Legislative Affairs

Capitol Updates 2017

Issue 1: Click Here for Issue I

Issue 2: Click Here for Issue II

Issue 3: Click Here for Issue III

Issue 4: Click Here for Issue IV

Issue 5: Click Here for Issue V

Issue 6: Click Here for Issue VI

Issue 7: Click Here for Issue VII

Issue 8: Click Here for Issue VIII

 

 

Capitol Updates 2016

Attention ASCE members in Georgia: Contact Your Legislator to Oppose Senate Bill 366! As the Georgia Assembly winds down its 2016 session, the time is now for you to engage your House member to stop a bill from reaching Governor Deal’s desk!

SB 366 has crossed-over to the House. This bill would allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to use the lowest bidder method to procure engineering services.  This method of procurement is currently prohibited at the state level in 46 other states and has been prohibited in Georgia for over 35 years.  The bill currently is in the hands of the Georgia House Transportation Committee’s State Highways Subcommittee.

ASCE believes that the selection of Professional Engineers as prime consultants and subcontractors should be based on the qualifications of the engineering firm. Qualifications including education, training, experience, past-performance, capabilities, personnel and workloads should be evaluated when selecting an engineering firm.

Do not let legislators turn back the clock on qualification-based selection on GDOT contracts. Tell your state legislators to oppose this bill by visiting ASCE’s “Click & Connect” website today!

 

HB 592 – By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) introduced (at ACEC Georgia and SEAoG’s request) would create a new “Professional Engineer, Structural Engineer” (“P.E., S.E”) license for structural engineers in Georgia. You can review the legislation here and if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. STATUS: Passed out of the House Regulated Industries Committee on February 9, 2016 and out of the full House on February 16, 2016 by a vote of 169-2. Pending in Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
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In February, Senate Bill 366 was passed out of the Senate and is now pending in the House Transportation Committee where an initial hearing was held Wednesday, March 2nd.. This bill would allow the Georgia DOT to use the lowest bidder method to procure engineering services, eroding long-standing nationally accepted best practices and Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) law that has existed for more than 35 years at the state level in Georgia and since 1972 at the Federal level (the use of low-bid procurement for engineering services is also prohibited at the state level in 46 other states). While the Senate did not show much interest in trying to understand the unintended negative consequences that would result from low-bid engineering, it is hoped that the House will provide a more deliberative and thoughtful approach to this complex issue that could have significant negative impacts on Georgia’s taxpayers (and their safety).

One thing that has become clear from our legislative discussions is that legislators don’t have any understanding of what engineers do, how the design phase differs from the construction phase nor how the difference between good engineering and not so good engineering impacts the cost and time of construction. They also don’t understand the technical knowledge and expertise that goes into designing transportation structures or traffic management systems or the tragic consequences that poorly designed infrastructure could have on the safety of the citizens who drive Georgia’s roads.

Below are the names and contact information for the members of the House Transportation Committee. If you have a personal relationship with any of these representatives, I would encourage you to reach out to them and share your thoughts and perhaps try to get them to understand two of the most critical points:

  1. How low bid engineering will ultimately cost taxpayers more as a result of changing scope, redesign, change orders and contractors having to work out issues in the field. They need to understand the difference between the design phase and the construction phase and how design impacts construction. Legislators really don’t understand this yet (if they did, we wouldn’t be fighting this battle).
  2. How having price drive engineering decisions rather than professional considerations might harm public safety. This is another area legislators don’t understand well. They don’t have any sense of the connection between good design and safer roads for the travelling public. Give them specific examples when possible.

For more information on SB 366, please visit http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/SB/366

 

Members of the House Transportation Committee:

Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) [email protected]
Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville) [email protected]
Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch) [email protected]
Rep. Mandi L. Ballinger (R-Canton) [email protected]
Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) [email protected]
Rep. Bob Bryant (D-Garden City) [email protected]
Rep. Jon G. Burns (R-Newington) [email protected]
Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) [email protected]
Rep. John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain) [email protected]
Rep. Katie M. Dempsey (R-Rome) [email protected]
Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) [email protected]
Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) [email protected]
Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon) [email protected]
Rep. Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta) [email protected]
Rep. Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale) [email protected]
Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) [email protected]
Rep. Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear) [email protected]
Rep. Brian Prince (D-Augusta) [email protected]
Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough) [email protected]
Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Albany) [email protected]
Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) [email protected]
Rep. Barbara Sims (R-Augusta) [email protected]
Rep. Darlene K. Taylor (R-Thomasville) [email protected]
Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) [email protected]
Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) [email protected]
Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) [email protected]

 

Proposed Georgia Structural Engineering License

Georgia ASCE wants to make our membership aware of a new bill in the Georgia Legislature that proposes to establish a new Structural Engineering License.

What: HB 592 proposes to revise Title 43, Chapter 15 of the Official Code of Georgia to define structural engineering as a specialized area of professional engineering and to create requirements for a Professional Engineer, Structural Engineer certificate of registration (P.E., S.E.).

Why: The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) currently writes and scores a 16 hour structural exam. NCEES examinations in all other engineering disciplines are 8 hours. The Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors currently administers only the 16 hour exam to applicants whose experience is primarily structural engineering. Some states have established a Structural Engineering license to identify or recognize which professional engineers have passed the 16 hour structural exam. The Structural Engineers Association of Georgia (SEAoG) wants to be on the forefront of this trend by requiring Structural Engineers to be licensed separately from other Professional Engineers in Georgia, and they have helped push forward this bill. The proposed modification to the statute will define and create a certificate of registration for a Professional Engineer, Structural Engineer. Note that a P.E., S.E. will still be a PE in Georgia and will still be subject to all pertinent state laws and rules.

How: Language would be added to OCGA 43-15 that relates to professional engineers and land surveyors by providing definitions of a structural engineer, continuing education requirements, unlawful practice requirement, as well as registrations.

Impacts: Though it is not stated in the legislation, the assumption is that engineers that took the 16 hour structural engineering exam would be designated PE.,S.E. Engineers that have NOT taken the 16 hour exam, but currently practice structural engineering, would be allowed to apply for grandfathering to obtain the P.E., S.E. License. Again, although not stated in the legislation, SEAoG has indicated in the intent of the bill is to restrict the structural design of certain “designated structures” to those holding a P.E., S.E. License. The “designated structures” list would be established by the Georgia PELS board. SEAoG has indicated that, if this bill passes, they hope that the 8-hour structural engineering exam will again be offered by the Georgia PELS board as an option for new P.E.s; however this test would result in a traditional P.E. designation only. This would also potentially allow for comity for engineers that have taken the 8-hour exam in other states, enabling them to get a Georgia P.E. (currently some requests for comity are being denied for structural engineers that have taken the 8-hour test, since this test is no longer offered by the Georgia PELS board).

Status: The bill is has passed the Georgia House (2/16/2016), and had its first reading in the senate (2/17/16).

Action: ASCE GA wants to make sure its members are informed of this proposed legislation. ASCE GA has gotten mixed feedback from its members on this bill (some pro, some con), and has currently taken a neutral stance on the legislation. We encourage our members to make their voices heard and express their opinions on this bill to their legislators. To find your Georgia Legislators go to: https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do

Bill Sponsors: Ed Setzler, Acworth – 404.656.7857 Brett Harrell (Vice-chair, Regulated Industries Committee), Snellville – 404.656.0254

 

More information on legislative issues can be found on the following websites:
ACEC: www.acec.org/advocacy/key-issues/
Council for Quality Growth: www.councilforqualitygrowth.org/members-only-section/