Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 1, 2018
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On the Inside
INFRASTRUCTURE
President Ups the Ante for Infrastructure Bill
AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House and Senate
ENVIRONMENT
Obama Admin. 2015 WOTUS Rule Delayed
TAX REFORM
Companies Celebrate Tax Cuts
LABOR
House Committee Advances AGC-Supported Tort Reform Legislation
AGC Meets with New OFCCP Director
INFRASTRUCTURE
President Ups the Ante for Infrastructure Bill
Calls for $1.5 Trillion in New Investments/Environmental Streamlining
 

On Jan. 30, President Trump used his State of the Union address to push for increased investment in infrastructure, while significantly accelerating the approval process for projects. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the president did not share any of the plan’s specifics; instead, he called on Congress to act on a $1.5 trillion bill. Following the State of the Union, the White House released a fact sheet summarizing the administration’s plan. In response to the speech, AGC issued a statement urging Congress to take up the president’s call by providing for significant new investments—including addressing the Highway Trust Fund’s long-term solvency—and by implementing long-overdue reforms to the federal approval process for building infrastructure projects. 

At this point it is not clear when the Administration will release its infrastructure plan.  As reported last week, a document broadly outlining their funding plan was recently leaked; this was followed last weekend by another leaked document detailing the administration’s plans for improving the permitting process and streamlining environmental reviews. The White House has not confirmed either document’s authenticity, but it should be noted that many of the items that the AGC Environmental Steering Committee put forth in late 2016 are under serious consideration for inclusion in the administration’s infrastructure package.

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

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AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House and Senate
 

On Jan. 30, Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Dian Feinstein (D-CA), along with Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), introduced the AGC-supported Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF-WIN) Act, charting a politically viable path towards updating water infrastructure investment. 

The SRF WIN Act would be a five-year bill that authorizes $200M each year for a total of $1B over five years. As such, bill provides needed increases in funding for our nation’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). It will also allow State Infrastructure Authorities to utilize financing available through the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program—and the SRF—to increase funding for multiple local water infrastructure projects at once, while also ensuring that current SRF grant funding is preserved. This is vital, because no funding would be made available for this new program if Congress fails to fully appropriate SRF dollars at FY 2018 levels or higher.  A full summary of the SRF Win Act can be found here.

AGC will continue to work with the House and Senate to ensure that the SRF WIN Act is included in any infrastructure legislation that moves through Congress in 2018.

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

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ENVIRONMENT
Obama Admin. 2015 WOTUS Rule Delayed
Status Quo Remains in Effect
 

Implementation of the Obama administration’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule—which expands federal environmental permitting jurisdiction involving wetlands—has been delayed. On Jan. 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) took AGC-supported regulatory action that delays the 2015 WOTUS rule from taking effect until February 2020. This action virtually maintains the status quo nationwide and provides continuity and regulatory certainty for contractors in the field while the agencies continue to work to repeal and replace the 2015 WOTUS rule.  The need for this action became necessary after a Jan. 22 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would result in lifting the current nationwide stay of the 2015 WOTUS rule in most states.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org. Return to Top

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TAX REFORM
Companies Celebrate Tax Cuts
Tell AGC How Tax Reform Impacts Your Construction Firm
 

Since the new tax reform law passed in December, many companies have trumpeted how tax cuts are positively impacting their business. Companies as prominent and diverse as Apple, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Walmart have announced one-time bonuses, increased employee salaries, new or increased employee benefits, or plans to invest in new plants and equipment. AGC is interested in hearing about how the new tax reform law is impacting the construction industry. 

If your business is benefitting from the new law (or is adversely impacted), or if you have announced any plans to increase employee benefits, salaries, or investment in your business, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if the demand for construction is increasing as a result of tax reform. This information will help AGC determine how it can continue to improve the tax environment for the construction industry.

Please contact Matthew Turkstra, AGC’s Director of Tax, Fiscal Affairs and Accounting, with any information that you can share about your business as a result of tax reform.

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

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LABOR
House Committee Advances AGC-Supported Tort Reform Legislation
 

On Jan. 30, the House Judiciary Committee took an important step towards common sense tort reform by approving The Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017, H.R. 3808. The bill addresses an antiquated New York State law commonly known as the “Scaffold Law.” The Scaffold Law has been construed to impose strict liability on property owners and/or general contractors who have no direct supervision of an employee, nor anything to do with the circumstances of the plaintiff’s accident.

AGC supports H.R. 3808 because the Scaffold Law fails to improve both public safety and worker safety, while at the same time raising the cost of construction projects in New York. It also does nothing to limit workers’ access to the workers compensation system, nor does it protect any entity from contributory negligence for a fall or other accident from height. AGC joined a coalition in support H.R. 3808 and urges Congress to pass it.

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

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AGC Meets with New OFCCP Director
 

On January 31, 2018, AGC attended an intimate stakeholder roundtable discussion with Ondray T. Harris, the recently appointed Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S Department of Labor. AGC took the opportunity to outline the unique challenges construction contractors face when interacting with the OFCCP and complying with its requirements.  AGC strongly advocated for greater clarity, increased communication, and deeper industry knowledge.

Director Harris and his staff appear genuinely interested in partnering with the construction industry to ensure the development of American workers and continued investment in diversity initiatives. In line with the Trump administration’s focus on apprenticeships, the director and his staff also discussed how apprenticeship programs can assist in diversity efforts and Affirmative Action requirements for contractors.

AGC regularly attends these types of meetings to connect federal agencies with the construction industry they are required to regulate. These are unique opportunities for AGC to help educate federal officials on how their rulemakings translate at the practical level, as well as identify additional partnership opportunities.  AGC looks forward to continuing to work with the OFCCP and other federal agencies on behalf of its membership. 

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

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