Legislative Update - May 2019
ACEC Legislative Update

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A Message from the President

MTA 10% Reduction - UPDATE. The following actions are being taken or being planned relative to the MTA’s reduction request:

  1. Our coalition of ACEC New York, AIA-NY and NY Building Congress is reaching back out to the MTA to inquire about the status of our suggestions and requests for alternatives and adjustments to the reduction initiative.

  2. We have spoken with representatives of the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration and they believe the reduction request may violate federal procurement regulations on any project with federal funding support (in any area of the project including design, construction, or materials).

  3. We have spoken with several Members of Congress and have asked them to weigh in with the MTA expressing concerns related to integrity/ethics in contracting, federal procurement regulations and treating licensed design professionals fairly - and as professionals.
    • On actions #2 and #3 above we are in touch with our contacts daily and trying to push urging them to act quickly.

  4. We have heard from some firms that have been asked to renegotiate their contracts or accept the terms offered by the MTA. On that front to date:
    • Some firms have expressed their concerns of about losing money, and have walked away from contracts.
    • Some firms are in the midst of negotiating but believe their current terms are still in place until or if changes are made. If no agreement is reached, they expect to be paid at full rates through and until termination.
    • At least one firm has accepted new terms on one contract but we do not know what changes were made or the duration, i.e., whether that contract was expected to end soon.
    • We have heard additional rumors, but those are unconfirmed and we do not wish to publicize unverified information any unknown items.

  5. MTA had initially communicated that the 10% reduction would be placed on all contracts but to date, we are not aware of any construction contracts being asked to accept these terms.

  6. MTA had also initially communicated that the 10% reduction only applied to existing contracts. A procurement on Penn Station was recently issued with this clause but was then rescinded almost immediately..

  7. Design-build contracts were initially possible targets for the reduction but the MTA hadn’t made a final decision on this decided. To date, we are not aware of any Design-Build contracts that have been subjected to the reduction initiative identified for this program.

We have also heard other rumors beyond the MTA, but nothing has been confirmed.

Our leadership is looking at this carefully. We don’t want to disengage from our partner agencies, as that limits our ability to communicate ideas and try to navigate what we hope is a short-term effort. While we know these ideas are misguided and short-sighted, likely leading to more overall costs and less quality, we need to continue to educate these clients about appropriate procurement policies. 

Finally, we need to urge our members to closely adhere to all anti-trust laws. You can choose to take whatever action is necessary but we strongly caution against you consulting with your fellow owners/managers at other companies to take actions that could be considered price fixing or anti-competitive. ACEC can advocate for better policies, but we can’t tell an agency that our firms will or won’t do something because that can raise legal issues. Each firm should take its own necessary and independent action to meet its needs.

We will continue to advocate for the industry, update our members on this critical issue, and identify any FAQs or areas of confusion that may provide you with guidance to help navigate this process.  As always, please call me personally if you have any questions.


New York State

With last month’s passage of an on-time budget, the State Legislature shifts its focus to the stand-alone bills being considered before the June 20 conclusion of the Session. ACEC New York has been actively working to advance the public policy and legislative agenda of the consulting engineering industry.

ESOP Expansion: The Association has been gearing up for a final push to see the bill pass the Assembly. The bill (A.3514 – Lupardo S. 2709 – Kennedy), which passed the Senate in March, would allow a qualifying (design professional-controlled) Employee Stock Ownership Plan to own a greater portion of a Design Professional Corporation while still ensuring that licensed professionals control the firm. If you believe this measure would benefit your firm, please contact NYS Director of Government Relations Campbell H. Wallace at campbell@acecny.org to help us build our case.

Contractor Spyware: Legislation was introduced earlier this month seeking to mandate the installation of tracking software on the computers of entities doing business with the State. (S.5398 – Savino) The bill would record keystrokes, gather mouse movement data and take screenshots of the contracting party’s computer. This data would then be used ostensibly to verify the accuracy of the consultant’s billing. The security and privacy flaws inherent to this bill are enormous, as are the questions surrounding the actual implementation. ACEC New York, working with ACEC National, has been tracking similar legislation across the country, and our organization was ready to address its introduction here. ACEC New York worked with a broad coalition of similarly-situated stakeholders to deliver an immediate message of opposition. The bill currently sits in Senate Finance, but does not yet have an Assembly companion. Defeating the passage of this pernicious proposal is a primary priority of the Association.

Indemnification: ACEC New York continues to meet with State Agencies to advance the Association’s efforts to develop commercially reasonable contract language that protects both State agencies and their consulting engineering partners.

Grandfather firm Geology: In consultation with the Council of Professional Geologists, ACEC New York has developed corrective language to effectuate the intent of the original legislation granting professional licensure to Professional Geologists. Current interpretation of the law is precluding grandfathered engineering firms from providing geology services to their traditional public client partners. By reinforcing the original intent of the law, this proposal will ensures State Agencies and procuring bodies can continue to procure geology, engineering and allied services from grandfathered firms.

Lobby Days: Representatives of our member firms are preparing to meet with State legislators this month and next. Our government affairs and lobbying representatives are scheduling meetings to advocate on behalf of our industry and lobby on critical legislation.


Federal

2019 Federal PAC. ACEC New York has raised $20,810 of our $90,000 goal. Thank you to our donors to date. Look for information on upcoming PAC fundraising events and visit the ACEC PAC webpage for more ways to give. For more information on donations, or to make a donation to the PAC, contact Campbell Wallace at campbell@acecny.org.


New York City

Retrofit Legislation - Update. Landmark legislation mandating the retrofitting of existing buildings Citywide will officially become a Local Law on Friday, May 17. There are upcoming programs and opportunities to learn about the new law:

Mayor’s Office of Contracts (MOCS) briefs members. Member firms from our DDC, DOT and DEP Committees recently met with MOCS on the City’s plan to digitize the procurement processes at City agencies – from RFP through Payment.  MOCS is planning to expand the PASSPort procurement webportal in early 2020 to add online processes for Solicitation (RFP), Submission of Proposals, Evaluation, Award, Registration and post-Contract actions. MOCS is working with agency ACCOs, the Office of Management and Budget and the Comptroller’s Office on this initiative.  The presentation is available on the Members Only section of our website.

Daniel Symon, Chief Procurement Office & Director of MOCS, gives a presentation to members on April 9 at the ACEC New York Metro office.

New York City PAC Update. To date, 75 members from 31 firms have contributed $12,350 to the NYC PAC. Thank you to our contributors! The NYC PAC is an effective tool for raising awareness among influential City policymakers about issues affecting the engineering industry and member firms. Please consider making a contribution today by mailing a check to “ACEC New York City PAC” to our office, or by calling Bill Murray, NYC Director of Government Relations, at 212-682-6336 to contribute via credit card.


 

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