AGC's Construction Legislative Week in Review - 01/04/2018 (Plain Text Version)
OSHA’s Silica Rule Upheld by DC Circuit Court
AGC Compliance Resources Available to Members
On Dec. 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld OSHA’s controversial occupational exposure to crystalline silica rule, rejecting all industry challenges to the rule. Ultimately, the court’s decision means that the rule will remain in effect as written. That is why AGC has long cautioned our members to take the steps necessary to comply with the rule—utilizing AGC’s silica compliance educational resources—instead of anticipating a legal victory.
The construction industry challenges to the rule primarily focused on whether it is technologically and economically feasible, while also raising concerns regarding certain aspects of the medical surveillance requirements and the prohibition of dry sweeping during cleanup operations. The decision underscores just how difficult it is to overturn federal regulations, even one as deeply flawed as this. AGC’s intention has always been to find a way to continue reducing exposure to, and illness from, silica. While we never disagreed with federal officials’ motives, we have long felt that this rule would do little to improve workplace health and safety and that better approaches exist.
Moving forward, AGC will continue to work closely with federal officials to both help ensure the undertaking of reasonable enforcement efforts and to help improve and expand upon Table 1, which lists “safe harbor” guidelines for compliance regarding 18 silica generating construction tasks. We will also maintain efforts to provide AGC members with resources and support to comply. In particular, we will continue working to stimulate the development of new technology that will enable firms to comply with standards that exceed current technological capacity.
For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See You Next Week for the AGC Safety and Health Conference
Jan 10-12 in Long Beach, California
Register today for next week’s AGC Safety and Health Conference, held Jan. 10-12 in Long Beach, California. Attendees will hear the latest initiatives and actions from representatives of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and learn about how their construction industry peers are complying with silica rule; how to manage fatigue on the jobsite; establishing qualitative, data-driven risk management processes to improve safety and health and more (full agenda found here). [return to top]
Trump Signs Tax Reform Legislation
IRS Begins Process of Administering New Law
On Dec. 22, President Trump signed into law H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Most of the tax reform law’s provisions went into effect on Jan. 1, creating a challenge for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of the Treasury to administer the changes to the tax code within the next 12 months.
In the immediate future, the IRS announced that it expects to issue guidance in January on how much taxes employers should withhold, which will allow payroll processors and human resources departments to begin implementing changes in February. The IRS also announced that the guidance will be designed to work with existing W-4 withholding forms, and that additional action by employees is not expected.
AGC will continue to monitor the law’s implementation to ensure that new tax provisions utilized by construction firms are enforced correctly and favorably.
Labor Relations Board Overturns AGC-Opposed Browning-Ferris “Joint Employment” Ruling
On Dec. 14, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned a highly controversial and AGC-opposed 2015 ruling in Browning-Ferris Industries and effectively returns the joint employment standard to the prior standard. AGC submitted an amicus brief with other associations supporting Browning-Ferris’s appeal of the 2015 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Board determined that, to be classified a "joint employer" of another company’s employees under the National Labor Relations Act, a business must have a direct and immediate control over the employees. The Board said the Democratic majority in Browning-Ferris overstepped its authority by altering the legal definitions of employment and by holding that a company could be a joint employer even if it had only indirect or reserved control over the employees in question.
Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra’s term officially ended on Dec. 23, leaving the Board currently comprised of two Republican and two Democratic members. Republicans will not regain their majority until a third Board member is nominated and confirmed. Until then, the Board is not expected to consider controversial cases.
AGC Starts New Year with Infrastructure Push
This week, the Infrastructure Working Group – led by AGC and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) – urged House and Senate leadership to take action on an infrastructure bill in 2018. Signed by more than 100 organizations representing construction, labor, finance, local government, and agriculture, the Working Group put forth a letter noting that infrastructure must continue to be a leading priority for Congress and that an infrastructure bill should address the following goals:
AGC will continue to work with the Infrastructure Working Group and other infrastructure stakeholders and coalitions to ensure that action is taken to transform the U.S. infrastructure systems beyond the status quo.
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman to Retire
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, announced on Jan. 2 that he will not seek re-election in November. Rather than focusing on a re-election campaign, he said that he will dedicate his remaining year in office to working with President Trump to pass a major infrastructure investment plan. Chairman Shuster met with the president on Dec. 11 to discuss a strategy for passing an infrastructure proposal. During his chairmanship, the Committee helped enact into law two major transportation bills—MAP-21 and the FAST Act—as well as two Water Resources Development Acts—WRDA 2014 and the WIIN ACT 2016—collectively authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars in federal infrastructure investment.