Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 14, 2019
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On the Inside
Safety
OSHA Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Crane Operator Evaluation Requirements
Environment
Proposal to Replace 2015 WOTUS Rule Published Today
Government Funding
Congress Nears Compromise on FY 2019 Government Funding
Events
Federal Contractors Conference | June 10-12, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
Safety
OSHA Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Crane Operator Evaluation Requirements
 
On Feb. 7, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a temporary enforcement policy for the crane operator evaluation requirements in the cranes and derricks in construction standard.  The effective date for the standard’s evaluation and documentation requirements was Feb. 7, 2019.  OSHA intends to offer compliance assistance, in lieu of enforcement, during the first 60 days of enforcement for employers who have evaluated operators in accordance with the final rule and are making good faith efforts to comply with the documentation requirement. Beginning April 15, 2019, OSHA will fully enforce all applicable requirements of the final rule. To help AGC members understand and comply with these new requirements, please click here for educational resources. 
 
For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at (703)837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.  
 
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Environment
Proposal to Replace 2015 WOTUS Rule Published Today
60-Day Comment Period Begins
 
On Feb. 14, the public comment period officially opened on the administration’s newly proposed replacement of the controversial 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Legal challenges have placed the 2015 WOTUS rule on hold in 28 states. AGC has been advocating for a clear rule as construction projects in or near federal waters require extensive permitting that comes at a hefty price -- in addition to any state or local water permits a project will need. Over the decades, determining where federal jurisdiction lies and overly broad interpretations have added regulatory uncertainty, delay, and cost to projects. 
 
The proposal is a step in the right direction to correct the regulatory overreach of the old rule and provide clarity to industry, while continuing to protect federal waters. It includes waters that in many cases are readily identifiable as federal waters, such as traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, tributaries and other waters with a surface connection or that regularly flow into those waters. But it excludes ephemeral features, most ditches, stormwater control features in uplands, and earthen depressions caused by construction equipment or activity in uplands that may fill with water, among other things.
 
Comments on the proposal are due April 15, 2019.  
 
For more information, see AGC's WOTUS one-pager and an overview of the proposed replacement rule.  Or contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org
 
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Government Funding
Congress Nears Compromise on FY 2019 Government Funding
Break Down of What’s in the Compromise Bill
 
The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on Feb. 14 on a more than 1,000 page bill that would fund many federal agencies for the remainder of FY 2019. The bill includes some increases for federal construction accounts, including $3 billion over FY2018 funding levels for the Federal-Aid Highway Program. However, the bill fails to include relief for current holders of temporary immigrant work authorizations—impacting 120,000 construction workers with Temporary Protected Status or in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. In addition, the bill does not provide emergency construction project funding for areas impacted by 2018 disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. 
 
The bill provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing, though there are several restrictions on how border fencing funding can be used. These restrictions include a ban on the use of concrete, limiting fencing designs to those used in 2017, and prohibition on construction in sensitive environmental areas. The funding bill also gives DHS the authority—in consultation with DOL—to increase the H-2 cap (temporary/seasonal work visas) for FY 2019 to 135,320. The increase of visas will be subject to the administrations approval because the bill does not mandate the full allotment. 
 
Other notable funding provisions in the bill include:
  • Federal-Aid Highway funding at $48.6 billion — 3.7% above FY 2018; 
  • Build Grants at $900 Million — 40% decrease from FY 2018;
  • Airport Improvement Program Grants at $3.85 Billion — 11.5% decrease from FY 2018;
  • Transit Formula Grants at $10.6 Billion — a slight increase from FY 2018;
  • Capital Improvement grants at $2.6 Billion — slight decrease from FY 2018;
  • Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at $1.2 billion — Equal to the FY 2018;
  • Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Grants at $68 million (Title II: $10 million, Title IV: $58 million) — $5 million increase the FY 2018;
  • Rural Development at $3.64 billion for Rural Development.  This includes $625 million in funding dedicated for infrastructure investments in Rural America;
  • Water and Electric Infrastructure for rural water and waste program loans at $1.45 billion — $200 million increase the FY 2018;
  • Water and Waste Grants at $475 million for — $425 million decrease the FY 2018; and  
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $1.7 billion (Title II: $1.4 billion, Title IV: $300 million) — Equal to FY 2018.
You can read the text of the Conference Report by clicking here. You can read the text of the Joint Explanatory Statement by clicking here
 
For more information, contact Jordan Howard at jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368.
 
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Events
Federal Contractors Conference | June 10-12, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
Early registration ends February 19
 
Register today for the 2019 AGC Federal Contractors Conference taking place June 10-12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. This discount offer ends February 19th and space is limited. The Federal Contractors Conference discusses the latest projects, policies and contracting issues facing the industry with federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facility Engineering Command, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.
 
In addition to substantive discussions and presentations with federal agencies, attendees will hear from legal experts about the latest federal regulations that impact their businesses and may have the opportunity to continue a dialogue with federal agencies after the conference. Leading federal construction attorneys will address executive orders, Small Business Administration and Federal Acquisition Regulation rules, and case law trends your company needs to know to work in the federal market. And, when the conference concludes, AGC member attendees will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing dialogue and meetings with agency headquarters later in the year.
 
For more information, contact jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368.
 
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