Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org January 26, 2017
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On the Inside
INFRASTRUCTURE
Congress, President Talk About Infrastructure
AGC Signs On to Letter to President Trump Outlining Need for Infrastructure Investments
REGULATIONS
President Trump Takes Executive Action
LABOR
AGC Urges Congress to Close the Skills Gap
TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration Extends Local Hire Pilot Program for Five Years
Budget Analysis Shows Trouble Ahead for Highway Trust Fund
SAFETY
Congress Shares Industry Concerns on Silica Rule with President
ENVIRONMENT
EPA Has Issued a New Stormwater Permit; AGC Has You Covered
TAX/ACCOUNTING
Confirmation Hearing Held for President Trumpís Treasury Secretary
AGC PODCAST
Construction Policy and the New Congress
INFRASTRUCTURE
Congress, President Talk About Infrastructure
Senate Dems Release Infrastructure Blueprint; House GOP adds Infrastructure to the First 200 Days Agenda; Pres. Trump Highlights Infrastructure in Inaugural Address, Looks to Restart Pipeline Projects
 

Infrastructure investment ideas continued to make news this week in Washington with the House, Senate and President Trump each highlighting infrastructure investment as a priority. AGC has provided recommendations to both the administration and Congress for rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. AGC will work with President Trump and Congress to ensure that any infrastructure plan includes real, dedicated funding for all types of infrastructure, while also encouraging greater private sector investments where appropriate. 

Following President Trump’s inaugural that talked about infrastructure, President Trump signed several infrastructure-related Executive Orders (EO), including one to restart the permit application for the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines and a second to expedite environmental reviews and permitting for high priority infrastructure projects.  The White House has not released details on the contents of their infrastructure plan or when it will be released.  Several news reports this week cite a list of projects that could be built under a Trump plan but it does not appear that this list has been compiled by anyone in the Trump transition or administration.  What is known is that the National Governors Association has shared a list of potential projects that have been identified by individual states with the Trump Administration.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats released their infrastructure blueprint, which would invest $1 trillion over 10 years in all types of infrastructure. The plan calls for direct government spending on projects but does not offer up a way to pay for it – except for “closing tax loopholes used by corporations and super-wealthy individuals.”  The plan will likely be used by Senate Democrats as a starting point in negotiations with the Trump administration. Over in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan is laying out  Republican’s plan at a gathering in Philadelphia, which according to reports includes healthcare, tax reform and an infrastructure package.

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

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AGC Signs On to Letter to President Trump Outlining Need for Infrastructure Investments
 

 AGC, as part of a broad coalition that represents a vast cross section of the economy, is working to deliver a joint letter to President Trump following his inauguration. The letter urges the president to strengthen our nation’s economy through significant investment in infrastructure in order to end the cycle of uncertainty that has plagued America’s infrastructure network for many years.

AGC thanks all the chapters who have signed onto the letter, if your chapter has not signed on to the letter and would like to do so, please click here.

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

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REGULATIONS
President Trump Takes Executive Action
Places a Freeze on all Federal Regulations
 

During his first week, President Trump is quickly moving to implement his agenda via executive order, presidential memoranda and other directives.  AGC has published a comprehensive document, President Trump’s Executive Actions, analyzing important executive directives – such as the border wall, Obamacare, and Buy America requirements – and how they may impact AGC-member businesses. It is important to note that the details of implementation of many of these actions remain to be seen, as federal agencies will have to write them. 

In addition, AGC has put forth a comprehensive document entitled “The 2017 Regulatory Road Ahead” to help construction contractors better understand the regulatory state of play under the Trump administration. The regulations and actions discussed in this document include the current standing of the silica rule, overtime rule, federal clean water act permits, and paid sick leave executive order, among many others.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.  Return to Top

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LABOR
AGC Urges Congress to Close the Skills Gap
 

AGC, along with a coalition of stakeholders, is urging Congress to reauthorize and reform the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) through a multi-industry letter. Perkins is an existing program that helps students prepare for secondary and postsecondary education by providing access to federal dollars to offset the cost of career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The reforms being advocated to Perkins include: aligning CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market; supporting effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers; increasing student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as industry internships, apprenticeships and mentorships; and promoting the use of industry-recognized credentials. Additionally, the letter highlights recent funding cuts to CTE programs and calls on Congress to make adequate investment in these crucial programs.

In 2016 legislation passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly and included many reforms being sought by AGC but was never considered by the Senate.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration Extends Local Hire Pilot Program for Five Years
 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced that it has extended the pilot program allowing state and local governments to use geographic hiring preferences on their federal-aid highway contracts for five years. The announcement also applies to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assisted contracts. AGC does not support the pilot program and was successful in keeping language out of the FAST Act that would have permanently removed a prohibition against local hire mandates for FHWA- and FTA- assisted contracts.

AGC was also successful in adding language to the FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations requiring states, in order to receive permission to use a local hire preference, to certify that there is a ready pool of unemployed individuals with the necessary skills to complete the project who reside in the jurisdiction, that the contractor would not be forced to lay off any current employees to meet the mandate, and that the cost of the construction would not increase. FHWA has kept this requirement in place in this latest extension of the pilot program.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319. Return to Top

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Budget Analysis Shows Trouble Ahead for Highway Trust Fund
Trust Fund to Remain Solvent until 2020
 

This week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook for years 2017-2027.  Included in the report – which shows the deficit increasing and non-discretionary spending shrinking – is an analysis on transportation spending.  CBO projects that both the highway and mass transit accounts of the Highways Trust Fund will remain solvent until the end of the FAST Act in September 2020.  However, they go on to predict that the Trust Fund will be facing a gap of $144 billion to remain solvent to 2027.  This means that if the FAST Act were to be reauthorized for a full five years, the Trust Fund would be short $95 billion. A six-year reauthorization would require about $120 billion.

Absent any real, dedicated new revenues, the Highway Trust Fund will be in competition for a shrinking pot of non-discretionary funding to fill the gap between revenue going into the Trust Fund and the current spending levels. The CBO report furthers underscores why AGC and other transportation stakeholders are pushing for a fix to the Highway Trust Fund in any future infrastructure or tax proposals.

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

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SAFETY
Congress Shares Industry Concerns on Silica Rule with President
 

Today, a group of House representatives sent a letter to President Trump sharing their concerns with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule on silica. The letter – which was signed by 90 members of the House – highlighted the president’s campaign theme of slashing regulations and how the silica rule fits that mantra.

The letter adds that the rule’s lower permissible exposure level is not technologically or economically feasible, OSHA used flawed data in the rule’s creation and OSHA woefully underestimated the cost of complying with the rule.

The future and the enforcement of the rule remains uncertain with the new administration just beginning to fill key positions within the Department of Labor. AGC has called on the administration to immediately extend the dates for compliance in order to allow time for Congress or the administration to roll back the rule. While a legal challenge is also pending, it’s too early to know the fate of any regulatory, legislative, or legal outcomes and contractors must continue to prepare to comply with the rule.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. Return to Top

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ENVIRONMENT
EPA Has Issued a New Stormwater Permit; AGC Has You Covered
 

The permit serves as model for state permits and directly applies in ID, MA, NH, NM, DC, as well as US territories and Indian lands.

AGC will host a free WebEd on EPA’s new Construction General Permit for stormwater discharges on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, from 1:30 to 3:00 Eastern Time.  To register, click here.  During this hour-and-a-half program, EPA’s point person for the construction stormwater program will provide an overview of the 2017 CGP and new electronic filing requirements.  The Chair of AGC’s Environmental Forum Steering Committee will lead a moderated Q&A session to address specific concerns for contractors.  And AGC will share available SWPPP templates and other helpful resources.  

For more information on the WebEd and to register, click here.  Please also read AGC’s in-depth article about the new permit. Return to Top

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TAX/ACCOUNTING
Confirmation Hearing Held for President Trumpís Treasury Secretary
 

Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held a confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Treasury, former-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin. Democrats questioned Mnuchin on a range of issues, but failed to land any knockout blows. Topics discussed at the hearing included: tax policy, conflicts of interest and his dealings with OneWest during the mortgage crisis, Medicare reform, combatting terrorism, offshore holdings, regulatory reform, immigration reform, trade, currency manipulation, housing reform, economic growth, the debt, sanctions, pensions, Puerto Rico, and Social Security.

Democrats on the panel are insisting on a second round of written answers to be submitted on topics including sanctions, regulations and taxes before the committee votes. With the Senate out of session until Monday, Mnuchin’s confirmation will be delayed until early February. The Treasury Department last week named Adam Szubin as acting secretary. Szubin previously served as the department’s acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

AGC supports Mnuchin’s nomination and will work with him to promote a pro-construction agenda at the Treasury Department.

For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. Return to Top

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AGC PODCAST
Construction Policy and the New Congress
 

Listen to the latest ConstructorCast for an in-depth examination of AGC’s legislative priorities for the 115th Congress. For this episode, we sit down with Jeff Shoaf, AGC's Executive Director for Government Affairs, for a rundown on everything the construction industry should know about this Congress, and everything Congress and the Trump administration should know about the construction industry.

Stream or download the full episode hereReturn to Top

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