With little fanfare earlier this year, the Nevada Legislature passed and Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 144, which is designed to increase the number of Nevada residents employed on public works projects. The “Nevada Jobs First” Act, which it is commonly called, seeks to accomplish this by adding more requirements to obtain a bidder’s preference for such works under NRS 338.1389, and its companion provisions found in NRS 338.147, 338.1693, 338.1727 and NRS 408.3886. Effective upon its approval date of April 27, 2011, AB 144 affects every public work construction project bid after that date. Whether AB 144 will achieve its purpose — or become a huge bureaucratic nightmare for contractors — remains to be seen.
Nevada’s public works preference law has historically merely required that a contractor demonstrate that she has paid sales and use tax and/or government services taxes of $5,000 or more for each consecutive 12-month period, for the last 60 months immediately preceding the application for a preference. Once demonstrated, the preferred contractor would be allowed a five-percent “cushion” to his public work bids against other non-preferred contractors bidding on the same projects. As such, even if the preferred contractor’s bid was higher than the non-preferred, so long as it was not more than five percent higher, the preferred contractor’s bid would be considered the “best” bid and entitled to the contract award. See for example NRS 338.1389(2). AB 144 now adds the component of using Nevada workers and suppliers to this preferential requirement, by mandating that to receive the five-percent bidder’s credit, the contractor must sign an affidavit agreeing to comply with the provisions of AB 144.
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