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Bipartisan House Members Release Infrastructure Report

On Jan. 10, the Problem Solvers Caucus – a bipartisan group of 48 House members – released their infrastructure report detailing policy suggestions for a future infrastructure plan. AGC and other infrastructure stakeholders consulted with these members of Congress, offering funding recommendations and policy prescriptions for inclusion in the plan.
Led by Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), the caucus’s Infrastructure Working Group proposed bipartisan solutions to improve surface transportation, port and inland waterway, water and wastewater, aviation, energy, and communications infrastructure.
AGC is particularly pleased by the plan’s options for providing a sustainable and long-term funding source for the Highway Trust Fund, including indexing and “modernizing” the federal gasoline tax. Additionally, the plan offers AGC-supported infrastructure funding and financing options, including maintaining the tax-exempt status for municipal bonds and private activity bonds, as well as increasing the private activity bond state volume caps.
Other report highlights include calling on Congress to work with the Office of Management and Budget to reform federal budget scoring for federal infrastructure, dedicating 100 percent of revenue raised for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to support port and harbor dredging, increasing funding to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and streamlining project delivery through regulatory reforms.
The Problem Solvers report is especially timely as we await the release of the Administration’s infrastructure plan, held up as one of the few bipartisan issues that Congress and President Trump may be able to deliver on this year.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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Congress Takes Notice of Change Orders Delays

Bill Encourages Transparency
On Jan. 10, a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives introduced an AGC-backed bill, H.R. 4754, that would require federal agencies to publically publish their change orders policies and procedures on any small business federal construction contract. The bill would provide prospective federal construction contractors with information they need to factor risk and resulting costs of delayed payment for change orders into their federal contract bids and offers. The bill originated out of a congressional hearing in which AGC members testified before the House Small Business Committee on change order delays and their impact on federal construction contractors.
AGC is at the forefront of advocating for greater accountability in the change order process, having previously called on the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to improve the data federal agencies collect regarding the administration of change orders. AGC’s recommendations would require federal agencies to collect data covering the contracting officer’s (CO) timeliness of action, encouraging greater CO accountability.
To view the press release from one of the bill’s sponsors, click here.
For more information, contact [email protected]or (703) 837-5368.

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AGC Urges FWS to Scrap Mitigation Policies that Go Above and Beyond the Law

On Jan. 5, AGC urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the goal of “net conservation gain” from the Service’s Mitigation Policy and Endangered Species Act (ESA)–Compensatory Mitigation Policy, finalized in late 2016.  AGC asserts that that the “improvement” goal is not supported under the ESA; the goal fails to provide a clear limit on how much mitigation is necessary and blurs the line between recommendations and requirements.
Construction project proponents already address species and habitat concerns throughout the project’s life, implementing avoidance and mitigation measures at great cost. The net gain goal only adds further delays and additional costs to construction projects without legal justification.
The FWS initially issued the 2016 mitigation policies in response to an Obama-era presidential memorandum that encouraged agencies to promote restoration or enhancement of natural resources, i.e., “net gain.”  A few months after the Service finalized the policies, President Trump issued an order to rescind the memorandum, directing agencies to reexamine their actions (regulations, orders, guidance, policies) for any barriers that unnecessarily obstruct the development and delivery of energy resources.
The Department of Interior (DOI) has acted swiftly to implement President Trump’s order.  Under DOI direction, FWS has accepted comment on its mitigation policies and also plans to review and revise the regulations for listing endangered and threatened species, as well as regulations for designating critical habitats.  A proposed rule is expected this month.  Separately, on Dec. 22, 2017, DOI rescinded two Bureau of Land Management mitigation documents and ordered the review of two others.
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected]or (703) 837-5415.

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Register Now for the 2018 Federal Contractors Conference

May 1-3, 2018 
Register today for the 2018 AGC Federal Contractors Conference.
The Federal Contractors Conference is the premier conference for federal construction contractors to discuss 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 will impact their businesses. Attendees may also 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 meetings with agency headquarters later in the year.
For more information and to register, go to

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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.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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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:

  • Increasing direct federal investments, in a broad range of infrastructure sectors over 10 years to achieve a $1 trillion investment;

  • Complementing and strengthening existing tools, such as municipal bonds, that successfully deliver infrastructure investments at the federal, state and local levels;

  • Facilitating opportunities for private investment in U.S. infrastructure;

  • Creating efficiencies such as accelerating the federal permitting process;

  • Fixing chronic challenges and addresses reoccurring shortages in key federal infrastructure accounts such as the Highway Trust Fund; and

  • Encouraging active participation among all levels of government and between the public and private sectors without shifting federal responsibilities because no single partner can deliver a well-functioning, national U.S. infrastructure network driven by a long-term vision and funding stability.

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.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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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.
For more information, contact Denise Gold at [email protected] or 703-837-5326 or Claiborne Guy at [email protected] or 703-837-5382.

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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.
For more information contact Matthew Turkstra at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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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).

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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 [email protected].

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