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Published on Friday, January 13, 2017

Dig Law clean-up bill gets hearing

HB 1064, introduced by Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mt. Vernon) at the request of the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) “cleans up” the underground utility damage prevention act (aka “Dig Law”). The Dig Law governs safe excavation practices near underground utility facilities. All underground facility operators must subscribe to the state's one-number locator service, through which an excavator may notify utilities of excavation activities and request field-marking of underground facilities. Certain requirements under the Damage Prevention Act went into effect by January 1, 2013 and are set to expire December 31, 2020.

Of particular note, HB 1064 removes the 2020 expiration date for the Safety Committee created in 2013. Part of that committee’s role is to review complaints of alleged violations of the Dig Law, a process that seems to be working well. As such, AWC is supportive of this bill.

The UTC had originally proposed a series of more substantive changes to the Dig Law but decided to introduce this minor bill instead, and to engage in a stakeholder process to work on other changes. AWC as well as representatives from several individual cities and counties will be actively engaged in that stakeholder process which is likely to lead to legislation for the 2018 session.

HB 1064 had a public hearing in the House Technology and Economic Development Committee on January 12 and is scheduled for executive session on January 19.

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