Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 17, 2018
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
House Transportation Funding Bill Provides Significant Increases for Highways
LABOR
Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda Unveils Priorities of Federal Labor Agencies
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Supports Proposal to Streamline Disposal Requirements for Aerosol Cans
The Spring Unified Agenda Slates Many Federal Environmental Policy Items for Review
INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Committee Unveils Latest Water Resources Development Act
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Committee Releases Annual Defense Bill
TRADE
Tariffs Proposal for $50 Billion Worth of Chinese Goods Under Review
SAFETY
2018 AGC Summer Safety & Health Conference
Advanced Safety Management Training Course
AGC EVENTS
TCC Fly-In Delivers Infrastructure Message to Capitol Hill
TRANSPORTATION
House Transportation Funding Bill Provides Significant Increases for Highways
 

On May 15, the House Appropriations Transportation, House & Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee released its fiscal year 2019 funding bill, which provides significant increases for infrastructure programs at the U.S.Department of Transportation (DOT).  As requested by AGC and our partners in the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), the bill provides funding levels authorized by the FAST Act for highways ($45.27 billion) and transit ($9.939 billion plus $2.614 billion for Capital Investment Grants).  Additionally, the bill provides an extra $4.25 billion highway supplement from the general fund. Of that amount, $3.8 billion will be distributed via formula as apportioned under the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, and $250 million is for highway safety projects. This new money equates to an 11% increase, $49.5 in highway formula funding in fiscal year 2019.

The bill also includes $750 million for BUILD Grants (formerly known as TIGER), representing a $250 million cut from fiscal year 2018 but a $250 million increase over 2017 levels.  In terms of aviation, the bill is status quo, with a $500 million exception. The additional $1 billion included in the fiscal year 2018 bill has been cut to $500 million in 2019.  

The bill is likely to be considered by the Full Appropriations Committee next week, where AGC will continue to weigh-in and ensure that these significant increases are realized.

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

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LABOR
Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda Unveils Priorities of Federal Labor Agencies
 

On May 9, 2018, the Trump Administration unveiled its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions mapping out federal agency priorities for the coming months.  This bi-annual publication informs the public of regulations under consideration or planned by federal agencies. The present agenda includes several submissions by labor agencies.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s submission updates projected timelines for action already in progress and adds several new actions of relevance to construction contractors, such as a:

  • proposed rule revising the overtime regulations;
  • proposed rule to update the child labor protections to allow teenagers to work longer hours in hazardous conditions;
  • proposed rule to revise the law governing time-and-a-half overtime calculations by redefining the regular rate of pay;
  • final rule establishing criteria for the sponsorship of association health plans; and a
  • final rule to rescind the “persuader rule.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also revealed plans for several actions.  Most notably are reports of initiatives to revise its regulations governing employer-sponsored wellness programs.

The National Labor Relations Board announced its timeline for considering responses to a recent Request for Information regarding its controversial “quickie election” rule.  In a more surprising announcement, the Board disclosed that it is considering rulemaking to address another controversial matter in which it has been enmeshed for the past few years, the standard for determining joint-employer status.

AGC regularly provides input on regulatory actions through the public comment process and stakeholder meetings with agencies and the administration.  AGC will monitor and consider participation in these actions, and will notify members of significant developments.

For more information, contact Denise Gold at goldd@agc.org or (703) 837-5326. Return to Top

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ENVIRONMENT
AGC Supports Proposal to Streamline Disposal Requirements for Aerosol Cans
 

On May 15, AGC put forth its support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to expand the universal waste regulations to include non-empty aerosol cans. Recognizing that aerosol cans are often the only hazardous waste stream produced on a construction site, this proposal could change a company’s status as a “generator” and reduce program costs and facilitate recycling.

AGC further suggested that EPA allow flexibility to very small quantity generators (VSQG) to treat aerosol cans as either universal waste or to follow the existing VSQG regulations.  AGC also recommended that EPA create a single regulatory structure for aerosol cans that allow non-hazardous, non-intact, and intact aerosol cans to be managed together as universal waste. 

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

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The Spring Unified Agenda Slates Many Federal Environmental Policy Items for Review
 

From the repeal and replacement of the 2015 definition of Waters of the United States and opening up the National Environmental Policy Act procedures, to reevaluating regulations on listing species and designating critical habitat, the spring Unified Agenda sets a busy schedule for the year ahead.

Army Corps of Engineers

Council on Environmental Quality

  • Review existing CEQ regulations implementing the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pursuant to Executive Order 13807 (related to the environmental review process).

Environmental Protection Agency

  • Repeal and replace the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule; EPA anticipates finalizing the repeal by November 2018, releasing the proposed replacement rule by August 2018 and finalizing that rule approximately a year later in 2019 (with the Army Corps of Engineers);
  • Propose a new rule this June on spill prevention rule for hazardous substances;
  • Address residential dust-lead hazard standards and the definition of lead-based paint with a proposed rule this June – consideration of expanding the current lead paint “work practice” rules to public and commercial buildings remains on the long-term agenda;
  • On the long-term agenda, EPA plans to update its regulations for when states can assume administration of the Clean Water Act 404 permits.  This means that states, not the Corps, could make wetlands decisions for projects.

Fish and Wildlife Service

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Committee Unveils Latest Water Resources Development Act
AGC Opposes New USACE Hopper Dredge; Calls for Greater Water Infrastructure Investment
 

On May 14, AGC urged the U.S. Senate to make important changes to the authorizing biennial water resources bill, entitled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA). While not a spending bill, WRDA authorizes billions in funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works (USACE) projects, including about $2.4 billion of new federal spending on six projects involving disaster recovery.

Among other recommendations to the bill, AGC proposed the following:

  • Exclude Section 3111 – authorization of appropriations for purchase of a hopper dredge by USACE;
  • Include Securing Required Funding for “Water Infrastructure Now Act” – a fiscally responsible approach to providing states over $10 billion annually for critical improvements to the country’s rural and urban water infrastructure. The act will provide state financing authorities WIFIA loans to support water and wastewater construction projects;
  • Include Regulatory Streamlining – Congress should require federal agencies to follow a one federal decision process, so there is just one NEPA review for a project that ends with a single record of decision issued by the lead agency;
  • Include Regulatory Transparency – AGC put forth its support for two regulatory transparency items: (1) a public database of USACE real property holdings as a means to help states, localities, and private industry to better plan for—or avoid entirely—issues any construction project could face under Section 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act; and (2) a public database for USACE district and regional offices to disclose and accept public comments on changes to regulatory and general policies impacting water resources projects or state water quality certifications, as such policy changes can occur at the local or regional USACE office level with little or no input from the public.

AGC testified before the committee earlier this year, and you can read AGC’s list of recommendations by clicking here and here.

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Committee Releases Annual Defense Bill
AGC Change Order and Contractor Payment Priorities Included
 

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly (60-1) reported the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (House NDAA) out of the House Armed Services Committee. The House NDAA contains a host of AGC-backed federal construction procurement provisions important to construction contractors. The bill now goes to the floor for amendments and a final vote in the House. 

The final legislation features the following AGC procurement wins:

  • Section 852: Requires federal agencies to accelerate payment to small businesses, so that   agencies must now pay the small business within 15 days of receiving a proper invoice;
  • Section 855: Requires federal agencies to publish their change orders policy and procedures for any small federal construction contract. This bill provides prospective federal construction contractors with the information they need to factor into their bids;
  • Section 875:  This section will help address the shortage in acquisition workforce by expanding the hiring authority of the federal agency where there is a shortage of acquisition personnel.

AGC will continue to monitor the NDAA as it heads for a floor vote in the both houses of Congress, and will continue to advocate for further reforms in Congress.

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

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TRADE
Tariffs Proposal for $50 Billion Worth of Chinese Goods Under Review
AGC Comments, Urges Members to Comment on Proposal
 

May 17 marks the close of a three-day public hearing (May 15-17) into the Administration’s proposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods (1,333 products), including materials and equipment essential to carrying out construction projects. The proposed products list includes: concrete or mortar mixers; electric signaling items for traffic or safety control; elevators and conveyors; tower cranes; tunneling machinery; and water pumps, among other products. In pre-hearing comments, AGC urged the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to strike construction-related products from the proposed list, and AGC is now encouraging member companies to submit post-hearing rebuttal comments before a May 22 deadline.

The tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods stem from the Administration’s investigation into China’s state-directed practice of forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and acts/policies threatening American innovation. This week’s hearings featured testimony from dozens of company executives, as well as representatives from USTR, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of the Treasury.

On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch tamped down hopes that the Administration would abandon these proposed tariffs, saying, “We can't let them do some of these things that really fly in the face of reasonable international law without some sort of response by us.” If Hatch is correct and the Administration carries out its planned tariffs, as many as 23,468 construction jobs could be at risk according to a new study jointly published by the National Retail Federation and the Consumer Technology.

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

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SAFETY
2018 AGC Summer Safety & Health Conference
July 25-27 in Indianapolis, IN
 

The 2018 Summer Safety & Health Conference will take place July 25-27, 2018 at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, IN.

Join more than 250 industry professionals and participate in the development of regulatory and legislative activity on both a national and local level; assist in the development and creation of new safety training programs and products; and hear the latest initiatives from OSHA and other industry experts.

Full details on the Conference and links to registration and the hotel room block can be found here.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or (703) 837-5410 or Nazia Shah at nazia.shah@agc.org or (703) 837-5409.  Return to Top

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Advanced Safety Management Training Course
October 17-19 in Arlington, VA
 

This unique three-day course provides construction safety and health professionals with the next-level knowledge required to successfully manage a company-wide safety program.

Moving beyond the basics of Focus Four training, AGC’s Advanced Safety Management Training Program will give participants a more holistic view of safety’s role in project and company success, as well as advanced tactics and best practices for managing all aspects of a corporate safety program. Participants will also focus on the importance of "selling" safety throughout the organization and methods to generate buy-in from different audiences.

Full details on the course and links to registration can be found here.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or (703) 837-5410 or Nazia Shah at nazia.shah@agc.org or (703) 837-5409.  Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
TCC Fly-In Delivers Infrastructure Message to Capitol Hill
 

Over 400 construction industry executives, including AGC contractors and chapter executives from around the country, participated in the 2018 Transportation Construction Coalition’s (TCC) legislative Fly-In, May 15-16, 2018.

The coalition delivered three key messages to elected officials on both sides of the aisle: fix the Highway Trust Fund, increase infrastructure investment, and complete action on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization through increased funding levels and a lifted cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). The coalition’s Hill visits were augmented by an aggressive social media campaign, launched a week prior to the fly-in and running through the in-person lobbying blitz. 

Attendees also heard from elected officials, as Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking democrat on the Senate Environment and Infrastructure Committee, and Sam Graves (R-MO), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways, addressed the trust fund shortfall, similarly characterizing the issue as pressing. For his part, Rep. John Katko (R-NY) discussed the Problem Solver’s Caucus, a bipartisan group of representatives working together to enact compromise legislation on a variety of issues, including infrastructure.

AGC members also participated in meetings with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials who discussed issues related to contract administration, safety, drone use, and e-construction. Additionally, AGC meetings focused on the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) concept and reviewed the status of nation-wide pilot programs testing VMT collected user fees as a means of providing revenue for future highway and bridge improvements.

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

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