The Pennsylvania Separations Act was enacted in 1913, a century ago. It requires public entities to solicit separate bids and award separate contracts for plumbing, heating, electrical, and ventilating work that is part of a public construction project where the costs of construction generally exceed $4,000.
In recent years, there have been many efforts in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to do away with the Separations Act or to limit its application. None have been successful. This year, there are again efforts brewing in the General Assembly to exclude school construction from the requirements of the Separations Act, with one bill progressing more quickly than others.
On April 17, 2013, HB324 was reported out of the House Education Committee. This bill amends the Public School Code to provide for the removal of the Separations Act requirements for school construction.
The sponsor of HB324 provides this rationale for his bill:
My legislation will relieve school districts of the mandate to comply with the Separations Act and will give them the flexibility to determine whether a single or multiple prime delivery system provides the most efficient and cost-effective way to complete a project.
It remains to be seen whether this latest effort to amend the Separations Act will be successful.