General Government bills of interest

March 5, 2020

Procurement bills of note
HB 890 (Sickles)/SB 341 (Locke) change the $10 million threshold local public bodies have for using construction management to the threshold in Secretary of Administration’s procedures, which is currently $26 million.

Project Labor Agreements and Wage Agreements
SB 8 (Saslaw)/HB 833 (Foy) require contractors and subcontractors on state public works contracts above $250,000 to pay the prevailing wage. The bill is permissive for localities who can require such by ordinance.  

HB 358 (Lopez)/SB 182 (Saslaw) authorize any public body to require bidders, offerors, contractors or subcontractors to enter into project labor agreements for construction and public works projects.

Small Purchase
HB 452 (Murphy)/SB 650 (Boysko) increase from $100,000 to $200,000 the small purchases exemption under the Virginia Public Procurement Act for single or term contracts for goods and services other than professional services.

Statute of Limitations on construction contracts
SB 607 (Norment)/HB 1300 (Hurst) set the statute of limitations on construction contracts and A/E contracts for state agencies at 15 years from completion of the contract, which is earlier of final payment, final certificate of occupancy or written final acceptance. Or five years after written notice of defect. For localities the statute of limitations is still 5 years but for performance bonds localities have five years after completion, which is an increase from the current provision of one year.

Other procurement bills
HB 1078 (Hope) allows public bodies on certain contracts to include as a factor in evaluating proposals the proposer’s employment of persons with disabilities to perform the specifications of the contract.

SB 380 (McPike) allows any locality to include in the Invitation to Bid criteria that may be used in determining whether a bidder who is not prequalified by the Virginia Department of Transportation is a responsible bidder. Such criteria may include a history or good faith assurances of (i) completion by the bidder and any potential subcontractors of specified safety training programs established by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration; (ii) participation by the bidder and any potential subcontractors in apprenticeship training programs approved by state agencies or the U.S. Department of Labor; or (iii) maintenance by the bidder and any potential subcontractors of records of compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws.

Freedom of Information, Conflict of Interests and Public Comment; Amendments to Freedom of Information Required Training provisions
SB 139 (Stuart) provides that the training required for all elected public officials can be obtained through in-person as well as online means and also allows the required training completed between January 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020, to count towards the mandatory training requirements that become law July 1, 2020.  SB 138 (Stuart) requires that regional public bodies have FOIA officers and that FOIA officers complete training every two years instead of yearly.

Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council; powers and duties; guidance; redaction of email addresses
HB 1011 (Herring) clarifies that the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council may give guidance to constitutional officers and legislators regarding the prohibition on representing clients before their agency for one year after leaving office. The bill also requires the Council and the clerks of local governing bodies and school boards to redact email addresses from disclosure forms prior to releasing them to the public. Current law requires such entities to redact any residential address, personal telephone number, or signature.

State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act and Virginia Freedom of Information Act; training requirements; executive directors and members of industrial development authorities and economic development authorities
HB 1527 (Webert)/SB 701 (Obenshain) require the executive director and members of each industrial development authority and economic development authority, as created by the Industrial Development and Revenue Bond Act, to take training on the provisions of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act and the Freedom of Information Act at least once every two years. The bill requires such officials in office on July 1, 2020, to complete such training no later than December 31, 2020. Training on the Virginia Freedom of Information Act may be provided online by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council or the local government attorney. Training on the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act shall be provided by the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council and may be provided online. The clerk of the respective governing body is responsible for maintaining training records.

FOIA tolling period
SB 153 (Stuart) provides that if a requester asks for a cost estimate in advance of a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, the time to respond is tolled for the amount of time that elapses between notice of the cost estimate and the response from the requester, and that if the public body receives no response from the requester within 30 days of sending the cost estimate, the request shall be deemed to be withdrawn. The bill clarifies that if a cost estimate exceeds $200 and the public body requires an advance deposit, the public body may require the requester to pay the advance deposit before the public body is required to process the request.

Public Comment at Meetings
SB 977 (Suetterlein) requires a governing body to provide members of the general public with the opportunity for public comment at a regular meeting at least quarterly.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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