ACHRNEWS

Chicago Association Spearheads Passage of Legislation

January 28, 2008

CHICAGO - The Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago spearheaded the successful recent passage of three top state legislation priorities. “The passage of these bills will help the construction industry in Illinois to run with greater speed and efficiency, and the related savings will benefit the people of the state,” said Evan Williams, vice president of external relations for MCA Chicago.

In addition to saving money, one of these bills may save lives, Williams noted. “The bill on mandatory substance abuse testing for employees on public projects should increase the safety of construction jobsites funded by government programs,” he said. MCA members install and service heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, as well as fire sprinklers, plumbing and process piping in partnership with the pipe fitters of the United Association (UA) Local Union 597.

Here are the bills that earned passage:

Substance Abuse Prevention on Public Works Projects Act: The passed bill prohibits employees from using, possessing, attempting to possess, distributing, delivering or being under the influence of drugs and alcohol while performing their duties on public works projects. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

Failure to implement a drug and alcohol policy can leave an employer and the owner - in this case, the public body - with significant liability. Enacting substance abuse testing for public works follows the lead of many private sector contractors, labor unions, and owners who already require such measures.

The bill states that employers shall have in place written substance abuse prevention and testing programs prior to commencing work on a public works project. The bill also establishes the minimum criteria that must be met by such programs.

In addition, this legislation mandates removal of employees who test positive for drugs or alcohol from the public works project until that employee completes a rehabilitation program or is cleared by a counselor to return to work. State Rep. David Winters (R-Shirland) and State Sens. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and John Cullerton (D-Chicago) guided this bill through the General Assembly.

Contractor Prompt Payment Act: Effective Aug. 31, 2007, and sponsored by State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff), this new legislation requires that contractors or subcontractors must be paid within 15 calendar days for completed work that has been accepted by an owner or contractor. The work will be considered accepted if the owner or contractor does not provide a reason for nonpayment within 25 days of receiving the bill. An especially important aspect of the Act is that it allows contractors and subcontractors to stop work without penalty until they receive payment. “Contractors will have the law on their side with a clear, concise statute which lays out prompt payment provisions,” Williams said.

The Contractor Prompt Payment Act applies to private work, with the exception of residential work of 12 or less units. Public work, excluding home rule units like Chicago, is covered under a separate statute. A home rule unit is defined as a county with an elected chief executive officer, a municipality with a population of 25,000 or more, or a municipality of less than 25,000 that has elected by referendum to become a home rule unit.

The Mechanics Lien Act: A lien allows a person or company to make a legal claim upon the property of another, to secure payment of a debt. This legislation, effective Aug. 17, 2007, expands lien rights to rental equipment. Like the Contractor Prompt Payment Act, this act takes an extra step to ensure that contractors receive payments to which they are entitled. State Sen. Carol Pankau (R-Bloomingdale) and State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) championed this bill, which also includes important modifications relating to perfecting the mechanics lien.

“In legislative matters, MCA Chicago serves as the voice of the mechanical contracting industry in the Chicagoland area,” said Williams. “We congratulate the legislators who championed the passage of these bills, their colleagues who understood the need for these important public policy changes, and the variety of associations, employers, and tradesmen who supported these efforts.”

For more information on MCA Chicago, visit www.mca.org.

Publication date: 01/28/2008