Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 25, 2018
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On the Inside
Infrastructure
President Signs Major AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill
Regulations
Treasury Releases Proposed Regulations on Opportunity Zones
Administration Releases Updated Regulatory Road Map
Trump Administration Proposes Changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements
Safety & Health
AGC ConstructorCast: The Opioid Crisis & Construction
Safety Management Training Course | February 11-13, 2019 | Omaha, NE
Awards
20th Annual AGC-Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA)
Infrastructure
President Signs Major AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill
Authorizes Billions of Dollars for Corps, Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects
 

 
On Oct. 23, President Trump joined by bipartisan members of the House and Senate signed an AGC-supported water resources development bill into law that helps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintain much of our nation’s water resources infrastructure.  
 
As previously reported, while not a funding bill, this legislation allows Congress to eventually approve billions of dollars in funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects, including navigation (dredging, locks), flood control (levees), hydropower (dams), recreation (parks), and water supply.  In addition, the bill reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for $50 million annually in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 and provides a new authorization, championed by AGC, for the funding of State Revolving Funds with WIFIA dollars—which can be used for drinking water and wastewater facility projects.
 
For additional information, please contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org, or (202) 547-8992.
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Regulations
Treasury Releases Proposed Regulations on Opportunity Zones
Spur Private Construction Market & Mitigate Taxes on Capital Gains
 
On Friday, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations on Opportunity Zones, a new program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to spur investment—including construction development—in underserved areas of the country. Anyone who makes a qualified investment in an Opportunity Zone can defer capital-gains from an unrelated investment by up to 15 percent, whether it’s from the sale of other real property or cashing out gains on stocks. Moreover, any gains realized on a zone investment are tax-exempt if they are held for at least 10 years.
 
Earlier this year, in consultation with Governors, Treasury designated roughly 9,000 underserved and low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones.  About 35 million people reside in an Opportunity Zone.
 
The regulations provide additional clarity about the how the program will operate and appear to be very favorable to real property investment and development. AGC will study the regulations and evaluate any chance for improvements that would further benefit construction.
 
For further information, please contact Matt Turkstra at matt.turkstra@agc.org or (202) 547-4733.
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Administration Releases Updated Regulatory Road Map
Deregulatory Efforts Continue
 
On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration unveiled its Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions mapping out federal agencies’ priorities for the coming months.  This bi-annual publication informs the public of regulatory or de-regulatory actions under consideration or planned by federal agencies. The present agenda includes several submissions with implications for construction contractors, included in this story.
 
 
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 regulations governing apprenticeship programs;
  • proposed rule to revise the law governing time-and-a-half overtime calculations by redefining the regular rate of pay;
  • proposed rule expanding the usage of HRA’s;
  • proposed rule establishing criteria for the sponsorship of association retirement plans; and a
  • proposed rule to clarify the joint employer standard under FLSA. 
 
On the environmental side: 
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still working to repeal and replace the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule and anticipates finalizing the repeal in March 2019, releasing the proposed replacement rule this fall and finalizing that rule approximately a year later in 2019 (with the Army Corps of Engineers).  The agency also plans to take final action of many issues on which AGC commented this year, such as dust-lead hazard standards.  Looking ahead, the agency will update its stormwater programs, look at sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act, and review national ambient air quality standards.
  • In March 2019, the Corps plans to propose revisions to the rules covering the review and approval of mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs for compensatory mitigation.
  • Fish and Wildlife Service intends to propose in December 2018 revisions to the regulations that implement section 10 of the ESA re: permit issuance for the take of endangered/threatened species.  The Service also intends to streamline the permitting process for rights-of-way, address incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and further revise its regulations for the designation of critical habitat.
  • The Council on Environmental Quality will propose in February 2019 updates to the existing CEQ regulations implementing the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) re: the environmental review process pursuant to Executive Order 13807.
 
Transportation Construction

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicates that it is considering a change in its current regulations that discourage states from including proprietary products in construction specifications on Federally-assisted projects and may propose streamline procedures for using patented and proprietary products.
 
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that it is considering revising certain provisions in its Hours of Service rules and is seeking public input and data that the agency could use in a future proposal. AGC has already provided input to FMCSA on this request and will continue to pursue a construction exemption from the HOS rules.
 
Direct-Federal Construction

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council is also looking to put out several rules impacting contractors, including:
  • FAR Case 2018-003, Credit for Lower-Tier Small Business Subcontracting will allow large businesses to receive small business subcontracting credit for subcontracts that their subcontractors award to small businesses.
  • FAR Case 2016-005, Effective Communication between Government and Industry, encourages agency acquisition personnel to talk to industry.
  • FAR Case 2017-004, Use of Acquisition 360 to Encourage Vendor Feedback, will address soliciting contractor feedback on how well agencies are doing in awarding and administering contracts. This will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agency acquisition activities.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or 703-837-5325. 
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Trump Administration Proposes Changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements
Expands Employer and Employee Insurance Options
 
On October 23, The U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor issued a proposed regulation that would expand the usability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). This proposed regulation is in response to President Trump’s Executive Order on “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States.”  Specifically, the proposal would expand the use of employees’ personal health reimbursement accounts to buy individual health plans and providing them the same tax advantage as an employee choosing traditional employer sponsored coverage.
 
Health reimbursement accounts, which are typically offered by large employers, are used to reimburse employees for medical expenses up to a specified dollar limit. Expanding the arrangements to cover individual insurance premiums could allow employers to give workers more options and make it easier for smaller employers to offer some type of benefit.  Employers fully fund HRAs, in contrast with health flexible spending accounts, which are funded as pre-tax contributions from workers’ salaries.
 
For more information, contact Claiborne Guy at claiborne.guy@agc.org or 703-837-5382.
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Safety & Health
AGC ConstructorCast: The Opioid Crisis & Construction
 
According to a recent article in Constructor Magazine Federal statistics show in 2016, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids and 116 people died every day from an opioid-related overdose. On this edition of the ConstructorCast four industry panelist discuss the opioid epidemic, providing resources and insight on this important issue. Click here to listen to the AGC ConstructorCast.
 
For more information contact, Amy Hager, at ahager@consensusdocs.org or (703)-837-5367.
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Safety Management Training Course | February 11-13, 2019 | Omaha, NE
Early Bird Registration ends October 31, 2018
 
The AGC Safety Management Training Course (SMTC) provides attendees three days of training on the basic skills needed to manage a company safety program in the construction industry. The SMTC 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.
 
For more information, contact Nazia Shah at (703) 837-5409 or nazia.shah@agc.org.  
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Awards
20th Annual AGC-Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA)
Deadline for Submitting Applications is December 14, 2018
 
The AGC-Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) is the industry’s elite safety excellence awards program for contractors, service providers, and suppliers of all types and sizes. CSEA recognizes companies that have developed and implemented premier safety and risk control programs and showcases companies that have achieved continuous improvement and maintenance of their safety and health management system. So, don’t miss this opportunity to be recognized for your best-in-class safety program! For more information on the AGC-WTW CSEA program, please visit www.agc.org/csea
 
For more information, contact Nazia Shah at (703) 837-5409 or nazia.shah@agc.org.  
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