During the one-day second special session, the Oregon Legislature passed two budget bills—SB 5721 and SB 5722—relating to public construction. While SB 5721 increases bond authorizations for the 2019-2021 biennium and revises previously approved bond authorizations, SB 5722 establishes expenditure limitations for capital construction projects in excess of $1 million. Among other things, SB 5721 authorizes bond authority to fund four new capital construction projects at public universities:

  • Oregon Institute of Technology Boivin Hall Rehabilitation
  • Oregon State University Arts and Education Complex
  • Portland State University SB1 Renovation and Expansion
  • University of Oregon Huestis Hall Renovation

Although both bills are considered budget bills, Section 15 of SB 5721 reflects a policy decision. Section 15 requires that contractors and subcontractors working on any of the four public university projects listed above with contracts of $200,000 or more do the following:

  • Employ apprentices to perform 15% of the work hours of apprenticeable occupations
  • Establish and execute a plan for outreach, recruitment and retention of women, minority individuals and veterans to perform work under the contract, with the aspirational target of having at least 15% of the total work hours performed by individuals in one or more of those groups; and
  • Provide health insurance and retirement benefits to workers

Legislators proposed amendments to Section 15 due to concerns that the requirements would prevent local contractors in rural areas, primarily Klamath Falls, from competitively bidding on the projects.  The proposed amendments changed the 15% apprentice hours requirement to an aspirational target, removed the health insurance and retirement benefits requirement, and offered relief from the requirements if they caused unreasonable expense or delay or limited the pool of bidders to fewer than three. One proposed amendment also removed the two projects located in more rural areas—Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls and Oregon State University in Corvallis—from the list of qualified projects. However, the committee did not adopt any of the proposed amendments.