Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 28, 2019
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On the Inside
Regulations
FAA Proposes Drone Rule Changes
Environment
White House Guidance Issued on Streamlining Environmental Process
Senate Confirms Wheeler as EPA Administrator
Government Funding
Senate Unveils Another Disaster Aid Funding Bill
Trade
Trade Negotiations with China Progress
Events
Federal Contractors Conference | June 10-12, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
Regulations
FAA Proposes Drone Rule Changes
Three Separate Rules Addressed
 
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published three separate rules on drone use that could impact use of these devices in construction operations. AGC has a task force that has been addressing drone use, which will be formulating AGC’s response to these initiatives.
 
The first proposed rule addresses the operation of small unmanned aircraft over people. The proposal would allow for commercial operations of drones over people and at night. It also would address common scenarios where operators seek waivers. The proposed rule is notable in that it suggests FAA interest in regulating manufacturers as opposed to operators. Comments on the proposal are due April 15, 2019.
 
FAA also issued an interim final rule on External Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft. This rule would revise the FAA’s current small UAS marking standards by requiring the UAS registration number to be marked on the exterior of the aircraft. The rule seeks to address law enforcement and FAA interagency security partner concerns that allowing marking inside of the aircraft—which may contain explosives or other threats to safety—endangers first responders. Comments on the rule must be received by March 15, 2019.
 
Finally, the FAA released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting responses to discussion questions on safety and national security concerns related to increased UAS integration. These questions address various topics, such as: 
 
  • standards for stand-off distances (the amount of space between a small UAS and the closest person or object);
  • payload restrictions (including a prohibition on carrying hazardous materials);
  • unmanned traffic management systems (e.g., costs of developing and operating one, and restrictions on possible information sharing for national security and public safety purposes); and altitude and other performance limitations.
Comments on the discussion questions must be received by April 15, 2019.
 
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.  
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Environment
White House Guidance Issued on Streamlining Environmental Process
State NEPA Reviews Targeted
 
On Feb. 26, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) provided guidance clarifying elements of President Trump's Aug. 15, 2017, executive order (EO), aimed at reducing the permitting time for large infrastructure projects to two years. The guidance clarifies that the EO applies to state agencies that have been assigned National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities making them responsible for keeping the permitting timetable to two years. Under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program established in 2005, U.S. DOT can grant states the authority to complete requirements for NEPA review for highway infrastructure projects. Thus far, six states—Alaska, California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Utah—have been granted the NEPA review authority. Several other states have also applied. 
 
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.
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Senate Confirms Wheeler as EPA Administrator
 
On Feb. 28, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—a move which AGC supported in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee earlier this month. The 52-47 vote fell mostly along party lines.  
 
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.
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Government Funding
Senate Unveils Another Disaster Aid Funding Bill
Billions for Construction Accounts to Aid Rebuilding Efforts
 
A bipartisan group of Senators have introduced a disaster aid package, S. 572, that would provide roughly $13.6 billion in emergency supplemental funding. The bill will provide aid for areas of the country affected by the natural disasters of 2018. AGC previously reported that House and Senate negotiators failed to include disaster aid in the compromised funding bill for FY 2019 on February 14. Click “read more” to see a breakdown of notable construction accounts that would receive funding if this new legislation were enacted. 
 
Notable construction accounts that would receive funding under this legislation include:
  • $1.65 billion for the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program to repair damaged roads and highways.
  • $740 million for Army Corps Civil Works construction projects to reduce flood and storm damages.
  • $225 million for the Mississippi River and Tributaries to rehabilitate and repair Army Corps projects.
  • $1.06 billion for the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Fund. Some of the funding will be used for long-term recovery and infrastructure restoration.
  • $857 million to rebuild damaged military facilities for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army National Guard.    
As of Feb. 28, the bill has not been scheduled for a vote in the Senate. There is potential for this package to get included into similar legislation in the coming weeks. 
 
For more information, contact Jordan Howard at jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368.
 
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Trade
Trade Negotiations with China Progress
Tariff Rate Increase Delayed
 
On Feb. 24, the president announced an indefinite delay to a scheduled increase—from 10 percent to 25 percent—in tariffs on $200 million worth of Chinese imports. On Feb. 27, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the president’s top trade negotiator, signaled that—though progress is being made—there is still a great deal of work to be done before an agreement is reached with China. The U.S. is seeking concessions on intellectual property protection and other unfair trade practices of the Chinese government before any reduction or elimination of tariffs on imported goods is granted. For a full rundown of Trump administration trade actions and their impact on the construction industry, click here.
 
AGC welcomes the administration’s delay of an increase in the tariff rate on imported goods. Many of the items that have had duties accessed on them are materials incorporated into the actual construction project itself, necessary parts for manufacturing construction equipment, or the construction equipment itself.  Costs for these various supplies, materials and equipment may rise accordingly, placing further pressure on contractors to increase their bid prices. AGC will continue to monitor this and other international trade negotiations. 
 
For more information, contact Cory Gattie at cory.gattie@agc.org or (202) 547-4685.
 
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Events
Federal Contractors Conference | June 10-12, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
 
Register today for the 2019 AGC Federal Contractors Conference taking place June 10-12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The Federal Contractors Conference covers 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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