Transportation Funding– Pennsylvania’s looming transportation funding crisis has not drawn as much attention from the PA General Assembly as one would hope. Both the House and Senate appear to be content to wait for the Federal infrastructure legislation to pass. At this time, the likelihood of that happening remains clear as mud. Next year, the Turnpike’s annual $450 million transfer to PennDOT shrinks to $50 million. That decrease will ripple through both highway and mass transit budgets. There is a current effort to move forward with a P3 style approach for major bridge projects similar to the small bridge replacement program initiated several years ago. A public hearing on that topic is scheduled for September 30th before the House Transportation committee.
Registration Act Amendments – House Bill 609 amends the Registration Act for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists to address concerns raised by the Davey Resources v. BPOA case, as well as a few housekeeping changes. The bill was voted out of the House Professional Licensure Committee on Monday, April 19 with “agreed to” amendments. The amendments are mainly technical. The following terms have been changed “survey product” to “surveying product”; change the term “fixed works” to “fixed objects” for consistency throughout the bill; and make it clear that licensed geologists and landscape architects may continue to practice within their legally defined scope of practice.
On May 4th, the House passed the bill by a vote of 197 to 4. House Bill 609 is now in the Senate committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. The bill presently resides in the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure committee.
Another bill, House Bill 1801, amends the Registration Act to address a specific issue involving when THE progressive experience required to take the PE exam may be obtained. The short amendment to the Act would allow an applicant to obtain the appropriate experience prior to passing the EIT. The current law mandates that the experience be earned after passage of the EIT. That issue has affected reciprocity with other states. House Bill 1801 was introduced over the Summer and was referred to the House Professional Licensure committee.
Anti-Indemnification – Legislation making it illegal to shift liability from one party to another via contract is expected to be voted on in early June. Last session, PSPE supported similar legislation. The new bill number is House Bill 424. Initially, the legislation only applied to construction contractors. We had the bill amended to include engineers before it passed the House committee last year. This bill is a high priority for numerous design and construction associations.
The bill was reported from committee with only 1 negative vote. The bill was reported from the Rules committee on September 15th and is presently on the House Tabled calendar.
Contractor Verification bills – Companion bills have been introduced in both chambers to require non-residential contractors to register with the Attorney General’s office (House Bill 1021 and Senate Bill 678). Verification requirements include proof of Worker’s Compensation, e-verify compliance, and other information regarding ownership of the company. The bill exempts professional engineers that are licensed by the state that do not perform work as a construction contractor.