Washington’s “responsible bidder” law already imposes significant requirements on contractors bidding on public works contracts: for instance, bidders must obtain certain types of industrial insurance, maintain records of wages and components used in construction, and must not have committed more than one prevailing wage violation in the past five years. Now, a new law will also require contractors to undergo training on public works and prevailing wage requirements in order to become eligible to bid on public contracts.

On March 23, 2018, Governor Jay Inslee signed SSHB 1673 into law, amending Washington’s current “responsible bidder” statute to add a new requirement that bidders on public works projects “have received training on the requirements related to public works and prevailing wage” and designate at least one person to be trained on these requirements. The bill requires the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to develop a curriculum for this training, which can be provided either by L&I itself or by a third-party training provider whose course has been approved by L&I. For its part, L&I has already created a web page which lists some of the qualifying in-person courses available to contractors.

Fortunately, the requirements of SSHB 1673 don’t go into effect until July 1, 2019, so aspiring public contractors have time to receive the required training. In addition, bidders with significant public contract experience are grandfathered in: the training requirements don’t apply to contractors who have completed at least three public works projects and have maintained a valid Washington business license for at least three years. But businesses that don’t meet these criteria are advised to complete the applicable training requirements as soon as possible—once the law goes into effect next summer, what you don’t know about public works and prevailing wage laws can hurt you.