In preparation for the legislative session that opens on April 13, leaders of the state’s construction industry are putting together their agenda. The two main issues focus on tweaking the state’s public bid law, which was overhauled during the 2014 session, and holding onto as much capital outlay and public works funding as possible.
“Other than that we’re just going to wait out this administration,” says Ken Naquin, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Louisiana. “Sooner or later somebody has to address the lack of infrastructure funding in this state and this administration is not going to do it so we are going to have to wait until we get a new governor.”
The AGC’s legislative council met today to begin ironing out its legislative strategy for the session. One of its priorities will be to make revisions to the public bid law, Naquin says. The law was overhauled in 2014 but several areas still need attention, Naquin says.
One concern is that there is no provision in the law to notify the lowest apparent bidder on a public project. Currently, the lowest apparent bidder typically finds out through word of mouth or rumor, Naquin says.
“People are asking how something like that could that have fallen through the cracks,” he says. “It’s a little thing but it’s important we clean that up.”
AGC will also be lobbying to keep as much public construction money in the state’s cash-strapped budget as possible. With a $1.6 billion projected shortfall, spending on public construction projects is expected to be impacted. While the construction industry appreciates the state’s budget woes, Naquin says the anticipated industrial building boom is at risk due to the state’s poor infrastructure and its inability to do anything about it.
“We are in jeopardy of losing some of this industrial expansion if we don’t address infrastructure,” Naquin says. “We need roads and bridges and highways.”
Naquin says his organization has essentially given up on getting any infrastructure funding from the current administration and is starting to engage the candidates for governor. Last month, the AGC co-hosted a gubernatorial forum with the four announced candidates to specifically discuss their solutions to the state’s infrastructure challenges.