IMPACTING CONSTRUCTION LEGISLATION
ASA is proud to partner with the Texas Construction Association (TCA) to move legislative reform forward. By working together, we pass construction legislation that directly affects subcontractors and the construction industry, and we always keep our members informed of the latest legislation and news. Below are the issues we tackled on behalf of ASA members in Houston and throughout Texas.
Lien Law Modernization
Texas’ lien laws are considered by many to be the most burdensome and complex in the country, and they are extremely difficult to navigate. The lien laws’ original intent was to provide a statutory remedy to secure payment for labor, materials or machinery furnished during property improvement. This has been lost in, among other issues, the different notice requirements and deadlines placed on claimants to secure their lien rights.
Texas’ lien laws should be revised to make procedures for perfecting and maintaining one’s lien rights straightforward. In addition, compliance with those procedures should be neither difficult, nor a stumbling block to maintaining lien rights. An early notice system, elimination of several confusing concepts unique to Texas, access to more timely project information, and a robust public internet-based system accessible by owners, construction companies, suppliers, lenders and title insurance companies would modernize an outdated, yet vital statute.
A Texas statute allows for recovery of attorney fees for unpaid labor performed or materials furnished. This recovery is allowed against an individual or a corporation. The statute should be amended to allow for recovery against any individual or legal entity.
Responsibility for Defective Plans and Specifications
In Texas, the contractor bears the liability for defects in construction that are based on construction documents prepared or procured by the owner, the owner’s agent or the owner’s design professional. Construction teams should not be held liable for construction that is defective due to erroneous documents furnished by the owner.
School Background Checks
Workers on certain public school construction projects are required to pass background checks. With more than 1,200 school districts in Texas setting requirements for such checks, the monetary and time expense to the thousands of construction workers is enormous. This expense gets passed to the school district in the form of higher construction costs. A statewide, uniform and portable system is needed.
State Breach of Contract
State law allows for a lawsuit against the state for a claim of a breach of contract. Some cleanup of the statute is needed with regard to attorney fees, use of the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and change orders.
An employer is required by law to classify workers on construction projects as employees or independent contractors. Except in instances of catching employers when someone files an unemployment claim, or when the employer’s state and federal unemployment tax returns do not match, there is very limited enforcement of the law. The state should provide better enforcement of the law to stop violators, yet not impinge on those who properly use and classify independent contractors.