by Geoff Corey | September 15, 2014
Each August I travel with DBIA’s Director of State/Local Legislative Affairs, Richard Thomas, to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The gathering attracts thousands of state legislators and their staff from across the country, so it’s a great opportunity to talk to key decision makers in state policy about the benefits of design-build project delivery. This year the conference was hosted in Minneapolis, which was great because we could literally point to the rebuilt I-35W bridge as a high-profile example of Design-Build Done Right. There was also a strong representation of Midwestern legislators who did not have to travel far to attend. As Richard has previously written, the Midwest is a region where DBIA is focused on working to expand design-build authority so those states can enjoy the same kind of efficient high-quality project delivery as other states.
We connected with some of our strong design-build supporters in the Minnesota legislature like Senator Scott Dibble, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, who has long been an advocate of design-build for transportation projects. We also spoke with Minnesota Senate President Sandra Pappas, and Representative Phyllis Kahn. These are just some of the Minnesota legislators we’ve worked with and continue to work with on design-build expansion in Minnesota, and it was great to reconnect with them and hear directly how satisfied they are with design-build.
At the DBIA booth in the conference exhibit hall, legislators and staff from New Mexico, Nebraska and Wisconsin sought us out, asking if we could tell them more about design-build. They’d heard of the success design-build can achieve, but we were happy to provide them with more specific metrics, details and project examples. In an exciting development, we spoke with at least three legislators from Iowa, a target state for passing design-build legislation next year. While speaking with the spouse of an Iowa Senator, we even discovered that they had a daughter who was an engineer, and a big fan of design-build project delivery!
The National Conference of State Legislatures is by far one of the most valuable to attend. There are sessions on a wide variety of topics, including transportation policy, shifting state budget priorities and legislative strategy. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to connect with similar associations and organizations attending, such as the American Society of Civil Engineers. But, there’s no substitute for meeting legislators and staffers in person and having the important in-depth discussions that can lead to passage of more effective design-build laws. And after this year’s conference, we’re even more hopeful about another successful year for DBIA’s advocacy efforts to expand design-build authority.