On March 22, 2018, Governor Inslee signed HB 2664, which gives port districts new authority to enter into public-private partnerships (“P3s”) to develop telecommunications services and infrastructure. Such P3 arrangements are an increasingly popular method of delivering infrastructure, and broadly are “contractual agreements between a public agency and a private entity that allow for greater private participation in the delivery of projects.”
Although it started out as a bill to provide P3 authority only to rural port districts, the legislation signed by the Governor eliminated that limitation, so there is now blanket P3 authority for all port districts in the area of telecommunications. As with many recent P3 laws, there is nothing in the act requiring (or prohibiting) application of the normal bond and retainage requirements (RCW Ch. 39.08 and 60.28) for public works projects. Time (and probably litigation) will tell whether those requirement apply to such public-private partnerships.