With the passage of S.B. 785 on Sept. 30, more California state and local agencies have the authority to utilize design-build project delivery for new infrastructure projects. However, the bill contains exclusionary provisions giving benefits to contractors that sign collective bargaining agreements under the assumption they perform work safely, as well as provisions that discriminate against journeymen who did not graduate from state-approved apprenticeship programs.

The statute consolidates and amends existing design-build laws, granting new authority for agencies including the Department of General Services, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the San Diego Unified Port District (for projects in excess of $1 million); the Sonoma Valley Health Care District an the Marin Healthcare District; as well as some transit districts and districts that operate water, wastewater or fire protection facilities.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California opposes the bill, stating that workplace safety does not depend on whether a collective bargaining agreement is in place, and that all bidders should be judged based on their experience modification rate and other industry safety standards. In addition, the bill exempts the specific skilled workforce qualifications when a local government signs a project labor agreement.

S.B. 785 will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, and expires Jan. 1, 2025.