Inside208

House Bill Impacting Municipal Construction Specifications Receives Committee Hearing

Posted on May 25, 2018 by Dene Westbrook

This week HB 5723 received a hearing in  Michigan Competitiveness Committee. The bill states a public entity could not exclude any pipe and piping materials when soliciting bids for a public works project if the pipe and piping materials meets or exceeds the recognized standards for pipe and piping materials on similar projects as determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The League believes this bill  would interfere with a municipalities engineer’s judgement and ability to specify pipe or pipe materials for water projects the reflect the needs of their system based on that systems specific needs. We are opposed to this legislation.

We do not believe the goal of this legislation is to provide fair and open competition as supporter have stated, but rather as a way increase the use of a product (PVC) on water and wastewater systems that they already can use, but in many cases and for many reasons choose not to. The bill incorrectly assumes that all pipe materials are the same and that the absence of a material (PVC) in a standard/specification requires state government intervention. Communities and engineers make different pipe material selections to reflect the unique needs and values of their community, considering operational and maintenance costs, and they should retain this ability.

The legislation threatens the important ability of engineers and communities to develop
standard specifications that reflect the needs and values of their community. These
communities are developing water and wastewater systems, not a series of individual projects. Standard specifications are used by federal, state and local governments for all type of infrastructure projects to ensure quality, safety and uniformity.

HB 5723 could lead to a significant increase in bid protests and litigation over pipe selection on projects, thereby increasing costs, delaying projects, and subjecting engineers and communities to unnecessary litigation.

We encourage you to reach out to your Representative and express your opposition to this legislation.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

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