OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, AUDITING OF LARGE CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS, ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF CERTAIN LAND TRANSFERS, GRANT PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES, ADVERTISING ON STATE BUILDINGS AND CERTAIN EXEMPTIONS TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.
This bill makes several unrelated changes affecting (1) state construction and contracts, (2) state real property, (3) the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), (4) certain state grant payments to municipalities and neighborhood revitalization zones (NRZs), and (5) the comptroller.
Regarding state construction, the bill (1) expands the role of the Connecticut Mental Health Center's oversight committee, (2) increases the amount spent on art in connection with state projects, and (3) creates a state construction inspector. With respect to contracts, it increases, from 60 to 90, the number of days the public works commissioner, constituent units of higher education, and the Joint Committee on Legislative Management have to award contracts after they open bids. It also makes other technical changes.
Concerning state real property, the bill (1) removes the Department of Public Works (DPW) commissioner's 20-year limit on leases of state property to municipalities; (2) establishes a procedure to review proposed sales and transfers of state property to determine if they have significant natural and recreational resources that should be preserved; and (3) specifies to which facilities certain energy and environmental standards apply. It also requires the DPW commissioner to make recommendations to the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee about placing commercial advertisements on certain state properties.
It exempts from disclosure under FOIA certain documents concerning (1) minors and (2) contract negotiations.
Finally, the bill authorizes the comptroller to appoint assistant comptrollers as needed to conduct business. Any assistant comptroller the comptroller hires will be in unclassified service and serve at her pleasure.
The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage except the provisions addressing labor and material bonds, the construction inspector, the review of state property and the related account, and FOIA, which are effective October 1, 2007.
CONSTRUCTION (§§ 4 & 6-8)
Connecticut Mental Health Center
The bill expands the role of the oversight committee for the addition to the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven being designed and built by a nonprofit organization. The bill requires the committee to:
1. approve all legal and related documents concerning the project's design, construction, and budget;
2. have access to all documents and materials, including project budgets, that the nonprofit organization or any of its agents, contractors, or consultants possess or control;
3. be fully informed by the nonprofit of the project's progress; and
4. meet at least once a month.
The bill specifies that the nonprofit organization is solely responsible for selecting design consultants and construction contractors.
The bill requires 1% of all bond allocations for the design of state buildings to be designated for art work. The law already requires 1% of all bond allocations for construction, reconstruction, and remodeling of state buildings to be allocated for artwork.
It also eliminates a requirement for contractors and subcontractors to furnish a labor and material bond on state or municipal construction contracts when the labor and material costs are between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 and the contract's value exceeds $ 100,000.
State Construction Inspector
The bill requires the auditors of public accounts to appoint an inspector to monitor all state construction and reconstruction projects valued at $ 50 million or more. The inspector (1) must be a professional engineer licensed by the state and (2) must not be an employee of the contracting state agency or one of the contractors or subcontractors. The auditors must determine the number of hours the inspector spends monitoring each project. Any costs associated with the inspector are to be paid from funds allocated for the project.
Under the bill, the inspector must monitor each project for its duration, beginning with the bidder selection. The inspector must review each project's implementation and make recommendations to the auditors to ensure that state funds are used efficiently and effectively. Twice a year, the inspector must submit a written report to the auditors reviewing all monitoring activities.
STATE REAL PROPERTY (§§ 5, 9-10, & 16)
Energy and Environmental Building Standards
Current law requires most state facility construction projects approved and funded on or after January 1, 2007 to meet certain energy and environmental standards. The bill specifies that the requirement applies to facilities for which the State Bond Commission allocates all bonds on or after January 1, 2007. It also specifies that it does not require the redesign of a facility if it was designed in accordance with these standards and before the implementing regulations are adopted.
By law, the environmental standards apply to new facilities costing $ 5 million or more, other than school construction projects, salt sheds, parking garages, or maintenance facilities. The standards require state facilities to meet or exceed the silver building rating of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's rating system for new commercial construction and major renovation projects or an equivalent standard. The alternative standard must at least include a two globe rating under the Green Globes USA design program.
Review for Natural and Recreational Resources
This bill requires state agencies, departments, and institutions to notify the Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner before selling or transferring state land. The notices (to be on a form the council approves) must be published for 30 days in the Environmental Monitor, allowing the public and other state agencies to comment on the land's significant natural and recreational resources and appropriate preservation means. The agency, department, or institution initiating the sale or transfer, together with DEP, must (1) respond to each comment received and (2) publish the comments and their responses in the Environmental Monitor for at least 15 days before selling or transferring the land or land interest.
The bill requires the DEP commissioner to develop a policy for reviewing the notices and recommending whether all or a portion of the land or land interest should be preserved by (1) transferring or granting a conservation easement to DEP; (2) imposing restrictions or conditions on the transfer; or (3) transferring all or a portion, or granting a conservation easement, to a third party. Whenever DEP recommends preserving land using one of the methods described above, it must explain the basis for its recommendation. DEP's recommendation for the land, and the accompanying report, must be published in the Environmental Monitor for 30 days. Again, the agency, department, or institution, together with DEP, must (1) respond to each comment received and (2) publish the comments and their responses in the Environmental Monitor for at least 15 days before selling or transferring the land or land interest.
The bill does not:
1. affect (a) purchase and sales agreements in effect between the state and any prospective purchaser before October 1, 2007 or (b) any subsequent sale or transfer made from such a purchase and agreement;
2. apply to General Assembly land conveyances; or
3. apply to the sale or transfer of surplus state land if the agency complied with the bill's provisions when it designated the land as surplus.
The bill does not limit the applicability of the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act. In addition, it exempts state agencies, departments, and institutions from its notice and public comment requirements if they prepared an (1) environmental impact evaluation pursuant to the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act or (2) environmental statement pursuant to certain other state or federal laws.
Environmental Review Account. The bill establishes the “environmental review account” as a separate, nonlapsing account in the General Fund to support the notice and other requirements described above. The account may contain any money required or allowed by law including proceeds from the sale of state property that are not otherwise designated. If it has a balance at the end of a fiscal year, then it must be carried forward for the next fiscal year, but the account's balance cannot exceed $ 100,000.
The account may only be used to (1) prepare or implement the recommendations or reports required by the bill or (2) prepare or review environmental impact evaluations required by the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (see BACKGROUND).
The bill requires the DPW commissioner to make recommendations to the GAE Committee by February 1, 2008 concerning (1) placing commercial advertisements on state buildings, facilities, stadiums, arenas, or theaters, by advertisers or sponsors and (2) granting naming rights to such advertisers or sponsors for the state property.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (§ 17)
The bill makes changes to the public's access to records. It exempts from disclosure under FOIA (1) the name and address of any minor enrolled in any parks and recreation program administered or sponsored by a public agency and (2) certain documents created during the contract award process.
The bill exempts responses to public agency requests for proposals or bid solicitations, and any related record or file created by the agency, if the agency's chief executive officer certifies that the public interest in confidentiality outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The documents may remain confidential only until the contract is executed or negotiations have ended, whichever comes first.
GRANT PAYMENTS (§§ 11-14)
The bill shortens the time the comptroller and the treasurer have to process certain grant payments to municipalities and NRZs. Under current law, the comptroller has 15 days from the time the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary certifies the amount payable to draw an order on the treasurer. The treasurer then has 15 days to pay the grant.
The bill requires the comptroller to draw an order on the treasurer within five days of receiving the certification, and the treasurer to then pay the grant. (Under the CORE-CT system, these checks are issued almost immediately. )
The payments to municipalities are from the (1) local emergency relief account, (2) local capital improvement fund, and (3) grant-in-aid program for computer-assisted mass appraisal systems. The NRZ payment is from the neighborhood revitalization zone grant-in-aid program.
Connecticut Environmental Policy Act
The Connecticut Environmental Policy Act requires state agencies to evaluate, in writing, the impact a proposed action would have on the environment. Among other things, these environmental impact evaluations, or EIEs, must examine the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental consequences of the proposed action, and any reasonable alternatives to it. OPM reviews EIEs, determining if the agency has taken all practicable steps to avoid or minimize environmental harm.
Government Administration and Elections Committee
Joint Favorable Substitute