March 27, 2017 Legislature Update

Below is the latest update received through MSE on March 27.

A lot to report from last week and we are preparing for another busy week. First and foremost, there is a new bill on our radar. SB 365 Generally Revise Laws Regarding Business and Occupational Licensing would eliminate the PELS Board. We spoke with Senator Facey last week and he said he just wants to have the conversation and understand the role of these Boards as much of the dialogue in the last few weeks has been focused on finding efficiencies in government. Given the late date in the session, and the potential complexity of the issue, it is somewhat doubtful that this bill will make it past the transmittal deadline later this week. The hearing is Tuesday morning at 8:00 am in Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs. There are a number of PE’s planning to attend the hearing and oppose the bill. We would suggest keeping testimony focused on what benefits are brought by the board, and avoid criticizing the bill or the sponsor.  We’ll need his support on other legislation moving forward this week as well.

SB 278 Revising Local Government Selection Procedures for Professional Services has passed out of House Local Government and should be voted on by the House this week.

The following is the update from the Infrastructure Coalition on all the infrastructure related bills:

HB 473 – Fuel Tax

Rep. Garner did a masterful job of presenting and defending this bill on the floor of the House on Thursday.  The bill passed 2ndreading on a 56-44 vote.  A number of House Republicans have been working their caucus over the weekend to flip votes, so we’re still in for a very close vote on 3rd reading this week.  Before we get back to the floor for 3rd reading, we have to get the bill out of the House Appropriations committee.   11 of the 13 Republicans on that committee voted against the bill on the floor, and all nine Democrats on the committee voted in favor.  If all votes hold, we have a tie in Committee, so we need to work on flipping at least one Republican vote to get us back to the floor.  Please review the committee list and reach out to those you have relationships with.  The committee meets Monday morning at 8:00 a.m.  Please be there if you can, and try to catch members before they convene.

SB 335 – Public Private Partnership

Sen. Welborn did a very nice job teeing up a good hearing, and the bill passed out of the Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee on a 6-4 vote.  It will be scheduled for 2nd Reading on the floor of the Senate as early as Monday.  Again, touch base with your area Senators to ensure they understand the bill and we keep momentum going on the floor. Please note:  At Connie’s direction, MSE/ASCE did NOT weigh in on this bill. 

SB 331 – Local Option Infrastructure Investment and Property Tax Relief Act

Sen. Phillips did an outstanding job of framing the issue in the hearing, and encouraging his colleagues to provide local voters with the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they would like to exercise this tool.  The Senate Tax committee is anticipated to take executive action on the bill on Tuesday of this week.  Please talk with all of the committee members, but particularly Sen. Hoven, Sen. Temple, Sen. Richmond and Chair Blasdel and ask them to send this bill to the floor for a full debate.

HB 577 – Local Option (House Version)

Lastly, Rep. Fern represented the Coalition very well in his presentation of the local option bill, and his appeal to the House Tax committee was very sound.  Rep. Essmann and Rep. Lavin had substantive amendments and voted for the bill, while Rep. Jacobson and Rep. Abbott expressed concerns about the regressive nature of the tax and voted against.  The makeup of the remainder of the committee resulted in an 8-12 defeat and the bill was tabled.  It is unlikely that there would be enough time or interest from the committee to bring this one back.

The “Bonding Bill(s)”

Both the House and Senate introduced separate versions of a bonding bill.  The House version was crafted very narrowly with the anticipation that amendments would be brought to add additional money and projects.  The Senate version is much larger and it is anticipated to be whittled down.  The Coalition weighed-in in favor of the Senate version.  These bills will move swiftly and I’ll try to keep you abreast of significant changes and updates.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to show up in support of our bills, who reached out and made personal contact with legislators, and who put the call out to your members and networks.  The Coalition has had a good presence at the Capitol, and there is no question that we’re making an impact on the dialogue.  Let’s keep it up!