House passes bill resolving conflict in law that endangers federal funding
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation designed to save a $6 million federal grant awarded to the Quonset Development Corporation by the federal government.
Sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), the legislation, 2014-H 7964, would make state public works project apprenticeship requirements subject to federal law and regulations pertaining to federal aid contracts.
“This legislation does not negate Rhode Island law regarding apprenticeship requirements,” said Representative Craven. “It merely resolves a conflict with regard to federal aid contracts. The immediate impact is that it should allow the Quonset Development Corporation to put a $6 million project back out to bid that has been halted until this issue is settled through enactment of this legislation.”
According to information provided by the QDC, the Economic Development Agency (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $6 million grant to the QDC to repair 1,200 linear feet of bulkhead just north of the old carrier pier which was damaged by Super Storm Sandy. The space is used by several companies, including Senesco Marine, and there are a few marine trades companies at the location that are currently working around the damage near the pier.
The QDC was informed by a contractor – and the information confirmed by the EDA – that making Rhode Island apprenticeship laws a requirement of the project bid violates the federal government’s requirement for “full and open competition.” The QDC subsequently halted the bidding process on the repair project.
“There is some urgency, as least in regard to the $6 million project at Quonset, to enacting this legislation,’ said Representative Craven, who explained that the federal grant requires construction to begin on May 1 or QDC risks losing the grant award.
“I realize this tangentially impacts on the apprenticeship requirements in state law, but the sole purpose is to resolve a conflict that could jeopardize the influx of federal dollars into Rhode Island,” said Representative Craven. “The QDC wins these federal grants because the corporation turns them into construction and completes the projects quickly. This legislation removes a barrier for future contracts and future federal money and more work for Rhode Island and jobs for Rhode Islanders.
“The Quonset Business Park is home to more than 175 companies and more than 9,500 jobs, while the Port at Davisville is one of the top 10 auto importers in North America. I don’t want Rhode Island law to stand in the way of continued growth there,” he said.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Doreen Marie Costa (R-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown).
For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903