Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Bills before the Georgia General Assembly - Part Deux

As promised last week, below is a summary of bills before the Georgia General Assembly addressing licensing and public works projects that may potentially impact the design and construction industry.

Protecting bidders on projects for local government. Under SB 146, for projects awarded by local government using competitive sealed bids, plans must be available on the first day of advertising for bids; and those plans must expressly indicate whether the contract will be awarded taking into consideration only the "base bid" – or the "base bid plus alternates." Local governments must disclose: (a) whether all state, federal, and local permits needed for the project have been obtained (or, if not, when permits are anticipated); and (b) whether all anticipated rights of way and easements required for the work have been obtained (and, if not, what is their status). Under SB 146, once a bidder is pre-qualified, that bidder cannot be later disqualified by the local government "without cause." Currently, local government can reject "any and all bids or proposals." Under SB 146, local governments will no longer be able to reject some – but not all – responsive bids.

Debarment of non-performing contractors. HB 202 allows the Georgia Department of Transportation ("GDOT") to disqualify contractors from bidding on either state public works construction contracts or construction or maintenance contracts for GDOT if that contractor is "25 percent behind in the performance of two or more of [those types of contracts]" – and is the cause of that delayed performance. Under the bill, GDOT is authorized to make that determination.

Contractor licensing law. SB 115, if passed into law, will postpone the date on which contractor licenses become mandatory in Georgia from January 1, 2008 to July 1, 2008. SB 115 changes the contractor licensing statute in other ways; for example: (a) it allows specialty contractors to perform work that is incidental to work in their specialty; (b) it clarifies that qualifying agents are responsible for oversight over their business’s contracting activities within the State of Georgia; (c) it extends the statute’s scope to cover installation of industrialized buildings – but carves out installation of manufactured homes; and (d) it provides for subcategories of general contractor licensing. A conflicting bill, SB 171, would entirely repeal the contractor licensing statute. If SB 171 should pass, it would be over a tidal wave of objection from the industry, which strongly supports licensing.

Reciprocal architectural licensing – education requirements. SB 237 requires foreign-state candidates for reciprocal architectural registration to show, in addition to an NCARB certificate in good standing: (a) a bachelor's degree in architecture, architectural engineering technology, or other bachelor's degree with a substantial concentration in architecture; and (b) at least four years of practical experience.

(This entry was published by David Roberts of Womble Carlyle's construction and real estate development practice group.)

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