Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org August 4, 2016
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
AGC, Transportation Construction Coalition Begin August Highway Trust Fund Grassroots Push
WATER RESOURCES
Members of the House Asking for a Vote on Water Infrastructure Bill in Bipartisan Letter
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Comments on 2017 Proposed Package of ‘Nationwide’ Permits
White House Guidance Directs Agencies to Consider Emissions and Resilience
SAFETY
New OSHA Guidance on Increased Fines
TAX/ACCOUNTING
Register for the 20th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
TRANSPORTATION
AGC, Transportation Construction Coalition Begin August Highway Trust Fund Grassroots Push
Meet with Your Federal Representative While They are in Your District
 

This week, the AGC co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) kicked-off a grassroots effort to remind members of Congress that although they passed a five-year transportation bill last year, their job is not done and the Highway Trust Fund is still in need of a long-term revenue source.  Use the August recess to meet with your federal Representative and advocate for a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix to be included in any comprehensive tax reform package.

The House Ways & Means Committee released their blueprint for tax reform several weeks ago, which failed to mention the funding problems with the Highway Trust Fund. The Ways and Means Committee needs to hear our industry’s concern about the failure to include a Highway Trust Fund fix in that blueprint.  Visit Hardhats for Highways for talking points to help you in your meeting with your federal Representative, along with information on providing comments directly to the Ways & Means Committee about the importance of fixing the Highway Trust Fund.  If you are unable to meet in person with your member of Congress, you can send a letter to your representative through our Hardhats for Highways website.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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WATER RESOURCES
Members of the House Asking for a Vote on Water Infrastructure Bill in Bipartisan Letter
Urge Your Rep. to Sign On to the Letter
 

House and Senate committees earlier this year passed water infrastructure bills – known as the Water Resources Development Act – that would collectively invest billions of dollars in municipal drinking water and wastewater projects and Army Corps of Engineers’ projects, including flood control and levees, locks, dams, harbor maintenance dredging and environmental restoration throughout the nation.  However, the bills have not yet been brought to the chambers’ floors for a vote, endangering their success in this election year.  There is currently a bipartisan letter circulating in the House seeking a vote on WRDA before the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30).  Contact your U.S. Representative while they are home for their summer recess and tell them why it is important to pass WRDA and ask them to sign the bipartisan letter.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892. Return to Top

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ENVIRONMENT
AGC Comments on 2017 Proposed Package of ‘Nationwide’ Permits
 

On Aug. 1, AGC commented on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposal to reissue and modify its nationwide permits (NWPs) general conditions and definitions – “general” permits that authorize construction activities in “Waters of the United States.”  As an active member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition , AGC signed on to WAC’s detailed comments on the interplay between the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” rule and the reissuance of the 2017 nationwide permits.  AGC’s individual comment letter incorporated some of the points raised in the coalition letter, while further expressing issues and concerns specific to the construction industry.

After meeting with the Corps and receiving input from its membership, AGC’s comments stressed that any changes to the program should maintain a streamlined process in order to avoid project delays, higher costs and increased uncertainty for activities with minimal impacts on WOTUS.  AGC urged the Corps to consider increasing the acreage limits and pre-construction notification thresholds, as well as refrain from imposing a linear-foot cap for NWPs that support public health and welfare and/or environmental protection.  In addition to point-by-point feedback on several conditions, AGC encouraged the Corps to retain critical waivers currently available and made recommendations to improve the regional conditioning program.

For more information on AGC’s comment letter,read the full article on AGC’s Web site.  If you have questions, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org Return to Top

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White House Guidance Directs Agencies to Consider Emissions and Resilience
Federal Construction Projects in the Crosshairs
 

On Aug. 2, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released final guidance to federal agencies on incorporating greenhouse gases (GHG) and climate change into agency actions where the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) currently applies. It is unclear at this stage exactly how burdensome these new requirements will be to the already extremely costly and lengthy NEPA process.  Environmental interest groups already use NEPA litigation as a key strategy to delay projects.  Although the federal government usually prevails in such litigation, according to a 2014 Government Accountability Office report, it often leads to more upfront time and cost as agencies “attempt to prepare a ‘litigation-proof’ [Environmental Impact Statement]” and can delay construction projects for years.

The guidance encourages agencies to quantify direct and indirect GHG emissions for construction projects where NEPA applies, as well as, short-term and long-term effects, cumulative effects and impacts from connected actions.  The guidance also directs agencies to analyze the long-term climate impacts, adaptability and/or resilience of their actions – such as vulnerabilities to storm surges or extreme heat.  Agencies also must identify efforts (e.g., energy efficiency, carbon capture) to mitigate resultant environmental impacts.

See AGC’s Environmental Observer for more details, or contact Melinda Tomaino at Tomainom@agc.org. The CEQ webpage also has additional guidance.  Additionally,FedCenter.gov provides extensive information on climate related requirements, resources, and agency adaption plans. Return to Top

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SAFETY
New OSHA Guidance on Increased Fines
Fine Increases for Lesser Violations Detailed for First Time
 

On August 2, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its updated field operations manual to explain how OSHA inspectors must calculate fines—which are rising as much as 78 percent—as AGC has previously reported hereand here. In general, the updated manual shows fines for different violations increasing across the board by 78 percent, not only for willful, repeat, serious, failure-to-abate violations—as previously known—but also for “low” and “moderate” gravity fines. For instance, the maximum fine for a violation rated as “low gravity” is now $5,345—up from $3,000—and a “moderate gravity” serious maximum fine is now $10,689—up from $6,000. OSHA previously released information explaining how its maximum penalties for more egregious violations were increasing, i.e., serious violation maximum penalties rise from $7,000 to $12,471, and willful or repeated violation maximum penalties increase from $70,000 to $124,709.

For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or 703-837-5410 or Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or 703-837-5410.  Return to Top

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TAX/ACCOUNTING
Register for the 20th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Register Now and Save: Early Bird Registration Ends Aug. 19
 

Jointly sponsored by AGC and CFMA, the 20th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference will be held Oct. 19-21 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. This three-day conference offers programs and workshops designed specifically for financial professionals in the construction industry. The 32 interactive sessions will cover the latest industry issues and their financial implications. Participants may earn up to 20 continuing professional education (CPE) credits. Register at meetings.agc.org/agc_cfma.

For more information, please contact Brynn Huneke at (703) 837-5376 or brynn.huneke@agc.org Return to Top

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