Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 6, 2017
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On the Inside
SAFETY/HEALTH
OSHA Delays Silica Enforcement
Misguided OSHA Rule Permanently Repealed
ENVIRONMENT
Supreme Court Decides to Hear Controversial WOTUS Case, Despite New Administrationís Objections
CONGRESS
Senate Votes to Change Filibuster Rules for Supreme Court Nominees
INFRASTRUCTURE
Administration Continues to Focus on Infrastructure Plan
AGC, Along with National Partners, Launch National Work Zone Awareness Week
TAX/ACCOUNTING
Early-Bird Extended for AGCís Financial Issues Summer Meeting
SAFETY/HEALTH
OSHA Delays Silica Enforcement
Enforcement Begins on Sept. 23, 2017
 

On April 6, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it will delay enforcement of the respirable crystalline standard for construction for three months—until Sept. 23, 2017. In its announcement, OSHA explained that the construction silica standard has a number of unique features warranting development of additional guidance and educational materials before enforcement begins. AGC continues to believe that implementation of this standard is technically infeasible and continues to challenge it in court.

Although OSHA enforcement of the standard is delayed, the notice does not alter the compliance date of June 23, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against contractors that fail to meet the standard on their sites between June 23, 2017 and Sept. 22, 2017, but legally, the standard will still be in effect.

While an interested group could file a lawsuit challenging the three month delay, that appears to be unlikely given the short duration of the delay and the broad enforcement discretion federal agencies—like OSHA—have traditionally enjoyed. AGC will continue to fight this standard in court and advise OSHA on the problematic issues the construction industry faces with implementation. In addition, members should review AGC educational resources on its comprehensive silica website, found here.  If you do not find an answer on our silica website, please contact nazia.shaw@agc.org with your questions. We are trying to address all the questions on our site and we are also providing questions to OSHA to populate the Frequently Asked Questions on their site so that there is a common understanding of the issues the construction industry will face when complying with this very complex regulation.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or (703) 837-5410. Return to Top

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Misguided OSHA Rule Permanently Repealed
 

On Monday, the president repealed the OSHA “Volks” Rule by signing the congressional resolution of disapproval. AGC led a lobbying effort in passing the bill and issued a statement after the vote that the bill will preserve worker safety while protecting the Constitution and respecting court rulings.

At the heart of the Volks matter was an Obama Administration OSHA rule – issued in December 2016 – that exposed employers to unfair liability for honest and inadvertent paperwork mistakes related to recordkeeping. The rule extended the statute of limitations on recordkeeping violations from six months to five and a half years, and did nothing to improve the safety or health of a company’s workers. The rule was initially issued by OSHA to circumvent a court decision involving a construction company that challenged an OSHA citation for a recordkeeping violation issued beyond six months. Two federal courts have since rebuked OSHA’s theory for issuing recordkeeping citations after six months.

The signing of the congressional resolution of disapproval formally repeals the rule and any other substantially similar rules from OSHA in the future. This is the second labor and employment rule repealed by President Trump that AGC played an integral role in, the other being the bill invalidating the blacklisting regulations, which was signed into law on March 27.

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

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ENVIRONMENT
Supreme Court Decides to Hear Controversial WOTUS Case, Despite New Administrationís Objections
 

Earlier in 2017, the US Supreme Court decided it would hear the case about which level of court had the authority to hear a challenge to the Obama Administration’s rule expanding federal jurisdiction over waters. In the interim, after the new administration began to settle, President Trump issued anew Executive Order that began the process of unwinding the rule. Because the intent of the Administration is to rescind the Obama-era rule and replace it with a new rule, the Administration moved the Supreme Court to hold the briefing in abeyance until the new rule is issued.

The Supreme Court, however decided that whenever the new WOTUS rule is issued, all parties need to know which court has jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the rule. It is likely that the decisions to rescind the Obama rule and the substance of the new rule are each likely to end up in litigation. The Court agreed that there was no sense in delaying the answer to this question. The case will proceed as scheduled.

For more information, contact Scott Berry atberrys@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. Return to Top

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CONGRESS
Senate Votes to Change Filibuster Rules for Supreme Court Nominees
 

Today the Senate voted to change the filibuster rules for consideration and approval of Supreme Court nominees. This does not change the rules that often require at least 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said publicly this week that he will not change the rules for legislation while he is Majority Leader (see coverage here).  The Senate will vote Friday to approve Neil Gorsuch to be a Supreme Court Justice.  Then, the House and Senate will adjourn for a two week Easter recess. 

It will be interesting to see what the mood is when Congress returns to D.C. the week of April 24.  They have a lot of work to do; they will need to pass legislation to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year (FY 2017), start the process for funding the government for next year (FY 2018), reconsider how to address Obamacare, continue work on tax reform and an infrastructure bill. The Senate also has the job of confirming another 527 of the 553 key nominees for senior Trump administration positions.  So far, the Senate has approved just 22 of the 43 people nominated.  At this same point in the Obama administration there were 174 total nominations formally delivered to the Senate from the White House with 54 key personnel approved.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org or (202) 547-3350. Return to Top

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INFRASTRUCTURE
Administration Continues to Focus on Infrastructure Plan
 

On two separate occasions this week, President Trump indicated that he intends to accelerate the timeframe in which he will propose his $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan.  Additionally, Transportation Secretary Chao briefed a small group of Republican House Members on an infrastructure package that may be moving as soon as the middle of May.  Neither the President nor Secretary Chao provided any level of detail other than that the plan will rely on both private and public funds and will cut red tape that contributes to a delay in infrastructure projects.

However, the timing for any infrastructure plan remains in flux.  It appears that the Administration is moving forward sooner than previously thought and the House and Senate Committees have held several infrastructure-related hearings.  AGC will continue to work with both the Administration and Congress to ensure that the promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure package that provides direct federal spending, increased private sector investment and cuts red tape is kept.

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

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AGC, Along with National Partners, Launch National Work Zone Awareness Week
 

On Tuesday, April 4, AGC of America staff along with the AGC Highway and Transportation Division chairman, Don Diederich, joined national partners from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Maryland Department of Transportation to launch the 2017 National Work Zone Awareness Week.  The event, which runs from April 3-7, 2017, raises awareness that – for the safety of everyone – work zones require drivers to remain focused and stay alert.  According to the latest data available, approximately 700 fatalities occurred in highway work zones in 2015 with 130 being workers. 

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or (703) 837-5410.

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TAX/ACCOUNTING
Early-Bird Extended for AGCís Financial Issues Summer Meeting
Extended Early-Bird Registration Ends April 14
 

The AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Summer Meeting will be held June 27-28, 2017, Loews Minneapolis. Visit the meeting site to register TODAY & book your stay! With tax reform moving front and center, and the IRS is seeking comments on FASBs Revenue Recognition standard – discussions with the featured speakers including senior tax-writer Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) invited, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, andFASB staff will be critical.

For more information, visit meetings.agc.org/fic Return to Top

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