PA 07-213—sSB 1182

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Environment Committee

Appropriations Committee

Energy and Technology Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

Planning and Development Committee

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

SUMMARY: This act 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 act (1) expands the role of the Connecticut Mental Health Center's oversight committee, (2) establishes rotating construction services selection panels for contractors and consultants, and (3) alters the consultant selection process. It authorizes the Department of Public Works (DPW) commissioner to provide New Haven with design and construction services for a tunnel roadway.

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.

Concerning state real property, the act (1) removes the 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 it has 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 concerning the placement of commercial advertisements on certain state properties.

It exempts from disclosure under FOIA certain documents concerning (1) minors and (2) contract negotiations. It requires state and local agencies, other than the General Assembly, to file their regular meetings agendas with the secretary of the state or appropriate town clerk.

The act authorizes the comptroller to appoint assistant comptrollers as necessary to conduct business. Any assistant comptroller she hires will be in unclassified service and serve at her pleasure.

Finally, the act makes conforming and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except the DPW commissioner's authority to contract with consultants is effective July 1, 2007 and the provisions addressing (1) labor and material bonds, (2) the review of state property and the related account, and (3) FOIA are effective October 1, 2007.

CONSTRUCTION AND CONTRACTS 4, 6, 15-21, & 24

Connecticut Mental Health Center

The act expands the role of the committee overseeing the design and construction of the addition to the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven by a nonprofit organization. It 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 of the project's progress by the nonprofit; and

4. meet at least once a month.

The act specifies that the nonprofit organization is solely responsible for selecting design consultants and construction contractors.

Bonds

The act increases the maximum exemption for labor and material bonds on state or municipal construction contracts valued at more than $100,000. Under prior law, contractors and subcontractors did not have to furnish the bond when estimated labor and material costs were $50,000 or less. The act raises the exemption to $100,000 or less. These bonds guarantee payment to labor or material suppliers.

Construction Services Selection Panels

By law, DPW panels review and recommend to the commissioner the most qualified consultants to work on certain state construction and Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority (CHEFA) projects. The head of the agency requesting the project and the DPW commissioner appoint the panel members.

Prior law required a panel on all state building construction contracts. The act conforms law to practice by limiting the use of construction services panels to the awarding of consultant services contracts, design-build contracts, and “fast-track” projects.

The act also changes the terms of panel members the DPW commissioner appoints from one year to a single project. Since members serve on a project-by-project basis, it removes the commissioner's authority to fill vacancies. The terms of agency head appointees, unchanged by the act, are likewise a single project.

By law, the commissioner appoints four of the five members on the panel that recommends consultants for state construction projects, three of the five members on the CHEFA panel, and three of the six members on the contractor awards panel.

Consultant Selections by the DPW Commissioner

Under prior law, the DPW commissioner selected consultants to work on state building construction contracts or state programs without going through the competitive bidding process if the (1) consultant fees did not exceed $50,000 or $300,000 in the case of a construction project for a constituent unit of higher education and (2) construction costs did not exceed $500,000 or $2 million in the case of a construction project for a constituent unit of higher education, other than UConn. The act makes the dollar limit for selecting consultants without competitive bidding consistent by setting it at $300,000 for all state programs and removes the limit based on construction costs.

The act changes the process for choosing consultants. As under prior law, the commissioner solicits the consultants. However under the act, the consultants' responses are received by a selection panel that the act establishes. The panel, rather the commissioner, establishes a list of the most qualified consultants. The commissioner can only select consultants from this list. The act requires the panel to consider a consultant's knowledge of the state building and fire codes in determining his or her qualifications. It also specifies the tasks that consultants may perform on state construction projects.

Selection Panel. The act establishes within DPW a separate State Construction Services Selection Panel to recommend consultants for the alteration, repair, or addition to certain real assets. Under the act, the panel consists of five members whom the commissioner appoints. Members must be current employees of DPW or any state agency that contracts for consultant services. Just as it does with construction services panels, the act limits to a single project the terms of panel members the commissioner appoints. The act specifies that the panel is not considered a board or commission.

Consultant Selection and Duties. The act authorizes the DPW commissioner to enter into a contract with any consultant on the list to perform (1) a range of services or (2) tasks pursuant to a task letter detailing the terms of the contract. Any contract the commissioner enters into for services or tasks (when the task letter states the consultant will provide services over $100,000) is subject to approval by the State Properties Review Board (SPRB).

Reviews by the State Properties Review Board. Under prior law, most projects under the state facility plan required SPRB approval if the (1) estimated cost of consultant services was $50,000 or more or (2) construction costs were estimated to exceed $500,000 or $2 million in the case of a constituent unit of higher education, other the UConn, and include consultant services of $20,000 or more.

With respect to the first requirement, the act increases to $100,000 the threshold for the estimated cost of consultant services on projects requiring SPRB approval. It eliminates the second requirement.

New Haven's Tunnel Roadway

The act authorizes the DPW commissioner to provide New Haven with design and construction services for the design, construction, renovation, repair, or improvement of a municipal tunnel roadway. DPW may only render these services in connection with the construction of Gateway Community College's consolidated campus. Under the act, the commissioner may accept funds from the city to cover the cost of the services and any related administrative costs the state incurs.

STATE REAL PROPERTY 5, 7-8, & 14

Energy and Environmental Building Standards

Prior law required most state facility construction projects approved and funded on or after January 1, 2007 to meet certain energy and environmental standards. The act 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 the standards and before the implementing regulations are adopted.

By law, the energy and 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 act requires state agencies, departments, and institutions to notify the Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary, and 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 submit comments to OPM on the land's significant natural and recreational resources and recommended preservation measures, among other things. The OPM secretary, in consultation with the DEP commissioner, must (1) respond to each comment received and (2) publish the comments and responses in the Environmental Monitor for at least 15 days before selling or transferring the land.

The act requires the DEP commissioner to develop a policy for reviewing the notices and making a draft recommendation to OPM as to 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 an appropriate third party. When DEP recommends preserving land using one of the methods described above, it must include a report explaining the basis for its recommendation that includes a natural resource inventory, if appropriate. Following the publication of the initial notice from the agency, department, or institution, DEP's recommendation and its accompanying report must be published in the Environmental Monitor, allowing for a 30-day public comment period. The commissioner must (1) respond to each comment, (2) make a final recommendation to the OPM secretary, and (3) publish the public's comments and DEP's responses and final recommendation to OPM in the Environmental Monitor.

After the OPM secretary receives DEP's recommendation, he must make a final determination concerning the land. The act requires the secretary's decision to be published in the Environmental Monitor for at least 15 days before selling or transferring the land or land interest.

The act states that its provisions concerning the review of state land for natural and recreational resources must not be construed to:

1. affect any (a) purchase or sale agreement between the state and any prospective purchaser in effect before October 1, 2007 or (b) any subsequent sale, transfer, easement, lease, or other agreement made from such a purchase and agreement;

2. apply to General Assembly land conveyances;

3. apply to the sale or transfer of state land between state agencies;

4. apply to any easement granted to a municipality or regulated utility that (a) primarily benefits the state or a state agency or institution, (b) results from a state or federal regulatory process, or (c) is necessitated by the construction or reconstruction of any Department of Transportation (DOT) highway or facility;

5. apply to the sale or transfer of state land that an agency designated as surplus before October 1, 2007, provided the agency complied with the act's provisions concerning the review for natural and recreational resources at the time of the designation;

6. apply to the transfer of 10 acres or less by DOT or the Department of Education;

7. limit state agency or public comments to a particular subject matter;

8. limit the publication of its required notifications, comments, or reports solely to the Environmental Monitor; or

9. limit the solicitation of public comments solely to the Environmental Monitor.

Further, the act states that it 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 act 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, the balance must be carried forward for the next fiscal year, but the account cannot exceed $100,000.

The account may only be used to (1) prepare or implement the recommendations or reports required by the act or (2) prepare or review environmental impact evaluations required by the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (see BACKGROUND). (PA 07-4, June Special Session, repeals the account. )

Commercial Advertisements

The act requires the DPW commissioner, within available resources, 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 22 & 23

Exempt Records

The act 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.

Concerning contract awards, the act exempts responses to public agency requests for proposals or bid solicitations, and any related record or file the agency creates, 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 occurs first.

Public Meeting Notices

The act requires state agencies, other than the General Assembly, to file their regular meeting agendas with the secretary of the state. It requires local agencies to file their agendas with the town clerk or the clerk of a multi-town district or agency, whichever is applicable. By law, agencies must file notices at least 24 hours before the meetings.

The act requires state agencies and the secretary of the state to post the agendas on their websites but does not specify when the postings must occur.

The law, unchanged by the act, requires state and local agencies to file the agendas in their respective offices. Under prior law, they filed their agendas with the secretary of the state or the appropriate clerk only if they had no regular office or place of business. The General Assembly is exempt from the filing requirement.

GRANT PAYMENTS 9-12

The act shortens the time the comptroller and the treasurer have to process certain grant payments to municipalities and NRZs. Under prior law, the comptroller had 15 days after the time the OPM secretary certified the amount payable to draw an order on the treasurer. The treasurer then had 15 days to pay the grant.

The act 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.

BACKGROUND

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.

OLR Tracking: KS: DD: PF: RO