Monthly Archives: April 2013

Check out Projects in Capital Budget Proposals

The Legislature is working on a new 2013-2015 State Capital Budget passed that will positively affect every segment of the construction industry.  Current proposals include hundreds of projects like Edmonds’ fishing pier renovation, Yakima’s Toppenish family housing project, Enumclaw’s water system replacements and Kent’s SE 256h St. widening.

Currently there are competing House and Senate versions, but the total funding in each is not far apart:  The House plan, coming in at $3.6 billion is about $130 million more than the Senate version.

To check out the list of projects that are being considered in the two plans, click House Capital Budget proposal and Senate Capital Budget proposal.

Public Works Trust Fund Under Attack in Olympia

It’s crunch time in Olympia as the Legislature is taking action on many fronts that will impact funding for all types of construction. Today’s focus is the Public Works Trust Fund.

A proposal in the State Senate would PERMANENTLY redirect existing funding sources out of the PWTF — endangering dozens of infrastructure projects such as water, sewer, stormwater and some local roads and bridges.

The PWTF provides grants and low-interest loans to local governments for public works projects – many that could not otherwise be financed and built by small communities themselves. Dozens of proposed construction projects — such as the City of Port Orchard Marina Pump Station, City of Omak Sewer System Improvements, and the City of Washougal Stormwater Decant Facility — are in danger should the Legislature adopt a proposal that would gut the Public Works Trust Fund.

In addition to loan repayments—at interest rates ranging from 0.25 to 2 percent per year—the PWTF receives revenue from four state tax sources related to the types of infrastructure aided by the fund: 6.1 percent of the revenue from the real estate excise tax, 20 percent of the revenue from the water utility excise tax, 60 percent of sewerage collection tax revenues, and all the revenue from the state tax on solid waste service.

The State Senate’s budget plan would redirect all of the tax streams — except for two percent of the real estate excise tax — away from the public works trust fund and into other government accounts.

PWTF projects facilitate private economic growth and provide jobs for the hard-hit construction industry which, in turn, supports jobs in industries from material supply to food service and a variety of small businesses. Plus, many of the projects funded by the PWTF protect the environment and improve the quality of life in the state.

Urge your Senator NOT to redirect funding out of the Public Works Trust Fund!

Construction Safety Day May 8

As construction activity continues to rebound, staying focused on workplace safety and preventing injuries is more important than ever. Construction industry workers, owners and supervisors have an opportunity to focus on industry-specific training at the sixth annual Construction Safety Day, on Wednesday, May 8. This year’s event will be held from 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Puyallup Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Construction Safety Day is co-sponsored by the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries to promote safety in the construction industry. Despite improvements in equipment and training, construction remains a hazardous occupation. Last year, eight workers died in Washington State due to construction-related accidents. Many more were seriously injured.

In addition to demonstrations on cranes, job-site equipment and tools, an exhibit hall, and health and wellness booth, this year’s Construction Safety Day will have workshops for workers, owners and supervisors on:

· LEAN for construction

· Communication and leadership for safety

· Safety rule update, including the newly revised Fall-Protection rule

· Accident Prevention Plan (APP)

· Aerial lift and reach truck safety

· Scaffolding

See the Registration Brochure for more information about the workshops. Registration is $55 in advance or $65 at the door. There is a $10 per person discount for groups of five or more. Visit www.regonline.com/wagovconf-csd to register online.

For more information, send an e-mail to GovSafetyConf@Lni.wa.gov or call 360.902.5446.

 

Here come raids on public works trust fund

During the Legislature’s current budget battles, two significant proposals have been released that include raids on the State’s Public Works Trust Fund (Gov. Inslee’s budget proposal and SB 5895, just-introduced education funding bill).

Raiding this trust fund is counterproductive to any jobs agenda. How so?  The Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) is one of the most important sources of infrastructure funding for local governments and special purpose districts in Washington State. The PWTF is a revolving loan fund that provides low-interest loans for basic infrastructure projects like water, wastewater, stormwater, and roads — the foundation for homes and businesses in our growing communities.

State investment in basic infrastructure is a strong and necessary foundation for economic growth, and the construction industry has yet to fully recover from the recession.  The mission of the PWTF is a vital part of the state’s overall economic-development strategy. According to the Department of Revenue, every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity. The more than $2 billion total investment by the PWTF has generated $10.7 billion in gross construction-related economic activity.

These projects mean jobs because they help facilitate private economic growth and they provide construction work.  Keep in mind that for each $1 million invested in construction, an additional 16 jobs are created, not just in construction but also through “spin off” effects on material suppliers, retailers, etc.

There’s still time to head this off, but those who are concerned about raids on these infrastructure investments should let their legislators know how they feel right away.

UW’s Construction Research Conference Worth Your Time!

The UW’s Pacific NW Center for Construction Research and Education is hosting its semi-annual Construction Industry Research Conference on Friday, April 19 fro 11:30 am-4:00 pm at their Magnusson Park facility at Sand Point. I went last time and plan to attend this one, too. While we are all busier than we really want to be, sometimes it is worth it to stop and look up. We need to work on what’s in front of us (bid’s due Tuesday!) but also to see what’s come at us and we can’t do that unless we look up every once in a while.
This half-day event will include a panel discussion on three UW-industry partnership research projects, and a research expo on topics such as pre-fab modularization, BIM, sustainable design, transportation design-build, life cycle costs of solar in schools, and technology in safety. There will be ample time for networking with others in the industry and UW construction faculty and construction management students.
It’s only $100 and a few hours on a Friday afternoon when you are too tired to start a new project anyway. As an industry leader, you have to look ahead. We are fortunate to have the Center for Construction Research at the UW and it deserves industry support. Hope to see you there!
To register, go to http://engage.washington.edu/site/Calendar?id=109362&view=Detail.

Bill cracks down on metal theft

Last week’s brazen yet ultimately unsuccessful attempt by thieves to yank copper wire out of ten street lights along a busy Olympia highway — causing $5000 worth of damage — was one more reminder that metal theft continues to be a significant problem for contractors, utilities, government agencies and others.  According to insurance industry data, 25,000 insurance claims due to metal theft were filed in 2012 alone.

To combat metal theft Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland introduced ESHB 1552.  Goodman leads an informal Metal Theft Work Group composed of scrap industry, law enforcement, utility representatives and other stakeholders, and this bill is based on the group’s recommendations.

Goodman says that we’ve tried criminal penalties, but the problem has gotten worse, and that the market is insufficiently regulated.

The bill:

  • Creates a scrap metal license for scrap metal businesses.
  • Expands criminal penalties for metal theft and malicious mischief.
  • Allows for civil forfeiture for any property used in the commission of a crime involving the theft, trafficking, or unlawful possession of commercial metal property.
  • Creates a database by which scrap metal businesses may determine if a potential customer has a criminal conviction which makes him or her ineligible to sell property to a licensed business.
  • Establishes a grant program to support special law enforcement emphasis targeting metal theft.

The bill passed the House and awaits further action in the State Senate.

Do you have a metal theft “horror story” to share from your jobsite?  Talk about it in a comment; I’ll make sure Rep. Goodman hears about it as further evidence of the need for his bill.