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Wisconsin bill may limit DBE participation on WisDOT contracts
Published on 12/12/2018

The Wisconsin State Assembly is considering a bill that, among other changes, would require the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to concentrate federal dollars received for transportation projects into a smaller number of projects.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1069, specifies that any WisDOT projects receiving federal funding must be only those projects which receive at least 70 percent of their funding from federal sources. The bill would also require WisDOT to inform local governments if projects rely on federal funding, in order to streamline the process of local governments planning on needing to conform to federal requirements or not.

Critics have argued that AB 1069 would have the effect of reducing the amount of business received by disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs), which are frequently included by means of participation goals on federally funded projects, as a consequence of the expected result in reducing the total number of federally funded projects WisDOT undertakes. Currently, there is a 10 percent DBE participation goal on WisDOT projects that are federally funded. Many DBE owners have expressed trepidation about the amount of procurement awards they might receive if the number of such projects is effectively reduced.

The bill does include a provision stating that WisDOT "may submit a proposed alternate funding plan to the Joint Committee on Finance for review" if a given federally funded project is not at least 70 percent funded. However, it may be the case that downwards pressure on the number of WisDOT projects with DBE goals will still be observed. The bill has so far failed to pass, after being recommended for passage by the Joint Committee on Finance, but the current session of the Assembly is still ongoing.

Read the bill in full at https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/ab1069

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