The month of October was extremely quiet on the political front and seemed to be the calm “after” the storm in the State of Missouri. The storm I refer to was all the political activity the month of September: the controversial veto session, leadership races in the House and the candidates coming out to announce their intent to run for election. As always there were numerous fundraisers in October, but other than fundraisers, there was not much new or action on the state level legislatively. Legislators seem to be gearing up for the 2014 legislative session.
Politics on the federal level made the headlines most of the month. The headlines began the first of October with the Health Insurance Exchanges opening up. Then almost simultaneously, the federal Government shut down for 16 days. Both issues continue to dominate the national political headlines as we enter November.
The Health Insurance Exchange has been plagued with IT problems, computer glitches and inability to access the system, making the news almost nightly. On the other hand, the Government shutdown ended in mid-October when a deal was struck which also increased the federal debt ceiling. Much of the talk now is whether the Republicans and Democrats can come together to hash out a final agreement on the debt ceiling and meet the deadlines put in place the agreement made in mid-October. There is much uncertainty that this can be done and with that leaves much uncertainly in our economy. During the 16 days the Government was shut down, the shutdown cost the Federal Government an estimated $24 billion. Nearly 40,000 federal employees in State of Missouri were out of work during this shut down.
On the state political front, ASA has been preparing for the 2014 legislative session. We have been working to finalize language in the bills we will be filing and educating legislators who will sponsor the different pieces of legislation that will be part of ASA’s 2014 Legislative Agenda. We will start the 2014 legislative session where we left off in 2013 by filing the additional insured bill (or “Risk Transfer”), the retention bill and a bill which would put standards in statute regarding what a lien waiver can and cannot say.
We have been working with ASA National and our bill sponsor to develop better language for our additional insured or “risk transfer” bill. We have also been working with some of our opponents to this legislation to see if we can’t find some common ground. We will know more where our opponents stand once the new language is finalized. It is our hope to have the bill filed in December after bill pre-filing begins.
We will also file a bill making changes to the retainage laws on public projects. We came very close to passing the bill last year and hope to push it across the finish line this year. Our language last session would have limited retention on public projects over $50,000 to 5% when a bond is required. Public projects below $50,000 would allow retention to be held up to 10% without a bond. Upon substantial completion an owner must release all but 2% of retention, unless substantial completion is disputed in writing to the subcontractor within 15 days of request for payment.
Finally, we are working on language that would state in statute what constitutes a final lien waiver. Too many times a contractor will sign lien waiver thinking they are only signing away there lien rights to the work they are actually being paid for at the time; however, only to find out after it is too late, they actually signed away all their lien rights.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions on the political front. I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! It is hard to believe the holiday season is already here.