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Association sees important legislative wins for construction industry

Full-time again: Nations returns as AGC executive director

The Associated General Contractors of Mississippi (AGC) realized its main legislative goal this spring when legislators voted to strengthen a design-build bill passed in 2006.

“The design-build law as passed was way too open ended,” said AGC executive director Perry Nations said. “There were no restrictions on types of buildings that could be built, the number of buildings that could be built on campus, no selection process for who the contractor was and no limits on the lease agreement between the contractor/developer. All of that was tightened up with the Legislature this year with the cooperation of everyone.”

According to Christopher Solop, the general counsel for the AGC, this year’s construction-related legislation was primarily concentrated in H.B. 1537 and H.B. 1208. “This legislation made substantial changes to the delivery systems used for public construction projects and will benefit the construction industry in the state,” said Solop.

He said, “The change in the delivery systems for public construction projects to include dual-phase design-build method and construction manager at risk is a tremendous step in the right direction. Under certain circumstances, public agencies are now free to implement these alternative delivery systems that have long been used by the federal government. There is also language in H.B. 1537 that will permit public agencies to award contracts based upon a determination of whether the office represents the best value to the public rather than solely based upon the lowest price. This should improve the quality of public construction in Mississippi.”

Working together

“This legislative year was significant for another reason, because of the commitment by the construction industry and state agencies to work together. This year’s legislation is not perfect, but it represents more of ‘a team effort’ than in past years when individual segments of the construction industry were too busy promoting their agenda to consider the overall impact on the construction industry,” said Solop.

He said, “Compromise and understanding of the complexities of the construction industry from the design phase to completion of the construction project is the key to drafting fair and practical legislation. I hope the spirit of cooperation continues with the next legislative session as the construction industry and public agencies become familiar with the new public construction procurement procedures.”

Looking forward

Before announcing his retirement as executive director in early 2006 and moving into a leadership transition phase with the association, Nations had been with AGC for 30 years. He came back into full-time service for
the organization this month. He will serve until the board finds a replacement later this year. “I will stay on the board probably a year after that time to help with the transition. I will go back to half time as director of the legislative and workers’ compensation service.”

A number of workers’ comp related bills are on the AGC wish list dealing with autopsy, fair and impartial interpretation of law, found dead presumption, drug and alcohol testing and introduction into cases. “These bills will be with our 2008 legislative agenda, plus looking at others that will come out, which could hurt our industry,” said Nations.

Nations said his members are “as busy as I can ever remember, not only with storm work, but all over the state. The construction boom should last five to 10 years.”

“Toyota is going to be another great boom to construction jobs and jobs in general. I’m sure all contracting firms in North Mississippi and many from other parts of the state attended the Toyota meeting for vendors and will be at all meetings just as they were with Nissan,” said Nations.

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