Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 12, 2018
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENNTAL
Administration Announces “One Federal Decision” Policy
USACE Undertakes Work on AGC-Recommended Permitting Improvement
SAFETY
AGC Promotes Work Zone Safety at National Event
INFRASTRUCTURE
Congressional Budget Office Releases Report on Highway Trust Fund Balance
IMMIGRATION
AGC Joins Calls for Administration to Approve H-2B Immigration Visas
LABOR
Senate Approves Administration’s Labor Nominees
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC at General Services Administration’s Reverse Industry Training Day
ENVIRONMENNTAL
Administration Announces “One Federal Decision” Policy
In Line with AGC Environmental Review Streamlining Recommendations
 

On April 9, the Trump administration unveiled an AGC-backed “One Federal Decision” memorandum of understanding signed by more than a dozen federal agencies that establishes a coordinated and timely process for environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects.  AGC has advocated for streamlining provisions like the "One Federal Decision" process, whereby one agency takes the lead on navigating the permitting process, reviews are conducted concurrently, and the agencies follow a reasonable timetable. AGC’s chart and backgrounder document highlight some of the common road blocks and delays in environmental reviews and permitting of major infrastructure projects.

The MOU puts forth a two-year permitting process, which would drastically reduce the amount of time currently needed to move a project through this process. For example, the median environmental review completion time for a complex highway project is more than seven years.  Finalizing an environmental impact statement (EIS) alone takes an average of 1,679 days. EISs are required for most of the major infrastructure projects that the Trump administration is working to advance with this MOU. 

The agencies signing onto the MOU include:

  • Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security;
  • Environmental Protection Agency;
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; and
  • Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.

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

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USACE Undertakes Work on AGC-Recommended Permitting Improvement
 

A draft U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) directive would encourage the agency to concurrently process two related permitting reviews when a project needs them—Section 408 permissions under the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 dredge and fill permits—a priority among a number of AGC’s environmental review and permitting reform recommendations. RHA Section 408 requires USACE to evaluate and grant permission for any construction projects that alter existing USACE infrastructure—e.g., bridge/road construction project over, or by, a USACE-built levee, port construction on, or in, a USACE-dredged harbor. Where a construction project needs both a Section 408 permission and Section 404 permit, USACE does not currently begin the Section 404 permitting review process until it completes the Section 408 permission process, which further delays construction projects.

AGC noted in its comments on the draft guidance that it appreciated USACE’s effort to concurrently process these regulatory items as a means of reducing permitting delays. In addition, AGC called on the agency to go further in final guidance by: (1) maintaining agency accountability through recording data and identifying specific staff responsibility for coordinating concurrent processing of the Section 408 permissions with Section 404 permits; and (2) narrowing the need for a 408 permission to a new construction project that directly alters USACE-infrastructure, and does not merely traverse unimproved USACE real property.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

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SAFETY
AGC Promotes Work Zone Safety at National Event
AGC Chapters Active in States
 

AGC’s Highway and Transportation Division Chair Ken Kubacki participated in a media event at the Jane Byrne interchange project in downtown Chicago, Illinois as part of this year’s Work Zone Awareness Week activities. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner headlined the event. AGC serves on the National Work Zone Awareness Week organizing committee which seeks to raise this issue with motorists nationwide and annually participates in the national event.

AGC chapters across the country also cooperate with their state DOT to raise awareness on the dangers that work zones can pose to both workers and drivers alike. This year many AGC chapters and member companies took part in the Orange for Safety campaign as part of the week’s activities.

To view a photo of AGC H&T Division Chair Ken Kubacki thanking Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for his work zone safety measures, click here. To view a photo of Kubacki in front of cones depicting 143 worker fatalities, click here.

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE
Congressional Budget Office Releases Report on Highway Trust Fund Balance
Need for Congressional Action Apparent
 

This week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week issued an update to its annual Highway Trust Fund cash flow projections. Based on revenue inflows from various excise taxes (including the motor fuels tax) versus expenditures, both the highway account and mass transit accounts should remain solvent through FY 2020, the last year of authorization under the FAST Act. The projections show, however, that both accounts have insufficient revenue to fund current levels through FY 2021.

The report also shows that $163 billion in additional revenue is needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through FY2028. While these projects are not surprising, it clarifies the urgent need for Congress to begin addressing the trust fund’s revenue shortfall now.

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

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IMMIGRATION
AGC Joins Calls for Administration to Approve H-2B Immigration Visas
 

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 government funding bill passed in March included language that allows the Department of Homeland Security to work with the Department of Labor to increase the number of H-2B worker visas issued. The H-2B program allows certain U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary (seasonal) non-agricultural jobs. In order to ensure the administration makes timely determinations and resumes visa processing, AGC has joined a broad coalition in a letter urging DHS and DOL to immediately process visas up to the full number authorized by Congress last month.

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

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LABOR
Senate Approves Administration’s Labor Nominees
 

This week, the U.S. Senate approved John Ring to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Ring is a former management-side labor attorney and provides the NLRB with a full complement of board members. The now 3:2 Republican majority board has important decisions ahead of them, including the possibility of revisiting the joint employer definition and the quickie election rule.

The Senate also approved Pat Pizzella for Deputy Secretary at the Department of Labor. The position is the second highest political position and is the latest high-profile administration position to receive political leadership. AGC is monitoring other agencies still lacking political leadership, including OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division. There is no timeframe for when the respective nominees may receive senate votes.

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC at General Services Administration’s Reverse Industry Training Day
Pondering the Proposal Process
 

Months of collaboration between AGC, industry partners, and GSA headquarters came to fruition this week with GSA’s Reverse Industry Training Day in Washington, D.C.  Livestreamed to agency offices across all GSA regions nationwide, the GSA Acquisition and Contracting workforce had the opportunity to attend in person or online, and submit questions in real-time.

AGC members also participated, and explaining the importance of early communication by GSA, provided further insight into the type of information the industry seeks to qualify an opportunity, as well as the value associated with certain types of GSA engagements (e.g. RFIs, one-on-ones, industry days). AGC members also spoke about how different factors might influence a decision towards either bidding or not bidding (e.g., costs of competition, risks, acquisition strategy, past acquisition practices of customer, competitive analysis, etc.).  Dan Mathews, PBS Commissioner, discussed the importance of collaborating and communicating with the construction industry. AGC frequently engages in training sessions with federal agencies and remains fully dedicated to educating federal government leaders about the construction process.

 For more information, contact Jordan Howard at jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368. Return to Top

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