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AGC Urges Trump Administration to Rescind President Obama’s Government Mandated Project Labor Agreement Executive Order

AGC this week urged President Trump to rescind President Obama’s project labor agreement Executive Order and replace it with a new order. AGC asked the president to issue a new order that ensures fair and open competition on federal construction contracts by preventing agencies from mandating contractors to sign a project labor agreement as a condition for winning a federal or federally assisted construction contract or by implementing a preference policy for bids with a PLA. The Obama era Order encourages federal agencies to mandate the labor agreements on projects valued at $25 million or more. Until the president acts, that executive order remains in effect.
In addition to calling for recession of the Executive Order, AGC is also urging Congress to support the Fair and Open Competition Act, which would prohibit federal contracting agencies from mandating that contractors and unions enter project labor agreements on direct federal projects
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected].

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AGC Calls on Congress to Address Tort Reform

AGC joined national organizations representing the real estate, contracting and construction sectors in support of a common-sense tort reform measure that would help control costs associated with excessive liability insurance premiums for construction projects in New York State.
The organizations delivered a letter to Congress supporting the “Infrastructure Expansion Act” which would address property owners’ and contractors’ “absolute liability” for workplace injuries under New York’s “Scaffold Law.” The unique-to-New York Scaffold Law leads to higher project carrying costs that must be paid for liability insurance premiums. The bill would simply replace the standard with the more common “comparative negligence” standard.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected].

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Congress Reopens the Government, Provides Funding through Feb. 8

AGC Successful in Getting Contractors Temporary Relief from Several Obamacare Taxes
On Monday, the Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 8, ending a three-day partial shutdown of the federal government and giving lawmakers a few weeks to negotiate an annual appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. Prior to the government shutdown, AGCurged Congress to pass a short-term funding bill to avoid the shutdown and provide temporary relief from several Obamacare taxes impacting construction employers.
Specifically, the bill delays until 2022 the Cadillac tax, a 40 percent excise tax on employer-sponsored health coverage whose benefits exceed specific thresholds. The legislation would also provide a one yearmoratorium on the health insurance tax that will increase the cost of health insurance for small business employers, the majority of AGC’s construction contractor membership.
AGC continues to urge Congress to return to regular order, pass annual appropriations bills, and end the unfortunate routine cycle of short-term continuing resolutions.
For more information, contact Jordan Howard at [email protected].

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Tell Us What You Want to Hear in the State of the Union

As an association committed to fighting for its members' interest on Capitol Hill, AGC of America wants to hear from you. Let us know what you hope the president will touch on when he delivers his State of the Union address next Tuesday, Jan. 30. We also want to know what issues are top concerns for your company.
The State of the Union address comes in the wake of a three-day government shutdown, and is an opportunity for the president to lay out his vision for the country, take stock of his Administration's first-year achievements, and advance his 2018 legislative agenda.
For more information, contact Collin Janich at [email protected].

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AGC Recommends Initiatives for Federal Highway Administration Program to Accelerate Infrastructure Construction

AGC submitted a list of recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for inclusion in round 5 of the “Every Day Counts” initiative to accelerate transportation infrastructure construction. Among the suggestions is a list of practices that could improve work zone safety for employees and motorists, such as increased use of positive barrier, work area intrusion alarms, photo enforcement of speed limits, and real time work zone alerts. AGC also encouraged state transportation departments to accept e-ticketing to track material deliveries, continue to encourage early release of 3D models to contractors, work to eliminate impediments to use Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) in highway construction and radio frequency identifiers tags in underground utilities.
The Federal Highway Administration began the Every Day Counts initiative ten years ago to help identify and rapidly deploy proven, yet underutilized, innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and improve environmental sustainability. Proven innovations promoted through the initiative facilitate greater efficiency at the state and local levels, saving time, money and resources that can be used to deliver more projects. Federal Highway works with state transportation departments, local governments, tribes, private industry and other stakeholders to identify a new collection of innovations to champion every two years that merit accelerated deployment.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected].

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Details Emerge of New Trump Infrastructure Plan

President Expected to Release Details During State of the Union
Reports circulated this week involving a six-page document purporting to outline the Trump Administration’s highly anticipated infrastructure plan. Taking the document at face value, it provides more detail on the administration’s proposal, including a breakdown of how the funding would be divvied up amongst different initiatives. Lacking from the summary are details on how much federal funding would be included and where those funds would come from. Previous statements from administration spokespersons indicate that a request for $200 billion will be included in the final proposal. The administration has also strongly hinted that they intend for this money to be leveraged in a way that ultimately produces $1 trillion in new investment. A range of infrastructure projects—including roads, bridges, waterway ports, drinking water facilities and veteran’s hospitals, among other things are included.
The plan may serve as a welcomed complement to existing federal infrastructure programs. However, it appears to not address the long-term funding needs of existing federal infrastructure programs, including those dependent upon the Highway Trust Fund, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Administration officials and other sources have strongly hinted that the president will include mention of the infrastructure initiative as part of his State of the Union address to Congress on January 30 and that the actual proposal will be released soon after.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected].

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Court Action Muddies Obama Admin. Waters of the U.S. Rule for Contractors

‘Hold’ on Controversial Rule Expected to be Lifted
A Jan. 22 U.S. Supreme Court procedural ruling involving the Obama Administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) will lift an earlier appeals court decision to put in place a nationwide freeze of that rule. At this moment, implementation and enforcement of the 2015 rule—which expands federal jurisdiction involving wetlands—appears imminent in most states. However, AGC awaits word on when an appeals court will officially lift its nationwide hold on the rule but, until that happens, nothing is changed. (Read more in AGC’s “frequently asked questions” document).

Irrespective of when the appellate court lifts its hold, thirteen states – the states that were parties in a case before the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota – will remain shielded from the 2015 WOTUS rule in the short term. Those states are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
The timing of the decision is unfortunate as the administration is still working to repeal and replace the 2015 rule. The administration is expected shortly to finalize a rule that would delay the implementation date of the 2015 WOTUS rule by two years, i.e., until 2020. It is not certain whether the administration will finalize that rule in time to forestall implementation once the appellate court’s nationwide stay is lifted. This two year delays is intended to prevent confusion over implementation that industry currently faces and to allow the agencies more time to finalize its repeal and replace efforts.
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected] or Leah Pilconis at [email protected].

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Section 232 Report on Foreign Steel Imports Reaches Trump’s Desk

Could Have Implications on Construction Steel Prices
On Jan. 11, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered his “Section 232” report on the national security threat posed by foreign steel mill product imports to the president. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 allows the president to utilize his “statutory authority to adjust imports” without Congress’ approval if a government-led inquiry yields sufficient evidence of a threat. President Trump now has 90 days to review the Commerce Department’s findings and recommend remedies, likely in the form of tariffs, quotas, or some sort of hybrid package. Should the administration act on the report, the construction industry may see an increase in steel prices.
Section 232 is unique in that damage is not calculated based upon import volume. This is particularly important because China is the ostensible target of this investigation, despite a dramatic decrease in Chinese steel imports. And, while China is the biggest net exporter of steel – and has contributed mightily to the global glut – Canada and other European allies are, in fact, the United States’ largest sources of foreign steel.
President Trump is keen on shielding domestic steelmakers from unfair imports and few doubt that the report will fail to reinforce the administration’s view that national security is currently being compromised. In determining a response, President Trump will have to weigh the timing of any announcement, as well as the scope of a response—sweeping trade restrictions on foreign steel imports or more precisely targeted remedies.
AGC will continue to monitor the situation and update its members as more information becomes available.
For more information, contact Collin Janich at [email protected].

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Tax Reform’s Impact on Your Construction Business & Market

Complimentary AGC WebEd: Jan. 30 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM ET
Register today for this complimentary AGC webinar. Congress recently passed the most far-reaching tax reform legislation since 1986. No matter what your construction market—public or private—or construction firm—C-corporation, S-corporation, LLC, LLP, or partnership—the new tax reform law will have an impact on you.
During this webinar, you will hear tax and accounting firm CBIZ’s Cord Armstrong—a CPA and leader in the firm’s National Construction Industry Practice Group—AGC’s lead infrastructure and tax policy experts—Sean O’Neill and Matt Turkstra, respectively— and AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson discuss:

  • The impact of the new law on your construction business—no matter the type, C-corp, S-corp, LLC, partnership or so forth;

  • Things your business should consider before converting to a C-corp, such as the 20 percent pass-through deduction and how it works;

  • Changes to tax incentives for public and private construction, including but not limited to private activity bonds and the historic tax credit;

  • Ambiguities in the law to be aware of and the chances of this Congress enacting “technical corrections” to address them;

  • What’s next for the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service when it comes to issuing guidance and regulations to help you understand how to comply; and

  • How AGC advocated for your construction business throughout this process and continues to do so.
For more information, click here or contact Matt Turkstra at [email protected].

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U.S. Chamber Calls for 25 Cent Gas Tax Increase

AGC CEO Addresses Group
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for increasing the federal gas tax by 25 cents as part of its recommendations for an infrastructure package announced at its “America’s Infrastructure Summit: Time to Modernize” event.  In addition to increasing the gas tax, the Chamber’s recommendations include leveraging more public and private resources, streamlining the permitting process, and expanding the workforce to build the infrastructure. AGC CEO Steve Sandherr was asked to participate in the event and shared the association’s efforts to address the workforce challenges facing the construction industry.
AGC has been sharing a similar plan – An Agenda to Rebuild Our Infrastructure & Our Workforce – with Congress and the administration and looks forward to working with the U.S. Chamber and other stakeholders to ensure an infrastructure plan is enacted that provides increased funding and financing, streamlines the environmental permitting process and helps address the construction industry’s workforce challenges.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected].

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