Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 28, 2017
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On the Inside
TAX
Congressional Leaders and Trump Administration Release “Unified Framework” for Tax Reform
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Files Letter Supporting Feds’ Plan to Rescind, Revise WOTUS Rule
LABOR
AGC Advises DOL to Revisit Overtime Rule’s Salary Threshold
Republicans Take Control of NLRB
TRANSPORTATION
House Passes Six-month FAA Extension, Includes Tax Relief for Hurricane Victims
Get on Top of the Issues at AGC’s Highway, Transportation & Utility Infrastructure Conference
AGC PODCAST
Bringing More Diversity and Inclusion to the Construction Industry
SAFETY
OSHA Silica Rule Enforcement Began September 23
TAX
Congressional Leaders and Trump Administration Release “Unified Framework” for Tax Reform
 

On Wednesday, Republican leaders in Congress and the Trump Administration released their “Unified Framework For Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.”  As the leaders noted upon its release, this document represents the consensus position of the House, Senate, and White House on tax reform.

While the plan had a number of specifics – such as the proposed rates for ordinary income, pass-through business income, and corporate income – a number of details were left out.  The expectation is that the tax writing committees in the House and Senate will take the framework as a baseline, and fill in the details through the committee process.

Among the highlights in the plan are:

  • A 20 percent corporate tax rate
  • Pass-through income capped at 25 percent
  • Individual rates of 12, 25, and 35 percent (with a possible fourth bracket above the 35 percent bracket)
  • Repeal of the estate tax
  • Repeal of both the individual and corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
  • Elimination of most itemized deductions for individuals except for mortgage interest and charitable giving
  • Capping net interest deductions
  • Moving to a territorial system of taxation for multi-national businesses

AGC issued a supportive statement of the framework, calling it “a step in the right direction” but noting that tax reform and an infrastructure package should move together. As the Committees work to fill in the details, AGC will work to ensure that the construction industry’s priorities are satisfied.

For more information, contact Matthew Turkstra at matt.turkstra@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. Return to Top

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ENVIRONMENT
AGC Files Letter Supporting Feds’ Plan to Rescind, Revise WOTUS Rule
 

AGC filed comments this week on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s joint proposed rule to repeal the 2015 definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). AGC offered strong support for the agencies’ plan to re-codify regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 WOTUS rule to “reflect[] the current legal regime under which the agencies are operating” following a nationwide stay of the rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

In a separate effort, the agencies have opened a docket to collect written comments (until Nov. 28) on how the WOTUS definition should be revised, particularly with regard to the charge in the President’s Executive Order. To this end, as outlined in an earlier Federal Register notice, the agencies will host a series of webinars for different stakeholder groups and one in-person meeting for small entities – all for the purpose of soliciting “pre-proposal feedback.”  The construction and transportation webinar is set for Oct. 10.  In addition, there is an “in-person” meeting on Oct. 23 for small-business representatives. Registration: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/outreach-meetings.

AGC will continue to work with its members and coalition partners (Waters Advocacy Coalition and Federal StormWater Association) to remain fully engaged in this important rulemaking process.

For more information, please contact Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org or (703) 837-5332 or Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.   Return to Top

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LABOR
AGC Advises DOL to Revisit Overtime Rule’s Salary Threshold
 

On Sept. 25, AGC submitted comments to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on the 2016 changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations. In line with AGC’s regulatory recommendations, this RFI is the first step the Department is undertaking to revisit the overtime rule that dramatically increased the salary threshold for exempt employees. AGC and its members were concerned that imposing such a large and immediate increase might result in unintended consequences, particularly for small construction companies, construction employers in lower‐wage regions, and construction personnel.

AGC’s comment letter agrees that the FLSA should be modernized, but advises the Department of Labor to update the salary threshold to a reasonable number that makes sense for today’s workforce. AGC recommends the Department consider the 2004 methodology in setting a single salary threshold that makes sense for employers nationwide, including those in lower-cost, lower-wage regions, allowing the economic market conditions to prevail in higher-cost, higher-wage regions. AGC believes that should the Department of Labor choose to apply the 2004 methodology to current data, no additional revisions to the duties tests would be necessary. In response to the specific questions posed in the RFI, AGC stresses simplicity over complexity as the threshold is revisited.

AGC will continue to provide input to the Labor Department on the impact further changes might have on the construction industry and will notify members of any developments. 

For more information, contact Claiborne Guy at claiborne.guy@agc.org or 703-837-5382. Return to Top

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Republicans Take Control of NLRB
 

The National Labor Relations Board now has a full complement of five members with a Republican majority for the first time in roughly a decade.  This follows from swearing in of Republican William J. Emanuel as a Board member for a term ending in 2021.  Emanuel is the second Trump nominee to join the Board, following Republican Marvin E. Kaplan’s swearing in on August 10.

The latest appointments technically provide the opportunity for the Board to reverse decisions and rules issued by the Obama Board. However, this can take some time, as it can take a while for new Board members to get up to speed enough to address key issues. Moreover, the term of the third Republican on the Board, Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra, is set to expire on December 16.  Miscimarra has announced that he is not interested in re-appointment, so a new member must be nominated and confirmed by the Senate.  Until that happens, the Board may have a period of an even Republican/Democrat split minimizing the likelihood of any significant changes in position.

For now, AGC members should continue to follow the decision and guidance issued by the prior Board unless advised otherwise by competent legal counsel. 

For more information about federal labor law, visit AGC’s Labor & HR Topical Resources page.  (Be sure to login as an AGC member to see all resources.)  For labor lawyer referrals, visit the AGC Labor and Employment Law Council’s member directory. Or, contact Denise Gold at goldd@agc.org or (703) 837-5326. Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
House Passes Six-month FAA Extension, Includes Tax Relief for Hurricane Victims
Congress Avoids FAA Shutdown
 

Today, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a six-month extension of the current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization, avoiding a potential shutdown of the FAA on Saturday.  In addition to extending the operations of the FAA until March 31, the bill provides tax relief for individuals and businesses in areas affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

The bill now goes to the president’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law. The bill does not include any changes to the Airport Improvement Program or the Passenger Facility Charge.  AGC will continue to make the case that AIP funding and the PFC need to be increased to address airport and runway infrastructure needs.

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

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Get on Top of the Issues at AGC’s Highway, Transportation & Utility Infrastructure Conference
Hotel Deadline: Monday, October 2
 

Book your room for the 2017 Highway, Transportation and Utility Infrastructure Conference before AGC’s room block at the Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona expires. Hotel deadline is Monday, Oct. 2.  After that date rooms at the hotel conference rate may not be available. The conference, which takes place Nov. 1-3, is an opportunity to get the latest information on issues impacting the highway and utility construction markets including:

  • Panel of contractors discussing how they are gearing up to comply with OSHA’s silica rule compliance.
  • What is the Gold Shovel Standard and how will it impact your business
  • What is expected from the Trump Administration infrastructure initiative
  • Future Trends: How will the industry change in the next decade
  • How are contractors using drones to improve construction operations
  • What do you have to know before becoming involved in a P3 project

A special networking night is planned to allow you to compete in a corn hole tournament while you enjoy a gourmet eating and drinking experience.

Register today before the room block fills up!

For more information, visit http://meetings.agc.org/highway_utility/ or contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319. Return to Top

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AGC PODCAST
Bringing More Diversity and Inclusion to the Construction Industry
 

For this month’s episode of the ConstructorCast, we take a look at how diversity and inclusion can improve your business and help your workforce recruitment efforts. We sit down with Frank Wilson, Chair of AGC’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and President & CEO of BFW Contractors, as well as Brynn Huneke, AGC’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Grassroots, to discuss what AGC is doing to research this topic and help companies bring about positive change to their businesses. Search for the ConstructorCast in your podcasts app to subscribe.

Stream or download the episode here Return to Top

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SAFETY
OSHA Silica Rule Enforcement Began September 23
AGC Continues to Provide Resources for Members
 

On Sept. 7, AGC held a comprehensive webinar detailing not only the requirements of the U.S. the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) respirable crystalline silica standard for the construction industry, but also the perspective of and testimonials from prime and specialty contractors implementing the regulation. Construction industry safety professionals from AGC member firms Haselden Construction—a vertical building general contractor—Kokosing Construction Company—a heavy highway and industrial general contractor—and Faith Technologies—an electrical specialty contractor—discussed how they are dealing with the real world impacts of carrying out this standard on a wide variety of construction jobs.

In addition to this webinar, AGC has developed for AGC members the “Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction” webpage designed to provide contractors with a better understanding of what is expected of them from OSHA. Enforcement of the standard began nationwide, with limited exceptions, on September 23.

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

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