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December Update: State Legislative Activity

Read more about the recent developments at the state and local level, including how the Department of Energy annoucement of $31 Million in Grants for Retrofits and Energy Efficiency for 19 States could impact your business. 

US Department of Energy Announces $31 Million in Grants for Retrofits and Energy Efficiency for 19 States

Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the next 19 state and local governments to receive more than $31 million in formula grants through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, funded by President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and managed by DOE's Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP). Funds will be deployed to advance crucial clean energy and infrastructure upgrades by state governments, local governments, and Puerto Rican municipios.

The EECBG program has over $430 million in formula grant funding available to more than 2,700 states, territories, local governments, and Tribes from every region of the country — serving over 250 million Americans — that are eligible to receive funding.

Grantees can select from 14 categories of eligible activities that allow a wide variety of clean energy projects and programs that align with their clean energy goals and meet their local needs. All states must subgrant at least 60% of their funds to local governments that were ineligible for a direct formula award from the DOE, and many states will subgrant an even higher percentage of their funds to local governments.  

Awards announced include:  

  • Arkansas ($1,961,110)
  • Georgia ($2,989,230) 
  • Illinois ($2,909,890)
  • Indiana ($2,448,930)
  • Iowa ($2,004,050)
  • Massachusetts ($2,494,680) 
  • New Mexico ($1,758,250)
  • South Carolina ($2,176,180)
  • Texas ($4,848,610)
  • West Virginia ($1,809,210)
  • Wisconsin ($2,330,720)
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan ($182,360)
  • Austin, TX ($855,340)
  • Denver, CO ($655,720)
  • Edmond, OK ($146,020)
  • Orem, UT ($150,350)
  • Rock Hill, SC ($133,080)
  • Rio Arriba County, NM ($76,350) 
  • Puerto Rico ($1,855,570)

Huge Victory for New York Contractors

After nearly a decade of advocacy by SMACNA-NY, on November 17, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed Chapter 657 of the Laws 2023, an act to amend the general business law about payment and retainage in construction contracts. Longtime SMACNA supporter Senator Neil Breslin sponsored the new lawn. This new law aims to reduce delays in the release of retainage on private construction projects that have met substantial completion requirements. The law provides that owners of private commercial construction projects can withhold retainage of no more than five percent of the contract sum where the value of the project equals or exceeds $150,000.

Under the previous law governing private construction jobs, New York subcontractors were subject to long waiting times for a year after completing a construction project to receive retainage payments. The lack of clarity in existing law results in avoidable disputes, which prolongs the release of retainage payments. This ambiguity created economic burdens for contractors and subcontractors, many of whom are Minority and Women-Owned businesses whose work has been completed in compliance with the contract requirements.

This bill revises the procedures for contract payment of retainage for owners, contractors, and subcontractors. It establishes deadlines for the contractor and subcontractor to complete all remaining items. Within 45 days, the private owner shall submit to the contractor a written list specifying all items remaining to be completed by the contractor as stipulated in the contract. The contractor must provide each subcontractor with a written list of all remaining items to be performed by the subcontractor within five business days. Mandating that substantial completion of private construction projects be specified in the contract and reforming the contract payment process of retainage would significantly reduce disputes and delays between owners and contractors.

SMACNA Wisconsin Testifies at Hearing in Support of Indoor Air Quality in Schools Legislation

Recently, Jonathan Kowalski, Executive Director of the Sheetmetal and Air Conditioning Contractors' Association of Milwaukee ("SMACCA") testified at an Assembly hearing on behalf of SMACCA, and the East Central (Sheboygan) Wisconsin, Southeast (Racine/Kenosha) Wisconsin and State of Wisconsin Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' Associations regarding Assembly bill 434 which relating to: indoor air quality inspection and evaluation program for public schools. Supported by SMACNA National, SMACCA and its affiliate Associations support a proposal to require the Department of Health Sciences to establish an indoor air quality inspection and evaluation program for public school buildings used by pupils as the best first step in addressing the widespread issue of poor and, at times, dangerous air quality levels in school buildings.

Massachusetts and Pennsylvania Considering Proposals for Four-Day Workweek

A bill before a Massachusetts legislative committee proposes to give a tax credit to businesses in the state that join a pilot program to explore the possible benefits of a shorter workweek. 

Currently, at least six states, in addition to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Utah, and Washington, are considering legislation making four-day workweeks more common. According to the new legislation, a four-day workweek would mean that "employees receive a meaningful reduction in actual work hours without any reduction in overall pay."

SMACNA will follow these developments.