Last week a group of Republican legislators, led by Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), introduced a transportation reform package (LRB 3884). According to the author’s co-sponsorship memo, the legislation “combines various reform bills that have already been introduced into one omnibus reform package,” and “proposes several new ideas to address many of the serious problems highlighted by the audit.” While not intended to address the ongoing stalemate in the budget related to transportation funding, the operational reform could lead to long-term program savings.
The legislation includes bills already introduced:
- Senate Bill 80 related to the local approval of roundabouts
- Senate Bill 143 related to the creation of a Department of Transportation Inspector General
- Senate Bill 216 related to the repeal of prevailing wage
- Senate Bill 217 related to a federal swap
- Assembly Bill 361 related to a referendum requirement to impose a local wheel tax
New items consist of but are not limited to:
- Allowing the DOT and other governmental units to deliver projects in alternative methods to “design-bid-build.” They could use “design-build” which allows for all services of the project to be provided by a single contractor, or “design-build-finance” which is similar to “design-build” but includes a financing component by the contracting entity. The bill also allows for “construction manager-general contractor” and “fixed-price variable-scope” methods.
- Creating a Technical Review Committee to review contract proposals.
- Including new scoring processes for the evaluation of awarding contracts to the most qualified bidders – this includes an incentive to utilize Wisconsin-based contractors.
- Reporting requirements for the DOT to the legislature so they can consider the effectiveness of the reforms.
- Limiting the amount of engineering work the DOT can do with in-house staff.
- Requiring the DOT to create a region-based funding formula for projects.
The co-sponsorship memo showed strong support for the reforms with 24 legislators already signed on. Since its initial distribution we have learned that over half of the Republicans in both houses have signed on to these reforms.