes requiring minimum ratings for sureties for public works retainage bonds.

How it affects local governments:

  • Local governments may require that the authorized surety have a minimum A.M. Best financial strength rating so long as that minimum rating does not exceed A-.

SSB 5348: Joint Utilization of Architectural or Engineering Services

Effective Date: July 24, 2015

Summary: SSB 5348 allows public agencies to enter into contracts providing for the joint utilization of architectural or engineering services.

How it affects local governments:

  • Two or more public agencies may enter into a contract under the act providing for the joint utilization of architectural or engineering services if the contracting agency complies with the statutory requirements for contracting for architectural and engineering services, and if the services to be provided to the other agency or agencies are related to, and within the general scope of, the services the architectural or engineering firm was selected to perform.
  • An agreement must be executed for a scope of work detailed in the agreement and entered into prior to the procurement process.

EHB 1989: Water Storage Asset Management Services

Effective Date: July 24, 2015

Summary: EHB 1989 grants cities and towns the authority to negotiate a fair and reasonable water storage asset management service contract with firms that submit the best proposals for services such as financing, designing, improving, operating, maintaining, repairing, testing, inspecting, cleaning, administering, or managing a water storage asset.

How it affects local governments:

  • Sets out procedures for cities and towns looking to take advantage of this new law, which include:
    • If a city or town wishes to contract for asset management service of its water storage assets in accordance with this section, it must publish notice of its requirements, concisely stating the scope and nature of the water storage asset management service.
    • If a municipality negotiates a water storage asset management service contract under this section, no other statutory procurement requirements apply.
    • The city or town can then negotiate a fair and reasonable contract with the firm that submits the best proposal based on criteria that is established by the city or town.
    • If negotiations with that firm break down, then the municipality may select another firm and continue negotiations.
    • Definition of water storage assets include water storage structures and associated distribution systems, such as the water tank, tower, well, meter, or water filter.

ESHB 1410: Increased Bid Limit for Water and Sewer Districts

Effective Date: July 24, 2015

Summary: ESHB 1410 modifies provisions governing the competitive bidding process of water and sewer districts (which have struggled for years with an unreasonably low bid threshold).

How it affects local governments:

  • For water-sewer districts, it increases the estimated cost threshold for contract and competitive bidding requirements for public works projects from $20,000 to $50,000.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About John W. Carpita, PE

John was MRSC’s resource for many years on engineering design, purchasing and contracting issues, local improvement districts, and other infrastructure issues. He had a widely varied career as a consultant, county engineer, city engineer and project manager. He is now retired.



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