Little Miller Act Statute
When you perform work on a state construction project in Idaho, and are not paid, you can file a "lien" against the project pursuant to Idaho's Little Miller Act. Since the claim is not against the state or county's actual property, but instead against a posted bond, the claim is not really called a "lien" but is more frequently referred to as a "bond claim" or "little miller act claim." Idaho's Little Miller Act is found in Idaho Code, Title 54, Chapter 19, §54.1925 - §54.1930, and is reproduced below
Idaho Little Miller Act
This act may be cited as the Public Contracts Bond Act.
Before any contract for the construction, alteration, or repair of any public building or public work or improvement of the state of Idaho, or of any county, city, town, municipal corporation, township, school district, public educational institution, or other political subdivision, public authority, or public instrumentality, or of any officer, board, commission, institution, or agency of the foregoing, is awarded to any person, he shall furnish to the state of Idaho, or to such county, city, town, municipal corporation, township, school district, public educational institution, or other political subdivision, public authority, or public instrumentality, or to such officer, board, commission, institution, or agency thereof, bonds which shall become binding upon the award of the contract to such person, who is hereinafter designated as “contractor”:
(1) A performance bond in any amount to be fixed by the contracting body, but in no event less than eighty-five percent (85%) of the contract amount conditioned upon the faithful performance of the contract in accordance with the plans, specifications and conditions thereof. Said bond shall be solely for the protection of the public body awarding the contract.
(2) A payment bond in an amount to be fixed by the contracting body but in no event less than eighty-five percent (85%) of the contract amount, solely for the protection of persons supplying labor or materials, or renting, leasing, or otherwise supplying equipment to the contractor or his subcontractors in the prosecution of the work provided for in such contract.
(3) Public bodies requiring a performance bond or payment bond in excess of fifty percent (50%) of the total contract amount shall not be authorized to withhold from the contractor or subcontractor any amount exceeding five percent (5%) of the total amount payable as retainage. Further, the public body shall release to the contractor any retainage for those portions of the project accepted by the contracting public body and the contractors as complete within thirty (30) days after such acceptance. Contractors, contracting with subcontractors pursuant to contract work with a public body, shall not be authorized to withhold from the subcontractor any amount exceeding five percent (5%) of the total amount payable to the subcontractor as retainage. The contractor shall remit the retainage to the subcontractor within thirty (30) days after completion of the subcontract.
Each bond shall be executed by a surety company or companies duly authorized to do business in this state, or the contractor may deposit any of the type of government obligations listed in subsection (2)(h) of section 54-1901, Idaho Code, in lieu of furnishing a surety company performance or payment bond or bonds. In the case of contracts of the state or a department, board, commission, institution, or agency thereof the aforesaid bonds shall be payable to the state, or particular state agency where authorized. In case of all other contracts subject to this chapter, the bonds shall be payable to the public body concerned.
Said bonds shall be filed in the office of the department, board, commission, institution, agency or other contracting body awarding the contract.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the state of Idaho or other public body hereinabove mentioned to require a performance bond or other security in addition to these, or in cases other than the cases specified in this chapter.
It shall be illegal for the invitation for bids, or any person acting or purporting to act, on behalf of the contracting body to require that such bonds be furnished by a particular surety company, or through a particular agent or broker.
(a) If a person is required under a law of the state of Idaho to give a surety bond, the person may give a government obligation, as defined in subsection (2)(h) of section 54-1901, Idaho Code. The government obligation shall:
(1) Be given to the official having authority to approve the surety bond, or its authorized custodian;
(2) Be in an amount equal at fair market value to the penal sum of the required surety bond; and
(3) Authorize the official receiving the obligation to collect or sell the obligation if the person defaults on a required condition.
(b) (1) An official receiving a government obligation under subsection (a) of this section may deposit it with:
1. The state treasurer;
2. A national or state chartered bank; or
3. A depository designated by the state treasurer.
(2) The state treasurer, bank, or depository shall issue a safekeeping receipt that describes the obligation deposited.
(c) Using a government obligation instead of a surety bond for security is the same as using:
(1) A corporate surety bond;
(2) A certified check;
(3) A bank draft;
(4) A post office money order; or
(d) When security is no longer required, a government obligation given instead of a surety bond shall be returned to the person giving the obligation. If a person supplying labor or material to a contractor defaulting under the public contracts bond act, sections 54-1925 through 54-1930, Idaho Code, files with the contracting body the application and affidavit provided under section 54-1927, Idaho Code, the contracting body:
(1) May return to the contractor the government obligation given as security or proceeds of the government obligation given under the public contracts bond act, sections 54-1925 through 54-1930, Idaho Code, only after the ninety (90) day period for bringing a civil action under section 54-1927, Idaho Code;
(2) Shall hold the government obligation or the proceeds subject to the order of the court having jurisdiction of the action if a civil action is brought in the ninety (90) day period.
(e) The provisions of this section do not affect the:
(1) Priority of a claim of the contracting body against a government obligation given under this section;
(2) Right or remedy of the contracting body for default on an obligation provided under this section;
(3) Authority of a court over a government obligation given as security in a civil action; and
(4) Authority of an official of the state of Idaho authorized by another law to receive a government obligation as security.
(f) To avoid frequent substitution of government obligations, the state treasurer may promulgate rules limiting the effect of the provisions of this section, to a government obligation maturing more than one (1) year after the date the obligation is given as security.
Every claimant who has furnished labor or material or rented, leased, or otherwise supplied equipment in the prosecution of the work provided for in such contract in respect of which a payment bond is furnished under this act, and who has not been paid in full therefor before the expiration of a period of ninety (90) days after the day on which the last of the labor was done or performed by him or material or equipment was furnished or supplied by him for which such claim is made, shall have the right to sue on such payment bond for the amount, or the balance thereof, unpaid at the time of institution of such suit and to prosecute such action to final judgment for the sum or sums justly due him and have execution thereon; provided, however, that any such claimant having a direct contractual relationship with a subcontractor of the contractor furnishing such payment bond but no contractual relationship expressed or implied with such contractor shall not have a right of action upon such payment bond unless he has given written notice to such contractor within ninety (90) days from the date on which such claimant performed the last of the labor or furnished or supplied the last of the material for which such claim is made, stating with substantial accuracy the amount claimed and the name of the person to whom the material or equipment was furnished or supplied or for whom the labor was done or performed. Each notice shall be served by mailing the same by registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, in an envelope addressed to the contractor at any place he maintains an office or conducts his business or at his residence.
The contracting body and the agent in charge of its office, is authorized and directed to furnish, to anyone making application therefor who submits an affidavit that he has supplied labor, equipment, or materials for such work and payment therefor has not been made or that he is being sued on any such bond, or that it is the surety thereon, a certified copy of such bond and the contract for which it was given, which copy shall be prima-facie evidence of the contents, execution, and delivery of the original. Applicants shall pay for such certified copies such reasonable fees as the contracting body or the agent in charge of its office fixes to cover the actual cost of the preparation thereof.
Every suit instituted on the aforesaid payment bond shall be brought in appropriate court in any county in which the contract was to be performed and not elsewhere; provided, however, that no such suit shall be commenced after the expiration of one (1) year from the date on which the claimant performed the last of the labor or furnished or supplied the last of the material or equipment for which such suit is brought, except, that if the claimant is a subcontractor of the contractor, no such suit shall be commenced after the expiration of one (1) year from the date on which final payment under the subcontract became due.
Any public body subject to this act which shall fail or neglect to obtain the delivery of the payment bond as required by this act, shall, upon demand, itself promptly make payment to all persons who have supplied materials or performed labor in the prosecution of the work under the contract, and any such creditor shall have a direct right of action upon his account against such public body in any court having jurisdiction in any county in which the contract was to be performed and executed which action shall be commenced within one (1) year after the furnishing of materials or labor.
In any action brought upon either of the bonds provided herein, or against the public body failing to obtain the delivery of the payment bond, the prevailing party, upon each separate cause of action, shall recover a reasonable attorney’s fee to be taxed as costs.
The terms “person” and “claimant” and the masculine pronoun as used in this act shall include individuals, associations, copartnerships, or corporations.