public policy advocacy for the professional engineer                                       April 1, 2013

Engineers Day at the General Assembly
Last week, ACEC and PENC held a very successful Engineer’s Day at the NC General Assembly.  Approximately 50 members representing both organizations shared breakfast with legislators to discuss the issues that are important to the engineering industry.  (Click here for a copy of the Legislative Issues that were presented).  Four of the House Representatives who are Engineers also attended – Representatives Dean Arp, Rick Catlin, Chris Millis and Mike Hager. 

Certificate of Merit Protection for Architects and Engineers
Certificate of Merit legislation has been championed by the design community for several years.  COM, if enacted, would require that before a negligence claim against a licensed professional is filed, a professional licensed in the same practice area as the defendant must review the facts and certify that the claim is meritorious and should be adjudicated.  In 2011, the Senate successfully passed a COM bill but the legislation was never taken up in the House due to objections from the General Contractors. 

Both PENC and ACEC are working with the Contractors to determine if a compromise can be reached so that COM legislation can be brought forward this year.  While negotiations continue, a placeholder bill is being filed on our behalf by House Representative Bryan, an attorney from Charlotte, with co-sponsors Rep. Mike Hager, Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Mitchell Setzer.  All the co-sponsors hold leadership positions and are, therefore, better able to influence a positive outcome.  The Engineers in the House – Reps. Arp, Catlin and Millis will also be helping out on the bill but did not feel it was appropriate to take a lead role as it may appear to be self-serving.

As our work continues on this important reform, we will be gathering information to strengthen the case for COM legislation.  If you or your company have been forced to defend against a frivolous lawsuit please share your story with us so that it can be used as an example of how these lawsuits are hurting your business and ultimately driving up project costs.

Arp, Millis, Catlin, will be actively supporting the bill, but could not be listed as sponsors due to a possible perception of self interest.

Statewide Legislation For Design-Build and Public/Private Partnerships for Facility Construction
The Engineers and Architects are seeking statewide legislation that would allow all government entities to select two new construction delivery models when appropriate – Design Build and Public/Private partnerships. Presently, public owners can only use these methods if they either go to the State Building Commission for authorization or have a local bill introduced to exempt their jurisdiction from the provisions of the public contracting laws under current statute.   A statewide law would give localities blanket authority to use these methods and would eliminate the need for many local bills currently being circulated in the legislature.

At the heart of this proposal is the need to strengthen Quality Based Selection for the design community.  Both delivery methods would ensure that the QBS process is used in the selection of the design team.  Further, and most importantly, the proposal would eliminate the local government exemption loophole in current law which many cities and counties use inappropriately. 

Representative Arp will be the lead sponsor on this bill which is currently in draft.

Streamline Permit Review
There are currently several fast track permitting reviews already established within NCDENR that could be further expanded.  Revisions to the stormwater permitting process will be introduced in legislation being prepared by Rep. Chris Millis, an environmental Engineer from Pender County.  This particular legislation would establish Minimum Design Criteria that all PEs would be required to follow providing more regulatory certainty and permitting efficiency thus reducing the need for technical staff review. 

Bill Review from Last Week

SB 363 (Brock) - AN ACT to reduce and simplify business taxes and to tax all business entities with limited liability protection the same.  (see discussion below)
No action was taken on this bill in the Senate Finance committee. 

HB 301 (Arp) - AN ACT to make clarifying changes to the laws regulating engineers and land surveyors.
This bill was given a favorable report in the House Regulatory Reform committee and referred to the House Finance Committee.

HB 89 (McGrady, Samuelson, McElraft) - AN ACT to require the department of environment and natural resources to support the application of a regional water supply system for all required federal approvals, as recommended by the environmental review commission.
This bill was given a favorable report in the House Environment committee and has been placed on the House calendar for tomorrow.

HB 135 (McGrady, Samuelson, McElraft) - AN ACT to make adjustments to the fee schedule for permits for sanitary landfills and transfer stations to reflect extension of the duration of these permits as directed by S.l. 2012 187, as recommended by the environmental review commission.
This bill was given a favorable report in the House Environment committee and has been referred to House Finance.

HB 193 (Samuelson) - AN ACT to expand the permissible uses of the Local Mecklenburg county and city of charlotte local taxes.
This bill passed the House but not without a lot of conflict.  At issue is the use of local tax revenue to pay for renovations to the Panthers stadium.  The bill has been referred to the committee on State and Local Government in the Senate.

PENC Seeking Nominations for State Commission of Public Health
PENC is seeking a qualified candidate to serve in the Professional Engineer slot on the Commission of Public Health.  The qualifications for this position are: "a registered engineer experienced in sanitary engineering or a soil scientist". The appointed person will be replacing George Sweet Jr. who was appointed in December 2012 to fill the unexpired term of Rick Catlin who was elected to the House.  Representative Catlin had these comments to offer on the candidate eventually selected:

"Whoever is appointed will eventually become the subcommittee chair of on site waste water disposal issues as well as well water testing and land disposal of some wastes. The candidate needs to be well versed in these subjects and have some past public service knowledge and some leadership/chairmanship experience. There is only one engineer on the commission and many of the issues need their input. The board needs and appreciates a thoughtful and knowledgeable engineer."

Interested candidates should submit a qualifications letter, resume and one reference letter to Betsy Bailey, bbailey@penc.org by Friday, April 5th.  The PENC Executive Committee will review all candidate qualifications and make a final recommendation to the Governor’s office next week. 

Tax Reform
After all the talk, a legislative committee has finally begun taking up tax reform. The modest bill, though, appears to be generating more questions than answers. The Senate Finance Committee, for an hour on Wednesday, chewed over the bill, filed by Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, which would repeal the existing corporate franchise tax and place it with a more broadly-applied "business privilege tax." Brock and the primary driver of tax reform in the Senate, committee co-chair Bob Rucho, said the legislation is just one piece of larger tax reform that will come later. Still, the piecemeal approach caused several committee members to question how larger tax reform would balance out what appeared to be an unbalanced result under the single bill, with cities and towns potentially losing $75 million in annual revenue when local privilege taxes are eliminated. Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, said the legislation -- by imposing a new tax on limited liability companies and then capping that tax -- also appeared as if it "helps the big guy and hurts the little guy." Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, said that a larger tax reform bill would mitigate those worries with income tax cuts. Added Brock, "There will be a lot of happy people when the total package comes out." Brock also contended that businesses would save money because the tax is more simple. It would apply only to a business' adjusted net worth, while the current franchise tax can be applied through three separate means. The rate would fall from $1.50 per $1,000 to $1.35 per $1,000. LLCs would pay a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $5,000. The cap would not apply to corporations. Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, said he wanted to see more information about how cities would be held harmless. Several committee members also wondered how the changes would affect the various ways that businesses organize, include those that use holding companies to own subsidiary LLCs. One speaker who addressed the committee, Raleigh lawyer Mark Prak, said he looked forward to seeing local privilege taxes eliminated. Prak said some cities are increasingly using the tax inequitably, as a gross receipts income tax and not as a means of tracking who is conducting business within a city's corporate limits. A separate, bipartisan tax reform bill has also been filed in the Senate. It would lower corporate and personal income tax rates, slightly lower the sale tax, expand the sales tax base to cover services, and make changes similar to those in Brock's bill.(Scott Mooneyham, THE INSIDER, 3/28/13).

Panthers Stadium
North Carolina House members agreed Wednesday the city of Charlotte can spread around local hotel and prepared food and beverage tax revenues to pay for upgrades sought by the Carolina Panthers to its downtown stadium. The full House voted Wednesday in favor of the measure that expands how the city can use its share of particular Mecklenburg County revenues beyond paying for the Charlotte Convention Center to help with renovations to Bank of America Stadium. The bill doesn't raise the prepared food and beverage tax as city leaders originally wanted and generates $34 million less than the team sought from the city. The Panthers want to begin stadium renovations of up to $300 million after next season. Republicans have also said no new state funds should be expected to help with the upgrades. The tax revenues could now be used for the stadium and for amateur sports venues. "There are no new taxes on this bill. There is no new revenue on this bill, state or local," Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, a primary bill sponsor, told colleagues. "There are just two new options for the Charlotte City Council" to consider with money they already receive, she said. The bill was thoroughly debated this month in three committee meetings, where both Republicans and Democrats questioned helping what they labeled a profitable NFL team. On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, called the bill "corporate welfare." "This is welfare for the Carolina Panthers at a time when we cannot afford as a General Assembly to be doing this sort of thing," he said. The measure was approved on a voice vote because it's considered a local issue. The bill now goes to the Senate.(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/27/13).

Toll Roads
The state should not be required to build three toll-road projects, Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata says. A House bill would mandate those projects in Gaston County, the Outer Banks and near Wilmington. But Senate changes to the measure would delete the provisions requiring the building. Tata has told legislative leaders that his department supports the Senate changes. He said last week that projects should be funded through a competitive state process.(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/26/13).

Duke Energy
A state environmental agency is seeking a court injunction against a Duke Energy subsidiary over groundwater that may have been contaminated by coal ash at an Asheville power plant. Friday's filing the N.C. Division of Water Quality has taken legal action against a utility over its handling of ash. Contamination has been found near ash lagoons at 14 Duke plants in North Carolina, but natural sources could be responsible for much of it. The water agency said high levels of thallium were found in three wells near an ash lagoon at Progress Energy Carolinas' Asheville plant. Thallium is a metal that can cause nervous system problems. Duke said in a statement it's reviewing the filing and believes it's complied with the plant's environmental permit.(THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/22/13).

NC Construction Jobs Trending Up
Perhaps signaling the start of a recovery, employment in the state’s construction industry rose by 1,500 jobs, or 0.9 percent, between December and February, a new report shows. Read More Here.

Raleigh is America’s Fastest Growing City
The Raleigh metro area is the fastest-growing city in the country since 2000, according to census data. Read More Here.

Solar Industry Sees Bright Future in NC
Arizona-based Sunlight Partners is in a rush to get into North Carolina’s solar market. Read More Here.

Group Opposes Abrupt End to NC Energy Tax Credit
The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association hopes to persuade North Carolina legislators to allow the state’s 35% renewable-energy tax credit go remain on the books through the end of 2015. Read More Here.

A New Evacuation Plan for Charlotte’s Uptown
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police will soon launch an outreach campaign to uptown businesses and residents on a newly revised evacuation plan for the center city. Read More Here.

EPAC Update from the Chair – Henry Liles, PE, HNTB
Monday, February 25, Over 50 members of ACEC and PENC gathered for the first E-PAC Luncheon of 2013. Our guest speaker was Rep. Ruth Samuelson, Republican Conference Leader at the NC House of Representatives. Rep. Samuelson is a rising star in state politics and discussed many of the issues faced by the current state legislature. Ruth is a self-described “Environmental Republican” and has taken a keen interest in water issues throughout her career. She brought EPAC members up-to-date regarding potential legislative changes in environmental regulations.  We also had the opportunity to brief Ruth about the advantages of the “Certificate of Merit” legislation that we are proposing to decrease the frequency of frivolous lawsuits against engineers.

Future E-PAC Luncheon speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. Be on the look-out for the 2013 membership invoices in the next couple of weeks. Return them as soon as you can and with a little increase in the amount of your contribution if you see fit in order to help E-PAC continue its vital advocacy work on behalf of the engineering community. 

We are making incredible headway with our impact in the General Assembly. We can have even more impact with your continued support. Our on-going lobby activity this session is directed toward regulatory reform, infrastructure investment, continued government outsourcing to engineers, tort reform (Certificate of Merit), and appointments of engineers to key Board and Commissions.

RFQs

  • The City of Hendersonville, North Carolina is interested in entering a contract with a firm to provide professional engineering design and grant administration services for a water line extension project along Academy Road located in the Dana community of eastern Henderson County. Residents in this area have experienced contamination of Dieldrin and other pesticides in their drinking water wells and are in great need of a clean drinking water supply.
Project will consist of, but is not limited to, the installation of approximately 500 linear feet of 12-inch water main, 4,300 linear feet of 8-inch water main, 2,300 linear feet of 6-inch water main, 1,800 linear feet of 2-inch water main, 60 water services and 9-fire hydrants on Academy Rd., E. Hill Dr., Jade Walker Dr., Emerald Ln., Largo Ln. and the east end of Meadow Woods Dr. Please see the location map provided with this RFQ. For more information please click here.
  • Solicitation Notice No: FA4803-13-R-0005
Title: Synopsis for Competitive 8(a) bid-build/design build Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Multiple Award Construction Contract Posted/Issue Date: March 22, 2013 Response/Closing Date: TBD Program Preference:  Competitive 8(a)
The Department of the Air Force, Air Combat Command, 20 CONS has posted a Presolicitation Notice on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). 

Description:

The 20th Contracting Squadron is soliciting a competitive 8(a) bid-build/design-build Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Multiple Award Construction Contract (MACC).

The intent is to award no more than eight contracts as a result of this solicitation.


Projects under these IDIQ contracts will consist of construction work based on a general statement of work further defined within each individual task order. Work to be performed under the MACCs will be within the preponderance of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 236220, Commercial and Institutional Building Construction with a Size Standard of $33.5M. Work is to be performed in the general construction category to include maintenance, repair, alteration, mechanical, electrical, heating/air conditioning, demolition, painting, paving, earthwork and waterfront work in both family housing and industrial/office buildings. Work may involve design/build projects as well as new construction of buildings or facilities to include some or all of the above elements of work.


The scope includes work at Shaw AFB, SC and Pointsette Range, SC.


For more information please click here.


If there are questions or you need additional information, please feel free to contact me at bbailey@penc.org or phone 919-834-1144, ext. 1.


Sincerely,

Betsy Bailey
Professional Engineers of North Carolina


Upcoming Events

April 3, 2013
PENC Brown Bag Webinar
Raleigh's Union Station
Registration Here!

April 17, 2013
PENC Brown Bag Webinar
Doing Business with the Military
Registration Coming Soon

April 22, 1:00pm – 5:30 pm
Triad Regional Seminar
Winmock at Kenderton, Winston Salem

Hear Jim Trogdon, NCDOT’s COO, Discuss New Transportation Funding and Delivery Strategies

Register Here 


June 27 -29, 2013

PENC Annual Summer Conference
The Homestead
Hot Springs, VA

Make your Voice heard on Jones Street.

Donate to the E-PAC today by clicking here .  

Contact Us
Professional Engineers
of North Carolina
1015 Wade Avenue,
Suite A
Raleigh, NC 27605

Phone: (919) 834-1144
Fax: (919) 834-1148
Web Site:
www.penc.org
E-Mail: exec@penc.org