Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 8, 2018
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On the Inside
TRADE
President Implements Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC-Led Infrastructure Working Group Hits the Hill
Transportation Secretary Chao Testifies on Administration Infrastructure Plan
House Subcommittee Holds Highway Trust Fund Hearing
LABOR/HR
AGC Joins Labor Union in Calling on Congress to Extend Legal Immigration Status for Some Construction Workers
AGC Supports Expansion of Small Business Health Plan Options
AGC EVENTS
Safety Management Training Course | April 4 - 6, 2018 | Pawtucket, RI
Have Questions for a Federal Agency? Submit Them for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
Mark Your Calendars for the TCC Fly-In
TRADE
President Implements Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
AGC Provides Helpful Tips for Contractors
 

On March 8, President Trump signed proclamations to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, with limited exceptions. AGC previously urged the President to abandon the tariffs because of their negative impacts on the construction industry. AGC members are still encouraged to contact the president and their congressional representatives to stop these tariffs. In addition, AGC has provided two memos for construction contractors—one for direct federal and federally-assisted construction contractsand another for private construction contracts—as they grapple with anticipated steel and aluminum price increases.

These tariffs will have an almost immediate impact on the cost of aluminum and steel purchased for construction projects, as the construction industry consumes 43 percent of American steel according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum will also have a direct and negative impact on construction employment, putting more than 28,000 construction jobs at risk according to a recent, nonpartisan study. Alarmingly, this figure does not even account for jobs that could be impacted by affected nations’ retaliatory trade measures. AGC will continue to press the White House and Congress to stop these tariffs.

For more information, contact Collin Janich at collin.janich@agc.org or (703) 837-5435.  Return to Top

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INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC-Led Infrastructure Working Group Hits the Hill
Senate Democrats Release Updated Infrastructure Proposal
 

This week, AGC and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) led a two-day infrastructure lobbying push on Capitol Hill attended nearly 50 meetings with House and Senate leadership and members of key congressional committees.  Dozens of organizations from diverse sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, finance, labor, retail, hospitality, construction, transportation, and state and local governments collectively called on Congress to pass a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.  AGC CEO Steve Sandherr, and NAM’s President and CEO Jay Timmons amplified this message in an op-ed published in The Hill newspaper.

Now that President Trump has released his plan, Congress is beginning to hold hearings and will hopefully begin putting together a bipartisan plan of their own.  In the meantime Senate Democrats released a partisan plan that calls for paying for over $1 trillion in federal investments by scaling back tax cuts recently provided in the tax bill.  

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

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Transportation Secretary Chao Testifies on Administration Infrastructure Plan
 

On March 6, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to present the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan that would leverage $200 billion in federal dollars to produce $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments over ten years. The Trump proposal would create a number of new infrastructure funding categories including an incentive grant program and rural infrastructure block grant program.

Much of the questioning of the Secretary focused on where the additional revenue would come from to support the federal share. In response Chao proclaimed that, “Everything is on the table.” She was also questioned by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and others about reports that President Trump told Congressional leaders that he would support a 25 cents per gallon increase in the federal motor fuels tax, which she did not deny but would not elaborate. Chao, however, pointed out that the President’s proposal calls for state and local governments and private sector interests to play a larger role in paying for roads, bridges and other non-transportation infrastructure. She also made the case for new initiatives to make the environmental review process work more efficiently and reduce the time it takes from ten years to two.

Chairman Shuster said that any infrastructure package must be bipartisan and that he is working with Committee Ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) in drafting legislation. He pointed out that, “Fixing the Highway Trust Fund for the future and modernizing the way we fund infrastructure in this country must be part of our solution.”

This was Secretary Chao’s second visit to Capitol Hill to present the administration’s plan. On March 1, she appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Among the statements made there was a concern that the very full congressional calendar might not allow time to fully address the proposal. However, while there were noted disagreements with some of the ideas in the president’s plan, there seemed to be general agreement on the need to address infrastructure needs.

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

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House Subcommittee Holds Highway Trust Fund Hearing
 

This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing on long-term funding for highways and transit programs where the committee heard from the American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about the need to increase the federal gas taxes in order to avoid a huge funding cliff facing the Highway Trust Fund at the expiration of the current surface transportation authorization, the FAST Act, in September 2020.

The committee also heard from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) who explained the impact funding uncertainty has on state DOTs and from a representative of the Western Road Use Charge Consortium (RUC West) about the progress that is being made on Road Use Charge or Vehicle Miles Travelled state pilot programs.  As with previous hearings on the subject of long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund, there was universal agreement from committee members on the need to address the long-term solvency of the Trust Fund but not similar agreement on how we pay for it – specifically on increasing federal gas taxes.

As AGC continues to push for a robust infrastructure plan, fixing the Highway Trust Fund will be front and center in those efforts

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

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LABOR/HR
AGC Joins Labor Union in Calling on Congress to Extend Legal Immigration Status for Some Construction Workers
 

AGC CEO, Stephen Sandherr joined the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) general president in an op-ed in The Houston Chronical, Trump immigration acts will hurt families, slow hurricane recovery, calling on Congress to work with the administration to ensure construction workers with legal work authorization can remain working for construction firms. The op-ed was spurred by the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras being ended by the Trump Administration. Of the 300,000 individuals with TPS, more than 50,000 work in the construction industry.

The TPS program is a category of legal status granted to individuals fleeing armed conflict, environments disaster or other extraordinary events resulting in them receiving authorization to work in the United States. The system has existed for decades and involves strong vetting and biometrics. Over the last several months the authorization for TPS was not renewed for several countries, giving them up to 18 months to leave the country. AGC is concerned that the Trump administration’s action could result in 50,000 legal construction workers without work authorization and will increase the workforce shortage in the industry.

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

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AGC Supports Expansion of Small Business Health Plan Options
Urges DOL to Protect Chapter-Sponsored Health Plans
 

On March 6, AGC submitted comments to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) in response to a proposed rule intended to expand association health plans and increase flexibility for small employers to join groups or associations to offer insured health coverage in the large group market at potentially more favorable pricing with less restrictive requirements. A number of AGC Chapters across the country currently recognize the need to offer alternative health care options and have established AHPs that offer “group health plan” coverage to employees of members.  AGC is supportive of the flexibility and opportunity the Labor Department proposes to provide, but is also concerned of negative impacts the changes might have on current Chapter-sponsored health plans and others who might be interested in sponsoring health plans.

AGC’s comment letter urges the Department to be mindful of Chapter plans, especially those that currently exist today, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the proposed modifications to current law do not arbitrarily disrupt the affordable and quality health coverage that these arrangements consistently provide.  Specifically, AGC warns that adding certain nondiscrimination protections applicable to the health plans as proposed would critically threaten the solvency of existing Chapter plans and discourage others from even considering establishing an association health plan. AGC also advises the Department to further investigate exempting these plans from varying state regulations if they first meet a set federal standard.  AGC will continue to provide input on the impact further changes might have on Chapter-sponsored health plans and will notify chapters and 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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AGC EVENTS
Safety Management Training Course | April 4 - 6, 2018 | Pawtucket, RI
 

The AGC Safety Management Training Course provides attendees three days of training on the basic skills needed to manage a company safety program in the construction industry.

Held just a few times per year at select locations around the country, the program builds on Focus Four training and prepares attendees to manage key safety issues on the job site and provides techniques for delivering basic safety training to field personnel.

Participants will receive intensive instruction and training that will allow them to return to their firms with readily applicable new skills to positively impact their company’s safety and health program.

For more information, click here. Return to Top

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Have Questions for a Federal Agency? Submit Them for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
May 1-3 in Arlington, Va.
 

The difference between AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference and other federal construction meetings is that at AGC’s FedCon construction contractor attendees drive the agenda. For this year’s conference—held May 1-3 at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, VA—AGC is currently seeking your questions for consideration in meetings with headquarters leaders of the federal agencies.

Click on the agency to see our draft agendas for their session and send AGC your comments.

At AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference, construction contractor attendees lead the meetings and develop questions for federal agencies. There are robust discussions between attendees and federal agency representatives; not death by PowerPoint presentations. 

In addition, learning about the latest projects and policies set to hit the street, AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference provides an opportunity to address problems the construction industry faces when working for USACE, including but not limited to: project delays, change orders, requests for equitable adjustments, claims, past performance evaluations and more.

To register for AGC’s FedCon, click here. Return to Top

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Mark Your Calendars for the TCC Fly-In
May 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
 

With the release of President Trump’s infrastructure proposal it is not up to Congress to take action on legislation to address the nation’s very large infrastructure funding gap. Now may be the best opportunity in decades to fix the Highway Trust Fund’s annual revenue shortfall and increase its investment potential. The construction industry's involvement in shaping the debate on the development and enactment of infrastructure legislation is vitally important to its success. Your senators and representatives need to hear from you.

The 17th Annual Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Legislative Fly-In, scheduled for May 15-16, 2018, is well-timed to provide an opportunity for that input. At the TCC legislative briefing you will receive information about what policy and funding proposals are being considered. You will hear from key policy makers from Capitol Hill and the Administration and receive educational briefing materials on key industry priorities for your use in meeting with your congressional delegation. The Fly-In's reception will also provide you an opportunity to network with your industry peers and members of Congress and their staff.

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

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