Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Legislative Changes that Impact Construction 2017

Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, the Virginia General Assembly has finished its yearly run through the legislative process and this year there are a few highlights for those of us in the construction industry. It is always interesting to see what issues are the big ones that get a lot of attention. This year the changes impacted public procurement, VOSH fines, and employment of unlicensed individuals on a job site. These changes to the various statutes that impact the day to day operation of the construction industry in Virginia will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

The following bills passed the legislature and in my opinion affect my clients in the Virginia construction industry (I’ve used the House Bill numbers, but there are often corresponding Senate Bill numbers as well):

  • HB2366– This bill amends the Virginia public procurement process to establish requirements for the procurement of construction using the construction management and design-build procurement methods by state and local public bodies and covered institutions of higher education, as defined in the bill, and the conditions under which such methods may be used. The bill amends several sections of the Virginia Code to set requirements for everything from competitive negotiation to CM at risk. I will let you read the particulars for the amendments here.
  • HB1552– A bill that requires each local school board to implement a plan to notify students and their parents of the availability of career and technical education programs and to include annual notice on its website to enrolled high school students and their parents of the opportunity for such students to obtain a nationally recognized career readiness certificate at a local public high school, comprehensive community college, or workforce center. The text for this bill can be found here (the relevant changes are in paragraph D-11 of the statute).
  • HB1979– A bill that exempts from licensure work undertaken by a person providing construction, remodeling, repair, improvement, removal, or demolition valued at $2,500 or less per project on behalf of a properly licensed contractor, provided that such contractor holds a valid license in the residential or commercial building contractor classification. The bill does also add certain caveats and also adds some stiffer penalties for use of unlicensed workers or subcontractors. The text for the amended statute can be found here.
  • HB2017– A bill that authorizes a locality, where the bid, performance, and payment bond requirements are waived, to waive the requirement for prequalification for a bidder or contractor with a current Class A contractor license for nontransportation-related construction contracts in excess of $100,000 but less than $300,000 upon a written determination made in advance by the local governing body that waiving the requirement is in the best interests of the locality. The bill prohibits localities from entering into more than 10 such contracts per year in which the bidder or contractor’s prequalification requirement has been waived. The bill contains technical amendments. For the text of the amended statute, click here.
  • HB1883– A bill that keeps Virginia’s safety program from being taken over by the Federal OSHA Program and increases the maximum amount of civil penalties that may be assessed by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry for certain violations of occupational safety and health laws from $7,000 to $12,471 and for willful or repeated violations of such laws from $70,000 to $124,709. The measure also requires the Commissioner annually to increase the maximum civil penalty amounts, starting in 2018, by an amount that reflects the percentage increase, if any, in the consumer price index from the previous calendar year. For the actual legislative changes, click here.

While the General Assembly passed other bills that have an effect on construction in Virginia, these were the highlights. For more on legislative changes as well as other topics of interest to Virginia construction professionals, check out the AGC of Virginia website and its legislative updates. Of course, I have to add that you should always consult an experienced construction attorney to assist you in assessing the impact of these changes to your construction business.

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