Comment Deadline for Respirable Crystalline Silica Closes
On Feb. 11,
the deadline for public comments for the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration’s (OSHA) rule on respirable crystalline silica closed. The
proposed rule would lower the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) from 100
micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. It would
also require the establishment of regulated areas or access control plans where
exposures will or may be expected to exceed the PEL, such as conducting medical
surveillance and the training of workers about silica related hazards.
AGC and other industry stakeholders formed a coalition of two dozen
construction trade associations to formulate a comprehensive, unified response
to industry concerns with the proposed rule. The next step in the rule
making process is an informal public hearing scheduled to begin March 18, 2014.
America submitted a comment letter to
OSHA and highlighted the work of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition and
its detailed comments and economic analysis on the proposed rule. The
coalition also issued a press statement in
conjunction with the comments.
For more information, please contact Jim
Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kevin Cannon at email@example.com.
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Final Guidance on ACA Employer Mandate Released
Enforcement of Mandate Delayed for Some Employers
On Feb. 10,
the Department of the Treasury and the IRS released their final rules on the ACA’s employer
requirements, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. The final rules have a
number of significant changes that AGC and partners in the Employers for
Flexibility in Health Care Coalition have been working on for the last three
years. These changes include a delay in the employer requirements for employers
with 50 to 100 employees for an additional year (beginning Jan. 2016). Also,
additional transition relief was granted to employers offering coverage in 2015
by requiring them to offer coverage to at least 70 percent of their full-time
employees, rather than 95 percent to avoid tax penalties. After 2016, employers
will have to offer coverage to 95 percent of their employees.
flexibility was also granted to employers who have non-calendar year plans,
along with flexibility for employers who become large employers (exceed 50 full
time employees for the first time) during a year. Additional changes on the
definition of the look-back period and how seasonal employees and limited
duration employees, excise tax penalties, affordably and minimum value tests
were also included.
rule is quite lengthy and AGC will be working with coalition partners on how to
interpret it and continue to work on legislative fixes in the ACA that are not
included in the latest round of guidance, such as changing the definition of a
full-time employee from 30 hours per week to a more traditional 40 hours per
week. To send a letter to your elected officials on changing the definition of
a full-time employee, please visit the AGC Legislative Action Center. We are
also expecting guidance on the several enforcement issues that were not part of
the latest round, including rules on information reporting and premium tax
For more information, please contact Jim
Young at (202) 547-0133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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President Obama Issues Executive Order Raising Minimum Wage
Mandate Effective in 2015 and Ties Wage Rate to Inflation Thereafter
On Feb. 12, President Obama
signed an executive order that will raise the hourly minimum wage
direct-federal contractors – i.e. those with contracts directly with federal
agencies; not those with contracts from state departments of transportation –
pay their employees in 2015 and perhaps each year thereafter.
Specifically, the executive order
mandates that federal prime construction contractors and subcontractors pay
their employees an hourly minimum wage of $10.10 under new contracts on
and after January 1, 2015. The order also mandates that the Secretary of
Labor determine a new minimum wage in 2016 and each year thereafter based on
the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage and
Clerical Workers (CPI). If the annual CPI percentage decreases, the
minimum hourly wage rate will not decrease. Under this scenario, the
president essentially places the minimum wage on auto-pilot without
consideration for business conditions in 2016 and beyond.
How will this mandate work under
federal, state and local prevailing wage laws? The order notes that it will not
excuse noncompliance with such laws that have a higher minimum wage than that
established in the order. However, it does not address and remains a question
as to what will happen when the order's minimum wage is above either federal,
state or local laws' prevailing wage. It also does not shed light on
how contracts issued under a pre-2015 multiple award contract will be
The executive order instructs the
Secretary of Labor to issue regulations implementing this mandate by Oct. 1,
2014. Within 60 days of that, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council
must issue regulations in the FAR to provide for inclusion of the minimum wage
contract clause in direct-federal solicitations and contracts.For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703)
837-5325 or email@example.com.
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AGC Releases Workforce Development Plan
Today at a media event in Topeka, Kansas with the AGC of Kansas
and the Kansas Contractors Association, AGC released a new Workforce Development Plan. This plan outlines a series
of measures AGC is urging national, state and local officials to adopt to make
it easier for school districts, construction firms and chapters to establish
training programs to help prepare future construction workers.
AGC developed the plan in response to the fact that nearly two-thirds
of member firms reported in AGC’s 2014 Annual Outlook Survey that they are already having a
hard time finding qualified workers to fill key positions. AGC has also heard
from many members that they are worried about future worker shortages that will
occur as demand, hopefully, picks up in many parts of the country over the
coming months. The plan is designed to complement, and build upon, the steps
many of our chapters are already taking to address future workforce needs.
While most of the measures outlined in this plan are targeted to
federal officials, there are a number of measures in the plan that state and
local officials can take to help. AGC will work with Congress in the coming
months on strengthening the nation’s workforce development training programs.For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AGC Participates in Veterans Event at Department of Labor
On Monday, First
Lady Michele Obama announced at
a U.S. Department of Labor event that “the construction industry has pledged to
hire 100,000 veterans” during the next five years. During the event, she
noted that 100 construction companies have pledged to increase their hiring and
cited the broader efforts of many firms and associations in hiring veterans,
including the Associated General Contractors of America. She added that
this is the first time a single industry has made such a pledge.
AGC supports the
goal of hiring additional veterans and noted to the Department of Labor that
even without additional efforts, the industry was on track to hire 80,000
veterans during the next five years given current economic conditions and
hiring trends. One reason the industry is already on track to hire so many
veterans is that the industry already hires veterans at a faster rate than the
overall economy. While veterans make up 5 percent of the overall workforce,
they represent 8 percent of the construction workforce.
There have been
no specific initiatives announced by the administration but AGC looks forward
to working with the Department of Labor on connecting veterans and soon-to-be veterans
with construction firms.
For more information,
please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or email@example.com.
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EPA Releases Report Supporting Beneficial Use of Coal Ash
Just days after signing a consent
decree in a federal lawsuit agreeing to take “final action” on coal ash waste
disposal rules by Dec. 19, 2014, this week the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) released a report presenting its evaluation of the two largest beneficial
uses of encapsulated coal combustion residuals (CCRs): use in concrete as
a substitute for portland cement and as a substitute for mined gypsum in
wallboard. EPA’s evaluation concluded that the beneficial use of encapsulated
CCRs in concrete and wallboard is appropriate because they are comparable to
virgin materials or below the agency’s health and environmental benchmarks. EPA
says that the evaluation was reached using a newly developed methodology. In
releasing the report EPA’s assistant administrator for Solid Waste said, “The
protective reuse of coal ash advances sustainability by saving valuable
resources, reducing costs, and lessening environmental impacts, including
reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
The release of the report was
viewed as a very positive development giving some insight into how EPA will be evaluating
coal ash (including fly-ash) use in the December regulations. EPA is being
urged to regulate coal ash as a hazardous substance which would have
significant negative impacts on its use in construction applications and could
create new liabilities for its past use. After four years of backing away from
a policy promoting beneficial use of coal ash, EPA is finally saying again that
at least some uses of fly ash in construction are appropriate. Support
for the beneficial use of coal ash has been going up and down in favor, so the
continuance of existing exemption allowing for beneficial use has been in
doubt. AGC has been advocating to EPA and Congress the need to clarify
and preserve the beneficial use of coal ash. It is anticipated that the final
rule will more fully address all forms of beneficial use.
For more information, please
contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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House Public Private Partnership Panel Holds First Meeting
This week, the House
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Panel on Public Private
Partnerships (P3 Panel) held the first in a series of roundtable discussions on
the use of public private partnerships (P3s) in areas under their jurisdiction.
These areas include surface transportation, water, aviation, federal buildings,
railroads and WRDA-type water projects.
The discussion was focused on surface transportation case studies to
help the P3 Panel gain a better understanding of these types of projects.
The panel, chaired by
Representative Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.), heard from
representatives of Parsons Brinkerhoff, Transurban, and a State Representative
from the Indiana General Assembly. They
discussed lessons learned from P3 projects that they have participated in. Specifically, the panel shared their thoughts
on long-term advantages and disadvantages of different P3 structures, including
the range of involvement, scope of responsibility, and degree of risk assumed
by the private sector; the challenges that states and public sponsors
experienced in developing P3 contractual agreements; and what the private
sector looks for when investing in infrastructure projects. The representatives also shared their belief
that P3s are not the solution to our infrastructure crisis and that the most
important element continues to be dedicated public funding.
AGC staff has already started
meeting with staff of the P3 Panel. As
the panel continues to explore the pros and cons of the use of P3s in the
financing of infrastructure projects, AGC looks forward to sharing the
experiences of our members who have participated in P3 projects across the
committee’s jurisdiction.For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or email@example.com.
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Most Endangered House Republican Makes Surprise Retirement Announcement
Wednesday, eight-term Congressman Gary Miller (R) announced that he would no
longer seek re-election surprising many longtime supporters. The
congressman, a homebuilder and real estate developer, has been a strong ally to
the association and industry. During his 16 years in the U.S. House of
Representatives, he earned a 90 percent voting record on AGC-supported legislation.
like Louisiana and Washington, uses a blanket primary system where the top two
vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party
affiliation. In 2012, this new system shocked Democrats when two
Republicans advanced to the general election in the 31st congressional district
– Miller and then-State Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton. Miller was
re-elected with 55 percent of the vote.
immediately, Miller became the top Republican target in the House. The
31st district represented by the congressman leans Democratic. It
performed five percentage points (D+5) more Democratic than the country as a
whole in the past two presidential elections. Furthermore, President
Barack Obama carried the district in 2012 with 57 percent of the
Joe Baca (D) has announced his intention to seek the seat last year and several
more Democrats have joined including Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, attorney
Eloise Reyes and San Bernadino School Board member Danny Tillman. Miller’s
retirement will likely lead to a Democratic pick-up.
For more information, please contact David
Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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