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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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The Key to More Efficient Construction Projects is Collaborative Contracts

AGC recently participated in a Construction in America campaign where we united with likeminded industry leaders to advocate for how modern technology, people and equipment are helping our construction professionals manage risk and build quality projects safely, on time and within budget. The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on Dec. 19, 2017 and is published online here.

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New Cybersecurity Requirements for Defense Contractors Begin Dec. 31

Defense contractors will now need to implement security control requirements and ensure sensitive federal information remains confidential when stored in any nonfederal electronic system beginning December 31, 2017.  Earlier this year AGC hosted a webinar giving an overview of the new cybersecurity requirements to AGC members.
The purpose of the new requirements is to ensure that unclassified DoD information residing on a contractor’s internal information system is safeguarded from cyber incidents, and that any consequences associated with the loss of this information are assessed and minimized through cyber incident reporting and damage assessment processes. It is not required to be applied retroactively, but a contracting officer may modify an existing contract.  DoD has consistently stated that the agency does not plan to audit contractors’ electronic devices, but will rely on contractor’s attesting to their compliance with the requirements.
AGC has communicated to DoD the difficulty many contractors have had in implementing these new cybersecurity requirements. According to a DoD spokeswoman, contractors must still comply by Dec. 31, but compliance means documenting the state of your company’s information system in a security plan (SSP) and documenting how and when your company will implement any requirements that have not yet been implemented.  Further, individual, isolated, or temporary deficiencies should be managed through Plans of Action/Milestones (POAM).
For more information contact [email protected] or (703) 837-5368.

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EPA Deregulatory Actions to Outweigh Impact of New Rules in 2018

On Dec. 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Semiannual Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions and Regulatory Plan as part of the government-wide Unified Agenda—setting the path for the agency over the next yearOf particular interest to contractors, the Regulatory Agenda includes the repeal and replacement of the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (see related article), which will remain a focus for the agency.  AGC also notes that the agency is reworking the 2015 coal combustion residual disposal rule (e.g., fly ash).
Although AGC was pleased that EPA preserved many forms of recycling/beneficial use common to construction, the rule itself has been controversial and is currently under litigation. AGC also has been tracking a new spill prevention rule for hazardous substances that EPA included on the current actions list. Finally, the agency will continue to fulfill its statutory obligation to periodically review National Ambient Air Quality Standards, on which AGC reports frequently because of the potential for disruption of highway funding in areas that are not in attainment of the standards.
Another issue of note is the delayed schedule for determining whether or not to propose lead paint “work practice” rules for public and commercial buildings (which moved to EPA’s long-term list in the spring and has remained there this fall).
For more information contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected] or (703) 837-5415.

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AGC Achieves Construction Victories in Tax Reform

Legislation Heads to President’s Desk for Signature
Earlier this week, both houses of Congress passed the Republican tax reform bill, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  For a full accounting of the tax reform bill and its impact on provisions important to the construction industry, please consult this comparison chart.  During the conference negotiations between the House and Senate, AGC outlined the construction industry’s priorities for tax reform. The legislation now heads to President Trump for his signature, which could be signed as early as this week or as late as January, depending on year-end spending negotiations.
Of the priorities AGC identified as critical to the construction industry, the conferees adopted a host of AGC’s recommendations, including:


  • Reducing the corporate tax rate—to 21 percent;

  • Providing tax relief for pass-through businesses—lower individual rates, and a new 20 percent pass-through deduction;

  • Ensuring trust owners of pass-through businesses are eligible for the deduction;

  • Repealing the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (ATM);

  • Substantially increasing the individual AMT thresholds, reducing its overall impact;

  • Increasing the “small contractor exemption” from the percentage-of-completion method of accounting to $25 million;

  • Increasing the exemption from the uniform capitalization rules (UNICAP), and availability of cash accounting to $25 million;

  • Preserving the tax exemption for private activity bonds (PABs);

  • Preserving a modified version of the historic tax credit;

  • Doubling the estate tax exemption level to $10.98 million;

  • Allowing used equipment to be fully expensed; and

  • Preserving the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC).

Unfortunately, the conference report does retain the individual AMT (albeit at a much higher level than under current law), allows the individual tax relief (including the pass-through tax relief) to expire after 2025, does not fully repeal the estate tax, and does not include a long-term funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund, but, on balance, the final bill contains many construction industry priorities and AGC supported final passage.
It’s important to note that AGC did not support the initial tax reform bill as it provided little relief for construction firms organized as pass-throughs, eliminated Private Activity Bonds, and repealed the Historic Tax Credit.  Whereas other construction groups endorsed that version of tax reform, AGC continued to fight for a better bill for our industry. By undertaking a rigorous direct lobbying campaign, connecting construction company CFOs and CPAs with tax writers, and generating thousands of pro-construction messages from members to key legislators, AGC helped ensure Congress understood the impact of these provisions on the industry.
Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done in the New Year. Though Congress missed an opportunity to address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, we remain focused on ensuring that this administration keeps its promise to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. We are also committed to modernizing multiemployer pension plans for the future, among other priorities for this industry.
We look forward to providing educational resources and opportunities soon via webinars and in-person conferences—like the AGC Convention—to help you and your construction business plan for future growth under this new tax law.
For more information contact Matthew Turkstra at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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House Passes AGC-Supported Emergency Disaster Relief

On Dec. 21, the House of Representatives voted 251-169 for AGC-supported legislation – the Emergency Disaster Aid Package – which provides $81.2 billion in emergency funding for Hurricane and wildfire relief in Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It remains uncertain whether or not the Senate will vote on its version of the bill; however, senators from impacted states are strongly advocating for the bill.
The bill’s funds are critically needed to assist with the rebuilding efforts in communities impacted by this year’s devastating natural disasters. The majority of the funding will be distributed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency—$27.5 billion; the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program –$26.1 billion for housing and infrastructure needs; and the Army Corps of Engineers Construction Account – $10.5 billion for ongoing construction projects and to expedite construction projects that will help mitigate future disaster damage.
The legislation will also provide $1.4 billion for Federal Highway Administration emergency relief funding and an increase for other transportation accounts.  A summary of the construction accounts in the bill can be found here.
Additionally, the bill reforms the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster response and recovery program.
For more information contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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Register Today: 2018 AGC Winter Safety & Health Conference

The 2018 Winter Safety & Health Conference will take place Jan. 10-12, 2018 at the Hilton in Long Beach, California. Join more than 250 industry professionals and participate in the development of regulatory and legislative activity on both a national and local level; assist in the development and creation of new safety training programs and products; and hear the latest initiatives from OSHA and other industry experts. Full details on the Conference and links to registration and the hotel room block can be found here.
For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or [email protected] or Nazia Shah at (703) 837-5409 or [email protected].

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Last Call: Construction Safety Excellence Awards Applications

The Willis Towers Watson-AGC Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) is the industry’s elite safety excellence awards program for contractors of all types and sizes. The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, December 15, 2017. So, make sure your construction company doesn’t miss the opportunity to get recognized for its best-in-class safety program!
For more information on the Willis-AGC CSEA program, please visit www.agc.org/csea.

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FHWA Administrator Nominee Withdraws

This week, President Trump’s nominee for Federal Highway Administrator, Paul Trombino, asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration. Mr. Trombino, the former director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, instead decided to remain in Iowa to take care of his ailing father, whose condition has recently deteriorated. AGC supported the nomination and called for his swift approval.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Mr. Trombino’s nomination in October and has been awaiting for consideration by full Senate. No other individual has yet surfaced as a potential replacement. In the meantime, FHWA Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson has been carrying out the Administrator’s responsibilities.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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AGC Calls on Congress to Provide Health Insurance Tax Relief for 2018

This week, AGC and a coalition of organizations representing small businesses called on Congress to pass HIT relief for 2018 before January. The Health Insurance Tax (HIT) is one of the largest taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act on the fully-insured health care market – the market that serves most small business. The tax was suspended for 2017; however, absent congressional action, the HIT is projected to return in 2018 at a rate of over $14 billion, which will ultimately be paid for by small businesses in the form of increased health care premiums.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] or (202) 547-0133.

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